Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Small Point

Dennis Prager, a solid ally in the American Campaign (my new title for what is often called the "culture war"), makes a fair enough case about how Mitt Romney's Mormonism should have no place in our deciding either for or against his candidacy.. 

Frankly, I think his and other's worry about this is overdrawn, but, as I say, fair enough.

Anyway, along the way of making the point, he makes also "three observations" about what he, as a Jew, notices about the relationship between Mormons and evangelicals.  While his second observation is correct, his analogue is flawed.
Observation #2: I may be mistaken, but I believe that what most annoys evangelicals (and some other Christians) about Mormonism is that Mormons call themselves Christians. In order for Jews to better understand evangelicals — and for evangelicals to better understand Jews — I think there is a parallel here. The vast majority of Jews understand that in a free society, people convert to other religions. Therefore, some Christians convert to Judaism, and some Jews convert to Christianity. What particularly annoys Jews is not the existence of converts but the existence of “Jews for Jesus.” To most Jews, this is a misleading label, because people who come to believe in Christ should call themselves Christians, not Jews. (my italics)
I'm afraid the parallel does not hold.  One cannot honestly call oneself a Christian, or a Mormon either for that matter, if one does not claim allegiance to and identification with the explicitly religious practices and beliefs of that faith.  However, one may in all honesty identify as a Jew without practicing or believing any of the tenets of Judaism.  There is such a thing as an ethnic Jew.  There is no such thing, properly, as an ethnic Christian.  Hence, a Jew for Jesus is no less valid than an atheist Jew.

A small point.

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