Friday, June 11, 2004

Ach, Jabez, you should only be so much in His grip

I'm always intrigued by the tendency of modern-day Evangelicals to be (or try to be) so sympathetic to Jews. The general USAmerican Evangelical support for Israel (over Palestine) is embarassingly well known, and I won't comment on it at this point in the spacetime continuum.

Then there are those that try to return to the Jewish roots of Christianity in a more aesthetic way. For some this means getting a "cool" tattoo of some Hebrew characters. For others this means saying common religious words in Hebrew instead of their own language. Whatever it means, the problem with this superficial embrace of "the Jewish Gospel" is that it never means returning to the basic dynamics of Judaism. It means buying the chassis without the engine. It means being "a priestly people" without actually submitting to those priest people. It means being "a Sabbath people" without actually being Sabbath abstainers. It means worshipping God "as He desires" without even attempting to mimic the liturgical and cultic dimensions of worship decreed by God in the Old Testament as a pattern for worship in the New. It means being "EvanJews" (pronounced ee VAN jooz), not Christian Jews.

I think the underlying problem is that, in contemporary Protestant Evangelicalism, there is a deep hunger for authenticity. This desire reaches as far back as the tent revivals from which Evangelicalism sprung. There, people's lives, if only for a few moments, broke step with the monotony of everyday life and became utterly, ecstatically real. When the music fades, and all is stripped away, let me be real, let me be naked before you - that is perhaps the deepest prayer of Evangelicalism today, as witnessed by the popularity of such churches as Scum of the Earth in Colorado. At the risk of sounding cheeky or snide, I must admit: where holiness fits into being real above all else, I'm not quite sure.

And yet, beneath this hunger for "the real" is an even deeper longing for home, for heritage. Many Christians today have so little sense of their own Christian heritage, that they grab the first scrap of "Jewish Christianity" that floats by. And the tide of EvanJewism keeps rising.

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