Diane Weber Bederman
Diane Weber Bederman

Fear of Christians, sadly, but understandably, in the DNA

I remember while growing up hearing stories about churches. Don’t go in them. Just walk by and turn  away. Turn your head away and spit. What did I know? I do know, now, but I still love churches. And I enjoy my time with my Christian friends and family. But, lately, I have developed a fear of Christians who want to become my friend.

I have written a great deal about the cultural meme of anti-Semitism: a genetic memory that is entwined in the DNA of Christians  and Muslims who have been raised on stories of hate for the Jews. These memes are 2,000 years old in Christianity and 1,500 in Islam. But I have come to believe that we, the Jews, have a cultural meme of our own that is deeply embedded in our DNA: Fear of Christians. Hence the stories about churches.

For the longest time that fear was truly existential. Fear for our very lives. But now it is for our souls. There are Christians who believe with all their heart and soul that all would be right in the world if the Jews just accepted Jesus. It is right up there with “If Israel only gave land for peace there would be peace in the Middle East.” We are even told now with such love and affection that we can believe in Jesus and still be Jews.

I cannot get over the arrogance and the chutzpa of Christians who come online and explain to us, using our Bible, that we can be Jewish and believe in Jesus. They don’t let up. It is unending pedagogy. They know better than we do! If only we just listened to them. Then comes trying to explain to well-meaning people –no you cannot be Christian and be Jewish at the same time. Can’t be a cat and a dog at the same time. But I can love them equally. Why can’t they? Bless the patience amongst our Jewish people who try to explain, over and over and over.

You know what, dear readers, I am tired of explaining. I am tired of people thinking that I owe them an explanation. One that suits them. I am tired of being expected to justify Judaism to them. As a Jew I would never question my friends’ beliefs in Jesus. That he is or is not the son of God, from a virgin birth. That he is their messiah. I never put them into a situation where they must justify their beliefs to me, to my satisfaction. That would be the height of disrespect.

Haverim, why do we continue to justify Judaism? We spend so much of our collective lives and time justifying our right to a Jewish homeland in Israel-our home from thousands of years ago – not just Biblically – but archeologically! And now we are being asked to dance, again, this time explaining our right to exist as Jews, as we the Jewish people define it-not others.

Why do people who call themselves Messianic Jews (Jews…They aren’t Jews any more than I am the Blue Fairy. They are Christians) feel free to tell us who and how to believe? And there are many organizations in the world who covertly and surreptitiously reach out to our Jewish people and explain to them – Yes, you can be Jewish and believe in Jesus. And when we complain, we get to hear their anger over the fact that we won’t let them explain-that it is their right. We should just say thank you, no thank you, and walk away.

I was working on an article about Shemoneh Esrei ( the Amidah, the Eighteen Blessings), and Googled. Look what I found. Hebrew for Christians. I thought I was on a Jewish site: Chabad, Aish. Nope. How about this one: “Yeshua learned the Shemoneh Esreh as a young boy.” Messianic site. Takes a moment to catch on but if you didn’t know you would think you were learning about Judaism. And if you were Googling because you wanted to learn about Judaism you would not know that this is not a Jewish site. And then there is this one. The Jerusalem Council A Global Association of Orthodox Jewish Believers in Messiah Yeshua.

And we should have no fear of Christians?

There are prominent well-respected people in Israel who are Messianic Jews and speak about their religion to others, especially in America where the are thousands of Jews for Jesus and millions of dollars. People including Calev Myers and Wayne Hilsden.

This month, Calev Myers was a guest speaker ( he is not a member), along with Wayne Hilsden (also from Jerusalem) at Israel Summit Stand Firm,devoted to “ministry among the Jewish people” which took place in Loveland Colorado.Other luminaries included: Michael Brown, Sandra Teplinsky, Jonathan Bernis, Jack Hayford, George Morrison and Jonathan Wiggins.

The conference was discussing a new mandate:

“to unite a global fellowship of biblically sound believers committed to cultivating Messiah-centered relationships that work to bless the inhabitants of Israel and the worldwide Jewish community.”

In April 2008 this well-known Israeli lawyer and human rights activist Calev Myers, chief counsel of The Jerusalem Institute of Justice, was commencement speaker for Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida.

In an article written by Robin Williams Adams of the Ledger (last email address I have is robin.adams@theledger.com)  Myers told about 340 students, their families and friends during the ceremony at Church Without Walls in Lakeland:

“I was not intending to be the Messianic Jewish Robin Hood … but God had other plans.”

Asked what he meant by saying he is a Messianic Jew, the American-born Israeli lawyer said he is “saying that I am biologically from a Jewish background. I identify with the Jewish people. I celebrate the Jewish holidays. I see myself as an integral part of the Jewish culture, but I believe in Jesus as the promised Messiah based on Jewish Scriptures.”

According to Adams, “Myers focused more on the need he sees for further action to spread knowledge of Jesus. Southeastern graduates can help Israeli believers in Jesus by educating their congregations, praying for Israel and aligning themselves with Messianic Jewish congregations.”

In the article Myers is quoted as saying “Messianic Jews are blamed for many things in Israel”, but “favor is coming on the Jewish believers in Israel today.” He (Myers) urged Jewish believers from around the world to relocate to Israel, as his family did when he was 18.

Adams ended his article with this quote from Calev Myers:

“We believe the day is coming, friends, when Jesus once again will reveal himself to Israel, to the Jewish people.”

Now I must add a disclaimer, of sorts. Mr. Myers told me through a third party that he said the above quote  “in a speech in which he encouraged visiting Christian Bible students to participate in a street cleaning project in Arab neighborhoods.”

The name of the blog on which the Ledger article was linked is called Daas Torah Issues of Jewish Identity 

Fear of Christians? Understandable. And sad.

Am Yisrael Chai

About the Author
Diane Weber Bederman is a multi-faith, hospital trained chaplain who lives in Ontario, Canada, just outside Toronto; She has a background in science and the humanities and writes about religion in the public square and mental illness on her blog: The Middle Ground:The Agora of the 21st Century. She is a regular contributor to Convivium: Faith in our Community. "
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