Larry Levey: Why I Embraced, then rejected Messianic Judaism
|Larry Levey: Why I Embraced, then rejected Messianic Judaism|
"Though you've turned your back on Him, Larry, Jesus will never leave you."
As I close the door on a chapter of my life that had lasted one and a half years, the words of that kindly Christian pastor echoed in my ears. Had I really once been a member in good standing of the militantly proselytizing Hebrew-Christian community, which proudly styles itself as "Messianic Jewish?" Already the episode seemed a distant dream - or perhaps a nightmare.
"Larry Levey? I'm very pleased to meet you," said the plump, broadly smiling, middle-aged Italian woman seated in front of me at the Vineyard Christian Fellowship, a large charismatic Christian congregation in Los Angeles where members of Jews for Jesus worship. It was a hazy Sunday morning in January 1981 and, as I joined my new friends from Jews for Jesus to sing "Amazing Grace," I reflected on what had led me - a liberal corporate lawyer, the product of a suburban, Conservative Jewish family, a former Torah reader and member of the Jewish Defense League - to cast my lot with the growing ranks of fundamentalist Christians.
Although the reasons that Jews become involved with fundamentalist Christianity are perhaps as unique and numerous as the individuals involved, my story is far from atypical. For as long as I could recall, I had been a "seeker," like so many of my generation. Somehow, in benignly materialistic suburbia, a spark had been ignited in my soul. I was on a quest for answers that seemed to lie far beyond the upwardly mobile, conforming lifestyle so carefully constructed by my well- meaning parents. The Judaism I had known, those pre-bar mitzvah remnants dimly recalled and perhaps never believed, seemed irrelevant to my search.
I had taken drugs, psychiatric analysis, Eastern meditation, political militancy and Werner Erhardt's est, and had emerged from these experiences relatively unscathed. Still, a restlessness remained. Would I ever find the security, the fulfillment, the cosmic understanding that, as a child, I had assumed to be the due of every "grown- up?"
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