The pastor had a tough assignment.Â While on sabbatical heâ€™d received word from his fellow elders that a group of Jewish families in the church were beginning to cause a bit of trouble. They were threatening to abandon their Christian confession and return to the Jewish community theyâ€™d left. What was causing the contemplated action was the same issue that had caused a similar secession only a year earlier. It was all about Jesus of Nazareth and, specifically, whether or not what the Christians claimed about his relation to the Jewish Scriptures, what some were beginning to call the Old Testament, was true. The distant pastor didnâ€™t need the other elders to tell him who was instigating all this. He knew who had the ear of these familiesâ€”and others in the city. After all, Rabbi Aaron ben Levi, a local synagogue leader, had made his intentions rather clear, both personallyâ€”over the course of a half-dozen or so private meetingsâ€”and publiclyâ€”through his well-publicized campaign against the Christian interpretation of the Hebrew Bible. The pastor also knew that the recent tax bill wasnâ€™t helping matters much either, considering it restricted all but practicing Jews from exempting themselves from the onerous public works tax that supported, among other things, the dozen or so temple-projects currently in progress around the city. The tax had made a bad economic situation worse for his congregation. Many of the churchâ€™s Jewish members had lost family-jobs when theyâ€™d converted. (Religion, it seemed, had run thicker than blood.) Most had been able to find alternative work, thanks be to God, but not a few were still severely underemployed and, thus, would have a difficult time paying the new tax. All this, of course, reminded the pastorâ€”and surely, he thought, many within his communityâ€”of the similar storm theyâ€™d weathered a few years back. In that case, a handful of rabble-rousers, including the then graduate student Aaron ben Levi, provoked some otherwise well-meaning Jewish landlords to evict their Jewish-Christian tenants for supposedly violating the terms of their leases. Most in both the Christian and Jewish community still couldnâ€™t see how the Jewish-Christianâ€™s house meetings transgressed policy or, for that matter, why some were temporarily-detained by a local, non-sympathetic magistrate when theyâ€™d simply asked for a bit more time to comply. Still, to their credit, the Christians had borne the difficulty bravely and, in most cases, joyfully. Things, however, just seemed to be different this time. The constant pressure the last couple years had exercised upon these young Christians, especially by family and former friends, had begun to exact its toll. The chronic shame had, at last, begun to dull their zeal for their Christian confession. As a result, formerly useful rebuttals to the arguments raised by Rabbi Levi and his disciples had become less helpful. Present doubts, therefore, remained and the churchâ€™s elders were at a lost to know what to do. Theyâ€™d promised to leave their dear friend alone to his writing, but the problem, they rightly-judged, was simply too urgent. The pastor received their letter early one morning, delivered by the hand of a trusted assistant. By the time the sun had set, heâ€™d completed his response, what he called in his letterâ€™s final lines, a brief word of encouragement. He prayed his friends would bear with it . . . .
- How Has the Church Responded to Theological Controversy?
- Divorcing the Person from the Work of Christ?
- The Battle with Death
- Lifeâ€™s Like a Conveyor-Belt of Chocolates: 5 Reasons to Read Whatâ€™s Best Next by Matt Perman
- Do You Know Any Heretics?
- Is Allah a God of Love?
- Evangelical Social Engagement: A Reprise
- Chapter Note: Joel Carpenter, â€śWhatâ€™s New About the New Evangelical Social Engagement?â€ť
- Don Johnson on Divorcing the Person from the Work of Christ?
- Mark Snoeberger on Divorcing the Person from the Work of Christ?
- Dan Phillips on Divorcing the Person from the Work of Christ?
- Karis Lee on Lifeâ€™s Like a Conveyor-Belt of Chocolates: 5 Reasons to Read Whatâ€™s Best Next by Matt Perman
- Matt Perman on Lifeâ€™s Like a Conveyor-Belt of Chocolates: 5 Reasons to Read Whatâ€™s Best Next by Matt Perman
- Josh Scally on Lifeâ€™s Like a Conveyor-Belt of Chocolates: 5 Reasons to Read Whatâ€™s Best Next by Matt Perman
- David M. Doran, Jr. on Lifeâ€™s Like a Conveyor-Belt of Chocolates: 5 Reasons to Read Whatâ€™s Best Next by Matt Perman
- BE on Is Allah a God of Love?