A bright spot
The past few weeks have been pretty grim for us Jews who believe in Jesus. The intifada and increased violence in Israel, Billy Graham's lame excuse for his disparagement of Jews on the Nixon tapes, as well as a changing theology in the church that denies any kind of effective Jewish evangelism, all contributed to our burdens. But then came the bright spot of your March 3 Passover/Easter special issue, "O brother, where art thou?" which showed more insight than I have ever seen in print. We felt lifted, appreciated, and encouraged. Thank you for your courageous stand. - Moishe Rosen, Founder, Jews for Jesus, San Francisco, Calif.
Know their pain
I teach courses on Jewish history in local churches and a synagogue, and one of my students gave me a copy of your special issue. I expected to find only fluff, but I can't tell you how impressed I am. As a Christian, I never cease to be amazed at the number of Christians who know nothing about this history and wonder why Jews are sometimes "prickly" with them. I usually start my course with a story from the Talmud of the talmudim who keeps telling his rebbe how much he loves him. Finally, the rebbe says, "If you really love me, tell me where I hurt when I got up." Most evangelicals are like that; they say they "love" the Jewish people, but few know what causes their pain. - Monica McMillen, Fort Worth, Texas
"O brother, where art thou?" gives an excellent report on Jewish/Christian relations. The timeline of notable Jewish Christians of the last five centuries provided many insightful comments. John Piper gave compassionate reasons to reach out to Jews ("Jewish evangelism"). Marvin Olasky's keys to evangelism, "the willingness to be rejected and the assurance to be polite," are encouraging ("Two halves"). We plan to use these ideas and this issue with our Jewish neighbors. - J.D. Moyers, Littleton, Colo.
The only way
John Piper's article on "Jewish Evangelism" says it all. If Jesus is the only way, but our liberal friends don't want to offend our Jewish friends with the gospel, how will they be saved? Being offended is not as bad as ending up in hell. - Fred Limbach, East Northport, N.Y.
Marvin Olasky's timeline in your March 3 special issue is more than a memorial; it is also an inspiration and instruction. I weep when I think of it, perhaps because I believe that the facts and lives you presented have profound implications for the world, and for our future. - Avice-Marie Griffin, Irvine, Calif.
As a Jewish believer, I can now see the blessing in being raised in a "Jewish heritage" home instead of a practicing one. By God's grace, four of five siblings in my family are saved. I see that as a miracle when I look at the low number of Jewish believers, and it makes me thankful for something I used to see as a major mistake by my parents. - Tanya Thielen, Fort Collins, Colo.
The special issue was magnificent. I, too, was raised in a Conservative-Reform Jewish home and had Jesus "crash my party." The issue reminded me of what I lost, what I gained, and renewed a desire to have the world know that he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, but one inwardly. - Jim Williams, St. Albans, W.Va.
Finding our roots
I greatly appreciated your Passover/Easter special issue. The church I pastor has forged a friendship with a Messianic congregation and benefited greatly. Messianic Judaism can link gentile Christians to the Jewish roots of our faith and open our eyes to some of the beautiful elements in the Jewish culture. Think of all the abuses Christianity could have avoided if we remained at least loosely linked with the Jewish community, such as the tolerance of biblical illiteracy predominant during the Middle Ages (Jews always emphasized the study of Torah by rabbis and laymen both). The Jews were not the only losers when Christians adopted an anti-Semitic viewpoint. - Ed Vasicek, Kokomo, Ind.
The special issue was great, but Marvin Olasky leans too far toward tolerance sometimes. He comments that Mr. Lapin of Toward Tradition "understands that evangelistic efforts are signs of caring and respect, not threat," and describes Christians and Jews as allies in the battle against secular liberalism. Is it OK, then, that Mr. Lapin considers evangelizing away from Christianity also to be a sign of caring and respect? How can Jews and Christians ally to revive distinctly different ideas of religion? Are we naïve enough to think our methods, spawned from philosophies in conflict, will be compatible? It is not anti-Semitism to avoid alliances with people who teach false religion. - Barry Anderson, Tacoma, Wash.
"Clutter glut" in the March 2 issue bemoans the increase in TV commercial time by saying, "The good news is that people have more time to go to the fridge for a sandwich. The bad news is that they're seeing less actual programming on television." Given the content of most TV shows today, are you sure you didn't get those reversed? - Joni Halpin, Allen, Texas
Thanks to Gene Edward Veith for his excellent article "Group thinkers" (Feb. 23). It was insightful to observe that many historians "are more interested in 'culture,' not 'individuals.'" This mindset seems to be consistent with our cultural notion that no individual is responsible for his actions, and woes are usually blamed on large faceless entities such as corporations, government, and society. - Erik Illi, Tacoma, Wash.
Susan Olasky, Edward E. Plowman, and Gene Edward Veith deserve a round of applause for their analysis and reporting about the TNIV ("Trust me," "Should we trust IBS?" "Does it mean what it says?" Feb. 23). I heartily agree that the TNIV is a politically correct Bible that pays its allegiance to pressure groups instead of staying true to the words of God. - Donna W. Thibodeau, Minneapolis, Minn.
Thank you for your courageous stand for accurate Bible translation. I appreciate your rejection of the translation philosophy which produced the gender-biased TNIV. I would suggest, however, that the NIV was the product of a defective translation philosophy even before the politically correct folk began tampering with it. I do not believe that the NIV is an accurate Bible translation in accord with a consistent concern for the doctrine of the Bible's verbal and plenary inspiration. I wouldn't be so concerned, except that the NIV for many (especially in the rising generation) has become the standard version of the English-speaking world. - Robert P. Martin, Seattle, Wash.
The TNIV may not be a good translation (I haven't read it yet), but WORLD's arguments in criticism of it strike me as simplistic. For example, regarding the thorny issue of gender neutrality, Susan Olasky suggests that we simply "explain that in English ... 'he' or 'his' is generic." But translation needs to take language as it is, not as we wish it would be. I believe that the language has changed, and for many English-speaking people today the pronoun he and the noun man are inescapably male. I respectfully disagree with J.I. Packer's assessment that objecting to he as a generic pronoun is a "passing modern fad." We can lament this change as the result of misguided feminism, but we cannot ignore the way English is understood by many people who desperately need to hear the Bible's message. - Scott G. Roberson, Vancouver, Wash.
Less than honest
I am impressed by the stand WORLD is taking regarding the TNIV. It appears to me that the IBS has been less than honest in their treatment of this issue over the last five years. - Tim Armstrong, Lucas, Texas
Thank you for the information on the TNIV. We really appreciate the warning. - Sandy Falcone, Freedom, N.Y.
Joel Belz makes an astute observation that the "Religious Right" is not the same as the church ("A healthy debate," Feb. 23). I have been a pastor for over 28 years and in that time have been involved with Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority, Tim LaHaye's Californians for Biblical Morality, and several lesser-known efforts that have been effective in recruiting Christians into some involvement in the political world. I know that no political party or candidate will usher in the kingdom of God, but if Christians abandon the political scene, non-Christian philosophies will rule our land. I see great value in what Thomas and Dobson say, but I also agree with Minnery, Falwell, and LaHaye-we must not stay silent and uninvolved. Too much is at stake. - Jim Baize, San Diego, Calif.