The Jewish-Christian Dialogue And Soteriology -- By: Ronald E. Diprose

Journal: Trinity Journal
Volume: TRINJ 020:1 (Spring 1999)
Article: The Jewish-Christian Dialogue And Soteriology
Author: Ronald E. Diprose

The Jewish-Christian Dialogue And Soteriology

Ronald E. Diprose

Ronald E. Diprose is Academic Dean at the Italian Bible Institute in Rome.

I. Introduction

When I commenced studying theology a generation ago, it seemed to me that the question of Israel was a kind of theological football which two opposing teams of theologians kicked about in accordance with their particular agenda. For dispensationalists it was important that ethnic Israel be given a high profile while for reformed theologians it was important to show that, with the advent of the church, the significance of ethnic Israel had come to an end. Thus to affirm that there are institutional distinctions between Israel and the church was another way of declaring oneself to be a dispensationalist while denial of such distinctions was equivalent to taking sides with reformed theologians.

A few years ago I decided that the question of Israel deserved to be considered on its own merits and not as an adjunct to a given theological position. Following that decision, I made some interesting discoveries. For example, I discovered that two very different views concerning Israel have held sway in Christendom at different times. According to Christian tradition as it developed during the early centuries, Israel is a renegade nation to be treated with contempt. The new majority view, according to which Israel’s status as an elect nation exonerates her from the need to exercise faith in Jesus Christ in order to obtain salvation, developed after the Shoah1 and the birth of the modern State of Israel on May 14, 1948.

The antithetical nature of these two majority views was puzzling and suggested that factors other than the relevant biblical data had determined their development. This was confirmed by readings in the church fathers and in the literature pertaining to the current Jewish-Christian dialogue. I also noticed that the neglect of the biblical data concerning Israel had repercussions on Christian theology in general. The effects of the earlier majority view were particularly evident in ecclesiology and eschatology, whereas the

new majority view is having serious repercussions in soteriology and missiology.

In the present article I intend to show how the acceptance of the new majority view, in the context of the Jewish-Christian dialogue, is producing a profound change in Christian soteriology. We are being told that Jews are not required to trust in Jesus in order to be saved. We will see that the corollary of this view, to use Martin Goldsmith’s words, is that “Islam and all other faiths may also qu...

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