Commonwealth and Cooperation: How Jews and Christians Can Work Together Part II

This is the second in a three part series that addresses the implications of Christian support for Israel.

Moses and the Burning Bush Arnold Friberg
Moses and the Burning Bush
Arnold Friberg

Common Ground and Uncomfortable Differences

In defining the Commonwealth of Israel, let me begin be reviewing the things Christians and Jews have in common:

  • We all believe in the One True God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
  • We all believe that God has given His Holy Word to us so that we may know Him and have instructions on how to live.
  • We all believe that God will send his Messiah (Christ as the title appears in Greek) to teach us about himself and show the way to connect with God just as our ancestors Adam and Eve connected with him in the days before our unhindered relationship with God was broken.
  • We all believe that something has separated us from God, or at least prevents us from achieving our full created potential.  Christians call this original sin.  It is hard to generalize the various Jewish positions on this question.  Sin, when it factors into Jewish belief (Orthodox, Reformed, or Conservative), is defined much the same way that Christians define it as disobedience to God, or even as rebellion against God.  The result is the same:  separation from the Creator and inability to achieve his intent for humanity.

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Commonwealth and Cooperation: How Jews and Christians Can Work Together, Part I

This is the first in a three part series that addresses the implications of Christian support for Israel.

140103 Pink Elephant BalloonPink Elephants

Most people have experience the peculiar phenomenon of the pink elephant in the living room, that awkward situation in which a group of people are confronted with an obvious, but uncomfortable, issue.  Because it is obvious everyone knows or suspects what the others are thinking, yet because it is uncomfortable no one is willing to address it.  Therefore the issue goes unresolved and the relationships within the group, however cordial, remain tense, fragile, and shallow.

My purpose is to address the pink elephants that keep Jews and Christians from cooperating in a spirit of mutual trust and support, touching on areas of disagreement and misunderstanding that have bedeviled us for centuries.  The intent is not to pour salt old wounds, but to move through the uncomfortable territory and arrive at common ground where we may stand together as one people united in the service of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  This journey is beset with many openings for offense.  Given the likelihood that I shall stray into one of those openings, I ask in advance for pardon, for no offense is intended.  I am confident that if we persevere together, we will overcome the awkwardness and find the common ground which we desperately need in this critical hour. Please click here to continue reading

Silent Night in September

"The Angel Gabriel Appearing to Zacharias" William Blake
The Angel Gabriel Appearing to Zacharias
William Blake

At some point in my youth I grew curious about why we Christians celebrate Christmas in December.  When I asked my elders where to find Christmas in the Bible, they pointed me to Luke 2 and Matthew 2.  Although those famous passages explained the details of Jesus’ birth, neither they nor anyone I asked could explain how those accounts got translated into the festivities of December 25.  The best answer I got was something like this, “We really don’t know when Jesus was born.  It probably wasn’t in the winter, but since we don’t really know, December 25 is as good a day as any.”

That answer never satisfied my curiosity as a child, and it should not satisfy any serious believer in Jesus, especially when we consider the high quality of Luke’s gospel.  Dr. Luke was a meticulous scholar who recorded great detail both in his gospel and in the book of Acts.  His accounts, such as those in the first two chapters of his gospel, included evidence he had acquired from people who witnessed the events.  In particular, he must have talked with Mary the mother of Jesus to understand her thoughts and words.  How is it possible, that she would forget when her Son was born, or that Luke would not tell us that detail?  It truth, it is not possible to overlook such an important detail, and in fact Luke did tell us.  All we need to understand the answer is a little Bible knowledge, not only of the scriptures, but of the Hebraic context in which they were written.  Most of what we need is in Luke 1, with a little help from I Chronicles 24.  We begin with the story of a priest in the Temple at Jerusalem: Please click here to continue reading