Thursday, October 7, 2010

in which I Interact with a Jewish Rabbi

In a recent article in First Things, Rabbi Meir Y. Soloveichik has written an essay discussing the bridging of the gap between man and God as it relates to the Torah and the incarnation of Jesus Christ.

Soloveichik misses some very important things with regards to his understanding of the Christian Faith; particularly his view of the incarnation of Jesus Christ. Soloveichik says, "The Torah is infinite and inexhaustible," By this, Soloveichik means one can interpret the Torah until the cows come home and never get to the bottom of it. Of course, if one does come across "a bottom" the suggestion would be to keep looking up because if you find it, it's really not there! I am sure one could come up with an infinite amount of interpretations of the Torah if they tried hard enough but at the end of the day the Old Testament is an incomplete book without the New Testament. After all, where is the promised Messiah? Jesus said they never find Him, because they refuse to see what is there! Is Jesus in the Old Testament? Yes, but every time He shows up, men like Soloveichick shut their eyes and say, "I don't see him..." Is it no wonder he never gets to the heart of what it is all about and the direction the Torah is moving? i.e. worldwide redemption? The promise God gave to Abraham was that the nations would be blessed through him. "You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me," John 5:29

Soloveichik goes on to say, "Judaism...stands in contrast to the Christian Faith and its turn toward what the Gospel of John calls, "Word made flesh." And that is does! It is kind of sticky point isn't it, that we Christians worship "a man?" However, Jesus is not just any man, He is the God Man! The New Adam. He is Immanuel, who "tabernacled" amongst us. The veil has been ripped in two and God Himself has stepped out from behind the veil. He inaugurated the Kingdom of God on earth and made Himself known to us in the person and work of Jesus Christ. If Jesus does not have two natures, then the Jews have got it right: The New Testament would contradict the Old. That is why it is so very important we understand that Christ has two distinct but not divided natures. Yes, He is 100% man but He is also 100% God, not 50% man and 50% God.

Soloveichik said, "God warns us that "man cannot see Me and live." True! No man can see God and live, that's why we must die first. This is where many Evangelicals get confused. Jesus did not come so we could just live forever, He came to die and rise from the grave so that we might die and be raised again with Him and then live forever. (HT: Doug Wilson). We have eternal life because we've died and been raised with Jesus. Jesus died on the cross. And what about our death? Our death is passing through the waters of baptism and regeneration by the Holy Spirit. In other words, the Holy Spirit must kill us so that we might live forever. Jesus said, unless one is born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God. One must first die before he can be raised to new life and one cannot see God unless goes through that death, burial and resurrection.

Soloveichik said, "That Christians believe the gap between God and man is bridged by the incarnation." Again, this is where the two natures of Christ is essential. Christ is the only Mediator between God and man because He is the eternal Son of God. Those who cling to Judaism fail to acknowledge that God has made Himself known. The light of the new day has come but men love to dwell in darkness rather than come into the light lest their deeds be exposed. Both Judaism, Islam and Gnosticism want a God that's far off but with the incarnation, God has come near. Of course this scares the pants off of people so they run and hide from it!

Soloveichik said "Christians are in danger of violated the second command by worshiping man by seeking to bridge the gap between God and man." He acknowledges the gap between these two religions is radically wide and he is right. If Jesus were not infinite He would not be able to bridge that gap but because He is infinite, He is able to do it. Soloveichik goes on to say that "Jews reject the notion that God might take bodily form..." What? That is not consistent with the Torah (OT)! How about the men who visited with Abraham, wrestling with Jacob and other instances of what Christians call "Christophanies?" This supports Peter Leithart's suspicion that gnosticism grew out of a form of Judaism which rejected Christ. It makes sense too when you think about the physical place where Jews once worshiped; The Temple, has now been destroyed. Where do Jews go now to worship God? Nowhere, He becomes mystical in that sense and ultimately unknowable.

Soloveichik says, "the Jews may have been bound hand and foot but their intellects were never enslaved." This remark reminds me of the conversation Jesus had with the Pharisees, "we're slaves to no one!"

Soloveichik concludes by saying, "God has not forsaken us." In one sense, it is true that ethic Jews can still come back into the covenant through faith in Jesus as the Messiah, but presently, as a nation they are cut off, and they are laying at the foot of the Olive Tree as dead branches. They can be grafted back into the true Israel but there is no other covenant other than the one that has been established by Christ in his life, death, burial, resurrection, and exaltation to the right hand of the Father.

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