Messianic Judaism

Unintentional Antisemitism: Why Christian Institutions and Ideologies are Antisemitic Despite the Philosemitism of Individual Christians

You’ll hear many Christians offhandedly refer to Messianic Jews as converts to Christianity.  They’re familiar with Christian missionary groups like Jews for Jesus and assume that’s what Messianic Judaism is:  a Christian missionary movement that turns Jews into Christians.  They see nothing hostile in requiring Jews to subject themselves to Christian doctrine. On the contrary, their intentions are pure and they see the missionizing of Jews as the quintessential way to express their philosemitism (i.e. their love for the Jewish People).

What could be more loving than introducing Jews to Jesus, right?

Antisemitism has been narrowly defined as an anti-Jewish racism, a subjective feeling of hostility toward the Jewish race.  If that definition is accurate then most Christian don’t have anything to worry about.  They can’t be considered antisemitic because they don’t feel antisemitic.

But what if antisemitism isn’t just about personal, subjective feelings?  What if antisemitism includes the objective, net effect of certain ideologies? In other words, what if an ideology or institution could result in an unintentionally antisemitic effect (i.e. a result that hurts Jews)?

But who decides what constitutes “harm” to Jews?

Christians have made their decision:  it isn’t harmful for Jews to renounce the Torah or to renounce the legal system of whichever Judaism defined their particular Jewishness.  “Reject the Law and be free!  Here, have a ham sandwich to celebrate your freedom.”  They see their Christian ideology and their particular Christian institution as helpful rather than harmful to Jews. They don’t even realize the potential threat of assimilation, the erosion of Jewish identity over several generations.

However, I would like to propose that ideological and institutional Christian antisemitism–even though it is usually unintentional–attacks Jews in at least 2 ways: 

(1) undermining halachic Jewishness and

(2) undermining halachic ideology.

What is halachic Jewishness and why is it valuable?  Halacha is Jewish law.  And halachic Jewishness is the way that the family of Jews have historically regulated familial membership in the tribe of Judah.  If you are halachically Jewish then you are accepted as a Jew under Jewish Law.  So what happens when a Jew abandons halachic institutions for Christian institutions?  Answer:  suddenly there is no way to protect Jewish identity from the inevitable forces of assimilation.

Next, when Jews abandon halachic ideology for the “Law Free” ideology of Christianity, they are no longer living out the life that they were called to live.  How is a Jewish person supposed to have a good relationship with G-d if he isn’t living the way G-d wants him to live?  The adverse consequences from this would be incalculable.

In conclusion, to the Messianics out there, build bridges with Christians, fellowship with Christians, but also be aware that they belong to an institutional framework and ideology that has an antisemitic effect even though the individual Christians may have nothing but love for the Jewish People and modern state of Israel.  We need to dialogue with them and let them know that the whole Christian system needs to undergo a radical transformation.

Shalom,

Peter

Source: Orthodox Messianic Judaism (http://goo.gl/tTgTQM)

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