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Why we can't have Jesuswithout the Torah
By Dr. Robbert A. VeenHuizen, the Netherlands@ all rights reserved 2008Summary: In the light of our present day knowledgeabout 1
century Judaism it seems strange that theChurch was so ready to abandon the Torah and the Je-wishness of the Gospel. Within the NT there is still suffi-cient support for an understanding of the Torah and Jew-ish legal thought as a lasting element of Christian ethics.Especially if we take Matthews priority within the Canonand the statement Jesus made in Mat. 5:17 about the eter-nal validity of the Law seriously, one should accept thatTorah and Church ethics cannot be separated. However,the question must be asked: what happened to the Torahin the Church and why did it happen if we want to makesome progress in reassessing the value of the Torah as asource for Christian ethics.
In 1982 Mennonite theologian and pastor JohnToews
presented his design for a theology of law inthe New Testament that would be able to provideus with a biblical method of doing Christian ethics.In his view, the Torah should again have a role toplay in ethics, precisely because all the evidence inthe New Testament suggests that Jesus took a far
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more favorable view of the Torah and the Jewishway of deducing moral rules of behavior than had been acknowledged by the Reformation. His posi-tion might be summarized as follows:In the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, the Torah isnormatively interpreted for the community of Jesus’followers, who affirm His messianic position, andthe nucleus of this interpretation is the love of Godand neighbor.Affirmation of the Torah and its validity is precise-ly the cornerstone of any position that holds that Jesus came to interpret the Torah in a fresh mannerand not abolish it. Which of course is exactly whatMatthew 5:17 teaches us.Do not think that I came to abolish the Law orthe Prophets. I did not come to abolish, but tofulfill.From this thesis, we can deduce a number of im-plications, some of which I will try to explore in thisand following articles.
Questions, questions, and even more questions
Other, more preliminary questions need to beasked too. If the above thesis is valid, how did itcome about that the Christian Churches ignored thiscentral position of the Torah? What happened?What doctrine took the place of the Torah in groun-ding Christian ethics if any? And how did we arrive