Challenge: Fulfilling the Law…huh?

This is your discrepancy? If you mean, by “keeping the law”, that we can hold it in high regard, then you miss Paul’s point. If you mean, by “keeping the law”, that we can live without breaking any of those laws, then you are perfect…or delusional.” (Jim)

I’d also take exception to the notion that the law is easy to follow. If it’s so damn easy, why does just about everyone break it. Please don’t try to convince me that anything more than a tiny fraction of Jews actually keeps the law in it entirety or anywhere close to it. Coveting alone is something that most of us humans do out of damn-near jealous reflex.” (Deacon Blue)

I pointed out that Deuteronomy teaches the law CAN be kept. So, either God lied in Deuteronomy when God said we could keep it, that it isn’t even hard to keep, or Paul lied when he said people could not keep the law. Either God lied when God said we don’t need to look to heaven for help in keeping the law, or Paul lied when he said we needed Jesus to help us. They can’t both be true.” (Yael)

I find all this talk about the law and what it means to keep it very interesting – I see a contrast of viewpoints that can be addressed from the comments above.

(a) What does it mean to ‘keep’ the law? Are we talking about ‘living by the intents of the law’ or a strict literal ‘keeping’ of every law? Can keeping mean merely continuing to use the Law for guidance? The disconnect seems to be the Christian view of ‘literalism’ towards the law and the Jewish viewpoint of living by it…both of which try to address the idea of ‘keeping the law’.

(b) Does keeping the law have to do with not breaking the laws (ever) or living by the intents of the laws as provided to the Jewish community? There is a belief within Christianity that if we break one law we break em’ all – and we need someone perfect to fulfill that for us. Judaism doesn’t see it this way – and never really has – the law was there to be a ‘law’ for the people – to guide and direct them (similar to how we use our countries laws to guide and direct us – or better yet – the constitution to develop the guidelines for law).

I think the problem with addressing the Law is that we need a well rounded view concerning the subject – and for me some problems within the Christian viewpoint are kind of strange (all things being considered).

(1) Law is not bad – law is good for a nation/society – this is not something any of us would ever try to debate in basic thinking about it. The laws of a society provide the justice for the society and help those within the law live good lives – those outside the law will not enjoy such comforts (ie: jail). Law is meant to protect us – provide the limits for good societal behavior…this is how I view Jewish law.  

The Jewish law is like the American constitution in a weird way. Both provide the basis for their societies – the beginning of law and rights – even where faith fits in. From there we develop interpretation of the said documents – law in both cases – and how society will function.

Christianity view Jewish laws very different. Christianity has evolved to view the law as something that Jesus fulfilled – completed and did this for us – he was perfect in it’s upkeep. This is in turn did away with the law for us – vicariously we get it’s righteousness. I am not sure Paul or Jesus actually held this view – it barely seems biblical to me.

(2) How can one fulfill the law? By living it! If anything, Christianity has little to do with the law at all – we have all but left that behind some 2000 years ago. I think Jesus lived according to the law – in that sense fulfilled it – but one cannot fulfill the law so as to do away with it…this is not really a possibility…not when you think about how law functions.

How can one fulfill ‘do not covet’ except by not acting upon urges to steal another’s property? In the sense of obeying the law the reason for the law is fulfilled – to protect your neighbor and create a sense of property in the listener (respect for the other’s stuff).

Now we can all do that – and should do that. Not to say we will not break laws in certain scenario’s – we all do. But the law functions as a standard by which we realize what is good for society and what is detrimental to society. How can you fulfill that except by trying to live according to law – which is asking basic human decency. Fulfilling the law is ‘keeping it’ – living by it – which we all expect from our neighbors.

I guess I don’t get it – how can someone fulfill the law on your behalf? Isn’t that contrary to the intent of the law – whether Jewish law or a constitution comparison? Can someone fulfill the constitution? Yes, but only in the sense of living according to it – which means ‘fulfillment’ is interpreted as ‘keeping in line with’…not in the sense it can be fulfilled – like prophecies.


27 thoughts on “Challenge: Fulfilling the Law…huh?

  1. Jesus didn’t do away with the law. The law still exists. He paid the price of our failure (past, present and future) to adhere to the law. The Jewish priests offered blood sacrifices to atone for their sins; Jesus served as the ultimate sacrifice to cover all human sins.

