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Larry King Live
Should Christians Stop Trying to Convert Jews?Aired January 12, 2000 - 9:00 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Southern Baptists say their intention is to share God's Gospel with members of the Jewish faith. Jews say the aim is conversation and an insult to their creed.
Joining us for an in-depth debate about this controversy, Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center; Rabbi Schmuley Boteach, executive director of the Oxford L'Chaim Society; in Louisville, Kentucky, R. Alert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; and David Brickner, executive director of Jews for Jesus.
They're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Good evening. Welcome to another edition of LARRY KING LIVE. A raging debate in the religious community and beyond as the Southern Baptists, who are going to gather in Chicago, are asking their members to proselytize the faith and to convert Jews. Indeed, they're giving out pamphlets. This one, aimed at the Jewish faith, is called "Days of Awe: Prayers for Jews." There are also pamphlets on prayers for Hindus and prayers for Muslims.
Let's start with Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He's in Louisville.
What is the aim here, Albert?
REV. R. ALBERT MOHLER JR., PRESIDENT, SOUTHERN BAPTIST THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY: In this endeavor, Southern Baptists are about, Larry, what we've always been about from the beginning, and that is sharing the Gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ to all persons, Jew and gentile, rich and poor, young and old.
This is in faithfulness to the great commission of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and it is the heart of the Christian mission.
KING: So the goal is then you want Jews to convert. What do you want Jews to do? Listen to you and do what?
MOHLER: Our prayer is that all persons would hear the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and respond in faith. We believe that the Gospel is for all persons, regardless of any kind of ethnic identity. We believe in sharing the Gospel without any discrimination, and that all persons are in need of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. And it is our responsibility to share that Gospel. KING: Rabbi Hier, you may disagree, but it's free speech. He can proselytize. You can listen or not listen. What's the big deal?
RABBI MARVIN HIER, SIMON WIESENTHAL CENTER: Absolutely. I've had plenty of Jehovah witnesses come to my doorstep. This is a free country.
The issue here, however, is their methodology. They're using deception.
If you look at that pamphlet, "Days of Awe," they're talking about Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur. In many instances, they've had programs with Jewish religious music, wearing yarmulkes. Some people have been invited as speakers that have put on a prayer shawl, a tallit.
If you have something to sell, be straight about it. Just say: "We're trying to sell Christianity. We're Christians. Here are our Christian symbols." Don't adopt somebody else's -- somebody else's, you know, symbols.
KING: You're saying...
HIER: This is not -- we're not selling a car.
KING: ... they're designing it for subterfuge.
HIER: That's correct.
KING: All right. What is the position in this, David, of Jews for Jesus. Well, first, explain that organization, because you're not Christian, are you? Or are you?
DAVID BRICKNER, JEWS FOR JESUS: Well, we are Jewish people who have come to believe that Jesus is the messiah and the savior of the world, that he died and rose again to pay the penalty for our sins.
KING: You don't celebrate Christian holidays?
BRICKNER: Well, we are 100 percent Jewish and 100 percent Christian. We are like the first Jews for Jesus.
KING: You get every holiday off.
BRICKNER: That's right. We have two for the price of one. Peter, James and John were the first Jews for Jesus. And Jesus himself is Jewish.
KING: So you believe that the messiah has come and it is Jesus.
BRICKNER: That's correct.
KING: What do you think of what the Southern Baptists are doing?
BRICKNER: Well, I'm not a Southern Baptist, as you said.
KING: I know. But what do you think of what they're doing?
BRICKNER: But I -- I'm proud of them. I applaud their efforts, because they care enough to love my Jewish people. And the most loving thing that you can do is share the love of God in the messiah, Jesus.
KING: So any way they do it is fine as long as they bring that message?
BRICKNER: Well, it's important for people to be able to appeal to individuals, and a certain way that communicates effectively. And this is not about subterfuge and this is not about appropriating symbols.
After all, Jesus himself used Jewish symbols.
KING: He was Jewish.
BRICKNER: He was Jewish. And so the message of faith in him is a very Jewish message.
KING: Rabbi Boteach, do you agree with Rabbi Hier that they're using subterfuge, this is wrong?
RABBI SCHMULEY BOTEACH, OXFORD L'CHAIM SOCIETY: Well, I would say, Larry, it goes well beyond using subterfuge. I mean, who would have thought that in a new millennium we are -- we would once again see the prevalence of spiritual dictatorship and totalitarianism?
