How much support does the Bible command?

Jews and Christians may never agree on the Messiah’s identity, but a concern for Israel’s security appears to be drawing together theological conservatives from both communities. Alarm about incidents of anti-Semitism and other forms of religious persecution has enlarged the common ground as well.

In recent months, Jews have seen their nation nearly expelled from the United Nations and have had synagogues in Europe attacked by terrorists. They believe media reports are unduly biased against Israel, and they feel deserted by Catholic and mainline Protestant allies. These ties have been strained by Pope John Paul II’s meeting with Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat and statements of sympathy for the PLO from the National Council of Churches.

As a result, friendly overtures from prominent evangelicals, including Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, have been welcomed, setting the pace for friendly dialogue. In Washington, D.C., last month, leaders of both communities discussed an agenda for cooperation, addressed sticky theological issues, and took part in a joint worship service.

Jewish participants seemed newly aware of the diversity that marks evangelicalism and had overcome some of the edginess that hindered cooperation in the past. Rabbi Joshua O. Haberman, president of the Washington Board of Rabbis, said evangelical interest in Israel is further evidence of renewed Christian willingness to “vigorously face social, moral, and political issues.” Despite the skepticism of many fellow Jews, Haberman said of the evangelicals: “They have reached out to us. I choose to take them seriously, grasp the hand that is offered and reassess our relationship.”

But tension about evangelistic ...

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