The Law, Condemnation, and Freedom

Thus we all always stand accused by it, Christian or no. You can go and meditate on it as much as you wish.” (Brigitte)

The law ‘always condemns’…I guess that makes sense – in some odd way – since the laws of the land stand to condemn and confirm – always. One could also say the law, depending on one’s view of it – also ‘always confirms’.

My point concerning the law of God (not the law of Moses or men) is that we have a duality in Christianity concerning what the ‘law’ actually meant to Judaism and how we use it.

On one hand, we have King David making praises to the law in his songs/psalms – the same person that stood accused by it for his actions of adultery and betryal (leading to a man’s death – isn’t that 1st degree murder in a way?). Yet, he writes a Psalm about the same law – saying ‘he loves it!’.

The condemnation is just – it’s the law being the law – penalty for one’s actions…this David could turn around after being found guilty by the ‘law’ – paying his price – and still praising it for the glory of the land of Israel (of which he was king – grew under his borders and what have you – damn right’s he was thankful!).

But in our faith we only see some religious aspect of the law – and that’s about it – and we take some of Paul’s reasoning…too far? The law still exists – exactly as predicted by Jesus in Matt 5 – why make that prediction exactly because who cares – the law stands only to condemn us?

But I get it in a way – the law does condemn us – it finds us guilty of our wrong-doings (that’s fair – so does USA and Canadian law – and we should not only be thankful it exists – thankful it allows us freedoms). But even in the guilt-finding there is equality – justice – equal to all…no exemptions (unless you have money – lol) – we come before the law punished equally for similar crimes. IN this sense the law is also ‘good’…as Christians we hate to admit this – but it’s very true.

The law finds us guilty of the things ‘we do’ to others or break in the name of disrupting community. This is good – or else we would not have direction for our lives and our children’s lives as to ‘ethics’. The law may set out the conditions of ‘guilt’ but also the conditions of ‘atonement’ (making right our wrongs against others). I see the good in having and abiding by the ‘law’…yes…as a Christian person!

The law condemns but it also sets out the conditions for which to govern our society, our freedoms, our foundational ethics, etc…how is it the law ‘always condemns’? It doesn’t…it also free’s.

***Comment taken from Old Adam – Brotherly Advice

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48 thoughts on “The Law, Condemnation, and Freedom

  1. My priest refers to the law as a cast; a simple analogy but one that I believe is of some benefit. God gives us this cast in love so that we don’t further injure ourselves, but we don’t look at the cast as fullness. Communion with God is fullness and it is only in this communion that we can truly be healed.

  2. “Communion with God is fullness and it is only in this communion that we can truly be healed” (Adam)

    I actually like pieces of that analogy – never heard that before.

    Is not the law communion with God (in a sense) – like teachings from the gospels – as directives directly from God? The problem is God gave the law – according to the biblical record about the event – even etched them with His fingertips…so this law comes directly from the ‘hands of God’ (if we are literalists). Is this true?

    Christians, in general, act as if this is not the case – the Mt Sinai scenario is played down by the teachings of Paul somehow – and the law is relegated to some position of infamy; demeaned for the sake of Gentile inclusion. yet if we demean the law in any single small way (even with an iota of what we say) then we also demean God – the creator of the document (according to the biblical record).

    The law was set out to direct and guide a community coming from nothing (ie: Egypt) into something (ie: Canaan)…to develop a nation of people – under God (seems to be the intent). As Christians we take the law to mean something a lot different – from Paul’s writings mostly – and usually we make the law look ‘bad’ in comparison. Yet intent of the law seems to be about the establishment of a society – complete with laws and freedoms for the people.

    Christianity has a fetish for making the law look like something that brings bondage or is a curse or is a taskmaster (or whatever negative derivative we can use). I am not convinced the law is the actual problem – but the law exists because humans are the problem (our ability to make unknown situations bad to worse – we needed the guidance).

    So I have very little problem with the law – it functions as the law of our countries here in Canada or America. The only people who need to worry are those on the wrong side of the law in it’s continual breaking of it so as to harm society. That Jewish law functioned the same way – now it has kind of changed a bit – but it’s still used quite rigorously in most Jewish communities (not on a gov’t level but on a cultural one).

  3. The law is good. It keeps us from having chaos rule the day.

    It keeps us and our families sake and gives us a much better life.

    And it also exposes our unrighteousness before God and creates in us humility and repentance. In that sense, it always accuses us, it always condemns us. But out of that condemnation comes the pardon from a gracious and merciful God, spoken from the cross, “Father forgive them….”

  4. The law can do more than one thing at a time.

    But even while evil behavior may be curbed and while you may go out and do something good, it still accuses you, because matters are not just external, but also internal.

    And this accusation is also good, because it drives us to beg God’s mercy. And God’s mercy is where it’s at. That’s where you want to be, where you want to end up: in the hands of your merciful God and Father, via the mediator of Christ and his passion.

  5. The law must be kept perfectly for righteousness sake, Brigitte, you are correct.

    Our not keeping it the way it was intended does produce sorrow and humility and a need to repent.

    Thanks be to God that Jesus has has paid the price for us. He is our righteousness. he is the fulfillment of the law for us.

    We still have to pay a price in the here and now. But our righteousness beore God is assured in Christ Jesus.

  6. Our Lord, Jesus Christ taught us that.

    “You must be perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect.”

    I know you don’t believe that, and that is ok by me. I was speaking to those who also trust what is written in the New Teastament.

  7. My understanding, though, is that the Law/Torah only applied to those who had chosen to follow it — and thus, the Jews only. It was never meant to be applied to a Gentile unless the Gentile converted. So how can someone be condemned/accused by something that doesn’t apply to them in the first place?

    And another note with keeping the law perfectly — the problem as I understand it is that Jesus couldn’t have meant ‘perfect’ the way we define perfect today, such as without a flaw or default. There wasn’t any such word or concept in the original language that he wouldv’e spoken: Aramaic. The Greek word used there “teleios,’ which is along the lines of being mature or complete.

  8. The “law” is used in different ways. Christians are not under OT laws except everyone is under the moral law. The moral law is known by people by God’s writing it on their hearts, also summarized in the Decalogue.

    The moral law is not kept perfectly by anyone and the Jews of Jesus’ day made many excuses for themselves. Read Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5,6,7. We are all accused by the law and justly so. We are also all called to repent and believe the Good News that Christ died for Our sins, the sins of the entire world.

  9. Brigitte,

    I thought about what I wrote earlier, but had to run out and didn’t get a chance to amend until now.

    And you have reminded me of what I wanted to amend.

    Christ Jesus’ dearth was for the WHOLE WORLD and EVERYONE IN IT!

