According to the latest statistics, the Jewish population in the world numbers a little over fourteen million, six million of them in North America. It is a magnificent accomplishment that so small a number could contribute so much in so many diverse areas of life.

Today Jews enjoy tremendous leverage in many nations, not least in the United States. Numbers of them hold important positions in the U.S. government. Their very substantial involvement in the media makes possible the widespread dissemination and promotion of their views. Christian church groups have responded to their concerns and reacted to their criticisms, as, for example, in the recent Trifa case before the National Council of Churches (see November 5, 1976, issue, page 58).

The Jews, and particularly Israel, have benefited immensely from evangelical support for their cause. Evangelicals have promoted tourism to Israel; they have spoken out in favor of the defense of Israel against external aggression since its founding; they have allowed the use of their names to help Jews press for social justice in the Soviet Union; and they have helped those Jews who have wanted to emigrate to Israel from Russia. In all this there remains a fuzziness that needs to be cleared up.

Not a few evangelicals confuse the political state of Israel with spiritual Israel and in so doing lose sight of one important fact: both in Israel and around the world, most Jews do not recognize Jesus Christ as their Messiah. Therefore the political state of Israel cannot be equated with spiritual Israel. We hope and pray that many Israelis will come to know Jesus as their Messiah, a hope signaled by the promise of Paul in Romans that the day is coming when multitudes of Israel will be saved.

The same point can be made another way. Evangelicals may love their Jewish friends and support Jewish causes without suggesting that they regard Judaism as a religion sufficient for salvation. This position is obviously a source of friction. Jews object strongly when evangelicals “proselytize” among their company. But for evangelicals to refrain from sharing the Good News with all men, including Jews, would be inconsistent with their faith. Our Jewish friends must live with our conviction, even as we recognize their right to try to make converts from among Gentiles. If evangelical-Jewish relations are to prosper, they and we must acknowledge the right of each group to make voluntary converts from among the followers of the other.

Touchier yet is the whole problem of anti-Semitism. At the heart of the monstrous wickedness that has been practiced against Jews lies a misunderstanding about the role of the Jews in the crucifixion of Jesus. But from the Christian standpoint, the New Testament is maligned when anyone alleges that the gospel writers were wrong in saying that some of the Jews in Jesus’ day were involved in his execution. In Face to Face, published by the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, a statement appears that is wholly offensive to evangelicals. James W. Parkes, a Church of England clergyman, says:

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“The modern scholar has no difficulty in distinguishing between the preaching of Jesus and the contemporary picture of the teaching of the scribes and Pharisees in the Gospel of Mark, from the sweeping and preposterous generalizations attributed to Jesus in the infamous chapter 23 of the Gospel of Matthew, or the still more absurd statement in the Fourth Gospel that, almost before Jesus had opened his mouth, ‘the Jews’ sought to kill him (John 5:16–18). But for the church, the Scriptures, whether those of the Jews, or those belonging to the church itself, were the infallible ‘Word of God’ ” (Face to Face: An Interreligious Bulletin, Summer-Fall, 1976, page 4).

Let it be said that some of the Jews in Jesus’ day did play a role in his death; let it be added that Gentiles also had a role in his death. And let it be shouted from the housetops that no one should blame today’s Jews and Gentiles for what their forebears did. Evangelicals are deeply troubled when the New Testament, which testifies authoritatively to the One on whom their faith is founded, is denigrated. They are equally troubled when it is misused as an excuse for anti-Semitism.

With the approach of the Easter season, which has in it days that are as important to Jews as to Christians, we should not forget each other. Nor should we Christians allow ourselves to forget that the psalmist urges us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. There is need for even more cooperation between evangelicals and Jews at a time when we sense the possibility of a resurgence of anti-Semitism and when the future of the state of Israel is in doubt. Evangelical cooperation with Jews should never be based upon a demand, implied or expressed, that Jews surrender views they hold dear. But evangelicals do expect their Jewish friends to accord them the same right, and not to denigrate the New Testament. The Jews need to realize that it is the New Testament that provides the basis for evangelicals’ concern for them and for their cause.

