Back in my Evangelical days I was a part of a “house church” where the “pastor” saw himself as a “rabbi.” He was not seminary-trained, but we admired him because he was raised Jewish (like Jesus!) and studied a little Hebrew before becoming a bible-believing Christian. He called himself a “completed” or “messianic” Jew. He wasn’t, of course. . .wasn’t a Jew, of course (at least religiously). He was a convert–a Christian, and a fairly conservative Christian.
As I studied Religion in college and seminary I saw just how deceptive this fake Jewishness really is (sorry for the bluntness and peace be on the memory of my old pastor/rabbi friend). My “rabbi” friend and I started to have respectful but more disturbing disagreements. He saw all the “old testament” stories and prophecies as foretelling Jesus in every word and every way. And of course the “new” testament was much much better–the fulfilment of everything God wanted to tell us. As evangelicals our deepest desire was to convert the world to our faith, our bible, our God, our Jesus. After studying Philosophy and World Religions, and meeting so many who believed differently than I did, I couldn’t accept that narrow worldview any longer.
I thought long and hard about those stories and verses we used to love so much:
Look at Jesus’ life and teaching. He was always arguing with The Jews. . .at least those who didn’t BELIEVE in Him.
Look at Paul’s life and letters. Rejected by the unbelieving Jews.
“At the name of Jesus EVERY knee shall bow and EVERY tongue confess that Jesus is LORD.” (Letter to the Philippians)
“In Christ there is neither Jew nor Gentile. . .etc.” (Letter to the Galatians)
Sure. Here’s what that’s saying: When you are a Christian, you give up all the other labels. This is like saying, “In Buddha there is neither Hindu or Sikh,” or “In Allah there is neither American or African.” In Christ. . .when you become a Christian. . .there is no longer room to be anything else. It’s all about conversion. You are INcluded when you choose to be EXclusive.
Now, we hear the same pseudo-jewishness in the weird American brand and blend of Christianity we call Evangelical. “We LOVE the Jews and LOVE Israel” they proclaim. In their bell-ringing support for the state of Israel (with a strong islamophobic twist), our Politician-Preachers (and preacher-politicians) incessantly defend their “Jewish brothers and sisters. . .God’s People.”
But this is not truthful, and both Jews and non-Jews need to know this. The goal of every last Evangelical is the conversion of the Jews into Christians. Period. I know this. I WAS one; I believed that. My love for Jewish friends was based on one simple (usually secret) prayer: God, may they believe in YOU. . . may they find JESUS.
Of course, the other, more obvious reason many Christians support Israel is that they believe Israel is the “Holy Land.” One small patch of the earth is holier than all other real estate because. . .? Because the Bible Stories all come from there and Jesus lived and died there. Is it because many Jewish people live there? Not at all. It’s all about Jesus.
By the way, the next time you hear a Christian Politician (even an Israel-Loving person) claim America is a Christian Nation, ask them what THEIR goal is. What do they wish for, pray for? Here’s a hint: In JESUS We Trust. . .Jesus Bless America. . .One Nation Under Jesus. . .the Bible is My Constitution. . . .
But they won’t say this (in public; on mic). No, like their pseudo-affection for “God’s Chosen People the Jews,” they don’t want to be too honest about the intent: a Christian Nation. . .a Christian World.
As a former Evangelical believer, I say this is not only dishonest–it’s incredibly dangerous.