    Do we believe it…or not? That’s the question and accesss point.

  10. “Where in Torah does it say the law must be kept perfectly? Chapter and verse please” (Yael)

    Nowhere – and that’s a fact. Which is why I find it rather strange Christianity can latch onto an idea that is neither contained nor defended throught 39 books of the Tanakh. Lack of evidence if u ask me would be a pre-cursor to dropping that case.

    “Our Lord, Jesus Christ taught us that. You must be perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect.” (Adam and Jesus)

    (a) It’s Jesus the Christ (a title – like Lord/Master) – Christ is actually not part of Jesus’ real name – when I read ‘Our Lord Jesus Christ’ it seems like a title (Lord), a first name (Jesus), and then a last name (Christ)…just pointing that out for no good reason.

    (b) As per perfection, OSS’ point is accurate “The Greek word used there “teleios,’ which is along the lines of being mature or complete”. Perfection, as an idea of keeping the law, has never existed except from the insides of Christian doctrines – and that on the basis of using the sermon on the mount as an ‘unattainable goal’ (which I think is definitely not the case).

    “My understanding, though, is that the Law/Torah only applied to those who had chosen to follow it — and thus, the Jews only” (OSS)

    I agree. It was a ‘covenant’ (which is what we call marriage – a contract kinda) – and can only apply to those entering into the ‘agreement’. Heck, this is a law system we are talking about here. It’s kinda comparable to citizenship in a country really.

    “The “law” is used in different ways. Christians are not under OT laws except everyone is under the moral law” (Brigitte)

    I think everyone has a moral ethic within them – that if they stray from it – bothers them to move back to that core (absolutely unproveable – but I can dig it as an idea). And yes, the law is used in a variety of ways – question is – do Christians have a well rounded understanding of the Torah when we do little study in it when Paul is used as the lens to decipher what is there? I think, and this is logical and honest, no.

    “The moral law is not kept perfectly by anyone and the Jews of Jesus’ day made many excuses for themselves. Read Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5,6,7” (Brigitte)

    The same law where Jesus – and this is verbatim from what is written, says “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill” (Matt 5:17). Okay, Jesus will not do away with the law – his own words – but wants to fulfill them (ie: do them). Now this is the same person all Christ-ians are calling Lord and Messiah – and here’s a slogan ‘the student is no better than their teacher’…should we not have the same homage to the Law/Prophets (Tanakh) Jesus did?

    Next verse he claims ‘not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished’ (v.18). My question hinges on this – is the whole law and prophets fulfilled? I think what is meant here is did Jesus fulfill all the prophecies from the law or prophets? Any honest believer in the Messiahship of Jesus has to say ‘no’ – because of the obvious ‘I don’t see the end of war and violence’ thing. So…then by that I have to say – the law still exists!

    “Christ Jesus’ dearth was for the WHOLE WORLD and EVERYONE IN IT! Do we believe it…or not? That’s the question and accesss point.” (Steve)

    Well, not if we look at that sacrifice as a ‘covenantal one’ – then only the people that accept that covenant can willingly participate in that sacrifice. It could be for the whole universe but if someone does not willingly accept the covenant/contractual committment – I am not sure they are included…they bare no responsibility to it.

    The covenant could be ‘living like Jesus’ – which includes the sacrificial lifestyle that accompanies that (Matt 10:38 – “anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me”). Now even if the sacrifice is available to all and for all – all is a generic term – which is not literally ‘everyone is covered’ (although they can be – they have enter a committment of some sort to the honor of that sacrifice). Universalism forgots one small thing – this is a covenant and is based on law (Torahnic ideals).

    To me, the committment in our faith is quite simple really – follow the teachings of Jesus and that’s about it. Which also extends to many people because who draws the line on who is doing the will of God (which was Jesus main goal in his teachings)? It only becomes obvious who ‘is not’ and ‘who is’ based on one’s actions alone and their intentions towards others (ie: what we call sin).

    But the road back is as easy as one word/action – repentance. So the contract is available to all (in my mind) to as many people committ their lives to living good and having the ability to be the best human they can be (which is what their original creation is all about).

    Damn Christianity has many sidewinding roads.

  11. The Christian religion(s) has/have nothing to do with anyone but Christians. That Christians choose to beiieve something is their business but there is nothing in Torah that tells us that a human sacrifice will atone for our sins. Torah instead teaches that the law, Torah, is more valuable than gold, that keeping it gives life, that it is not hard to keep, that our covenant is eternal and will not be set aside, ever.

    Brigitte,
    The NT slanders Jews constantly. Please point out to me ONE good thing said about any Jew who disagreed with Jesus and did not follow after Jesus, just one. When a person is starting a new religion the most natural tendency is to demonize what came before them. Nothing new in the world. Christianity is no different than any other religion; meaningful to its adherents but nothing great to the rest of us.

    And why out of all of Torah do you claim ‘The 10 sayings’ for yourself, decalogue is not a Hebrew word but is instead just another layer of interpretation impossed on our texts, while ignoring all the rest? If all of the law is done away with, why don’t you do away with it all? Surely it is of as little value as the rest?

    Moving on….

    OSS is correct. Tanakh never gets on anyone other than Jews to keep Torah. The prophets, who were quite given to extremism, make many statements about other Nations but those statements do not say anything about the nations neglecting to follow God’s commands, only Jews. If someone chose to attach themselves to us, they were required to live like us, otherwise no. They were free to worship their own gods in their own way so long as they did not oppress God’s people, the Jews.

    Why was the land desolate? They turned to the service of other gods and worshiped the, gods whom they had not experienced and whom God had not allotted to them. (Deut 29:25)

    You saw no shape, only a voice, don’t make an image in the form of a man or a woman, beast, birds, creeping things, fish, sun, moon, stars, heavenly host (Deut 4:15-16). These Adonai your God allotted to other peoples everywhere under heaven, but you Adonai took and brought out of Egypt, that iron blast furnace, to be God’s very own people, as is now the case. (Deut 4:19)

    My answer to believing in Jesus, “If there appears among you a prophet or a dream-diviner and he gives you a sign or protent, saying, ‘Let us follow and worship another god’ – whom you have not experienced – even if the sign or portent that he named to you comes true, do not heed the words of that prophet or that dream-diviner. For Adonai your God is testing you to see whether you really love Adonai your God with all your heart and soul. Follow none but Adonai your God, revere none but Adonai; observe Adonai’s commandments alone, and heed only Adonai’s orders; worship none but Adonai, and hold fast to Adonai. As for that prophet or dream-diviner, he shall be put to death; for he urged disloyalty to Adonai your God….to make you stray from the path that Adonai your God commanded you to follow. Thus shall you sweep out evil from your midst. (Deuteronomy13: 2-6)

    No thanks. Jesus was put to death as he should have been and is of no interest to me anymore.

