The controversy surrounding the "Woman to Woman" Conference in Jerusalem has once again raised the reality that the alliance between Evangelical Christian and Orthodox Jews is a troubled one in many ways. Part of the problem is that while there is plenty of enthusiasm and emotion on both sides, there is little understanding of one another.
Some segments of Orthodox Jewish and Conservative Christian theology have provided for elements of dispensationalism toward one another. Yet that dispensationalism recognizes the partial legitimacy of each other but not fully-- which is as it should be. Authentic monotheistic religions cannot grant equal legitimacy to other religions. The problem rests in what we do about it. Judaism is a non-competitive religion that seeks to perfect one people and achieve salvation within that community. Christianity aggressively evangelizes and seeks converts, often by any means necessary.
Many Christians dismiss Jewish concerns about missionizing and missionary activity as a relic of past persecutions by the Catholic Church. While that past is certainly part of the issue, the problem is that it never truly ended. The problem is not merely in the past, it is in the present.
If events like the rabbinic ruling against Bridges of Peace seem to betray paranoia over missionizing, it is all too well grounded in the habitually deceptive and abusive tactics practiced by missionaries against Jews. Examples include phony teen centers like the JAM Center in Jerusalem which is aimed at teenagers. It includes missionaries dressing up as Orthodox Jews and passing themselves off as Orthodox Jews. It includes people disguised this way coming to new Russian immigrants coming to Israel and offering their children free schooling or camps where they are then pressured to accept Jesus. It includes using child missionaries to target children. It includes the creation of phony Jewish organizations which disguise and hide their true affiliation. It includes the creation of groups like Jews for Jesus that functions in a way indistinguishable from cults like the Moonie Church. This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to missionary activity.
I don't believe that the majority of Christians are aware of approve of these actions but they are nevertheless carried out on a regular basis and backed by major organizations and churches. As long as this goes on, there is going to be a perfectly understandable second guessing and double checking on the part of Jews when dealing with Christian organizations-- because what these methods have in common is not only their destructiveness but their deceptiveness. The way in which they disguise what they are. That kind of deceptiveness colors dealings with Christian organizations in general because it becomes hard to know what is really for real.
It's hard to trust people who on the one hand embrace you and on the other hand take part in deceptive activities designed to destroy your people. For many centuries, Jews have dodged back and forth between Christian and Muslim lands, when the persecution got too bad in one or the other-- choosing to temporarily ally with the religion of less persecution. That is still where we are now.
Islam remains the greater threat to the Jewish people but that is only because Islam employs force. Christians groups do not employ force but they do employ subterfuge and though they may think that their purpose is noble-- it remains destructive. If a hundred thousand Jews are lost to murder or conversion, the effect on the next generation is the same. A sizable portion of the Jewish people have been lost.
For as long as missionary activity directed at Jews continues, overtly or covertly, then Jews are forced to walk the razor's edge, dealing with Christian groups for survival's sake while maintaining enough distance to minimize the losses taken at their hands. This is a dreadful arrangement and a devil's bargain and I don't believe it's the one either Christians or Jews would choose.
Yet for as long as Christian organizations talk about their love for Israel while engaging in missionary activity against Jews-- it is the only arrangement that will exist.
I realize quite well that Christians don't see it this way. Witnessing and sharing the gospel are meant to be kind acts.
Evangelical Christians have shown love toward Israel and Jews but there is a gap that arises between what Christians refer to as the golden and the silver rule. The Christian golden rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" with what the Christians refer to as the Silver Rule and the Jews as Hillel's Rule, "What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man."
The "Golden Rule" allows someone to blindly force something unwanted onto you while Hillel's Rule is a more useful means of maintaining harmony between peoples because it avoids doing noxious things to one another-- simply because you would want it done to you. But would Christians really?
There are Christian websites that proclaim plans to evangelize every Jew in Israel by 2020. How would Christians feel if another religion boasted such plans for Christians?
How would Christians feel if Muslims set up a group of mock Christian churches and a mock Christianity called Prophetic Christianity targeting authentic Christians and attempted to convert Christians to Islam by telling them that only by accepting Mohammed as the final prophet, would they become Completed Christians.
These "Churches" would be overseen by Imams who would call themselves Ministers and would be specifically selected from Christian converts to Islam to preach a form of Islam thinly disguised as Christianity. These "Churches" would feature celebrations of Islamicised Christmas' and Easter's centering on Mohammed.
Christians should ask themselves how they would feel about such Mosques disguised as Churches and Imams disguised as Ministers. Yet Christian groups have invested billions of dollars over the years in doing precisely this very thing to Jews. How do you think we feel about it?
What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow man. It is a very simple principle. There is a very hard century now upon us. A century of blood and flame, of steel and stone thrown down and the great nations of the past toppling before a dark and merciless horde.
To survive that we will need alliances. Not merely between Christians and Jews but with Hindus and Atheists and Sikhs and peoples whose beliefs are genuinely alien and even repulsive to us. We will have to do that if we want to survive. Not only Israel but America and the remainder of the world that has still not fallen under the shadow of Islam. We will either stand together or die apart.
No alliance is perfect and the Christian Jewish alliance has been based on what we want to believe, rather than what is real and true. Real alliances are based in truth. We do not share a religion but we do share a recognition that we are both targets and if we wish our grandchildren and great-grandchildren to live as proud peoples in their own lands, rather than slaves under the Dar Al-Islam, then we had better learn to do each other no harm-- before the true harm comes upon us all.