Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Intermarriage: Avoiding the Neurosis of Exclusionist Messianic Judaism



In Messianic Judaism, as I've mentioned, there are two camps, those who see the Jewish way of life as excluding Gentiles and those who see the Jewish way of life as including Gentiles.  Of these camps, the Exclusionist Camp (the ones who segregate Jews and Gentiles according to a supposed differentiation in life calling) experiences confusion on the issue of intermarriage.

Exclusionist Jews who marry Gentile women often feel guilty that they've sabotaged their children with a difficult choice:  should the children follow the Jewish way of life of their father or should they follow the Gentile way of life of their mother?  (or vice versa)  And there's also the guilty feeling of having married outside the covenant.  Have I betrayed my People?  etc, etc...

Inclusionist Messianic Judaism, on the other hand, sees the New Covenant as more inclusive version of the Old Covenant (i.e. Sinaitic Covenant), thus obligating all Believers to follow a Jewish way of life--even the uncircumcised and non-proselyte Gentiles must follow a Jewish way of life.  In the Inclusionist view, since Jews and Gentiles belong to the same covenants and live the same Jewish lifestyle, all of the pitfalls of Exclusionist Messianic Judaism are avoided.  There's no confusion:  everyone must follow Judaism.  There's no guilt:  G-d loves it when a Jew marries a Gentile when both are dedicated to following the demands of the covenant of Israel.  Thus, under the Inclusionist framework, intermarriage is not an issue at all.  On the contrary!  It is seen as a beautiful thing!  Just like the marriage of Ruth and Boaz, intermarriage is something that glorifies HaShem by demonstrating the trans-ethnic goodness of His commands.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Seinfeld and Eschatology

I used to watch the show Seinfeld.  One of the recurring jokes I got a kick out of was when a character would say things like "Barring some unforeseen incident" or "Barring any unforeseen developments" and then, right on cue, something unforeseen would occur and hilarious chaos would ensue.

My point?

It's hard to predict things accurately.  Even when it comes to End Times prophecies in the Bible where we're given a general picture of how things unfold, we're still really sketchy on the details.

However, I would like to make a prediction...  : )

Based on the social trajectory of Gentiles in first-century Messianic communities, the fact that they were enjoying an unprecedented level of inclusion into Jewish life (for an understanding of just how "unprecedented"see the Cornelius story where Peter is shocked that G-d wants him to visit an uncircumcised man because it contradicted Jewish "law"), it seems to me that assimilation would've been inevitable.

So...

...one wonders what might happen in the future Messianic Kingdom, a time when Gentiles are given unprecedented covenantal rights...  Would a similar pro-Judaic social trajectory lead to Gentile assimilation into Israel (just like in the old days of ancient Israel)?

I think I can say that, barring any unforeseen developments, that this assimilation will most certainly occur.


Monday, November 26, 2012

Was Paul a Maximal Judaizer? Or Was He Anti-Judaization? I Want To Hear Your Thoughts!

So if you haven't seen Rudolph's article on Paul's "rule" in 1 Cor. 7:18, check it out here.  Rudolph contends that Paul was anti-Judaization.  Here's the main verse in question:


"Was a man already circumcised when he was called? He should not become uncircumcised. Was a man uncircumcised when he was called? He should not be circumcised." (1 Cor. 7:18)

It occurred to me the other night that you can either view Paul as maximally, minimally, or moderately in terms of Judaizing (or you could see him as being anti-Judaization).  I think of Paul as being pro-Judaization of Gentiles.  And I think of him of encouraging a maximal level of Judaization (i.e. I think he encourages Gentiles to follow Jewish practices).  The only caveat is that he seems to take into account certain first-century exigencies such as the anti-grace circumcision doctrines of certain Yeshua-believing Pharisees (see Acts 15:1; Gal. 5) when he says thinks like he does in 1 Cor. 7:18.

But let's get back to Rudolph.  By the way, I love Rudolph even if I disagree with him on some things. Okay, let's begin.

Rudolph starts off by saying that Paul in 1 Cor. 7:20 links "klesis" (situation) and "kaleo" (called).  In linking these concepts, Rudolph argues that Paul believes that circumcision (Jewishness) and foreskin (Gentileness) are callings.

