Lessons From a Jewish-Christian Dialogue

Yesterday I ran across this interesting back-and-forth between Christianity Today columnist Stan Guthrie and Rabbi Yaheil Poupko, an exchange initiated by Guthrie’s recent article discussing the evangelism of Jews.

The dialogue is valuable in that it offers Christians a chance to consider at least one Jewish perspective toward the Christian faith. In so doing it reveals some of the real issues that will often need to be addressed before the claims of Christ can be credibly considered in that context. But I also found the conversation of these two men particularly noteworthy for at least a couple of other reasons. First, it was frank. Real disagreements exist between the Jewish and Christian faiths, and both individuals were not afraid to acknowledge them. Second, both men remained respectful and even congenial to each other. In fact, the joint postscript that concludes their exchange seems to promise a budding friendship and future communication.

Francis Schaeffer, summing up a thoroughly biblical perspective, used to say that Christians are to be about “the Lord’s work in the Lord’s way.” For that to happen, we would do well to cultivate both traits mentioned above. The reality of our sin and the exclusivity of it’s remedy insure that the gospel will inevitably serve as a frank challenge to all who consider it. Indeed, it can’t be good news until it does. But those of us who represent and communicate the gospel should always do so with genuine respect, regardless of the response we receive.

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