BY DAVID NEKRUTMAN
In a recent National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) trip to express solidarity with Israel, Anne Graham-Lotz filmed a video in Jerusalem calling on Christians around the world to pray for the Jewish people to have “God pour out His Spirit of grace and supplication to open their eyes to recognize Jesus as their Messiah and repent of their rejection of him.”
She entitled her prayer as a 9-1-1 emergency call for Christians to join on the first of September to pray for one hour since she thinks, based on her belief, that we are at the “end of the End Days and Jesus is coming very soon to take back the Church to be with Himself forever, all the Evangelical Christians will disappear, and Israel will be more alone than ever.”
Quite cognizant that many Christians believe via the New Testament that the only path to salvation is a dogmatic approach to John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life,” I fully understand their wish for everyone, including Jews, to believe that Jesus is both lord and the messiah. As a Jew, I too believe that my expression of covenantal faith, Judaism, is the most perfect revelation and it would give me no greater pleasure for others to see the beauty of my faith and come within our fold. However, in the economies of religious experiences, Judaism will state that it does not possess the monopoly on salvation and no one is required to be Jewish in order to be saved.
From Christianity’s scriptural canon, the Apostle Paul writes in the Book of Romans that the “root nourishes the branch.” What began as a movement within the many “Judaisms” of Second Temple period eventually morphed into 41,000 different Christian denominations practiced today.
I would venture to say that many Evangelical Christians are not aware of how their particular brand of Christianity came to be, and the negative history of the Church’s actions toward the Synagogue. Furthermore, most Christians in general do not have any real connection to the Jewish people or understanding of Judaism. Even among those who proclaim a grafting into, and not replacement of the covenant between God and the Jewish people, many do not see Judaism as a valid expression of covenantal faith.
It is quite difficult for the average Christian to overcome the theological baggage of Replacement Theology, known as Supersessionism. Because of that it is miraculous that a remnant within Christendom is willing to stand with us despite the theological differences. These Christians walk alone within the mainstream of their faith, but are willing to live in mystery and rely on God to work it all out as per their own interpretation of Romans 11 without embracing dual-covenant theology. I want to express my sincerest appreciation for the millions of Christians who pray for the peace of Jerusalem and proactively demonstrate their “calling” by sowing into charities that help to protect and maintain Israel as well as bringing Jews from around the world back to their homeland.
Mrs. Graham-Lotz is clearly counted among those who strive and yearn to stand on the side of God in the unfolding of His master plan and stands with Israel in the midst of the conflicts ahead. Her misspoken words come from a heart that clearly wants to love the people that God loves. Yet, her words conjure up similar expressions raised against this people throughout the ages. Those words were raised in arrogance, ignorance and hatred. Clearly Mrs. Graham-Lotz is not guilty of any of those, but her words are inflammatory and hurtful nonetheless.
I meet many Christians who say that they are “praying for me.” No longer agitated by this since I excuse the gesture as their ignorance of Judaism, I cannot be quiet when an international leader takes advantage of an Israeli solidarity trip, funded by Israel’s Tourism Ministry, to make an “emergency call” for souls of all Israeli Jews. You accepted an invitation to the Land and you poked God in His eye. Now that’s chutzpah! Supporting Israel and the Jewish people has to mean more than catchphrases of Genesis 12:3 or half verses from the books of Esther and Ruth. It means relationship and fellowship.
If both Judaism and Christianity claim to be covenanted communities, there needs to be a humbleness of spirit that God is greater than all of us, and in His paradigm, He is the ultimate decider in who gets into Heaven. It also requires the willingness to learn from one another without a sense of triumphalism.
I pray that Anne Graham-Lotz and others who think the way she does will receive a true heart for Israel in that they see the Jewish people’s expression of covenantal faith via Judaism as valid, that our restoration to the Land of Israel affirms that God’s covenant with us has never been abrogated or contingent upon a belief as Jesus as divine and messiah, and that God in His ultimate grace and mercy will work all this out in His time. Who will join me in this prayer during a time of introspection and reflection in the sacred Jewish calendar leading up to the days of Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement)?
The author is the executive director of Ohr Torah Stone’s
Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation in Efrat.
The article originally appeared in the opinion section of Jerusalem Post,
September 4, 2014 edition.