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A Discussion of Messianic Judaism, the Emerging Messianic Jewish Paradigm, and Related Leadership Issues from the Preoccupied Mind of Rabbi Stuart Dauermann, PhD.

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Mel Gibson, James Dobson, and Whitewash

Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family has recently come out with press release about Mel Gibson's recent anti-Semitic statements. What follows is that press release and the text of a letter I sent to Dr. Dobson's attention.

http://www.family.org/welcome/press/a0041593.cfm
Dobson Comments on Mel Gibson's Outburst
Pro-family leader stands behind "Passion of the Christ"
Colorado Springs, Colo. –– Focus on the Family Chairman James C. Dobson, Ph.D., today issued the following statement in response to Mel Gibson's recent anti-Semitic comments:

"As is now generally known, Mel Gibson recently made some very hurtful and unfortunate anti-Semitic comments while under the influence of alcohol. We certainly do not condone that racially insensitive outburst. Mel has apologized profusely for the incident and there the matter should rest. Mel has also indicated his willingness to seek help to overcome his alcoholism, and has asked the Jewish community for forgiveness. What more can he do?

"This incident is not relevant in any way to 'The Passion of the Christ,' which is one of the finest films of this era. Our endorsement of it stands as originally stated. We did not believe it was anti-Semitic in 2004, and our views have not changed since that time."



Sirs,

I am a Messianic Jew, 61 years old, a former missionary to the Jews, now leading a Messianic Synagogue in Beverly Hills. I hold an M.A. and PhD in Intercultural Studies from the Fuller Seminary School of Intercultural Studies. Currently, I am Professor of Jewish Spirituality for the Messianic Jewish Theological Institute of the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations. I have spent nearly four decades as a liason person between the Christian and Jewish communities.

In all of these capacities I am writing to express my deep disapointment and alarm at Dr Dobson's apologia for Mel Gibson's recent anti-Semitic tirade which your press release mischaracterizes as an "outburst." While it was heartening to read the first sentence of the second paragraph characterizing the comments as "very hurtful and anti-Semitic," this is overshadowed by a pervasive attempt to explain away and absolve him from any real culpability. For example, the release points out that he made the comments "while under the influence of alcohol," that he "has apologized profusely and there the matter should rest," that he "has indicated a willingness to seek help to overcome his alcoholism, and has asked the Jewish community for forgiveness. What more can he do?"

Dr Dobson seems to be saying that "the alcohol made him do it" and that making apologies and undergoing treatment should be the end of the matter. The good Doctor knows that apologies are one thing, forgiveness is one thing, but reconcilation another. The "what more" Mel Cibson can do is to admit that he is an anti-Semite. Where else did these thoughts come from? A demon? Demon Rum? If a woman wrote to one of your counselors saying that her husband, while under the influence of alcohol said "I never loved you and just married you for the sex," would Dr. Dobson say that all he needs do is apologize and go to A.A. Meetings, and that she should then let bygones be bygones? Or would he not say that these comments are indicative of a deeper problem that needs addressing, and furthermore, that such hurtful comments mean that reconciliation might never happen?

In Dr Dobson's attempt to rescue the reputation of "The Passion of the Christ," he has whitewashed a stain far more indelible than "an outburst." Or were the speeches of Joseph Goebbels "racially insensitive outbursts" too?

Finally, suppose Rabbi Abe Foxman of the American Defamation League got drunk and made statements such as these: "Those Gentiles, they're all so stupid. They should all go to hell and take their Jesus with them." And then suppose Rabbi Foxman apologized and said he was going for treatment. Would Dr Dobson let matters go as easily as he is letting Mel Gibson off the hook?

I doubt it. Something is wrong. Jesus never did like whitewash.

Sincerely,

Rabbi Dr. Stuart Dauermann

At 8/18/2006 6:59 AM, Anonymous Menachem said...

Yashe Koach Stuart:

<<<< has asked the Jewish community for forgiveness. What more can he do?">>>>>

Did anyone notice how Dobson placed the burden back on the Jewish community? Apparantlyl Dobson believes that it is the Jewish community that is at fault for not forgiving Mr Gibson.

You mention AA. I can tell you as someone who knows the field that AA would not let Mr Gibson off the hook with this faint apology. Among the things AA would require is a "ruthless moral inventory" towards everyone harmed.

Presumably Mr Gibson will be asked to do this but by who? The "Jewish Community" who have now been publically castigated once again by Dobson?

Dobson is a professional in the field. He knows this. No competant psychologist that cares about the family would let someone off the hood this easily. I dont believe Dr Dobson is incompetant as a professional. Therefore I assume that he has another agenda at work here. That is quite scary.

It is also quite scary that noone in MJ leadership except you has had the guts to point out that these people may not be friends of the Jewish people.

Menachem

 
At 8/18/2006 8:18 AM, Blogger Tracey said...

