Wednesday, 24 February 2016
Jews and Christian Faith I
Seeing Judaism Anew: Christianity's Sacred Obligation,
Ed. Mary C. Boys, Rowman and Littlefield, 2002
Chapter 13, "Covenant and Conversion" (pp. 151-162), page 156-157
Under the section heading "Jews and Christian Faith", Cunningham covers Paul's distress at his inability to communicate successfully with our people and suggests the (common) view that most of the New Testament authors thought that they were writing in close proximity to the Second Coming. Correctly pointing out that two thousand years later we know that history didn't end then, he addresses the issue of revelation:
Since it discloses the activity of G-d, te resurrection of Jesus is a revelatory event. But revelation is an interactive process that requires both G-d's self-disclosure and human perception and affirmation of it. Faith begins when humans respond to a G-d wjho reveals, who invites a response,and who enables recognition of the invitation. Faith is the gift of G-d's grace.
Suggesting then the G-d revealed His Son to certain Jews, so that they could see and respond, Cunningham says that the revelation was "transformative to some and not to others." Quoting from three gospels and Paul, he cites Jews who would not or did not believe. The comes the big step:
Therefore, human beings are not really competent to blame others for failing to "believe" the proclamation of the good news of Christ crucified and raised. Not only might the human proclamation of the gospel be poorly or incomprehensibly given, but, more importantly, no human being can know the mysterious workings of G-d's purposes and grace in the heart of another.
So if some doesn't believe, that isn't their fault but G-d's, and so they can't be judged or held responsible for not responding?
Certainly, medieval Jews who refused forced baptism out of fidelity to their covenant with G-d and so were slain by fanatical Christians cannot be faulted for rejecting the gospel.
This last paragraph lines up exactly with Dr Mark Kinzer's writings in "Post-Missionary Messianic Judaism", except for one point. Such Jews were not offered the gospel. It might have been called the gospel or thought by those perpetrating the offence to be the gospel, but even the way in which it was approached and presented showed clearly that it was not the gospel. G-d doesn't behave in that way and so that could not be the gospel. The Jewish 'no' to the church at that point was a much louder 'yes' to G-d in holding fast to His covenant, character and faithfulness as shown in the Scriptures!