I mean, basically the Nazis said there's a problem with the Jewish body, so let's find a solution. And these groups are saying there's a problem with the Jewish soul. We have another solution. It's called conversion. You have to be like us or we can't love you. If you're not like us, you're going to go to the eternal barbecue.
These -- this is a nefarious, insipid message, which has led to inquisitions, auto-da-fe, pogroms, expulsions, and ultimately the Holocaust.
KING: Are you against, therefore, any attempt of any religion at conversion? If a religion attempts conversion, is it saying, I'm better than you?
BOTEACH: I am absolutely against any religion that says that one faith is superior to another. I don't see how you that is anything different than spiritual racism. It's a way of saying that we are closer to God than you, and that's what leads to hatred.
And far from it being -- this is not just something which is innocent. You know, 2,000 years of Christian anti-Judaism led directly to racial antisemitism. It culminated in the Holocaust. And real honest Christian scholars are now looking back at Christian theology and saying that versus like Matthew that say that the Jews took upon themselves the blood, or John, which says that children -- that Jews are the children of the devil, prepared to the bidding of their father at any time, have to re-examine, reinterpret it and reapply, because too many Jews have suffered.
I mean, I find Reverend Mohler's comments...
KING: Hold it. Let's stop. We've got a lot of time.
Albert Mohler, how do you respond to what the rabbis, both rabbis have said?
MOHLER: Well, I'm very disappointed. First, using words like deception and subterfuge, and now, speaking of antisemitism, this is not about antisemitism and it's certainly not about deception. I don't believe in any form of evangelism that would involve deception.
And one thing Southern Baptists are seldom charged with is subtlety. We are right up front about what we are doing, otherwise there would not be this response. So...
BOTEACH: Reverend Mohler, Reverend Mohler, you know...
KING: Hold on. Hold on. Let him -- rabbis, let him finish, and then we'll respond.
MOHLER: But the issue of the charge of antisemitism is especially disappointing, since American evangelicals are the best friends in many ways that the Jewish people can have. We defend their right of religious liberty. But it is in the very heart of the Gospel that we are to share the Gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ to all persons.
And you know, when it comes to the issue of the claims that the belief that the Christian Gospel is the only Gospel and that Jesus is the only savior, that that's totalitarian, I find that very strange, coming from the people whose own book in the Old Testament speaks about the one true God over against the false gods.
KING: Rabbi Hier, what are you afraid of? Hold on, rabbi. Everybody in turn.
HIER: First, let me say this: that regarding their love, it's wonderful that Southern Baptists are expressing this kind of love.
HIER: Pro-Israel. I have no problem with that. Israel needs all the support it can get. We should recognize, however, that in 2000 years that love was lacking. And when we really needed it and the chips were down, there was no one there. During the Holocaust, we didn't hear those words of love. So it's kind of...
KING: But that isn't Albert Mohler's fault.
HIER: It's kind of hypocritical now, when Jews have come out of the Holocaust, when there are 13 1/2 million Jews in the world -- there are 5 billion people on this planet -- that there's nobody else to convert but 13 1/2 million people who just lost one-third of the Jewish people in the Holocaust.
KING: But if they believe fully in this is the way to salvation and to heaven, why not spread that?
HIER: As I said before, Larry, if they feel very strongly about it, meet me in the street, or anybody else, or meet Larry King in the street, and say, Larry, I'd like to convert you but I'm a Christian. Don't come and use subterfuge -- Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and a shofar. Since when are those -- those are not Christian symbols .
KING: We'll pick right up in a minute. We'll be including your phone calls. It's our subject for the full hour. Don't go away.
KING: David Brickner, how did Jews for Jesus get converts?
BRICKNER: Well, we go out on the streets, and we hand out Gospel tracks. We wear T-shirts that say "Jews for Jesus." We have a Web site, www.jewsforjesus.org. We have thousands of people visiting our...
KING: You're in Israel.
BRICKNER: We're in 10 countries around the world, including Israel.
KING: And your thought is, to make Jews Christians or to make Jews what?
BRICKNER: What we're looking to do is to engage, to explain and to share with our Jewish people the love of God, that God sent Jesus the messiah to suffer, to die for our sins. He rose again from the dead, and that by putting our faith and trust in him, we can have forgiveness for all our sins, past, present, future. Now that's a message of love, it's a message of hope, and it's one that we want to share not just with Jewish people, but with all people.
KING: Rabbi Boteach, what argument could you have with that?
