Conversations About Law and Grace, 5

Chris was about the show Jude some Paul verses that sound like all of Jesus’ followers are law-free, but something else occurred to him.

Chris: There are just so many little pieces of evidence on my side. I don’t think you can win this.

Jude: Win? Did we bet money on it?

Chris: You know what I mean. Jesus came to fulfill the law. He said all foods are now clean. Peter was commanded in a vision to eat unclean animals. Paul’s law-free statements pile on on top of another. The Church has had good reason to teach that the law was temporary and is now changed or annulled.

Jude: In each case you mentioned, the issue is tricky. If you started with the assumption that the law is permanent, you might think differently. But if you are looking for evidence, each one of the cases you mentioned could be interpreted as law-free.

Chris: Aha.

Jude: But in each case, I could show you how the evidence is overblown.

Chris: I’d love to see you try.

Jude: But I don’t want to get bogged down in those details right now.

Chris: Yeah, sure. Chicken.

Jude: So far we’ve been on the larger issues, the theological or hermeneutical ones.

Chris: Okay.

Jude: So let’s talk about one thing you said, “The law is temporary.” Where do you get that?

Chris: Well, I’m not sure there is a verse that says that. But nothing says the law is eternal either.

Jude: Wrong on both counts.

Chris: What?

Jude: There is a verse you could use to say the law is temporary, though I’d try and show you that you are wrong, and the law does say it is forever.

Chris: Where?

Jude: Do I need to show you all the places where it is said about a law that it is “for all your generations” or “for ever”?

Chris: No, I have a concordance and I realize now you’re right and those sayings are there.

Jude: And you used some examples, like the dietary law. You said it was temporary and Jesus declared all foods clean.

Chris: That’s what Matthew 15 and Mark 7 say.

Jude: Well, not actually. But let’s save that for another time. What I want to know is, what is temporary about those laws and how was Jesus helping anyone by repealing them?

Chris: Well, you know. They impinge on our freedom. We should be able to enjoy our ham and lobster and stuff.

Jude: So, are you saying it was unjust for God to command Israel not to have them?

Chris: Well, I wouldn’t say God is unjust.

Jude: Well, convince me the dietary law needed repealing.

Chris: Okay, it’s a silly law. Who cares if someone eats pork or shellfish? What difference does it make? Maybe they didn’t know about health science then or they didn’t know how to prevent tainted meat or parasites.

Jude: So, in God’s self-disclosure, his revelation, he has silly laws? This fits with your view of the Bible?

Chris: Not exactly. But you have to admit the Old Testament is not as inspiring as the new.

Jude: I wouldn’t admit that. And how can you say the Bible is inspired, but not the first 80% of the Bible.

Chris: Well, that’s going too far.

Jude: Then, again, I ask you what is inferior about the dietary law so that it needed repealing?

Chris: But isn’t a law like that carnal or based on some kind of old superstitions? Wasn’t God just accommodating their prejudices?

Jude: We could compare the issue of slavery in the law some time. We could talk about accommodation. But how does prohibiting certain meats fit with the idea of necessary accommodation to human evil?

Chris: Yeah, it doesn’t. But what use is that silly law?

Jude: You ought to study Leviticus. The purity laws, of which the dietary law is part, are not silly at all. They are about God’s abhorrence of death. They show him to be the God of life who calls us to choose life and not death.

Chris: So how does not eating pork make me revere life more?

Jude: It’s not about you, dear Chris. The purity laws do not apply to you as a non-Jew. Just like you can eat raisins but a Nazirite can’t.

Chris: So, you admit pork is not unclean in and of itself.

Jude: True. God permitted eating all kinds of animals. You could say, “Noah ate pork.” That’s Genesis 9:3.

Chris: Alright. This is strange. I can eat pork and it’s not a sin. But you can’t eat it or it would be.

Jude: It’s a symbolic purity system and we Jews are supposed to follow it.

Chris: It is making more sense now, but we’ll have to talk about all the evidences I brought up some time. I have some Bible verses on my side.

Jude: Okay, we will. But sometimes theology make me tired. Let’s call it a day.


About Derek Leman

IT guy working in the associations industry. Formerly a congregational rabbi. Dad of 8. Nerd.
This entry was posted in Bible, Christian, Judaism, messianic, Messianic Jewish, Messianic Judaism, Theology, Torah. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Conversations About Law and Grace, 5

  1. jgj84la says:

    That is a nasty looking picture (nothing against people who find that tasty). I like the conversation format. I am using these posts to help a friend better understand the law and grace. Thanks

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