Martin M. van Brauman
Are the Jewish people, the elder brothers and sisters, fellow travelers under Judaism with the followers of Jesus on the way to the Kingdom of God?
For from Zion will the Torah come forth, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. Isaiah 2:3.
The Torah’s paths are paths of pleasantness and all of its ways lead to peace. Proverbs 3:17. The Torah is the Tree of Life only to those who accept it as the immutable Word of God.[i] Under the Christian Gospels for the non-Jew, Jesus is the manifestation of the living Word of God, the tree of life made flesh.
I thank You for You have answered me and become my salvation. The stone the builders despised has become the cornerstone. This emanated from the Lord; it is wondrous in our eyes. This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad on it. Please, the Lord, save now! Please, the Lord, bring success now! Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord; we bless you from the House of the Lord. Psalm 118:21-26.
The Jewish “chosenness” is not a privilege, but a mission to open for all people the invisible and sacred doors that illuminate redemption.[ii] Without the “chosen” status of the Jews, Christianity would lose its compass. In serving the Jewish people both externally and internally and becoming the defender of the Jewish people, the Christian church bears witness to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.[iii] In its witness to the unity of God, the Christian church owes its service to Israel and the Jewish people to show the oneness of the God of Israel.[iv]
As the Catholic theologian Rosemary Radford Ruether wrote “the Christian messianic experience in Jesus was a Jewish experience, created out of Jewish hope.”[v] The history of Israel did not end in 70 AD, but it continued in the numerous Diaspora, permitting Israel to carry to the world a witness of its faith to the one God while preserving the memory of the Land in their hearts. The return of the Jews to Jerusalem signifies the presence of the Torah in the world and the sanctity of life in the world.
Judaism and Christianity are both religions of redemption and salvation, which rests upon the saving grace of God. Redemption, salvation and judgment are in God’s hands alone and not for man to decide by some church canon or doctrine. Judaism and Christianity share the view of the world under the aspect of Creation-Revelation-Redemption.[vi]
The Jewish theologian Franz Rosenzweig (1888-1929) considered both Judaism and Christianity having distinct but equally important roles in the spiritual structure of the world and saw in both biblical religions approaches toward a comprehension of reality.[vii] Rosenzweig stated that “God did not, after all create religion; he created the world.”[viii]
Judaism, staying with God (the “eternal life”), contrasts with Christianity, being sent out to conquer the unredeemed world by forever marching toward God (the “eternal way”).[ix] Rosenzweig saw Judaism as the “Star of Redemption” and Christianity as the rays of that Star. Since both Judaism and Christianity will exist to the end of time, Rosenzweig asked in The Star of Redemption whether Judaism and Christianity together constitute the Truth.[x] Rosenzweig answered that:
Man can become aware of the Love of God (Revelation), he can fill the moments of his life with eternity (Redemption), but Truth is beyond man. Only God is Truth, Man (Jew, Christian) is given a part in truth insofar as he realizes in active life his share in truth. The distant vision of truth does not lead into the beyond, but ‘into life.’[xi]
The Jewish people are a testimony to the reality of God, which is affirmed by the truth of human history. The Jewish community’s salvation is the binding power of faith and God’s covenant with His people. In Jeremiah 31:32, a new covenant, unlike the Mosaic covenant when God brought them out of Egypt, has been given to Israel and the Jewish people through the divine Spirit of God, in which the Torah shall be written on their hearts when Torah study and prayer replaces Temple worship.
Our goal is not to know God or his Plan for mankind, since we can never know God or his Plan, but to seek to know God and his Plan for our own life. No eye has seen what God al
[i] Judea and Ruth Pearl, I Am Jewish: Personal Reflections Inspired by the Last Words of Daniel Pearl, (5th ed. 2007), p. 209.
[ii] Ibid., pp. 183-184.
[iii] Paul M. van Buren, A Theology of the Jewish-Christian Reality, Part 2, A Christian Theology of the People Israel, (1st ed. 1987), p. 346.
[v] James Carroll, Constantine’s Sword: The Church and the Jews: A History, (1st ed. 2001), p. 104.
[vi] Glatzer, Nahum N., Franz Rosenzweig: His Life and Thought, (1st ed. 1953), p. xxv.
[vii] Franz Rosenzweig, The Star of Redemption, (1st English ed. 1971), p. xiv.
[viii] Ibid., p. xv.
[ix] Glatzer, Franz Rosenzweig: His Life and Thought, p. xxv.
[xi] Ibid., pp. xxv-xxvi.