When Did Christians Forget their Jewish Roots?

Maybe when Constantine tempted them to think that Christendom meant the end of exile and alienation?

But it sure would help if Christian-Americans thought about American society more the way Jewish-Americans do than the way people who used to be the Church of Scotland think.

Imagine if Rod Dreher had grown up not mainline Protestant but Jewish:

Dreher has frequently and sometimes testily responded to critics by saying he’s not calling for anybody to head for the hills. But that’s not what I’m asking about. The Lubavitch hasidim are as “in the world” as any strictly observant Jewish group I can think of. They send shlichim to the four corners of the earth to minister to Jews wherever they may be. They are all about outreach, and they try in a host of ways to meet the people they are reaching out to where they are. And they are certainly making sure that they have something to give the world before they give it — they are ferocious about deeply educating their kids, and traditional Judaism is all about imbuing every single action of every day with the sacred. If you wanted to point to a Benedict Option-like group that had unquestionably not withdrawn into itself and fled for the hills, they’d be a perfect candidate.

But they are also a group apart within a people apart, and they believe themselves to be precisely that. And I can assure you, that has a real impact on how other Jews perceive them and relate to them. I’m curious to know whether that is a dynamic the Benedict Option would inculcate within Christianity, and whether Dreher thinks that would be a problem if it did.

The answer, by the way, to Millman’s question is that Christians who read Peter know that Christianity has a set-apart dynamic:

9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. (1 Pet 2)

And then imagine what it would mean if Christian America was as fantastic an idea as Jewish America:

[Christian traditionalists] are more likely to win space to live according to their consciences to the extent that they are able to convince a majority that includes more liberal Christians and non-Christian believers, as well as outright secularists, that they are not simply biding their time until they are able to storm the public square. In addition, they will have to develop institutions of community life that are relatively low-visibility and that can survive without many forms of official support. The price of inclusion in an increasingly pluralistic society may be some degree of voluntary exclusion from the dominant culture.

There is no doubt that this will be a hard bargain for adherents of traditions that enjoyed such immense authority until recently. . . . The basis for coexistence must be a shared understanding that the Christian America for which some long and that others fear isn’t coming back—not only because it was Christian but also because it involved a level of consensus that is no longer available to us. There are opportunities for believers and nonbelievers alike in this absence.

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8 thoughts on “When Did Christians Forget their Jewish Roots?

  1. “In addition, they will have to develop institutions of community life that are relatively low-visibility and that can survive without many forms of official support. The price of inclusion in an increasingly pluralistic society may be some degree of voluntary exclusion from the dominant culture.”

    So, how many american xian churches are left after we exclude politics and triumphalism/culture transformation from their message? Would the SBC or GBC even exist?

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  2. I have heard of people who grew up Baptists or Plymouth Brethren who later converted to the idea that converting to an idea was a second rate expression of God’s sovereign grace and that the best way to really see grace as grace is not to have to choose one idea over another idea.

    Romans 9: 4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the temple service, and the promises. 5 The ancestors are theirs, and from them, by physical descent, came the Messiah, who is God over all, praised forever. Amen. 6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. 7 Neither are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants

    John Owen on Hebrews 8:6-13)—”This Sinai covenant thus made, with these ends and promises, did never save nor condemn any man eternally. All that lived under the administration of it did attain eternal life, OR perished for ever, BUT NOT BY VIRTUE OF THIS SINAI COVENANT. It was “the ministry of condemnation,” 2 Cor. iii. 9; for “by the deeds of the law can no flesh be justified.” It directed them to the new covenant promise, which was the instrument of life and salvation unto all that did believe. But as unto what the Sinai covenant had of its own, it was confined unto things temporal. Believers were saved under it, but not by virtue of it.…No sinner was ever saved but by virtue of the new covenant, and Christ is the mediator of the new covenant…”

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  3. Learning this lesson (America as chosen nation) is precisely the wrong one:

    Puritans came to this continent and felt they were escaping the bondage of their Egypt and building a new Jerusalem.

    The Exodus story has six acts: first, a life of slavery and oppression, then the revolt against tyranny, then the difficult flight through the howling wilderness, then the infighting and misbehavior amid the stresses of that ordeal, then the handing down of a new covenant, a new law, and then finally the arrival into a new promised land and the project of building a new Jerusalem.

    The Puritans could survive hardship because they knew what kind of cosmic drama they were involved in. Being a chosen people with a sacred mission didn’t make them arrogant, it gave their task dignity and consequence. It made them self-critical. When John Winthrop used the phrase “shining city on a hill” he didn’t mean it as self-congratulation. He meant that the whole world was watching and by their selfishness and failings the colonists were screwing it up.

