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By A. James Rudin

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In the 1970s and 1980s the General Assembly was often a contentious battleground between those Presbyterian leaders who wanted to single out Israel for special condemnation and those who advocated a more balanced public position for the church. A significant number of Presbyterian clergy and lay leaders are strong supporters of Israel and are active participants in interreligious programs throughout the United States. Their support is usually not linked to biblical prophecy or eschatology (end-time theology).

While Jews have been the world’s greatest victim people, sadly, blacks hold that tragic distinction in the United States. In a twist of history, Jews, victims of anti-Semitism, and blacks, victims of racism, are bound together in the shared agony of victimization. Black churches frequently have progressive positions on the major social justice issues, but they are often conservative on theological questions. Official relations between the black churches and the Jewish community are generally good, but black-Jewish relations do not occupy a major place on the black churches’ program agenda.

While the Eastern Orthodox regard themselves as the “first Christians,” and they number 200 million, their faith is little understood in the West, where Roman Catholicism and Protestantism are the dominant expressions of Christian faith. Eastern Orthodox Christianity places enormous emphasis upon the worship service and the liturgy, and the churches often reflect the various nationalities that comprise Orthodoxy—Greek, Russian, Serbian, Georgian, etc. Orthodox priests may marry before ordination.

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A Jewish Guide to Interreligious Relations by A. James Rudin


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