    So, here is something that puzzles me. I’ve been told that it is required that one keep Torah perfectly because God is too pure to be around any sin. I’ve also been told Jesus is a friend of sinners and the stories have him hanging around with all the ‘worst’ sinners. And then I’ve been told Jesus was God in human form, that even though it seems like God is being split apart, God is still one.

    So, God can’t have any sin even come close to God yet God loves hanging around with sinners, is their best pal? God can’t be around sin yet God is around sin constantly? And I’m supposed to believe God is so horrified by us Jews not perfectly following Torah? Why? (Or is God only horrified by Jews?) According to NT stories God hated the ones who tried to follow Torah and loved the ones who made little or no attempt to follow it at all! So what’s the big deal that we mess up now and then? God will like us better if we do, correct?

    Not that any of this matters to me, I’ll stick to being a Jew who follows Judaism. If OSS is correct in her comment about the use of the word ‘perfect’, and I have no reason to think she is not, then not only does Torah not contain any requirement of perfection, but even the NT also doesn’t teach perfection as a requirment for the Torah observant.

    And I understand that Christians do not read Torah in the same way we read it, to them it has been superceeded by their own text. No big deal. They can add to whatever they choose. But, don’t try to force this addition onto Jews and don’t complain about Muslims and Mormons adding texts of their own. We all walk on different paths. It is only when some, and they’re found in at least all three of the supposed monotheistic religions, insist that others must abandon their unique paths and walk someone else’s that there are problems.

  12. “We were typing at the same time! I was obviously slower but hey, what do you expect. I’m getting old.” (Yael)

    Lol – we hit some of the same points – great minds…write alike (lol)

  13. Yael,

    when Messiah comes, what will he be like, and what will he do and what will he say?
    Would you recognize him if he stood before you?

    “Well done you good and faithful servant for keeping the Torah so well”–would that be it? Or what?

    In terms of Jesus criticizing “Jews”, that is a stupid complaint. Jesus was a Jew, Paul was a Jew, they were all Jews. Christians are willing to lay their lives down for a Jew, as he did for them.

  14. “when Messiah comes, what will he be like, and what will he do and what will he say?
    Would you recognize him if he stood before you?” (Brigitte)

    I think there is a wide difference between the ways Judaism and Christianity look at this idea of Messiah…for some it’s similar (a person), for some it’s a movement (changing of the ways of our times), and for some there is no such thing. There really is a vast majority of opinions on this messianic ideal within Judaism as compared to Christianity – which has basically one view (Jesus is the messiah).

    “In terms of Jesus criticizing “Jews”, that is a stupid complaint. Jesus was a Jew, Paul was a Jew, they were all Jews. Christians are willing to lay their lives down for a Jew, as he did for them.” (Brigitte)

    It’s not a ‘stupid’ complaint in all reality – I just think ‘stupid’ is a very bad choice of wording and kind of mean in a way. There is some basis for her ‘complaint’ – which I would say is a valid critique:

    (a) The NT uses some divisive language (on purpose) depending on when and where the letter/gospel was wriiten and to who. For instance, John (the gospel) uses the term ‘Jew(s)’ approximately 60+ times – compared to the 3 synoptics (Matt, Mark, Luke) which use the term a total of 16 times. Wonder why John would use that term 3x as much as all the other gospels combined (and likely more than the whole NT combined) – unless the person writing is trying to make a strong break from traditional Judaism and this Jesus movement? In that sense, we see divisive language being used.

    (b) John is the same book that demeans a lot of Jewish people – for example – the Jewish people (excluding the Jewish Jesus and his comrades) – get called ‘sons of their father the devil’ for not accepting the testimony of Jesus. Now whether we like that or not – this is what is written. John is chalk filled with the Judaic faith (or even people groups) looking ignorant to being called down. Matthew 23 – that sermonette on the Pharisee’s – also does a similar thing.

    (c) Anti-semitics are part of the Christian tradition – from the early church on. You can find many early church writers using very questionable language about Judaism and the Jewish people – right up to the point of them being enemies. Scourges have happened upon Jewish communities based on Christian writings or even by Christian groups themselves (with the help of the gov’t) in the past (most recent being the Nazi’s – who used Luther’s paper ‘on the Jews and their lies – 1543’ as part of their discourse).

    (d) Count the number of times we here anything positive about the Judaic faith from within the confines of our churches? And what we do hear is slanted from the perspective of gospels and letters that both inaccurately portray Judaism and slant the texts to create a division (which was intended). So in some sense, we are getting spoon-fed a pseudo reality of what Judaism is really like – and it’s Christian pseudonomy at it’s best – history being re-told from a Gentile version of a faith we actually know little about – outside some biblical texts.

    The gospels were written in historical times we do not understand – but we do have something similar: The Muslim problems of identity. On one hand we see the extremism of Islam in what is being branded ‘terrorists’ or ‘torturers”…on the other hand we have moderate Islam which is actually peaceful and moving towards integration with the West. Now what if the USA branded all groups defining themselves as Islam as ‘enemies of the state’? What if some Sunni’s not Shi’ites decided ‘that’s not us’ and with their messianic version of Islam branded a new identity – for seperation reasons? We might not recognize their religion (at first) but we would not call it an ‘enemy of the state’.

    Well this happened in early Israel (under Roman occupation). How on earth do we all think Jerusalem was sacked and sieged in AD 70? Then later on the revolution of Bar Kokhba (circa 98-117) – under Emperor Trajan. Messianic and revolutionary figures arose and contended for the land of Israel under these horrible Emperors and their prohibitions – and rulership. Christianity is right in the midst of these political struggles with religious overtones to them. So what did they do? They differentiated themselves from the group causing the stir.

    Another reason given for this ‘divisionary language’ is contention for the hearts and minds of Jewish people – a battle Christianity lost. The Christians needed to cause a strong division between the faiths so as to (a) develop their own following and (b) convince Jewish people they were the ‘way’. Well they suceeded in the differentiation of the faiths but never won Judaism over – instead we see them being kicked out of synagogues from place to place. From that point on – the division has stuck (and the language to boot).

    What I find funny – from Acts 15 approx – is we see a Judaism and Christianity that was actually ‘friends’. They eventually seperated paths for good – in a style similar to that of the Lubavitcher Rebbe (acclaimed to be the messiah) ordeal in Orthodox Judaism (to this day). The seperation may be as easy as something as difference of beliefs…either way (war, converts, or beliefs) the difference stuck and the use of divisive language has also.

