Texas Governor and presidential hopeful Rick Perry revealed his reading list today. And it includes a book called Turning the Tide by Charles Stanley. I haven’t read the book, but New York Magazine reports that that book calls on Christians to pray for the conversion of Jews and Muslims. Here are two lines that the magazine has picked out:
“Pray for God’s protection against terrorism and ask that Muslims throughout the world will come to know Jesus as their Savior.”
“Pray that Jews worldwide will accept Him as their Savior,”
“May the people of Israel acknowledge their guilt, seek Your face, and accept Your Son -- the Messiah.”
To which I would respond, “Go for it.” If Christians think that their prayers are going to result in Jews like me coming to Jesus, then they should feel free. If the prayers work, who knows, maybe they were right about the whole Messiah thing. But I don’t think they are. So I’m going to continue being Jewish.
I can’t speak for the Muslim community but I can say that every time an evangelical turns out to be praying for the conversion of Jews, the Jews I know start to go crazy. When I told one of my elderly aunts that I was going to Bob Jones University to do some reporting, she first expressed fear for my physical safety and then wondered about how they would try to convert me.
There was a campaign a few years ago by the Southern Baptist Convention to bring the Jews of New York to Jesus. It’s a strategy that takes some chutzpah, but hey, there are Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons who regularly knock on my door, so why not?
I remember interviewing a number of Jewish leaders about the SBC campaign and they could barely contain their outrage. Then I called a Lubavitcher rabbi in New York. I had a hard time getting any reaction out of him at all. Finally, he suggested that the only Jews who would worry about such efforts were those who didn’t have a strong attachment to their own faith and hadn’t passed one on to their children.