Thursday, April 27, 2006

Rabbi Joffie at Liberty University's Convocation

These are interesting times. Rabbi Eric Yoffie, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, spoke today a Liberty University's Convocation. In his speech Yoffie downplayed the significant differences that serious Christians of all stripes--especially those to whom he was speaking--have with his own movement's views on abortion and legally protected homosexual unions.

Here is part of what he said:

Your religious tradition prohibits abortion; my religious tradition permits it in some cases and forbids it in others, but believes that every woman must prayerfully make the final decision for herself. You oppose gay marriage while we believe in legal protection for gay couples. We understand your reading of the Biblical texts, even if we read those texts in a different way. But gay Americans pose no threat to their friends, neighbors, or co-workers, and when two people make a lifelong commitment to each other, we believe it is wrong to deny them the legal guarantees that protect them and their children and benefit the broader society.

But as significant as these differences are, my hope is that they will not overwhelm us. We need less anger and more thoughtful reflection, less shouting and more listening. Even when we disagree, let's do so without demonizing each other. I can discuss these issues and believe what I believe without calling you a homophobic bigot, and you can do the same without calling me an uncaring baby killer. Let's promote respect for each other’s religious tradition, and let’s work for civility in public debate.

You can read the rest of the speech here. As I think about his remarks and the context in which they were made I am forced to ask, "What price Zionism?"


johnMark said...

Tom, I think your question, "What price Zionism?" summed it up well.


Tony K. said...

So at Liberty is it better to be a Reformed Jew than a Reformed Christian? I would guess Dr. Caner was not involved in the speaker selection.

From the Liberty Website: Chapel and convocation speakers are leaders from the worlds of business, education, athletics, government, many professions and the Gospel ministry. These champions join hands with our faculty and chancellor in challenging Liberty students to become visionaries and to win the world for Christ from their vocational platforms.

Ouch! I guess hearing a postmodern Rabbi would renew a person’s zeal to win the world for Christ.

gracefellow said...

Let us all breathe a sigh of relief and praise our Almighty Heavenly Father that Rebekah didn't, for instance, "prayerfully make the final decision" to kill Jacob and Esau, two actual persons addressed by God, prior to birth, in our rule of faith and revelation of God - the Holy Sciptures and not "religious tradition".

It is precisely by reading and understanding the Scriptures that we are instructed and spared from subjective "tradition" that, in his case, seems to allow for a great deal expressly condemned by those oh so hard "Biblical texts".

This comes as no surprise, however, for Judaism in general still tows the line that Jesus is not the Christ. In view of this, it appears obvious that there is a considerable body of "Biblical texts" that he and his read in a quite "different way".

May God our Father in the Messiah, our Lord Jesus, all the more save more Jews as I know he is bound to do. Possibly, there is mercy forthcoming for even this man.


Tony K. said...

More from Liberty.Edu article titled - Ten Liberty University Distinctives No Other University Can Claim by Jerry Falwell, Founder/Chancellor

an absolute repudiation of “political correctness,”

This looks like a little soft on that distinctive.

Hank said...

That is a disgrace. This fella is for reform within Judaism? This is a reformto paganism. It is hard to believe that the Zionist movement wills so strongly for the Jews to return to the land that this can be any way pleasing to the Lord. All in the name of fullfilling Scripture. Outright DISGUSTING.

I wonder if the AFA will send me a new petition tomorrow , boycotting Liberty. I wont hold my breath.

Thanks for posting.

GeneMBridges said...

Isn't it ironic that they will have a Reform Jewish Rabbi speak at an LBU Convocation and set themselves to deny the one strand of Christianity that has the most developed view of the concept of "covenant?"

GeneMBridges said...

Oh, just a note for my new avatar...just in case you're wondering...this is my Triablogue persona. In one of Triablogue's recent satire articles (on atheism and the "historical Jesus") Steve Hays outed me:

Gene Bridges is a Russian Orthodox Metropolitan who impersonates a Southern Baptist to plant insidious seeds of division and rancor within the SBC.

