01 April 2010

No longer "Jews", if identified as "for Jesus"

Yesterday, the Terrill Road Baptist Church hosted the director of the local Jews for Jesus. This organization, originally founded by the Southern Baptists to missionize (that means attempt to convert) the Jews, purports to represent Jews who have found religious fulfillment in the idea that Jesus is the Jewish messiah.

Although I wish them joy in their new found faith, I do maintain that by accepting the divinity of Jesus, they have left Judaism.

I was contacted by the Federation after an active member called in response to an article in the Scotch Plains/Fanwood Times (Westfield Leader). As I am glad to say that the pastor of the Terrill Road Baptist Church, Rev. Bill Page, is a friend of mine, I reached out to him by phone. We had a very nice conversation. I accept that it is an article of Rev. Page's faith to spread the gospel - the good news that he and his parishioners have found in Jesus and his ministry. I am not insulted, nor do I find it self-serving of them, to seek to share this with others. I would prefer they did not - but it is not my job to tell other people what to believe or do in their own faith community. However, I did point out that it was hurtful to us of the Jewish community when a speaker is brought in who directly targets the Jews. Moreover, I pointed out that we, as Jews, do not believe in the divinity of Jesus, nor do we accept as co-religionists, those who do. Further, the group calling itself "Jews for Jesus" has gone beyond missionizing to Jews, to trying to represent themselves to others (including in the phone book) as representatives of the Jewish community. Again, they are welcome to their faith and belief; however, we do not allow them to define our faith and beliefs by reading the New Testament into our sacred scripture.

In addition, a member of the Temple also pointed out this article on NJ.com, from the Suburban News. You can find my comment on that same page.

If you are looking for more information, the last thing I am going to do is send you to the "Jews for Jesus" website. Instead, take a look here - at an organization called "Jews for Judaism", which was formed to combat Christian and cult missionizing to Jews. (Warning: They are not a Reform group and so many of their responses come from a more halakhic point of view.)