Theology No Issue: An Evangelical Appraisal Of Rosmarin’s Jewish-Christian Theological Barriers -- By: William W. Bass

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 14:1 (Winter 1971)
Article: Theology No Issue: An Evangelical Appraisal Of Rosmarin’s Jewish-Christian Theological Barriers
Author: William W. Bass

Theology No Issue: An Evangelical Appraisal Of
Rosmarin’s Jewish-Christian Theological Barriers

William W. Bass, Ph.D.*

This essay from a Christian perspective is directed toward dialogue between Christians and Jews. In a world where traditional cultures have crumbled and religions, new and old, are asserting themselves, the need for basic understanding between all religions is of the essence. But Jewish-Christian understanding is particularly crucial in light of the coming Kingdom of God which will involve a Jewish relationship to Jesus Christ.

The points at issue are the theological barriers which Trude Weiss-Rosmarin portrays in Judaism and Christianity: The Differences. Her book is chosen as a rubric for interaction, not only because of its pertinence, but also because it is so precise and enthusiastic in avowing the absolute contradictoriness of the major points of antagonism between these two religions. It is clear, definite, and thus, very useful.

The minimal purpose will be to show that the issues presented are at two levels of difficulty, with neither class being insurmountably difficult. The conclusion will be that only three issues are really crucial—the law, the person of Jesus Christ, and the atonement—and even these are not so difficult as to prevent discussion, and further discussion is the goal of this presentation.

The basic assumptions are, first, that the breaking point even in the first century was not theological, but rather, following James Parks, a series of unfortunate and to some extent “accidental” events which pushed the early Jewish-Christian community away from both the Synagogue and the emerging Gentile Church. A second assumption is that the basic “hang-up” is not between the Jewish people or Israel and Christians—that is, believers in Christ—but largely between the clergy of both religions who are, let us assume, men of good faith, but who are dogmatically conditioned in terms of historical influences which have played upon the two faiths and increasingly separated them. This leads to the third concept, that as theological ideas developed and changed in the two traditions and were influenced by external philosophies, theological differences developed which were not inherent earlier. It is the same changing climate of opinion, however, which can be used to show that there is

*Professor of Philosophy at Biola College and Professor of Apologetics at Talbot Theological Seminary. B.D., Fuller Theological Seminary; Ph.D., University of Southern California.

enough divergency in each camp to make discussion possible. The subject is interesting and most vital, but more crucially it ...

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