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Monday, October 24, 2011

Jewish Encyclopedia on "Christianity"

I enjoy reading the Jewish Encyclopedia concerning Christianity.  It does a better job of explaining what Christianity is than most so-called "Christian" teachers today.  If only the papacy understood what is stated there.  The following is from the section on Christianity under subtitle "Paul's Antinomistic and Gnostic Views":
      "Having, under the influence of a vision, turned from an earnest persecutor of the new sect into its vigorous champion, he construed the belief in the atoning death of Christ held by the rest into a system altogether antagonistic to Judaism and its Law, claiming to have received the apostleship to the heathen world from the Christ he beheld in his visions.  Operating with certain Gnostic ideas which rendered the Messiah as Son of God a cosmic power, like Philo's 'logos,' aiding in the world's creation and mediating between God and man, he saw both in the Crucifixion and in the Incarnation acts of divine self-humiliation suffered for the sake of redeeming a world polluted and doomed by sin since the fall of Adam.  Faith alone in Christ should save man, baptism being the seal of the belief in God's redeeming love.  It meant dying with Christ to sin which is inherited from Adam, and rising again with Christ to put on the new Adam (Rom. vi. 1-4; 1 Cor. xv; Gal. iii.-iv).
 ...   On the other hand, Paul taught, the law of Moses, the seal of which was Circumcision, failed to redeem man, because it made sin unavoidable.  By a course of reasoning he discarded the Law as being under the curse (Gal iii, 10), declaring only those who believed in Christ as the Son of God to be free from all bondage (Gal. iv.)."  (underlining is mine)
Indeed, Paul's message was antagonistic to "Judaism and its Law".  The key to this is that "its Law" was not God's Law.  Judaism had perverted God's Law. The problem for the Jews is that they don't believe God's salvation... they rely on the Law, their good works, for their salvation.  It's a natural thing for man... we all believe this by our sinful nature.
It was Luther and C.F.W. Walther who properly distinguished the Law and the Gospel.  They did this by faith, faith in the Word, faith in Christ, faith in the Gospel.

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