I have been amazed in recent years by the strong influence of Judaism within Christianity in Australia. I recently heard of an Independent Baptist church publicly celebrating Passover. I regularly hear of itinerant speakers who teach Jewish ceremonies and encourage their practice within the Christian community. In my travels, I’ve spoken to many Christians who are caught up in these Jewish religious practices, especially believers from country Australia.
Is this fascination with Jewish religious practices helpful, harmless, or dangerous?
This is the question I’ve been wrestling with recently as I prepare to speak on the topic later in the year. I’ll lay out my thoughts at this stage in propositional form.
Proposition #1 — Jewish religious practices are not Christian.
Proposition #2 — Inasmuch as learning about Jewish religious practices helps to understand the history and context of the Christian Scriptures, they may be beneficial to the Christian church.
Proposition #3 — Just as with any study of manners and customs, great care must be taken not to impose Jewish religious tradition on the Scriptures in ways that strain reasonable interpretation.
Proposition #4 — Inasmuch as Jewish religious practices are strictly optional opportunities to learn about Jewish history and custom, they are harmless.
Proposition #5 — Inasmuch as Jewish practices blur the distinction between Judaism and Christianity, they are dangerous.
Proposition #6 — Inasmuch as Jewish practices are held to be required of Christians, they have become an expression of the legalism of the Judaisers of Paul’s Galatia and are a threat to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Proposition #7 — Inasmuch as Christianity fulfilled Judaism rather than perpetuating it, a continued focus on the “shadow” of Judaism (Colossians 2:17) distracts from the “substance” of Christianity and constitutes a threat to the gospel of Jesus Christ itself.
This is an issue that I think needs to be of special concern to us in Australia because of the prevalence of Jewish practices among Christians here. I would appreciate your input on these propositions. Are they true? Precise? Are there angles that I’m missing? Can you suggest additional propositions?
Grace to you.