Many distortions have been introduced into western culture with the displacement of Christianity by Judaeo-Christianity, but principal amongst the distorting effects is the false perception of a religious continuity. This view holds that there has been an unbroken chain of religious influence upon society, arising out of Judaism and carried forward within Christian religious observance.
Adherents of this continuity schema, the counterpart to the secular creed of progressivism, hold that history has an absolute beginning and a necessary end, and that it unfolds globally according to a divine plan.
Karl Marx remarked upon a cycle within the otherwise linear trajectory. In On the Jewish Question he wrote, ‘Christianity sprang from Judaism. It has merged again in Judaism.’
The arch-determinist Marx did not mean to imply that there had been a disruption to the path of history, rather that Judaism and Christianity had both been transformed by their coalescence. Their followers now worshipped a new god, and that god was Mammon.
What are the mundane principles of Judaism? Practical necessity and the pursuit of one’s own advantage. What is its earthly god? Money. The Jew has emancipated himself in a typically Jewish fashion not only in that he has taken control of the power of money, but also in that through him, money has become a world power and the practical Jewish spirit has become the spirit of the Christian people. The Jews have emancipated themselves insofar as the Christians have become Jews. The god of the Jews has become secularised and has become the god of the earth. The exchange is the true god of the Jews.In Marx’s historical drama, the remerging of Christianity into Judaism was transformative and progressive. To the extent that modern life is now founded upon secularised theological concepts, then Judaeo-Christian is an apt description of this development. Judaeo-liberalism might well be another apt expression, given the financial and economic liberalism of our times.
As a social construct, the description Judaeo-Christian serves in the way that we might understand a Jew to remain a Jew, even if not religious. The expression is common in all western churches, and is distilled to the fullest extent of its meaning in beliefs held to be Christian Zionist in commitment.
It provides a thin residual veneer of moral support to a globalised world order founded on finance and central banking power. As such, it is the secularised creed of ‘the god of the earth’, before whom we must all bow down, atheist, Christian and Jew.
In the Judaising of Christianity along a line of progress that leads eventually to the secularisation of society under money, ‘all that is holy is’ thoroughly ‘profaned’, effectively removing moral resistance to the atomisation and commodification of society on a global basis, removing barriers to the linear march of progress, non-commodity-based institutions such as the family, marriage etc... At the extreme, its Christian-Zionist manifestation is used to legitimise the Judaising of Muslim lands.
If the globalised hegemony of finance capitalism is to be brought down, then its legitimising mythos of continuity and progress must be broken too.
Whatever else Judaeo-Christianity might be, it is not Christian.
Progressivism’s messianic vision of a truth yet to come runs counter to the belief in a Messiah who has already walked this earth and revealed the Truth that existed from the start. Truth came before error. That is the point. It was there before the Fall.
‘In breaking the line of mythic continuity, it would be wrong to even speak of Christianity surpassing Judaism with the birth of Christ. Instead, we should speak of a new rooting. To surpass leaves the line of ‘progress’ in tact. It leaves behind the form in which something was enclosed. In this sense the ‘Christic initiates’ would have been able to surpass the Jewish form only if they had first belonged to it. But precisely from the start this obligation was abolished in an exemplary manner, even if not understood by everyone. And this is what explains original Christianity's power of (peaceful) expansion.’ (Jean Borella)
‘Christ did indeed have the express intention of founding a new Ecclesia, a new religion, a new ‘bond’, a new ‘Covenant’ (berith in Hebrew, which is translated by the Greek diatheke in the Septuagint, repeated by the Evangelists, and the Latin testamentum). The proof of this new Covenant is attested to by one of the most solemn moments of Christ’s life, the moment which will become for the rest of time until the end of the world the major moment and the centre of all Christian life... Jesus Christ declares on the eve of Good Friday:- ‘This cup which is poured out for you is the New Covenant in my blood’ (Luke 22:20, 1 Cor. 11:25). It is at this very instant that the founding rite of the new religion was instituted... Also, as a result of this event, the Christian religion is founded anew each time the sacrifice of the `New Covenant is liturgically accomplished. Therefore this covenant is new not only withrespect to the old, otherwise it would abolish it - which is impossible- but it is intrinsically new...’ (Jean Borella)
In the temptations of Christ is condensed the struggles faced by all who walk this earth. There are parallels with Adam, who was also tempted, but who succumbed.
At the heart of the devil’s offerings was the temptation to push God aside. This raises the question: is God real, or do we have to invent God ourselves?
Many relegate God to the domain of subjectivity. We decide what God can do.
With God’s power, stones should become bread and a leap from the temple roof should be safe.
But‘you should not put God to the test’, responded Christ. Such arrogance would make God an object and impose our own Cartesian laboratory conditions upon him. This is to make oneself god.
The Third Temptation was for Jesus to accept power over the world in exchange for bowing down to Satan.
However,the concept of Messiah meant not worldly power, but the cross, and the radically different community that comes into being through the cross.
When Peter questioned this, Jesus rebuked him saying: ‘Get thee behind me Satan, for you are not on the side of God, but of men.’
To the Jews who did not believe Him, Jesus lashed out:
You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44Anyone who claims the power to make the perfect world is the willing dupe of the devil and plays the world right into his hands.
But to those who were tempted to roam the world in such a cause Jesus said:
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are. Matthew 23:15If not peace and prosperity, what did Jesus bring? The answer is God. And with God, the Truth.
‘What is truth?” asked Pontius Pilate.
Subjectivism and moral relativism are betrayed in the very question. They were prominent in the self-righteousness of the Jews who, together with Pilate, spurned the truth in condemning Christ. They remain prominent also in the liberalism of the present, which has also rejected the truth of the cross. The truth in all its grandeur and purity was not apparent before the raising of Christ on the cross. From that point, the world could only be true to the extent that it reflected God, the creative logic and the eternal reason that brought it into being. For with Christ’s passion a new hierarchy came into being that united man to other men in their union with God, through Christ.
As if to underline the break in the continuity of sin... At the death of Jesus, ‘the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;’ Matthew 27:51
If the truth is objective, then ‘bearing witness to the truth’ means giving priority to God and his will - the truth of the cosmic hierarchy - over against the interests of this world and its powers. The antithesis stated in these terms could not be more stark - choose God or the devil.
© John Dunn.