Sunday, 31 January 2016
A Second Element of a Post-Supersessionist Christology
Seeing Judaism Anew: Christianity's Sacred Obligation,
Ed. Mary C. Boys, Rowman and Littlefield, 2002
Chapter 11, "Jesus as the Universal Saviour", 127-137, page 132
Phan's next element is to examine the idea of multiple convenants. He reports that Irenaeus says that G-d made several covenants: with Adam and with Noah, through the law and through the gospel. Setting aside the slightly negative tone of his original "under the law", which I changed to 'through', let's hear his idea:
Hence, G-d is covenanted not only with Israel (under the law) and Christians (under the gospel) but also with humanity as a whole (under Adam) and even with the entire universe (under Noah). The first three covenants (including G-d's covenant with Israel) have not been abolished or invalidated, nor have they been absorbed or dissolved into the fourth. Even though the first three have been, to use Irenaeus' expression, "recapitulated" in the fourth (brought under Christ as their head), they have not lost their proper identity and integrity. On the contrary, precisely because they have been "recapitulated" in Christ, they have achieved and maintain their full identity and integrity, even today.
I'm not too sure about the "recapitulation" idea myself, preferring to think that all G-d's covenants always have been given and realised in Yeshua - as He is "from eternity to eternity", he pre-dates and will out-live all the covenants - I nevertheless think Phan's basic point about the identity and integrity of the covenants is well made. He concludes this element by saying,
When we talk about G-d's "new" covenant in Jesus, we must keep in mind the continuing significance and validity of these other covenants.
It is vitally important that the church come to terms with the idea that "New" and "Old" are not to be taken as diachronic - discontinuous - but as synchronic, in parallel and continuous. If, as we are so fond of saying, G-d never changes, let's go with that and stop messing around.