The New Trojan Horse
At conferences and meetings throughout the world, evangelical Christians have been pondering their abysmal lack of success in converting us.Hampered by their spiritual nearsightedness however, they have difficulty imagining that we have any substantive objections to their religious claims. Consequently, most of these Christians have opted for convenient rationalizations to resolve their frustrating dilemma. One of the more popular theories offered up suggests that Jewish people, because of their tragic history, have become prejudiced against Christianity. They sense that their product is suffering from an image problem.
Missionaries posit that etched into the consciousness of contemporary Jewry is the collective memory of centuries of Christian anti-Semitism. Generations of Jews have experienced the horrors of the Crusades, Inquisitions, pogroms, and the Holocaust. Of course, evangelicals dismiss these atrocities as misdeeds committed by ominal Christians who were not "real" followers of the Nazarene.
Clearly though, this thesis of Jewish victimization fails to adequately answer the question at hand. In reality, the Jewish people 2000 years ago didn't reject Jesus because he was anti-Semitic. Rather, he was ignored by the Jews of his time because his project was a non-starter. He wasn't the Messiah: and all the Christian love in the world won't make him the Messiah.
Lamentably, many Jewish people today are incapable of articulating what lies behind their knee-jerk reflex that "Jews don't believe in Jesus." When missionaries probe this defensive posture, they rarely meet with anything more than "well, we just don't." This superficiality may be what prompts the conventional missionary wisdom that Jewish resistance to conversion simply stems from their negative associations with Christianity.
Into the breach steps Dr. Frank Eiklor, director of an organization called Shalom International. Like many similar outfits, Eiklor's group works tirelessly fighting anti-Semitism and drumming up support for the State of Israel. Shalom International has set up a Task Force to Lake on neo‑Nazis, skinheads, and historical revisionists.
When a Los Angeles synagogue was burned to the ground in January, Eiklor dispatched a contingent of born-again motorcyclists to stand guard outside the congregation's temporary quarters during Shabbat services. Shalom International has sponsored rallies of solidarity with the State of Israel, and recently returned from the Holy Land after several weeks of volunteer work.
Shalom International's activities have won them many friends and wide support in the Jewish community. Eiklor states that his efforts aim to build "bridges of love" to the Jewish people, and insists that there is no hidden agenda behind his demonstration of "unconditional love." Even though he bristles at any suggestion of ulterior motives, we need only examine what he says when he assumes we are not listening to hear him speaking out of both sides of his mouth.
In recent letters to his supporters, Dr. Eiklor reveals the true goal of his campaigns: "It's a name that caused Jews to blink and shrink back in fear. It's a name that was used most frequently by those punching Jewish faces, destroying Jewish property, and even killing Jewish people.
The name was not Adolph Hitler. It was Jesus.
Those hating in his name never knew him. But Jews didn't know that. They just knew that Jesus and pain went together. But not any more! Every time that we absorb some of the hate aimed at Jewish people. every time we rush to their side when they are lied about, every time that we are the first gentiles to identify with their fears and pain and loneliness... they see another Jesus -- the real one!" "I want to see Christians all across America wake up and stand up for the Jewish people. Only then will Jews be impressed and one day want Jesus as their Messiah!"
Just as there were Greek soldiers concealed within the giant wooden gift horse to the Trojans, Frank Eiklor's ultimate agenda is carefully hidden from the beneficiaries of his good will. Is it simply an oversight that explains why his Jewish audience never hears the following words which typify the message he sends to his Christian supporters? "There are almost six million Jews living in the United States what a harvest field we have right under our noses! The key to Jewish hearts is unconditional love. More Jewish people are loving Jesus today than at any time in history, and we're told that this ministry is a big reason for that happening."
Before ending Shalom International, Frank Eiklor was the director of The Hebrew Messianic Center.
The Center sent missionaries into Jewish neighborhoods, trained Christians how to "witness to" (convert) their Jewish friends and neighbors, and held mass rallies in support of Israel. Although Shalom International sounds rather benign in comparison, the name has simply been changed to protect the guilty.
Eiklor's new incarnation is essentially geared to making Christians into better salespeople to the Jewish community. Eiklor spells out his strategy of soft-selling Christianity in a tape he distributes through Shalom International called "How to Reach Out to the Jews." In this training tape, he explains that if Christians are serious about witnessing to Jewish people, they need to understand that "it's not enough to just quote Bible verses... you can't preach the gospel with mere words, you must show unconditional love."
Eiklor is usually careful not to openly associate with missionaries who overtly target Jewish people for conversion. Recently though, he let his guard down by appearing as the featured guest on a major Hebrew-Christian radio program. Introduced by the host as "the most dangerous man to the Jewish community today." Eiklor expounded on his contention that Christian kindness ness would result in the Jewish people accepting Jesus. Obviously this viewpoint is either very naïve or very arrogant. Either Frank Eiklor believes any belief can be valid by the altruism of its adherents, or he believes Christians have a monopoly on goodness.
We understand Frank Eiklor. In an editorial, he once wrote that witnessing to all people of love, is like breathing to a Christian." We understand that he is sincere, and he regrets the evil done to us in the name of his religion. However, by not fully sharing the true motivation of his endeavors on behalf of our community, he represents a stark example of what is clearly a hidden agenda. It is true that actions speak louder t words, but Frank Eiklor's words speak much about his actions.
(An edited version of this article appeared in The Jewish Press • Friday, May 24, 1991)
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