Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Writing about the Jewish people and Christian theology

Christians have several theological directions when considering the Jewish people and the State of Israel. There is the dispensational view which is often connected to Christian Zionism. There also exists a Reformed view that does not reject Israel. The orthodox Reformed view does not deny the all sufficiency of Jesus Christ’s death on the cross but niether does it deny that the Jewish people are God’s chosen people.

I have written of Karl Barth’s view of them as chosen. Barth insisted that God’s choosing of the Jewish people troubled the world and led many in their jealousy to indulge in anti-Semitism. Yet he made the rejection of Jesus Christ, the Jew, the ultimate anti-Semitism. Not in the sense that the Jews rejected Christ by not believing in him as the Messiah, but in the sense that the world rejects the Jew on the cross as that particular One who suffers in shame and humiliation for the sake of the world. That is God’s call is to live only by his grace yet the world seeks some other way.

Christ’s death and resurrection is the ultimate out working of God’s free grace, the ultimate gift, the only way of salvation. But, we are brought to our knees by the sight of the Jewish people who are sustained through the years by the grace of God.

As Barth writes, “we find it uncanny that the Jews live among us and move like shadows through world history with the unheard-of historical permanence, yet without roots, without security; without roots because they are sustained by the free grace of God—so persistent because that grace holds them so firmly.”

Barth spoke those words a year after the birth of Israel. He undoubtedly saw their war for survival as a continuation of the sufferings of the Holocaust. And he certainly recognized the sustaining hand of God among them both biblically and from his experience.

And Barth understands how the two communities, Christians and Jews, are alike, not only living by faith but also offending those who reject God’s care and his chosen people. Barth writes:

“Without any doubt the Jews are to this very day the chosen people of God in the same sense as they have been so from the beginning, according to the Old and New Testaments. They have the promise of God; and if we Christians from among the Gentiles have it too, then it is only as those chosen with them, as guests in their house, as new wood grafted on to their old tree. The Christian community exists in the same way as the Jews; miraculously sustained throughout the years, it too is a people of strangers; and just as the anti-semites are offended by the Jews, so the Christian community will necessarily arouse the same feelings.” Against the Stream

I intend to look at some of the Christian theology that enfolds issues both about the Jews and the State of Israel. I will be posting on these subjects in the coming weeks.

1 comment:

Juhani said...

Antisemitism is wrong and we should bless the nation of Israel. More info in this article:

http://koti.phnet.fi/petripaavola/antisemitismiswrong.html