Why do some Christians feel entitled to tell Jews “Who is a Jew”

Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is ONE

Promise Keepers, long aligned with Messianic Judaism, have been celebrating the growth in numbers of Messianic Jews in Israel.

“Jesus Himself prayed that these Jewish believers would be unified with the vast numbers of Gentile believers, resulting in the world recognizing that He was truly sent by God.”

Since the publication of my articles regarding Hebrew Christians (Messianic Jews) I’ve received many comments from those who self-define as Hebrew Christians, all with the same undertone: a veiled threat. You want Christian support for Israel, support that is diminishing amongst the Evangelicals? Don’t disrespect the right of Hebrew Christians/Messianic Jews, Jews for Jesus to proselytize-they are Jews, too.

Caleb Myers, founder of the Jerusalem Institute of Justice which has worked to help  Hebrew Christians gain citizenship within Israel contacted me:

“I do not think that that Messianic Jews, which apparently make up at most 0.2% of the Israeli population are going to “destroy” Judaism as we know it, (or Israel for that matter, any too soon)… by singling out and demonizing Jews affiliated with Christianity, what will that do to the already eroding support of Evangelical Christians for the state of Israel? If their support disappears, we do not have too many friends left in the world.”

I’ve been attacked for saying that Jews are not an ethnic group.

From Facebook: “Are you saying that belief can somehow change your very genetic make-up?! This doesn’t make any sense to me. How about the statement: ‘You can’t be Asian and believe in Christ'”.

Back to Myers: “I do believe that one can be Jewish and believe in Jesus. I believe that Jewishness is like a table that sits on four legs – a national leg, a cultural leg, a biological leg and a religious leg. Although I am aware that mainstream Judaism, as well as the vast majority of Jews, reject the fact that Jesus is the Messiah, I do not think that a person who adheres to this belief has automatically jettisoned his or her national, cultural or biological heritage…”

So for these Christians, you are still a Jew when you believe in Jesus.

Wrong.“Judaism is more than a religion, a race, or an ethnic group, none of these descriptions is entirely adequate to describe what connects Jews to other Jews.”

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz has suggested a better analogy for the Jewish people: We are a family.

“Throughout the Bible and Jewish literature, the Jewish people are referred to as ‘the Children of Israel’ a reference to the fact that we are all the physical or spiritual descendants of the Patriarch Jacob  who was later called Israel. In other words, we are part of his extended family.”

Why do some of my Christian brothers and sisters insist they’ve the right to tell Jewish people we need to believe in Jesus? It’s as if they haven’t been able to move on from that moment 2000 years ago when the Jewish people said, no thank you, we’ll pass.

Google to see how many Christian organizations write about the Jews, our error in understanding our own scriptures and the definition of Jew. Now, rather than come at us from… well, you just didn’t understand, it’s become… but Jesus is a Jew, and think about Paul.

From Facebook: “Regarding Paul, he is one of the most misunderstood Jews in all of history. His words have been poorly translated and a growing body of scholarship (particularly from Jewish scholars) supports this. That’s all I’ll say about Rb. Sha’ul of Tarsus.”

Paul, who was Saul, is now resurrected as Rb. Sha’ul of Tarsus.

From Facebook: “You can’t be Jewish and believe in Christ. So does that mean that Jesus wasn’t Jewish? Cause he clearly believed he was the Christ. But he was as Jewish as they come! And what about the people who followed him at the time? They were almost exclusively Jewish too.”

And “Christians are instructed to share their faith. When people make it clear they don’t want to know we should respect that. But you can’t ask us to NOT share our faith because 1) that’s intolerant and 2) not sharing our faith would make us forfeit our right to call ourselves followers of Christ! That’s the problem.”

Yes, that’s a problem. But it’s yours, not ours. Is it not intolerant to view Jews as incomplete?

The messianic community has given $100 million in aid to Israel over the last ten years. “Evangelizing Christians are looking to establish a foothold in the Jewish state by immigrating, acquiring visas, purchasing property, and establishing missionary institutions.” They want to make aliyah.

Now there are law firms  specializing in changing Israel’s law of return to include Hebrew Christians. Myers is one of the lawyers. Jamie Cohen (formerly U.S. Christian leader “rabbi “Jamie Cowen) established the messianic law firm Cohen, Pex and Brosh comprised solely of “dedicated followers of Yeshua the Messiah” to focus on “All issues of immigration to Israel: Aliyah according to the Law of Return – 1950.”  

Cohen/Cowan supported the 2008 U.S. State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report which cited Israel’s increased “societal abuses and discriminationagainst evangelical  Christians and “messianic Jews” and was critical of Israel’s resistance to proselytizing and Israel’s negative view of missionaries.

In the name of tolerating me as a Jew I not only ask, I have the human right to demand that you respect me and my faith. This love of us by some of our Christian brothers and sisters is killing us and has nothing to do with us. They want to bring about their prophesied history.

Whether we are destroyed by the sword or the word, the end result is the same-death of the Jewish people.

The Jewish Feast of Freedom is fast approaching, followed by the Christian Holy weekend: the death of Jesus and the celebration of His resurrection; symbolizing the irrevocable break between the Jewish people, Am Yisrael, and their younger Christian brothers and sisters.

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. "