    In the sense that Jesus fulfilled the law, this seems to me more that he restored the balance that was destroyed by the sin in Eden. By one man the convenant between God and humans was broken and through one man, Jesus, it was restored.

    When it comes to Jesus’ atoning sacrifice, I am forced to mix metaphors, as there is no direct earthly correlation I have yet come up with. And that mixed metaphor is this:

    We are able to avoid punishment for the sins that we deserve punishment for because Jesus is giving us access to his perfect credit rating.

    I know, rough and awkward. But the fact is that Jesus does have perfect credit and he co-signs our souls, in essence.

    Now, as for how Jews view the law, I get most of my knowledge of Judaism from the Old Testament books, so I’m limited here. And there are many different levels of Jewish adherence. A reform Jew and an orthodox Jew will, of course, have vastly different interpretations.

    But nothing about the laws, whether the 10 commandments or the 613 laws in total, suggests to me that God just offered them up as friendly suggestions. He seemed pretty freaking serious about them.

    As to why he would set up such an unachievable goal? Because I frankly do believe it was meant to show us that just as Adam and Eve couldn’t follow just one simple law, so too are we unable to follow laws that impact almost every moment of our day and every aspect of our lives. We are unable…or perhaps more accurately, unwilling…to be one with God and in line with God’s will. That is the taint on us. It’s why Jesus railed against some of his detractors and noted that they were not the children of Abraham but the children of Satan.

    I also find it interesting that the immense legalism was established not at the beginning of God’s dealing with humans but much later. Abraham didn’t have all those laws to follow. His was the first covenant with God, and it was a simple one, based mostly on faith.

    It is as people continue to show over and over again that they will not follow God, but instead plea for his aid and then turn away again, that God lays the hammer down.

    Why? It couldn’t be to enforce obedience, really, as humans had already shown their unwillingness to be God’s children many times before with fewer rules.

    It was, I think, to be a slap in our face to wake us up to our disobedience…and it was to set the very high bar that Jesus had to meet in order to be an acceptable sacrifice on our behalfs.

    Now, I’ve been rambling a bit, and I’m not as focused as I’d like to be, since I’m really having a pretty rotten time of life right now…but I did want to offer my take on things since I’m partly responsible for all this.

  2. Excellent points, Deacon! You’re not alone in being in the midst of a pretty rotten time right now.

    Jason, ask yourself this question, If I break a commandment of God, what’s my punishment? What does Exodus 20 say? Nothing. Why? Because there is only one punishment for disobedience to God, and it’s stated clearly in Genesis 3…death. You will surely DIE.

    But, oops, we all have broken the 10 Commandments. In fact, we’ve broken every one of them! So how do we keep from dying?

    A solution is offered in Numbers 21:8. “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Make a snake and put it on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live’.” (NIV)

    That is just one of the countless images of Christ in the Jewish Old Testament. As Deacon Blue so eloquently said, He lends us His perfect credit rating. Jesus is the full expression of God’s grace; the fulfilment of the Law.

  3. long post, but i swear it’s worth it!

    I’m taking a class in Paul, a dude i never had much respect or patience for, and i’m going through a conversion. i’m really coming to like Paul.

    yes, i said it. the man who is prolly the biggest source of supersessionist theology i’m starting to like, and not only that, really LIKE a lot of what he has to say. but let’s get somethings straight. Paul’s line of thought does not center on the notion that God requires a sacrifice in order to redeem humanity. Paul’s message is that Jesus fulfills the law and followers of Christ can do this as well by living in a mystical experience IN Christ (Gal 3:26-27, 1 Cor 10:17, Rom 6:13, Phil 2:13). this union is not in isolation from the world, as later monastics would have us believe, but found in the strength to engage daily in the VERY nonmystical.

    this then turns the idea of justification by grace alone on it’s ear as traditionally understood. plus i’d like to point out that this is more of Luther talking about Paul than Paul talking about Paul. Paul believes the juridical concept of justification (Rom 1-4) and the participatory concept of the mystical union through baptism in Christ (Rom 5-8) merge these two traditionally unrelated concepts into one course of action.

