Over the past few years I’ve been digging into a fair amount of Jewish theology. For me, this has been massively helpful in journeying through my Christian faith. To be able to view Christian spirituality through a lens of Jewish history and culture has seemed to add a depth I never really experienced before. The coming of Jesus into this world is such a huge event for all Christians, past and present, and rightly so. But I’ve wondered if our emphasis on the story of Jesus and what followed it has in some way blocked our view into the importance of Judaism and the Jewish bible. It’s as if we are further along on our road and if we are to look back, we see this incredible mountain range that just takes our breath away. But if we were to backtrack, past the mountain and into the land on the other side, our view of the same mountain range would become even more amazing than before. We could have never imagined it looked that way-even better than what we’d become accustomed too. This is how I begin to feel as I discover more of the story and historical context of Judaism. It’s shown me more clearly the arc of the biblical narrative and has made the story of Jesus even more powerful than I had ever encountered before.
One of my favorite Jewish writers and theologians is Abraham Joshua Heschel. I just recently began reading his book “God in Search of Man” which is considered a “classic of modern Jewish theology”. I opened the first page and began to read the first paragraph. It was the harsh slap in the face that I desperately needed, and still do need….daily. Here it is:
To Recover The Questions.
It is customary to blame secular science and anti-religious philosophy for the the eclipse of religion for its own defeats. Religion declined not because it was refuted, but because it became irrelevant, dull, oppressive, insipid. When faith is completely replaced by creed, worship by discipline, love by habit; when the crisis of today is ignored because of the splendor of the past; when religion speaks only in the name of authority rather than with the voice of compassion-its message becomes meaningless. Religion is an answer to man’s ultimate questions. The moment we become oblivious to the ultimate questions, religion becomes irrelevant, and its crisis sets in.