What is the difference between Christianity and Judaism? It isn’t love versus law, or works versus faith; those are canards. It isn’t Incarnation as such; my late teacher Michael Wyschogrod showed that Incarnation is a Jewish idea, specifically that God’s presence (Shekhinah) dwells in the flesh and blood of the people Israel (Christians, he quipped, concentrate that into one single Jew). It isn’t even the different persons of God in the Trinity. Judaism teaches different attributes of God, particularly the Attribute of Justice and the Attribute of Mercy, although we do not of course regard them as different “persons.”
The great gulf fixed between Jews and Christians is the notion of unmerited grace. Unmerited grace is meaningless in the Jewish context. It isn’t that YHWH is a more demanding deity than Jesus of Nazareth. Jews are expected to be God’s partners, and Imitatio Dei for Jews means participating in the continuing work of creation. We do not wait for the Kingdom of Heaven; we build heaven into the minutia of daily life. Performance of the mitzvoth (commandments) is not a means to accumulate sufficient points to win a place in heaven; it is the construction of heaven on earth. The Sabbath is a foretaste of the World to Come, a portion of eternity separated from quotidian time.
Read the rest of “Spengler's” letter to Andrew Klavan here.
Andrew Klavan's response is here.
Among the obstacles to my baptism was my deep desire never to seem to have denied my Jewish heritage. In truth, I never knew myself as a Jew at all until I knew myself in Christ. I know why that offends some Jewish people, but it shouldn't. At his call, I turned toward Christ. I never turned away from His brother and sister Jews, and never will.