Next Friday evening I, a Christian, will be delivering the homily, or sermon, at a Jewish shabbat service.
What I will not be doing then is trying to convert Jews to Christianity. (Rather, I'll be talking about my new book and about how many of the values expressed in it are in harmony with values the members of Temple Israel of Greater Kansas City hear each week from their rabbi, my friend Jacques Cukierkorn.)
Indeed, though some Christians disagree with me -- at times strenuously so -- I think it's both unnecessary and inhospitable to seek to convert Jews, though I have no objection at all if Jews find themselves attracted to Christianity and wish to convert.
I have many reasons for holding this position, some of which are explained in this essay on anti-Judaism in Christian history.
All of which means that I would be, not surprisingly, significantly out of step with this effort within the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod to convert Jews in St. Louis.
There, the pastor of Congregation Chai v’ Shalom, who himself was reared a Jew, leads the effort to get Jews to become Christians.
One of the foundational beliefs of Reformed Tradition theology (read Presbyterian) is that God is sovereign, or gloriously free. So, in the end, it's up to God to decide with whom God wishes to have an eternal relationship. It's not up to anyone else, especially me.
That sentiment can be found in the last paragraph of the piece to which I've linked you:
"Philip A. Cunningham of The Council of Centers on Jewish-Christian Relations, which is dedicated to enhancing mutual understanding between Jews and Christians, adds that most mainline churches understand that the ultimate destiny of Jews is not in the hands of Christians, but God."
Besides, it was through the Jews that non-Jews like me have been invited into the covenant with God that the Jews still have.
So when I speak Friday night at Temple Israel, everyone will know I'm a Christian, but everyone also will know I'm not there to exploit the opportunity by trying to get members there to convert. That would make me a rude guest.
* * *
PUTIN, THE GREAT MORAL LEADER
Franklin Graham, Billy's son, says that when it comes to matters of how to treat gays and lesbians, Vladimir Putin of Russia has the high moral ground over Barack Obama. If you're going to be wrong, I say, go ahead and be so wrong that it's funny.
* * *
P.S.: Fr. William Meninger, a Catholic priest and Trappist monk, will lead a two-day retreat on contemplative prayer June 6-8 at Rockhurst University in Kansas City. All the details you need to register for this event are in this brochure: Download Meninger-brochure
* * *
ANOTHER P.S.: It's time to sign up for one or both writing workshops I'm offering about getting from pain to hope through writing. The first will be April 29-30 at Heartland Presbyterian Center in Parkville, Mo. For that one you can find all the details you need right here. The second one will be the week of Aug. 11 at Ghost Ranch in northern New Mexico. For details of that class, click here. Come join us.