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Proselytized By Messianic Jewish Taxi Driver!


fluffykitten

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I'm in a large midwestern city where I work for part of the year.  I don't have a car so I often take a taxi home.

 

 Today, the driver and I got to talking. We were talking about the demographics of people in this area, and I mentioned that I was Jewish, which is unusual here. He said, "Oh really? I just went to [HebrewName] synagogue for Rosh Hashanah"  "Oh, great. I've been looking for a synagogue. Where is it?" "Oh, [HebrewName] is a Messianic synagogue."  Basically, those are Jews who've converted to Christianity but still maintain Jewish traditions. But this guy went the other way; he grew up Baptist but learned that he has some Jewish ancestry.

 

Uh oh.  I didn't want to be rude, so I told him that a classmate from school is a Messianic Jew. It was meant as a subtle way of saying, "I've already heard this stuff and wasn't interested." That didn't stop him. He told me about a "Torah study" (no such thing in Judaism) tomorrow night; I should have been forthright, but I just said "I'd like to, but I teach at night." (Not true.)  

 

Luckily, it was a short ride so all of this was quick. It was just a little odd, since Jews for Jesus types rarely approach me.

 

(I am interested in how/why people leave Christianity, but I've always been Jewish myself so I'm not sure if this is the proper forum. I just thought the proselytizing might be relevant. You can definitely move this thread if it should be somewhere else.)

 

 

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I don't know which section this should be in but I think a lot of us can relate to being proselytized. Possibly not by Messianic Jews but does it matter what they called themselves--Baptist, Mormon, JW, Messianic Jew, etc.? Bottom line, they're pushing religion on strangers uninvited, and usually unwanted, but driven by their own fervor or conscience.

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Hi, always good to meet a Jew.  I'm Hindu myself, born and raised (also born and raised in the U.S., in case my usage of American idioms sounds confusing in light of what I've just said).  You may find this difficult to believe, but our two religions have quite a bit in common, and I've always found dialog with Jews to be very fluid.

 

You want to know why people leave Christianity, and I suspect is a wide variety of motivations, so the most I can do is tell you my own reason.  The details are in my first post on the "Testimonies" forum.  But long story short, I converted to evangelical Christianity at age 19.  At age 25 I realized I was an idiot for throwing away the most essential component of my culture, and so I came back.  I can certainly understand your angst with regard to Jews for Jesus or Messianic Jews.  I feel similarly when I encounter Indian evangelical Christians.  I know this is a rather tribalistic mentality, but at some level I feel these people are betraying their culture and doing disservice to the millions of Indians who resisted conversion to Christianity in the British colonial period.  I imagine you feel similarly given that European Jews have historically been placed under similar (and probably greater) pressure to convert.  I imagine you might view Messianic Jews as traitors or collaborators, i.e. people who yielded to Christian aggression.  I know I would, and I'm not sure this feeling is unfounded.  I have to say that based on how you described your exchange with this person, you were far more cordial than I would be.  Were I in an analogous position with an Indian evangelical, I would probably have told him to enjoy watching his relatives tortured in hell by a European god for the sin of retaining the traditions of their ancestors.  And then I would likely realize my error after remembering that I was once guilty of the same thing as him (i.e. being a Christian).

 

The question I am interested in is: why do people convert to Christianity from other religions?  I'm quite curious if people have the same reasons I did, or if there are other motivations.  To date I can't remember anyone on this forum who has a similar conversion/deconversion story as myself.

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Uh oh.  I didn't want to be rude, so I told him that a classmate from school is a Messianic Jew. It was meant as a subtle way of saying, "I've already heard this stuff and wasn't interested." That didn't stop him. He told me about a "Torah study" (no such thing in Judaism) tomorrow night; I should have been forthright, but I just said "I'd like to, but I teach at night." (Not true.)  

 

Wait, no such thing as "Torah study" in Judaism? Weird, the Jews I know sometimes do, you know, gather to do Torah studies together, by that very name.

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Uh oh.  I didn't want to be rude, so I told him that a classmate from school is a Messianic Jew. It was meant as a subtle way of saying, "I've already heard this stuff and wasn't interested." That didn't stop him. He told me about a "Torah study" (no such thing in Judaism) tomorrow night; I should have been forthright, but I just said "I'd like to, but I teach at night." (Not true.)  

 

Wait, no such thing as "Torah study" in Judaism? Weird, the Jews I know sometimes do, you know, gather to do Torah studies together, by that very name.

 

 

You're right.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torah_study

 

I had never heard it called by that name. Usually, Jews talk about studying the Talmud rather than the Torah.

 

In any case, the method of study is known as "Pilpul," literally "pepper," which refers to studying the Talmud. It's very different from a bible study in that the point is to debate the interpretation of passages in the Talmud.

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Hi, always good to meet a Jew.  I'm Hindu myself, born and raised (also born and raised in the U.S., in case my usage of American idioms sounds confusing in light of what I've just said).  You may find this difficult to believe, but our two religions have quite a bit in common, and I've always found dialog with Jews to be very fluid.

