LOS ANGELES (BP)–The claims the New Testament makes regarding Jesus stand as the central issue between traditional Judaism and Christianity. They are denied by the former and affirmed by the latter. Some charge that Christianity’s claim that Jesus is the only way of salvation is a denigration of Judaism. However, Christianity’s affirmation is no more a denigration of Judaism than Judaism’s denial is a denigration of Christianity. We should all be seeking God’s truth regarding atonement for sin and a lifestyle that is pleasing to him.
Most Jewish people view Christianity as a gentile religion that has no relevance to them. When a Jewish person places his trust in Jesus for salvation and is baptized, the Jewish community considers that he has turned his back on his people and become a gentile. It is therefore important to communicate that our desire is not that our Jewish friend would become a gentile, but that, as a Jew, he or she would find atonement for sin and discover a personal relationship with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Humility, prayer and genuine compassion must characterize Christian witness. Far too often, Jewish impressions of Christianity have been characterized by arrogance, superiority and a disregard for Jewish culture. The Apostle Paul warns against this kind of gentile pride in Romans 11:13-32.
Use terminology that emphasizes the Jewishness of our faith. For example, instead of “Christ,” which is based on the Greek word for “the Anointed One,” use “Messiah,” which is based on the Hebrew. Instead of the “Old Testament,” refer to the “Hebrew Scriptures.”
Use verses from their Bible in discussing topics like sin (see Ps. 14:2-3, 51:5; Eccl. 7:20 and Isa. 59:1-2), atonement (see Lev. 17:11 and Isa. 53:5-6), Messiah (see Isa. 53, Dan. 9:16 and Mic. 5:1, or v. 2 in our Bible), and faith (see Gen. 15:6; Num. 21:7-9, and Joel 2:32).
Excerpted from the North American Mission Board’s Interfaith Witness Belief Bulletin on Judaism, published by the North American Mission Board, which can be ordered through Lifeway Christian Resources at 1-800-233-1123.