There’s a fascinating book review (I haven’t read the book itself) published online June 22 at Christianity Today whose topic tracks a question I’ve asked in writing for years. As I put it in a column years ago at the Mobile Register, “why aren’t Christians more Jewish?”[* I am not sure what the author means by this sentence, but I read it in light of his earlier statement: "To be clear, this does not mean that the Polish pope or any of the Protestant leaders who have re-stressed Christianity’s Jewishness are arguing that Jesus isn’t the true path to salvation"...]
What I mean (and have written several times) is that even a fair amount of theological study hasn’t given me an answer to why Christians don’t still celebrate a lot of Jewish customs and holidays. Why don’t we still memorialize Yom Kippur or the Passover seder? Why don’t we light the candles of Hanukkah? Jesus and his disciples did, so why don’t we? Christianity was built on the foundation of Judaism, so why do we ignore so much of that foundation?
Obviously, our Pauline theology explains why we aren’t subject to every jot and tittle of every law in Leviticus, but we still are of a faith that cannot be understood without an understanding of our Jewish roots – and there is no good reason why major Jewish observances shouldn’t also be Christian ones.
All of which can serve as a predicate for Nathan Finn’s Christianity Today review of Gerald McDermott’s Israel Matters: Why Christians Must Think Differently about the People and the Land. Explains Finn:
McDermott is part of a group of scholars who identify with the “New Christian Zionism” movement. Their goal is to convince contemporary believers that Israel is not the backstory of the church, but a key part of the future of the faith. In Israel Matters, McDermott makes a nuanced case for the centrality of Israel in redemptive history—past, present, and future.
Jesus and his earliest followers never set aside Israel so they could establish a primarily Gentile religion. Jesus was a faithful Jew, as were most of his earliest disciples, including all of the apostles. Gentile believers have been grafted into Israel by faith, and while the Mosaic covenant has been fulfilled through the death and resurrection of Jesus, the Abrahamic covenant (God’s promise to make a great nation of Abraham’s descendants and bless them with land) continues to endure.
Simply put, God is not finished with the Jews, and the future of Gentile Christianity is closely tied to the fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel.
In short, Christians should look at the central tenets of Christianity and the central tenets of Judaism not as an either/or choice but as a both/and consummation. And we should open ourselves to “a fresh appreciation of the Jewishness of Jesus and his earliest followers.”
(Thank goodness, by the way, that most Christian denominations in the past 50 years have firmly rejected the once-prevalent understanding that Jews in general were responsible for the Crucifixion, rather than the historical and theological truth that the fault belonged only to a small group of Temple leaders and their most avid courtiers.)
Pope John Paul II was one of those firmly in the camp of “dual covenant theology” – another name for the beliefs also pushed by McDermott in the book being reviewed – and argued in a 1980 speech in Berlin that God’s covenant with the Jewish people had never been revoked. And in 1986 John Paul II said this: “With Judaism, therefore, we have a relationship which we do not have with any other religion. You are our dearly beloved brothers, and in a certain way, it could be said that you are our elder brothers.”
To be clear, this does not mean that the Polish pope or any of the Protestant leaders who have re-stressed Christianity’s Jewishness are arguing that Jesus isn’t the true path to salvation; what they aver is that we cannot separate Jesus from His Jewishness and that we cannot lessen the importance of the Old Covenant to our own faith.
There are many Jewish customs that not only do not contradict or undermine our New Covenant, but actually enrich it. Just because Christians are not required to eat only kosher food doesn’t mean we are not free to do so, or to join Jewish friends at a warm and festive seder meal.
Jews, of course, need not be Christians.* But there is a sense, and a truth, in which all Christians must be Jews.
Quin Hillyer is a veteran conservative columnist with a degree in theology. His faith-themed satirical novel, Mad Jones: Heretic, is due for publication this summer by Liberty Island Media.
Sunday, June 25, 2017
PJ Media has an interesting piece, which raises an important question about how Christians should relate to the Jewish roots of Christianity. I am taking the liberty of reproducing the article here in its entirety. But I do encourage you to visit the PJ Media site where there are many more excellent articles:
Thursday, June 08, 2017
From here, where there is more:
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Today the Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church voted to finalise a change to their canons that attempts to redefine marriage. This action further marginalises faithful Anglicans in Scotland who uphold Jesus’ teaching on marriage.
