Sunday, February 17, 2008

Relationship Between Judaism and Christianity

Well since my last post, I’ve received some interesting feedback related to the relationship between Judaism and Christianity. If you recall, I talked a bit about typology – that Old Testament types foreshadowed New Testament perfections. I also talked about two heresies which either rejected all of Judaism (docetic Gnosticism) or accepted all of Judaism but added Jesus (the Judaizer heresy – I mentioned “Jews for Jesus” in this section and am doing more research to find out what exactly they’re all about, though I think they may support some things, like the rejection of Sunday worship, which are inherently Christian).

One response asked about my view on the relationship between Christianity and Judaism. Well I’ll sure do my best at offering Catholicism’s (and historic Christianity’s) view. First off, I’ve noticed that most people take a Protestant view on this question. Only in Catholicism do we find a true bridge between Judaism and Christianity.

So let’s take another look at typology.

I mentioned in my previous post that St. Paul talked about types and used the example of Adam being a type, or prefigurement, of Jesus. Another passage of Paul I think would also be of help: “…when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away” (1 Corinthians 13:10). Take the Passover for example. This Jewish feast celebrated the liberation of God’s chosen people from slavery in Egypt. In was in the context of the Passover that Jesus perfects it, elevating it supernaturally with His own Paschal sacrifice. In the Mass we celebrate Christ’s death and resurrection which liberated us from slavery to sin. Just as the Jews at the sacrificial lamb, we eat of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world – whose one sacrifice could do what the many temple sacrifices could not.

What about the Old Law? In this case Law of Moses is not thrown out but taken to a supernatural level. I laugh at those who say that Jesus made the Law less extreme and easier to follow. Rather Jesus had made the Law so difficult, it is only by the reception of God’s grace that we can have the strength to follow it. Jesus goes for the heart. In condemning adultery, Jesus attacks not only the sin itself but the lust which drives one to commit such a sin. Jesus seeks to pull out sin in its roots – only then can we be free of it.

Now I don’t seek to argue with scripture alone here. I’m not a Protestant. I think for one to ask questions about the connection between Judaism and Christianity he should turn to the earliest Christians; what did they say? They, like the Catholic Church today, saw in the Old Testament the seed which would blossom into the Church.

Let me close this up with a final illustration. Catholics see baptism as the fulfillment of Old Testament types. In Creation we read that the Spirit was over the waters of Creation, sanctifying life. In baptism, the Holy Spirit comes down upon he who is baptized, dwelling in him and giving him sanctifying grace. St. Peter speaks of the waters of baptism being prefigured by the waters of the flood in days of Noah. Where the flood waters eliminate sin in the world by destroying sinners, the waters of baptism cleanses the sinner without any fatal side effects!

In the time of Abraham God establishes circumcision on the eighth day after birth as a sign of his covenant with man. For the first Christians, who rightly saw baptism as the fulfillment of circumcision, the question asked was not whether or not infants could be baptized but if they had to wait until the eighth day! So what’s all important about the eighth day? Eight is number signifying salvation and thus the eighth day signifies eternal life and eternity itself. This explains why Jesus rose on Sunday and why Sunday is the day Christians worship – it’s not the FIRST day it’s the EIGHTH day! Through baptism, the eternity and salvation from God enters into the life of the Christian.

So in closing I want to say how much I love and respect the Jewish people. I hope that with further study, members of the Jewish community will see just how Jewish the Catholic Faith is and seek unity with this the Body of Christ.

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