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The Biggest Challenge Facing The Church Today?

"... is to bring the Gospel to the Jewish people in a way that takes seriously their position as the people of God, whose gift and calling, Paul wrote, are irrevocable."

by
Rhonda Robinson

Bio

December 29, 2013 - 5:53 pm
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historicJesus

We began this series, some months back, following Shmuley Boteach’s Kosher Jesus. You might remember the first installment Restoring Our Judeo-Christian Culture where, in earnest, I was inspired by the author’s introduction to his work with these words:

“Christianity, too has much to gain from a rediscovery of the authentic Jewishness of Jesus. American culture is less in accordance with Christian theology than many would think. Bringing a bit more Jewish influence to bear would make a great deal of sense for American Christians.

By discovering the Jewish Jesus and the Jewish understanding behind the bedrock premises of Christianity, Christians’ understanding of their own faith will be enriched and riddles will be resolved. Modern American and Judeo-Christian values will be strengthened to the benefit of both Jewish and Christian communities and our society as a whole.”

It’s hard not read the headlines and not shake my head in disbelief, if not disgust, at how far we have fallen as a society. Who doesn’t want both communities strengthened along with society as a whole? However, Boteach misses the mark–at least within the Christian community. His attempt at unity between the faiths rested in presenting Jesus as a fully Jewish man–fully Jewish but fully man.

However, there is a common thread running throughout both Kosher Jesus and Restoring the Jewishness of the Gospel. That is the misinterpretations of Jewish culture that has led to much of the antisemitism and Jewish suffering throughout history done in the name of Christianity.

Although Boteach’s intention is to bring the two faiths to a better understanding, one thing I learned from him was that there is a deep, deep wound inflicted on the Jewish people over centuries of Christianity that for many, has yet to heal.

As we finish the last of this series with David H. Stern, Ph.D’s book, Restoring the Jewishness of the Gospel: A Message For Christians, I noticed that Stern uses many of the same scripture passages that Boteach does. Although he takes it one step further. Rather than blaming unnamed antisemitic editors that have purposely (for political reasons) turned Christ and the New Testament against the Jewish people, he explains the subtle yet profound misinterpretations.

One other noticeable point, while Boteach (and myself) were focused on restoring values to the culture, Stern is focused on returning the Christian to answering the call of the Great Commission.

As we pray for our nation we often quote, 2 Chronicles 7:14:

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” New International Version.

“My people” that are called “by my name” is that Jewish, Christian or both? Whose land?

The answers shouldn’t surprise you.

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All Comments   (10)
All Comments   (10)
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Whoopa, my pessimism has revenged itself on me. I entered my repost falsely, i.e., it is all the way at the top. Ach, was noch?
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Optimist!!! So says a pessimist! Maybe it is a difference between an American and Germanized mentality. Hope that your optimism is correct. In the end, statistics will tell.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Which church?
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
What's happening, IMO, is that there is a separation taking place, between those that believe and those that dont yet fully believe in the scriptures.

The Bible is full of end time prophecy. The problem is that we spend our time trying to decipher it to determine when the last days really will be upon us. It's purpose was always to remind us of what was taught when we see these prophecy's come to pass.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
It would be difficult to give serious consideration to anything that Stern says when he so cavalierly attributes Christian malice as the reason for the Holocaust. That is as dishonest and absurd as the groaner that attributes the World Wars to Jewish bankers. Also, Jews would not have been a focus of the Spanish Inquiry had not so many Jews participated in organized military units allied with the Muslims against the Catholic kingdoms. Who would not question the sincerity of their new-found profession of Christianity on the heels of the route of Islam?

Catholics/Orthodox do indeed recognize and celebrate the Jewish roots of Christianity. The Liturgy of the Mass, the most sacred of rituals, is built around Temple Judaism customs and tradition. The Torah is the foundation of understanding what it means to be human. Any Catholic/Orthodox who has studied his faith would readily acknowledge this.

Catholicism/Orthodoxy and Judaism are not equal or even parallel. Jesus the Christ founded one Church as his mystical body on earth. He instructed his Apostles to make disciples of all men and all nations. Ecumenism is a modern and trendy word but its only real meaning is helping Jews, Muslims, Protestants, etc. participate fully in the One True Church.