What does this mean practically?  Well, Rudolph says that Gentiles should identify as being excluded from Torah:

"Paul describes circumcision as integrally related to Torah observance (Jewish identity), and lack of Torah observance is indicative of foreskin (Gentile identity).  Circumcision is incomplete without the circumcised life."

Furthermore, Rudolph makes the claim that Paul differentiated between Jewish commandments and Gentile commandments:

"If the [calling to a particular way of life] differed between Jew and Gentile (1 Cor. 7:18-20), it is plausible that Paul, a first century Jew from a Pharisaic background, held that [G-d's] commandments for Jews and Gentiles differed as well."

The problem with Rudolph's assertion that Paul differentiates between Jewish commandments and Gentiles commandments is not in the text.  On the contrary, Paul seems to eradicate such a distinction:

"Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing:  Keeping God's commands is what counts."

There is no place in Paul's writings where he says "Gentiles must live a non-Jewish lifestyle."  Quite the opposite.  Paul commands Gentiles to reject Gentilism (paganism) and adopt the beliefs and practices of Judaism (e.g. the belief in the Jewish Messiah as Savior, the keeping of Jewish customs like ritual immersion and the keeping moedim and kashrut).

Here's the other thing:  in the same chapter (1 Cor. 7), Paul says to virgins "Do not look for a wife."

So does Paul really think that men shouldn't look for a spouse?  If Paul was remotely Torah-observant then, knowing that the mitzva to procreate is mentioned first in the Tanak, it's impossible that Paul could be discouraging virgins from getting married.  Paul wouldn't preach against the Torah.  It's more likely that Paul understood that marriage is inevitable and natural for most people.

What's my point?

My point is that if Paul says that virgins shouldn't seek to get married (but actually believes that they should get married and that marriage is good) then it follows that when Paul says in the same chapter that Gentiles shouldn't seek to become circumcised that he might actually believe that Gentiles should get circumcised and that circumcision is a good.

So why did he say the opposite of what he really felt?  Well, enough of my opinions!  I want to hear from you, dear readers.  What do you think Paul meant?  Do you agree with Rudolph's interpretation of Paul's "rule"?  Or is the "rule" against circumcision like the "rule" against marriage?  (i.e. not really a rule at all).


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Tel Aviv Bus Bombing...This is a Sad Day

Click Here for News Story


The Evolutionary Morphology of Jewish Roots Christianity

It occurred to me this morning that Judaism as a religious system is a genus and within this system there are many species:  the various denominations of Judaism and even Christianity.  While it might seem odd to taxonomize Christianity this way seeing that it is in many ways anti-Judaic, the very fact that Christianity self-identifies as anti-Judaic (being against Judaism in various ways) shows that it is morphologically related to Judaism.

I also see Jewish Roots Christianity [JRC] as further speciation of Judaism.  It occurred to me this morning that JRC can be seen as the evolutionary result of mutagenic agents in the religious ecosystem.  The overriding mutagenic factor that I observe is Messianic Judaism!

But there are different species of Messianic Judaism and each has a different mutagenic effect on Christianity.

As One Law Believers, we need to introduce the One Law mutagen into Christianity to facilitate Christian evolution into One Law Messianic Judaism.

[DISCLAIMER:  no, I don't believe in macro-evolution.  I just found the terminology useful in describing what I've been observing] 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Monday, November 19, 2012

Zetterholm on the Status of Gentiles in the Covenant of Israel

So I'll share a few interesting quotes from Zetterholm's book "The Formation of Christianity in Antioch" and then discuss them briefly.  It's interesting how close to One Law he gets without ultimately being able to put the pieces together:


British Foreign Minister Makes Anti-Israel Statement



The British Foreign Secretary William Hague said that if Israel invades Gaza that Israel "would lose...a lot of the international support and sympathy that they have in this situation.

No country in the world would allow a foreign country to fire missiles into it.  And everyone would understand if a country defended itself against such aggression.  But Israel is not allowed to protect itself?!

