Monday, March 9, 2015

Christ's Body, the Church, as the New Israel

“Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.” (Gal 3:16)

The gross heresy of Judaizing rears its head again in contemporary “Christianity,” especially in America. You cannot say the ethnic, cultural, and religious Jews and the Christians are both the people of God. It denies the reality of the Church.

I hear this impious language around me every so often. The interesting part of this false belief is the extent one will often take to avoid any talk of the Church, sometimes trying to avoid even mentioning the word. The modern “Christianity” is plagued by the modern heresy of ecumenism. Those who participate in this heresy intentionally or ignorantly deny the Christ-centered teaching of His Body, the Church. The reality of the Church in the Christian life is an understanding that anyone with an ounce of knowledge of historic Christianity and the Scriptures can begin to understand. Those who lack this knowledge easily fall prey to this modern form of Judaizing.

However, one teaching of the Church should be mentioned since it is a key to understanding why this widespread belief is false. The Church is eternal. It was not born on Pentecost; it existed, with God, before the creation of time. The love and communion between the Persons of the Trinity is the Church and, with Creation, it extends into created reality with man’s communion with God. It extends into all creation with every part of the created world supposed to be in communion with God, via the priestly function of man. I could list many sources that mention the truth of this from the history of the Church and from the Scriptures, but this teaching is easy to find for those who know our Scriptures and read the Fathers.

Now there was indeed a hugely significant change at Pentecost. There is no doubt of this. Fr. John Romanides puts it best. “Pentecost is the event by which the Old and New Testament Church became the Body of Christ which now includes also all the forefathers who had been illumined and glorified before Yahweh's incarnation.” Ethnic Israel, who did not believe, withered up and became fallen limbs from the Tree of God’s eternal Church. All while, the believing Jews, and now the Gentiles, became “grafted” into the Church called Israel, now being the resurrected Body of Christ. At Pentecost, the Church’s existence took on a new reality. It became the instrument for the hope of the Prophets and the vehicle for our immortality.

You see? There is a way that our immortality and salvation works. It is not an edict of God dictated to us. It is neither by His will alone. We are becoming saved and become immortal because we are organically connected to something that is life-giving and master of death. This is our connection to the Body of Christ, which is now resurrected, and bestows life on us. Now tell me, how is it possible that Jews are part of this reality?

The Israel that rejects the incarnate I AM cannot belong to the Israel of God that accepts the pre-incarnate Christ. The Jews rejected their identity as the people of God when they said they “have no king but Caesar.” The Israel of God glories in the Cross of Christ. (see Gal. 6:16). Fr. Josiah put it well when he said: “You cannot be a child of Abraham and deny the faith of Abraham” The Forerunner said God could turn stones into children of Abraham. Further, he says, “You cannot deny the seed of Abraham and claim to be Abraham's child.” When the Jewish leaders egotistically claimed to be children of Abraham, “Christ called the Jewish leaders, children of Satan.”

The key point I wish to make is this teaching, this belief is wrong and impious. Learn the teaching the Apostles and the Apostolic Fathers gave about Christ’s Body, that “pillar and foundation of the truth” (I Tim. 3:15). Many who profess the name Christian vehemently argue for the existence of objective morality but are comfortable with relative theological teachings. This goes against Christ promise that the Holy Spirit would lead Christians “into all truth.” You, who love Truth, understand… The Orthodox Church prays for the union and salvation of all men. What a cruel and hateful act to tell the Jews that they have no need to repent, because they still figure in God’s plan for mankind, somehow. Stop the nonsense that prevents the salvation of others.