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  4. Don’t you know that it’s God’s grace that we were all born Americans, like it or not?. So there is not one law for some Americans and another law for other Americans, because the basic Christian ethic is the one law for all Americans. And sure, if you want to make some private religious distinction between gospel and law, that’s fine, but don’t tempt God by thinking you don’t depend on America for your religious freedom (and your family, and everything else)

    When you and Richard Gamble get up on your high horses like you somehow want “sanctification by ideological secession”, its begin to sound like “secondary separation” and that’s not Augustinian or even catholic but Darby all over again (if you know your history, which we know you do.) . And sure post-modernity means that we all need to lighten up on certain grand narratives about sex and gender, but never forget the big story about America taking leadership in the wider world and that story is way less parochial than stories about Palestinians…. To have influence, you must begin again with the story as it is told at Calvin College and in the New York Times.

    http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/angst-in-the-church-of-america-the-redeemer/?

    If you “come out” to the fire with Tyndale, who will be left to have good influence on the king?

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  5. Saying that America has one purpose is like saying that God only gave one promise to Abraham. Sometimes “the promise” turns out NOT to be the promise we think we were talking about.

    A W Pink—-“J.N.Darby seeks to cut the knot by changing the apostle’s “promises” to “the promise,” restricting the reference to Genesis 22. Yet not only is the Greek in the plural number, but such an idea is plainly refuted by the “four hundred and thirty years after,” which necessarily carries us back to Genesis 12.”

    http://www.theamericanconservative.com/larison/the-dangers-of-national-purpose/

    “as many as God shall call”
    God promises to save the elect children born of Christian parents.
    God promises to save the elect children not born of Christian parents
    (John 1:13; Galatians 3:7-9; Rom 9:7-8, 11, 24-26; 10:11-13; 11:17; Ephesians 1:4-10,)

    The physical heritage of Jesus Christ is important but it is irrelevant to God’s promise to save the elect.
    God’s covenantal faithfulness is determined by God’s promise to save the elect.
    Are we equivocating on which promise Is to the elect, and on which promise is it to all children born to those with uncertain professions of faith?
    God’s covenantal faithfulness is determined by God’s faithfulness to give lasting life to those who God has promised to give lasting life.
    What is unique about the salvation of the children of believers since God’s faithfulness is also demonstrated (“in other ways”) when God saves the children of non-believers?

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  6. MMC: “The physical heritage of Jesus is irrelevant to God’s promise to save the elect”

    Gal 3.16: “The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ.”

    Physical heritage would seem relevant, yes?

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  7. So we stipulate that when we say “the promise”, we mean the one promise about Jesus being a Jew, a child of Abraham, and a child of David. ? We don’t mean the other promises “plural” about potential greater negative sanctions for Ishmael because he was born in the covenant? Or do we equivocate, depending on the situation, so if we find ourselves in a context where sacramental efficacy has become a triumphalist “manifest destiny, well, sometimes then we point out that some of the promises to Abraham are not different from some of the promises to Moses?

    Jeff, as for me, I believe that the physical promises to Abraham and to Moses have been fulfilled by the birth of Jesus Christ., the mediator of the new covenant No more need for the genetic Jewish incubator. Elect Jews will be justified, Jews not elect will not. Elect children of justified sinners will be justified, others not elect will not be justified. Election governs the new covenant.

    https://contrast2.wordpress.com/2016/01/30/a-critique-of-r-scott-clarks-covenant-theology/

    in respect of love, God loves some and not others

    in respect of justice, God has no respect of persons, God justifies nobody who is not imputed with Christ’s death

    God has not yet justified any of the elect God has not yet baptized into Christ’s death

    Romans 9: 4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the temple service, and the promises. 5 The ancestors are theirs, and from them, by physical descent, came the Messiah, who is God over all, praised forever. Amen. 6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. 7 Neither are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants

    John Owen on Hebrews 8:6-13—”This Sinai covenant thus made, with these ends and promises, did never save nor condemn any man eternally. All that lived under the administration of it did attain eternal life, OR perished for ever, BUT NOT BY VIRTUE OF THIS SINAI COVENANT. It was “the ministry of condemnation,” 2 Cor. iii. 9; for “by the deeds of the law can no flesh be justified.” It directed them to the new covenant promise, which was the instrument of life and salvation unto all that did believe. But as unto what the Sinai covenant had of its own, it was confined unto things temporal. Believers were saved under it, but not by virtue of it.…No sinner was ever saved but by virtue of the new covenant, and Christ is the mediator of the new covenant

    Like

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