Ergo, the avatar.


Darel said...

Obligatory topic-related comment: He so crazy.

Now, my question... is this statement backed up with facts somewhere?

"More Americans attend church or synagogue each week than attend professional sports in an entire year."

Gavin Brown said...

Liberty U..the new face of postmodern universalism???

I mean, McCain is speaking at this year's graduation at LU...he is in favor of a woman's right to choose and same sex unions.

At least McCain admitted he's just trying to garner conservative votes, but the real question is, What is Falwell's motive in having a Rabbi and Senator McCain speak at LU?

If they really need chapel speakers that badly, Brian McLaren just lives in Maryland:)

J.D. Rector said...

Shazzam! Could it be that Dr. Falwell is trying to win the coveted "Peace Person of the Year Award" from the CBF? But then... didn't he have Ted Kennedy speak one year at the college as well... or was that Jessie Jackson? Somebody please wake me... I must be in a terrible nightmare! lol

J.D. Rector

Aaron L. Turner said...

I know this has already been said, but I must say that I am amazed that Liberty would allow a Christ denying jewish Rabbi, to speak especially the things that he said, and yet find it neccessary to blast Reformed Theology in a Sunday night sermon by Caner, a few weeks ago.

I find it hard to think upon these things without anger rising up in me.

I pray that in October, James White, and Tom Ascol will speak so Biblically and clearly that their spirit and reasoning will be irrestiable.

Aaron L. Turner said...

Please pardon my double post, but this is particularly disturbing to me.

A quote from the Rabbi:

"I can discuss these issues and believe what I believe without calling you a homophobic bigot, and you can do the same without calling me an uncaring baby killer. Let's promote respect for each other’s religious tradition, and let’s work for civility in public debate."

Please correct me if I am wrong. But do not reformed jews, believe that our Lord Jesus Christ was an impostor? Do they not deny that He was born of a virgin, lived a perfect sinless life, died on the cross, and rose again fromt he dead? Do they not deny the very center of our "religious tradition"? Are we to respect a religion that denies these bedrock truths of what we believe? Are we to believe that they really respect our "religiious tradition", when they deny these things?

Their biggest problem is not that they are "baby killers", but that they are Christ rejectors.

What in the world is going on when a "Christian" university has such a speaker for it's Convocation?

donsands said...

This rabbi needs the gospel preached to him. I wonder if that happened. Would it be possible to talk with Jerry Falwell about this?

And I wonder, if this rabbi wouldn't reciprocate the honor, and allow Pastor Falwell to come to his synagogue to speak, and to preach the good news of Jesus Christ unashamed?

The gospel is the Power to save! It needs to be preached!

God forgive us for the lack of courage to preach Christ and Him crucified. Amen.

ScriptureSearcher2 said...

Politics and heresy make very strange bedfellows!

Jeff Jones said...

Liberty is clearly affirming that its leadership is, in the words of one of their most notable leaders, "whosoever kind of guys."

I wonder if they had an altar call / evangelistic invitation after the speech?

Gordan said...


On the contrary, if you check their history, though politics and heresy seem strange as a couple, they've been having an ongoing affair, with nary a quarrel between them, since at least the time of the Herodians.

This isn't new. It is merely sad.


deusvult2 said...

This is what happens when you make sure those evil Doctrines of Grace don't get in the way of your tolerance and flexibility. Bravo for Falwell, good thing he's not like those hateful elitist Calvinist idiots! (the sarcasm is my pleasure)

G. Burch said...

Somebody (namely, the Rabbi and LU staff) needs to read article III of The Together for the Gospel Statement, which reads, "We affirm that the truth remains a central issue for the church, and the church must resist the allure of pragmatism and postmodern conceptions of truth as substitutes for obedience to the comprehensive truth claims of Scripture. We deny that truth is merely a product of social construction..."
Oh, and Gene Bridges...your picture is sort of spooky...what's up with that?