    so what does this have to do with law? Paul understood his commision to bring a law-free gospel to the gentiles. Paul never says he gave up the law nor does Jesus change it. He does say “Christ is the end of the law” (Rom 10:4) but in literary context means that Christ is the GOAL not the termination. This becomes apparent in Paul’s theology as he repeatedly talks about how those who are lead and empowered by the spirit fulfill the law although they might never have heard, consulted with or deliberately obeyed the commandments of Moses.

    this makes sense coming from a self-declared 13th apostle who never met Jesus while he was teaching (Gal 5:14).

    where it gets REALLY tricky is that Paul has little interest in depicting Judaism accurately. nor do we know what Paul’s conception of the Law is. We Christians get painted a picture of either a Judiasm as a soulless legalistic religion (ignoring the joy and passion of the pslams) or a insular, racist and nationalistic religion whose law functioned only as “identity markers” of God’s chosen.

    History is written by the winners… we don’t have the Jewish-Christian perspective as loud as we have the Gentile-perspective. we have mis-used and misinterpreted Judaism to the point where modern Jews throw up their hands and lament “Christianity and Judaism have nothing to do with each other!!”

    here’s the book that’s changed my view of paul and much of the scholarship presented comes from: Navigating Paul, an introduction to key theological concepts by Jouette M. Bassler. RAWK

  4. “Abraham didn’t have all those laws to follow. His was the first covenant with God, and it was a simple one, based mostly on faith.” Deacon Blue

    absolutely! Paul states that Christ is a return to Abraham and that through Abe, the whole world was blessed (in Letter to Galatians). ergo ALL people are blessed by God.

    that would make Paul a UNIVERSALIST! huh, all the fundies would pitch a fit if they realized that.

    and that brings us back to JJ’s question “are you one of those Christians who claim Hitler is in heaven?” a week or so ago… well JJ, it’s not up to me. I don’t think Hitler, though, is not a test of belief for me as it is a testament to God’s abounding and unfathomable grace and mysterious ways.

    I think we’ll all be surprised who gets into heaven. I prefer not to make those judgements with my limited intellect and leave it unto the ONE alone who is up to the task.

  5. well JJ, it’s not up to me
    That was my point exactly. We can’t make that claim. By the way, Christianity and Judaism have been a blessing to all nations, just as prophesied. That doesn’t say anything about the salvation of all people; then it would be universalism. Regards.

  6. Actually, according to Paul, it does! Abraham blessed all people and Jesus brings them into covenant in a blessed community where all are justified by faith. Paul is a universalist. helps if you read the whole post and not just what you agree with.

  7. Luke,
    This deconstruction of yours is OK as long as it’s a deconstruction through analyssi and not through bludgeoning. You do not arrive at universalism by taking “the world is blessed” and morphing it into “the world is saved”. Nor can you say “all are justified by faith” to mean everyone has faith in Christ, even to an extent.

  8. Paul’s message to the gentiles is that they fulfill the law without ever knowing what it is… by the same extent then, we can logically deduce that people who follow Christ’s message without ever hearing it, reading it, or being theologically trained in it also fulfill it and are saved.

    if this logic worked for Paul than it must work for us.

  9. “We are able to avoid punishment for the sins that we deserve punishment for because Jesus is giving us access to his perfect credit rating.” (deacon blue)

    I disagree and I will tell you why – a few problems.

    (a) If the punishment for sin is death – will you die? If you do die – then how have you avoided the punishment? Maybe in the future it means you will be resurrected (I don’t know) – but you still face the punishment nonetheless.

    (b) Jesus’ credit rating can’t do anything for us – since this is contrary to the teachings of Jesus and responsibility (and basic reality). Even if Jesus has a perfect credit score – it is his score – not ours. We gain nothing from his score – only the way to have one similar to it.

    No one gets rewarded for the acts of another – it’s irresponsible. Jesus’ first teaching (and one of his main themes) in Matthew is concerning ‘repentance’. Repentance is not something God can do on your behalf…true? That intent of repentance is personal responsibility and dealing with one’s actions. No one can do that for you. So even if Jesus keeps the law in perfection – that doesn’t make you a better person until you accept the responsibility of the teachings…only then does one’s credit rating start to improve.

    “But nothing about the laws, whether the 10 commandments or the 613 laws in total, suggests to me that God just offered them up as friendly suggestions. He seemed pretty freaking serious about them.” (deacon blue)

    I think they are very serious also…but seriousness and literalism are not the same thing. The fact is the Torah functions as the standard (like a constitution) – by which rabbinical experts will study and develop judgments for observance (oral law and talmud). The law functions to help develop a safe and secure society – which we all can respect.

