I was just reading USA Today this morning that Chelsea Clinton who is Methodist marries Marc Mezvinsky a Conservative Jew. The article points out that President Bill Clinton is a Baptist and Hillary Clinton a Methodist. The article is entitled, “Family and Faith in the Mix.” And as you read through the article the predominant notion is that people just don’t care whether you’re Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, or Muslim; rather, the traditions can all be mixed together and blended. [1]


Judaism, however, is a completely different concept than Christianity. I thought I’d take this opportunity to give people a sense of what Judaism teaches. Judaism, of course, is not monolithic. It’s multifaceted. Judaism finds it’s genesis in Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; however, its modern day expression is largely a function of the destruction of the Temple in AD 70. Judaism, as such, finds its expression in Torah study, rather than temple sacrifice.


There are really three main branches of Judaism. The first is Orthodox Judaism, sometimes also referred to as Torah Judaism. It’s best known because of its strict dedication to the eternal Mosaic Law as interpreted by Rabbis subsequent to the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70. The view is that only through devotion to a complex code of Jewish law can one experience a nearness to God. Orthodox Jews await a rebuilt temple, a Jewish Messiah—a Messiah who’s going to restore the kingdom to Israel—and they also believe there’s going to be a physical resurrection of the dead. Ironically, it’s possible to be an Orthodox Jew and yet not believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.


Unlike Orthodox Judaism, which teaches that observance of the Law leads to freedom, Reformed Judaism begins with the freedom to decide what to observe. In other words, human autonomy trumps the authority of the Law. As a movement arising in the eighteenth century Reform Judaism seeks to adapt to the modern world in order to preserve Jewish identity in the midst of the pressure of assimilation. Thus, Reformed Judaism is reforming and always reforming; perhaps a better way of saying that, it’s reformed and always reforming.


Then there is Conservative Judaism. Marc Mezvinsky, who married Chelsea Clinton, is in that branch, he is a Conservative Jew. This is a late nineteenth reaction to the liberal tendencies inherent in Reformed Judaism. So Conservative Judaism forges a middle way between Orthodox and Reformed Judaism. Adherents, on the one hand embrace modern culture, but on the other, they observe Jewish laws and customs without the fundamentalistic fervor of the Orthodox Jews.


Regardless of religious affiliation, our duty as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ is to demonstrate the reality of Jesus Christ through the testimony of our love, our life, and our lips. As the Apostle Paul put it so clearly, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith’ ” (Romans 1:16-17).


I think it is important when you witness to Jews to realize that they’re not monolithic; rather, they’re multifaceted. There is Orthodox Judaism, Reformed Judaism and Conservative Judaism. Ultimately, just as witnessing to anyone else, you have to be able to demonstrate that Jesus Christ is divine as opposed to merely human in origin, that we believe we are sinners, that if we repent of our sin and we receive Jesus Christ we’ll be saved from our sin, and so be on our way to a relationship with Jesus Christ, not only in time, but also ultimately in eternity.


Mixed marriages between believers and unbelievers are very, very difficult we don’t recommend them as Christians, because the Old Testament says that we should not be unequally yoked (Deuteronomy 22:10; cf. 2 Corinthians 6:14-16). If we are, we’re going to be pulling in two different directions and that’s not very good for the kids that come into the relationship.



[1] Cathy Lynn Grossman, “Family and Faith in the Mix,” USA Today, http://www.usatoday.com/printedition/life/20100802/rites02_cv.art.htm