BOTEACH: Well, Larry, you know, the United States has come clean about history of racism. There was a civil rights movement which sought to establish equality. I think Christian leaders Mr. Brickner have to come clean and say, what kind of love is it when I can only love you on my terms? If you don't become like me, I believe you're going to the eternal barbecue.
I mean, the fact is, the talk of salvation means the Jews are not being saved, even with their own faith. It means that German Nazis who gassed Jews did it amidst a belief in Christ, are today in heaven, but the Jewish victims, like the million children who were into lamp shades and into soap because they died with wrong faith are today in hell. I find that perverse.
KING: Albert Mohler, are you saying that -- by the way, Albert Mohler, are you saying -- let me get this clear because I know that Billy Graham has been quoted and...
BOTEACH: where do Jews go that don't believe in Christ?
KING: All right, that's the question. I'll ask it, rabbi.
Albert Mohler, if you do not believe in Christ and you die, Jewish or anyone, what happens to you?
MOHLER: I believe it says that those who are -- who reject Christ, those who do not accept Christ, those who do not believe in Christ, will die, and when they are raised in the resurrection, they will face the judgment of God, and they will be consigned to hell. That is not something I came up with, that is not something that Southern Baptists came up with; that is in the New Testament. It is central to New Testament Christianity, and thus, it is important to us to do everything we can...
KING: So what you're saying is, you are condemned if you don't accept. All right now...
BOTEACH: Larry, doesn't that sound a bit to you like, if you don't have blond hair and blue eyes, you're going to be go up in a furnace? Doesn't that sound exactly the same?
KING: Unless, rabbi, I can give you blond hair and blue eyes, and he's saying he can give you the salvation. Rabbi, he's not saying...
BOTEACH: What would -- how would we Americans react if the KKK introduced a prayer for all blacks to become white. How would we react if masculine men male movements introduced some sort of prayer that all women should have sex-change operations and embrace the real superior gender.
KING: That's a little different than changing the philosophy.
MOHLER: The rabbi knows he's being ludicrous here. And frankly, these examples are not helpful at all. This is about sharing the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are sharing that as a gift. We are not imposing that on the Jewish people.
KING: All right, Rabbi Hier, that's important -- if he just believes that if you die and you don't accept this, your going go to hell, and he would like to send you to heaven. He's trying help you. What's wrong with that?
HIER: There is nothing wrong with that, as I said before, if he feels that strongly. What's wrong is their methodology. Their very deceptive about it. Their using our symbols. And more than that, you know, how would the Southern Baptists like it, if next Christmas Eve, they woke up to a full-page ad in "The New York Times" from a group of atheists that invite everyone to a midnight mass, and when they come to the mass, there are crosses, and sacred vestments and all these atheist preachers get up and convince the congregation to become atheist. The Southern Baptists would lead the protests against that, and that's what they're doing to the Jews.
MOHLER: Larry, that is not true. I don't understand this charge of deception. We are not doing anything like Rabbi Hier is here suggesting. We're very up-front about what we're doing. And the prayer book you held up was intended for Baptists Christians to use in praying for their Jewish friends. It wasn't even intended to present to the Jewish people directly at all.
KING: I'm looking at it now, rabbi. It tells what each day of Rosh Hashanah, each day of the new year is, what the group is seeking from it, and what they get from it. It's sort of explaining Judaism to the non-Jew.
HIER: No, Larry, that's not true. It says on the last page, for example, they asked for prayers for the Jews, who are, unfortunately, caught up with materialism. It's very...
BOTEACH: It calls them lost sheep and -- I mean, this really is an outrageous document that is -- that purports to a prayer book. I mean, listen to some of this: "Pray that the Jewish people are free of the strong influence of materialism in the land where they live." I mean, what kind of Jewish stereotypes are we catering to? They also say that Jews should see "lives of righteous integrity which will provoke them to consider the claims of serving the messiah -- of those serving the messiah." I mean, are they inferring that Jews don't have integrity? Are they inferring -- they also say...
KING: Is that a stereotype, David? Would you support that statement, that...
BRICKNER: I don't believe it's a stereotype. I believe it's true of all people, Jews and gentiles alike, and materialism can be a problem.
BOTEACH: Materialism. Jews lack integrity.
KING: Did they say materialism regarding Muslims?
BRICKNER: I'm not sure. But I think that the real issue is...
BOTEACH: And, Larry, what about...
KING: Don't interrupt, rabbi. Rabbi, do not interrupt.
