You never know how an off-handed comment is going to be taken by someone it wasn’t addressed to. You also don’t know who’s going to be seeing it if you put it out in the twittersphere:
@calebhegg why do you believe that to be the case?
— Rabbi Eric Kotkin (@TheCollegeRabbi) March 7, 2014
Mr. Hegg was nice enough to send me a lengthy response to the question. However, the message I personally took from it is not the one he may have wanted to communicate.
There’s a prevalent belief in the Christian community (Messianic community included) expressed by Mr. Hegg that if someone doesn’t believe in Jesus then they must be blind. It’s only under this condition that he can love me, kind of the same way we love special needs people even if they act out. We assume that their actions are not done with malice but rather because they are of diminished capacity (or in the case of Jews lack the Holy Spirit). Their are two implications from this: 1. certainly if we would only accept the Holy Spirit our minds would be changed, presumedly by reading the New Testament 2. that those people that we consider to be holy and to have a special relationship with G-d who are living as Jews don’t really have the relationship they believe that they do. You could see where I might find this problematic.
At the risk of being offensive, but I can’t find another way to say this, I find nothing compelling about the New Testament that would make me want to convert. I’m unsure of exactly what to make of Jesus because some narratives make him seem like a friendly preacher to the masses others make him seem judgmental, temperamental, and sometimes even outright hostile. Even if one assumes the miracles mentioned in the New Testament are factual, and I find no reason to make this assumption, they pale compared to some of the miracles mentioned in the Bible, with none of the figures in the Bible ever being assumed to be more than human.
I don’t consider myself to be blind. I think I see quite clearly, and based on what I know about Christianity I see no reason to accept it. What I do see here is a latent hostility and contempt of believers for one another as well as those outside the fold. Nonbelievers as well as mainstream Christians need to be written off while fellow Messianics cause problems because their theology differs.
I think I understand why this is the case; the “other” is threatening. Nonbelievers are threatening because they don’t accept at all. Christians are threatening because they betray the fact that whatever you want to call it, Christianity is not compatible with Judaism. Fellow Messianics present the most problems however, because in their attempts to reconcile New Testament/Christian doctrine with Biblical/Jewish doctrine every person is forced to do so in order to relieve their personal philosophical/theological issues. However, by doing so Messianics end up highlighting problems for each other that if there was a system that worked for a particular individual, another person’s competing system ultimately highlights the problems contained within the first person’s theology. It’s messy and it hits the core of who and what a person is. Of course this will cause tension and make it more difficult to show the brotherly love they know is incumbent upon them. The fact that Messianics are able to reconcile with each other is a testament to their strong faith, but many people have faith in many things. Faith is not a compelling reason to accept something; only cognitively sound ideas should be entertained.
So, Mr. Hegg I appreciate your time and your timely response. Thank you.