There is a unique relationship
between Christianity and Judaism. Jesus was a Jew who never rejected Judaism though
he had some strong criticisms of the leaders of organized Judaism in his day.
The same can be said of the Apostle Paul. Indeed, for several decades after the
crucifixion, the Jesus movement can be seen as a reform movment within Judaism.
It is not at all clear that Jesus saw his mission as involving the
establishment of a new religion. Rather, like the prophets before him, his task
was to encourage others in following the way and the will of God, repairing the
world, and relating with love, mercy and justice to one's fellow human beings.
Further, I find several important passages in the Bible that refer
to God's covenant with the Jews as being eternal. Also, Paul refers to prior generations
of Jews as having been "saved by faith," even though it is clear, these
people could not have known Jesus. Cases in point: Abraham, Moses and Elijah.
What then, of the New Testament call to preach the gospel to all
This I affirm, and I am fully committed to sharing my
own faith with others. Still, when we share the "good news" as we have
come to understand it as Christians, I find that what makes for effective communication
is being prepared to listen, and understand where another person is coming from,
before opening one's own mouth. If you are intent upon "teaching" others,
the best way to go about it is by being prepared to learn.
I hope that Jews, as well as those holding to other religious traditions, would
want to share their faith and their traditions with me. I believe that it is in
the context of such a free exchange of ideas and beliefs that all parties can
learn and grow. And I am completely convinced that as people of different faith
traditions learn from each other, God's truth will prevail.
If you want to talk with someone in person, please feel free to call 212-864-5436
The Rev. Charles P. Henderson is a Presbyterian minister and
Executive Director of CrossCurrents.
He is the author of God and Science (John Knox Press, 1986).
A revised and expanded version of the book is appearing here. God and Science (Hypertext Edition,
He is also editor of a new book, featuring articles by world class scientists and theologians, and illustrating the leading views on the relationship between science and religion: Faith, Science and the Future (CrossCurrents Press, 2007).
Charles also tracks the boundry between the virtual and the real at his blog: Next World Design, focusing on the mediation of art, science and spirituality in the metaverse.