BRICKNER: I think the real issue whether or not Jesus is the messiah. Because he claimed to be messiah, and Jesus himself used Jewish symbols. So the Rabbi's argument is not with the Southern Baptist, it's not with Jews For Jesus; it's with Jesus and his disciples. If Jesus is not the... KING: Well, if he said he was the messiah, would you disagree with him?
HIER: But once Jesus left the Jewish people, and his disciples created a new religion, they are two separate religions.
KING: He didn't create a religion.
HIER: No, his disciples did. They created Christianity. And therefore, you can be either Jewish or Christian. You can't be both.
KING: You don't believe you can be both.
HIER: You cannot be -- if you ask a person politically, what are you? And he says I am a Democrat and I am a Republican, or somebody else says, I'm an atheist and I'm a Christian. Impossible. You're one or the other.
KING: Albert Mohler, are you hurt by Billy Graham's remark that -- here is what Billy said: "I normally defend my denomination. I'm loyal to it" -- he is a Southern Baptist -- "but I have never targeted Muslims and I have never targeted Jews." What do you make of what Billy said?
MOHLER: I know and love Dr. Billy Graham and respect him highly, and the one thing I know about Dr. Billy graham is that he believes in the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the need for all persons to come to faith in repentance in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and I know he believes that that is true for the Jews no less than for others and no more, and I hold to the same position, and so do the Southern Baptists. We don't believe that Jews are any more in need of the Gospel than anyone else, but they are no less in need the of Gospel. One of the things.
KING: All right, let me pick up with rabbi -- hold on, we'll pick up with Rabbi Boteach when we come back. Here is what Billy Graham said this past weekend -- watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REV. BILLY GRAHAM: I'm a Southern Baptist, and I normally defend my denomination. I'm loyal to it. I believe in them. They have some of the finest people in the world in that denomination. But I have never targeted Muslims, I have never targeted Jews. I believe that we should declare the fact that God loves you, God is willing to forgive you, God can change you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Rabbi Boteach, I've interviewed Billy Graham many times. And when I asked him about this, about death, and salvation, and heaven and hell, he said that he's not going to judge it, because maybe everybody at deaths does find Christ. So he's never going to try to convert Jews. Would you agree that that's a fair opinion to have, that maybe when a Jew dies, at the moment of death, he or she finds Christ?
BOTEACH: I mean, people can believe what they want.
KING: Is that is a fair statement?
BOTEACH: About Jews?
KING: It's not a prejudiced statement. Yes, about Jews or anyone.
BOTEACH: Well, I mean, it's certainly not true of the Jews that I know. They die -- they were born as Jews, they die as Jews, and they retain their faith throughout their lifetime.
I mean, we Jews have shown a phenomenal tenacity throughout history to sustain our belief systems amidst the compulsion and often coercion to do otherwise.
I mean, I basically believe as a Jew that Billy Graham is a great man, Reverend Mohler is probably very close to God. I do not believe I have a copyright on truth as a Jew. I believe in -- my Judaism is true for Jews, in the same way feminism may be true for woman. But I do believe that I am not being accorded that same spiritual right to exercise my proximity to God by the people I am hearing tonight.
I mean, Jews for Jesus is like saying Americans for Communism, or Hindus for Allah. I mean, give me a break, these are two contradictory systems.
KING: Well, you are entitled to be an American for Communism, if you wish.
BOTEACH: OK, well, an American for Stalin, whatever it might be.
KING: I got you.
BOTEACH: My simple point, Larry, is -- Larry, my simple point is that I cannot -- I have go beyond Rabbi Hier -- I cannot accept that there is a morality, in a spiritual system, which denigrates me as a Jew and says that I am going to burn in hell even though I have lived a good life, ethical life, even though I have told the truth and been honest with my children.
I am amazed at what I'm hearing tonight. This is the 21st century, for goodness sakes.
BOTEACH: This barbaric element which has entered into religion has got to be put aside...
KING: David, what happens in hell?
BOTEACH: ... no more spiritual apartheid.
KING: What happens in hell?
BRICKNER: I don't know.
KING: Do you think?
BRICKNER: But what I do think...
KING: You are saying you are condemned to hell, right, if you don't believe. You share...
HIER: Even if you are a good person, even if you are a good person.
BRICKNER: Jesus said "I'm the way...
KING: Don't interrupt.
BRICKNER: Jesus said, "I'm the way, the truth and the life, and no one comes to father but by me."
