Given the recent fad of having Seder meals in Christian churches (among other things), this article makes a serious and needed point.
"The Jewish Forward's recent "most read" article worries that evangelicals might be stealing from the Jews. But it is Christians who should really be worried.
The article describes a Passover banquet in Alabama where 1,300 Christians gathered for unleavened bread and bitter herbs and donated more than $10,000 to the Jewish Federation. A local rabbi complains, "It is a total taking over and arrogation to themselves of the entire concept of the Seder. It's totally Christological."
Evangelical Christians' support of Israel is essential to the Jewish state. The powerful Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations even publicly supports Rev. John Hagee-Israel-firster extraordinaire; they recently wrote the NY Times to defend him as Israel's "true friend". Binyamin Netanyahu-Israel's ninth prime minister, an extremist who resigned as finance minister in 2005 to protest withdrawal from Gaza-said Christian Zionists are Israel's best friends in the world! In a recent poll, a whopping 82 percent of evangelicals agreed that Christians are morally obligated to support the Jewish state. In his New Testament letters, the apostle Paul repelled attempts by Jews to impose on the early church the rites and legalisms of Old Testament law. He furiously rebuked the apostle Peter for bending to Judaizing influences; he said Peter "stood condemned." (Gal. 2:11) As evangelicals today fall even deeper into this unbiblical love affair, they are increasingly eager to participate in Jewish rites, own Jewish trinkets, and learn about Jewish culture.
Who is really damaged by this Christian appropriation? Jews are not becoming more Christian. Christians are becoming more Jewish! Jews are not donating money for Christian evangelism or even allowing it in their country)! It is Christians who finance a religion dedicated to opposing their own. And their gift of millions of dollars to Israel is flatly contrary to Scripture. Christians are instructed to give their tithes and offerings to the "household of faith," i.e., many Christian charities and relief organizations that help further the gospel message. (Gal. 6:10) Judaism and the state of Israel are emphatically not of the household of faith. Israel's "anti-missionary law" mandates a five-year prison sentence for any evangelical who gives to an Israeli a "material inducement" (Bible tract or even a cup of coffee) that might help persuade him to become a Christian!
Christianity Today should be debating the Alabama Passover, not the Jewish Forward. Christian pastors should speak up about the Talmud's anti-Christ vitriol, persecution of Christians by Israel, oppression of Christian evangelism by Jews in Israel and the US-and gravely warn against the Judaization of the American church. We should be asking, "Is this good for the church?" as the Forward and others constantly debate what is good for the Jews. But we don't. These debates never happen.
The Seattle Times published an opinion piece titled, "Passover seders are out of place in churches." Very true. But it was written by Rabbi Mark Glickman, not a Christian pastor as it should have been.
In Ohio, Catholic high school students took a field trip to a Jewish synagogue where the principal of religious education told them: "Judaism is the base of all Christian religion. It's good to know where you come from." That's interesting; I thought Christ was the base of all Christian religion. The "debt" Christians owe to Jews is increasingly taught by evangelicals wanting to stimulate support of Israel and ride the wave of Hebrewness. This movement is so intense the UK Guardian says, "From the mobilising might of CUFI and televangelists, to Jerusalem marches and the 65 million copy-selling Left Behind series, to be an American evangelical has become synonymous with fanatically pro-Israel politics." And the only concerned people getting any real air time about this are Jews, the ones worried about compromising and collaborating with possibly "anti-Semitic" Christians.
It's deeply troubling that Jews, not Christians, worry about the Judaization of the church. This demonstrates the incredible deception of the evangelical community, which is so much less wary than the Jewish community even though this alliance is currently only a threat to Christians. Jews remain adamantly, consciously, and militantly opposed to Christian evangelism and theology-leery even to accept evangelicals' strong political and financial support. Meanwhile, evangelicals are so blind to the theological enmity between themselves and Talmudic Judaism that they rush headlong to support, defend, and now absorb Jewish identity and actions.
In his Seattle opinion piece, Rabbi Glickman makes a point that should shock many evangelicals. He says that "to be perfectly honest - the Seder [ritual feast held on first and second nights of eight-day passover] developed, in part, as an anti-Christian polemic - a "slam" on the then-new and growing religion called Christianity. Such religious critique is all but absent from contemporary Seders, but the anti-Christian roots of the event are unmistakable. A church Seder is thus a Christian event rooted in anti-Christianity." Basically-Christians who participate in the Seder are participating in an event directed against their own existence!
Glickman's admission is astonishing on many levels. First, it demonstrates Jews' safety and power in American society, that a rabbi could publicly admit the anti-Christianity of a yearly Jewish event. Second, it highlights a fact that Israel-first Christians refuse to face: Judaism opposes the recognition of Christ as God incarnate, Savior of mankind. For two millennia, it has been self-defined by opposing the explosion of Christian faith. Christians today can't participate in Judaism without opposing their own community and Lord. They can't support Israel without supporting Israeli persecution of Christians and Christian evangelism.
Besides that, the Judaization of the church corrupts and corrodes Christian theology. It's gotten so bad that a bunch of evangelical leaders recently took out a big NY Times ad just to remind people that Christians have to spread the faith (a major thing Jesus told us to do) and to evangelize Jews along with everyone else. This responded to a growing heresy that Jews have a separate covenant with God and don't need faith in Christ or need Christian evangelism. The Times ad expressed kindergarten Christianity-a basic element of our identity that is subverted by our growing obsession with Jewish identity.
Jews have long recognized that assimilation into Gentile culture posed a greater threat to world Jewry than physical persecution. It is long past time for Christians to recognize the threat of losing their unique identity as followers of Jesus and His earth-shaking message. St. Paul knew that the rites and observances of the Mosaic/rabbinic law would entangle the infant church, drawing Christians into their spell of legalism. He knew legalism would drive out the empowering liberating New Testament message of justification by faith alone.
How should believers respond to increasing efforts to incorporate Judaic elements in Christian theology and worship? Such "Judaizers" should be rebuked and repulsed, not embraced."
by Harmony Grant