“You will say, ‘Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.’ That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand only through faith. So do not become proud, but stand in awe.”
Like the prophets, Paul sees the train wreck coming and is powerless to prevent it.
Ignatius (early 2nd Century) “It is outrageous to utter the name of Jesus Christ and live in Judaism.” (To the Magnesians 10).
Justin (AD 155-170) “Now they that follow their advice, and live under the law, as well as keep their profession in the Christ of God, will, I suppose, perhaps be saved.” (Dialogue with Trypho 47.4)
Jerome to Augustine (AD 404): “In our own day there exists a sect among the Jews throughout all the synagogues of the East, which is called the sect of the Minei, and is even now condemned by the Pharisees. The adherents to this sect are known commonly as Nazarenes; they believe in Christ the Son of God, born of the Virgin Mary; and they say that He who suffered under Pontius Pilate and rose again, is the same as the one in whom we believe. But while they desire to be both Jews and Christians, they are neither the one nor the other.… If, however, there is for us no alternative but to receive the Jews into the Church, along with the usages prescribed by their law; if, in short, it shall be declared lawful for them to continue in the Churches of Christ what they have been accustomed to practise in the synagogues of Satan, I will tell you my opinion of the matter: they will not become Christians, but they will make us Jews. (https://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1102075.htm)
The downward spiral continues, from Martin Luther’s On the Jews and their Lies(1543), to the Holocaust.
I reckon that there are two important take-aways from this Romans text:
- The critique of Jewish pride, running through the letter, and substantively parallel to Jesus’ critique of the attitudes of some of his opponents, is now first applicable to Christian pride across the whole range of its manifestations, from impeccably orthodox to impeccably progressive.
- “Note then the kindness and the severity of God” is an essential counterweight to “If God is for us, who is against us?” Asking whether divine or human faithfulness, grace or human responsibility, is more important is like asking whether inhaling or exhaling is more important.