    “As to why he would set up such an unachievable goal?” (deacon blue)

    Unacheivable goal? Who says anything about an unachievable goal? I am not sure where this teaching comes from. The teachings do not function in this manner and if they do – then Jesus is a very bad teacher. He is setting up goals that we cannot achieve – which makes him more the problem than the solution.

    “Abraham didn’t have all those laws to follow. His was the first covenant with God, and it was a simple one, based mostly on faith.” (deacon blue)

    I have thought about this comment and Luke’s response to this – and I am having a creative brain thought…maybe this was the point? Gentiles are accepted into the covenant of God – like Abraham – whom the first promise was made to. Although we do not accept circumcision of the flesh – we agree that the covenant is made in our hearts.

  10. “He lends us His perfect credit rating. Jesus is the full expression of God’s grace; the fulfilment of the Law” (Jim)

    I contend you cannot fulfill the law (Torah) – like you can fulfill prophecies (prophets). I think Jesus is the messiah – fulfilling prophecies of old in his time (and yet more to come). However, he did not fulfill the law in that same sense – since law is law – it is a standard for the betterment of society.

    Now if we see Jesus as someone that delves into the depths of law – and brings out the treasures from within – then maybe he is fulfilling it in the sense that is becoming more full (clear/well rounded/deeper). But you cannot fulfill “You shall have no other gods before/besides Me” – it is not a prophecy. There is nothing to ‘fulfill’ but only a standard to live by.

    Speaking of that commandment (#1 in the 10 commandments) – you and deacon both claim Jesus kept the law ‘perfectly’ – correct? If this is so, then how can Jesus be God? It’s in direct contradiction to commandment #1. Doesn’t that bring his credit score to nil?

  11. “and that brings us back to JJ’s question “are you one of those Christians who claim Hitler is in heaven?”” (Luke)

    I would say ‘no’ for the benefit of upholding a standard of some sort. If Hitler gets in – which is by no means my judgment to make – then we are playing on a slippery slope and I would say – what’s the use of having a faith or moral teachings? All can do what they please and still get in…and I cannot stand behind such flimsy reasoning.

    It fails to condemn the actions of Hitler and the redeem the deaths of the innocents under his regime. It basically puts them all on an ‘even playing playing field’ – when the people that lived through those horrors will plainly admit their were innocent people dying at the hands of someone ‘evil’ (if not a person – a system that was evil – run and percieved by human minds – which makes them culpable to me).

    My fear is that if we get into universalism that far and forgo looking at the actions of people – so as to not judge them as ‘good or bad’ – then faith becomes a useless thing (and God for that fact). Because all are getting in no matter their actions – but according to the actions of another – reward based on vicariousness. That’s a very weird reward system when you think about it – and no one in their right mind would use it – and we think God is?

  12. “if this logic worked for Paul than it must work for us.” (Luke)

    I agree with the majority of what you write – but I think Christianity uses Paul in ways even he did not intend – which makes him tough to read at times. There are many versions of what he is saying out there – and this has caused confusion within this faith for a few centuries. God may not be the author of confusion – but Paul is at the centre of many skewed views in Christianity – and universalism is one of them.

    Paul was a universalist in the sense all could be redeemed. But if we have Paul saying Jesus’ death acted as some sort of redemption for all – regardless of their behavior/actions – then I am not sure Paul is being interpreted accurately. Paul also seemed to believe people would be judged according to their deeds – not according to Jesus’ deeds:

    Romans 2:5-7 “But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who WILL RENDER TO EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life;”

    2 Corinthians 5:10 “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”

    Paul firmly believed in the idea of people answering for their deeds/actions to God. Nowhere in those 2 passages is their any letting off of the hook the actions of people – people will answer to God for their actions (there really is no other way to read those statements of Paul). This is an idea taken straight from his Jewish roots – an idea still present in Judaism – people are responsible for their actions.

    Jesus’ sacrifice – for whatever reason – has become the catch-phrase for irresponsible Christianity (in my personal opinion). Christians, in some weird way, can do whatever they want (by logical reasoning) if they do not have to answer for their actions. Jesus takes the penalty for your actions, Jesus has forgiven you (past, present, and future sins), Jesus sacrifice is somehow vicariously attributed to your record.

