This will be my last post on Philip Jenkins’ “The Lost History of Christianity”, since I already returned it.
Near the end of the book Jenkins imagines a possible reconciling of Christianity and Islam as they once again have to spend a long time co-existing in large numbers in the same space. “If Islam is not understood as the scourge that God applies to faithless Christians – and nor is it, as Muslims believe, the only true faith – then how exactly should it be seen? Might Christians someday accept that Islam fulfils a positive role, and that its growth in history represents another form of divine revelation, one that complements but does not replace the Christian message?” He then attempts use an analogy that I found perplexing. “However difficult such a reappraisal might be, we recall how fundamentally Christian views of Judaism have changed over the past few decades. Not long ago, the common Christian approach was one of supersession, the idea that the Christian covenant replaced and invalidated the older Jewish covenant. More recently, many contemporary Christian theologies accept the eternal value of God’s covenant with Israel, with the implication that Christian evangelism of Jews is unnecessary and unacceptable.”
That bit doesn’t make a goddamn lick of sense to me. What the hell was the point of Jesus, a Jew preaching to other Jews that they needed to have their sins forgiven by God if they wanted to attain salvation and the Kingdom of God, if the pre-existing covenant was enough? How can anyone call themselves a Christian if they reject that basic tenet? Don’t they have an obligation to spread the good news, and even feel bad for those who don’t have the chance to accept Christ as their lord and savior? I admit that I never engaged in evangelism, but that’s because (like David Putty) I wasn’t a very good Christian, at least the parts that required me to be pro-active.