Minutes of Meeting

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February 14, 1999

Location: Alumni Hall, University of Dayton

Meeting Topic: A Pentecostal View of Judaism

Speaker: Rev. Don Ramsey

Host: Howard and Moira Levant

PRESENT: Robin Smith, Co-chair; Arthur Auster, Judy Auster, Corinne Coleman, Steve Coleman, Phyllis Duckwall, Shirley Flacks, Agnes Hannahs, Bette Jasko, Bob Jasko, Jack Kelley, Howard Levant, Moira Levant, John Magee, Cecilia Moore, Ruth Precker, Bill Rain, Donald Ramsey, Ken Rosenzweig, Dieter Walk, Suzie Walk, Juanita Wehrle-Einhorn, Robert Wehrle-Einhorn, William Youngkin, Sharon Zeljak.

Robin called the meeting to order at about 8:00 PM. As the meeting devotional, Moira Levant played a violin piece which she had written for her cousin. She was accompanied by audiotaped organ music. There followed a discussion of some administrative matters. Steve & Corinne Coleman volunteered to host the April meeting. Robin talked about upcoming events and distributed a handout of information. The next meeting will be an open meeting on Tuesday, March 16 at 7:30 PM at Sears Recital Hall, University of Dayton. There will be no other Dialogue meeting in March. Rev. John Pawlikowski of the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, Illinois will be the speaker, and Dave Riley, Director of the Archdiocese Religious Education Office in Dayton and Rabbi Schmuel Klatzkin will comment on his speech. There will be a dinner with Rev. Pawlikowski before the meeting in University of Dayton Kennedy Union at 6:00 PM. Dialogue members are welcome to attend the dinner. The price of the dinner is $12, prepaid. Checks for the dinner price must be received by Ken Rosenzweig by Thursday, March 11 (see the Open Meeting Announcement later in these minutes).

Suzi and Dieter Walk discussed the Christian-Jewish Israel tour, scheduled for October (see the announcement later in these minutes). Rabbi Dr. Hillel Fox will be the tour leader. The tour will provide exciting opportunities for dialogue both within the tour group and with people in Israel. Virtually all costs are covered in the price, including two and sometimes three meals a day. The tour will include seminars and dinners with Israeli families.

Father Jack Kelley made a number of announcements and observations. He displayed a box of Ryterband family materials that may include materials of interest to the Dialogue. Jack asked if anyone was interested in going through them to archive them. Jack noted that last week the Israeli Supreme Court delivered a controversial set of decisions which was highly criticized by the Orthodox community. These decisions included requiring seminary students to serve in the military and more recognition for non-orthodox Jewish practices in Israel. As a result, there were huge demonstrations. On another matter, Jack challenged the Dialogue to decide what we ought to do for the year 2000. He noted that many pilgrims will be going to the Holy Land. Lou Vera noted that the National Workshop on Christian-Jewish Relations is scheduled October 24-27 in Houston, and there may be some date conflict with the Dialogue Israel Tour. Jack noted that Cardinal Cassidy has committed to going to Houston. Lou stated that the Workshop has not been held for two years.

Lou Vera discussed the upcoming Open Meeting of the Dialogue on March 16, featuring as speaker Rev. John Pawlikowski, an internationally known expert in the field of Jewish-Christian relations.

Ken announced that the Dayton Christian Jewish Dialogue website has recently been linked to the ActiveDayton website. The ActiveDayton website provides a directory of community activities in the Dayton area and its linkage to the Dialogue website should provide increased exposure in the Dayton community to Dialogue activities. To reach the ActiveDayton site, point your internet browser to "http://www.activedayton.com". To go directly to the Dialogue website, point your browser to "http://faculty.sba.udayton.edu/rosenzweig/dcjd/dcjd.htm".

Don Ramsey's Presentation

Robin introduced Don Ramsey. Don thanked the Dialogue for inviting him to speak. Don desires to share his experiences and his opinions about what direction Pentocostals should take with respect to Judaism. Don noted that most Pentecostal groups do not have any clear concept of Judaism. Many Pentecostal groups do support the state of Israel while, at the same time, do not have much relationship to Jews and/or Judaism. A friend of Don's referred to this approach humorously as "anti-Semitic Zionism." Don is the Minister of a group that does not consider itself a denomination. It is only an informal group of congregations.

Pentecostalists constitute various Christian religious congregations whose members seek to be filled with the Holy Spirit, in emulation of the Apostles at Pentecost. Pentecostal congregations are revivalistic and may engage in practices such as "speaking in tongues," and other ecstatic utterances, as the apostles did on the day of Pentecost.1 Don's experience is that Pentecostalists are a very loosely defined diverse group. Don stated that he was blessed in that his parents divorced when he was one year old. At that point, he went to live with an uncle's family. His uncle was a Minister. Don's father's home had been abusive. Don observed his uncle asking people he had met, "Are you a Bible student?" For Pentecostalists, this is a loaded question. It means "are you looking for a City of God?" The Pentecostalism movement grew out of a passage from the second chapter of Acts. It is focused on a desire to have something greater. The modern Pentacostalist movement began around the turn of the twentieth century in Topeka, Kansas. Pentecostalists have little doctrinal uniqueness. Don's group believes in studying the Scriptures.