  15. Brigitte,
    Stupid complaint? I did not make a complaint. I merely asked you to point out to me ONE instance where Jews who did not agree with Jesus are spoken of positively in the NT. How is that a complaint?

    Where does Torah teach of any messiah that I should be so concerned about one? In Jewish tradition messiah is a military leader. Why would he say anything to me and why would I care what he said if he did?

  16. Oh, I forgot something.

    History has shown over and over how many wonderful Christians will lay down Jewish lives in the name of Jesus. Oh wait, that wasn’t what you claimed. Never mind.

    Jason,
    You bet!

  17. Yael and Society are already saying what I would’ve said about the concept of being condemned by the law, so I won’t repeat.

    The things I do find interesting – in looking at the Gospels and how they understand the concept of “good news.” Where do we see the crowds thanking Jesus for showing up to take the punishment they deserve under the law? Where do we see the crowds terrified because they can’t measure up to the law, or can’t follow it perfectly? Even in the Sermon on the Mount — we see a crowd that is astonished, but we don’t see a crowd begging to know how to escape judgment.

    As a tangent, we also see in the Sermon on the Mount that if one holds anger in one’s heart, one is the same as a murderer. Or if one looks lustfully at a woman, one has already committed adultery. If the thought and deed are essentially the same thing in the eyes of God, does this work in reverse? If I look upon a starving man with compassion and yet walk on, does that hold the same weight as physically offering to feed him? If I come across person A murdering person B, and think that stopping person A would be a great idea and yet don’t do anything to physically halt the murder, does thinking carry the same weight as doing in that situation?

  18. Brigitte,

    Jesus was criticizing “religious” people who kept the law outwardly but had no humility before the law.

    They thiught they had it going on because they were crossing all the t’s and dotting all the i’s but they had no love in their hearts and no need of forgiveness.

    That is why Jesus re-presented the law in such a hard way in the sermon on the mount. To leave no one standing. To make it clear that no one will be justified in the sight of the law. For our sinful hearts expose and condemn us.

    So…what then? Despair? No. Turn to Christ Jesus. The true and perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world.

  19. Torah doesn’t teach despair but instead tells us that we can follow Torah since it’s not even that hard to follow. Never are we told it is impossible to follow Torah, not even once. What Torah does teach us is that human sacrifice is an abomination and that each person is responsible for atoning for their own sins.

    Why make it all sound so dire? Torah observance is actually a great way to live life.

  20. It would be dire, if there wasn’t a sacrifice made on our behalf.

    But there was. So now, we rejoice in our freedom!

    I thought that there needed to also be sacrifices made in the Jewish religion. I thought that the proper sacrifices for sin needed to be made in the Temple.

  21. Actually there were several ways to atone for sin, including just asking for forgiveness. Burning incense and paying a half-shekel also provided atonement as did offering grain. It is only in Deuteronomy where the Temple is the site for sacrifices. Before that, sacrifices would be offered wherever it was people lived.

    I have no clue how many animal sacrifices were actually offered since the requirement for animals was that they be without any defect or blemish, no cuts, scars or anything like that. Since I grew up on a farm, I can say with 100% certainty that there would be very few such animals on a farm except for newborn animals. Likely there would be none at all, but I leave open the possibility of perhaps finding one. And since the NT teaches that Jesus was beat up prior to his crucifixion, even if human sacrifice was allowed, which it wasn’t, he would not have been considered a suitable sacrifice since obviously he would have had quite a few blemishes.

    By the time of the prophets it was already taught that God wanted justice rather than sacrifice. Why go back to the old way when we were already told God didn’t care about those things anymore, if God ever did?

  22. I think the main thing with sin sacrifices is that they only covered unintentional sins. Since most of what we do wrong we do intentionally, sacrifices were not of any great value to begin with.

    OSS,
    You bring up good points. I saw the atheists on your blog talking about you soon joining them, but I hope you never do. The world of religion needs more people who question and think about things logically rather than less.

  23. There have been raised so many topics, here, I don’t know where to begin commenting. If we recall, the topic, I believe, was “Does the law always accuse?”

    Have we at all agreed that the law while being a good guide, also accuses us? That even while we may not commit adultery, we lust and do it in our hearts, and that is also sin before God? (that’s the only reason Sermon on the Mount got into this. That we ALL do it, including “religious” people, Jewish people, Christian people, any other people… –who might claim that they don’t.) Yes, no? Even the ten commandments tell us: “Do not covet… “, which is a matter of the heart and intention. We All must learn to say: ” I am a sinner.”

    When we look at Psalm 119, there are lots of different things to notice. We know that David broke the law and he was very sorry. So when he says: “You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed. Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees! Then I would not be put to shame.” Now, this could be just a pious wish, or he could be saying, I have got into trouble. We know that he also got into trouble.

    Also notice, that the “precepts are to be “fully obeyed”.

    Also, there is nothing wrong with meditating on the law. Luther puts the emphasis here on the “meditating”: “Secondly, you should meditate, that is, not only in your heart, but also externally, by actually repeating and comparing oral speech and literal words of the book, reading and rereading them with diligent attention and reflection, so that you may see what the Holy Spirit means by them. And take care that you do not grow weary or think that you have done enough when you have read, heard, and spoken them once or twice,m and that you then have complete understanding. You will never be a particularly good theologian if you do that, for you will be like untimely fruit which falls to the ground before it is half ripe. Thus you see in this same Psalm how David constantly boasts that he will talk, meditate, speak, sing, hear, read, by day and night and always, about nothing except God’s Word and commandments. for God will not give you his Spirit without the external Word; so take your cue from that. ” (The task of theology.)

    (Some might be surprised that 99.9999999 % of what Luther wrote was nothing nasty about Jews. His concerns were totally different.)

    The law does not have a place of “infamy”. Christianity does not have a “fetish” for making the law look like something that brings bondage (Society). The law is indeed not the problem. — It is we, ourselves who are the problem. (This is what it is to “walk humbly with your God.)

    Yael said: “Maybe the law accuses Christians because they feel guilt over not following it. It certainly does no such thing for us Jews.”
    This completely baffles me. What are you saying? Jews don’t feel guilty when they don’t follow the law? Or what?

    Yael said: “Where in Torah does it say the law must be kept perfectly? ”
    We just had Psalm 119:4,5–“You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed. Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees!”

    What kind of a law is it that you can niggle your way around or don’t have to feel guilty about breaking. What is that meditating on the law good for, if you can treat it according to your own understanding or preference, or convenience? I have no idea what you are saying when you are saying the law does not have to be kept fully or perfectly? How else can it be kept? Tell me!

