Over the winter, Rabbi Aryeh Azriel taught an adult education class at Temple Israel titled “Judaism and Religious Literacy.” The purpose of the class was to invite people from different religious backgrounds to visit and discuss their particular religion’s beliefs and tenets.
Guests lecturers came from a wide range of religions, including Islam, Catholicism and Episcopal. There was one faith, however, that the class wanted to discuss that Rabbi Azriel was unable to schedule an example of, until now: Evangelical Christian.
On Wednesday, April 23, Temple Israel will welcome Pastor Mark Stevens of Glad Tidings Church.
“I think the evangelical community in America has definitely proven themselves to be one of the great supporters of Israel,” Rabbi Azriel said. “And I think it’s important for us to listen to some of the arguments and support that comes from that community, knowing full well that there are issues and areas of theology on which we completely disagree.”
Some of the issues on which Judaism disagrees with Evangelical Christianity include, of course, the second coming of Jesus Christ and the Rapture, during which Christians will “be with the Lord forever,” while those remaining on earth, the “sinners,” will undergo “indescribable suffering as God judges a rebellious and disobedient world,” according to an Assemblies of God pamphlet titled “Our 16 Doctrines,” available at Glad Tidings.
Evangelical Christians also believe that the creation of the state of Israel was a sign of the “end times,” and they fret over the ongoing struggle between Jews and Palestinians, because it “seem[s] to be hindering the prophetic promise Christians saw beginning to happen in 1948,” according to the Assemblies of God website.
There will be a question and answer period during this class.
“Despite our differences, we do owe the evangelical community a great deal of gratitude for standing with Israel during these tough times,” Rabbi Azriel said.
This special “Judaism and Religious Literacy” class with Pastor Mark Stevens is Wednesday, April 23, at 6:30 p.m., and is open to the Omaha Jewish community.