Thursday, January 26, 2006

Eastern churches
Ship of Fools
James Bernstein, one of the founders of Jews for Jesus, is now an Orthodox Christian priest.

As I understand his story, he grew up in an Orthodox Jewish home, and was converted to Christianity in an evangelical context. That was the only form of Christianity he knew about, and although he believed it was
true, it was never really comfortable for him.

When he discovered Orthodox Christianity, he felt like he'd discovered the Christianity he'd always wanted. Our worship has clear and obvious connections to its roots in synagogue worship; our orthopraxy is different from Orthodox Jewish orthopraxy, but it makes sense to someone from an Orthodox Jewish background.

In fact, a friend of mine who is an Orthodox Jew now living in Israel says that the experience of Orthodox Christianity and Orthodox Judaism in the US are very similar: we have days of religious obligation that no one else observes, dietary restrictions that no one else understands, and old men in beards sitting around arguing about things that no one else cares about.
- Josephine, northwestern US

I’ve thought that for a long time, having been at least acquainted with the Orthodox tradition for over 20 years.

I’ve heard of Fr James: really part of the convert boomlet from American evangelicalism.

A true home for the Jews is in this part of the Catholic faith, not in the Messianic movement, which is evangelical Protestantism in Jewish drag (and very offensive to Jews).

Hard to sell considering the history of Eastern European anti-Semitism but Josephine still has a point. It’s rather like Orthodox and Muslims: they’ve lived next to each other for centuries and resemble each other but hate each other. Lots of Muslim stuff was originally Eastern Christian (they’re the Mormons of Orthodoxy); this Ship of Fools thread says the Hasidim got their idea of charismatic rebbes from their Russian neighbours and their monastic старцы (elders).

Then there’s the phenom I’ve only recently learnt about of some evangelical Protestants joining Messianic groups (my girlfriend says a lot of their members aren’t Jewish but the one I visited once wasn’t like that) to adopt current Jewish practice in order to be closer to God. A noble intention but an issue that was settled in the Acts of the Apostles! The Messianic thing is a revival of the judaising heresy rejected by the first Christians.

Another fun fact from the girlfriend: most people who buy kosher food in the US are... Seventh-Day Adventists.

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