The contemporary disarray in the Catholic Church makes ecumenism a comedy routine, but this too shall pass.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
The true Church of Jesus Christ began many years before the existence of the Roman Catholic Church. The true Christian Church exists in the hearts and minds of all who accept Jesus Christ as their God in the flesh savior, and is spread among all denominations. Next to the doctrines of Papal infallibility (even in limited circumstances) and Apostolic succession, the "one true church" falsehood is the most un-Christian (and arrogant) idea which in fact does harm to the earthly body of Christ.

41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Catholic Church dates to the mandate given by Jesus the Christ to Peter in Caesarea Philippi. People universally lived their lives with this plain understanding for 1,500 years. The net result is what we call Western Civilization. It's a circuitous path but the route of decline of that Civilization is marked by the 20,000+ dead ends of the "all denominations."
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yes, the Christian church pre-dates the Roman Catholic Church by at least 6 decades. The first 60 years of Christianity was characterized by a loose congregational affiliation, with no Pope and no Roman Church. Peter's special mission, and that of the Apostles as a whole, died out with their own deaths. Notice that when Mathias was chosen as an Apostle, in order to replace Judas, the remaining 11 required the candidate to be an eye witness to the ministry, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. No subsequent Priest, Bishop, or Pope has met this requirement for Apostleship.

Western Civilization started with the Exodus and the 10 Commandments, with additions from Ancient Greece and Rome, and continuing with the Enlightenment and Reformation. The unholy collectivist union of church and state during Medieval times was a dark chapter.


41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
First where I agree: A reproachment between Judaism (not just with Jews, e.g., Axelrod, but with the religious amongst Jews) and Christians is for me of extreme value. Christianity, where it has not sunk into the dissolution of theological liberalism, is universalistic, i.e., it contains a universal message for all people and a challenge for EVERYONE. I do not see so readily how Christianity can bring Judaism into the tent (not fold). I must admit I have no idea, i.e., beyond getting to know eachother. The tone of your words is right on. However, I do not see the concrete application of your ideas. Somehow the notion of "conversion" strikes me as, well, not kosher. I find your thesis challenging and must leave it at that for the moment.

Now to my disagreement: The most serious challenge to Christianity (again Christian fundamentals [note I did not use the loaded term of "fundamentalists"]) is first and foremost not to disappear. In other words, Christianity in its various fundamental forms is slipping away. Check out sometime the combative traditionalist Catholic Michael Voris at Church-Militant. In a series called, I believe, "The Decomposition of the Church" Voris presents statistics, using Catholic sources, that paint the picture of dwindling direction bye-bye. Voris has suggested that, demographics continuing, there could be no indigenous American priests in 50 years. From what I have read in Evangelical literature, a similar decline is taking place. Fecitiously put, the Catholic and Protestant churches in Germany (where I live) are in a neck-on-neck race as to who will disappear first, after rendering themselves somewhat irrelevant. Those remaining, in both Confessions, are often liberal secularists all dressed up in religious terminology.

I admit that my tone is strident. It is also unbelieving, i.e., I simply find it hard to believe that things are that bad. I am 25 years old (x 3--shhh!) and I do not recognize the world of my "then" with the world of "now". Again, a Catholic statistic to the effect that some 30 million Americans run around as EX-Catholics whereas in 1963 or so (before Vat II and its effects) American Catholicism was blooming in all aspects. Are not the Evangelicals too experiencing the dwindling phenomenon? So, in conclusion I would suggest that the greatest challenge facing Western Christianity is existential or, so-to-speak, to be or not to be!
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Dear Prof.

Yes. I can certainly see, form your perspective, that a dwindling church would be the most pressing issue.

I'm in the "Bible belt" and this is what I see in my neck-of-the-woods: I do see many old established churches struggling, even dying--it is heartbreakingly sad.

However, I also see many, many churches very much alive and growing. Not with just older Christians, but with young men and women, and young families.

Those seem to be the churches that have left many of the traditions (whether that's good or bad, is a debate for another time) and have went back to the foundational teachings of Christ, loving God and loving people. Feeding the homeless, and fighting slavery and trafficking they are reaching deep into their communities, not just to evangelize -- but to love and serve. These churches are thriving. The world is still hurting, and the gospel of forgiveness is never been more needed.

If I may, I'd submit this. There is always a pruning for new growth to happen. You have said in the past that Jesus was not just a Jew. You're so right. He is the Jewish Messiah. He came for his people, the apple of God's eye. The bible tells us that there will be a Messianic age. His people will one day return to Him. And He will return to us.


41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
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