Sunday, 9 September 2012
Understanding the Evangelical Pietist Streams
In this final chapter and set of extracts from my book "Passion for Israel", I summarise the current situation with its fears, anxieties and tensions.
Evangelical Pietists do not expect the great mass of Jews to become believers in Jesus until He returns. Until then, they want to be supportive of both the Jewish community and the small minority of Jews who follow Jesus. Since Jewish people as a whole are not expected to believe until the coming of the Messiah at the end of this Age, that Jewish people do not believe in him does not dampen zeal or love for them. It is a doctrinal conviction that followers of Jesus are to love, show mercy, stand with and support the Jewish people and fight anti-Semitism.
So we come to paradoxes and some recommendations. First of all, many would like to see the Jewish community believe in Jesus but do not expect that most will do so until Jesus comes. Second, many of these same folks believe that faith in Jesus is necessary for salvation. Third, these same folks believe they are duty bound to love and support the Jews until the Messiah comes. They follow an absolute ethic of right and wrong. Here is the paradox, missed by many. The Jewish community has flourished in America largely because of the brand of Christianity in America. The Jewish people are safer in an environment where such Christianity is strong than in an environment where relativism and atheism prevail.
In this, I recommend that Evangelical Pietists and Jews form bonds of mutual love and cooperation. There is common ground for which they can work. In this mutual love and respect, both will have to put up with views that are repugnant to the other. It would be well, however, to accurately understand these views and not a caricature of them. Jewish people can educate their people to seek to prevent them from becoming followers of Jesus and to say no to the invitation to faith given by Evangelical Pietists and Messianic Jews. Traditional Jewish people can share their faith as well. After all, more Gentiles are becoming Jewish than Jewish people are becoming followers of Jesus.
In support for a strong Israel, compassion for the poor and needy who should be served by church and synagogue, in fighting hatred and prejudice, Jews and Christians can make common cause to the betterment of all.