What Judaism thinks of missionaries

Whenever possible, whenever we were allowed to, we Jews have lived side by side with Christians, Muslims, and pagans, without causing them any trouble. We have no desire to proselytize to them; we have no desire to turn them into Jews. In fact, we have no Commandment in our religion to make any non-Jew into a Jew.

As such, Jews have no problems with people of other religions, and they shouldn’t have a problem with us.

Unfortunately, many Christians do have a mandate to proselytize, and they do feel that they must proselytize to Jews and turn them into Christians.

And that is a problem.

First of all, there can be no peace if people do not accept each other for what they are. If you are unhappy with what I am, you will not be at peace. If you keep trying to change me, you will be disturbing my peace as well.

Our purpose, that is, what Jews do, is to fulfill what Hashem wants us to do. How do we know what Hashem wants us to do? Hashem gave us a Torah, and told us to follow the Torah always. So we study the Torah, and fulfill the Commandments.

Missionaries feel we have that wrong.

Be that as it may, I ask only one thing of them: We don’t proselytize to you, so have the decency not to do it to us.

Unfortunately, missionaries do not care. They have a goal, and being considerate does not have its place in that mission.

What does the Torah say about missionaries? (Please note that this does not apply to people of another religion unless they try to convert Jews. This applies only to missionaries, not to non-Jews who wish to believe what they believe.)

The Torah says:

Should even your brother the son of your mother, your son, your daughter, or your beloved wife, or your dearest friend, try to seduce you secretly, trying to convince you to go and worship the gods of others, that your ancestors did not know, gods of the nations around you, whether near or far, from one end of the earth to the other;

Do not like this person, and do not listen to him, do not have mercy upon him to save him, do not give him the benefit of the doubt, and do not cover up for him.

You must utterly kill him, your hand should be the first to kill him, and the hand of all the nation should follow you. You must pelt him with stones until he dies, because he tried to push you away from Hashem your G-d, Who took you out of Egypt, from the house of slavery.

And all of Israel will hear and fear, and they will not continue to do this terrible thing amongst you.

— Deuteronomy 13:7-12

So you see? Even if you were my dearest friend, or one of my most loved relatives, and you tried to convince me to follow any belief other than that which my ancestors knew, I cannot follow you, and I am not permitted to treat you with love.

To Jews, missionaries are the worst poison. Hitler tried to kill only our bodies. Physical death is temporary, because there is an afterlife and we will stand up when the resurrection of all the dead takes place.

But missionaries destroy Jewish souls, sending them to a death that is permanent. Thus, the Torah tells us that even though we are required to love our fellow man, we are forbidden to love a missionary.

Yes, it is true that they believe they are doing the right thing. They consider us evil (or at best misguided), and they are taught that they must convert us to save us from eternal hell. That does not change our position on the matter. They are wrong, and we must protect ourselves from their harmful influences. Genghis Kahn probably thought he was correct in what he did, Hitler also said that he was right in what he did. Esau also thought he was correct to persecute our Patriarch Jacob, and Laban thought he was correct to try and kill Jacob. This does not make any of them correct. And to the Jewish way of thinking, converting a Jew away from Judaism is worse than killing him. Killing someone is bad and wrong, but in the long run it generally harms only the body. Conversion harms the soul, and is more difficult to repair.

So, when someone writes me, and tries to convince me that I am wrong about Christianity, I will not treat that person with respect and dignity. I will tell him or her exactly how I feel about them.

And that is what the Torah tells me to do.

You might ask, why don’t I simply explain to them why I don’t believe in Jesus?

There are some good reasons for that. I will tell you one of them.

There is a basic difference between the way that Jews think and the way that Christians think. As a rule, many Christians are taught to have blind faith. That is their springboard, and that way of thinking permeates all their religion. If they do not understand something, they simply believe what their priests or other leaders teach them. (Yes, I know this is not absolutely true for all denominations, but it is generally true for those denominations that proselytize.)

So, for example, when their priest or teacher tells them that Isaiah 7:14 prophesies that a virgin will give birth to the Messiah, they accept that. They will not check to see what the original Hebrew really says, and when someone who actually knows Hebrew points out that the Hebrew does not say virgin, and in any case is not talking about the Messiah, they are unable to understand that information. (You don’t even have to know Hebrew to know that this “proof” is bogus. Read the chapter, and you’ll see that Isaiah is not talking about the Messiah at all. Of course, that does not matter to a missionary, because he uses the word “proof” to mean something very different than what everyone else uses it to mean.)

