Overland Monthly / OV153 - Jews Not to be Converted to Christianity
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OV153 JEWS NOT TO BE CONVERTED TO CHRISTIANITY
BY C. T. RUSSELL Pastor London and Brooklyn Tabernacle
IN ALL PARTS of the world, heroic efforts are being made by Christians to reach the Jews—to bring them into the various branches of the Christian Church—into the various denominations of Christendom. The Church of England maintains expensive missions for the Jews, not only in Jerusalem, but in various provinces of Turkey and in Austria, and elsewhere. Presbyterians and Baptists are also energetic in their endeavor to "save God’s ancient and Covenant people." The Jews resent such "missions," but not always rationally. They admit that Judaism should be based upon reason. Logically, therefore, there is no more reason why a Jew should complain against missions than that infidels should complain. Infidels generally take the logical view and say, Let whoever likes believe any of the different theories presented in the name of Jesus. Nobody is compelled to attend the "missions;" neither should anybody feel offended at the missionaries nor at those who attend. Realizing the force of this argument, some Jews apologize, saying: We do not object to the preaching of Jesus any more than we object to Mohammedanism or any other religion. We object, say they, to underhanded methods being used—the enticement of Jewish children with candy, and of Jewish people out of employment with clothing and situations. Our reply is that Jews should be able to provide as many picnics and candies as others for their children, and Jewish employers ought to be as able to offer situations to young men as Christian employers. But the peculiarity of Jewish opposition to Christian missionaries is that infidel Jews who have no religion of their own, and are really, therefore, not Jews at all, not believers in the Bible nor in Abraham, Moses nor the Prophets as God’s mouthpieces—these make the most violent opposition to "missions."
These Jews are generally Socialists. Only a few days ago they precipitated a riot in the city of Toronto in their opposition to some Presbyterians and some Jewish converts to Presbyterianism. Nor are they as logical as we might have expected. Our own experience recently in Vienna proved this. The socialistic, unbelieving Hebrews who have abandoned their own Jewish religion, were the ones who came to our meeting, and, by their unjust, ungentlemanly conduct, hindered us from addressing several hundred real Jews who were anxious to hear us. And they opposed merely because some one spread a false report that I was seeking to "mission" the Jews. The unfitness of such people for any kind of Socialism is manifest. No one could be a good or true Socialist, and yet be unwilling that his neighbor should exercise the same liberty as himself in respect to religious and other questions. Although the majority of ministers in all denominations have become Higher Critics, infidels, and wholly disbelieve in hell torment, nevertheless they conduct "missions," etc., just the same as when they did believe in such things. If, therefore, the Jews could get the proper thought they would greatly appreciate the missionaries for their endeavor to save them from eternal torment. The Jews should be taught by their rabbis, and should be able to answer such arguments by
OV154 showing that "the wages of sin is death," and that hope for a life beyond the grave is the resurrection hope, and that the resurrection hope depends on Messiah’s Kingdom, which has not yet been established, but for which they wait. Alas, that the Jewish rabbis give practically all of their attention to the reading of prayers in.the synagogue, which the people could do as well for themselves, and to the killing of the cattle, which can be done better by our great beef trusts—which indeed do the most of it and then leave it for the rabbis to mark "kosher." God’s Word through the Prophet applies to Jews as well as to Christians—"My people perish for lack of knowledge;" "There is a famine in the land, not for bread, but for the hearing (understanding) of the Word of the Lord."
Pastor Russell’s Views Misunderstood.
My own view of the relationship between Jews and Christians is so different from anything that has been previously presented for eighteen hundred years that I cannot wonder that the Jews are slow to understand it. So far from endeavoring to bring Jews into any of the Christian denominations, Catholic or Protestant, I would advise the Jews to stand clear of all of them. I seek to point out to the Jew that he has his own Divine promises, which are separate and distinct from those of Christians. God’s promises to the Jew are all earthly. The Israelites are all to come back from the state of death under Messiah’s glorious Kingdom, which will gradually efface sin and death from the world and make it like the Garden of Eden—Paradise restored, world-wide. If a Jew would have a high place in favor with the great Restorer, the great Messiah, he should take heed to his steps and order them according to the Word of God, as expressed through Messiah and the Prophets. To whatever extent he cultivates a love for righteousness, truth and honesty, nobility of mind and heart, generosity—in that same proportion he shall be the better fitted and prepared for the glorious good time coming. To whatever extent he neglects the Law and the Prophets, the practice of self-control, etc., in that same proportion he will be degraded and enter the future life under less favorable conditions. The Divine promise is that when Messiah’s Kingdom shall be established under the whole heavens, Abraham, Isaac and the Prophets, and all Jews found loyal to God, will be granted high positions of influence and authority throughout the world—they will be the princes or rulers in all the earth. The Jews naturally will be the best prepared to receive those resurrected representatives of the Kingdom—the Kingdom itself being spiritual and invisible. Naturally the Jews will rally first to these leaders of their own nation. And those who have learned by practice to love righteousness and truth and to practice self-control will find it the easier to come into line with the laws and regulations of that glorious Epoch. Under Messiah’s Kingdom, righteousness will be laid to the line and judgment to the plummet. This will mean a severe ordeal to those who love unrighteousness and untruth, but eventually it will mean a reign of law and righteousness world-wide, with countless opportunities and blessings and assistances. And although those blessings will come first to the Jew, they will not stop with the Jew, but will extend, through the Jew, to all the families of the earth. All who love righteousness and truth will be attracted by the new regime and become associated with the Jews therein, and thus, as the Scriptures declare, Abraham will become the "Father of many nations."