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Controversy Has Its Price

Anita Bryant is a Christian working in the rough-and-tumble world of entertainment. Her face is known wherever there is a television screen in America.

While the Florida-based entertainer has made no secret of her Christian faith, she was considered a pleasant, uncontroversial personality until this year. But when her beliefs led her to take a stand on a public issue, she apparently committed the unpardonable sin: she became controversial. A firm that was about to produce a television series in which she would star notified her that the show was being canceled because of “extensive national publicity arising from the controversial political activities” in which she was involved.

In today’s topsy-turvey society this Christian is being penalized for her stand against evil, specifically the sin of homosexual behavior. As a citizen of Dade County, she led a campaign against a county ordinance that would have the effect of encouraging homosexuals to “come out” into the open. Supporters of the ordinance put the pressure on commercial sponsors and entertainment industry figures to hurt her economically.

Anita Bryant has lost a skirmish, but the war is far from over. As more Christians are willing to apply their faith (and perhaps become controversial), there will be more victories for right instead of wrong.

Herman Dooyeweerd

When Herman Dooyeweerd died February 12 in his native Amsterdam, the evangelical world lost one of its giants of thought. He spent forty of his eighty-two years (from 1926 until his retirement in 1965) teaching legal philosophy at the Free University, the institution founded in 1880 by Abraham Kuyper to provide the intellectual leadership of a resurgent reformed Protestantism. Dooyeweerd became known as the cofounder, with his brother-in-law Dirk Vollenhoven, of the philosophical system known as the Philosophy of the Cosmonomic Idea. It was one of the major intellectual efforts of twentieth-century orthodox Protestantism.

In North America, Dooyeweerd was known chiefly as the author of A New Critique of Theoretical Thought (Presbyterian and Reformed, 1953–58), which is his most outstanding but also his most obscure work. In these four volumes he presents a detailed Christian philosophy, based on the assumptions that religion is the human condition and that human reason is therefore inescapably imbedded in religion and because of sin is in need of divine revelation to understand the nature of man, the world, and society. His profound theoretical reflections were an attempt to give a philosophically and biblically responsible explanation of reality as creation, and because of sin the object of Christ’s redemptive acts in his death, resurrection, and ascension.

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Such a philosophical endeavor is at odds with the spirit of the modern age; hence in many ways Dooyeweerd led a lonely intellectual life. Excommunication by the secular philosophical schools, however, burdened him less than the misunderstanding about his work within the orthodox Protestant world, first within the Free University itself and increasingly so in the English-speaking world. Much of what he considered misunderstanding was over his approach to the Bible. Even the most appreciative of his critics mentioned his extremely vague way of speaking about God’s written revelation. In response he insisted that he was not a theologian, and his defenders pointed out that some English translation of his work did not accurately convey his position on the inspiration and authority of Scripture.

Perhaps a more persistent struggle with his numerous and versatile publications in several disciplines besides philosophy—legal theory, political science, industrial economics, theory of history, and sociology—will in the future help to show Dooyeweerd’s alternative to secular, behavioralist trends in the modern university. The evangelical intelligentsia owes him a great debt.

Avoiding Sin Of All Kinds

There are Christians who, in effect, define righteousness by what they shun. They keep away from certain foods and drinks, from certain people, from certain places.

There certainly are occasions when Christians do well to keep their distance, but our Lord’s emphasis was against that way of defining unrighteousness. He stressed one’s internal attitude, regardless of the external surroundings: “What comes out of a man is what defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness” (Mark 7:20–22).

It is convenient to focus on the sins of others; this keeps the spotlight away from oneself. And it is convenient to understand sin in terms of actions that can be physically avoided; one can thereby avoid disturbing thoughts about attitudes such as coveting, envy, and pride, which our Lord includes on his list of “evil things” right along with theft, murder, and adultery.

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God everywhere shows a lot of concern about sin, and so should we. But it is the nature of sin to deceive us, even when we think we’re being righteous. We must work at keeping our understandings and emphases in line with what God has revealed.

