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interfaith dialogue with christians

Rabbi Ari ShvatAdar 2, 5773
Question
Hi there, I’m a Christian who was searching something else and came across this question. I’ve spent five years of my life studying Jewish theology, and it’s enriched my own Christian faith a lot. My goal isn’t to convert anybody or try and change anyone’s mind, but isn’t studying the theology of other faiths a good thing, even if for no other reason than to compare and contrast with one’s own? Having a lot of Jewish friends who are largely ignorant of what many Christians actually believe (evidenced, I would say, by the grouping of "Idol Worship and Christianity), I think it would be beneficial to at the very least hear the creed of the Christian faith on its own terms. I can say from my own experience, learning the way that Jews themselves expressed and understood Judaism and permitting them to teach me about their own faith rather than to try and superimpose my own ideas about it was the best exercise I could’ve done. Definitely not trying to be rude or confrontational, merely asking: would not both Jew and Christian hearing what each other has to say on their own terms at the very least foster greater friendship and partnership between members of the two (highly related) faiths? I realize that for most of Christian history the majority of Christians haven’t thought this way, and so skepticism is understood and honored as justifiable, but I’m living proof that there are Christians who are willing to learn from you, because we think you have something valuable to give and to offer. I guess I understand if you don’t feel the same way, but I felt like it was worth saying something. Respect and Blessings.
Answer
Hi. It’s great hearing an open-minded gentile who isn’t out to “missionize” or convert Jews. Unfortunately, as long as convincing Jews to convert is a common or even central goal to many christian groups and clergy throughout history and to this very day (sometimes even veiling their real intentions), I imagine you can understand and respect our policy not to get into confusing differentiations, and prefer a blanket policy of not holding inter-faith dialogue regarding theological issues. We’re not out to convert or convince others, and we expect a similar, tolerant common courtesy. On the other hand, dialogue on political, community, humanitarian or international issues and events are fine, and cooperation of all mankind can help greatly. For example, if you can help us Jews deal with the immoral crackpot Moslem leaders in Iran who not only inconsiderately deny the fact that 6,000,000 Jews were murdered by the Nazis in the Holocaust, but want to actually nuke us and kill another 6,000,000 Jews in modern Israel, it would be greatly appreciated, so we don’t have to do it ourselves and alone. This type of universal brotherhood is a lot more urgent!
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