    Heck, I know someone that was involved in a murder (about 8 years ago) – a young person that I attended a pentecostal church with (dated a friend of mine) – who very well may have thought this way. I know handfuls of Christians that are basically schizophrenic in their behavior – they believe they will be forgiven for anything anyways – so they act like maniacs and saints all in one. But that’s what interpretations of Paul will do for some communities.

    I just don’t think Paul is read correctly in my personal opinion. I think he advocates ideas concerning the inclusion of the Gentiles into God’s plan – maybe hearkening back to Abraham (and joining that promise)…but they are not required to keep Jewish law (yet they are required to keep Jewish standards/ethics – as is evidenced in Paul’s teachings).

  13. SocietyVs,

    I completely understand where you’re coming from with your responses, but check this:

    The Jewish priests absolved the people of their sins through blood sacrifices, right? This was a system set in place by God, it seems. A strange notion that a sacrifice of blood could cleanse anyone, but it is a model set up for absolution.

    So why is it so strange that a perfectly obedient person without the stain of Adam on him, would be able to serve as an ultimate sacrifice?

    I’m not saying that Jesus or God absolve us of responsibility. We do answer for our actions. I don’t think that salvation necessarily means that we don’t pay some kind of price, whether here on Earth or afterward.

    As for the penalty of sin being death, let’s realize that was a sentiment first expressed to Adam and Eve. They didn’t drop dead, did they? In fact, I think that was what drove a wedge between Adam and God. Adam saw his wife still standing there after disobeying God’s rule.

    Death isn’t always a physical thing. Separation from God is a form of death in itself. Damnation after this world is a form of death beyond anytning physical.

    Just a few thoughts.

  14. ” agree with the majority of what you write – but I think Christianity uses Paul in ways even he did not intend – which makes him tough to read at times. ” -SVS

    absolutely! i use to HATE Paul with a passion… now I like Paul but dislike MUCH of the interepretation of Paul out there… he’s SO easy to misuse and fit into the very thing Paul was speaking about. i’m coming to an understanding of how to teach paul but this is a work in progress.

    “My fear is that if we get into universalism that far and forgo looking at the actions of people ” -SVS

    yes again! i completely agree here… this is a cheap universalism at work and a vast misunderstanding of what Paul sets up in his letters and Origen talks about later on. but you’re right on that and I don’t believe Hitler is in heaven IMO, however if I get up to the pearly gates, I won’t be surprised to see him… why? Because God never works exactly how i think God will work. i WANT Hitler to be burning up and in eternal agony because i’ve seen what he did, but that is my human need for vegence coming through. God may have other things in mind.

    so we can stand up to hitler, decry his actions. we can continue to speak truth to power and make sure that the ghosts of the past will not return to haunt the future and even go so far as to say that this dude was prolly the most evil dude ever to walk the face of the earth. however, when it comes to passing judgement on if he’s up or down… there i stop short. i won’t let my ego trick itself into thinking it can discern who gets in and who is out. i can only speak to the action, the after-life is hypothetical.

    “Jesus’ sacrifice – for whatever reason – has become the catch-phrase for irresponsible Christianity (in my personal opinion).” -SVS

    yes! i completely agree here! anytime i hear “blood of Jesus” or washed in his blood, i just cringe and shut down and stop listening. i’m right with you when you said “No one gets rewarded for the acts of another – it’s irresponsible.” and i look to get that made into a tattoo! rawk!

  15. Societyvs, Luke, and Deacon

    I have been reading your thoughts on God and judgement and am curious, do any of you not see that we have direct consequence to our actions. Not only does our physiology show the effects of our behaviours, but so does our connections to other humans. It seems the format of this world has consequence/punishment already wired into it. Now after we die physically there may even be more consequence to our actions, after all forever and ever is a long time. Yet Im still wondering, how, if you guys are so called Christians then why are there reference to some individuals who you feel dont deserve forgiveness? Whats up with that? Its easy to judge, much harder to walk a mile in another persons shoes.

  16. For my part, I’ve not highlighted anyone I consider unworthy of forgiveness. I think Satan himself is worthy of forgiveness…if he truly realizes he is wrong and in repentant.

