Lately the question of the relation between Israel and the Church and Christianity and Judaism has been raised. What I think is crucial in such discussions is that we not equivocate on the terms employed. What is the relationship between the religion of “Christianity” and the theological reality of “Church”? Or the religion of “Judaism” and the theological reality of “Israel”?
These are, I think the supremely crucial points because they deal with the Barthian issue about revelation versus religion. Certainly the revelation of God stands as judge over all religions, including Christianity. But, can the categories of “Church” and “Israel” be coordinated as subsets of the religions of “Christianity” and “Judaism”? Or do “Church” and “Israel” belong to the substance of revelation itself in a crucial way? I think for Barth the answer is yes, but how that is all shaped is a very complex theological articulation.
All of this is only to note that I think we sometimes skip far too quickly from “Israel” to “Judaism” and from “Church” to “Christianity” in some of these discussions. Clarity on these points is absolutely necessary. In other words, I think that the relationship between Christianity and Judaism as world religions may be something quite different than the relationship between the Church and Israel in God’s economy of revelation and salvation. What precisely that difference is and how it matters theologically is the very stuff of truly theological dialogue between Christians and Jews.