KING: If you don't believe that you go to hell?
KING: What happens in hell?
BRICKNER: Which is eternal separation from God. It's the sum total of the choices that we make in this...
KING: Just 24 hours of despair, it's what?
BRICKNER: We don't know a whole lot about it from what the Bible tells us, but we know it is not a place we want to go. And that's...
KING: And Jews believe in hell?
HIER: Jews believe in hell, but that, Larry, is just ridiculous, that concept.
KING: Well, according to Jew, who goes to heaven who goes to hell?
HIER: Every good person. We have a statement in the Talmud that says that you -- you're judged on deeds.
KING: A good atheist goes to heaven?
HIER: You cannot -- it is not -- we are not God, we don't have the keys to heaven, but God is not going to deny Mahatma Gandhi, and he is not going to deny great humanitarians. For example, today you have the Dalai Lama, so we are going to say because he didn't verbalize a belief -- if a man is a good person, he merits heaven. And I don't believe...
KING: Do you believe that, Albert Mohler?
MOHLER: No, unfortunately.
KING: Doesn't that make sense to you?
MOHLER: Unfortunately not.
MOHLER: No, no, no.
KING: So therefore the Dalai Lama -- Mohatma Gandhi is not in heaven?
MOHLER: All I know is that the only way to heaven is through personal faith and belief in the Lord Jesus Christ Savior, and...
HIER: Why be a good person?
MOHLER: ... no matter how good or bad by human estimation, the fact is before God we are all sinners in need of a savior. There is not one who is good, no, not one, says the scriptures.
Larry, something very basic is important here, and to an outsider this Jewish debate looks very strange, and I'll tell you why. It seems that the Jewish leadership in America will make great allowances for the fact that perhaps a majority of American Jews, according to polls, no longer believe in a personal God, but one can be an atheist and still be, supposedly, a good Jew. But the moment a Jew believes that Jesus Christ is the messiah, he is told he is no longer a Jew. I don't think that makes sense to very many people, and it certainly makes no sense regarding the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
KING: I'll have the rabbi respond to that, it is very well brought up, and let him respond, and we'll do that right after this. Rabbi Hier and the other rabbi will respond. Don't go away.
KING: All right, Rabbi Hier, Albert Mohler says it looks ridiculous that the Jews would take an atheist and say he can go to heaven, or anyone can go to heaven, but if a Jew converts, he can't -- he doesn't go to heaven.
HIER: Well, first of all, neither Albert nor I nor anyone here -- we are not the ticket masters to heaven. Nobody asked us to give out the tickets. The tickets to heaven are decided by God. And in Judaism, there is a belief: The righteous of all nations, we receive all the merits of heaven. And we do not believe that there is one train. Board this train because if you are not on this train, you are not going to heaven. That is ridiculous.
KING: But you believe there is a judge, a God who is judging us?
HIER: Of course...
KING: Do you believe...
HIER: ... and it is for God to decide. He didn't give over his job to us. We have a lot of human beings running around that want to act in the name of God. He didn't give up his job.
KING: What makes you -- what makes you, David, the decider?
BRICKNER: Thank God I don't have to decide. I don't have to decide -- rabbi is right. God is the one who judges.
BRICKNER: But I don't know about you, Larry, but I'm not righteous. I know that about myself. I don't live up to God's standard of holiness, and that is why he sent Jesus the Messiah to die for our sins and rise again. Jesus is only righteous person who lived on face of this earth, and because of that he could pay the penalty for our sin. Because of that, we can have forgiveness, and we can know love of God. And that is the basis on which God judges.
KING: Rabbi Boteach, you were going to respond?
BOTEACH: Yes, David, that sounds to me like the abrogation of responsibility. I mean, if you say that you are not righteous, I would advise you to try and be a better person. If you gossip, stop gossiping. If you ever tell untruths, then tell the truth. If you are -- can be a better father and a better husband, then do so.
But to abrogate your personal responsibility, and say that faith will set you free, and remain a person who is unrighteous, and try to excuse your bad behavior -- I think that every citizen of a democratic country like the United States has obligations to try to better themselves, not just spiritually, but materially as well. But even if you believe that, it is not for me to condemn your faith system.
But why don't you just let us be? I believe that, as Rabbi Hier said so eloquently, that Christians are very close to God. Our greatest Jewish thinker of all time, Maimonedes, said 850 years ago -- in an age that wasn't particularly religiously enlightened -- that Christianity has brought the knowledge of God to the distant shores, brought millions closer to God. We wrote in our Talmud 2000 years ago that a non-Jew who loves God and is a good human being is as holy as our high priest, for goodness sake.
