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Discussion in 'Quackenbush's' started by Bevo Incognito, Jun 15, 2009.
Monahorns:In reply to:
Remember that I asked you to think about what Paul was trying to accomplish in Romans. Your CS Lewis angle is pretty irrelevant to Paul’s intent in my opinion. As for your third point, about how we can “take punishment on our own shoulders by absolving Christ/not proclaiming faith”, I don’t think the quotes you cite back up the claim. So those two facets of your argument are off base. Don’t mistake my lack of a detailed response to be any sort of agreement with you on those two points.
As for points #1 and #2:
Of course I disagree with your terminology in point #2 (you characteristically phrase everything in the most damnable possible light, to the point that it can be recognized as a finely honed skill), but I would agree that those basic points are presented in Romans.
But I don’t see how we come away with the notion that these represent the fundamental arguments being presented to us in Romans. I see them rather as contributory points to the larger issue that has prompted the letter. Now I’m vaguely aware, here, that I’m going against the grain on this. I’m no biblical scholar. I’m just a guy trying to read Romans from Paul’s perspective – trying to reverse engineer his motivations based on the language of the text itself. I’m aware that when we google Romans and search for main points, we are met with “we are all sinners” and “justification comes through belief in Christ”.
Well, I agree that those things are there. But from a textual standpoint, I cannot agree that those things are the basic point of Paul’s argument. To say that they are strips Romans of any chance at thematic unity. It allows us to account for maybe a quarter of the argument. It seems to me that those points are a sort of processed, or filtered, view or Romans; they are extracts of the letter’s most teachable points for modern Christians who no longer have to deal with issues of circumcision and the like.
The theme of Romans is the relationship between Judaism and Christianity. Namely, that the Law – while performing an important function – is subordinate to, younger than, and contained within an overarching structure of faith that has Christ at its heart.
The reason I brought up Romans in the first place as a topic of discussion was that I thought it gave us the best chance to understand what the bible says about whether or not Christianity is an offshoot, as you have argued, or something else. And it seems to me that Paul is addressing exactly that argument throughout Romans.
Romans is a total re-conceptualizing of Judaism’s purpose in light of new information, and it is also an account of what this re-conceptualization meant for old Israel going forward.
Look back through it and then tell me if you agree. And if not, why not?
So you're saying you agree?
Interesting and informative discussion between Coelacanth and Groverat. Having said that, I have the feeling that the poster with the last post will claim "victory". I'm betting on Groverat; any takers?
grove, I will allow you to focus on your and Coelacanth's discussion. Too many topics at once confuses things. However, at some point I would like to continue to understand your understanding of "true forgiveness" because on one hand you criticize Christianity for not properly addressing the issue and then say it is not a real issue. I understand CS Lewis' quote and agree with the ultimate point that he is making. He is saying that Jesus is in fact God and all sin is rebellion against Him. Therefore even though other people are wronged by our offenses God is first and foremost.
Coel, I would like to add a little bit to your summarizing of Romans. If you boil all of Romans down to its essence it is this "the righteous will live by faith in the gospel". That idea is the umbrella that covers all of the other issues which Paul includes. Much of the letter is dedicated to Judaism and its relationship to Christianity, you are correct, but it is always or almost always contained within the greater issue of what is true faith and what is true righteousness. Then chapter 11 describes the timetable of Israel's coming to faith.
Coelacanth already declared victory and demanded I concede.
In reply to:
This is exactly the sort of critique I was hoping for. I appreciate your response.
Let’s look again at Romans 9:30-32:
One thing to consider when evaluating Paul's opinion of the Jews as a fallen and foolish people is that the Jews do not/did not concern themselves with any notion of an afterlife, and therefore never had any need for the type of eternal justification that Christ offered. The Torah doesn't even mention an afterlife. God had nothing to say to them about an afterlife until Christ shows up, and now Paul wants us to believe that the Jews are idiots who missed something obvious. That does not follow logically.
From Paul's perspective eternal justification is a necessity, so the Jews' unwillingness to accept it seems to be a major problem and the absolute foundation of his argument that the Jews have not followed god's word correctly.
It’s true that Judaism doesn’t/didn’t emphasize the afterlife to the same extent that, say, Christianity and Islam do. But they do believe in an afterlife. It’s likely that they believed in one from the very beginning – “David rested with his fathers” (1 Kings 2:10) and “the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it” (Ecc 12:7). It’s beyond dispute that the afterlife was a part of Pharisaic belief prior to Jesus’ life. The Mishnah was recorded ca. 200 BC and reflected an “oral law” that stretched back at least to the exile. (The Pharisees maintained that they went back much further, to the time of Moses.) By the time of Jesus, their beliefs had become mainstream.
