Don’t Scare the Christian Faithful!

There are a number of biblical topics which Christians either ignore because they're scary or they seem just plain irrelevant. Yet, the apostle Paul taught them. So why not teach them today? One such topic is the believer's relationship to the Jews. This is a scary and confusing topic today.

Most Christians have little exposure to this topic or if they do, avoid thinking too much about it. But you need not avoid it any longer. Here's How: Paul explains, In Romans 11:28, to the Roman gentile believers, how to think about the Jews. Listen and think on this …

ESV: Romans Chapter 11 [28] As regards [Jews] the gospel, they are enemies of God for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers.

Few Christians grasp the significance of that statement. Paul had just paraphrased Isiah 59:20-21 where the prophet said a Redeemer will come from Zion (a synonym for Jerusalem). What Paul is telling the Roman believers is that you may consider the messiah-rejecting Jews as antagonistic enemies. But honor them because of their forefathers … Moses and the Hebrew prophets. What western Christianity has done is quite the opposite. Modern Christianity has largely embraced modern Jewry, Judaism and ignored the Jew's forefathers.

Why do I say that? Christians politically support the nation of Israel in the Middle East. That's a good thing, every ethnic group should have a home land, especially the Jews. But thinking modern Jewish-Judaism is what should be revered by Christians is false. Judaism, modern or ancient is not the faith of the ancestors of the Jews! These two things are entirely two different matters.

Any casual reading of the gospels reveals that Jesus and the Pharisees were not on the same page regarding the writings of the Jew's ancestors or proper Torah practice (Torah Observance). Judaism, as the religion of the Jews (seen in the gospels and in modern times), is in fact, the religion of the Pharisees! This is common knowledge among rabbis and scholars but little understood in the pulpits and pews. The Pharisee-Jewish tradition is entirely different from the faith of the ancestors of the Jews. As far as Jesus was concerned, Pharisee-Judaism was a corruption of the ancient faith. This is what the apostle Paul was teaching: ignore the Jews, their Judaism and look to the Hebrew prophets as the roots of the faith.

But the scary part is many Christians who have looked into the Hebrew prophets don't know the difference between Judaism and the worldview and belief structure of the Hebrew prophets. Advocates in the Hebrew Roots Movement (cult?) think that a proper Christian service should look and sound like a Jewish synagogue. Judaizing gentiles is an outright and blatant contradiction of scripture! See Acts 15, the Jerusalem council, and the quote below:

ESV: Galatians Chapter 3 [1] O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. [2] Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? [3] Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? [4] Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? [5] Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— [6] just as Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness?

If Paul were alive today, he might say something like this,

"Oh stupid Americans! Who put a spell on you? Did you receive the Spirit by practicing Judaism, attending Church or by the preaching of the gospel of Christ? How can you be so stupid! You received Spirit by the preaching of the universal gospel of Christ but now you have reverted backwards into the legalism of the Mosaic Law! Do healings and miracles come from rites and ceremonies or from hearing the Word of God? Abraham believed God, that was his righteousness. The righteous live by faith! Get a grip people!"

So how do you study the Roots of Christianity but avoid the pitfalls? It's easy! Studying the faith's Hebrew Roots is not a religious study (the pitfall) but a Biblical Anthropology study. By approaching the topic in this manner, you study the ancient Hebrew worldview and belief structure as the background culture of Jesus, his apostles and the 1st century believers. Then you will understand what they had in mind when they spoke, taught and wrote. They did not communicate in any other cultural parameter than Hebrew culture. Never mind that the ancient documents we have are the Greek language — the Bible is still Hebrew cultural thinking and speaking. Their culture is just that, their culture, not your's. (There is a reason why the semitic writings disappeared. They were burned by order of Roman Emperors.) 

The Universal Christian Faith took flight from the Hebrew culture. That does not mean that modern Christians should adopt that culture in any way, shape or form. But it does mean that Christianity's originators thought and spoke using that culture's worldview and belief structure. The Hebrew cultural beliefs underly all of scripture. It's important to understand what they thought and what their original audience would have understood. This is the benefit of studying the Hebrew Roots of Christianity as an anthropological study of the Hebrews: Understanding the Bible as it was intended.

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