Members of a prominent Protestant church and of a Jewish synagogue observed Brotherhood Week by visiting each other’s services; on Friday evening the Christians went to worship at the synagogue, and on Sunday morning the Jews came to worship at the church. This would seem to be a very worthy adventure in mutual understanding. When the Jews came to the Protestant church, however, they sang selected hymns which made no reference to Jesus the Christ; they heard a pastoral prayer that scrupulously avoided His name and mediation; they listened to a sermon which praised family religion with “Our Father Is God” as the foundation of American life. Jews and Christians were told of a universal brotherhood under one God who embraces us all as of the same “family of God.” The speaker said a great deal about the importance of religion for the sake of religion, but left it unclear which god or which religion he recommended. The anthem sung by the youth choir pinpointed the message of the services:
Millions of stars placed in the sky by one God!
Millions of men lift up their eyes to one God!
So many children calling to Him by many a different name;
One Father loving each the same.
Many the ways all of us pray to one God!
Many the paths winding their way to one God!
Walk with me, brother; there were no strangers after His work was done,
For your God and my God are One.
(One God, by Ervin Drake and James Shirl)
The tragedy of this kind of Brotherhood Week observance is that the Jews never got what would have encouraged genuine tolerance and understanding, namely, an insight into the unique worship and witness of the Christian faith. More tragic still is the way in which the Christian church surrenders the sense of its identity to the secular definition ...1
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