When a reporter for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) wrote a story about me in August of 1997, she portrayed me as "a conflicted man." Our conversation had been fairly cordial. She knew I had drawn some criticism for cosponsoring a conference at Fuller Theological Seminary with the American Jewish Committee. The conference focused on the ways in which religious people attempt to influence public life, which should have been a fairly tame topic. But in arranging the conference, the Jewish planners made it clear they were nervous about the presence of a sizable group of messianic Jews at Fuller. I had insisted that these Jewish converts to Christianity be encouraged to attend our sessionsotherwise there could be no conference.
My Jewish friends reluctantly agreed, but they weren't the only ones who were nervous about the arrangement. Messianic Jews have long resented the ways in which they are shunned by the Jewish community, and many of them worried that I had forged an unhealthy compromise. It looked to them like they were being allowed into the discussion only under the assumption that they would be willing to be a part of a bland "dialogue," in which important issues between traditional Jews and Jewish followers of Christ would be set aside as irrelevant, thus giving the impression that Fuller was backing off from a commitment to Jewish evangelism. Ironically, some constituents of the American Jewish Committee had the opposite worry: They feared that by agreeing to meet on a seminary campus known for its commitment to Jews for Jesus and similar groups, the Jewish community would implicitly endorse the legitimacy of Jewish evangelism.
When I talked with the reporter from the JTA, I told her I was willing to live ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 65+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more