Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Judaism, Christianity, and Moltmann

As a Christian I confess Jesus as Lord and savior. For much of my Christian life I affirmed the proposition that this confession of Jesus was an exclusive sort – that is, God would receive into the kingdom only those who confessed Jesus as Lord – as in "no one comes to the father except through me." The understanding has been difficult to maintain as I’ve gotten more involved in interfaith work.

But more to the point here, it is a question that Christians have had to wrestle within the Post-Holocaust era. In what way does God’s covenant with Israel – that is, the Jewish people not the nation state – continue? Has the church superseded that covenant? Or does God maintain that original covenant while at the same time making a place for Gentiles (non-Jews)?

In that I’m attending the Moltmann Conversation and reading Jurgen Moltmann’s A Broad Place (Fortress, 2008), I’m intrigued by his take. It’s important to remember that he came of age in Hitler’s Germany and came to faith while in a British POW camp.
This paragraph is worth considering:

For me, the continuity between promise and gospel was always more important than
the difference between law and gospel, and I knew that in this I was line with the Reformed tradition, although not with the Lutheran one. So I have always read the Old and New Testaments parallel to one another, and not one after the other, as if the Old had been superseded by the New and only served as a sombre background for what is supposed to hold good now. The Scriptures will only be "fulfilled" in the kingdom of God, towards which both testaments point. So it is inadmissible to use the name Old Testament disparagingly, or the name New Testament arrogantly.
(A Broad Place, p. 268).

I find this an intriguing idea, that both Israel and the Church are messianic movements living, proclaiming, pointing to God’s reign. One doesn’t supersede the other, although Christianity finds its roots in Judaism – for both Jesus and Paul were Jews and not Christians as we might define the term today.

So perhaps the question I need to ask Dr. Moltmann during our conversation this week concerns the place of the religions, and specifically Judaism, in a Trinitarian understanding of God.

1 comment:

John said...

The questions I would ask include:

Whether he believes all faith traditions other than Christianity are outside of God's plan for salvation; if other traditions are included in the plan, should we not proclaim this?

If other faith traditions are included withing the plan for salvation, then what is the rational for exclusively teaching our children, indeed teaching all people who would inquire, salvation through Christ?