Christ and the Jews
by Cornelius Van Til
Philadelphia: Westminster Theological Seminary, 1965.
Syllabus, 74 pp. [1968.G]
This syllabus on Jewish apologetics was published as a book in 1968.
1. Philo Judaeus
1. The Unknowability Of God
2. A Negative Mystical Theology
3. Logos Theology
4. Allegorical Theology
5. The God Of Mystery
6. The Higher Law
7. The Torah
8. The Mystic Moses
9. The Alexandrian Apologetic
2. Two Types Of Faith
1. Buber And New Testament Faith
2. Buber And Modern Philosophy
A. Spinoza And Hasidism
B. Eclipse Of God
3. Modern Thinkers On Buber
A. Will Herberg
B. W. Aalders
C. M. H. Bolkestein
D. Ludwig Binswanger
E. Maurice S. Friedman
4. The Nature Of Evil
A. The Eclipse Of God
3. The Torah
1. The Torah And The Old Testament
2. The Advancing Ethical Consciousness
A. The Development Along The Rabbinical Line
B. The Sopherim
3. The Unwritten Torah
4. Adjustments Of The Torah
5. The Revolt Against Hellenism
4. The Lord Of History
2. The Jewish Principle And Modern Protestantism
3. Holiness And Glory
4. The Origin And Destiny Of Man
7. The Kingdom Of Heaven
From the introduction…
“Modern Jews have a life-and-world view through which they seek to become a blessing to the world. This life and world view has no place in it for Christ. The Jews believe that men can know and serve the true God and therein be “saved” only if they reject the claims of Christ.
When a Christian worships Christ as the Son of God he is, says the Jew, an idolater. And he sees his mission as that of bringing such an idol-worshiper back to the God of Abraham and of Moses.
In seeking to fulfill his mission in relation to Christian idolaters the Jew must, of course, oppose the claims of Christ. Even so his ultimate aim is positive. It is to win the Christian to the service of the one true God.
Martin Buber speaks of Jesus as “a great Son of Israel.” 1 He says that “in the teaching of Jesus himself, as we know it from the early texts of the gospels, the genuinely Jewish principle is manifest.” 2 He adds: “From my youth onwards, I have found in Jesus my great brother.” 3
It would seem that Buber’s position is quite different from that of the Pharisees in Jesus’ day. But is this really so? Is it not rather true that according to Buber the “genuinely Jewish principle” has already won the battle. The Jews brought true monotheism into the world. Christians will now gladly follow their lead to the one God, the God beyond any and every form of human knowledge. The only Christians who need to be opposed today are those who still think that in Christ and in the Bible as his Word there is a direct and final revelation of the true God to man in history. All the rest already worship the true God. All the rest are in the kingdom of God, and even the “fundamentalist” will some day be.
Our main purpose in this brief monograph on Jewish Apologetics is, in turn, to understand and to evaluate the position of the modern Jew in order to win him to Christ. The historical mission of the Jews was to bring forth Jesus as Christ in order that through him the world, Jew and Gentile alike, might be saved. When Buber speaks of Jesus as his “great brother” without speaking of him as his divine Savior, this is still to reject Christ. And with the rejection of Christ by the Jew his mission in history dissipates as the waters of a river in a desert. But Christ will not allow the Jew thus to defeat himself in rejecting him. Through his Spirit Christ can and will create a new heart within him and give him true repentance toward him. Then, together with all Gentiles who truly repent, all Israel shall be saved.”
1 Martin Buber, Two Types of Faith (tr. Norman P. Goldhawk; New York: Harper & Brothers, 1961), p. 9.
2 Ibid., p. 12.