9. Should Christians evangelize Jews?
Not if by use of the word "evangelize" we are masking any attitude of contempt,
and not if
we intend anything disrespectful or coercive. A major reason for special caution in this regard
has to do with the dark history of Christian-Jewish relations cited in section 5 above. With
ample justification Jews are likely to be unusually sensitive about any approach Christians make
to them, however well-meaning.
Properly understood and practiced, evangelism is nothing more or less than
honest response by testimony and actions to the forgiving love of God known and experienced
through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. It is, first of all, an expression of joy, gratitude,
and praise. Its subject matter and sole focus is God's gracious, saving, healing, revelatory
activity. Whenever evangelistic testimony is tainted by contempt, whenever evangelistic actions
are disrespectful of any human being or are otherwise inconsistent with the demands of love,
they betray the Lord they are intended to honor and praise.
Strongly supported by Orthodox, Protestant, and Anglican theologians, the
Catholic Church in its Second Vatican Council decree, Nostra aetate (1965), set a new course
for all Christians in relation to Jews. Mutual understanding and respect are to be the constant
rule as Christians and Jews together explore the mystery of the one God's saving presence and
work among us. Christians begin by acknowledging that Jews as a people do not need to be
introduced to God, that they already have a relationship with God and understand it and its
salvific integrity differently from the way we understand our own. The one God, living and
active, if also mysterious, excites and delights Jews as well as Christians. The one God,
understood by us so differently, calls us all, in loving cooperation with God and one another, to
mend this broken world. Beyond any doctrinal differences and disagreements we are united in
God's service. Our dialogue confirms and strengthens this unity.
to main page