    What kind of law is it where you can give yourself a bunch of loopholes? If the idea of keeping the law perfectly is not mentioned (which I think is untrue) in 39 books of Tanakh, then that would be because the idea is deemed to be understood. When you are given a law, you don’t fix it to your advantage or convenience.

    Mat. 5:17. Jesus did fulfill the law and the prophets. The only one who could or did. And in the essence of his sacrifice, it is not a blemished human sacrifice (he was beaten bloody, but he was blameless), but even more radically the sacrifice of the God/man, a sacrifice given by God himself, like Isaac was Abraham’s own son, who was to be sacrificed (God’s idea, not Abraham’s. There you have the example of a “human” sacrifice. The Messiah’s sacrifice is also not a human idea, but God’s idea.)

    Yael: are you saying that non-Jews should not be keeping “The 10 sayings”? That only Jews should go through life worshiping God, not committing murder and adultery, etc.? I made the point about the universal moral law. Should we not keep it?

    Yael says: “No thanks, Jesus was put to death as he should have been and is of no interest to me anymore.” It seems like what is good for the goose is not good for the gander here. How would you feel if someone inserted “the Jews” in the place of “Jesus”? Violence towards Jesus was ok by you, and what if he is your Messiah?

    Yael: in response to Jesus hanging around sinners: We always say that God hates sin but loves sinners. However, he being holy, there is this need of mediation, via the way and the signs and sacrifices he appoints (usually involving blood). (By his stripes we are healed.)

    This mediation is what is essential to us and our relationship with God. Otherwise we could have none. Christ’s blood is the promise of the new testament (covenant). The very blood of the lamb is our remedy.

    Yours, Brigitte.

  24. Brigitte,
    It is time for Shabbat so I do not have much time to respond to your comment other than to say, You are looking at Judaism and me through the lens of your own religion. We do not look at things at all alike, nor should we. Your Jesus is needed to make your life meaningful, but he is not anything special to the rest of us. Live your life as you see fit, but realize that when you speak of Torah you are speaking of it as it is interpreted by Christianity.

    Time for me to get out of here. Enjoy your weekend. Life is good. And so are most people! 🙂

    OSS,
    You’re selling out for cookies? You could at least hold out for doughnuts or brownies!

  25. ** Even the ten commandments tell us: “Do not covet… “, which is a matter of the heart and intention. We All must learn to say: ” I am a sinner.”**

    Something to note on the Mediterranean culture, as taken from Bruce J. Malina’s Social-Science Commentary. The Mediterranean culture was very group-oriented, and so relied on others in their group to provide a sort of “external conscience.” Therefore, words that described internal states were always joined with some sort of external action as well. If you say that you know something, then that knowing had to include the object being none. “To covet” wasn’t just referring to wanting something, but the physical act of taking it as well. So I’m not sure we can so easily separate the internal/external when dealing with aspects such as covet. Nor am I sure that a society like that would’ve said that wanting something was the same type of sin as taking it.

    **The law does not have a place of “infamy”. Christianity does not have a “fetish” for making the law look like something that brings bondage (Society).**

    I think a lot of where this view comes from, though, is saying that a just God gave laws to all of humanity and said that these laws must be followed perfectly — even though humanity is imperfect. If you tell people that they are held accountable to something even though people stand no chance of fulfilling that something, if you tell a child or friend that s/he must be perfect even though you know that child or friend is imperfect, what else do you create but something that brings a type of bondage? And saying that there’s no problem because Jesus paid the price doesn’t solve the difficulty in the sense that it is not just to tell imperfect people they’ll be punished for not being perfect, when they stand no chance of being perfect in the first place. You don’t say that someone must be punished for failing to do the impossible — that is the opposite of the very definition of justice.

    We can’t even say that we were originally perfect, either, with Adam and Eve. Because if we’re defining perfect in the same sense we use to define God as perfect, then part of that perfection means the inability to sin. In Christianity, it is impossible for God to sin. He simply can’t do it. So if Adam and Eve were able to sin, then they were not created perfectly.

    That, and what is generally seen in Christianity’s understanding of the law is that it is meant to show one how sinful they are, and how in need of a Savior. If someone is not a Christian, then someone stands condemned under the law. Christians are grateful to no longer be under this law, to be free of it through what Jesus has done. How often to Christians say “We’re really grateful for the law and what it does for us” vs. “We’re really grateful God no longer judges us by the law, but what Jesus has done, instead!” Or “Thank God we’re no longer standing under the law but under grace, instead!”

    In terms of keeping the law perfectly, and this will somewhat tie into Yael’s line of viewing the Torah through Christian lens — I read a book a while back that said where historical Judaism is able to speak for itself, historical Judaism says that Israel being chosen is viewed as a gracious gift from God, and a sign of being chosen was being given the Torah. Following the Torah is a way of showing gratitude for the fact that you were given the Torah in the first place. It wasn’t a matter of earning any sort of salvation, because that was ultimately left up to God. So it was never God saying that all these things must be done perfectly in order to be acceptable to God.

    So, if we read Psalms 119 in that light, we could have David saying that the commandments are to be kept because we have been chosen, they are to be kept diligently out of gratitude, he wants to do this in a steadfast fashion because he’s grateful for for being chosen.

    And it’s not a matter of wiggle room, or not feeling guilty or finding loopholes (for me, anyway) — it again comes down to the idea saying God is just, and at the same time, having God insisting on the impossible and then saying punishment must occur when the impossible fails to happen. It’s saying that the only purpose of the Torah was meant to condemn people. It’s treating the Torah in a way that the Jewish religion never treated it in the first place.

  26. Brigitte,
    I was writing in a hurry at work so may have been too abrupt in my first response today.

    Bad timing! I love it when someone calls me on what I write because then I get to dig in, study and learn, things which I don’t get to do when everyone just ignores me! But, right before Shabbat? Shame, shame, tempting a Jew to break Shabbat. I appreciate your response, however. Thanks. 🙂

    I see OSS already addressed the word covet but of course I will add just a bit….the word plotting. That is what the Hebrew word used here connotes, not just thinking I’d like to have your house, etc.

    Now, the word used in Psalm 119 which your translation renders as ‘fully obeyed’ is mi’od, which means muchness, force, abundance, exceedingly, to a great degree, none of which is not the same as ‘fully obeyed’, in fact, these words are all quite vague. Perhaps the goal is to encourage people to try hard rather than give a set standard?

    OSS,
    Great comments as always. I actually never quite know how to respond when someone asks me doesn’t the law make me feel guilty since it would be like asking someone does a sunset make you feel guilty, does science make you feel guilty? I find Torah to be beautiful, awe inspiring, and intriguing. So many discoveries to be made, thoughts to be thought over, life to be lived.