I, as a Jew, study the Tanach, and I have faith in what it says. Because I have studied the Bible, and I know that Isaiah said “young woman”, not “virgin“, I now know what it is I am supposed to believe.

Most Christians don’t work that way. Christians have been told that Isaiah says that the Messiah will be born of a virgin, and afterwards, when they read the Bible, they accept that the Bible says that. It doesn’t matter in the least that the Bible says ‘young woman.” As far as they are concerned, it says “virgin.” Their faith has created a “proof” that isn’t even there!
And they truly believe that such faith is good!

In general, Christians do not arrive at their beliefs logically. Christian missionaries arrive at their beliefs through faith, and often blind faith. So argument does not really sway them. They will tell you that faith is the most important thing to have, and that we must have faith.

We Jews try to tell them that what they are saying contradicts what the Torah says, and we have faith in Hashem, and in the Torah that Hashem gave us. For some reason, missionaries cannot seem to grasp this concept. I do not know why.

Jews study the Talmud, which is applied logic. When we believe something, when we have faith, it is because we have studied it, we have examined it, we have looked it up ourselves, we have attempted to discover if it makes sense, we have double-checked to make sure we got it right, we argued with our Rabbis to make sure we received it correctly, we check to see if it fits into everything we learn.

If we hear a new idea, we look it up and see if it makes sense. If it does not conform to what the Torah teaches us, we will not believe it. If it conforms to what the Torah teaches us, we believe in it. Why? Because we have faith.

So when Christianity came on the scene, we double checked the Torah to see if it fits into what the Torah teaches us. It didn’t. It still doesn’t. And when we discuss Christianity with a missionary, that’s the tack we often take. Our purpose is to see what Hashem wants us to do. How do we know what Hashem wants us to do? Hashem gave us a Torah, and told us to follow the Torah always.

Years ago, I had a long and involved conversation with a number of people, Jews and Christians. We spent at least a month discussing Christianity, and I demonstrated that Jews have numerous reasons for not believing in Jesus. I showed clearly that we have reasons based on logic, not on emotion; that we have clear support from the Torah that we are forbidden to believe that Jesus was the messiah, or that he is divine.

And you know what one of the Christians said? She said to me, after all that discussion and argument, “Why not believe in Jesus? Give it a try!”

After a month of argument, and Scriptural verses bandied back and forth, she still thought we just simply did not want to. She was completely incapable of understanding that we had reasons for not accepting Jesus. As far as she was concerned, it was all emotional.

So, there is no point whatsoever in explaining things to missionaries, or even talking to them at all. They are simply not equipped to accept our way of thinking. Most Christian missionaries got converted by emotional means, and they cannot understand rational ones. They can’t even realize that rational reasons exist.

In short, his blind faith has convinced him that he alone is right, and that he is correct to try to convert everyone else. I, as a Jew, resent his attempting to convert Jews. And I, as a Jew, am required to repulse him any way I can, and save my soul from his clutches.

That is why when someone writes me a letter trying to convince me to believe in Jesus, I send the person away in the strongest of terms. If he persists, I am not polite to him at all. He does not deserve my being sensitive to his feelings, as he has not been sensitive to mine. So I do not worry about being offensive. I say exactly what I feel, and they seldom appreciate my candid response.

I have lived and studied Judaism all my life. I have also spent many years studying the christian bible. I have spent years discussing Judaism and christianity with my christian friends. (To be clear on this, some were Catholic, some were Protestants of various types, especially Baptist.) I have also spent years of my life debating, arguing, and generally wasting my time with christian missionaries. I know what they have to say, I know why they say it, and most of the time I know what they are going to say before they say it. My faith is based on a deep study of Judaism, and quite a detailed exposure to christianity. My faith is not blind at all. But I no longer see any point in debating, especially with people who aren’t open to listening to me at all. One-sided “discussions” are at best a waste of time. (This web site was not created for them, but for people interested in learning about Judaism. That’s why it is so difficult to find the anti-misionary articles on my web site. It is not the purpose of my site.)

Just to make sure I am being clear: if you want to write me a letter to convince me that Jesus is the Messiah, or that Jesus is in the Prophecies of the Tanach, or anything else about Jesus or Christianity, or to change my beliefs about Judaism in any way, DON’T. I am not interested, and I don’t want to receive any such letters. Neither does my wife.

One thing I ask: We don’t do it to you, so have the decency not to do it to us. But if you do it to me, expect an answer you won’t like.

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