Is Outreach Judaism like Tribbles?

Here is an article on how Pentecostals have morphed into almost everything. They started as more conservative evangelical but now are more liberal, at times, than liberal churches. They are concerned with making you rich, helping you lose weight, helping you manage your time, and giving tips for successful middle managers. The artile asks at what point are they no longer just silly but actual heresy or truly in bad taste.

Heresy, Bad Taste, or Capitalist Adventure: Is it Still Pentecostalism?

By Anthea Butler  Posted on September 13, 2009,

If an animal could describe the Pentecostal movement, it would be the tribble, a cute furry fictional animal, well-known to Star Trek fans. Tribbles, the story had it, were born pregnant, reproduced at a staggering rate, and ate everything in sight: if the ravenous creatures hadn’t eaten a store of poisoned grain, they would have destroyed the Enterprise. To follow the analogy, Pentecostalism and certain segments of the movement (namely, the “Prosperity Gospel” and the “New Apostolic Movements”) have mutated like tribbles, choking off their Pentecostal origins, multiplying to such a degree that it is difficult to distinguish the broader Pentecostal movement and historic churches from the mutants.

Perhaps it is odd to equate a movement with a sci-fi creature, but the multiplication of the Pentecostal movement and its “mutations” have reached a point where some clarification and reevaluation of the broader movement is needed; especially in light of the shifting belief systems that each offshoot has engendered. From the calls to investigate Prosperity ministers Creflo Dollar and Paula White, to Sarah Palin’s New Apostolic Reformation movement connections, Pentecostalism and its progeny (Charismatic, Third Wave, Full Gospel and non-denominational churches) have multiplied so rapidly that it is difficult to discern what the original movement is and where the offshoots are.

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The same question can be applied to the various outreach, kiruv, and engaged yeshivish in Judiasm. When do they cross the line into kitch or bad theology? The question is less if they are true or convincing but when have they crossed a line into seeming like Elmer Gantry? There are now Jewish outreach versions of prosperity gospel, 12 step, and positive thinking. We have popular outreach versions of “The Secret.” There is even a Torah’s plan for weight loss. Rabbis are now using evangelical material, especially stories, in their own sermons and books. In addition, Joel Osteen is very popular in my neighborhood; his religion is so light and his message of prosperity so in tune with Orthodoxy that he is a model rabbi. When are they no longer Orthodox? Does it matter?   When do these outreach approaches becomes indistinguishable from various flavors of renewal or havurah? Is it OK to reduce Judiasm to the latest in motivational speakers?

3 responses to “Is Outreach Judaism like Tribbles?

  1. “The artile asks at what point are they no longer just silly”


    Have you read any Frank Schaeffer? He is the son of the late Francis Schaeffer. He left the Evangelical world and become Greek Orthodox and now likes to blast Evangelicals for these sorts of things.

  2. Frank Schaeffer is not a nice person. Read his latest book about his mother. It’s just wrong.

  3. I have read Patience with God and Crazy for God, which is his autobiography. It is the sort of “Godol” biography that I would love to see written in our community. He throws his punches at his parents, but still keeps them human.

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