Recognising the pastoral need that arose following the initial SEC vote (in June 2016), in April of this year the Gafcon Primates authorised the consecration of a Missionary Bishop to care for those who seek to remain faithful to the scriptures and Jesus’ teaching on marriage.
Today at a press conference in Edinburgh, Scotland, Archbishop Foley Beach, speaking on behalf of the Primates Council, introduced the new Missionary Bishop:
Statement on Gafcon Missionary Bishop by Archbishop Foley Beach
Good afternoon. Thank you for being here today. I plan to make a brief statement. Canon Andy Lines will make a brief statement. Rev. David McCarthy will make a brief statement. And then we will have a time for questions.
I speak to you today as the Archbishop and Primate of the Province of the Anglican Church in North America, and as a sitting primate on the Gafcon Primates Council. On behalf of the Chairman of Gafcon, the Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, the Primate of All Nigeria, the Assistant Chairman, The Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali, and the Gafcon Primates Council: Grace and peace to you in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord.
We continue to have a crisis in the Anglican Communion as the virus of revisionist theology and practice continues to spread to various Provinces. Rather than correcting and disciplining those who have departed from the biblical faith and practice which has been handed down to us from the Apostles, some church leaders are embracing false teaching, and then going even further by promoting it around the world.
The Nairobi Communiqué from the Gafcon meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2013 clearly stated that the Gafcon leadership would not ignore the pleas of the faithful who are trapped in places where false doctrine and practice occur. We promised that we would provide pastoral care and oversight for those who remain faithful to Jesus’ teaching on marriage.
At our April meeting in Lagos, Nigeria, the Gafcon Primates decided to provide a missionary bishop for Europe with the initial focus on those in Scotland and those faithful Anglicans in England outside the Church of England. Today’s decision by the Scottish Episcopal Church to change the biblical and historic definition of marriage has highlighted the need to respond to the cries and pleas of those Scots who today have been marginalized by their leaders. The attempt to redefine marriage is not one that a faithful Christian can support.
The Gafcon Primates have asked our Province, the Anglican Church in North America, to take on the task of providing a missionary bishop for Scotland. Our Province was formed at the direction of Gafcon 2008 after many of the Provinces of Gafcon had provided the same kind of oversight for clergy and congregations in North America. They have asked us to consecrate Canon Andy Lines.
Canon Andy Lines
Our College of Bishops discussed and decided to accept this responsibility. Following the Canons of our Province, the Executive Committee of the Province was not only consulted, but also voted unanimously to support this endeavor. We also appointed an oversight Committee of Bishops to provide guidance and accountability for Canon Lines as he walks through our consecration process and to support him after he is consecrated a bishop. Archbishop Robert Duncan is chair of the committee which consists of three diocesan bishops: The Rt. Rev. Bill Atwood, The Rt. Rev. Charlie Master, and The Rt. Rev. David Hicks.
Canon Andy Lines is now canonically resident in the Diocese of the South as a “priest in good standing” after having been transferred from the Province of South America as a priest in good standing.
The Consecration will take place on the morning of 30 June in Wheaton, Illinois and the service will include Primates, Archbishops, and bishops from all over the world. Although the Anglican Church in North America is the consecrating Province, this is an initiative of the wider Anglican Communion.
Lastly, as the Archbishop and Primate of the Anglican Church in North America, I consider it an honor to serve the Scots in this way. After the American revolution in the United States, the Anglican leaders in England would not consecrate bishops for the newly formed Anglican Church in the United States. It was Scotland who came to our rescue and consecrated our first bishop, Samuel Seabury. It is Providential that we in North America are now able to honor our Scottish heritage by providing a bishop for the faithful in Scotland. It is my hope that the missionary bishop will lead an effort to plant dynamic churches all over Scotland which are Jesus-centered, practicing the teaching of the Bible, and holding to the long-standing tradition of the Anglican Faith. As Samuel Seabury once said:
“Error often becomes popular and contagious, and then no one can tell how far it will spread, nor where it ends. We must in such cases, recur to first principles, and there take our stand. The Bible must be the ground of our faith."
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