I think that sooner or later everyone in the Church of God has heard this question. After all, we:
- Don’t eat pork.
- Keep “Jewish” holidays or holy days.
- Keep the 7th day Sabbath.
- Don’t keep various “Christian” holidays.
I remember once that someone asked if I was Jewish because we had no Christmas tree in the house. My visitor noticed one of my wife’s hats and concluded we must be Jewish. I’m still not sure about the hat thing…
David Hulme, of CGIC, on vision.org interviewed Paula Frederisen, a professor that specializes in the social and intellectual history of ancient Christianity. She has written a new book Augustine and the Jews: A Christian Defense of Jews and Judaism. In the interview “Paul and Paula“, she makes 2 statements that caught my eye (emphasis mine):
PF We think of Paul as a Christian because we’re standing on 20 centuries of Christianity’s development. But it’s clear from his own letters that he divides the world roughly into two groups: Israel and everyone else. Inside those two groups there’s almost a new precipitate, which is the community in Christ. But in terms of peoples, it’s Jews and gentiles. And his gentiles are able, through Christ, to worship the God of Israel. Taking all those things together, I would think that Paul viewed himself as a Jew.
DH Was he a “convert”?
PF We habitually think of him as “Paul the convert,” but Paul isn’t converting from Judaism to something else. He’s joining a Jewish group within Judaism. He’s a Pharisee, and then he becomes a member of this group around Jesus the Messiah. But he’s not exiting Judaism because of that.
Paul would not recognize Christianity as it is today. Mainstream Christianity has blended pagan practices with the ones taught in the Bible. This is syncretism, and God condemns it (Dt 12:28-32).