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Posted August 6, 2009

Book: The Changing Christian World: A Brief Introduction for Jews
Author: Rabbi Leonard A. Schoolman
Jewish Lights Publishing, Woodstock, Vermont. 2009. Pp. 163

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

For many Jews, discerning the differences among various Christian groups is perplexing. As a result, they are struck with an outdated understanding of Christian beliefs, practices and attitudes, especially with regard to their relationship with Judaism, Jews, and Israel.

But Christian views are evolving, particularly since the landmark 1965 Catholic statement known as Nostra Aetate that forever changed the landscape of Jewish-Christian relations. This intriguing, brief introduction focuses on the changing Christian currents within the Roman Catholic Church, Protestant denominations, nondenominational megachurches and the emergent church. It also explores the essential doctrines that undergird most Christian belief, including sin, salvation, Jesus as Messiah, the Second Coming and Christian Zionism — and compares them to the Jewish understanding of these issues.

Designed to answer Jew’s common questions about Christianity, this enlightening overview is also an excellent interfaith resource that will help all readers understand the changing Christian climate and what its implications are for the future of Judaism and interfaith relations.

An Excerpt from the book:

Maplewood, Minn. — Like most pastors who lead thriving evangelical megachurches, the Rev. Gregory A. Boyd was asked frequently to give his blessing — and the church’s — to conservative political candidates and causes.

The requests came from church members and visitors alike: Would you please announce a rally against gay marriage during services? Would he introduce a politician from the pulpit? Could members set up a table in the lobby promoting their anti-abortion work? Would the church distribute “voters’ guides” that all but endorsed Republican candidates? And with the country at war, please couldn’t the church hang an American flag in the sanctuary?

After refusing each time, Mr. Boyd finally became fed up, he said. Before the last presidential election, he preached six sermons called “The Cross and the Sword” in which he said the church should steer clear of politics, give up moralizing on sexual issues, stop claiming the United States as a “Christian nation” and stop glorifying American military campaigns.

“When the church wins the culture wars, it inevitably loses,” Boyd preached. “When it conquers the world, it becomes the world. When you put your trust in the sword, you lose the cross.”

Table of Contents:

1. A Jew looks at theology

2. Sin

3. Jesus

4. End times

5. Is the bible true?

6. Are we still waiting for the Messiah?

7. Do Christians still want to convert us?

8. Israel and the Christians

9. Protestant churches today: bigger and smaller

10. Religious influences on the U.S. Government

11. What might the future hold?

Appendix 1: Dabru Emet

Appendix 2: Nostra Aetate