An article by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach in the Jerusalem Post should be read by both Jews and Christians. Especially by those Jews who see a Christian conspiracy to forcibly convert them in every gesture of friendship.
Rabbi Boteach’s thesis is quite simple, really: Some Christians, evangelicals in particular, are true friends of Israel and the Jewish people. Make no mistake: many Christian “friends” are just trying to convert the Jews. But there is solid evidence that many evangelical Protestants and conservative Catholics (e.g. Father Richard John Neuhaus, editor of First Things), are friends without such an ulterior motive.
The essence of why such support is simple: it’s in the Book. As in the Bible. From Rabbi Boteach’s article:
In recent years Christians have been taking a new look at the Jewish people and determining that without the nation God originally chose to be the carriers of ethical monotheism the message itself is diminished. There can be no redemption that is not inspired by the inclusion of God’s chosen people.
Evangelical Christians cite biblical passages such as God’s promise to Abraham: “I will bless those who bless thee,” [Genesis 12:3] and the Psalmist’s beautiful plea: “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; may they prosper who love you,” (Psalm 122). And any functional diminishing of God’s chosen people on the earth would be a functional diminishing of God’s light in our world, say the evangelicals.
Throughout the centuries, Christians, for the most part, have certainly not loved the Jews. To the extent they did not, to the extent they persecuted God’s chosen people, they denied the very basis of their own faith.
It took the Protestant Reformation to wake up Christendom. At least parts of it. And, even within the Reformers, Martin Luther himself resorted to the worst kind of anti-Semitism when his project to convert the Jews failed. It took someone with a firmer footing in Scripture to understand that the Jews, Christ or no Christ, continue to occupy a special place in God’s earthly kingdom. With, or without, the Jews conversion to the Christian faith.
One of the best explanations of what is behind Calvin’s philo-Semitism may be found at Azure in a touching article by a Armand Laferrere, a French Huguenot, entitled “The Huguenots, the Jews, and Me”:
This small nation [the Jews], he [John Calvin] explains, was chosen by God to manifest his love, not because the Jews were less sinful than other peoples, but because it was God’s eternal, unmerited, and unquestionable decision: “God has attested this [predestination] not only in individual persons,” he wrote, “but has given us an example of it in the whole offspring of Abraham….” He also maintained that “[those who say that God’s goodness extends to all creatures], let them answer why God bound himself to one people, to be their father…”
Finally, while Catholics and Lutherans argued that the Law of Moses was but a symbol of the spiritual alliance of God and man in Christ, Calvin insisted that the Law, which was given only to the Jews, be seen as a sign of God’s particular love for Israel.
Yes, that John Calvin, who gets such a bad rap from virtually all of the so-called “mainline” Protestant churches today. You know which ones: The Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Congregationalists. Those that lead the divestiture from Israel drives. Those that just love Muslim terrorists, but are ferocious scolds whenever Israel defends herself.
The conclusion? Evangelical Christians can be solid friends, friends forged in the fire of God’s word to humanity. And I know that many among those evangelicals are not two-faced, merely trying to further some millenialist end-times agenda that aims to convert or kill the Jews.
These are good friends, and should not be spurned.