The Jewish Mikveh Rite and Water Baptism – By Dr. Ray Gannon
This article first appeared in Enrichment magazine Spring 2003 (pages 2)
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The elderly, Jewish Los Angelino glared at me with his fiery eyes. This recently
past president of the local B’nai B’rith chapter stood trembling with rage
before me as sweat beads formed on his reddened bald head and upper lip. The
words flew out of his tightly coin shaped mouth, “Look, I believe in Jesus
and speak in tongues and all that stuff. But if I get baptized, I’ll be a Christian.”
I had just conveyed that in 2 nights we would be having a mikveh service at
a Beverly Hills home swimming pool. Louis Brooks wasn’t the first Jewish person
to strongly react against the idea of water baptism, so his eruption in a
North Hollywood living room Bible study that Tuesday night did not surprise
me. As happy as we tried to make it, many of our new Jewish believers
really struggled with water baptism.
The reasons for traditional Jewish contempt for baptism have historical
foundation. Throughout the centuries there are numerous accounts concerning
imposing—on pain of death —Christian baptism on religiously
oppressed Jewish masses. Martyred Jewish resisters to water baptism were
made heroes of the Jewish faith while others, more prepared to save their lives
by embracing Christian idolatries, were held in profound disdain as defectors.
Horrific stories of forced baptisms are still perpetually rehearsed in Jewish
communities everywhere to discourage any new Jewish faith in Jesus. Modern
baptized Jews, with an obvious choice in the matter, are viewed as meshumadim
(traitors) who have joined the anti-Semitic religious camp.
“The Jewish Mikveh Rite and Water Baptism”