    Actually I don’t like chocolate so those cookies would have to be oatmeal scotchies to even start to get my attention!

    This time I really have to leave but oh well, I’m going to have an enjoyable weekend of study! There was a reason my Torah blog was named, “Torah is her delight”. My brain is already clicking away. I never had this much fun in seminary…..

  27. none of which is not the same as ‘fully obeyed’

    When one changes the wording of a sentence, one should make sure to do so completely! How about this:

    none of which is the same as ‘fully obeyed’.

  28. My response ended up being quite lengthy since so many points have been brought up by myself, OSS and Brigitte. I certainly enjoyed the pondering and the research as I wrote my comments; I hope the conversation is of some value to all of us.

    Here is the link to my comments: Response to a Christian. If someone wants to continue the conversation, please do so here. I have shut off commenting on the blog where I posted this comment so that I won’t be seen as trying to hijack Jason’s blog!

    I just wanted to leave my comment intact because I had fun putting it together and don’t want to split it up where parts of it lost will likely be lost. Yet to post it all here in one piece would be to exceed the bounds of a friend’s generosity. My apologies, but man, I just love thinking, studying and writing about Torah, Judaism and God. I had a good time tonight pulling so many thoughts together. Life is good.

  29. “We All must learn to say: ” I am a sinner.”” (Brigitte)

    I think it is easy to say ‘I am a sinner’ – but the law only accuses us when we actually do sin. I do not think when we conceive ideas in our hearts that this is a sin (I do not think this was the gospels point at all) – but the conception of the idea and building (making it part of our foundational ethic) on it is the real problem (thus how an idea can lead us into a sinful act). But if I had to be honest – admission of sin is par for the human course.

    “The law is indeed not the problem. — It is we, ourselves who are the problem. (This is what it is to “walk humbly with your God.)” (Brigitte)

    I am in total agreeance here – the law is not the problem and never was. The law serves as a guide to help us build our ethics…which is wy it troubles me (a little) that the majority of Christian thought makes the law into something much worse than it actually is…in essence that law is ‘good’.

    “Jesus did fulfill the law and the prophets” (Brigitte)

    How so? The law cannot be fulfilled (unless we mean he lived it) – I think this was a passage about how Jesus came to fulfill prophecy (within the law or prophets – a very common usage in the gospels). But did he? This is where the idea of a 2nd coming comes into play…some things are not fulfilled (which is plainly obvious).

    “The Messiah’s sacrifice is also not a human idea, but God’s idea” (Brigitte)

    I agree, but so is the law ‘God’s idea’. I don’t see why the law has to mean one thing and a sacrifical Jesus another – if they both come from God then they are both ‘good’. The law is a law for a nation – Jesus’ role seems more religious in nature (it’s an inclusionary point that all people can come to God regardles of nation or creed). Jesus really pays little attention to the law (in the gospels) outside prophecy passages and morality issues (which makes me think this was his point?). What I mean is – the faith he saw was a form of Judaism for all peoples – to share in the greatness of what Judaism is offering.

    “Christ’s blood is the promise of the new testament (covenant).” (Brigitte)

    I wonder about this point to be honest – what exactly does blood have to do with anything? It’s the sacrifice part I would emphasize – in that – this person lived his whole life a certain way to fulfill something meaningful of which he saw in the Torah. Our inclusion means only that – we are included – hopefully we sit at the table with all these great Jewish leaders and thinkers – and more so – also with great Indian one’s – great German one’s – all those people that make the same sacrifice with their lives (this foundation we have been provided).

  30. Boy, there is a lot of stuff to respond to here. Thanks for writing.
    I’ll try and respond the best I can for the time I have at the moment and I will be away for a week. Thanks for your indulgence.

    Of course, we know so little about each other, that it hampers communications a little. You must know about me that I have never spoken to any observant Jew of any stripe, before, for lack of opportunity, only. I am no apologist, whatsoever. I had a Jewish friend in University, of Russian background, but she was secular. I have one good acquaintance who is Messianic. He comes from a rich and accomplished family in Beverly Hills. Actually, he spoke to me last week about the Jewish revolts Society alluded to and the relationship of Christian Jews and mainstream Jews at the time. Very interesting, but I am sure I still know next to nothing about it, after that lecture from him.

    OK, to some substance. I appreciate the clarifications from the Hebrew. That is a constructive conversation. I notice also that your clarifications agree with the German Luther translation I keep at hand. So that makes me wonder at the sloppy English translation I have. I assume and will go with the idea that your Hebrew is reliable, though it can also be checked with my OT professor, and teacher of ancient languages, Dr. Russ Nelson (Harvard), who teaches a Bible class at a church I sometimes go to. (So, if you ever want his opinion :)).

    Yael writes: “You are looking at Judaism and me through the lens of your own religion. We do not look at things at all alike, nor should we. Your Jesus is needed to make your life meaningful, but he is not anything special to the rest of us. Live your life as you see fit, but realize that when you speak of Torah you are speaking of it as it is interpreted by Christianity.”

    Yael, that tells me exactly: Nothing. I have my own lens. Jesus is fine for me but means nothing to you. What am I supposed to do with that? With those statements you don’t respond to specific things I’ve written, that should apply to all people. Law and Gospel is for all people.

    OSS writes: “To covet” wasn’t just referring to wanting something, but the physical act of taking it as well. So I’m not sure we can so easily separate the internal/external when dealing with aspects such as covet. Nor am I sure that a society like that would’ve said that wanting something was the same type of sin as taking it.”

    “Covet” covers it all, the conceiving of the idea, the plotting and the doing. All of which is wrong. You, yourself don’t think so? You can talk about the cultural context, but we are talking about human hearts and we all have some strong similarities there.

    OSS writes: “I think a lot of where this view comes from, though, is saying that a just God gave laws to all of humanity and said that these laws must be followed perfectly — even though humanity is imperfect. If you tell people that they are held accountable to something even though people stand no chance of fulfilling that something..”

    You have hit upon something there. This is an important question: Did God give laws telling us to keep them, knowing that we can’t? It would seem unfair.

    The answer is: Yes. He gave laws and we say: “Ought” does not imply “can”. Here all the works-righteous people part company with all those who find their righteousness somewhere else (in God).

    You would probably hate to hear me say this, but when reading the OT, it is a great big lesson on how the law does not work righteousness. All this is necessary so that we would find our hope in God. All the OT righteous believers also trusted in God, (while also trying to keep the law. We also strive to live moral lives and emulate Christ’s love.)

