Sunday, August 30, 2009

Promise Keepers 2.0

They're baaaack!

A Drew University professor who has spent years studying evangelical Christianity says a once mighty men’s revival group is back and is intensifying its outreach to the Jewish community.

And while some of this outreach is in the name of interfaith amity, the group is also firming up its ties to messianic Jews — Jews by birth who profess a belief in both Judaism and Jesus as their messiah.

Messianic Judaism is considered anathema to almost all mainstream Jewish organizations.

J. Terry Todd, director of Drew’s Center on Religion, Culture & Conflict, recently watched a webcast of a two-day conference and prayer rally sponsored by Promise Keepers.

Yes, they're definitely "reaching out" ... to us.

According to an article Todd wrote for the website, the July 31-Aug. 1 rally, held at the stadium of the University of Colorado, was replete with Jewish symbolism. Leaders blew the shofar, welcomed 10,000 guests with the words “Shabbat Shalom,” apologized for Christian participation in the Holocaust, and even donned yellow stars as an act of solidarity with Jewish victims of the Nazis.

At the same time, Todd wrote, the rally featured a “parade of messianic Jewish speakers and entertainers,” including Jonathan Bernis, Joel Chernoff, Dan Juster, and musicians Paul Wilbur and Marty Goetz.

There's a lot more detail on that rally in Todd's full article, including this:

The Galatians 3:28 theme that played most consistently (and insistently) throughout was the need for reconciliation between gentiles and “believing Jews.” The Messianic Jewish movement focuses on the conversion of Jews to Christianity, yet it also encourages Jews to maintain their cultural and religious identities, including their observance of Mosaic laws. You could see some evidence of this impulse in the audience at Folsom Field: the Israeli folk dancers, the shofar blowers, the men (and even some women) wearing kippot and tallitot, arms upraised, singing the praises of Yeshua. “God loves diversity,” Rabbi Jonathan Bernis of Jewish Voice Ministries declared on Friday night. During the altar call, Bernis told Jews to remember that “if you are Jewish and you have converted, you are still Jewish.”

The afternoon’s “Did You Know?” PowerPoint slideshow proclaimed the Jewish people as “the fathers of the faith,” firmly embraced the Jewish roots of Christianity, and soundly rejected Christian supercessionism. God had not abandoned his covenant with Abraham, the voiceover declared, and the Jews are still God’s chosen people. The slideshow also offered an explicit apology for the church’s complicity in supporting and sustaining anti-Semitism. (In the webcast’s chat room, Stanley from West Lafayette, Indiana, typed, “Please forgive us Lord Jesus for not honoring and respecting our Jewish family.”) Then to great applause in the stadium, the narrator declared, “The Jewish people are coming to Christ in record numbers.”

Uh, no. Sorry. They're not.

If you can't quite recall what all of the fuss was about during PK's heyday, here's a pretty comprehensive (and conservative) critque from that time. For a more liberal perspective, there's always NOW's PK page.

My advice to PK2.0, FWIW, would be to leave the Jews alone. We're really not interested. Honest.