Sunday, 28 February 2016
Hi Jonathan. I think it's important for us to understand "the other" in this situation and to empathize with (though not excuse) them, however difficult this may be.
I recently read Asch's "Salvation," which is an extraordinary novel that expresses with emotion yet clarity how the Church so sullied the gospel that it was entirely offensive to Jews. The Haredim are the descendents of those Jews, and have very much the same view of Christians and Jews who go over to them that Jews did in the past. Their reaction now is to establish a sort of fortress mentality that rejects all outside influences and is not able to distinguish between the aggressive church and Jews or Gentiles who inadvertently violate Haredi standards. For them, the mixed cultural situation in Israel is an imposition that reminds them of their ancestors' ghetto existence.
Again, we should not excuse but understand that their behavior is an enculturated response that arises from a heavy weight of historic causes, not merely from a rigid standard of life.
That said, it would be good to compare the material you quote with the recent Catholic document. "The Gifts and Callings of God are irrevocable." The full document merits our attention, but two quotes sum up its views. In paragraph 36 they state, "That the Jews are participants in God's salvation [through the Torah as God's Word] is theologically unquestionable, but how that can be possible without confessing Christ explicitly, is and remains an unfathomable divine mystery." Yet they have already stated in paragraph 6, "While there is a principled rejection of an institutional Jewish mission, Christians are nonetheless called to bear witness to their faith in Jesus Christ also to Jews, although they should do so in a humble and sensitive manner, acknowledging that Jews are bearers of God's Word, and particularly in view of the great tragedy of the Shoah."
The Catholics are grappling with these issues in much deeper and more subtle ways than the authors you quote. By refusing to compromise their view of Jews and the Torah OR their salvation through Yeshua, they must continue to grapple with the nature of this mystery.
For our part, those who reinforce the pervasive and long-standing idea that Christianity is an enemy of the Torah are complicit, at least in part, with the actions of the Haredim. Sadly, this is the case even among some Messianic Jews in Israel, who strongly assert that Jews who follow Messiah are no longer obligated to keep the Torah. Little do they know that their message embodies the same perversion of the gospel that Jews have been hearing for nearly two thousand years.