Updated: Oct 25, 2021
Once Shema became a focal point in my religion, causing a total theological PARADIGM SHIFT, and considered to be the First Principle and Command of my own faith, I did also consider exactly WHY this was, and…could I be wrong? And then, does this JIBE with the theology I knew before? Being very aware of Lutheran Theology, since for two years I attended a conservative branch Lutheran Church (WELS Branch)...I realized that there was a faithful dimension in their own theology…but also room to be UNfaithful. They were proponents of the Works vs. Faith perspective, whereby works might follow faith, but not in any discriminating way. There was in other words, no especial wanting or asking God what would please Him, in prayer or attitude. SINCE works and faith had for the Lutheran…a wall built between, and…the UNconditional love of God for all men as presupposition. Consider this as a common theological principle: God does not consider ANY of your works righteous, since Jesus’ CROSS itself has propitiated all things for you. No…God does not love us UNconditionally in the sense that He will not judge us harshly if we continue to sin, or commit grievous sins…IN TANDEM with the mental affirmation of Christ. He is patient and for the most part…kind. But…sin not only hampers our relationship with God, it can hinder our entrance to the other side of those Pearly Gates, which some assume and others hope for with all of their hearts. Two imagined scenarios came to mind throughout my Christian walk. One is the German Lutheran soldier, fighting for the Nazi regime. He is told to load a bunch of men women and children into a gas van, and he can hear them screaming and clawing the walls as the thumping and bumping continue for agonizing minutes. The reason WHY gas vans were done away with, was the problem of morale among soldiers, some with no beliefs, some with CATHOLIC beliefs, and some many with yeah, German Lutheran beliefs. No matter, the morale could not have been good as one’s conscience was seared. To participate in such a heinous activity? Can anyone imagine? I could. And in fact I don’t think I was imagining things. This WAS a common and unfortunate occurrence. On the other hand, another scenario comes to mind. That of the first two generations of Christians, who were recipients of the Holy Spirit Outpouring. Especially the first 3000 and 5000 saints. How did THEY act and behave? What did THEY believe? Being morbid or being…conscious of how Christians can SIN if you give them an inch? When actions and beliefs are SEPARATED, then the opportunity to sin is allowed for. Jewish consciousness is generalized and stated thusly: What does faith mean in Judaism?
In contrast to traditions such as Christianity which demand a more explicit identification of God, faith in Judaism requires one to honour God through a constant struggle with God's instructions (Torah) and the practice of their mitzvot. Mitzvot: Mitzvah, also spelled Mitsvah (Hebrew: “commandment”), plural Mitzvoth, Mitzvot, Mitzvahs, Mitsvoth, Mitsvot, or Mitsvahs, any commandment, ordinance, law, or statute contained in the Torah (first five books of the Bible) and, for that reason, to be observed by all practicing Jews. And so then…what is the FIRST command which Jesus told the scribe in Mk 12, Luk 10 and Mt 22…of all? Shema, and then the Golden Rule? One and two? Could this be wrong? Only by a nuevo theology which NEGATES “the letter of the law.” And the Works vs. Faith mainstream view…comes close enough. Thus the only way I can be wrong in asserting the SHEMA as the outline of our covenant, personally and corporately in ekklesia with God…is if the Shema was REPLACED with the belief in Jesus Christ, as many Christians SEEM to think, IF that is…they are thinking of Shema at all. So what then is the paradigm shift here? IF faith and action are not separated in Jewish thinking, but rather all of their thinking is FOR faithful actions (works) then where did we go wrong? Is it true that the Cross propitiates all things for us? NOW what is the Gospel Message? And…an ancient OT promise eventually came to rest in my heart. It was a pentecostal promise, but oddly enough pentecostals do not emphasize this verse. Deut 30 as the Shema Command was given, as the Israelites were crossing the River Jordan to the Promised Land: 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. This HAS to be a New Covenant promise, even if it does not mention Messiah. The “living” has to be temporal and…eternally speaking, thus of a near/far variety. And thus the connection between faith and action is preserved. When you ADD Jesus as Propitiator and the RESULT is a heart sincerely and faithfully living in this God-love…NOW what has to happen with OSAS Theology? The propitiation is actually for the BEGINNING or ENTRANCE into New Covenant. And…instead of a “free pass into heaven,” which we can assume and glad-hand each other on our backs for…we are all corporately SEALED into a unity of Spirit which FULFILLS the prayer of Jesus to his own God, Jn 17 “that they may be one as we are.” What was JESUS sealed into, as the Holy Spirit was seen by at least one, “alighting upon him, like a dove?” At his own baptism? The pure and holy love of YHWH. The GLORY he asks for in Jn 17. The SHEKINAH KNOWING which is as experiential as it is mentally “known.” As the firstborn among many brethren, Jesus was himself born out of flesh but a SHEMA DO-ER from his infancy. And not only our propitiation as Mediator INTO Covenant in the ideal sense. But also our EXAMPLE as we follow after him. Thus I say that Bonhoeffer’s Grande Question can only be UNDERSTOOD by Shema. What is the Cost of Discipleship? Said by one word, Shema. Explained by Shema’s “hearing.” YHWH our Elohim, YHWH one. You shall love YHWH with all of your heart soul and might. And if you do not believe me, please consider the Lukan Requirement of Discipleship: 26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
(Unless you understand Shema, there is no way you can understand this HARD saying).
And now the paradigm shift comes full circle, to its own rightful place. BELIEF ITSELF or in the Greek “pisteuo” has a holistic meaning of being, rather than just being a mere mental affirmation. And this roughly parallels the MITZVOT of Hebraic Understanding. And now the well-known premise of Acts 16 finds a new meaning: 31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
And the Shema also describes this similarly. “With all of your mind soul and might.”
A faithfulness of BEING not just of a vague and abstract mental affirmation. In other words, the WORD pisteuo comes into its own, with a new and holistic definition. And the difference in attitude can be clearly shown as I told the new pastor I could not mow the church property lawns any more. It was because I was leaving his church but I did not want to insult him. He said, "Look at me, I am past 50 years old. But STILL pastoring when I could be...fishing or at least, retired. But no, I understand right priority." Yah, this is sorta kinda true. Except, not IN-LINE with Shema at all. How do you RETIRE from Shema, I ask of anyone? And...is this not likened to our own view...in SCHOOL? Extra credit, righto? This pastor was essentially saying he ALREADY got an "A." And anything EXTRA is the PLUS. No...Shema is done with the COSTLY grace in mind, Jesus did give example for. God deserves our BEST efforts as a matter of course. And finally I would like to leave the reader with a thought. What Command is ALWAYS TRUE, by the LETTER of it? And I think you know what I will say. It is NO ACCIDENT that all Law and the Prophets HANG from Shema, Mt 22.