- The Washington Times - Monday, April 30, 2001

Excerpts from "Jewish-Christian Relations: From Holocaust to Hope," the first Donald Coggan lecture of the College of Preachers, given last week by Archbishop of Canterbury George L. Carey.

This is a lecture sponsored by the College of Preachers. How then is [the relationship between Jews and Christians] to be preached? [Former Archbishop of Canterbury] Donald Coggan had a great love of preaching and was an enthusiastic supporter of the College of Preachers… .
He made a profound and lasting contribution to Jewish-Christian understanding [as a leader of Englands Council of Christians and Jews]. He longed for intelligent, biblical preaching that engaged with society and the world. He also longed that preachers should have a close and detailed knowledge of the languages of the Bible as well as having a thorough knowledge of Judaism.
How frustrated he was when he heard Christian preachers misrepresenting Torah. How he fumed in that polite Coggan way when he heard distortions of the Hebrew Scriptures which only misinformed generations of Christian congregations.
We thus have a duty to be thorough in our preparation, intelligent in our use of scripture and understanding of the debt we owe to Jerusalem, which is mother of us all. We cannot, of course, abandon proclaiming a gospel which is a gift for all people, but we are responsible for how it is proclaimed and taught.
Christian preachers must strive to be aware of recent developments in biblical studies, particularly with regard to the Jewishness of Jesus and the religious context which nurtured him. These are insights which should be deepened through closer Jewish-Christian relations, and preachers must also make every effort to share this knowledge with their people.
We must preach in such a way that all Christians come to understand, as Donald did, that we are "in debt, everlastingly in debt, to the people of the Book, the people of the Land, the people of Israel."
And that point is made very powerfully in an amusing and telling recent book by E.L. Doctorow called "The City of God," in which Episcopalianism and Judaism are brought together.
A heavy brass cross is astonishingly stolen from St. Timothys Episcopal Church in New York and discovered on the roof of the Synagogue of Evolutionary Judaism.
The crime, which is symbolic in character, brings together a skeptical Episcopalian priest and a reformist woman rabbi. They turn "divinity detectives" and contemplate the case for God and religion in a postmodern world.
The burden of the book is that in a world shot through with impermanence, loss of meaning, and loss of hope, Christianity and Judaism have much in common to share with a world where faith is in short supply.
Well does this echo Donald Coggans great yearning expressed at the end of the first lecture I referred to [which was titled "When Christians meet Jews" and given in 1985] in St. Pauls Cathedral:
"I long to see, at all levels of our society, a sharing of the deepest things in our religious faith, the one with the other. We have, I trust, moved from suspicion of one another, from mere toleration of one another, to a sense of appreciation of and enrichment by one another, to a sense of responsibility for one another.
"Now, has not the time come when, without risk of misunderstanding, Christian may issue to Jew an invitation — to pilgrimage together (for truth is found on the road rather than on the balcony of mere observation); to exploration, not only through a study of the Scriptures but also through an entering into the religious experience of Christians; and, if he will, to join us on the road."
That kind of journey would, indeed, be one that would take us from the evil and nightmare of the Holocaust into hope for the entire human family.

Next week: a sermon in the District of Columbia.


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