4. 9 December 1984
As to the difference in my mind between theology and religion, its roughly equivalent to the object/subject dichotomy: one studies theology, one experiences religion (or doesn't).
The tokens that to Israel came
to me they have not come.
I'm perfectly sure that you may not pick and choose among testaments to suit yourself. The God of Christianity is the God of the Old Testament, never doubt that. You accept or reject the
package. Doesn't it strike you as perhaps the least little bit patronising to say that Paul was as it were tainted with O.T. habits of thought? He was an Old Testament Jew, surely, through and through. So was Jesus, if the Gospels are any guide. He was forever saying things like It is written (Matthew 4.6,7). I am come to fulfill the law and the prophets (5.17 7.12). Don't pray lake the heathen, i.e. the goyim (6.7) don't be like those Gentiles (6.32) make the appropriate ritual offering (8.4); he thought it OK drown the swine (presumably because they were only pork) (8.32) and so on: he was a synagogue teacher, a rabbi, a Jew wholly, grounded and founded in the Old Testament. What you call (and I don't dissent) the archaic primitive ideas of the blood of sin offering are surely not only specifically Christian but Jesus's own ideas in his own language, from his own tradition and teaching? Redemption from sin by his blood was after all his idea (synoptic gospels: can't find it in John). I thought it was the sacred heart of the creed? I'm sorry to have to reiterate that I find it wholly repugnant and rather mad. What next: quo vadis?
Yours as ever,