    OSS writes: “We can’t even say that we were originally perfect, either, with Adam and Eve. Because if we’re defining perfect in the same sense we use to define God as perfect, then part of that perfection means the inability to sin. In Christianity, it is impossible for God to sin. He simply can’t do it. So if Adam and Eve were able to sin, then they were not created perfectly.”

    There are many things about God that we don’t know and understand. He is wholly other than what we are. We must not bind him to our thinking and mind. His intent and will is always good, but why is there sin and evil in the first place. Surely, he could stop it, etc. etc.

    OSS writes: “Following the Torah is a way of showing gratitude for the fact that you were given the Torah in the first place. It wasn’t a matter of earning any sort of salvation, because that was ultimately left up to God. So it was never God saying that all these things must be done perfectly in order to be acceptable to God.”

    I like that. The covenant is grace, a gift. And your hope is in God.

    OSS writes: “So, if we read Psalms 119 in that light, we could have David saying that the commandments are to be kept because we have been chosen, they are to be kept diligently out of gratitude, he wants to do this in a steadfast fashion because he’s grateful for for being chosen.”

    I like that, too. We would say something similar. Out of gratefulness for God entering into a covenant/testament via his words/promise and saving deeds, we want to live moral, loving lives.

    If it is not a matter of “wiggle room” then, we really should agree that: the law, which we are trying to follow diligently, is good and we want to follow it out of love/respect/gratitude to God, it also shows us our need to in the end rely on God and not ourselves. So we just have two sides of the coin, not opposites.

    Nevertheless, “wiggle room” or no, I would expect you feel guilty when you break the law; I would expect you feel guilty when you “hate your brother”. If you don’t, I think you should.

    Yael writes: ” I see OSS already addressed the word covet but of course I will add just a bit….the word plotting. That is what the Hebrew word used here connotes, not just thinking I’d like to have your house, etc.”

    That’s good about the “plotting”. Luther explains it as “scheming”. In his explanation of the commandment for children to memorize he has it like this:

    “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. What does this mean? We should rear and love God so that we do not scheme to get our neighbor’s inheritance of house, or get it in a way which only appears right, but help and be of service to him in keeping it.”

    “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor. What does this mean? We should fear and love god so that we do not entice or force away our neighbor’s wife, workers, or animals, or turn them against him, but urge them to stay and do their duty.”

    In the large catechism he explains, how divorce was allowed in the OT and therefore, a person could scheme to get someone’s wife and get away with it, still looking righteous. Still it was sin, even though he committed no outward sin. So here we have the ten commandments condemning “internal” sin, if we want to stick with the word “internal”.

    Yael writes: “Now, the word used in Psalm 119 which your translation renders as ‘fully obeyed’ is mi’od, which means muchness, force, abundance, exceedingly, to a great degree, none of which is not the same as ‘fully obeyed’, in fact, these words are all quite vague. Perhaps the goal is to encourage people to try hard rather than give a set standard?”

    I looked up my German translation and it has “fleissig” which is the same as “diligent”. So, you are right. The English is probably not as exact. All of it however means, you better takes God’s commands darn seriously. The Holy One of Israel is not fooled.

    Yael writes: “Here is the link to my comments: Response to a Christian. If someone wants to continue the conversation, please do so here. I have shut off commenting on the blog where I posted this comment so that I won’t be seen as trying to hijack Jason’s blog!”

    I’m going to be away, and won’t have any more time for this until a week from now. I’ll print it out and ponder it though, in the meantime.

    Society writes: “But if I had to be honest – admission of sin is par for the human course. ”

    If we don’t admit our guilt, we don’t have forgiveness and reconciliation and what is better than truth and reconciliation? An honest, deep, forgiving love is what we crave and need.

    Yael writes: “Shame, shame, tempting a Jew to break Shabbat. I appreciate your response, however.”

    You, see, Yael, I have no clue about what law you would be breaking, except obviously one that you can feel you can actually keep and actually chastise me about for, for nothing. That is not really a good thing. It comes between us and divides. I know you are mostly joking, but what I write is also a component in relationships.

    Society writes: “I wonder about this point to be honest – what exactly does blood have to do with anything? It’s the sacrifice part I would emphasize – in that – this person lived his whole life a certain way to fulfill something meaningful of which he saw in the Torah.”

    Jason you are coming back to what “we ” do. Indeed, there are wonderful people all over the word. Yet, they are all still sinners, as we have established, and in need of sacrifice and provisions made for themselves. The sacrifice is of the lamb. It’s the one that gets killed. All our own “sacrifices” are made out of gratitude, as OSS pointed out. So it does not start there.

    Sorry, if that’s way to long. As I said, I have to stop for a week. If you like, you can write to me and I’ll get to it.

    Have a blessed week.
    Yours, Brigitte.

  31. Well Yael, have fun with that last one. 😉

    By the way I did like your Response to a Christian. Very informative. Im still a little amazed she still quoted Luther though. I wonder if she actually read what he had to say about Jews. Man that guy was one f….. up dude.

  32. Luther said some terrible things. He lived in 16th century Germany and he had all the baggage that went along with that. He was a real sinner, that’s for sure.

    But he said a lot of wonderful things as well and helped to set in motion (by God’s grace) a Reformation of the Christian faith that still reverberates in it’s power and truth today.

  33. Steve

    Calling Luther a Sinner is a compliment. After reading some of his stuff I dont think I could use the words I want to describe him. Afterall this is PG rated site.

  34. Because of Luther and the other reformers, millions upon millions have been set free from the religious rat wheels of their good works projects towards a place in Heaven.

    Sure he said terrible things about the Jews. I agree. They were terrible.

    I have said and thought similar things about Democrats, and many today in hifg places have said similar things about Republicans.

    Alec Baldwin said we should all go over the then Republican Speaker of the House and kill him and his family. He said it on prime time T.V. and received applause for his efforts.

    But that is different.

  35. TitforTat and Yael:

    Do you ever read Ezra Levant? (Look up his blog.)

    He is a great Canadian (actually even Albertan) Jewish guy on Free Speech. So, perhaps, I am permitted relevant Luther quotes on “the law”,– which is the subject under discussion here–, and TitforTat is permitted describe Luther in which ever profane way he feel necessary– on an Adult site, and Yael is permitted, as she has done, to regurgitate all that nasty writing again on her own site to edify us all with. Not all of this is helpful, though.

    You will both notice, that no Lutheran is defending the treatise that you are sidetracking us to. In the name of living in 2009, give it a break and stick with the subject. Hold your nose, if you have to, when you see/hear/read Luther, but give the Bible teaching a chance.

