Beliefnet blogger David Klinghoffer today sides with a rabbi friend who was criticized for attending a conference of Zionist Christians that included Messianic Jews among its speakers. The rabbi, Daniel Lapin, feels justified in his decision because he inspired one converted Christian to return to Judaism, and, more philosophically, because he equates believing in Jesus with homosexuality, and, while he clearly doesn’t condone either, believes he can look past these “sins.”
Of course, even if you do insist on weighting every biblical law equally, there are thorny problems with Messianic Jews. First, there’s their euphemistic name. There are Jews who believe in a messiah that is not Jesus Christ, but MJs are talking about JC, and JC alone, making them, well, Christians. Second, they proselytize, which is not part of the Jewish tradition, and which, in the case of some of the publications put out by organizations like Jews for Jesus, they often mask as general engagement with Jewish life and culture, sometimes illegally using the likenesses of famous Jews not affiliated with their group. There’s something frankly cultish and sneaky about the condescension with which the Jews for Jesus website addresses the concerns of its readers, and about the way the enterprise as a whole tries to entice Jews into its ranks.
In a follow-up post, Klinghoffer pats himself on the back for “daring” to suggest that Messianic Jews have something in common with Theistic evolutionists, as both subscribe to “convenient delusions that give believers the comforting feeling that they don’t have to choose between logically exclusive alternatives.”
Again, there’s more than logic involved here. Messianic Jews may be trying to comfort themselves, which is fine, but can we agree that on the brain-washing spectrum, scrubbing one’s own is a lot better than being coerced into the tub?
Hadara Graubart was formerly a writer and editor for Tablet Magazine.