Sunday, March 27, 2011

Stott on Evangelism to the Jews

It is understandable that since the holocaust Jews have demanded an end to Christian missionary activity among them, and that many Christians have felt embarrassed about continuing it. It is even mooted that Jewish evangelism is an unacceptable form of anti-Semitism. So some Christians have attempted to develop a theological basis for leaving Jews alone in their Judaism, reminding us that God's covenant with Abraham was an "everlasting covenant", they maintain that it is still in force, and that therefore God saves Jewish people through their own covenant, without any necessity for them to believe in Jesus. this proposal is usually called a "two-covenant theology". Bishop Krister Stendahl was one of the the first scholars to argue for it, [Stendahl, Paul Among Jews and Gentiles and Other Essays (Fortress, 1976; SCM, 1977)], namely that there are two different salvation "tracks" - the Christian track for the believing remnant and believing Gentiles, and the track for historical Israel which relies on God's covenant with them. Professor Dunn is surely right to reject this as "a false and quite unnecessary antithesis". [Dunn, James D.G., Romans 9-16, vol 38b in The Word Biblical Commentary (Word Books 1988) Cf., Sanders, E.P., Paul, the Law, and the Jewish People (Fortress, 1983, SCM, 1985) pp. 194ff. and p.205, n.88, and Ziesler, John, Paul's Letter to the Romans, in The Trinity Press International New Testament Commentaries (SCM and Trinity Press International, 1989), p. 285. For a comprehensive and sensitive statement on the propriety of Jewish evangelism, see The Willowbank Declaration on the Christian Gospel and the Jewish People (World Evangelical Fellowship, 1989)].

-John R.W. Stott, in The Message of Romans: Good News for the World, (InterVaristy Press 1994) p. 304. (The notes are his as well, of course.) (Stott follows with further discussion after the passage I quote. I will add that further discussion later with an update.)

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