The Jew who ceases to be a Jew ceases to look in the proper direction for the blessings God has promised to him. And this is true, whether it be by becoming a Presbyterian, an Episcopalian, a Romanist or an unbeliever—an infidel. In the Jewish Law and promises are the proper incentives for the Jewish life. The Jew has in his Law and in the prophecies everything
OV155 to encourage him to live a careful, honest, upright life—just as much as he would find if he believed the New Testament also. Indeed, we incline to think that, while Jewish training might be greatly improved upon, nevertheless the Jews as a whole are probably as moral a race as any in the world. There are probably as few sons of Jews in prisons, jails, penitentiaries, etc., as of Presbyterians, Episcopalians and Roman Catholics. Is not this an argument showing that the New Testament and faith in Jesus are not necessary to the Jew to produce moral fruitage?.
Christianity is Misunderstood.
The world misunderstands Christianity; so do the majority of Christians. The general misconception is, that the Church of Christ is in the world as a reformatory institution—to give the world correct moral ideas and to help keep them out of drunkard graves and from all kinds of licentiousness, brutality, profanity, etc.
Indeed, the world measures Christianity by its success in fighting down these evils, and many Christians have the same false views. Such a view is entirely wrong.
When God gets ready to deal with the world’s sins—licentiousness, drunkenness, false doctrines, etc.—He will proceed along different lines entirely from any that He has authorized the Church to prosecute. He will establish His Kingdom. He will use Divine Wisdom and Power for the subjection of sin and all unrighteousness.
He will grapple with the various forms of sin, and not unsuccessfully, as some in His Name are doing to-day. When His time shall come, when the Kingdom of Messiah shall be established, so great power will be exercised amongst men as to effectually rid the world of sin and sinners until every knee shall bow and every tongue confess, and until the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth as the waters cover the deep and until God’s will shall be done on earth as thoroughly as it is done in heaven. So far from teaching that the Church in the present time is to conquer the world, the great Redeemer distinctly told that His followers should suffer persecution and that at His own Second Coming there would be "little faith found on the earth." Instead of saying or implying that at His coming the world would be converted, everything in the Master’s teachings advise us that at that time evil men and seducers will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. (#2Ti 3:13.)
Only in a secondary and passive sense is the Church to fight against evil and against sin. It is not her mission to fight sin in the saloon nor at the polls.
That is part of the world’s affair; it is to attend to that. And the world is attending to it. Am I told that the Church is taking the most prominent part in all the fighting against vice and drunkenness? I answer, It is a mistake; it is the world that is doing all this fighting. The Church, indeed, feels a deep interest and sympathy for every good work at home and abroad—in everything tending toward human uplift. But the Church has a totally different mission. So far as immorality is concerned, it is the Church’s part to lift up her light and let it shine; thus the good works will be a reproof on the sins of the world without one word being uttered on the subject.
This, evidently, is what Jesus meant when He said, "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." (#Mt 5:16.) The Church is instructed to fight a good fight, but not with the world and not with the world’s sins and immorality. She is instructed to keep her own gown spotless, white, "without spot or wrinkle." She is instructed to make herself ready for the coming of the Bridegroom and the marriage then to take place.
She is nowhere instructed to make the world ready. And she would be unable to make the world ready if she were so instructed unless Divine power supplemented hers. Similarly the Jews are not instructed to
OV156 convert the world, and are not attempting so to do. Their work is with themselves—to develop a character which will be acceptable to God and which He can use in His own due time in connection with the blessing of the world.
Which Church is Referred To?
Some one will be ready to ask me to what Church I refer? Which Church is giving its time—not to attempt to convert the world, but in an attempt to build up the Church in the fruits and graces of God’s Holy Spirit? Which Church is not engaged in moral reforms? I answer, The True Church—the special Church mentioned in the New Testament Scriptures—a saintly few, called or separated from the world and separate and distinct from all the denominations, "Christendom" gives us her official count as four hundred millions and the Jewish count as twelve millions. Judged in this broad, general way, who will dispute that the twelve millions of Jews are not in advance of the average of Christendom intellectually and morally? But Christendom is not the Church of Christ at all.
