Corpus Christianum?

What may be the nation’s largest and most significant evangelistic effort of the twentieth century, Key 73, has become the target of intense criticism by the American Jewish Committee and by Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum, its director of interreligious affairs.

At a colloquium on “Civil Religion in America,” co-sponsored by the American Jewish Committee and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, a resolution was adopted that the American Jewish Committee leaders said “marks the first time that a Southern Baptist group joined in a resolution repudiating proselytism of other groups, including Jews.” A careful reading of the resolution does not seem to bear out this evaluation. It is clear that the American Jewish Committee is deeply concerned with the impact Key 73 might have on the Jewish community as the Gospel of Jesus Christ is carried to Jews in 1973.

We can dismiss as wishful thinking any announced aim by uninformed Key 73 participants of making the United States a Christian nation. It never has been a Christian nation and it very probably never will be. No one takes seriously the idea of a “Corpus Christianum.” Nor should we hesitate to pronounce judgment upon the concept of civil religion in America; if there were such a thing, it would turn out to be a Frankenstein monster that no devout Bible believer would want any part of.

The real source of concern for the American Jewish Committee is its fear that Key 73 may succeed in wooing Jews to the Christian faith, not simply to a civil religion, and this it intends to prevent if at all possible. This is quite understandable, and in the open marketplace Jews have every right to do this. The American Jewish Committee, ...

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