A non-expert in Christianity may stray in considering such a question. Christianity is a very diverse religion, or set of religions. Yet one theme a Rabbi may be familiar with is a Christian claim for the reason d’être of their religion. Judaism, Christianity posits, was not working and therefore God, as an act of Divine mercy, replaced Judaism with Christianity by sending Jesus to be martyred. Judaism, they claim, was (or is) based on ‘fulfilment of The Law’. This ‘Law’ proved impossible to fulfil. Since man was doomed and damned by Adam and Eve’s sin unless he (mankind) fulfilled the ‘Law’, and since the ‘Law’ could not be fulfilled, Jesus ‘fulfilled’ the ‘Law’ by dying on the Cross and not by actually fulfilling the ‘Law’. Man can now be saved by faith in Jesus. Man can achieve ‘grace’ through faith in Jesus. The ‘Law’ and, consequently, Judaism are dismissed by Christianity as being unnecessarily complicated, nit picking, legalistic and therefore harsh. It is the religion of some creepy Deity called ‘The Harsh Old Testament God’. A new gentler God has come along who is infinitely meeker, milder and utterly forgiving and ‘Grace’, an all encompassing loving state, wipes away the harsh and convoluted strictures of the ‘Law’ and elevates the otherwise damned mankind to eternal delight.
It does not occur to many that traditional Judaism actually represents a loving and forgiving Deity who provides mankind plenty of remedy and opportunity for forgiveness, restoration and spiritual attainment through the religious practises required by the religion. Mankind can have a rich relationship with his Creator. Oh yes, and in Judaism man does not start out as irredeemably damned and hell bound at all. Neither ancestral misbehaviour nor human flaw or weakness cause man to begin damned. Man starts out as neutral and God has always been much more understanding and tolerant of His creatures than many of those creatures give him credit for. This is all not the subject of this discussion.
There is a perception, that one can argue is mythical, that Judaism is nitpicking and legalistic and that Christianity is forgiving and full of sweeping grace that absolves everything. Christianity is about love, not about details.
This leads to the question posed by the title. The overwhelming majority of British citizens have very little involvement with Christianity in their lives at all. A relatively miniscule portion of those who describe themselves as Christian ever attend Church or practise any religion at all. Yet most would in some way or other claim some sympathy with the outlook that favours grace over legalistic nitpicking.
If this is so one must ask why British society, with its multilayered behemoth of an ever shifting series of legislative and regulatory acts, its complex procedures for every area of life, industry or human and other endeavour is so constructed of convoluted and overly nitpicking regulations. Where is the loving, Christian grace in any provision of English law or any code of best practise and the like?
Take for example the multitude of parking restrictions that apply in our local area, typical of many such areas in our country. The regulations, signs and provisions are as nitpicking and confusing as possible. A large sign will announce that the zone before you applies between 11-12 am, but the smaller and more authoritative signs at the side of the road make it clear (to those who look) that the restrictions apply for many more hours than that. When the restrictions started a little over ten years ago they were alleged to be necessary to protect residents’ rights near their homes. Of course residents are charged increasingly exorbitant amounts every year for the privilege of parking in their own streets, and areas which were no problem to anyone for the past ten years and more have suddenly become desperately in need of restrictions. But not only are these rules excessively unnecessary to maintain law and order or to protect the potentially oppressed from deportation or stripping of their civil liberties, they are extremely petty, nitpicking and harsh. Armies of uniformed ‘enforcement officers’ swarm the streets, being paid salaries no doubt under some other statutory provisions, enforcing these parking with a spirit of true Christian grace, following the spirit of the law and not just its content. Unfortunately the spirit of this law is exceptionally petty and mean. Unlike Jewish Law, which was, according to traditional Judaism, designed by a benevolent God, these laws reflect the pettiness of those that make and enforce them.
Either British society has been swamped and convoluted by secularist lawmakers, or it is not as ‘Christian’ as it claims to be, or would like to be if it could.
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