Saturday, April 27, 2013

Should a Jew who decides to believe in Jesus try to remain Jewish?

Or should he just assimilate into Gentile society?

When I say "remain Jewish" I mean continue to do all the positive things he has done to live as a Jew up until his decision to believe in Jesus.   And when I say "believe in Jesus," I mean believing something close to traditional Christian belief:  Jesus is the Messiah and the Son of God, who died and rose from the dead, ascended into Heaven, and will return to judge the living and the dead.

Your respectful thoughts would be appreciated.  Or better yet, you can offer your answer to my question here.

An example of an orthodox rabbi who tried to remain Jewish while believing in Jesus:

Rabbi Daniel Zion.


Jon Garvey said...

Hi Bilbo

I guess the best people to decide are Jews who have accepted Christ. Paul (as one of those) talks about it as an indifferent matter, not meaning that being Jewish is indifferent, but that since all are one in Christ, it's dependent on circumstances. Nobody should seek to remove the marks of circumcision on principle (which I take to mean more than merely physical signs).

One instance: a friend who lost most of his wider family in the Holocaust, brought up as a secular Jew in London with some perfunctory (and largely forgotten)training at the synagogue. Marries a Gentile, who becomes a Chrstian, as he later does. Now an elder in a mainstream Evangelical Church - proud of his Jewishness, but with no observance of particulars.

Then again, a well-known singer from a Jewish family becomes a Christian. Settles in Messianic fellowship, obviously with a Jewish flavour both religiously and culturally. But sings in many churches of all kinds.

Third example: Jewish convert living in Israel. Many cultural expectations, and of course culturally Jewish-Israeli. What would be served in any way by attending a Methodist Church? On the other hand, some might decide that solidarity with Arab believers outweighed negatives of losing identification with own people.

Bilbo said...

Hi Jon,

Thanks for your thoughtful post. You seem to be suggesting that the only way a Jew who believes in Jesus could maintain his Jewish identity is by fellowshipping in a Messianic congregation of some kind. If he chooses to fellowship in a Gentile-dominated church, then that identity is lost or not passed on to his children.

Jon Garvey said...

Hi Bilbo

I was really only suggesting many different policies for many different folks. I would think as a matter of practicality that being immersed in Gentile culture (and, remember, being excluded from the Jewish religious community) would tend towards assimilation just as 3rd generation Irish immigrants in America are just Americans who wear a hat on St Patrick's day. Who would your guy in a Gentile church be likely to marry?

Is assimilation good or bad? As a fifth generation Irish immigrant to Britain I probably exaggerate my roots (or 1/32 of them). But I identify as Christian more than either Irish or English - isn't that as it should be, if we are one in the Lord?

Bilbo said...

Good question, Jon. Many Jews who believe in Jesus think that it is a divine imperative for them to remain Jewish just as much as it is a divine imperative to believe in Jesus.