Morgendämmerung, oder, Wie man mit dem Hammer theologirt.
Nescire autem quid ante quam natus sis acciderit id es semper esse puerum.
Orandum est ut sit mens sana in corpore sano.
Homo sum humani nihil a me alienum puto.
Semper idem sed non eodem modo.


Verbum domini manet in aeternum. The word of the Lord endures forever.
1 Peter 1:24-25, quoting Isaiah 40:6,8. Motto of the Lutheran Reformation.

Fayth onely justifieth before God. Robert Barnes, DD The Supplication, fourth essay. London: Daye, 1572.

Lord if Thou straightly mark our iniquity, who is able to abide Thy judgement? Wherefore I trust in no work that I ever did, but only in the death of Jesus Christ. I do not doubt, but through Him to inherit the kingdom of heaven. Robert Barnes, DD, before he was burnt alive for "heresy", 30 July 1540.

What is Luther? The doctrine is not mine, nor have I been crucified for anyone. Martin Luther, Dr. theol. (1522)

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30 May 2008

Lutheran Public Radio Is On The Air -- And Online!

Issues Arising! The Christ centred, Cross focussed programme once known as Issues, Etc. and formerly offered by the radio station of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod is back! Click the link below:
God speed!


Christine said...

Hi Past Elder,

Is there another e-mail where you and I could correspond privately?

I brauche deine Hilfe!



Christine said...

And why didn't that come out as "Ich" brauche deine Hilfe?


Past Elder said...

Hi Christine!

You should upgrade to Vista. It has this new "I know what you meant" function and instantly corrects what you typed into what you meant to type. How great is that?

OK, there's my Nietzschean fun for the night. All blogger accounts come with email, so we can start with pastelder at gmail dot com.

L P Cruz said...

I got a reader who is on this group

Since you were once an Ortho Jew maybe you can shed some light on the thesis of this group.


Past Elder said...

Hi Lito -- here's my response, which I also posted in the combox to the relevant post on your blog. For the record, I was never an Orthodox Jew, though, just a Righteous of the Nations hanging around them! Gut shabbes!

Although you asked my opinion over on my blog, it seemed more appropriate to answer here, since the discussion is here.

I do not know of this particular group. However, their beliefs as a whole are not limited to them.

In my experience, many Jews -- and many non-Jews, some under the label Christian -- hold to the view that the Jesus of traditional Christian preaching has little to nothing to do with the Jesus of Nazareth of history. Coupled with that is the idea that the Jesus of traditional Christian preaching is primarily the construction of Paul, the only Apostle not to have known him in his lifetime.

In Judaism, there is no such idea as lex semper accusat, the law always accuses. Rather, the Law is something to be grateful for and joyfully observed. It does not crush, it liberates. Before fulfilling a command of the Law, a Jew offers a prayer of gratitude to have been so commanded. In the synagogue we find the original pattern of our lectionary -- IOW, our lectionary is simply a Christianisation of the idea of a yearly (not a three yearly) cycle of readings, whose focus is the Law as opposed to the Gospels which take their place in ours, at the conclusion of which one celebrates the feast of Rejoicing in the Law. Rejoicing. Not feeling crushed. Rejoicing.

There are several things to keep in mind here. For one, the Law is a covenant between God and Israel, not God and Man, and Man is not hel responsible for the Law. For another, Messiah has nothing whatever to do with deliverance from the Law, from sin, or anything like that. For yet another, the Messiah is not divine, he is a man, period, who ushers in a perfect era right here on earth, not in heaven.

So to a Jew, news of a Messiah delivering Man from the Law is ridiculous since Man is not under the Law, news of a Messiah delivering anyone from the Law and from sin is ridiculous since forgiveness of sin is already given under the Law to Israel, and to Man under the Noahide Law in it, and a Messiah who would claim to be divine is absurd since the Messiah of course knows he is not divine.

So the whole Christian message is based on a serious misunderstanding of the Law and the Prophets. Quite apart from any historical arguments, that Christianity and its Jesus could not have come from Jesus is evident on its supposed content which would be quite foreign to any Jew let alone the Messiah.

Enter Paul, who was not an Apostle and was a rather Hellenised Jew. He has some sort of experience after which he recasts the whole thing, and comes out more like the figure in a Greek mystery cult than Hebrew prophecy. This recasting catches on, because what will happen after Messiah comes did not happen after Jesus came, so one either has to renounce the idea that Jesus is Messiah, which the Christians will not do, or re-invent Messiah into something else that can be claimed to fit him to allow the belief to continue. It catches on among the Gentiles because it resembles their various mystery cults, dies out among the Jews because it goes against Scriptural prophecy, and spreads through the Hellenised world and later beyond it after the Roman Empire collapsed. But at heart it remains a corruption of the Jewish religion.

When I was at uni, it was summarised this way: Jesus was a Jew; the first Christian was Paul. In my Historical Jesus versus Christ of Faith classes -- taken by seminarians -- this was the same essential orientation, except the construction of the Christ of Faith overlaid on and put into the mouth of the Historical Jesus was chalked up not to Paul so exclusively as to the reflexion of the Christian community on the continuing significance of Jesus for them after his death. In this way, the Christian for whom Jesus Is Risen is a literal statement and for whom it is a time and culture conditioned expression of the enormous significance of Jesus for one's life equally can say Jesus Is Risen.

The Jesus you meet in the Eucharist is a product of your own faith, a concrete representation of something far more universal, in this mindset.

As a couple of side notes on the differences here: the idea of there being good news in certainty of everlasting life in heaven would strike observant Jews of my experience as utterly selfish. One does not seek to follow the Law for a reward, but for its own sake as a revelation of God, which is reward enough in itself, and the pre-occupation with the afterlife is characteristic of the Egyptian religion from which the People of the Law were delivered! Likewise, the Binding of Isaac, called the Akedah in Judaism, is hardly a figure of Christ, but a direct sign from God that human sacrifice is absolutely NOT what God wants, so the idea that God would become Man to offer it strains all bounds of credibility.

Since the destruction of the Temple and the priesthood, and therefore the possibility of the sacrifices commanded in the Law, it has been the consensus that our prayers and works of righteousness and loving kindness, mitvot, now take their place, adding another dimension to their importance. This ruling is ascribed to Rabbi Yochanan, not the more famous Yochanan bar Nafcha (John son of the blacksmith), but Yochanan ben Zakai, who was spirited out of Jerusalem in a coffin and established a council in Yavne (aka Jamnia) which fixed the Palestinian canon and set the stage for rabbinic Judaism to follow in the absence of the Judaism of the Scriptures.

Yochanan was the youngest of the students of Hillel, who was the grandfather of Gamaliel, who was Saul's (Paul's) rabbi. Small world.