30 January 2006

Orthodox Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, a veteran of efforts to bring evangelicals and Jews together over Israeli issues, continued his work this Sunday, when he spoke to the congregation of New Life Church in Colorado Springs at the invitation of National Association of Evangelicals president Ted Haggard. Beefing up the traditional alliance sales pitch, concerning the two religions’ shared interest in the safety of Israel, Eckstein, who founded the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, let New Lifers share the persecution as well, describing how missiles recently paraded in Iran bore both slogans, “Kill the Jews” and “Kill the Crusaders”: an instance of equal-opportunity hate that obligated them, he said, to love eachother. But not forgetting that, in the wake of public skepticism about evangelicals’ motivations in supporting Israel, it’s been Jews who need more convincing about the faltering alliance, Eckstein told New Life that, rather than Jews becoming more Christian, Gentiles were becoming more Jewish. In what way, exactly, Gentiles are becoming more Jewish, the AP, doesn’t say, which is a shame, for it would be an interesting addition to the stories of certain groups of Christians who have begun keeping kosher and talk of themselves as the “new Chosen” — an interpretation of “becoming more Jewish” that might not be of much comfort to Eckstein’s fellow Jews. And in any case, it’s an example of fluid theology that deserves deeper discussion.