Skip to comments.A Tale of Two Covenants, Part One (of 4)
Posted on 04/23/2008 9:57:10 AM PDT by NYer
The relationship between the Old and New Covenants has been a hot topic for 2000 years. Not long ago, Ann Coulter caused a media row by announcing that Christians are perfected Jews. A few years before that, a document called Reflections on Covenant and Mission made headlines by apparently saying that Jews did not need Jesus. What do we make of it all?
The Reflections document is as good a place to start as any, since so many people still think it is what the Church teaches. In fact, it was released without episcopal permission, had no magisterial authority and was immediately pulled from circulation by the bishops.
The subject of the document was the Church’s relationship with the Jewish people and the most easily misread passage was this:
God’s grace, which is the grace of Jesus Christ according to our faith, is available to all. Therefore, the Church believes that Judaism, i.e. the faithful response of the Jewish people to God’s irrevocable covenant, is salvific for them, because God is faithful to his promises.
Contrary to the headlines, this does not mean Christians are saved by Jesus, Jews dont need him. Rather, it means that everybody who is savedincluding Jewswill find that they have been saved by Jesus Christ at work in the light they have received in their own particular situation. Thats not new. Its biblical. Heres how:
In the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats, the sheep are described as surprised at finding themselves saved:
Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?” And the King will answer them, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:37-40).
Romans 2:14-16 explains why they are surprised:
When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.
The basic principle here is that those who are cut off from conscious reliance on Christ through no fault of their own can nonetheless be obedient to the light of his Spirit at work in their own particular religious background and so be saved.
In that sense only, “Judaism is salvific” particularly since Israel is the one religion specifically ordained by God to usher in Messiah.
But what many people very predictably heardwith the help of the theologically ignorant presswas, “Christians get saved by Jesus and Jews get saved by Judaism and not Jesus.” Progressive Dissenters, drunk on the single truth God wills to save all promptly applauded the way in which the Church had “grown” (by which they meant denied one of its own fundamental dogmatic truths about the necessity of Jesus Christ to our salvation).
The reality, however, is that the Reflections document was immediately and rightly pulled from circulation by the bishops. Thats because, despite the wishes of Progressive Dissenters intoxicated by the single idea of indifferentist egalitarianism, the fact remains that actual magisterial teaching like Dominus Iesus makes it abundantly clear that the Church has not backed off one inch from the words of our Lord, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me” (John 14:6). That is not going to changeever. We can, as Pope Benedict has done, speak of the fact that Israel still has a mission to accomplish today. We can acknowledge of the Chosen People who were made to seek the Messiah that even this standing at the door fulfills a mission, one that is important to the world. We can agree with the Pope that In that way this people still has a special place in Gods plans. But we cannot pretend that there is a second salvific covenant that does not ultimately have Jesus at the center.
The trouble is, not a few Reactionary Dissenters protest Benedicts teaching about the Jewish people just as Progressive Dissenters protest No one comes to the Father but by Jesus. In parts two, three and four of this series we will look at some of the various false teachings about the relationship between the Old and New Covenantsand at the Churchs sober sanity.
For your discussion.
Thought this might interest you.
YHvH's larger plan of salvation, where His People are blinded for a time,shalom b'shem Yah'shua
in order to bring His salvation to the gentile nations.NAsbU Romans 11:15 For if their ( His Chosen People )And their ultimate salvation after a period of blindness is guaranteed by YHvH's covenant :
rejection is the reconciliation of the world,
what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?
NAsbU Romans 11:25 For I do not want you, brethren,
to be uninformed of this mystery--
so that you will not be wise in your own estimation--
that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until
the fullness of the Gentiles has come in;
26 and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written (in Isaiah 59),
"THE DELIVERER WILL COME FROM ZION,
HE WILL REMOVE UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB."
27 "THIS IS MY COVENANT WITH THEM, WHEN I TAKE AWAY THEIR SINS."
28 From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake,
but from the standpoint of God's choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers;
29 for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.
These are very interesting theological points and I am going to read more about this.
This is part 1 - if I forget, please remind me to post the next 3 parts :-)
Thank you. In fact, how come I am not on your flag list? Please put me on and flag me to the sequel of this.
This is one of the most misunderstood passages in the new testament.
Most interpret to mean that gentiles who DO NOT believe in Jesus Christ are somehow righteous because of their conscience. This is a false interpretation.
I'm going to quote several different versions of Romans 2:14:
(EMTV) for whenever Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things of the law, these, not having the law, are a law unto themselves,
(ESV) For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law
(YLT) For, when nations that have not a law, by nature may do the things of the law, these not having a law--to themselves are a law;
Paul is saying that Jews have the law BY nature, but gentiles do not. Punctuation is not inspired. So it reads:
For when gentiles, who do not have the law by nature, do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they have no law.
Paul is contrasting the fact that the Jews were given God's law, the ten commandments, and that gentiles were not. However, when gentiles receive God's holy spirit, they are able to follow God's laws as well as Jews who have God's spirits. This is made evident in the following verse:
Rom 2:28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:
Rom 2:29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
So gentiles have God's laws written on their hearts and minds, but ONLY when they accept Christ. Just the same as Jews.
Thinking that gentiles somehow have righteousness apart from Christ contradicts scripture in dozens of places.
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