Friday, 12 February 2016
Seeing Judaism Anew: Christianity's Sacred Obligation,
Ed. Mary C. Boys, Rowman and Littlefield, 2002
Chapter 13, "Covenant and Conversion" (pp. 151-162), page 151
Following up on his opening historical review, Philip Cunningham goes to lament that:
Nonetheless, even today various Christian groups specifically seek out Jews for baptism. Sometimes deceptive practices are employed, including using Jewish symbols and practices to make overtures to Jewish youngsters without parental consent.
I would be among the first to condemn inappropriate approaches to minors - of course this is wrong, in any culture and any religion and should not be tolerated in any form. Perhaps Cunningham has certain 'missionary' groups such as the well-known Jews for Jesus group in mind in his first sentence. Although they may have some Gentiles on staff, Jews for Jesus are very careful and precise in their statement that this is not a Gentile-on-Jews ministry; they are Jews sharing what they consider to be the Good News of the Gospel with other Jews, fellow members of Israel, their co-religionists. Cunningham notes that the scholars who belong to the CSG ...
... reached this conclusion that Christians should not target Jews for conversion primarily because of their "conviction that Jews are in an eternal covenant with G-d."
It is important to recognise the importance of Cunningham's words here. Although we may not agree with his application, it is essential that the church comes to realise that Jews are in an eternal covenant with G-d. It would be totally inconsistent wih His character for G-d to walk away from, ignore or abrogate the covenant that He made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, with the people of Israel and that He maintained for centuries. But let us not prejudge the good doctor. Cunningham moves to theology next.