Many readers know that I've been exploring the Jewish culture/faith and how it impacts our understanding of Christ's words and our Christian faith. Being able to sit and discuss various issues with Dr. Gail Wallen, director of Holocaust Services for the Jewish Family and Children's Service of Southern Arizona and a Jewish lay Chaplain, was a rare gift. Bible Study attendees KNOW that I'm good at asking questions. ::snort:: Here are a few things that I'm mulling over after my time spent in discussion with Dr. Gail (on the left ::snort::).
1. Whenever we discuss matters of faith (or really anything) it is crucial to define our terms. For example, when I hear Messiah, I think Jesus. When Gail hears Messiah she thinks, "one to come" among other things.
2. From the Jewish perspective all Jews are "Messianic Jews." All are looking for and believe in the coming of a Messiah. If by "Messianic Jew," we refer to someone who is Jewish and believes in Jesus as the Messiah, those who are practicing Jews would say this is impossible. Being Jewish is a religion and not a race, is the thought. If one chooses to convert and become Catholic they are no longer Protestant. In the same way, if a Jew chooses to convert to Christianity, they are no longer considered Jewish by those who are in the Jewish faith.
3. Christians who are "going back to Jewish roots," as well as Jews who believe in Jesus as Messiah, are best labeled Hebraic Christians. This made sense to me as I've had Christian, non-Jewish friends tell me they are now "Messianic Jews" because they are going to practice Torah et al...but technically, no....an accurate title would be Hebraic Christian.
4. There are "secular Jews" and they are still considered Jewish. They attend synagogue on the High Holidays and not much else, but they are still in the faith and, therefore, Jewish. (Like CE Christians near as I can tell).
5. Jews do not try to proselytize. In fact a Rabbi is to turn down a potential convert three times before allowing them to convert. This is because it is hard to live as a Jew. I couldn't help but compare this to some services I have been in where it appears that the leader is trying to cajole a person to accept Christ and "all it takes is a quick glance, we won't embarrass you, make you stand up or talk to anyone...."
6. Dr. Gail shares in her talk how religious myths played a part in leading the Holocaust. She emphatically states that the Jews did not kill Jesus. The Romans did. I've heard Christians argue that it was Jewish leaders who tried Christ and turned Him over to the Romans to kill. Bottom line around our home? The Jews did not kill Christ. The Romans did not kill Christ. I did. My sin sent Christ to the cross. To argue this point, or persecute those of the Jewish faith over this point, seems to miss the basic bedrock fact that, "All have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God." (Rm 3:23)
7. I was shaken to realize anew how EVIL men can be. I struggled with God's sovereignty in the midst of all this. I already alluded to the discussion that Gail and Mike had earlier in the week where they discussed various Jewish and Christian schools of thought on the issue. Faith in the midst of these types of situations can either be strengthened (Deitrich Bonhoeffer, Corrie ten Boom come to mind) or splintered. God remains God...though I can't begin to fathom His ways and dealings with mankind. Yeah, I don't get it intellectually, but I know it in my spirit!
8. In a very profound way, I realized what I'd known intellectually: those of the Jewish faith believe Jesus was a Jewish Rabbi, nothing more or less. They do not believe He is the Son of God. Of course, this differs from my faith. I believe Jesus is the Son of God. Therefore, I reached anew the conclusion that it is my responsibility to pray for those who I believe need to see the Son of God. I believe God revealed Himself to us through the Jewish faith. I believe He further revealed Himself through His son, Jesus the Christ. I believe He still reveals Himself today to those who seek Him - regardless of their religious label...because I believe He is THAT big. God continues to reveal more of Himself to me day by day...and He can do that for all of us regardless of our religious title.
There are other things I'm pondering, but this will do for recording the gist of my thoughts. I look forward to receiving my "Family Seder". LOL BTW, these religious talks are NOT part of the sessions on the Holocaust...these talks came about because I asked questions. ::snort::