    And I do agree, John T., that they are all sorts of repercussions to sin and consequences of it, many of them in this world. I alluded to that generally in my last post but with examples as you did.

    I try to be keenly aware of the consquences on my sin on others (TRY…I don’t always succeed obviously) because that is the best motivation for me to curb my bad decisions.

  17. Luke writes—absolutely! i use to HATE Paul with a passion… now I like Paul but dislike MUCH of the interepretation of Paul out there… he’s SO easy to misuse and fit into the very thing Paul was speaking about. i’m coming to an understanding of how to teach paul but this is a work in progress.

    Hmmm, you’re in seminary – LTS – right? Are you there to reform the Bible or to learn it? There is a weighty attitude to your “interpretations”. Do you really think you know more than the early church fathers who canonized Paul’s writings?

  18. Heres another take on St. Paul

    The idea that divine justice requires forgiveness accords very well with the New Testament analogy between God and a loving parent. It also illuminates in an intriguing way the nature of Gods opposition to sin. As the Augustinians see it, God opposes sin enough to punish it, but not enough to destroy it altogether; instead of destroying sin altogether, he merely confines it to a specially prepeared region of his creation, know as hell, where he keeps it alive for an eternity. According to our alternative picture, however, God forgives sin for this very reason: In no other way could he oppose it with his entire being. For as the St. Paul saw so clearly, our specific sins express a sinful condition, and the latter is a form of spiritual death; it is simply our condition of being separated or estranged or alienated from God and from each other. So the opposite of a sinful condition is a state of reconciliation; and if that is so, then God cannot be against sin, cannot oppose it with his entire being, unless he is for reconciliation. And he can hardly be for reconciliation unless he is prepared to forgive others even as he has commanded us to forgive them. Indeed, if God should refuse to forgive someone, as is not even possivle given his loving nature, he would then separate himself from this person; and that is the very essence of sin as Paul himself understood it.

    Thomas Talbott …The inescapable Love of God

  19. “So the opposite of a sinful condition is a state of reconciliation” (Talbot)

    I agree here. The key aspects of sin seem to be concerning the relationships between people – and the damage that occurs there…so much so the greatest commandment Jesus gave (and his summation of the law and prophets) is in direct relation with how we treat others (and ourself). I believe God is in the business of reconciliation as a key component of Jesus’ teachings seem to point out.

    As for forgiveness, most people are forgiveable – and we can only forgive if we are involved in the offense in some way. I am a huge fan of the process of forgiveness in its ability to make on more whole (healthy).

    Something about what Hitler did effects us in some strange way – and I cannot forgive what that regime did (as it was not done directly to me – but also it was so horrible as to only be worthy of condemnation). If we forgive without repentance being shown – then we let this facist regime off the hook for it’s actions (which were never truly repented of and nor can you truly repent of – there is no way to give over 6 million innocent lives back). In some ways forgiveness seems to mean we ‘forget’ what happened there – and that’s not something I am willing to do.

    I know it seems callous but let’s all be reasonable about what really happened there. I am not sure a single one of us when we think of the horrors of the Nazi regime is willing to quite forget that – or even un-condemn what happened there. If we cannot uncondemn what happened there (make it right again) – then we have little to no choice but to keep it in the condemnable category. I keep it it in the condemnable category personally every time I think of the incidents that occured there – so much so – I hope neo-nazism disappears from this planet to never appear again.

    I also think this way about other ideologies – like the Klu Klux Klan or what happened in Rwanda. We have to remember people committed these atrocities and made them happen – these ideas just do not happen out of thin air – people go about coordinating them and making them happen. Can we forgive them also? I am not sure I would. Unless someone – usually individual in nature – leaves and dedicates his life to stopping that same thing they once supported.

    I am willing to give people a chance – but as I look back into history and read of horrible atrocities and the people that thought they were doing right by humanity – like Nazi’s and the KKK – I stand opposed to them. Call this my line in the stand – but I cannot even tacitly support such extreme views. We can talk about forgiveness – but I will require some serious proof from peoplpe in such movements – as they have proven themselves quite untrustworthy – to criminally insane.