We announced in our February 18 issue that a new headquarters building had been purchased forCHRISTIANITY TODAYin the Chicago area. Readers’ reactions have ranged from congratulations to pointed questions. Some were sharply critical. We put some of these questions to the chairman of the magazine’s board, Dr. Harold J. Ockenga of Gordon-Conwell Seminary.

Question. You reported that CHRISTIANITY TODAY is in “the best financial shape of its history.” Why, then, is ownership of a building so important?

Answer. The publication has always had a very large annual subsidy. The board concluded a few years ago that we would be foolish to count on this lasting indefinitely. Therefore we set a goal: by 1980 we planned to be self-sufficient. This would require tight discipline and long-range plans. The board decided a building was a necessity, to build equity and reduce operating expenses.

Q. Couldn’t the magazine acquire property in the Washington area and remain financially viable there?

A. We tried. We looked at literally dozens of buildings and sites both in downtown Washington and in the suburbs. They were inordinately expensive. Land was about $200,000 an acre. We made a lower offer on one lot but were turned down.

This led to exploring possibilities in other cities. Chicago offered many advantages. It is centrally located. It has the greatest concentration of theological seminaries in the country. It has major publishing resources.

We intensively explored options near O’Hare Airport. We looked in Schaumburg, West Chicago, Geneva, Batavia, Downer’s Grove. Our executive committee reviewed the various options and found the building in Carol Stream was far superior to anything else available.

Q. Won’t your witness dissolve as you identify with small-town America? What will you do to prevent that?

A. Chicago is not small-town America. There is greater opportunity there for academic and theological exchange than anywhere in the country, with the possible exception of Boston. Almost all of our staff persons in Washington live in the suburbs now. Their personal surroundings will change very little.

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Q. You will be near Wheaton. How can you move there in light of the Lausanne Covenant’s affirmation of the need to break out of our ecclesiastical ghettos and to permeate society? Aren’t you retreating into an evangelical ivory tower? Isn’t this departure from the centers of influence inconsistent with Christ’s call to be salt and light in the world?

A. Certainly not. Your questions presuppose we have an active ministry in Washington. We were never set up for that. Our constituency is international, and we must be vigorous economically and theologically. In many ways, Chicago is a superior place to publish a magazine.

Q. Evangelicals have counted on Christianity Today to provide an on-the-spot Christian perspective in Washington. Where will they turn now?

A. We will maintain just as active an interpretive reporting on the capital, with a representative there for in-depth interviews. This has always been a relatively small aspect of our publication—ours is a national and global news perspective, basically religious, not political.

Q. Since when are Christians called upon to abandon the “ungodly” world in order to escape its evil influence? Aren’t we supposed to infect our world with our Gospel rather than being afraid it will infect us?

A. You are referring, of course, to some quotes by me in the secular press, but these were taken out of context. I was asked questions about the deteriorating moral conditions in Washington, and I made some observations—but I pointed out that was not why we were leaving. Certainly Chicago is very little better than Washington in this respect.

But from a business standpoint, Washington does represent problems. One has to compete with an extremely generous employer, the federal government. Nicholas von Hoffman wrote a few weeks ago in the Washington Post, “Last year the average income per household in the Washington area was $23,602 … for Chicago, $18,017.… Government employees are paid far more—probably in excess of 20 per cent—than people in the private sector.… This is an easy money town with high prices for inferior goods and services.… The excessive salaries paid directly to employees and indirectly through firms making their money off government contractors has bid up the price of everything.”

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Several of our board members have expressed deep concern about the future impact of inflation. Many publishing leaders view the chance for survival of journals like Christianity Today as marginal. However, we are optimistic. We are determined to make this publication not only survive but grow.

At our first meetings in founding Christianity Today, we discussed California, Philadelphia, and other locations. We selected Washington, but several of the same board members who helped us select Washington twenty years ago voted this January for Chicago. We must be realists, for geography is not the vital issue. I am convinced we can achieve our original purposes in a very effective manner in the Chicago area. The progress we have made the last two years is remarkable, and I believe the years ahead will also represent increased impact. Our staff has never been more effective, and we believe the careful decisions of the board over the past several years will result in a very strong publication which will continue to achieve our original purposes.

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