Monday, March 31, 2008

Justice and Torah (5)

More tough questions followed.

In any event, I would, at the end of the day, go back to Jesus and the New Testament for my view of the Kingdom of God and politics. And I just don't see them trying to make Gentiles live by the Torah.

In Acts 15, the council only required 4 things for Gentiles to adhere to -- and that so as not to offend Jewish borthers and sisters?

And what do you make of Paul's tirad against requiring circumcision (Galatians) -- and then saying if you require ONE law, you're under the WHOLE law (and that this is a BAD thing)?
The answer to these questions is quite simple. The Torah is a big box containing a lot of stuff, a way of salvation based on sacrifice, principles of behavior (assisting overloaded donkeys), and signs of separation from surrounding nations (not having clothes with mixed fibre or working on the Sabbath). All these were rendered obsolete by Jesus. The Kingdom requires a higher standard of behavior than the Torah, so we now turn the other cheek. The cross provided a far better way of salvation, so Paul is quite right in his letter to the Galatians. The law is totally useless as a way of salvation. Love and the spirit are now what mark us from the rest of the world. So of course Acts 15 does not require that Gentiles comply with the old signs of separation from the world. The Jerusalem council was wrong in even asking for a few practices to remain. Paul actually got rid of these for Jewish Christians too, because they were redundant once the Spirit had come.

So of course we do not want to impose the Torah onto Gentiles. And we do not want to impose those requirements on to Jews or Christians either. Christianity provides better salvation, a better way of life and better signs of to mark us off from the world.

However, there is one other thing that the Torah provided that we still need. God raised up judges in Israel to settle disputes and allow a society made up of some ratbag people to function reasonably. The laws that the judges applied when doing that task were given by God in the Torah too. The judges were able to advance justice because they had laws from God to apply. Those laws are all we should take from the Torah.

All I am is saying is that Jesus has not annulled that subset of the Torah essential for a peacful society and those laws will be needed until the Kingdom has more fully come. If the majority of people followed Jesus there would be no violence and no disputes, so there would be nothing for judges to do, and these laws would be dormant.

Modern society is a mixed bag just like the Israelites. So until the kingdom comes, we will need some laws to restrain evil and to provide a basis judges to resolve disputes. We need some laws, and if God has given some good one, we should use his. I would sooner have God’s laws than man-made laws, if God’s laws will do the job better. They will be obviously good to non-Christians too, if they are really that good.

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