Monday, 16 March 2015
Exclusion and Embrace: Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness and Reconciliation,
Miroslav Volf, Abingdon Press, 1996, page 94-95
After discussing the story of Cain and Abel, suggesting that the behaviour of how 'they' (in classic Christian interpretation) behave towards 'us' (the church), is a paradigm of how all human beings behave towards each other, Vold affirms the critical equality of Cane and Abel. He says:
The initial problem of the story is the formal equality and common belonging (brothers with complementary vocations) in relation to the inescapable difference of being first and second, rich and poor, honoure and despised. regarded and disregarded.
Let's apply that to the Jewish-Gentile identity issue in the church. While Paul clearly says (Gal 3:28) that Jew and Gentile are equal - but with complementary vocations - he also stresses that a Jewish priority: the gospel is "to the Jew first and also to the Gentile" (Rom 1:16) and judgement likewise (Rom 2:9-10). Do the Gentiles resent that priority? Anecdotal evidence would suggest that many (Gentile) Christians see that as arrogance on the part of Messianic Jews. It is very clear that the Jewish people don't like being called the older brother (see here) because of the connotations of primogeniture in the Hebrew Bible.