Paul preached repentance, God’s grace
Paul explained the Crucifixion and Resurrection to gentiles
Editor’s note: This is in response to the letter “Judgemental Christians flout Christ’s teachings,” published in the Daily Lobo March 7.
Although I agree with Charles Crosson regarding the un-Christian behavior of those who condemn to hell the many who don’t agree with them, his teaching that only the life of Christ (including his Crucifixion and his Resurrection) and the teachings of Jesus to Second Temple Jews. Jesus magnified his messianic teaching by miracles and by acts of kindness, such as not condemning the woman taken in adultery. The Sermon on the Mount also revealed the will of God within the Torah, which the Pharisees had hidden behind their “tradition.” The Gospels are historical records and evangelical invitations, not pastoral/doctrinal letters to “the body of Christ.”
As Jesus plainly said in those Gospels, “He was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” This was the context until Jesus rose from the dead, having fulfilled everything regarding salvation. The proclamation of the advent of the kingdom promised to the Jews had to go to them first. The Jews represented the true and only God YHWH to the world at that time, as Jesus stated to the Samaritan woman, and which was spontaneously acknowledged by the Syro-Phoenician woman when she asked for healing for her daughter.
The earthly ministry of Yeshua, Jesus, was only to Jews, with very rare exceptions. Had the hierarchy of Sadducees and Pharisees accepted Jesus as Messiah, and had they accepted that he, in fact, was the kingdom (“The kingdom of heaven is among you” is a better translation than the standard one), both the gentiles and the Jews would have avoided misery. However, the Book of Acts reveals that the message was not accepted even after Jesus’ ministry throughout the land, the Resurrection and the testimony of eyewitnesses to it. Stephen declared at his trial, before he was illegally stoned to death, that the hierarchy for centuries had rejected the Holy Spirit. Thus the whole Trinity was set aside by the leaders who had the responsibility to receive the truth and to express it to the nation.
The Old Testament ends here — not with Malachi and not with 2 Chronicles, as in the Tanach. Paul’s letters were to explain the meaning of the Crucifixion and Resurrection to gentiles, and to invite them into “the body of Christ” and into the kingdom of God, not into the kingdom given to the Jews. That the gentiles were to equally participate in messianic blessing was “a mystery” and was not part of standard Pharisaic expectation. It even took the apostles by surprise. The gentiles have not “replaced” the Jews.
Jesus preached the gospel of the kingdom (which required repentance and water baptism, as proclaimed by John the Baptist).
Paul preached the gospel of grace which inspired repentance and which brought the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Christianity among gentiles is that of Paul, which includes the applicable teachings of Christ, however much demented people carry signs of condemnation and distort the message of grace. Crosson is in error.
Sadly, people mix, almost as in a blender, the teachings of Yeshua (Jesus), Cephas (Peter) and Shaul (Paul), and they season the brew with the Old Testament. These teachings were to several different audiences, and gentile Christians as well as others have been led by such mixing and superficial matching into inconsistencies. And now, there’s what is called Rabbinic Judaism, which is not a biblical faith. Without the Temple, there can be no animal sacrifice, and the rabbinic substitute for the New Testament, the Talmud, is not the word of YHWH.
There are religions which use the figure of Jesus of Nazareth, but his function is utterly confused. The teachers have no concept of the depth of the love of God revealed in the sacrifice of Christ, and they do not understand its purpose. There is only one Messiah, and when he comes again, he will judge fairly, according to what each person truly worshipped, whether that be the living God, tradition, mammon, political power, sex, science, the occult, a false god with a name or one’s self. Every human soul will exist forever; not every soul will live forever. It’s your choice what kind of existence yours will be.
Please understand that I fully accept that the Jewish nation is God’s chosen. I’m not anti-Semitic. What gentiles have done, sometimes even in the name of Jesus Christ — the expulsions, the pogroms, the ghettos and the Holocaust — is abominable and criminal. (For those in doubt about the reality of the Holocaust, my uncle helped liberate Bergen-Belsen.) Surely, if anyone is condemned, it is he or she who, like the Nazis, has treated others with such murderous arrogance and inhuman unkindness. That is the teaching of both Paul and Christ. Paul specifically declares that the covenants and promises to the patriarchs are irrevocable, and many political and church leaders today are on the wrong side of God’s “red line.”
It is also clear to me that the anti-Semitism will bring what is commonly called Armageddon. (Strictly speaking, Har Megiddo is a mountain bordering the Valley of Jezreel, which is where many armies of the world will gather, after which they will march toward Jerusalem, the final scandalon. Even Napoleon understood this. God promises that such action will fail, even if he has to throw boulders from heaven.)
What the Christian church has done, among other errors, is to cast out its Hebrew heritage and substitute for it Aristotelian and neo-Platonic philosophy. Galileo challenged Aristotle, not Scripture, which has a spherical Earth, a hydrological cycle, distinctions among species and a God who “stretches out the heavens” and keeps them in order using laws. By and large, this change of philosophical foundation also displaced the Holy Spirit, so that now we have new hierarchies and a gentile mindset. It will not last. What do you think the second coming is for? It is to establish the truth.