The term is a misnomer. It signifies Christ’s Kingdom; whereas Christ’s Kingdom, Messiah’s Kingdom, is not yet, but is still waited for by the Jews and by the true Church—the saintly "little flock" of the New Testament. Both Jews and saintly Christians still pray, "Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done;" and both still recognize that Messiah’s Kingdom is the need of the world, and the hope of the world—and both are waiting for it. The true Church is neither Presbyterian nor Methodist, Lutheran nor Roman Catholic, Greek Church nor English Church, Baptist nor Disciple. The true Church is not a human organization at all. It is composed of saintly people whom God is gathering as His own elect from all nations, peoples, kindreds, tongues and from all denominations and from outside of all denominations. It will be composed of some who were Jews, some who were Catholics, some who were Armenian, etc. This true Church is the great Messiah, a hundred and forty-four thousand—twelve thousand for each of the twelve tribes of Israel, as referred to in Revelation. These are referred to by the Lord saying: "Gather my saints together unto me, saith the Lord, those who have made a Covenant together with me by sacrifice" —self-sacrifice—by a full surrender to the Divine will in thought and word and deed. This class as a whole is the Messiah, the spiritual seed of Abraham, as the Jews are his natural seed. God referred to the latter, saying to Abraham, Thy seed shall be as the sand of the seashore. He referred to the Messianic few when He said, Thy seed shall be as the stars of heaven. (#Ge 22:17). This spiritual seed of Abraham, one hundred and forty-four thousand, a multitudinous Messiah, must first be developed, glorified, spiritualized, before the world can be blessed. And the blessing of the world can come only through the Divinely-appointed natural seed of Abraham—believing Jews. If all the Jews could be turned into Presbyterians, Baptists, etc., there would be no people ready to fulfill the great work which God’s Word declares shall be accomplished through Abraham’s posterity. Does this make clear my reasons for not wishing to turn the Jews into Presbyterians, Baptists, Roman Catholics, etc.? Does it make clear my reason for urging the Jews to a preparation mentally, morally and physically for the great work that God has for them to do? I hope so. As for the spiritual seed of Abraham of all nations—the first opportunity to participate therein was granted to the Jews, and it is my conviction that that Messianic company, all saintly, will be composed more largely of Jews than of any other nationality. The great Head or Captain was a saintly Jew. Its most prominent members, His followers, were saintly Jews, and thousands of saintly Jews were subsequently gathered, is
OV157 the record—some from each of the twelve tribes. Additionally, however, God has been gathering a saintly few from all other nations, kindreds and tongues, to complete the total elect number—one hundred and forty-four thousand. From what we know of Jews, Gentiles and Christians, comparatively few give evidence of saintship—comparatively few claim to be saints—to be fully consecrated, devoted to the Divine service. From what we know of the scarcity of these saintly ones to-day, we might well wonder whether so many as one hundred and forty-four thousand could be found in eighteen centuries; but we have every confidence in the Wisdom of our great Creator and the testimony of His Word—that the full complement of the elect is about completed—the Kingdom, therefore, about to be set up.
Heavenly vs. Earthly Prospects.
Since only the saintly who walk the narrow way have any Divine promise of a change of nature from human to spiritual—since only these will be like unto the angels, much of the present-day religious teaching of Christendom is erroneous.
The masses of Roman Catholics, Presbyterians, Baptists, etc., etc., are being wholly misled into supposing that they have any chance or prospect whatever of "going to heaven." That great resurrection change, in a moment, from earthly to heavenly nature, in the resurrection, will be only for the saintly. All the unsaintly should know definitely that their prospects are entirely earthly—the very same blessings that are promised to the Jews, only that these blessings will come "to the Jew first."
The Jew, on the contrary, knows that the Law and the Prophets teach nothing about a heavenly and a spiritual condition, but wholly concerning a blessing coming to earth under Messiah’s regime; then the wilderness shall blossom as a rose and the solitary place shall be glad; then the earth shall yield her increase and the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the earth; then every knee shall bow and every tongue confess to the Lord’s glory; and they shall build houses and inhabit them and long enjoy the work of their hands—for the blessing of the Lord will be with them. And all evildoers, all resisting the Divine arrangement, will be cut off in the Second Death, and that without remedy, without hope of a resurrection. Again I ask my Jewish friends to consider whether I am trying to "mission" any of them for Catholicism, Presbyterianism or any earthly ism when I clearly declare that their own expectations in every respect are much more nearly correct than those of the various Christian denominations? Whether any Jews of to-day might still wish to become members of the Messiah company by becoming saints of God, is another question. If there are any, they are probably so few that the Jews would not miss them. Just so, also, with the Presbyterians, Methodists, etc. The saintly anywhere are few. The very thought of self-denial and saintship is repugnant to the majority of all denominations. They are really of the world and mistakenly suppose themselves and call themselves members of the Messiah Church, the true Church.
This is not a disrespectful comment, either. Many of these are noble-minded and noble-souled in their efforts at earthly reform, and have our God-speed. It is to their disadvantage, however, and ours, that they do not discern the inappropriateness of the term, Church of Messiah, as belonging to themselves; called moralists or by any other true and appropriate name, they would be worthy of hearty encouragement along the lines of social uplift. The day cannot come too soon when the name Church of Messiah will be applied only to the saintly of every nation. The Jews will recognize the great Messiah in God’s due time—yea, all nations shall recognize Him—"The desire of all nations shall come." But this will be after His completion—after the last saintly one shall have been tested, found worthy and glorified.—#Ro 11:11,12,26-32; #Ga 3:29.