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Can a Jew believe in Jesus?

Can a Jew believe in Jesus?

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Question:

I was accosted at the beach today by a guy from Jews for Jesus. He offered me a New Testament in Yiddish and said that many Jews have been "saved" by accepting Jesus as the messiah. I just ignored him. Then I saw a big ad in the newspaper from the same people. My question: Can a Jew believe in Jesus?

Answer:

Of course a Jew can believe in Jesus. Just like a vegetarian can enjoy a rump steak, a peace activist can join a violent demonstration, and a dictator who preaches martyrdom can surrender himself to his enemies. As long as logic and clear thinking are suspended, anything makes sense!

I think your response to that missionary was the best one - to ignore him. Missionising is not a new phenomenon. Certain Christian sects believe that their messiah will only return when the Jews accept him. Throughout history Jews have been threatened with death, torture and expulsion if they don't convert. More recently, missionaries targeted the weak of our community - the elderly, new immigrants, and the underprivileged - in an attempt to exploit their vulnerability. All these attempts have had little or no success. Whether religious or not, Jews are reluctant to give up their Jewishness.

So they came up with a new ploy. Rather than demand conversion, they offered Jews to remain Jewish, and even "complete" their Jewishness by accepting Jesus. Thus Jews for Jesus was born.

This is a movement of non-Jews who pose as Jews by taking on Jewish names. They do usually have a token Jewish member, who is invariably either ignorant of Judaism at best or psychologically imbalanced at worst. They are a sham.

All religions are free to present their beliefs in the open market of ideas. But if they have to resort to slimy tactics like Jews for Jesus does, then they obviously have nothing to offer a thinking person.

Editor's Note: Visit Jews for Judaism for a comprehensive counter-missionary handbook.

Aron Moss is rabbi of the Nefesh Community in Sydney, Australia, and is a frequent contributor to Chabad.org.
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Discussion (303)
July 28, 2015
Response to Anonymous UK 7-28-2015 Comment
Your remark is academic, and I would hardly paint such a rosy picture. First, there has always been sporadic support for Jews throughout the ages, including by popes, but that ebbed and flowed, and didn't change the overall course of antisemitism.

The Protestant Reformation was sparked by Martin Luther, who as we all know, wrote the playbook the Nazi's later acted out, and the virulent antisemitism he promulgated was palpably retained in Protestantism and provided the undercurrent of support that made the Holocaust possible.

Even today, the UK isn't doing enough to counter recent Muslim antisemitism, and a recent poll showed that 2/3 of secondary students there don't know that the Holocaust killed 6 million Jews, and 25% don't know what Auschwitz was used for.

And do you realize the sad irony of what you (somewhat myopically) said? "in the Anglosphere, which is where most of today's Jews outside of Israel still live." That's because the Holocaust wiped out a third of world Jewry!
Jim D.
Los Angeles
July 28, 2015
Jews being confident
Jim D - from speaking to Jewish friends I think there is an existential crisis among some sections of Jewry. Israel has added confidence, but the fact Israel is going through some serious birth pains doesn't help. Although Mainstream churches do not evangelise Jews, Christianity is an evangelising faith. In a varied evangelising faith of >2b people it does not surprise me some Christians try. Freedom to evangelise is also part of religious freedom, but aside from discouraging it I think part of the solution is for Jews to have the confidence in their own religion to say "Hang on - we had these ideas first, Christianity came from Judaism, not the other way round... have you considered you could learn something from us?"

You might be surprised how many Christians are receptive to this. That's why I read this website! Rabbi Lord Sacks, a contributor to this site, addressed the Lambeth conference in 2008. You can see the speech he gave on youtube. That's what I am talking about.
Anonymous
UK
July 28, 2015
I guess a lot of comments here which try to paint Christianity in a more positive color forget that also Protestants injected a lot of poison into the Christian masses, and what a better example than Martin Luther who in his writings about Jews depicted so much evil. And the same attitude goes to all the so called "church fathers" who spew their hatred towards our people across the ages
Uri Yitzchak
Orlando, FL
July 28, 2015
Christian attitudes to Jews
Jim D - attitudes towards Jews among Christian denominations have been changing for about 500 years. Since the Protestant reformation, when, for the first time, the European Laity had access to scripture in their own language and could form coherent, scriptural arguments against Catholic doctrine.
Protestantism was driven in the Anglosphere, which is where most of today's Jews outside of Israel still live. Including the Rabbi Moss. Here is a quote from Rev Samuel Rutherford, a Scottish Covenanter, made in 1638:
"Scotland, whom our Lord took off the dunghill and out of hell and made a fair bride to Himself... He will embrace both us, the little young sister, and the elder sister, the Church of the Jews."
He's saying that by reforming Christianity the Scots will become equal to the Jews in the eyes of G-d. Not superior - equal. The inference also being that Catholicism as practiced then was inferior. This was the root of so called "Dual Covenant theology" which now has wide currency.
Anonymous
UK
July 27, 2015
Response to Anonymous of San Diego (7/27/15 comment)
Thank G-d that, since the horror of the Holocaust and re-establishment of Israel, attitudes have been changing within Christian denominations. Today, the largest supporter of Israel outside of the Jewish community is Christians United for Israel, and even the Catholic Church has been reversing it's long-held anti-Jewish views and teachings in the last three decades. More progress still needs to be made, but much has been done, and for that I am certainly grateful. Not all of us are aware of these changes, and more in our communities need to be informed.