I would advise to you to turn back to your Jewish roots, and embrace that kind of inclusivism. I would embrace -- I would advise you to embrace tolerance, because clearly your belief system that you have now adopted is leading to you be intolerant. You want to convert your Jewish brethren to a spiritual totalitarian system. And just let us be. We are going live our life as Jews...
KING: All right, Albert?
BOTEACH: ... and we are going to love God.
KING: Albert Mohler, what was wrong with what he just said? MOHLER: Well, again, it sounds very strange, because when one reads the Old Testament...
MOHLER: ... what the Rabbis would call the Hebrew scriptures, there what you see is God claiming to be the one true and living God, the God of Israel. He calls the other gods the false gods. He says he is a jealous God. He says his way is life, the other ways are death. And now yet what we are hearing from these rabbis is just laissez-faire, whatever one wants, it is a great banquet out there, come and eat whatever you want, and all roads lead to heaven. That's just not biblical...
BOTEACH: Where does it say that Judaism is the only path? No, Reverend Mohler, you are telling an untruth. Where does it say anywhere in Hebrew scripture that Judaism is the only path to truth? We have no verses...
MOHLER: It doesn't speak to Judaism, it speaks...
BOTEACH: ... we have no verses. You are telling an untruth. We have no verses...
MOHLER: That is -- listen...
BOTEACH: ... that say none shall come unto the Father except through the son.
MOHLER: If you are going to do all the talking...
KING: Let him answer. Rabbi, you posed a question, you stop and let him answer. Go, Albert.
MOHLER: The Bible speaks, just for instance, Elijah on Mount Carmel, where the one true God is over against the prophets of the false gods, and he shows himself to be the one true God. He is a jealous God. The issue isn't Judaism, but the identity of the God who has revealed himself in scripture, the God who in Old Testament and in the New speaks through his word.
And this gets to issue raised by Rabbi Hier. I didn't come up with this understanding of the Gospel, and Southern Baptists didn't come up with this. This is in the text of scripture itself. We are seeking to be a scriptural people. This is what God has revealed in his word.
BOTEACH: If you want to be scriptural...
KING: Rabbi Hier.
HIER: Let me -- let me just add to what was discussed there. You know, our point is that of course God is the all -- is the judge of all human beings. What we are saying, however, is that we should not take God's job away from him. God did not say anywhere that we will determine who goes to heaven. It is Judaism's emphatic belief that the people who go to heaven are people who live lives of quality based on deeds.
What you say with your mouth is cheap talk. Adolf Eichmann, before he died, a Protestant minister wanted to speak to him because he said if he could only get at him -- and Eichmann turned him down -- he would get him to heaven. Now isn't that preposterous? A man lived a life of misdeeds, and he is going to go to heaven because he says, "I believe in Jesus Christ." But a Jewish child who was gassed at Auschwitz, she's going to hell.
KING: All right, let me get a break and come back. We will include your phone calls. We are only halfway through.
Jeffrey Toobin tomorrow night. This is LARRY KING LIVE. Bill Ginsberg returns on Friday. Don't go away.
KING: Let me get a break and come back. We'll include your phone calls. We're only halfway through.
Jeffrey Toobin tomorrow night. This is LARRY KING LIVE. Bill Ginsberg returns on Friday.
Don't go away.
KING: We're back with Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of the Simon Wies]enthal Center in Los Angeles. In New York, is Rabbi Schmuley Boteach. He is executive director of the Oxford L'Chaim Society. In Louisville, Kentucky is R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. And in Los Angeles, David Brickner, executive director, Jews for Jesus.
The caller from Laverne, California, hello.
CALLER: Hello, Larry.
CALLER: Hi, my question is for Reverend Mohler.
My -- I am a Christian, and my Bible tells me that if someone doesn't know about Christ, it's my duty to tell them. However, since the Jewish people do know about him, don't you think you're interfering in God's business, since he tells us to judge not lest ye be judged?
MOHLER: No, not at all. I think I understand what you're asking. But I don't believe for a moment that all the Jewish people understand the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. I think there's a massive mission-field out there across America of persons, Jew and gentile, who have no understanding of the Gospel, and it is our responsibility to confront them with the Gospel.