 

You want to know why people leave Christianity, and I suspect is a wide variety of motivations, so the most I can do is tell you my own reason.  The details are in my first post on the "Testimonies" forum.  But long story short, I converted to evangelical Christianity at age 19.  At age 25 I realized I was an idiot for throwing away the most essential component of my culture, and so I came back.  I can certainly understand your angst with regard to Jews for Jesus or Messianic Jews.  I feel similarly when I encounter Indian evangelical Christians.  I know this is a rather tribalistic mentality, but at some level I feel these people are betraying their culture and doing disservice to the millions of Indians who resisted conversion to Christianity in the British colonial period.  I imagine you feel similarly given that European Jews have historically been placed under similar (and probably greater) pressure to convert.  I imagine you might view Messianic Jews as traitors or collaborators, i.e. people who yielded to Christian aggression.  I know I would, and I'm not sure this feeling is unfounded.  I have to say that based on how you described your exchange with this person, you were far more cordial than I would be.  Were I in an analogous position with an Indian evangelical, I would probably have told him to enjoy watching his relatives tortured in hell by a European god for the sin of retaining the traditions of their ancestors.  And then I would likely realize my error after remembering that I was once guilty of the same thing as him (i.e. being a Christian).

 

The question I am interested in is: why do people convert to Christianity from other religions?  I'm quite curious if people have the same reasons I did, or if there are other motivations.  To date I can't remember anyone on this forum who has a similar conversion/deconversion story as myself.

 

You have an interesting story. i"ll take a look at your testimony; I'm curious about what made you convert.

 

I haven't met any Indian evangelicals though I know some Indian Catholics.

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I never mind learning about other religions, or other denominations of xianity, so I like when people talk to me about their beliefs or their specific worship or spiritual experiences.  I think it's interesting what people have come up with, and how their beliefs work.  I don't appreciate people trying to convert me, or not going away when I've made it clear it's time for them to go on (we have a Jehovah's Witness place real close to us, so we get them pretty regular -- they need to expand their expeditions beyond a few blocks from their building!  I don't answer the door when they knock now).

 

I deconverted because I always had questions about the stories I learned in Sunday school.  Even as a young person, I knew that Adam & Eve and Noah's Ark didn't make rational sense, so I figured they were myths explaining where people thought we came from.  I still thought Jesus and the New Testament were real and relevant.  But the more I learned, the more contradictions there were, and I also became aware of all the different denominations that believed radically different things and how they honestly thought other denominations were damned to hell.  I finally decided that if god/jesus were real, they could have made everything much more clear and concise, and if they couldn't bother doing that, then forget it, I'm no expert on religion, so it's not like I would be capable of coming up with GOD'S ULTIMATE TRUTH.   Now after reading a lot of things on this site, I found out how even the New Testament was cobbled together from older myths and by people with agendas of their own.  

 

If there is any other greater Other in the universe, I will be happy to meet with It when It is ready to sit down and chat with me!

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Hello fluffykitten, I didn't realize there were many Messianic Jews in the midwest.  As a young evangelical, I met some Jews for Jesus when I was in college and grad school near and in NYC.  I remember one JfJ leader telling me that when other Jews asked him why he converted to CHRISTIANITY, he's say, "Because I'm stupid."  This was his way of trying to hook them into conversation - "whaddaya mean, you're stupid?"...

 

BTW do you have a cat?  Lots of us on here are cat lovers.

 

Bhim, I think I mentioned a while back that my background isn't like yours exactly, but my parents belonged to Self-Realization Fellowship, founded by Swami Yogananda in the 1920s or 30s.  It's a westernized kind of vedanta/yoga discipline with lots of theistic doctrine.  I pretty much went along with all of it until college, when lots of personal issues made me needy enough to glom onto evangelical Christianity.  It seemed to offer what I needed at the time, and I was convinced of its truth - though I went through three denominations (Ass. of God, Reformed Episcopal [Calvinistic break-off group], Catholic).

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Hello fluffykitten, I didn't realize there were many Messianic Jews in the midwest.  As a young evangelical, I met some Jews for Jesus when I was in college and grad school near and in NYC.  I remember one JfJ leader telling me that when other Jews asked him why he converted to CHRISTIANITY, he's say, "Because I'm stupid."  This was his way of trying to hook them into conversation - "whaddaya mean, you're stupid?"...

 

BTW do you have a cat?  Lots of us on here are cat lovers.

 

Bhim, I think I mentioned a while back that my background isn't like yours exactly, but my parents belonged to Self-Realization Fellowship, founded by Swami Yogananda in the 1920s or 30s.  It's a westernized kind of vedanta/yoga discipline with lots of theistic doctrine.  I pretty much went along with all of it until college, when lots of personal issues made me needy enough to glom onto evangelical Christianity.  It seemed to offer what I needed at the time, and I was convinced of its truth - though I went through three denominations (Ass. of God, Reformed Episcopal [Calvinistic break-off group], Catholic).

 

Funny about your JfJ friend. To me, Jews for Jesus/Messianic Judaism is just evangelical Christianity packaged for Jews.

 

Unfortunately, I travel too much and am not responsible enough to have a cat. I love fluffy little cats though.

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