I will be reviewing a new book here soon (maybe tomorrow if I can get in some reading time today) by Calvin Smith, The Jews, Modern Israel and the New Supercessionism: Resources for Christians, due out next week from King’s Divinity Press, of King’s Evangelical Divinity School. The school is part of the University of Wales in Lampeter, U.K.
You can see more about the book at a website set up just for that purpose: http://www.thechurchandisrael.com/
Smith’s book is a collection of essays by himself, Andy Cheung, Tony Pearce, Jacob Prasch, Howard Taylor, Stephen Vantassel and Paul Wilkinson. There is also a foreword by Mitch Glaser (formerly Jews for Jesus and now President, Chosen People Ministries, New York) and a preface by Mark S. Sweetnam, Research Fellow at Trinity College, Dublin.
In preparation for this review, I thought I would share a few things about some of my favorite books in Jewish-Christian relations.
The God of Israel and Christian Theology, by R. Kendall Soulen
Don’t know what a canonical narrative is? It’s worth the price of the book. Have you thought about the grand sweep of God’s plan to redeem and perfect creation? Soulen has. And his theology of mutual blessing as God’s method is a Biblical eye-opener.
The book is not perfect. Some will feel it is a touch academic for them, though it is not as difficult as some academic books. Soulen’s ideas about soteriology will trouble some. Yet, the value in this book overrides all such concerns and I guarantee this will stretch your theological horizons (in good ways).
Post-Missionary Messianic Judaism, by Mark Kinzer
This book started my slide away from the Christian Missions to the Jews movement. In fact, it was defending this book at an LCJE Conference several years back that marked the very end of my decade-long association with that movement.
The fact is, this book is paradigm-changing for Christians and Jews. By post-missionary, Kinzer does not mean we need to avoid talking about Yeshua and the wonder of following our rabbi and master. Rather, he means to urge a change in the posture with which Christians (and Messianic Jews) relate to the Jewish community. The missionary posture communicates, “You are not whole and without listening to us you have no hope.”
Kinzer is a careful theologian and a marvelous exegete. This book will also seem a difficult read to those who do not regularly read theology (even an attorney in my congregation found it a difficult read). Nonetheless, I recommend that it be on your shelf and that you at least try reading it in short doses if academic theology is not your thing.
Future Israel, by Barry Horner
A Reformed pastor who believes in Israel’s continuing role at the center of God’s plan of redemption and consummation? You bet.
In case that didn’t make sense to you, it is in Reformed circles that we expect to find supersessionism, the idea that Israel is on the shelf and God’s work is (nearly) exclusively through the Church.
Horner’s book is wonderful for several reasons. First, it is an easier read than the two I have already introduced. Second, he shows the ugly fruits of supersessionism in Christian history. Third, he shows that a pro-Israel position has been heralded by some leading lights in the history of Reformed Christianity. Fourth, and perhaps most important, this book is a supplement to the conservative commentary series that will be read by hundreds of thousands of Baptists and evangelicals (the New American Commentaries).
Jews and Christians Together, by Stuart Dauermann
This is a booklet just released by MJTI (mjti.com) and Wipf & Stock in a publishing partnership.
It is short (37 pages) and an easy read. It is also engaging and inspiring.
Dauermann, a known wordsmith with many disciples, exposits the “Seven Aspects of God’s Ultimate Purposes For Israel and the Nations” from Ezekiel 37.
If you balked at reading the more academic books I mentioned, get Dauermann’s booklet. In fact, buy more than one, because you will want to give it to your friends who don’t get it. If you are a Christian, you may want to share it with a pastor as a gift to encourage their appreciation for Judaism and Jewish people. If you are Jewish and not into the Messianic thing, this book will share a vision that, I think, makes more sense than Chabad’s and yet is as sweeping and inclusive.
How to order these books: They are all available at amazon.com and Stuart Dauermann’s new booklet can also be ordered at mjti.com in the store.