Gerry Brague photo

Jews and evangelical Christians

Gerry Brague photo


As a young boy in New York City I remember listening to radio station WWVA out of Wheeling, West Virginia and literally grew up on country music. Little did I know then that I would meet the people who lived that music.

Years later I lived in Charleston, West Virginia selling disability insurance to coal miners.

Driving down dirt roads, deep into the “hollers” I remember one day selling insurance at the home of a dirt poor coal miner. As I sat across the coffee table and started my pitch the miner stopped me cold, looked into my eyes, straight, and asked, “Are you Jewish?”

“Yes”, I said.

His eyes brightened and he called to his wife, “Honey, I’ve got a Jew here. Come on in and meet him!” As she sat down he said to me, “We’ve never met a Jew before. You are the people of the Book. Tell us a story in the Bible as you know it, as you learned it as it was told to you.”

I told the story of Abraham and Isaac and how confused Jews were about the story of God’s demand that Abraham sacrifice Isaac, his son, his only son. I told him that this story is confounding for Jews and that it is told on every New Year holiday and that it is debated and discussed by the congregation and each year we all walk out of the synagogue as confounded and confused as we were the year before, wondering how a loving God can cause such abiding grief.

Today when my liberal friends on the Upper West Side and other climes complain about the evangelicals and the Christian Right I ask whether they ever met one. Invariably they say no.

But I have met them, many of them. And as an American, a New Yorker and a Jew, I feel downright comfortable that I share this great country with them.

Talk to Roger Madon Monday-Thursday 5 PM New York time on the Paltalk News Network.

2 thoughts on “Jews and evangelical Christians”

  1. I want to thank the author for his comments. Though my sect of Christianity doesn’t fall under the body of “evangelical” Christianity (we pre-date that time) we do believe in sharing our faith-within boundaries.

    What’s going on these days is a push to silence Christians who believe in sharing their faith. Let me first say, there are some who go way beyond scripture and become anoying- even for those of us who believe in sharing.

    For example: I think it’s out of bounds to go on private property to witness to people. It’s one thing to ask someone in a public setting, or to leave a tract, or to talk to neighbors and friends. It’s another thing to bang on someone’s door at 8 am on a Saturday morning.

    And, for the record, I see nothing wrong with a person witnessing in the public square as they pay taxes, too.

    Oddly enough, the ones being marginalized turn out to be the greatest supporters of both Israel and the Jews in general. Go into some of the evangelical churches and you will see the flag of Israel and often, a Star of David. You’ll hear pleas for financial help to assist disenfranchised Jews to return to Israel and requests to help the ones who can’t return to receive medical and nutrional assistance from Christian-based outreaches in Russia, Poland, etc.

    The response from some sectors has been suspicion and sometimes lies.

    Years ago there was a story floating around Paltalk about a Jewish boy who was “tricked” into converting to Christianity just before his bar mitzvah. His parents sought to sue the church.

    Finally googling it, the story wasn’t so cut and dry. The parents knew he was going to a Christian youth summer camp. The parents knew because they had to sign paperwork for him to go. The parents knew that there would be witnessing, prayer meetings, bible studies and yes, prostelyting going on.

    The boy was a teenager-thirteen if I recall. The parents argued that he gave in to peer pressure which the boy denied initially and then agreed to with his parents. The bottom line was that the judge saw no fault on the part of the church. But we continue to hear tales about Christian “missionaries” only feeding those who convert, even though there’s been no reliable documentation for the allegation.

    History has been used to villify Christians and Christianity. Hitler is declared to be a Christian (in spite of the fact that had Jesus lived during that time he would have ended up in an oven). Pope Pius has been castigated since the 1960’s (prior to that he was hailed as a hero) for, at the very least, ignoring the plight of the Jews during Hitler’s reign and, at worst, conspiring with Hitler to kill them off.

    Neither of which, it turns out, are true and honest representations of the Pope’s involvements during WWII.

    Perhaps it’s time for those of the Jewish faith to actually read the New Testament. Not merely read it but do the same thing they do when studying the Torah, Tenach, the Poets, etc.: study it. A word study is a good start. A little knowledge koinea Greek goes a long way, as does the Hebrew, to understanding what the books teach.

    It’s also time for Christians to study what we call the “Old Testament” from the Jewish perspective.

    But we also need to look at history within the historical context. No single group can claim to be completely innocent in terms of past transgressions towards other groups. The Najran Christians, for example, were persecuted by the Jewish rulers of Yeman. Centuries ago, yes. And requiring Christians to forgive. But it could be raked up as “an excuse” to blame Jews for the persecution of Christians (getting even has no time limit, right?)

    The bottom line is that Christians and Jews share something in common: both are misunderstood now and have been misunderstood through the centuries, by one another and by others. Perhaps it’s time, as Roger implies, to open up the lines of understanding through scripture and let the politicizing of religion drift to the wind.

Leave a Reply