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It’s that Time of the Year Again: In Tone Four, "The Murderers of God,…

av Bogdan G. Bucur

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When Christianity was considered but a factious schism within Judaism, Jewish believers in Messiah Jesus engaged in harsh intra-Jewish polemics with their fellow non-believing Jewish brethren. Such intra-Jewish polemics are present in the writings of the New Testament and even other extra-biblical Christian writings of the first century. Such polemics naturally occur due to disagreement over the Person of Jesus Christ. But as Christianity grew, these, intra-Jewish polemics shifted to become polemics between the overwhelmingly Gentile Church and "the Jews." Unfortunately, this Gentile, anti-Jewish polemic has rarely been tempered with the belovedness and chosenness of the Jewish people as proclaimed by the Apostle Paul's own love for them (Romans 9:1-5; 11:18-29). Unlike Saint Paul, Gentile Christians have usually lost sight of the Jewish people's continuing religio-ethnic identity as Christ's own people (John 1:11) from whom comes salvation (John 4:22). This prejudicial blind spot has resulted in much evil in the world and even in the Church. Many Orthodox Christians justify a denial of the actual legitimacy of a Jewish identity. As Father Lev Gillet has said, the Russian Orthodox Church has been responsible for many evils with its common antisemitism. Where can we find any command in Holy Scripture for the Jewish convert to Christ to abandon his Jewish identity and live as a Gentile? Yet, this demand is made in some of the canons of the Holy Fathers. Where does the Apostle Paul demand that Jewish Christians cease circumcising their children and start eating pork? We glorify the Maccabean martyrs who were tortured and killed for avoiding pork and practicing circumcision and other Jewish practices also observed by our Lord and then, hypocritically, condemn any continuance of these practices by Jewish Christians. In this regard, many of us are in need of repentance. Even the Lord Jesus Christ Himself did not reject the Mosaic authority of the Jewish leaders who rejected Him (Matthew 23:2-3). Rather, He supported their rabbinical decrees as having pertinence for any of His own disciples who wished to continue living as Jews (I Corinthians 7:17-20). For as Saint Paul says, the Christian, whether Jew or Gentile, whether he eats or drinks, whether he observes kashrut or not, or whatever he does, is to do all for the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ by Whose Grace we are saved, not by observing kashrut or circumcision, but by committing our lives in faithfulness to Him Who died and rose for us and for our salvation. In other words, the Jewish people--those whom the Apostle Paul calls "the natural branches"--belong in the Church in contrast to us Gentiles, who have been grafted in by God "against nature," as the Apostle also says. Truly, even the Jew in Christ is free from the constraint of the Torah while being subject to the Torah of the Spirit, which is Love. Yet, such a Jewish believer is also free to observe the Torah in service to Christ with the understanding that Torah observance cannot save us, but rather condemns us due to our fleshly inability to keep the letter of the Law perfectly. Christ alone can redeem us, whether Jew or Gentile, from the condemnation we earn by our sins. So contrary to the Holy-Friday liturgical statements, the nation of the Jews, that is, the Jewish people, has not been destroyed because the gifts and callings of God are irrevocable. Though unbelieving Jews be enemies of the Gospel, they remain, nevertheless, beloved to God on account of the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We ought not to be highminded, but rather fear. Any arrogant, triumphalistic boasting by Christians precedes their own fall and destruction. But God gives grace to the humble and peacemakers will be called God's children. ( )
  sagocreno | Jun 29, 2019 |
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