“We call it the ‘Hotel California’ doctrine—you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.” These famous lyrics, from the 1977 song by The Eagles, were the words several rabbis used to describe their understanding of what it means to be Jewish at a recent pastor/rabbi roundtable in which one of our staff members was honored to participate.
These lyrics communicate how these rabbis believe if you are born Jewish then you stay Jewish, even if you come to faith in Jesus as the Messiah. Several older rabbis strongly disagreed with this position. They held to a more traditional view—if a Jewish person becomes a Christian, then they are no longer Jewish. Most of the rabbis we interacted with were willing to admit a Jewish believer in Jesus is still and always will be Jewish. This statement represents a huge shift in thinking within the Jewish community. One of the biggest obstacles to Jewish people placing faith in Jesus is it means giving up Jewish identity, and by extension connection with family and culture. But here was a group of rabbis saying they no longer think in this manner!
This revelation is very good news. It means one of our mission’s core messages is bearing fruit—for a Jewish person to believe in Jesus as the true Messiah of Israel is the most Jewish act possible. It means the hearts of these Jewish leaders are beginning to accept their brothers and sisters as Jewish believers.