Bravo for sending this letter. Both my husband and I were horrified to hear of Gibson's anti-semitic tirade. We were discussing this the other day and I said that alcohol doesn't all of a sudden make you say things you don't believe. It removes the inhibition that might keep you from saying what you normally keep under wraps. For Mel to say the things he did under the influence of alcohol means he really believes this stuff and he was letting off steam. It sickens me for many reasons and I agree that he and those that choose to whitewash over his actions have done a great deal to harm Jewish - Christian relations.

 
At 8/18/2006 8:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hold an M.A. and PhD in Intercultural Studies

....should have taught you how to bring diverse cultures together. But you only point out flaws in the other side. Not once have your come up with ways to meet in the middle ground. Your god must like pain, war, death and destruction.

 
At 8/18/2006 9:53 AM, Blogger Stuart Dauermann said...

To Anonymous, who said:

"I hold an M.A. and PhD in Intercultural Studies
....should have taught you how to bring diverse cultures together. But *you only point out flaws in the other side*. *ot once* have your come up with ways to meet in the middle ground. *Your god must like pain, war, death and destruction."*

I have marked out your absolutist language with asterisks. That you speak in such strident and absolutist terms undermines the credibility of your complaint and indicates that you are bringing your own issues to the table.

I make no apologies for speaking to and for my people, the Jews. That I am not anti-Christian is self-evident, if for no other reason than that one of the most prominent Christian seminaries in the world gave me two degrees and quite a few honors along the way. But my two years or so of blogs themselves disprove the mean-spiritedness and monolithic divisiveness of which you accuse me.

Finally, reconciliation and bringing "diverse cultures together" must be on the basis of truth and not at its expense. Therefore, I will continue to proclaim the truth as I see it, and do so in the interests of true reconciliation.

 
At 8/18/2006 10:12 AM, Anonymous Menachem said...

Not once have your come up with ways to meet in the middle ground. Your god must like pain, war, death and destruction<<<<

Hi anonymous. Where exactly is the middle ground for us to meet with Holocaust deniers? And public speculation on how much petrol it takes to burn Jewish bodies? Is this an appropriate thing for a Christian to speculate about Jews or any other human for that matter?

Is that middle ground a place with no pain war death and destruction? Please enlighten us and show us the proper path on how to avoid these thinigs.

Menachem

 
At 8/18/2006 6:40 PM, Blogger Rachael said...

Thank you for your bold statements here Dr. Dauermann. The comment on AA regarding a "ruthless moral inventory" in addition to the additional step of "making ammends with all I had harmed" certainly makes Gibson's blaming alcohol a thin argument.

The basis of reconciliation must be truth as you have stated - brutally honest. Sadly, I think Mel's denial and a sad legacy of "father knows best" might have gotten the best of him, possibly beyond his own understanding.

Don't take my word for it:

"(Jewish people) are after one world religion and one world government," Hutton Gibson, who is Roman Catholic, told Steve Feuerstein of "Speak Your Piece!" on WSNR (620 AM), the New York Daily News reported Thursday. "That's why they've attacked the Catholic Church so strongly, to ultimately take control over it by their doctrine."

-- Hutton Gibson, 2004
http://www.beliefnet.com/story/140/story_14065_1.html

Also, ranting comments from 'Anonymous' posters generally fall into disrepute...

 
At 8/21/2006 6:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish to express my gratitude to Tracy and Rachael for speaking up. It is good to know that there are people with a sense of moral proportion out there.

I also wish to note that I think it not good that James Dobson and others are hurting the cause of social conservatism among Jewish people by what appears to be a morally indifferent realpolitik approach which smacks of the Christian indifference of the 1930's and 40's. My parents lived through those times and this is in part (along with their concern for social justice, which they derived from Torah values) why they are liberal Democrats to this day.

There is some merit to the idea that we are in a culture war. However as the Gibson affair shows the lines are not always clearly drawn where we may be led to think they are.

This is an area where MJ leadership can take the initiative and start to speak out for Torah values within and without our movement.

Menachem

 
At 8/21/2006 6:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Still waiting on the one specific example to the board and very overstated remark. One. Can't back up your claim, can you?

But my two years or so of blogs themselves disprove the mean-spiritedness and monolithic divisiveness of which you accuse me.

 
At 8/21/2006 7:29 PM, Blogger Stuart Dauermann said...

Anonymous,

You said, "Still waiting on the one specific example to the board and very overstated remark. One. Can't back up your claim, can you?

'But my two years or so of blogs themselves disprove the mean-spiritedness and monolithic divisiveness of which you accuse me.'"

It took me about fifteen seconds to locate a blog posting such as you challenged me to find. and I could find others without trouble. I know they are there because I know my heart. You, apparently do not.

I guess you find what you are looking for. I don't usually post your comments, because you are given to fault-finding, sowing discouragement and otherwise undermining statement which ill commend you and which I prefer not to reinforce through posting them.

You will continue to find fault as long as that remains your passion. Enjoy yourself, but the fault is not in my heart, nor, apparently on my blog.

