I had a strange encounter recently with a missionary at the Kotel. The missionary was originally born and brought up in Israel on a secular Kibbutz. Like most secular Israelis after army service he went on a spiritual journey to find himself. The crowing glory of finding himself was tied to his travels in a country which he now has gained citizenship of. There in the country, whilst travelling he was influenced and converted to Christianity by some locals offering ‘free’ accommodation. Now post conversion he has hit on an idea of providing a ‘free’ service to Israeli travelers to the country in Hebrew/ English which gives lots of useful information and discounts to the ‘secular’ Israeli traveller. Included in the information is the similar ‘free’ accommodation and other attractive services provided by Christians, who else of course? By his own admission he grew up to hate and failed to see the relevance of Judaism. What can you expect from a secular Kibbutz? So irrelevant was Judaism to him that he did not undergo a bar mitzvah since he decided to do such a thing would be hypocritical! Well you have to at least admire his honesty!
So now we are at the Kotel, we go through all the usual proof texts. Nothing doing here I am afraid. The same route of him jumping to another text when things do not work out with his arguments. It’s nearly the end of our time together and where have we got to? In conversation I realise that he cannot be convinced about the verses or that in reality he does really not have a clue about Jews or Judaism in particular. No wonder he was a prime candidate for conversion to Christianity and now he is the poster boy for the international messianic/ church circuit with their fool-proof idea of “if a Jew believes it, it must be true!” approach to converting Jews. Very peculiar how this fool-proof idea does not extend to those secular Jews who in search of spirituality in different parts of the world become Buddhists or Hindus!? I pointed this out to him too by the way but I was treated to the standard response of “just look at how believing in Jesus changed my life” etc.. It’s also strange how converted Jews to Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism etc have in common in their personal testimonials, how their religious faith has transformed their lives miraculously. It seems as if they all somehow belong to the same religion, their testimonials all pulsate with the experience of an encounter with the divine! The simple fact is of course is that God permits man to become enraptured with false religions for the same reason He permits a married man to be attracted to women other than his wife.
Freewill is within the grasp of everyone! Virtue is only possible when sin is alluring. If alien religions were unappealing, there would be no merit for rejecting their blandishments. If this tender balance of freewill were ever injured or compromised, virtue would be impossible.