Still A Stumbling Block

A Heidelblog Classic from January 9, 2007:


A Jewish critic of Dr Laura Schlessinger (for her public abandonment of orthodox Judaism) writes:

“The late Yeshayahu Leibovitz pointed out that the quintessential symbol of Christianity is Jesus dying on the cross for the sins of mankind, indicating that God serves the purposes of humans. But Judaism’s quintessential symbol is Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son, Isaac, by God’s command.”

On the surface the rabbi might seem to have us. We have a “God-centered” theology and faith, don’t we? Is the death of Jesus somehow man-centered? What I love about this quotation is that it summarizes natural religion perfectly. Our “doing” for God seems so right, so reasonable and yet the Apostle Paul has no time for it whatsoever.

He says, “but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles….” (1 Cor 1:23). The rabbi speaks for natural man but Paul speaks for God. What kind of a religion has God coming to humans, becoming a human, in order to redeem humans? It’s called Christianity.

Rabbi, keep climbing the ladder and, if it pleases God, when you finally discover, like Rabbi Saul, that all your ladder climbing and and law-keeping is dung (see Philippians 3:1–9), then perhaps you will begin to see the crucifixion of God the Son incarnate a little differently. Until then, it’s just foolishness.

When you finally discover that all you can do is still not enough then maybe you will come to agree with Rabbi Saul who gave up all his “doing”

…in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith….

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  1. I’ve told friends that the most powerful religion in the world isn’t Christianity, or Islam, or any Eastern religion, it’s the religion of the natural man…if I’m good enough, God will love me and accept me, and so much of what people do is oriented around that idea. People are generally on either side of this – pride (I’ve done it or I’m very close to doing it) or shame, guilt, and failure (I’m never going to make it).

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