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Thursday, 15 October 2015
Symptoms of Loss

We the People: Israel and the Catholicity of Jesus,
Tommy Givens, Fortress, 2014, page 42

Givens seems to agree with Yoder that Christianity did not remain Jewish in continuity with Paul's vision. There must have been some loss - what was it?

... a loss of Jewishness.

He then quotes Yoder:

The first dimensions of the loss to become visible are precisely those traits of early Christianity tied to the Jewishness of the gospel ... The Christian faith became an ahistorical moral monotheism, with no particular peoplehood and no defences against acculturation, no ability to discern the line between mission and syncretism.

Then commenting on Yoder, Givens adds:

Yoder's historical claim is at once an ethical one. He insists that the ethos of the Christian life as we find it in the New Testament is Jewish and, correlatively, that Christian communities have been unfaithful - disobedient to the Word that speaks through both scriptural Testaments - to the extent that they have lived a non- or anti-Jewish life.

Can you buy that? Have we been disobedient? Can we describe our behaviour in other ways to avoid Givens' and Yoder's charge?

Posted By Jonathan, 8:00am Comment Comments: 1
 
 

Thursday, 15 October 2015
Comment -

I do basically buy the flow of that argument. To the extent that we have abandoned the Jewishness of the gospel we have moved away from it in that regard, we have trashed Jesus' prayer for unity in John 17, which we should note has a prayer for Jewish-Gentile unity implicit, along with Paul's many exhortations on this theme and the hard work in Acts that he put into preserving this unity. We have a chequered history at best and a sad and power-depleted one at worst. We have watched the church's Acts-Holy Spirit power degrade to the extent of the charge in 2 Timothy 3:5 and we don't realise what we're missing.

There are some who do have a power ministry and the rest of us are so dazzled by the strange nature of that ministry that we even dream up theologies as to why they must be wrong, at best, or Satanic, at worst. And this secessionism is done in the name of orthodox Christianity and even "sound theology".

The balancing factor is that to the extent that the church preserves salvation +n the Messiah, we have also preserved important elements of the gospel. This is no excuse, of course, for the distortions. We have de-coupled the doctrine from the story, launched the doctrine into a gnostic realm, and jettisoned the very people of God from whom we received the Good News into a place where they can be maligned or even persecuted. All this in contravention of multiple places in the New Testament, let alone the Tanach.

Jesus didn't spend his time between Resurrection and Ascension re-telling the narrative of the Cross leading to "getting to heaven when we die". Jesus spent those 40 days teaching about the Kingdom. The Kingdom is the place where the King's Word happens - the King's Domain where the King's people have Dominion as they re-present Him. The Power of Acts 1:8 was to re-present the calling and gift of Genesis 1:27 and progressively kick the serpent out of the King's Domain until "all his enemies are made his footstool". On earth! Right now we (aka many) feel powerless in the face of thousands of immigrants "invading" Europe. I'm fascinated that during the first millennium, before Celtic Christianity was trashed by the import of Roman Canon Law to these islands, the gospel was so powerful in Britain that all the invaders who invaded - Vikings, Danes etc. - got converted to Christ and ended up taking the gospel back to the location they came from. 1300 years later we're whimpering in a corner frightened of the invading army, not powerful in prayer saying "bring it on - let's evangelise them".

And so yes, I think the charge sticks. Very uncomfortable it is too.

Posted By Timothy Butlin 12:21pm