That being said, you have to understand two points. First, after such a long history of persecution and with the Holocaust still so close, it will take time. Even then, we consider that a reversal is never out of the question. Second, we hold that if a Jew believes in Jesus, he/she is considered an apostate. Whether you agree or not is another issue entirely, but understand that we see proselytizing as an existential threat as well.
Jim D.
Los Angeles
July 27, 2015
Christian charity a conspiracy?
Some of the article is harsh. Christian charity is not a conspiracy to convert Jews, it's part of the religion and until the invention of welfare the only widely available organised relief available for anyone, including Jews. I met a Christian from Israel once who told me that Church charities are often accused of targeting poor people or drug addicts in the exact way described in the article. She said some Jewish extremists would rather someone was destitute and drug addicted but still Jewish than accept charity from a Christian organisation and risk being exposed to "missionaries".

I have no reason to doubt her, she didn't seem like a liar - and while understanding she was describing extremists, some of that sentiment, fear and scepticism.. nay! Cynicism is articulated in this article.

How can that be good?
Anonymous
UK
July 27, 2015
I feel like Christians have been demonized in the article and in the preceding comments. I can't speak for Jew for Jesus, but I can speak for the Christian church. You see, I feel as though it is believed that all Christians have been blamed for the "forced-conversion or death" scenario that undoubtedly has shown itself in history. The Catholic Church was to blame, who can, ironically, not at all represent Christianity as a whole. In fact, the word Catholic means "all encompassing." The Catholic Church worships idols in the same way the pagans of the Torah worshipped Molock and Baal, and have adopted many accustom that obviously never backed by the New Testament church, the apostles, or Christ. If you have heard anti-Semitism from a "Christian," they are, by default not Christ-like. They have forgotten that the Jews are the people and children of G-d; a G-d who promised to never turn his back on Israel. Surely, a true Christian recognizes this, respects it, and is jealous of the fact.
Anonymous
San Diego
June 19, 2015
Anonymous, California - please do not paste your own feelings onto me, a Christian. I do not regard Judaism as wrong.
I find it strange you would regard the faith which, living in California, is presumably followed by at least some of your friends and acquaintances as an irrelevance.
I believe common law has some influence from Halakhah - especially in the idea of the law as source rather than code, the role of judges as absolute arbiters and the role of precedent. Medieval England had some Jewish civil administrators, so there is a way this influence could have occurred. I would not even consider this had I listened to my Atheist friend when he described the Talmud as "drivel" and consequently not bothered to read it. (Atheism is a far greater threat to all religions in the West than they are to each other, by the way).
I suppose my point is - open your mind, without adopting other peoples' beliefs you can start to perceive the way G-d works for our betterment.
Anonymous
March 19, 2015
not wrong, just irrelevant
I agree with the post dated Feb. 11, that states "To a Buddhist, Judaism is neither wrong nor right, It is simply irrelevant. "

It also states "To a Christian or Jew, by contrast, the faith of the other is wrong."

I agree with the statement that Christians consider Judaism wrong.
However please do not paste your own feelings on to me as a Jew. Jews do not "reject" Christianity, it is simply irrelevant.

Once again for the record: Jews do not proselytize. And as a Jew, other religions are simply not relevant to me.
Anonymous
California
March 18, 2015
So a Jew can practice elements of Buddhism according to this site, but not Christianity. One is atheistic is nature, and the other affirms the worship of the God of Abraham. Or have you forgotten that Jesus was a Jew who loved God and his law?

"As long as logic and clear thinking are suspended, anything makes sense!"
Anonymous
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