11.10.12

Christian Views


The ongoing Christian debate over Christian views on the Mosaic Covenant began in the lifetime of the apostles, notably at the Council of Jerusalem and Incident at Antioch, and parallels the ongoing debate about Paul of Tarsus and Judaism.

Supersessionism, also called replacement theology, is the Christian theological position that the New Covenant replaces the Mosaic Covenant, which is often referred to as the "Old Covenant". Supersessionism views Christendom and the Christian Church as being the inheritor of the promises made to the biblical Israelites and proselytes. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1967, "The Law of the Gospel fulfills, refines, surpasses, and leads the Old Law to its perfection." This position is in direct contrast with dual-covenant theology which posits that both biblical covenants still apply.

Dual-covenant theology holds that Jews may simply keep the Law of Moses, because of the "everlasting covenant" between Abraham and God expressed in the Hebrew Bible (Genesis 17:13), whereas Gentiles (those not Jews or Jewish proselytes) must convert to Christianity or alternatively accept the Seven Laws of Noah to be assured of a place in the World to Come.
The Catholic Church does not support dual covenant theology and even if holding in 2006 that "The covenant that God made with the Jewish people through Moses remains eternally valid for them" (US Catholic Catechism for Adults), since 2008-9 it argues that "To the Jewish people, whom God first chose to hear his Word, belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ" (US Bishops get Vatican Recognitio for Change in Adult Catechism; USCCB News Release).

Ecclesia et Synagoga
Modern figurines by Paula Mary Turnbull

Christian views. Although Christianity affirms that the Pentateuch is part of Scripture that is inspired of God, Christian tradition denies that all of the Old Covenant still applies directly to Christians. Different arguments are used to reach that conclusion and there are differences of opinion within Christianity as to which parts, if any, still apply. Christianity, almost without exception, teaches that this New Covenant is the instrument through which God offers mercy and atonement to mankind. However, there are differences of opinion as to how the New Covenant affects the validity of the Old Covenant, how many Old Covenant laws such as the Ten Commandments are continued or renewed in the New Covenant, and related issues. The topic is still frequently debated among New Testament scholars and this produce many views. Yet, significantly, as pope Benedict XVI puts it, "The Gospel does not, of course, abolish the [Mosaic] Scriptures, nor push them to one side, but rather interprets them, so that henceforth and forever they form the Scriptures of Christians, without which the Gospel would have no foundation" (Joseph Ratzinger, Sacred Places, 2005).

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