Here's the posting that took fifteen seconds to find, one of many.

http://rabbenu.blogspot.com/2005/02/antioch-jerusalem-continuum.html

Perhaps the following excerpt from a comment I posted within the past two weeks on someone else's blog best reveals my heart on the diversity and unity of Yeshua believers:

"I am saddened that in a posting ostensiby aimed at commending the Church, L. felt obliged, and you passed on, a calumny against Roman Catholicism, and by implication high Church Episcop;alians, MIssouri Synod Lutherans and WIsconsin Synod Lutherans, and the Orthodox Churches, which all believe in the Real Presence of Christ in Communiion, And the Orthodox of course also pray using icons which fall under L's censure as well. The fact is, the Roman Catholic Church and Orthodox Churches kept the gospel alive and suffered martyrdom for approximataly fifteen hundred years until Protestantism came along. which is your writer's Christianity of choice. Some gratitude and recognition is in order here, don't you think? And martyrdom for the sake of Christ has continued in these circles to the present day.

Secondly, it is one thing to find some wing of the Body of Christ not your style; it is another thing to write off their convictions and sacraments as "pagan." L.'s posting does exactly what L. prides himself on NOT doing--it attacks the Body of Messiah from assumed higher ground. This is tragic and ironic in the extreme.

Just for the record, as the President of Hashivenu, and a well-known voice for Torah observant Messianic Jewish communities, I love the Church of Jesus Christ, all of it--including those whom L. writes off as engaged in pagan worship. This is, after all, the community built on the foundation of Christ, against which the gates of hell shall not prevail. I think it important for the sake of truth to disabuse any of your readers of the misimpression that we would think or teach otherwise.

Are there Messianic Jews who down-rap the Church? Obviously. But it is not us."

Go in peace, Anonymous. I hope this corrective will result in your amending your attitude and conduct toward me, which is certainly misdirected and ill-begotten.

 
At 8/21/2006 7:52 PM, Blogger Stuart Dauermann said...

Followng is an excellent letter on the Dobson/Gibson matter. It is written by Russ Resnik, Executive Director of the Union of Messianic Jewihs Congregations.

Note especially Rabbi Resnik's comparison between treating Mr Gibson's alcoholism and Mr Gibson's anti-Semitism. I pointed toward this in my letter, but too faintly. Russ makes it plain. May those with ears to hear, hear.

Dear Dr. Dobson,

Messianic Jews, who believe in Jesus and the Gospel record and also identify as part of the wider Jewish community, have a compelling interest in Mel Gibson’s recent arrest for DWI in California, and his anti-Semitic remarks at the time. As much as I appreciate your work and the ministry of Focus on the Family, I find your August 10 press release concerning this incident deeply disappointing.


Dr. Dobson, I suggest that you set aside your defense of “The Passion” and of your 2004 endorsement of the film, and focus your concerns on Mel Gibson’s recovery. You note that Gibson is willing to seek help for his alcoholism, and has asked the Jewish community for forgiveness, and conclude, “What more can he do?” But Gibson himself seems to understand that more is required. He said, “I would like to take it one step further, and meet with leaders of the Jewish community, with whom I can have a one-on-one discussion to discern the appropriate path for healing.” This statement reflects a more biblical approach than the one you seem to take in your press release. Gibson understands that the one seeking forgiveness needs to make it right with those he has offended. As John the Baptist told the apparently repentant Pharisees and Sadducees coming to him for baptism, “Bear fruits worthy of repentance” (Matt. 3:8). Friends of Gibson should encourage him to follow through and meet with those he has offended in order to find healing.


Furthermore, Gibson’s friends need to hold him accountable “to seek help to overcome his alcoholism,” as your press release phrases it. Gibson does not need to be told that asking for forgiveness is enough, and there’s nothing more he can do. As with his anti-Semitic statements, apology and the request for forgiveness is a laudable first step. But anyone experienced in working with alcoholics knows that they often use this first step to avoid any further steps. As a Christian leader, you should encourage Gibson to take concrete steps to recover from anti-Semitism, just as you would encourage him to do with his drinking problem. I believe that such a posture would be more in keeping with the important ministry of Focus on the Family than the stance of your August 10 press release.


Sincerely,

Russell Resnik

Executive Director
Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations

 
At 8/27/2006 10:29 AM, Blogger jon cline said...

now some insiders are taking a similar line here. Apology is not reconciliation:

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3295831,00.html

 
At 10/17/2006 5:48 AM, Anonymous Menachem said...

Alas as we now know Mr Gibson in a well publicized interview denied the offense and blamed the alcohol and the nasty comments the Jewish community made about his film for his outburst. He also kindly clarified his doctinaire quote about the Jews being responsible for war (which had all the earmarks of malice aforethought) to bring the Jewish people to a level of moral equivalency to Hamas and Hezbollah ( Did anyone notice the erie resemblance to Adolph Hitler's blame of the Jews for his war? )

Where are all the "friends of Israel" in MJ??

 

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