Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Israel in the Church

The Church is the eschatological expansion, exaltation, and glorification of OT Israel. Her head is Christ qua Christ, the great Prophet, Priest, and King of *Israel*. He sits on the throne of his father David, which has been raised & exalted above all thrones & powers, even the angels. All the nations, not just Israel, have become the Son's inheritance.

But ethnic Israel has a favored place as the elect core of the Church. We wild olive branches owe our continued preservation to God's favor to the Israelites, his intention to preserve a remnant until Israel's fullness be brought in.

 Relevant here is Romans 15: 25-27:

"But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints. For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem. It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things."

 Here, we see that even in the Church of God Gentile Christians have an abiding obligation to care for the physical needs of Jewish Christians. This means that even in the one new man Jew and Gentile identity is maintained to a degree.
St. Paul gave a spiritual reason why we Gentile Christians are especially obligated to minister to the corporeal needs of Jewish Christians: because we partake in the spiritual things belonging to the Jews.

Therefore, in the Church there is a special place of preference for Jewish believers. The elect remnant has a special place within the body.
Just as man and woman remain man & woman when they become one flesh, so Jew and Gentile remain Jew & Gentile when they become one new man in Christ. They receive salvation equally but they don't receive the same position in the body.

It is not necessary for Gentiles to become Jews to be included in the new covenant, and ethnically Jewish Christians haven't lost their ancestral connection.
The remnant of Israel remains intact in the bosom of the Church.
At the present time, Gentile blessing depends on honoring Abraham's seed.  Those who bless Israel will be blessed. Those who curse it will be cursed.

There are varying degrees of this. We Gentiles who call on the name of the Lord Jesus will be blessed with salvation for ourselves, but if we fail to bless his natural brethren our lines of descent will not endure.
And this brings me to the subject of the Christian family. Gentile Christian families as units have been joined to Israel as honorary member houses of Israel. This is why the expectation that the intergenerational offspring of faithful Christian believers be Christian too is valid. And, it is a significant reason why our children should be baptized. Christian baptism accomplishes incorporation into Christ, and hence into His covenant people, the Israel of God.

God sovereignly saved and gave the Spirit to all, whether Jew or Gentile. Separate instructions for different sexes, races, and stations in life imply differentiation within the body. Equal membership, but not equal status or equal treatment, except to recognize each other's priceless dignity as Christ-bearers.

What needs to be overcome is an unbiblical notion of equality, proceeding from the amorphous spirituality of Gnosticism, i.e., spiritual vs. physical, heavenly vs. earthly, grace vs. nature, love vs. justice, etc. On the cross, where our Incarnate God died, all these oppositions were reconciled and the world, with all its beauty and diversity, was redeemed.

Comparative to the unsurpassable dignity of being in Christ, circumcision means nothing. But, it isn't nothing.

In the West, feminism, homosexuality, gender confusion, and all other varieties of social disorder proceeded from denying the validity of differentiation within the body of Christ. Today, the place of the Jew in the Church is denied, tomorrow the leadership of women will be accepted, later, open immorality. These things will be tolerated in any church that denies the Jew’s favored place, should it last long enough.

The pattern has replicated enough times to be certainly true.


Anonymous said...

This post is nonsense. From the beginning Christians have understood that ethnic Israel turned away from God, killed God, and no longer holds a privileged place in the divine dispensation. Of those who do not accept Christ we can say with St John Chrysostom that 'No Jew adores God'. For those who do accept Him, of course, salvation is available as it is to everyone -- but the Church has never afforded conversos any pride of place ahead of Gentile Christians. And the idea that the decline in honour paid to the Jew corresponds to the decline of historic Christian doctrine and morals is laughable. Tell me, did Vatican II pay the Jew more or less honour than he had been accustomed to receiving from the Church of Rome? Tell me, is the Zeitgeist of the Twenty-First Century, in which women's ordination, homosexuality, and all the evils you decry prevail, more or less anti-Semitic than that of previous ages?

I'll wiat.

Anonymous said...

*I'll wait.

A. M. said...

Jesus is ethnic Israel, so my post isn't nonsense. However, I probably went too far to suggest failure to honor Christ's ethnic brethren is a direct cause of failure to recognize legitimate differentiation in the Body.

Anonymous said...

What bizarre nonsense. The Jews rejected their messiah and killed them, so no it is the Church as a whole that is the people of God "God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones". The extent of God's continuing promise to the Jews is that he will eventually bring them as a group back into the fold.

The Church has never given former Jews a special place. To suggest she should is a novel and Protestant innovation.

Anonymous said...

*killed him*

A. M. said...

Arkansas Reactionary: Thanks for dropping by. Coincidentally, I saw your blog for the first time via Bonald yesterday. I've added it to "The Reaction" sidebar here. Good stuff.

To defend and develop my position:

"What bizarre nonsense."

The relation between the OT and NT economies is, IMO, the most difficult theological problem conceptually to navigate. This is because, a) both are divinely revealed and, b) so many moving parts involved. So many areas of potential continuity and discontinuity.

Understanding how orthodox solutions resolve trinitarian and christological questions is child's play in comparison. In fact, understanding the proper relation between the old and new covenants logically depends on how these fundamental theological questions have been authoritatively answered.

Briefly, grace perfects (& does not destroy) nature. The unitive divine nature does not obliterate the relations of filiation and procession in the Godhead, and the hypostatic union does not obliterate the natures subsisting in Christ Jesus.

Our Lord Jesus Christ was born not only of a Woman, he was born under the Law (cf. Gal. 4: 4). He is the recipient therefore, not only of the inheritance vertically associated with His natural divine Sonship, but also of the inheritance horizontally transmitted through the covenant line proceeding through Abraham and David.

The callings, gifts, graces and protections obtained for the elect are various and distributed through a variety of means under a large variety of conditions. Different guardian angels are assigned to different individuals and peoples. For example, St. Michael is the angelic protector of the Jewish nation. Different patron saints rule over different countries. For example, St. Andrew is the patron of Scotland. Every person, people and nation has a particular way he/it relates to Christ and His Church, and these relations allow for unique spiritual characteristics to be developed over time.

"The Jews rejected their messiah and killed him..."

Yes, and I personally believe the curse they called down upon themselves and their children is real.

"...so no it is the Church as a whole that is the people of God..."

This is accurate to the degree you acknowledge the Pauline distinction between natural and wild olive branches (Rom. 11), and the Israelite character of our Lord's dominion.

"God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones".

But He didn't, did He?

"The extent of God's continuing promise to the Jews is that he will eventually bring them as a group back into the fold."

Who are you to determine which promises God does and does not keep? "The gifts and calling of God are without revocation."

"The Church has never given former Jews a special place. To suggest she should is a novel and Protestant innovation."

You haven't provided an argument for why the principle St. Paul laid out in Rom. 15: 24-27 and appealed to in this post is not a principle. Until you do, I'll continue to point to that passage as evidence contrary to your claim.

Finally, if you feel no special satisfaction and joy when a Jewish person converts and is baptized into Christ, I fear your sympathies are far out of line with what they should be. After all, our Lord Jesus was and remains, a Jew.

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