  20. JB

    The thing is, where do you draw the line on judgement. Hitler couldnt do what he did without help from not only his cronies, but also for good people to look the other way. Churchill talked about Germany from the early 30s on, yet no one lifted a finger to stop them. We Canadians turned away boatloads of Jews. The Swiss housed all the wealth the Nazis captured. The list goes on and on. Hitler is so convient because he was the mouthpiece, do you honestly think he was the only one pulling the strings? So I ask my question again, Where do we draw the line?

  21. “Hitler is so convient because he was the mouthpiece, do you honestly think he was the only one pulling the strings? So I ask my question again, Where do we draw the line?” (John)

    I wouldn’t label Hitler merely a mouthpiece personally – he was way more than that – he was the brains behind the Facism movement and the 3rd Reich – to the point he made all the decisions concerning the direction of that gov’t – including the Holocaust. He was a mouthpiece – but he also helped decide and write (Mein Kampf) his theories into practice.

    I guess I would say that I wouldn’t draw the line merely at Hitler – but with the whole movement in and of itself – and those involved in making decisions to support that type of idea. Not that a situation like this has really ever confronted me on such a large scale – but on lower levels these types of things have to be sifted through also.

    For example, I would not support policies of racism in the workplace. I would also not support actions that help drive poor people out of their homes for the sake of making more money. On a local level – these types of things we can do.

    As for the line I draw in the sand, I think people that committ actions that hurt others is where I really draw the actual line (as to what i will support and not support). I am not big on sins of omission and that whole idea – I find it placing blame when there is nothing for the person to be responsible about (or undue guilt for not doing something they have little to no direct action in). Your example of Canada would fall into the category – since the Nazi’s actual behavior is the real problem in the scenario.

    I guess I more or less condemn ideas and movements – but in some strange way people are involved and shoud be held to the upmost of the law in my opinion – it’s a very strange thing in all honesty.

    If tommorrow Canada started marching Aboriginal people into concentration camps I would denounce the PM straight out and his cabinet as the one’s making the decisions…the foot soldiers are following un-ethical orders also – so they are also culpable in my opinion – since they are following orders against the ethical treatment of humanity. But in those situations someone has to be denounced for the benefit of those suffering. We can’t just say – the PM was just a mouthpiece – that’s actually not accurate – they sign off on everything.

    It’s strange – but this is why we have laws in the first place – to protect all in society – and once things start to go against that – I think we have to speak out for the oppressed.

    I thank God for the Torah – for a standard by which i can bounce such ideas off (personally) and weigh them in light of ethical treatment.

  22. Hmmm, you’re in seminary – LTS – right? Are you there to reform the Bible or to learn it? There is a weighty attitude to your “interpretations”. Do you really think you know more than the early church fathers who canonized Paul’s writings? -JJ

    i’m here to learn the bible, and learn i have! i didn’t like paul one bit and now i really really enjoy the readings. i am also reading those same church fathers who canonized Paul and i’m floored at their works. too. justin martyr, origen, cyphus, all amazing writters who were really ahead of their time.

    what do you mean by “weighty attitude”?

  23. John T,

    about judgement, for me the world is defined by relationships and sin is anything that harms a relationship. we are all connected in this world and in the words of MLK JR “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

    so i strive to work against injustice… campaign for darfur, donate to heffer project, feed the homless here in Lancaster, all sorts of stuff. i see the systems in place that hold people down. i see people harming others to get ahead… i will work to end that in the here and now… but what happens on the other side of the veil is all speculation.

    plus focusing on the wound and what caused it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. it’s good to know what caused it so it doesn’t happen again but let’s focus on the healing aspect. those pieces won’t pick themselves up.

  24. Paula Fredriksen wrote in “From Jesus to Christ” the following:

    “In the literature where Judaism speaks for itself, Israel’s election, embodied in the giving of the Torah, is viewed as God’s gracious gift. Obedience to the Torah is the proper response to the gift of the Torah, but it does not earn salvation as such. “Election and ultimately salvation cannot be earned, but depend on God’s grace” and mercy.

    She wrote that in response to the popular idea that Paul found Judaism to be full of self-righteousness and that it taught man could earn salvation through his good works — aka, legalism.

    I don’t think we often see in Christian circles gratitude for the Torah itself. Rather, we see gratitude that no one is expected to “fufill” the Torah, because Jesus did that for us. How often do we see a Christian say “I obey the Torah because I’m grateful to have it?”

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