How did Don become interested in Jews and Judaism? A Bible College teacher once told Don that an allusion in the Bible that is often applied to Jesus actually refers to the Jewish people. This pricked Don's curiosity and, as a result, Don took a course in Dayton on Judaism. Don then took some classes at the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati. After considerable research, Don finally found the source that supported the Bible College teachers interpretation. Don stated that Pentecostals are actually liable to be more antagonistic to Catholics than to Jews. However, Don does not support this orientation and has even learned to look at Catholic sources in his search for knowledge on the Scriptures. Don then asked himself whether he, as a Christian, could find any inspiration in Judaism. Most Pentecostal ministers would say no to this question. But Don answered in the affirmative. Don's goal is to be a righteous person. Don's view is that he is saved in the Pentecostal sense, but that is just a starting point. In this respect, he is an atypical Pentecostal. Don believes that the community of the righteous is an important part of Christianity. However, he feels that much of modern Christianity has lost this concept. Don's own church group teaches that the two olive trees in the Book of Zachariah correspond to the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures. Don's group of Pentecostals are taught that Israel will be the primary upholders of the Gospel of God in the Messianic Era.

Where do we go from here? Member of Don's own group of Pentecostals are taught that redemption is not an accomplished fact, and all righteous minds can receive inspiration. There is the concept of the imagined community. An imagined community may never meet, but its members can relate to one another. Christians and Jews have a common set of documents--the Hebrew Scriptures. The Dialogue is about negotiating meaning. Don asks Pentecostals to be honest with one another. Traditionally, many things were sins for Pentecostals. When Don was growing up, going to a Pizza Hut was a sin. When Don was younger, his uncle, the Minister, had gone blind. So Don drove him around to the various ministers meetings his uncle needed to attend. Don acknowledged that Catholics and Jews believe in fundamentals too. Don said his goal is not to go to Heaven. His goal is to be a righteous person, and he will let God decide where he is to go. Don believes that Christianity as a whole has not focused on the Divine plan of God. Mankind has so far failed to achieve the Divine plan, but our duty is to try to achieve that plan. Don believes that all people, Christians and Jews, need to be converted. A global restoration is needed. Don was in Haiti recently. He noted that Haiti is an environmental disaster. Don believes that God's covenant is an everlasting covenant. The covenants have never been changed and are still valid.

One of the greatest mysteries in the Scripture is how God created humanity; after God created man, there was no life in him until God breathed life into him. God thus bound the spiritual to the natural. Don believes in firmly accepting what we have been taught to be true; but always acknowledging the possibility of being wrong. A big problem for Pentecostals is loving the State of Israel and not understanding the Jews. Virtually 100% of Pentecostal ministers have never been to a Jewish synagogue service. The concept of supersessionism is still very strong among Pentecostals. However, Pentecostals do not have any active mission to convert the Jewish people. Don talked with Emil Fackenheim in Rome recently. Emil thought something was brewing against the Jewish people. Don believes in one imagined community of the righteous which includes Protestants, Catholics, and Jews. Don advocates a rethinking by Pentecostals. The work of the righteous must go forward here on Earth. Ministers should be asked to support their contentions. Don is coming to the Dialogue in order to learn. He wants to stand up for what is different. Don concluded his formal presentation at about 9:20 PM.

Discussion Period

Arthur asked for definition of the Pentecost. For Jews, Pentecost is the holiday of Shavuoth which is a feast held on the sixth and seventh days of Sivan in commemoration of the revelation of the Law on Mount Sinai and the celebration of the wheat festival in ancient times. For Christians, it is the seventh Sunday (50 days) after Easter, commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples. It is also called Whitsunday.2 The origin of the Pentecostal Movement is from the Book of Acts, Chapters 1 & 2. In these chapters, people are described as speaking in tongues. There is a divergence of views about the meaning of these passages. Pentacostals have "hung their hat" on these concepts by emphasizing the physical manifestations of faith, e.g., shaking, etc. These physical manifestations are considered an indication of whether the individuals have the spirit of the Almighty within them. Shirley asked what relation there was of Pentacostalism to the Ten Commandments. Don said there was no special relationship of Pentecostalism to the Ten Commandments, other than the fact that, as Christians, Pentecostalists uphold the Ten Commandments. A movement that is related to Pentecostalism is the Charismatic Movement in both Protestantism and Catholicism. Lou Vera said she is a Catholic charismatic. Dieter asked where Pentecostals stand on the Rapture. Don replied that his own group's views are different than those prevailing among other Pentecostals; his own group believes that the gathering of the righteous will be here on Earth, and people will not be suddenly ripped away to Heaven.

Don commented about Rev. Falwell's comments about the AntiChrist being Jewish. Steve asked what the word Pentecost means. It refers to the 50th day. Arthur asked how Don squares speaking in tongues with the story of the Tower of Babel. Don explained that this speaking in tongues is considered to be the divine language. Bill Youngkin talked about the necessity of interpretation even when speaking in tongues occurs. Don agreed. Don stated that most Christians have very little depth in the Scriptures. Howard Levant talked about the tendency of Christians to breed schisms and divergent groups. Once one leaves orthodox religious thought, there is no limit to the possibility of differing religious thought. Lou said that it is Catholic teaching that the Church is to be a constituent in the Kingdom of God. However, others who are not Catholics may be participants in this Kindgom.

The meeting adjourned at about 10:00 PM.

Respectfully submitted

Ken Rosenzweig, Secretary


1 Encarta 98 Desk Encyclopedia.

2 Excerpted from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition © 1996 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Electronic version licensed from INSO Corporation; further reproduction and distribution in accordance with the Copyright Law of the United States. All rights reserved.
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