In any case, the lack of concern many Jews had about matters of “eternal justification” stemmed not from doubts about the afterlife, but rather from the assumption that they were already justified due to their chosen status as custodians of the law.
One thing to realize about the Jewish Law is that it never promises eternal life or the attaining of personal righteousness. Part of the law was what to do when you are unrighteous. Read all of Leviticus. The agreement is spelled out in Deuteronomy 28. If they obeyed there was an earthly blessing and if they did not there was an earthly curse. There is not one comment that I can remember which describes an eternal reward or personal righteousness. Righteousness was always a gift coming from faith. This is seen in Genesis 15. If those in Israel would have followed their father Abraham in faith, they would have attained the righteousness they sought. Honestly, following the Law only got you rich and healthy because that is all it was promised to do.
There might have been some sects of Judaism that had some kind of belief in afterlife, but it was not a central tenet of any Jewish faith branch. Afterlife in Judaism was absolutely nothing like it was in Christianity. Christianity is almost entirely about the afterlife.
You know in Christianity there is not a ton of information about life in eternity. There are tidbits here and there, but it is not like the Jews in 1st century BC new nothing and now 21st century Christians have a detailed account of what it will be like and what we will be doing. The Pharisees believed in the resurrection of the dead. I am not an expert but I am sure they had some doctrine built up around that idea whether or not it was biblical. Their rabbis seemed to develop schools of thought on every subject.
Then you have the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants which are described as eternal. Also Enoch and Elijah were both taken directly into heaven showing that life was not only to be lived on this earth. God progressively has revealed his will to mankind. The subject of the afterlife has been revealed in the same way. I don't see it as a Jewis vs. Christian thing.
And the issue with Israel not believing is not as you describe. Jesus himself said that all of the Law and the Prophets speak of me. And in a parable in Luke 16, Jesus states that knowing Moses and the prophets is enough to produce repentance and escape from hell. Paul says something similar to Timothy about knowing the sacred scriptures which will lead to salvation in Jesus Christ. That is in 2 Timothy 3:15 and he is referring to the old testament there. Timothy had learned the Jewish scriptures as a child. So God did not slip something in that the Jews had no way of seeing or understanding. Those who truly understood the scriptures understood the nature of Messiah and correctly believed in Jesus.
It's important for you to bring up the fact that Judaism was built of many different sects, because it sets the scene very well for a faith that could schism so wildly (sprouting, as it did, the Christian branch). We see that now with modern Christianity, which has sprouted branches like Mormonism.
Regardless, one cannot reasonably argue that the mainstream Jewish conception of afterlife as revealed in Jewish scripture was like the afterlife Paul described. They are different philosophies of justification and reward/punishment.
No, variation does not mean the accounts are not accurate. That is an absurd notion. If you can prove contradiction that is one thing. However, the benign variation which we see in the gospels only proves that in fact different people were writing these accounts without coordinating their accounts. It is a silly assertion. My "so what" expressed that the variation found in the gospels and NT are inconsequential. You are simply mischaracterizing the type of variation which exists. Or maybe misunderstanding.
This is quite evident when describing your example. There are two points to make. First, looking at the prophecy in Zechariah 9, the prediction is not that Messiah will sit on both a donkey and a colt. The prediction is that Messiah will sit on a colt. There is some semantic ambiguity but the best translation from Hebrew is that he will be riding on a donkey even a colt the son of a female donkey. That is looking at translations from Jewish and Christian sources. Messiah rides on a donkey which happens to be young one. So the prophecy refers to the colt. Then Matthew shows that when Jesus fulfilled this prophecy there was also an adult donkey also. The disciples took both. They laid their garments on both. Then the Greek says that he, Jesus, sat on "them". Looking at the verse, the most grammatically correct reference would be to the garments. So Jesus sat on the garments. Which garments exactly you can not make a certain claim looking only at Matthew. He does not give enough information for a conclusion. The other accounts must be consulted which clearly points to Jesus being on the colt only. Apparently, there were garments placed on the adult donkey. Nothing else is said about her so her actual use is unknown. Were there other objects that needed to be carried? Maybe. Did she just walk along side unburdened? Could be. I would accept any rational explanation based on the evidence we have.