By Bob Gorelik & Dolores Jones
When a study comparing Judaism and Christianity involves history, theology, practice and/or Biblical interpretation—any disagreement we may have with the “Church” in any of these areas sometimes makes Christians feel uncomfortable. Or, they may feel criticized—personally. They say, “Don’t you mean ‘Christians’ when you say ‘Church’?” The answer is no—we don’t!
Debates and/or disagreements cited between Judaism and Christianity are aimed at corporate (or institutional) Christianity. When we speak of the “Church” we need to define terms. In our teaching programs, a reference to the “Church” is a reference to corporate doctrinal positions; creeds; practices and theological constructs—NOT people.
The pews of every church are filled with good people in various states of agreement and disagreement with the variety of denominational or official tenants that the congregations they belong to espouse. We are instructed to speak the truth in love. Does “love” mean accepting all theologies and/or all doctrines as equally good? No. How can we do that?
When interpreting the Bible or applying Biblical doctrine and practice to our lives, we are committed to two principles that all other considerations are subject to; 1) our interpretation of Scripture must never compromise what we know to be true about God’s character and 2) our interpretation or application of Scripture must never compromise the integrity of God’s word.
In our teaching programs, a criticism of Christianity or the Church is not a de facto criticism of Christians, although in some Messianic circles, sadly, this is the case. Some teachers who may have a good grasp of the Scripture sometimes communicate it with a critical spirit. They may speak the truth, but not in love. We must always remember that God loves all people, wherever they are in their journey. But, God does instruct us to use our minds—“Come now, and let us reason together," says the LORD, "Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool. (Isa 1:18). One thing is for certain—our theology does not affect God’s love for us, nor will our doctrinal purity gain us entrance into the Olam HaBah (the World-To-Come). It is our love for truth, our love for God, and our commitment to walk in His Ways that matters. And, the love of God includes the love of people—no matter what their errant ideas may be.