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Sunday, 28 February 2016
Baptising the World II

Seeing Judaism Anew: Christianity's Sacred Obligation,
Ed. Mary C. Boys, Rowman and Littlefield, 2002
Chapter 13, "Covenant and Conversion" (pp. 151-162), page 159

While asserting that it is impossible to transpose the vision and understanding of the biblical writers directly into the modern world, Cunningham says:

It should give Christians pause to realise that Matthewin 28:19 was thinking of the Gentile nations that needed to be taught G-d's will. Jews who already possessed the gift of the Torah, even if not the definitive Torah of Jesus that Matthew espoused, were clearly in a different category than pagans.

Can you hear what is coming?

For Christians who affirm Jewish covenanting with G-d, it is plain that Judaism's long life with G-d's Torah has continued to produce a harvest of holiness. Jews do not need to be made disciples of Jesus to be introduced to the covenanting G-d.

That's a huge statement. While I can agree that there are a number of saintly Jewish people who clearly have a relationship with G-d and whose lives radiate the holiness that can only come from the Holy Spirit, I can only assume that Dr Cunningham is either deliberately ignoring or has never heard of the behavious of many of the haredim in Israel. Residents of Mear Shearim insult, spit at or throw stones at tourists who are not dressed according to their extreme modesty code; ultra-orthodox crowds demonstrate against other Israelis who have chosen or are obliged to work on Shabbat, tearing down road signs, vandalising cars and beating up or tearing the clothes of their opponents, thewhilescreaming invective and behaving like a crowd of hooligans. Anti-missionary groups besiege the homes of Jewish believers in Yeshua, terrorising them, damaging their property and forcing them to stay at home - sometimes with the connivance of the local justices and police force. This is not a harvest of holiness.

How are the Jews involved in and who organise such behavious to find atonement for their sins and hatred against fellow Jews and Gentiles, this egregious violation of the Torah they proclaim to be upholding? Are they to be denied peace with G-d in Yeshua?

Posted By Jonathan, 9:00am Comment Comments: 1
 
 

Sunday, 28 February 2016
Comment -

Hi Jonathan. I think it's important for us to understand "the other" in this situation and to empathize with (though not excuse) them, however difficult this may be.

I recently read Asch's "Salvation," which is an extraordinary novel that expresses with emotion yet clarity how the Church so sullied the gospel that it was entirely offensive to Jews. The Haredim are the descendents of those Jews, and have very much the same view of Christians and Jews who go over to them that Jews did in the past. Their reaction now is to establish a sort of fortress mentality that rejects all outside influences and is not able to distinguish between the aggressive church and Jews or Gentiles who inadvertently violate Haredi standards. For them, the mixed cultural situation in Israel is an imposition that reminds them of their ancestors' ghetto existence.

Again, we should not excuse but understand that their behavior is an enculturated response that arises from a heavy weight of historic causes, not merely from a rigid standard of life.

That said, it would be good to compare the material you quote with the recent Catholic document. "The Gifts and Callings of God are irrevocable." The full document merits our attention, but two quotes sum up its views. In paragraph 36 they state, "That the Jews are participants in God's salvation [through the Torah as God's Word] is theologically unquestionable, but how that can be possible without confessing Christ explicitly, is and remains an unfathomable divine mystery." Yet they have already stated in paragraph 6, "While there is a principled rejection of an institutional Jewish mission, Christians are nonetheless called to bear witness to their faith in Jesus Christ also to Jews, although they should do so in a humble and sensitive manner, acknowledging that Jews are bearers of God's Word, and particularly in view of the great tragedy of the Shoah."

The Catholics are grappling with these issues in much deeper and more subtle ways than the authors you quote. By refusing to compromise their view of Jews and the Torah OR their salvation through Yeshua, they must continue to grapple with the nature of this mystery.

For our part, those who reinforce the pervasive and long-standing idea that Christianity is an enemy of the Torah are complicit, at least in part, with the actions of the Haredim. Sadly, this is the case even among some Messianic Jews in Israel, who strongly assert that Jews who follow Messiah are no longer obligated to keep the Torah. Little do they know that their message embodies the same perversion of the gospel that Jews have been hearing for nearly two thousand years.

Posted By Anon 05:11pm