The Hebraic Perspective and the Gospel, Part 3.
Combining two fundamental elements, the Shema and its own connection to the New Testament, described in Deut 30:
6 And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.
…will in turn imply Shema as the outline, or common denominator of both individual and corporate New Covenant. It connects the Law at Core to all things…by the Shema Command and Law above all other laws. This is the understanding of the scribe in Mk 12, Luk 10 and Mt 22, and Jesus affirms him by saying “you are close unto the Kingdom of God.”
Mt 22 actually connects both the Pharisee view of Law and Jesus’ own view as it must have connected with the scribe’s view too, that the two highest commands are Shema, and the Golden Rule (in my view, following). The connection is with the scribe's own understanding of Shema as the "Law by which all Law and the Prophets hang." This PROBABLY was an indicator of this individual scribe knowing even more than basic Pharisee theology. Another article for another time.
But this combination of Jewish concepts contrasts with the Protestant Gospel Ideal. Protestantism, comprising according to wiki, 37% of the Christian population, believes in “Justification by faith alone.” Protestantism, wiki:
The belief that believers are justified, or pardoned for sin, solely on condition of faith in Christ rather than a combination of faith and good works. For Protestants, good works are a necessary consequence rather than cause of justification. However, while justification is by faith alone, there is the position that faith is not nuda fides. John Calvin explained that "it is therefore faith alone which justifies, and yet the faith which justifies is not alone: just as it is the heat alone of the sun which warms the earth, and yet in the sun it is not alone." Lutheran and Reformed Christians differ from Methodists in their understanding of this doctrine.
This was what I called in my last post, faith with works following, just not in any discriminating or emphasized way. NUDA, naked. Fides, faith. Faith not by itself, although the Protestant impetus will naturally tend to this end, or path’s direction and destination. “Justification by faith ALONE” implies exactly this. NUDA FIDES. Notice also the internal contradiction above. “Rather than a combination of faith and good works,” as opposed to…”faith which is not alone.” Which IMPLIES good works? WHAT?
The earliest Calvinists considered themselves the Elect, but with the view that the Elect are by nature (or predestination) doing good works. The reason why Calvinism has evolved in my view to eventually NEGATE works for the most part, in mega-churches today…in lieu of “just being generally good,” is because of the predestinative emphasis. You are the elect, and this idea of “faith” becomes naturally for the Western world, a mental affirmation even of the NAKED basic premises, Jesus was killed, and rose on the third day and came to his own rightful glorification status, as God at the Right Hand of God. Sorry, I just blasphemed.
The Jewish View of Predestination is that yes, some are written in, in the Book of Life, see Jewish Preexistence, Jewish Encyclopedia. But…no one really knows WHO are these, we being in the realm of human’s limitations. And in fact the Calvinist view is…if you end up the worst criminal and probably NOT going directly to heaven as such, you never were of the ELECT to begin with. An odd and not-so-wonderful equivocation. How is the normal acolyte to consider this? How does he KNOW he is of the Elect, or not?
My last post I said that to the Jew, FAITH ITSELF is not defined the same. It is not a mere mental affirmation. Even among Sadducees and Pharisees it included loyalty, and a Shema-like desire, and an immediate attention to action, and even the “impertinent” CHUTZPAH of the old widow who continues to bother and bother with perseverance and Jacob’s stubborn willingness to wrestle until he was released from his burden (hah, of being annihilated by his own brother). And last but not least, the view of the Supernatural World in perspective.
This is the holistic DEFINITION of the Jew, as to what faith is. Under this definition, can we still call ourselves Protestant? Yes…but with a better understanding in my view as to what JESUS’ Gospel was. It is…justification by faith alone, using the JEWISH definition of faith, and Jesus’ own definition.
And the Jewish Definition of Faith will bridge the gap between “Justification by Faith Alone,” and my own two “cents” as it were, the Shema Principle and Command, and the Promise of Deut 30 which is the DESCRIPTION of the Elect. Who are the ones who will DO SHEMA as it was never done before, either by Sadducees in general or Pharisees in general. And now too, the saying by Jesus makes better sense: Mt 5:
20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
And I will leave you here with a clue as to Jesus’ own discrimination. IMO, he is not saying “the SADDUCEES and the Pharisees,” because the Sadducees neither believed in the resurrection of anyone, NOR did they believe in spirits and supernatural powers. In other words, their own working theology was not even contextually pertinent in terms of a “spectrum” of righteousness. More on this as we go down deeper and further, HOPEFULLY not into any rabbit hole.