It will strike some as paradoxical or bewildering that Jewish religious thinkers and leaders find it more compatible to dialogue with authentic evangelical Christians than with so-called Messianic Jews.

That is not a matter of elitism or of social etiquette. Rather, it derives from profound theological conviction as well as from prudential considerations.

Jews and evangelicals (and other) Christians share a rich inheritance of biblical belief, values, and ideals about God, man, nature, society, history, and the kingdom to come. At the same time, Jews and Christians differ over critical affirmations about the divinity of Jesus, the Trinity, the Virgin Birth, the Incarnation, and the forgiveness of sin. (For an excellent discussion of the Jewish theological reasons for these differences, read Jews and Jewish Christianity, by David Berger and M. Wyschogrod, Ktav Publishers, New York.)

Jews stake their existence on the truth of their 4,000-year-old belief in ethical monotheism. “On the day when the Lord spoke to you out of the fire on Horeb, you saw no figure of any kind; so take good care not to fall into the degrading practice of making figures carved in relief, in the form of a manor a woman” (Deut. 4:15). As formulated by the great scholar and codifier, Maimonides, in thirteenth-century Spain, Jews believe that the God of Israel “has no corporeal image and has no body.” Judaism is incompatible with any belief in the divinity of a human being.

While Judaism believes that all Gentiles are obligated to observe the seven Noachian principles of moral and ethical behavior in order “to be assured a place in the world to come.” Jewish tradition allows that Gentiles can believe in the Trinitarian concept, termed in Hebrew as shittuf ...

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