Again, we cannot coerce faith, and we would not seek to do so. What we hope to do is present the claims of Christ, as the messiah, the savior, the lord of all, and hope that persons will be brought to faith in repentance in him.
KING: La Mesa, New Mexico, hello.
CALLER: Hello. I would just like to say that I believe that there is one God overall, so what is conflict? I mean, isn't that the, you know, what we're all talking about?
KING: David Brickner, you don't believe -- you believe there's one God overall, right?
KING: The conflict is, who's the road to him?
BRICKNER: Absolutely. And the issue is whether or not Jesus really is the messiah. He claimed to be. He claimed to be the one sent from God, to bring us back from the father, and that's what we believe, and so the issue really is not a conflict between Judaism and Southern Baptists, but a question: Is Jesus the messiah? I believe he is. And I just happened to believe that if my Jewish people knew what I know about Jesus, they'd want to love and follow him.
KING: As a loving messiah, if he were here right now -- hold it, rabbi. If Jesus were here right now as a loving messiah, and Rabbi Hier or Rabbi Boteach would say to him, I love you, but I don't think you're the messiah, Jesus would condemn them to hell?
BRICKNER: I think that if Rabbi Hier met Jesus right here, that he would honor him and worship him as the messiah of Israel.
KING: Would Jesus Christ say, "You're going to hell?"
BRICKNER: Absolutely, because Jesus said that before. We know...
KING: So the loving Christ would send the rabbi to hell for not believing in him?
BRICKNER: No -- the -- no. All of us -- see there are no Jews in hell. There are no Holocaust survivors in hell. There are only sinners in hell, and sin separates you from God.
KING: Are you a sinner if you don't believe in the messiah?
BRICKNER: All of us are sinners.
KING: So you could be in hell?
BRICKNER: Yes, absolutely, except for the fact I've embraced God 's forgiveness in the person of Jesus.
KING: So Rabbi Boteach, under that concept, do you think you're going to hell?
BOTEACH: ... conversations. I don't know if I'm here already. I thought I was living in an enlightened world where people respected each other and had tolerance.
I mean, this caller asked a brilliant question. There's one God. As long as we get to him, then what's the difference about the past. Everything that Reverend Mohler about Elijah, I mean, God was trying to destroy idols. Is Reverend Mohler really implying that we Jews sort of bow down to Mammon? Is he saying that we sort of worship the sun and the moon. We worship the one God. He gets there as well. So do Muslims. I think all these religions are beautiful. Let's join together as brothers and sisters. Let's end intolerance once and for all. Religion has caused so much aggravation, so much suffering.
This is not just an intelligent debate on TV, this is a subject which has led to my people being turned into, you know, lamp shades, and auto-da-fes and crochets (ph). People don't...
KING: But, rabbi, that's an emotional appeal, and well done. However, if someone has a sincere belief that Christ is the answer and wants to share that with you, why are you hanging the Holocaust around his neck? He wants to share a belief with you.
BOTEACH: Well, Larry, Larry, what...
BOTEACH: What have if an Aryan has a sincere belief that having blond hair and blue eyes really is superior to having...
KING: As long as he doesn't kill you, and he tells you he has an opinion. If you were blond and blue eyes, you'd be a better person, that's what -- now I can ostracize him, I can believe him; I'm not going to shoot him. He could be a good person.
BOTEACH: Yes, but, Larry, racist beliefs lead to racist action, and Christian anti-Judaism leads to racial anti-Semitism. Every historian knows that to be true, and that's why these beliefs are dangerous.
HIER: And let me add to that, you know in the United States, Larry, we've come out of a terrible period of our own history, where during the civil rights movement, African Americans were asked go to the back of the bus. When people call Jews incomplete Jews because we don't recognize Jesus Christ, we're incomplete Jews.
KING: That's a term?
HIER: That's sending all the Jewish people to back of the bus, and it's very much discriminatory.
KING: Do you use that term?
KING: Albert Mohler, do you use that term, "incomplete Jews." I've never heard it.
HIER: That's in their literature. It's in their literature.
KING: Do you use it, Albert?
MOHLER: I have not characteristically used that term, but I affirm what it intends to mean, and that is a Jew that has not received Jesus the messiah. Definitely, we believe that Jesus is the messiah of the Jews and of all the nations, and that to be complete in faith, one must receive him and accept him.
