Jewish Evangelism: The Religion of Israel as Preparatory, Not Final

In my last blog post I looked at the patristic project of commending the Christian Faith to one’s Jewish neighbour, and concluded that the project, though fraught with potential for misunderstanding, was still worthwhile. Here I would like to suggest that the religion of Israel was clearly preparatory, and was never meant to be God’s final word to Israel or to mankind. In discussing Israel’s religion it is important to differentiate the…

Jewish Evangelism: “To the Jew First”

I have just finished reading a wonderful book by the late scholar Louis Feldman (d. 2017) entitled Jew and Gentile in the Ancient World: Attitudes and Interactions from Alexander to Justinian. In it, he mentions the patristic attempts to convince the Jews of the truth of Christianity by citing examples of Old Testament prophecy fulfilled in Jesus, and he remarks that Jews in those days could hardly have found such Christian arguments…

The Historical Case for Infant Baptism

Christian baptism is about conversion, as a quick look at the Orthodox liturgical texts reveals. Questions are addressed to the candidate, requiring him or her to renounce Satan, and to seal this renunciation by spitting upon him. Next, questions are addressed to the candidate, requiring a statement of union with Christ, which the candidate utters and then seals by bowing down in prostration to Christ, and by confessing the Nicene Creed. Clearly,…

Love, Peace, Joy – 3

In the two last blog posts we looked at love, peace, and joy as the defining components of a Christian life and the essence of the Kingdom of God. Last week we examined what peace was; finally we examine the nature of joy. As with the concepts of love and peace, so the concept of joy has undergone some redefinition and is misunderstood. Many today understand joy as an emotion, a feeling.…

Love, Peace, Joy – 2

In the last blog post we looked at love, peace, and joy as the defining components of a Christian life.  It is these realities that constitute fundamental discipleship to Christ, not obedience to rules or fear of contamination, however helpful rules may be.  We have examined what real love is; now we look at real peace. As with love, peace has undergone a radical redefinition.  It now means the absence of war—a…

Love, Peace, and Joy

With its multiplicity of rules, canons, and liturgical stipulations, one might be forgiven for thinking that Orthodoxy is primarily about rules and regulations, coupled with a corresponding fear of breaking the rules and regulations. Orthodoxy therefore would then involve going through life fearful of infraction, mistake, misstep, and contamination from the world—“Want to go through life terrified? Good: become Orthodox!” This is not much of an evangelistic strategy. But thankfully Orthodoxy is…