Matt said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Matt said...

Of course, one can be a Zionist without supporting abortion and gay marriage.

GeneMBridges said...

G. Burch:

Note this section of my post:

Gene Bridges is a Russian Orthodox Metropolitan who impersonates a Southern Baptist to plant insidious seeds of division and rancor within the SBC.

Ergo, the avatar.


Read Steve's post at Tblogue and you'll understand.

jbuchanan said...

It is hard to believe it but the evidence is starting to show that Liberty University is going the way of apostasy. I have always loved Dr. Falwell but I cam becoming more and more reluctanct to reccommend students to Liberty.

DOGpreacher said...

When one reads & understands Romans 1:22-32, Galatians 1:6-12, and 2 John 7-11, then...I believe we will see these individuals in the light of God's word. According to scripture...they are the children of the same one that the ones in John 8 were. "IF" (and it does appear so) Falwell has brought in a man who perverts God's word in this manner and subjects his student body to such,
and is bidding him "God speed", scripture says that he is partaker with him in his evil deeds.

gracefellow said...

Dear Matt:

You indicated that you are a Zionist? Is that Zion of the dirt beneath your feet or the mother of the righteous which is above? The men who are the fathers of the faith all sought the heavenly Zion as it is the abode of their God and ours. This Rabbi is no true Zionist as he is in unbelief and those of faith are counted as children of Abraham and so heirs of the world to come, our home, the true Zion.

Galatians 4:

25. Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26. But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother.

Hebrews 11:

13. All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. 15. And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.

Hebrews 12:

22. But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, 23. to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24. and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.

Let's be like our heavenly Zionist forebears and keep our eyes where they belong!

With love and in the interest of truth.

Tim said...

just noting that evidently the evangelistic "infection" that Dr. Caner expressed in his rant against Calvinism evidently doesn't cover Rabbis.

Gracefellow, nice post. I agree 100%. I think the whole Zionist movement and support of the nation Israel is tied to faulty eschatology. Maybe that's why Falwell and company are doing what they are doing. Instead of reaching those who call themselves Jews with the gospel, they are bringing them into the assembly of the Lord and making them feel welcome without faith and repentance towards our Lord Jesus Christ.

mph said...

Apologies for the late comment, but I just stumbled across this post through a google search.

As with most things, context matters. Unfortunately, this post provided little. I was present for the address and can tell you that Rabbi Yoffie spoke for approximately 8 minutes. He was not the convocation speaker, as Dr. Falewell preached for nearly 30 minutes after he spoke. At no point before or after Rabbi Yoffie's remarks did Dr. Falwell give any indication that this was part of an alliance (formal or informal) to support Israel. No one left convocation confused about Liberty University's position on abortion or gay marriage.

Reasonable people can disagree over whether non-Christians should be invited to speak at Liberty. However, equating this to apostasy (see comments) either misuderstands the event in question, the meaning of apostasy, or both.

Hebrew Christian said...

Zionism is a political movement. The rabbi's comments about abortion and sodomy represent the views of liberal Judaism, a religious movement in which I grew up. I believe in Jesus Christ now, which of course makes me a Christian.

Read Rabbi Danial Lappin's "America's Real War" and see how orthodox Jews do hold to a high moral code.

DOGpreacher said...

mph: you can't be

Joseph Botwinick said...

I am a Zionist, but not a pre-miller. They don't always go hand in hand. I support Israel becuase of political and moral reasons, not for any religious reason.

I would note, however, that this event seems to be in line with the ecumenical spirit of the recent Memphis Declaration which was signed by the owner of this blog, which effectively calls for the end of isolationism in the Southern Baptist Convention.

lpeters said...

Thank you MPH for clarifying. The student body not only knows where LU stands on the issues of abortion and same sex marriage, but more importantly they know where God stands! Who knows what kind of an impact Dr. Falwell may have in the life of the Rabi???