You know, Larry, one of the best things I heard asked on this program is, if Jesus were before us, what would he say? I believe the best thing to do is to quote him. Two statements: "Come unto me all ye who are heavy laden and I will give you rest." That's wonderful. The second statement is just as true. "I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes under the father but by me." That isn't something made up; that is from the statement of Jesus himself.
BOTEACH: Reverend Mohler, can I quote to you Matthew, chapter 5, verse 18, where Jesus says that he came to word in order to fulfill the law and that anyone who doesn't keep every aspect of the law -- he uses words in the Hebrew of the Coats of the Yud (ph) -- a little tiny piece of the letter of the law is not fulfilled.
Reverend Mohler, do you keep kosher? Do you drive on the sabbath? Do you wear tallits, the little fringes that we wear? Do you wear a Yarmulke? And if you don't, why you don't live by everything that Jesus said? I mean, why do you abrogate the law? So you're going to give...
KING: Let him answer, rabbi. It's a fair question.
Albert, why don't you do all the things Jesus did?
MOHLER: Because Jesus did not instruct to us live that way. In fact, Jesus made the point that there is not one of us who is righteous, according to law, that he is the only one how is righteous by the law. He himself and he alone fulfilled the law.
KING: So you don't live by what he lived. In other words, he wore a yarmulke, but you don't. He ate kosher, you don't.
BOTEACH: Are you denying, Reverend...
MOHLER: I don't know whether Jesus wore a yarmulke, but what Jesus also did was to tell us that we should live by his word, and the New Testament gives us very clear indications. It is not a "Judaizing" that we experience as gentiles coming to Christ. Paul and Peter fought that out in the book of Acts, and the Lord made his decision very clear.
KING: All right, let me get -- we've got to get a break.
We'll come right back with our guests, and more of your phone calls.
Don't go away.
KING: We're back, and we go to Phoenix, Arizona. Hello.
CALLER: Hi, there.
CALLER: I would like to ask the Rabbis, since we're talking about Christ as the messiah, what are the qualifications they are looking for in the messiah and why hasn't Jesus filled those qualifications?
KING: Rabbi Hier, fair question.
HIER: Well, the reason that Jesus is not accepted as the messiah by the Jewish people is that Jesus is viewed as divine. The Jews do not believe in any other divine being except God himself.
KING: Don't you believe a messiah is coming?
HIER: Yes, but the messiah that we believe -- the messiah that we believe is coming could be somebody that flunks mathematics in university. He is not infallible, not divine, and would be a student or a disciple of Moses, who by far would be considered greater than the messiah.
KING: And how do know he hasn't come?
HIER: Well, because the world is still in turmoil. We are told that when the messiah comes, we will all live in peace and tolerance. And since we know that hasn't happened, we know for sure that the messiah has not come.
BOTEACH: Can I just add that even though Jews don't believe that Jesus was not the messiah does not mean that we haven't been enriched by his teachings. I am an Orthodox rabbi who has read the New Testament cover to cover many times. I think some of the ethical teachings in Christianity are incredibly moving. I love Christian faith. I love how my Christian brethren refer to God as a close friend. They use the word Lord, which we Jews don't normally use in everyday conversation. And we Jews have much to learn from our Christian brethren.
But there is one great teaching in Judaism, and that is man is not God. There is an infinite quantum gap that separates the two. And we don't like the fact that this faith and this belief has been superimposed upon us by the sword. I mean, we've been given this terrible choice, of choosing life and choosing Christianity throughout our history. And I think that this -- it's time to stop
KING: You do...
BOTEACH: But one other point, I mean, the messiah has got to be someone who brings world peace. There's no world peace. The messiah is someone who's resurrected dead. We haven't resurrected the dead.
Even Christianity says there has to be a second coming, because none of the messianic prophesies have been fulfilled.
And you know what? We'll sit and wait and see who does it.
But the point really is in the meantime the world isn't Jewish and Christian anymore. It's religious and secular. Instead of Reverend Mohler seeing us Jews as the victims who need to be uplifted spiritually see us as brothers. Join with us to bring greater spirituality to a very materialistic world.
KING: David, will you agree a lot of what has been said here tonight is true? A lot of -- in the name of Christianity, Jews have been persecuted.
BRICKNER: Well, I'd like to point out here's the minority report. There are some of us Jews who do believe that Jesus is the messiah, who do believe that there are messianic prophesies concerning a suffering servant who would come and suffer and die for the sins of the people, and rise again.
BOTEACH: But it couldn't be Jesus.
BRICKNER: And those of us who believe that are no less Jewish.
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