Sunday, January 6, 2008

Brief review of Hilton's "My Burning Bush"

My Sweetie bought me a book for Christmas, by Nancy Goldberg Hilton.

It's titled: "My Burning Bush: My Spiritual Journey from Judaism to the Lord Jesus Christ."

It is essentially the story of a Jew who became a Mormon.

I tried to imagine how I would feel if I were Jewish and reading this book. Is it the Mormon version of one of the de-conversion stories of former Mormons found on so many websites -- the sort of story that makes a believer in the spurned religion grit their teeth and shake their head?

Hilton actually treats Judaism with the greatest respect and still speaks of herself as Jewish. She asserts difficulties with only three of its major doctrines: no resurrection; no modern miracles or prophecy; and, of course, that the Messiah is yet to come. (These are beliefs proclaimed openly by Jews with whom I have relationships today.)

She felt a desire to leave behind these doctrines and embrace their opposites, and the book explains her journey to find a spiritual home where she could do so.

This differs from all those people who "come out" of Mormonism and then accuse the Church of believing or not believing Doctrine X, Y and Z, when Mormons would strongly disagree with such an assertion.

Her book would be more like the story of a Mormon who always felt in his or deepest soul that Mary was a life-long virgin and that the beautified saints truly offer intercession -- and so became Catholic.

I am currently reading another book that speaks of Judaism and Christianity, James Carroll's "Constantine's Sword." It strikes a certain sore spot, as it condemns the supercessionism that has poisoned Jewish-Christian relations since the faiths diverged nearly 2,000 years ago.

Hilton found solace in the LDS Church as the first Christian church she visited that did not proclaim hatred of the Jews. In my 30 years as a member, I concur with her report, although individual members may have their own prejudices.

However, to be fair, the very foundations of the LDS Church are rooted in supercessionism and it is a common doctrine in the Book of Mormon. If I were Jewish, investigating the Church, that would bother me.

She talks about the joy that she has as a Latter-day Saint, of being able to research Jewish ancestral lines and share the information with Jewish researchers, but Jews have also been frustrated by LDS temple baptisms for the victims of the Holocaust, a controversy which perhaps she ought to have mentioned

The LDS Church also proclaims that a sort of reverse supercessionism will someday take place -- that sons of Levi will someday lead the Priesthood, that the Jews will recover their birthright, that they are not doomed, condemned.

But these would be Jews who have become Christian, Jews would counter, so we are back to the ancient goal of Christians -- a juden-rein world, Jews embraced but only after they cease to be Jews.

It is a complex and often painful subject, Jewish-Christian relations.

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