Saturday, June 28, 2008

Are we to expect a future mass conversion of Jews?

Many Christians, in their discussions of eschatology, hold that there will be, near the time of Jesus’ return, the conversion of notably large numbers of ethnic/national Israel.

First, I am uncomfortable with the terms "ethnic" or "national" Israel. "Ethnic," as it is commonly used, implies a racial/genetic connection. Modern Jews have only the most tenuous racial/genetic connections with Israel as it existed in the first century AD. It is true that there are distinctive genetic markers that those named Cohen (or some variation thereof) share, but that is limited to that particular line. As far as I am aware, there is no indication of other genetic markers that would indicate that someone is “ethnically” a Jew. Likewise, “nation" generally implies a political entity. Modern Judaism is neither ethnic nor national in those senses. I prefer to use the terms Jew, Jews, and Judaism, because Judaism is a religious entity made up of many ethnic groups from many nations.

I do believe that many, many Jews will be converted to Christianity, and that many, many Jews have been and are being converted to Christianity. However, I do not expect that there will be some "mass conversion" of Jews that will occur shortly prior to Jesus' return, and I do not think that Paul teaches that. I also do not find that view to be out of accord with the Westminster Larger Catechism Question 191, which says in part “we pray, that the kingdom of sin and Satan may be destroyed, the gospel propagated throughout the world, the Jews called.” I do pray that the Jews will be called. I just don't have the expectations regarding that calling that my pre- and postmil brothers seem to have.


1 comment:

Swanee said...

So I'll ask the obvious question (somebody has to do it):

How do you understand the "partial hardening ... (of) Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles"?

Specifically, what does the "partial" mean and what does the "until" mean?

~Stephen