Jews and Missionaries in South Africa: Dutch Reformed Church Synod Report Says Jews Seem to Regard M

Jews and Roman Catholics are the subjects of two remarkable reports submitted to the Dutch Reformed Church Synod, now sitting in Pretoria, the Press here states.

As far as Jews are concerned, it is stated that a missionary has laboured among them for five years without making a single convert, but that this is not surprising when it is remembered that he was dealing with “people who are strangers to the God of their forefathers, who have time and respect for nothing else but capital and capitalists, and who are clearly worshippers of Mammon”.

Jews seem to regard a missionary as one skilled in the art of fishing in troubled waters, the report states elsewhere. They appear, it says, to be under the impression that the missionary obtains thousands of pounds for each convert, and that the Church has tons of money for this sort of work. Instances are related of Jews who said they wished to become Christians, but before doing so wanted to know what the Church would do for them if they were persecuted by their erstwhile coreligionists.

A converted Jewess is doing good work among the Jewish Community in Bloemfontein, the report adds.

In regard to Roman Catholics, it is recommended that every possible avenue should be explored to warn the people of the dangers which beset them in this connection. Propaganda against the payment of State subsidies to Roman Catholic schools is suggested, and the co-operation of all Protestant churches in fighting this is urged.

Placards in prominent positions in the Synod chamber proclaim that, out of the world’s total population of 1,850,000 people, there are 206,900,000 Protestants living in “sunlight”; 475,000,000 Greek and Roman Catholics living in “twilight”; 225,150,000 Jews and Mohammedans living in “moonlight”; and 942,450,000 heathens living in “darkness”.

We must extend to our Dutoch Reformed friends our sincere sympathy, the “Zionist Record” here comments in an editorial. That one of their missionaries should have laboured among the Jews for five years without making a single convert is indeed discouraging. As against this, however, one learns that a converted Jewess is doing “good work” amongst Bloemfontein Jewry. One does not know with what feelings Bloemfontein Jewry will receive this news, but there is very little doubt that the chief constituent of their emotions will be surprise.

We notice that the report castigates the Jews for thinking that the missionary among them is working for profit to the extent of thousands of pounds per convert. This misguided idea on the part of the Jews probably springs from the fairly well-established fact in regard to the leading societies for the conversion of the Jews in England, that on dividing the number of converts into the expense account it appears that it does, in fact, cost several thousand pounds to perform the operation which has been described as “turning a bad Jew into a worse Christian”.

We are sorry that we cannot take the whole matter with very great seriousness; and when we read that the walls of the Synod chamber in Pretoria are placarded with statements in which the Protestants are living in sunlight, the Roman Catholic and Greek Churches in twilight and the Jows and Mohammedans in mmonlight, we cannot help suggesting to our zcalous friends of the Dutch Reformed Church that their missionary work amongst the Jews might be characterised, with all respect, as moonshine.

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