Saturday, 27 October 2012

Healing the division between Jews and Christians - the Savile Connection

The recent scandal surrounding Jimmy Savile raises some questions about the relationship between Jews and Christians, but not in obvious ways as I shall explain. Savile was apparently an avowed Roman Catholic, but he was also a strong supporter of the State of Israel according to the Jewish Chronicle, (he didn't believe Israel should have given back land after the Six Day war), as well as a fundraiser for a number of Jewish charities, and Christian ones too - rather shockingly his intent may have been to get close to children of all colours and creeds, and this naturally raises concerns for both Jewish and Christian parents. The Catholic Church has of course had its fair share of abuse scandals, and Savile now has added to the sorrow of ordinary catholics. He received a papal knighthood for instance, although now it may be revoked. However, dig a little deeper and another aspect arises.

The Jewish Chronicle reports that a memorial to Savile has now been removed from the Leeds Jewish Welfare Board (LJWB) building. This shows that he was close to the Jewish community and Savile claimed to be the 'most Jewish Catholic you will ever meet.'
This made me wonder whether there is a link between Savile's name and the city of Seville - a centre of Marano catholics and a place of persecution for Jews through the Spanish Inquisition. Seville had incidentally grown wealthy through trade with the new world. These catholics were however forced converts from Judaism, some embraced the faith, others secretly kept their Jewish ways and traditions. Of course it is not necessary to refer to one's ethnic identity in this matter and even if Savile was a Marano Jew it would not be relevant to the case against him. Other Jews, such as Esther Rantzen, have also acted strongly in support of child protection. In the question of child abuse both perpetrators and victims are from all areas of society, some will be Jews, but many are Gentiles too, so ethnicity is not the issue here.

But the point I want to raise here is the tragedy of the Inquisition, that having failed to convert Jews through love and faith, the Catholic Church abused its power base by trying to force Jews to convert through fear [although according to this BBC Radio 4 programme the Spanish Christians were good at converting Jews to Christ through love prior to their forced conversion]. Whereas Paul wished to make Jews jealous to win them to Christ through the Christian community living out a godly, blessed life, a Church that had lost its way and faith thought it could win through force and intimidation. This is an ongoing tragedy that needs to be remembered.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Israel - a secular State that does not follow the Mosaic Law

Jacob Prasch posts a news item about a Messianic fellowship in Israel that has been found guilty in an Israeli court for failing to marry a lesbian couple. Messianic Hotel Moshav fined heavily for refusing to host lesbian marriage. A letter from the group reads as follows.
"The judge ruled against us, claiming that our refusal to allow gay marriage in the Yad Hashmona guest-house is against the law. we were fined 80,000 shekels and together with our expenses in this case, its very heavy on us.

This is a quote from the ruling:

““Every person who opens a public business in Israel should know that they must serve the whole public equally, without discrimination… which covers sexual orientation as well. As soon as the defendants opened their doors to all, they cannot close them for those who they believe do not meet the requirements found in the Bible or New Testament.”

Needless to say, we do not close our doors to anyone who comes to Yad Hashmona, on the contrary, we are a living testimony of good news of the Messiah to many Israelis that pass through us, this is what I am here for. to be a testimony. But to hold a marriage ceremony of a lesbian couple in Yad Hashmona is to violate God’s requirement over this place that we claim to be a Messianic village, and we could not do that."

This should be a wake up call to those Christian Zionists who think that the modern State of Israel is somehow fulfilling a divine calling when it so openly defies the Mosaic Law, or even a Messianic interpretation of the Law, preferring instead a state of being a law-unto-itself. Of course this should lead us to pray even more for Israel, but let us not be naive. Palestinians too have suffered as a result of the State of Israel's disregard for Mosaic requirements about treating other nationalities with respect.