I wonder if Christians reading this blog understand my concerns about certain aspects of historic and modern Christianity, and why I think they need to be concerned too. I have these voices in my head constantly spurring me on to prove everything.
Prove what, you ask?
For example, some think I must be exaggerating about Christian antisemitism, since real Christians love all of God’s creation, and anyway, “that was long time ago.”
That’s why I’ve posted Confession Of Conversion , and raised the question of: Where is it written that “The Church” took over all (or any) of Israel’s promises and blessings, and when did all of that transfer from the Catholic Church to the Protestants, who came along 1500 + years later?
The rampant peddling of the small religion of Cheap grace in many Churches today.
To some, I’m now dangerously close to heresy, since Paul clearly says:
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
This verse is in the holster of every Evangelical Christian and it’s used to shoot down anyone inching toward believing our behavior, or, “works” do matter to God. Ephesians 2:8-9 is whipped out and discharged faster than famed gunslinger Bob Munden draws and fires his pistol.
The following verse (10) isn’t included because then the dogma created from verses 8-9 would make no sense at all:
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
A Gift. Well, Sort Of…
Matthew 7:7 says:
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”
Since you asked for proof (in my mind, anyway) I have a perfect example of cheap grace. (I’ve given many examples of Christian antisemitism). I’ve purposely waited before posting this because my intent is not to harm or ridicule the blog’s author (who I’ll randomly call “Bloget”) however, I do have a take-no-prisoners attitude toward Bloget’s “theology.”
I’ll quote it and then give a brief breakdown at the end, therefore, I inserted line numbers.
1 “Life under the Old Covenant is summed up by the writer of Ecclesiastes this way:
”Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14.)
2 Jesus told us succinctly what is expected of us under the New Covenant:
“Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”
3 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” (John 6:28-29.)
4 Old: fear God and keep his commandments.
5 New: believe in Jesus.
6 There’s a big difference, isn’t there. We are no longer told to keep God’s commandments. And here’s why: Jesus has done that for us. Every single one of the commandments has been perfectly obeyed, carried out by Jesus on our behalf.
8 So all we have to do now to do God’s work is believe.”
I wish I could tell you that this is satire written by a Biblically savvy person who is making fun of Biblical illiteracy and Cheap grace.
I wish I could tell you Bloget is a layperson who holds no influence over anyone. The truth is, Bloget is an intelligent legal professional who’s given teaching responsibilities at his/her church. That’s not to say Bloget’s views are held by all in his/her church, however, Bloget’s “theology” apparently doesn’t send up any red-flags.
Let’s keep it simple and not get into the deep study necessary to come up with the sweeping conjectures Bloget has made (things such as the original Hebrew words, the audience, culture, etc.) I’ll just focus on the (painfully) obvious and basic errors. And I’ve underlined all areas I’m addressing in Bloget’s post.
1. Nowhere does the Bible, or Kohelet, the author of Ecclesiastes, say he is summarizing the “Old Covenant”. Anyway, that language is foreign to a Jew since God’s “covenants” don’t evaporate.
Where is the “
Old” Covenant “summed up” in the Bible?
Umm, that’d be the Ten Commandments. Read Exodus 34:27-28
2. a) Blogot’s choice of the pronoun “us” is a key to the crazy twists of theology. Not to be nit picky, but Jesus’ audience were Jews, not Gentiles–who wouldn’t be “included”, to the shock of the Jewish people, until roughly 15 years after his ascension. Since this teaching was given during his lifetime, add accordingly.
This matters because Replacement Theology has made a practice of appropriating Jewish blessings, and has created the unsustainable theology at issue here. “We”–Gentiles, aren’t “them”–Jews. Once I got that straight, the Bible began to make a LOT more sense.
b) What Jesus says next in line 2 is not the New Covenant, nor does Jesus claim it is! OMG!
If you’d like to read what the New Covenant is, read Jeremiah ch 31 and Ezekiel ch 36.
SPOILER ALERT: The New Covenant is made with “The house of Israel and the house of Judah…” which is a specific people group descended from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, not, I said NOT, Gentile Christians!
3. To represent this as a “summary” of Jesus’ teaching on salvation or the New Covenant is to do great violence to his teachings and the Bible. If Bloget’s correct, how could this make any sense:
“. . . Rabbi, what should I do to obtain eternal life?” But Yeshua said to him, “What is written in the Torah? How do you read it?” He answered, “You are to love Adonai your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your understanding; and your neighbor as yourself.” “That’s the right answer,” Yeshua said. “Do this, and you will have life.” -Luke 10:25-28
And, what’s all the fuss in Mark 9:42-47 about millstones, Gei-Hinnom, and cutting off what makes one sin?
Ahh, that Jesus, he’s such a kidder!
I won’t even get into the Lord’s brother James (2:24), and all the Pauline passages that refute this (despite Ephesians 2:8-9 minus 10) or, John 14:15:
“If you love me, you will keep my commands;”
4. In my best “Mr. T” impersonation all I can say is: “I pity the fool” who doesn’t fear God. Or, who thinks Jesus says “we” ought not to. Oy!
5. See 2B.
6. a) There’s the wrong pronoun again. “We” Gentile Christians were never told to keep the Torah. It’s the way of life (teachings, laws, decrees) that God commanded of Israel, and He said it was “permanent for all their generations.” We cannot go back under the law [Torah] we were never commanded to keep. (To address his implication).
b) No, Jesus didn’t fulfill every one of the Torah commandments, because they didn’t all apply to him! Nor do all 613 commandments apply to any one person!
7. Riiight, that stuff in Matthew 25 about feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, and welcoming the stranger, was just, suggestions perhaps? If memory serves, it’s a bit weightier than that, with Jesus separating the sheep and goats, and saying things like:
“Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels…”
So, there’s the “proof” you asked for (yes, in my mind) that cheap grace is being slung around willy-nilly and hopefully you’ll do some studying, not buy into it, and when possible, refute it.
What’s The Big Deal?
Because this is largely the [false] version of Jesus we’ve not only told ourselves, which tells us a lot about the present condition of our “Christian nation,” but it’s also the version we’ve tried to “sell” to the Jewish people, who realize this cannot be the true Messiah of Israel.
To be fair, I do believe in justification by faith alone–Sola Fide– however, the question is: Then what? How do redeemed people live before a holy God? Hint: It has to do with more than what you believe:
“You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!” -James 2:19
The key is remembering Israel’s story in the Passover. These Israelites were brought (redeemed) out of Egypt, then they were told how to live as the chosen people of God, i.e., given the Torah. So the question isn’t “do we Christians need to earn our salvation”, for we cannot, just as the Jews did not. Rather, it’s how do behave once we are a redeemed people, and since Jesus used the Torah / Tanakh as the authority for his life and teachings, we need to stop tossing it [The Torah, their covenant] under the bus.
“But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” -1 John 3:17-18