In this book we have tried, sincerely and respectfully, to explain the Jewish point of view concerning Jews who have embraced or are thinking of embracing Christianity. In the final analysis, it is you who must make the decision.
In the course of our discussions, we have concentrated on the major theological issues. Could Jesus have been the Messiah? What is the Jewish conception of God? Does the Hebrew Bible demonstrate the truth of Christianity? How does God forgive sins? Is devotion to “Jewish Christianity” consistent with a commitment to the survival of the Jewish people? We have tried to show that the arguments for your conversion are not persuasive on an intellectual level.
In a decision of this magnitude, however, there are emotional factors involved as well, and there is nothing wrong with that. You may have felt them in the form of a sense of fellowship and genuine religious concern on the part of your Christian friends. But you have also felt the instinctive opposition of many Jews to the prospect of your conversion, and it is worth considering the reasons for that opposition.
You were born a Jew because your ancestors clung to their faith. Often, they had to give their very lives when misguided Christians forced the choice of baptism or death on them. You were born a Jew because your ancestors had the supreme courage to choose death. Had they chosen baptism, you would not have been born a Jew. Their readiness to make the ultimate sacrifice creates a special obligation for their descendants not to render that sacrifice meaningless. Before abandoning the Judaism of your ancestors, you must make an all-out effort to study it, to know it, to live it.
In the early part of this century, a Jewish philosopher named Franz Rosenzweig was on the verge of converting to Christianity. He had been brought up in a fairly assimilated Jewish home in which Judaism played a very small part. But feeling he should convert as a Jew and not as a pagan, he decided to attend a Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) service in a small traditional synagogue in Berlin. The spirit and liturgy of the day transformed his life. He came to know that God wanted Jews to remain Jews, to be faithful to the covenant God had made with the Patriarchs. Franz Rosenzweig became one of the great Jewish thinkers of our time.
The people of Israel is chosen by God to be “a nation of priests and a holy people” (Exodus 19:6). By remaining loyal to your people, you can help it live up to its divine calling. By considering the devotion of its martyrs throughout the ages, and by remembering the fate of the six million who were murdered in our own time because they were Jews, you can come to live a life worthy of their sacrifice.
You are facing a critically important decision. Your choice will determine not only your own religious destiny, but the identity of your descendants as well. Study intensively, consider carefully, and – with the help of God – choose wisely.
×Published by JEWS FOR JUDAISM
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COPYRIGHT © 1978 DAVID BERGER AND MICHAEL WYSCHOGROD
COPYRIGHT © 2002 DAVID BERGER, MICHAEL WYSCHOGROD AND JEWS FOR JUDAISM ®
Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data
Berger, David, 1943-
Jews and “Jewish Christianity”.
1. Judaism-Apologetic works.
2. Jewish Christians.
3. Missions to Jews. I. Wyschogrod, Michael, joint author. II. Title
BM648.B45 296.3 78-9423