Jonathan Fox, the reporter who wrote "Epistle to the Jews" (May 4), was very courteous and is obviously very competent as a journalist. In fact, I found the article to be extremely well-written. Nevertheless, the article as edited is not without problems.
It didn't bother me when you referred to my hair as "stiffly combed gray hair," even though it is combed with the greatest sensitivity and is obviously brown (except at the temples), as anyone can see from the cover photo. However, seriously, I have two criticisms of greater substance that I want to raise.
The first is the practice of inventing quotations and attributing them to me. For example, in the last paragraph you say, "After all, he says, Jesus was crucified for his beliefs." I never said this. Perhaps the lack of quotation marks acknowledges as much, but it is still in the form of a direct quote. Jesus wasn't crucified for His beliefs but for our sin. If integrity is important for the Dallas Observer, you will rectify this egregious distortion.
Second, the article reflects an extremely superficial understanding of the historical and theological issues. It is not "a modern twist" that Jews who believe in Jesus "still call themselves Jewish." Read the New Testament even once, and I challenge you to find one Jewish believer in Jesus who renounced his Jewishness. Instead, you will repeatedly find Jews who believe in Jesus. In fact, if Jesus is the Messiah (and this is a central claim of the New Testament), how could faith in Him make any Jewish person less Jewish?
There is also a seriously flawed understanding of "dual covenant theology." It is not simply the belief that "the Jews' covenant with God is still in effect," for I, along with most evangelical Christians, believe the election of the Jewish people and the Abrahamic Covenant is as valid today as it was 3,000 years ago. The essence of dual covenant theology is the claim that this historical and corporate relationship is sufficient for a right personal relationship to God. It is not.
These comments aside, thank you for the attention you have given to this subject.
Jim R. Sibley
Editor's note: We believed it was clear that Jonathan Fox was paraphrasing Mr. Sibley.
Reading Jonathan Fox's report "Epistle to the Jews" brings to mind two important historical events concerning the treatment of Jews who did indeed become Christians.
During the Inquisition period in Spain, many Jews did convert to Christianity. But the fanatic elements did not rest. Many of the converts, or conversos, were watched. If it turned out that a convert refrained from working on the Jewish Sabbath or had a more elaborate dinner on Friday night, he was charged with secretly practicing Judaism and being a "heretic." This subjected the heretic to being burned at the stake.
During the Nazi period in Germany, there were also numerous converts. One can imagine the emotional shock alone when a loyal German citizen who may have been an officer in the Kaiser's army during World War I, who had been honored for heroism on behalf of the Fatherland and had been a practicing Christian, was hauled off to the concentration camp and the gas chamber because, though a Christian and his father a Christian, his grandfather had been a Jew. Consequently, he was not "Judenrein" or cleanly not Jewish.
The moral of the story: Whatever the subject, the fanatics never rest.
Robert N. Benson
Thanks to Jonathan Fox for a well-written article on an important subject. I was raised Jewish but don't consider myself religious at all. However, I still identify with the Jewish faith and am trying daily to get closer to those roots.
I believe that I am tolerant of all people, but I take offense to this mission described in Fox's "Epistle to the Jews." I can appreciate the Southern Baptist belief in "witnessing," but their extremism can only be viewed as dangerous.
I could be wrong, but I think that anti-Semitism stems from lack of understanding and the belief of some Christians that Jews are simply Christians that just didn't accept Jesus and therefore didn't evolve. So they look down on Jews with pity and/or disgust.
It's this arrogance that upsets me. Jewish people don't need to be "brought" to G-d; they live with G-d everyday. Jews don't need to be "saved" spiritually; they need to be protected from this direct and indirect harassment. While working in a restaurant, I was shocked to see a table of a dozen teenagers gang up on this poor little Jewish girl (must have been 10 years old) that was trying to eat dinner with her family. Their inappropriate "witnessing" made her cry. That's not love or tolerance; it's disrespectful and narrow-minded.
I want to thank Mr. Sibley for taking an interest in Judaism but would like to ask him to let people be people. The article made me feel stronger about my family ties, and for that, I also thank him.
Your feature on Jim Sibley shows a total lack of understanding of the insidious nature of the "Messianic Jews." The Messianics are a group which is not Jewish, but hate-filled Christians with a sole goal of destroying the Jewish following by targeting the parts of Judaism that have previously been untouched by those that have attempted to eliminate Jews by assimilation.
Included in these parts are some of our Jewish traditions, particularly those followed by the ultra-Orthodox Jewry. The Orthodox Jews are usually those Jews that, from my perspective, seem most protected from conversion because of their kibbutz-like insularity.
I am Jewish, and I live right here in Dallas. So do I "heed the call from Jim Sibley?" As a Jew, I act in accordance to my religion -- a religion based on contractual relationships and fair play.
Turnaround is fair play. If Jim Sibley is going to try converting my people, you will find tzaddicks like me going around and converting Baptists. Baptists cannot afford this, and therefore should muzzle Jim Sibley before he starts damaging their image to Jews. I would like to inform people out of my concern for all Christians: The Baptists cannot afford to anger all those who understand the complex place in this world that Jews hold. In many cases, we are the record keepers, the professors, the doctors, and the technical experts that keep this country running and sucessful.
And if the Baptists stand alone, they simply will not be able to maintain their own following. With a rising U.S. Catholic population, the Baptists will start to understand that targeting Jews is not only unproductive but in the end will lead to the decay of the spread of their own religion. Just deserts, I'd say.
Now the question is: Why does the Dallas Observer support this so strongly? Is it to limit your targeted reader group to Southern Baptists? Sounds like a bad decision. If you want to run an article like this, my advice is that you run a full counter-story. Without a counter-story, you appear to take a side, and in this case, the side you appear to take makes me want to stop reading the Dallas Observer. I, like many other Jews and passionate pro-Semites, can easily switch to other newspapers.
David Benjamin Paul
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