    Love, Brigitte

  36. Brigitte and Steve

    I suspect you want people to take you seriously in regards to your faith. I suspect you wish to relay the loving grace of Jesus Christ as you understand it. I recommend you use another Historical Christian person when trying to make that point. As far as the “Law” goes, why would anyone take what he says as credible with his hateful track record. That would be like thinking Manson was a great guy because he wrote some beautiful poetry. If you choose to continue using Luther as example, then expect the inevitable.

    Steve

    I think Alec Baldwin is a whack job too. The difference is he doesnt make claim to a Loving Lord as his Saviour in the midst of his deranged ranting.

  37. Tit for Tat,
    You are a smart guy, you know that? Glad you enjoyed my post, I had a great time researching and writing it.

    Funny how when someone is truly interested in having a conversation with someone else, they look for common ground but when someone is only interested in expounding their own theology, no one else is allowed a different point of view, whether it be on people, on texts, or on beliefs. I think Brigitte has clearly shown into which category she falls. She presented her point of view, but when I present a different take, all of the sudden she becomes quite defensive about her man. If she was truly interested in conversing she would apologize for him and then find someone else to quote who is not so incredibly offensive to Jews. I won’t have fun with her comments but will instead just ignore them. I gave my point of view, people can read and think for themselves whether what I say has any merit or is a total load of garbage. Since Brigitte is quite intent on preaching the gospel according to Luther, I will leave her to have at.

    Oh, and by the way, Brigitte, you might try lightening up just a tad. When someone posts something like, ‘shame, shame’ does it ever enter your mind that they just might possibly be joking around a bit? Who in the world would talk like that in seriousness? Good grief already. Anyway, I will at least thank you for the inspiration to pull together a lot of material this weekend. I thoroughly enjoyed my studies and found several ideas which I will be pursuing in greater depth.

    Life is good. Life it with joy.

  38. TfT,

    I have said and done a lot of stupid and unloving things in my life.

    None of it negates one iota of the love and forgiveness that my Lord Jesus has for me and you and others.

    If anything, it is just more proof as to why He had to come and die for us in the first place.

  39. **You can talk about the cultural context, but we are talking about human hearts and we all have some strong similarities there. **

    But cultural context is everything when it comes to a work that’s anywhere from 2,000 to 6,000 years old. The culture back then was drastically different than ours, so we can’t say that the commandment “Do not covet” also condemns us if we merely want something our neighbor has. Because back then, there wasn’t that type of separation. The commandment is always attached to an action – it deals with physically trying to take something that belongs to someone else. The commandment does not deal with merely human hearts/intentions. It does not deal with an internal state. It’s a commandment that’s impossible to break unless there’s a corresponding external action.

    **but when reading the OT, it is a great big lesson on how the law does not work righteousness. All this is necessary so that we would find our hope in God. **
    But if the intention of the laws wasn’t to ensure salvation in the first place, why would that be a big lesson in the Tanakh? Surely the authors were aware of the purpose of the law, and what following it meant. Did the writers of the Tanakh hold the view that the law was meant to accuse, in order to demonstrate one’s need for a Savior? Because I don’t think we can find that viewpoint in any Jewish writings. Even in reading the Tanakh, how often is salvation attached to a concept of escaping some sort of eternal torment in the afterlife?

    **There are many things about God that we don’t know and understand. He is wholly other than what we are. We must not bind him to our thinking and mind. His intent and will is always good, but why is there sin and evil in the first place. Surely, he could stop it, etc. etc.**
    I’m not sure how this relates to my point (actually, I made the Adam/Eve comment to forestall a response I usually get, in that we were perfect at one time, in Eden. But if perfection means the inability to sin, then Adam/Even couldn’t have been perfect, because they sinned). I wasn’t asking why there was sin/evil in the first place, or stating that God was obligated to step in. My point was focused on the fact that the very definition of justice precludes the idea of insisting that an imperfect creation behave perfectly, or be punished. Yet we define God as just. How are the two compatible? If I knew of a teacher who insisted that all five year olds perform calculus or be punished, I would find that teacher to be unjust, because he is holding the five year olds to a standard that is impossible for them to meet.
    Not only that, but as soon as words are used to describe God – good, loving, just, wrathful – then He is bound by our thinking/mind, because of the nature of words themselves. Otherwise, describe God as good is a useless sentence, because ‘good’ becomes something we don’t know and understand.

    As it is, you said that what God did seems unfair. Yet I would assume that you would say God must be fair, per His perfect character. How would the two be reconciled? Because even if our response is “ought does not equal can,” we still end up in a situation where a God who is described as just does something that seems unfair.

    **Nevertheless, “wiggle room” or no, I would expect you feel guilty when you break the law; I would expect you feel guilty when you “hate your brother”. If you don’t, I think you should.**
    But why should I feel guilty for failing to be perfect when it’s impossible for me to be perfect in the first place? This somewhat gets back to what Yael is saying, in that if it’s never expected for Jews to be able to perfectly follow the Torah, why would they then feel guilty? Same with my situation. If it’s impossible for me to be a perfect person, why would I feel guilty for failing that?

  40. An additional thought —

    in terms of Luther, and what he said about the Jews. Part of the conflict arising from this is that we can see that Luther clearly had no fond feelings for the Jewish religion, or those who practiced it. Wouldn’t that in turn affect his views on the Tanakh and the Law itself? Can the two be separated that easily? Especially if he potentially views Judaism as a legalistic religion

    It’s kind of like saying that there’s a guy who hates women, and yet has some great ideas on the family structure. His hatred of women is going to influence his ideas on the family structure.

  41. “I have said and done a lot of stupid and unloving things in my life. None of it negates one iota of the love and forgiveness that my Lord Jesus has for me and you and others. If anything, it is just more proof as to why He had to come and die for us in the first place.” (Steve)

    You are going to love this comment (lol)

    That type of reasoning is irresponsible IMO. Imagine someone taught children this type of stuff – they can do all this bad stuff and basically get away with it because ‘it doesn’t change God’s love for them’. Do we really need ‘proof’ like that of God’s love? For example, is this a God of love that would love someone that kills another person for the sake of money – and that kid thinks they can get away with it – always in the back of their minds ‘God will forgive me either way’? I just don’t know if I like where this theology can lead people?

    OSS, that line of reasoning on that Luther pamphlet is right on the money. I actually, once upon a time, liked Luther and what he said. After I found out his views (like the pamphlet like ‘On the Jews and their lies’) I was quite bothered by the fact someone could be a bi-polar theologian (can we really trust what he said knowing some of his views – skews everything like some yeast in the leaven). Fact is I know he garnered his views from the NT and it kinda saddens me. His mistakes became part and parcel with what happened in Nazi Germany – and to this day – anti-semitism within Europe. He led a few reformations in a few directions – unintentionally?

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