|A Jew's Perspective on Christianity|
|The first talk to the Presbyterian Men's Breakfast group, 1995|
|1.I usually teach
the adult Bible study at this hour even when we have monthly Men' s breakfast.
It's good to combine them this month. I hope you won't have me for breakfast,
2. I want to give you a Jew's perspective on Christianity. In a way I am qualified, I'm a Jew. I'm a Christian.
3. I'm not really qualified. I have no Jewish Studies credentials. I have no Seminary studies. I am just a believer, in the God and Father of the Old and New Testaments and in Jesus The Christ, the Savior of the world.
4. Having no credentials, I speak with humility .
5. While I don't want to give what in less behaviorally conservative - more evangelical - circles might be called "TESTIMONY", I think a brief account of how I came to be a Jew and a Christian will help.
6. My family tree has deep roots. With a few century's gap, it is at the front of the Bible. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the boys. My family was Orthodox, that is "observant," for Millennia. In Judah, and in exile, and in Ashkenaz - that's the biblical name for Germany, Poland and western Russia.
7. About three hundred years ago it got very tough to be a Jew in Ashkenaz, and about 150 years ago started to be impossible. Czar Alexander passed laws in the 1880's forcing the Jews of Russia out of their shtetls - little villages - and out of the cities, into the Pale of Settlement. A narrow strip of land running from Lithuania to the Carpathians. Contemporary ethnic cleansing.
8. Ethnic cleansing is in the news. 2,500 years ago Assyrians, Babylonians, Medes used to deport and enslave the best and the brightest of the population. Later, Greeks and Romans, Arabs and Ottomans used to occupy and tax. But Europe in this millennium got more aggressive in expulsion, and starting with the crusades, through medieval Spain and France, then spreading to Germany, Poland and western Russia -
Ashkenaz - ethnic cleansing got quite ugly and increasingly, "FINAL. "
9. Back to my family. In the late 1800' s my grandparents took the hint. My grandfather had hit the road with his pack, a strong back - he later became a longshoreman on the Boston waterfront - and a willingness to do any kind of work. He got back to the shtetl after two weeks with one egg and two potatoes, and decided it was time to really hit the road. In 1900 he set out for the golden land of new promise. Just in time. Forty years later and I wouldn't be eating pancakes with you this morning.
Our blessed old minister, Dr
.Alden Mosshammer, preached Romans 12 :2, And be not conformed to this
world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may
prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
"...excerpts from Romans 10 and Romans 11"
I didn't know it then, but Romans 12:2 is the conclusion of those wonderful chapters explaining everything about the mutual interdependence of Christians and Jews.
Now, when I heard this something
happened. Not a bolt of lightening. But the power of these words passed
right through my brain and hit me in the heart. Something cracked. The POSSIBILITY this could all be true dawned on me.
So, the power of the gospel reached down through the millennia to this miserable human and told me now was the time.
There are 2 messages I would leave you with:
I. Judaism is the root of the
tree of Christianity. A house divided against