Sunday, October 7, 2007

The Jewish Girl

Our final Andersen story for the moment is "The Jewish Girl." It demonstrates another area where modern Christian writing tends to fall short: We either ignore crucial differences ("Everyone gets to Heaven somehow, because God's such a nice guy.") or overemphasize them ("You don't agree with my ideas? Are you sure you're a Christian?"). We need balance.

From time to time there's heated discussion about the place of Jews in God's Kingdom. Strangely, there's not as much discussion about the place of Gentiles there. The answer is the same: if you acknowledge Jesus as fully God and fully man, the sinless son of a virgin, the one who died in our place, and if you trust him for salvation and yield to him as Lord, you're saved. Ethnicity doesn't matter. If you don't accept him, even if you say he was a great teacher, but certainly not God, you're outside the Kingdom, and again ethnicity doesn't matter. And there are people who are moving graudally into full belief. God knows where they are.

What we believe does matter. I exchanged a-mails with someone who mentioned an episode of X-Men where they ran into Dracula. Nightcrawler, a devout Christian, could turn the vampire with a cross, when Wolverine could not. But Kitty Pryde's Jewish faith also turned the vampire.

I replied that this was the old idea of faith in faith: a sufficiently convinced atheist could have done the same thing, or a Satanist. For non-Messianic Jews believe that Jesus was just a man, not God in human form. So while Jews and Christians worship the same God in one sense, in another they don't: the God of the various Jewish creeds did not incarnate, and Jesus is not in any sense God. Historic Christianity says otherwise. A dividing point came. Until then, their God was the same; now he isn't. From a Christian standpoint, Kitty believed in a non-existent god; from a Jewish standpoint, Nightcrawler did. They could not both be right: either Jesus was God or he wasn't, and the cultural context did not allow for a fuzzy pantheistic response.

Do we have the guts to pick a side? It doesn't mean berating those on the other side, just acknowledging the difference and its importance.

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