No, not all religions or all religious people “taste of crazy,” but the ones who do really stand out. Consider:
A well-known, though already controversial, Israeli rabbi recently released a video encouraging his followers that Messianic Jews sharing the Gospel deserve the “death penalty.”
-Israel Today Staff, October 25,2015
“Rabbi Threatens: Messianic Jewish Evangelists Deserve Death”
I found the link to the above-referenced news article at yesterday’s edition of the Rosh Pina Project. It’s a little bit terrifying that this Rabbi makes such public statements and teaches at a yeshiva. Unfortunately, his opinions can add fuel to how many Christians, at least covertly, feel about Jewish people and Judaism.
I don’t know how popular Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi’s opinions are, either here in America or in Israel. I hope he’s something of an “edge case” and doesn’t represent mainstream religious Jewish thought. Yes, I know that the idea of Jews “believing in Jesus” pretty much goes against what normative Judaism is able to accept, but the whole “death penalty” thing seems over the top.
While it would be easy to start saying bad things about the ultra-Orthodox or just Rabbis and Rabbinic authority in general, it’s important to remember that “loose cannons” can exist in just about any religious environment.
Steve Anderson, the anti-Semitic pastor of the Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, Arizona, denies the Holocaust in a video he posted to YouTube last week, claiming that the millions of Jews who were gassed and burned in ovens simply died of hunger and disease due to forced labor and war.
-from “Anti-Semitic Pastor Steve Anderson Promotes Holocaust Denial”
blog.adl.org, June 1, 2015
We like to believe that “the Church” has come a long way since the “bad old days” when they used to torch volumes of Talmud, Torah scrolls, and burn the occasional synagogue to the ground. There’s even been some recent talk about a partnership between Christianity and Orthodox Judaism. But that doesn’t mean that all Christians and all Jews are on board with this.
Anderson goes on to say:
Anderson warns that the “real Holocaust” for the Jews will occur if they don’t accept Jesus as the Messiah. He says, “The real burnt offering is going to be when all of these Jews that don’t believe in Jesus Christ go to hell for eternity. That’s the oven that they ought to be worried about.”
So this Baptist Pastor has his own idea of a “death sentence” for Jews who don’t accept Jesus, he just figures Jesus is going to be the executioner. I find this disturbing because this “burnt offering” he proposes, in his eyes, would include my Jewish wife. I’m glad his church in Tempe, Arizona is far away from here.
But while Anderson is “gunning” for all Jews who don’t believe in Jesus, Rabbi Mizrachi has a more specific target:
Mizrachi was referring specifically to Eitan Bar and Moti Vaknin, the Israeli Messianic Jews behind the One For Israel project that exists primarily to share the Gospel via the Internet.
In one of their more recent videos, Bar and Vaknin exposed several of Mizrachi’s false teachings regarding Yeshua and the promises about Messiah.
Mizrachi warned that “if they dare to speak up again, these two clowns, I will strike them down.”
That’s a pretty bold statement. I suppose Rabbi Mizrachi could have just been blowing smoke, but I think Bar and Vaknin took the threat seriously.
The irony in all this is that, even though Mizrachi and Anderson would consider each other mortal enemies, they have some things in common. They both believe they are sincerely serving God in calling for (in one way or another) the destruction of those they believe are opposed to God. They are both Holocaust deniers (amazingly enough), and they both aren’t afraid to go on record saying some pretty inflammatory things.
I suppose scary or crazy people can be in any religion, even as Rabbis and Pastors.
By the way, I found Anderson just by Googling “anti-semitic pastor” and his name was returned at the top of the list. I’m sure there are others, maybe many others, most of whom don’t publicly admit to their opinions. For all I know, there may be plenty of Rabbis who covertly agree with Mizrachi but for the sake of peace don’t give voice to their thoughts.
It’s enough to make you want to give up on religion altogether.
That’s why I have to believe that these two individuals are somewhat rare. I have to believe that most Rabbis and most Pastors don’t desire the destruction of Messianic Jews and non-believing Jews respectively.
But even if most or all of them did, that doesn’t change God. Some Christians like to say that “It’s not a religion, it’s a relationship.” I completely disagree. Christianity in its various forms is just as much a tradition-driven religion as the numerous branches of Judaism. Where the relationship comes in, at least from my point of view, is between the individual and God.
I suppose I could say “between the community and God,” but the community isn’t responsible for your “walk” with the Almighty, you are. That people like Pastor Anderson call themselves “Christian” in no way obligates me to agree with any of their nonsensical notions.
If I were stuck on the proverbial desert island with the means to survive in the long haul, and my only companion were God, I wouldn’t give men like Mizrachi and Anderson a second thought. I probably still shouldn’t. After all, I don’t depend on either of them for my ability to connect (or disconnect as the case may be) with Hashem.
And that’s the beauty of it. No matter how many religious “nutjobs” there are in the world, they don’t speak for me and they have exactly zero impact on what God thinks of Christians and Jews relative to Moshiach or anything else.
I can only hope and pray that God will protect anyone Mizrachi and Anderson have influence over.