There is a movie called “The Thin line between Love and Hate.” It calls to mind the phenomenon of “splitting,” a term generally associated with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) which, according to Dr. Kristalyn Salters-Pedneault, “describes difficulty with the ability to hold opposing thoughts, feelings, or beliefs about oneself or others.”
Neither does that movie nor is it the goal of this article to addresses or analyze that phenomenon. It belongs to a different realm and requires greater expertise. I will venture, however, to suggest that those whom this article is about display similar symptoms and behavioral traits to individuals with BPD.
This article, like other ones I have written before, tackles the ever growing and increasingly problematic missionary activity in Israel, the Homeland of the Jewish people. Before delving deeper into the issue, let me just add that it does not point at Christians as a whole. Many Christians are dear friends of Israel and the Jewish people and support them unconditionally.
Missionary Activity directed at Jews is nothing new. In recent years, though, the movement has become more aggressive and poses a serious problem and a threat to the Jewish people. More money is being funneled towards it, more activists are enlisted and the methodology employed to attract the disaffected and ill informed among Jews has become more sophisticated. Missionaries seem to stop at nothing and in many cases have become a pest and a nuisance to many. If it is to be stopped, one must understand the motivation of those trying to convert Jews, their methods, and what Jews can do to counter those efforts while becoming better informed about themselves their culture and history.
In order to remove any doubt about modern day missionary activities among Jews, both Roger and I agree that the modern Christian effort to convert Jews, unlike other eras in history, is not motivated by hate, or anti-Semitism. It stems from care, interest and love. When Jews respond with hostility to missionary efforts, Christians do not understand the reaction. Christians are motivated by a belief that Christianity has Jewish roots. They sincerely, rightly or wrongly, believe that Jesus, their messiah, preached to and in the interest of Jews. Hence, for Jews not to believe in Jesus and reject him is a confusing concept for many Christians which can lead to the conclusion that either Christianity is wrong or the Jews are wrong and, therefore, need to be enlightened.
And this is where the above facet of BPD can be utilized and enlisted to try and understand missionary activity. In the mind of missionaries, Christianity could not be wrong. In their mind, the problem rests with the Jews. It is the missionaries’ “difficulty with the ability to hold opposing thoughts, feelings, or beliefs about….. others” which manifests itself in their ever mounting prosyletization efforts.
So, as long as there are motivated Christians, there is really nothing Jews can do to stop missionary efforts to proselytize them. Typically, Jews have smiled, said “no thanks,” and in response to persistence, sometimes insulted Christians. As a result, Christian missionaries have developed more subtle and often deceitful tactics to influence Jews and to rob them of their spiritual Jewish identity.
It is up to us, Jews, to try and understand the roots, the underlying factors and cognitive dissonance that prompt such activities. It will assist us in our efforts to object to them, out root them and even ban them from our lives. It is important that we do it without alienating friends, well-wishers and allies against common enemies. Most importantly, it is what Jews should know and be educated about Christianity and Judaism which is the best means to inoculate our weak and vulnerable against missionary activities.