i. What Fuels the Machine?
There are many reasons and tactics employed by the missionary to motivate him/her to proselytize to others. It is worth noting that no one has ever heard of “Buddhists for Jesus,” or “Muslims for Jesus,” yet they have heard of “Jews for Jesus,” What is this obsession for converting Jews? Where does it stem from?
Among other reasons there are three very compelling ones that move a missionary to convert Jews. Here they are:
1. Religious imperative: Generally motivated by a calling based on NT Scriptural passages such as “To the Jew first and also to the Greek (gentile)” (Romans 1:16). Fundamentalist Christians believe they have an obligation to convert anyone ‘Unsaved” person, especially Jews. Additionally, many Christian “Believers” feel that the Jews hold the trump card to bringing on the “Second Coming” of Jesus and are fond of quoting such passages as “Salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:22) and “You will not see me until you (the Jews) say, “Blessed is he (Jesus) that comes in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 23:39)
Moreover, in the seventh chapter of the Book of Revelation, Paul tells of a concept that in the end of days 144,000 (or 12K from each of the 12 Tribes of Israel) will convert to Christianity. The rest will perish in the Armageddon or “War to end all wars.” This “Great Tribulation,” where the return of Jesus takes place, is a fundamentalist understanding of how the Messianic Age will pan out. It should be pointed out to the students that nowhere in Jewish Scriptural literature are there teachings about a so-called “Second Coming” of the Messiah. When he is revealed he will get the job done right the first time around!
2. The Psychological Obsession:
Since Jesus was Jewish and practice Judaism, and the entire concept of a Messiah emanates from Jewish teachings, it comes as a big surprise to many Fundamentalist Christians that Jews don’t “believe in Jesus.” Converting Jews, in the eyes of these fundamentalists, is seen as an affirmation of their faith and soothes any doubts. It should be noted to the students, that is was with this obsession that most of the pogroms, expulsions, mass-executions and persecution of Jews took place in Europe. Recalcitrant Jews were invariably identified by the both the Church leaders and masses as the subject of these verses:
a. “You (Jews) are of your father the devil” (John 8:44)
b. “The Jews who killed both Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out, they are not pleasing to God.” (I Thessalonians 2:15)
c. “All the people (Jews) answered and said, his blood is upon us and our children.” (Matthew 27:25)
3. Saving Good People from Hell
According to evangelical Christians, or “Born Agains,” as they are known, the world is composed of two types of people – those who are saved, and those who are lost. Their core belief system teaches that all human beings are born in a state of sin and ultimately will go to Hell forever unless they develop a personal relationship with Jesus the Messiah and Savior. This simplistic way of viewing the world impels them to want to save good people from the fate of eternal damnation. Not that they need to do so to ensure their place in Heaven, rather out of a basically altruistic motivation to save others. Here are some of the passages that they rely on:
a. “Truly, truly I say to you unless one is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.” (John 3:4)
b. “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and no one comes to the father but through me.” (John 14:6)
c. “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” (I Timothy 1:15)