An Encounter with a Rabbi

{This is from Sir Robert Anderson’s “Forgotten Truths”, chapter 1.  We quote this because a similar argument that the rabbi in this story uses is used by Islamic apologists, as well as skeptics, and atheists. We would be interested to know how Christians today who refuse to acknowledge the distinctiveness of the revelation to the Apostle Paul would answer a similar challenge.}

THE lapse of time has not effaced from my memory the details of a conversation of many years ago with a liberal-minded and cultured Jewish Rabbi. He introduced himself by telling me that he was a student of the New Testament, and that my friend, the then Chief Rabbi, had recommended one of my expository books to his attention. “We regard Jesus as one of the greatest of our Rabbis,” was one of his opening remarks. And he added, “It was not he that founded Christianity, but your Paul.” I astonished him by replying that beneath his assertion there lay a truth which the theology of Christendom had let slip. For the words of the Lord Jesus were explicit: “I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the House of Israel”; “Salvation is of the Jews.” In this connection I cited also the Apostle’s words, that “Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the Fathers, and that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy.” (Romans 15:8) And this I explained by reference to the Lord’s parable of the great supper. “You were the invited guests,” I said, “for to you pertained the Fathers and the promises, whereas the Gentiles are beholden to uncovenanted mercy. But though by nature the waifs and strays of the highways and the streets, grace has given us a place of special favour and nearness to God.”

The pleasant tenor of a prolonged conversation was interrupted at one point by an outburst about “the persecutions and cruelties his nation had suffered from the Christian religion.” This evoked a no less indignant outburst on my part at his confounding the religion of Christendom with the Christianity of the New Testament. I assured him that the best Christian theologians of our own time were free from the ignorance which in other days claimed for “the Christian Church” all the promises of the Hebrew Scriptures, leaving nothing for Israel but the threatened judgments. And I exemplified my statement by quoting Dean Alford’s scathing words about the evil history and predicted doom of “the Christian Church.”: I said that while in the past the Christians seem to have skipped the 11th chapter of Romans, nowadays we studied it. We recognized, therefore, that the people of the Abrahamic covenant were “the natural branches” of the olive tree which symbolizes the position of testimony and blessing upon earth, and that they would yet be restored to the place they had lost by unbelief; “for the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” (Romans 11:13-29)

{The book in its entirety can be found in pdf format at the link below}

“Forgotten Truths” by Sir Robert Anderson

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