Evangelical Christians believe that it is necessary for a person
to believe in Jesus Christ in order to be saved.
According to every liberal I know -- Christian, Jew, or other --
Jews are supposed to find this theology offensive and frightening. According
to liberals, the evangelicals' doctrine that no non-Christians can be saved
is so awful that all other evangelical views must be held suspect -- even
their unique support for Jews and Israel.
I would therefore like to announce, as a practicing, believing
Jew, that I am in no way offended, let alone frightened, by evangelical
Christians who believe that it is necessary to have faith in Jesus in order
to be saved.
Why should Jews not be offended by this evangelical Christian
First, since all non-Christians are unsaved, this doctrine is in
no way anti-Jewish. It is pro-salvation, not anti-anybody. The evangelical
view of who is not saved is applicable, by definition, to all
non-Christians. There is, therefore, no reason whatsoever for a Jew to be
personally offended. It is no more applicable to Jews than to Hindus. When
most evangelicals single out Jews, it is only to support them and Israel,
and to reaffirm Jewish chosenness. It takes paranoia, ignorance and
ingratitude for a Jew to join the anti-evangelical critics.
Second, exclusive views of salvation are hardly unique to
evangelical Christians. Liberals, of all people, should honor such exclusive
views. Don't most liberals think that liberalism is the only way to save
America (and don't most conservatives think that of conservatism)? If
Christians are intolerant and offensive because they believe they have the
only way to salvation in the next life, why aren't liberals intolerant and
offensive because they believe they have the only way to salvation in this
life? And if Christians must declare that all religions are equally valid
paths to salvation, shouldn't liberals have to declare that all political
and social doctrines are equally valid paths to America's salvation?
Third, all those who condemn evangelicals for their belief in
the necessity of affirming Christ for salvation are doing
what they accuse these Christians of doing -- judging and
condemning people solely for their beliefs. Here is the liberals' rule:
Christians may not judge others by their religious beliefs, but liberals may
judge Christians by their religious beliefs.
Fourth, one of Judaism's core teachings is that God judges all
people by their behavior rather than by their faith alone, and that we are
to judge people in the same way. I apply this teaching to evangelicals. I
judge them not by their theology but by their behavior. I find that behavior
often exemplary, and I regard them as America's best hope to stem the
country's cultural and moral decline.
Fifth, insofar as offensiveness and tolerance are concerned, who
do you think has it tougher -- a Jew living and working among evangelical
Christians or a conservative living and working among strongly committed
liberals? As one who is in the former situation, I can tell you that I
receive only respect and tolerance. On the other hand, ask conservatives,
not to mention evangelical Christians, in Hollywood how they feel. Most keep
their views to themselves, so fearful are they of repercussions from the
Let's also compare the evangelicals to the "open" and "tolerant"
Protestant Christian denominations as represented by the National Council of
Churches. We find moral confusion, anti-Americanism and support for those
who wish another Jewish genocide. True, just about everyone in the NCC
believes that it is not necessary for anyone to affirm faith in Christ to be
saved and that I as a Jew can therefore attain salvation. But so what? Their
doctrines that pertain to me, here and now, on earth, not in the hereafter,
are the doctrines that frighten me.
Evangelical Christians, almost alone, affirm that America has a
divine mission, that this country has better values than Europe, that the
United Nations is a moral wasteland, that God's law is higher than
international laws devised in New York or The Hague, that secularism is
wonderful for government but fatal for society, that Israel must be
protected against those who wish to exterminate it, that the Jews have a
divinely chosen role in history, and that America must remain a
If the only way a Christian can hold these precious beliefs is
to maintain that faith in Jesus is the only way to salvation, here is one
Jew who says: More power to you. Keep your faith strong.