I know that there are Brits reading this right now.  You guys need to write to your leaders and voice condemnation for William Hague.  This guy is pure evil!




Israel's Secret Weapon: Computer Nerds!

Click Here for News Story


The Twisting of a Natural Desire: How First Fruits of Zion Exploits Gentiles' Natural Desire to Seek Reconciliation with the Jewish People



Saturday, November 17, 2012

Church Plans are on Hold

So work has made it so that I can't visit the church for the foreseeable future.  And just as I was making some friends!  Ah, well...  C'est la vie.


Friday, November 16, 2012

Remember to Pray for Israel This Week

Link to News Article About Kiryat Malachi Attack

Introduction Section for Orthodox Messianic Judaism (book and blog)


Just about any Christian who has been to church has heard that the Church is the New Israel, that Jesus abolished the Law, etc.  This type of teaching says that Jesus came to abolish Judaism and set up a completely different religious culture--that of modern day Christianity.  This means that when Christians try to convert Jews, they tell them to stop keeping the Jewish Sabbath and start keeping the Christian Sabbath, start eating Biblically prohibited meats.  In short, the Christian message to Jews is anti-Judaic:  "Stop practicing Judaism!"

And just about any Messianic Jew who has been to Messianic synagogue has heard that Gentiles are excluded from the nation of Israel and precluded from keeping the commandments of the nation of Israel.  In fact, many Messianic synagogues who promote exclusionism teach that gentiles who keep the commandments are actually hurting Jews.  Such "Torah-theft" is said to prevent Israel from achieving its mission to be the only nation in the world that keeps the commandments of the covenants.

But what if the New Testament promoted a religion that was both pro-Judaic and covenantally inclusive of Gentiles?  What if Israel is meant to include both Jews and Gentiles?

The Problem with Christianity:  Anti-Judaism

There are roughly four manifestations of Christian anti-Judaism:

(1) Supersessionism:  the belief that Jews have become irrelevant because the Church has superseded Old Israel by becoming the New Israel;

(2) Antinomianism:  the belief that Jesus sought to wipe out Judaism with all of its observances of Biblical commandments and set up in its place a new religion with different holy days and customs (e.g. Easter, Christmas, Sunday Sabbath, permissive food policies);

(3) Syncretism:  the belief that customs originating in paganism can be converted for use in Christian worship (e.g. Sunday, Easter, Christmas, etc);

(4) Triumphalism:  the belief that Christianity is the true form of religion which everyone must embrace.  Therefore, Jews must reject all Jewish practices from the Bible and replace them with the practices of cultural Christianity.

What's the harm in having such anti-Judaic views?  The costs of Anti-Judaism may be laid out as follows:

(1) Loss of intimacy.  Antinomianism hurts one's relationship with G-d.  The commandments are meant to orient one to G-d and to lead to a deepening intimacy with Him.  Thus, to ignore His instructions means to hurt one's relationship with Him;

(2) Damage to relationships.  Antinomianism also hurt relationships between family members and members of the community.  For example, the Biblical practice of the Sabbath was intended primarily as a means of deepening familial relationships.  In Christianity, the family has taken a hit.  There are many failed marriages and many broken families.  Rejecting G-d's instructions for relationships as set forth in the commandments means hurting those relationships and not experiencing the full richness that G-d intended.  Antinomianism also creates a relational rift between Gentiles and Jews;

(3) Distortion of the Gospel.  All of the aspects of Anti-Judaism distort a pro-Judaic gospel into an anti-Judaic gospel which Torah prohibits Jews from accepting.  Jews can't accept a gospel that (a) eliminates Jews as a Chosen People; (b) teaches that the New Covenant nullifies the commandments; (c) mandates a culture permeated with atavistic pagan practices; (d) and leads to loss of Jewish identity (i.e. replacing Jewish religious culture with the trappings of cultural Christianity.

So how can Gentiles help rather than harm?

The solution to Christian anti-Judaism is Messianic Judaism.  Gentiles need to identify as Messianics practicing Messianic Judaism.  The pro-Judaic influence of an inclusive Messianic Judaism reverses the harmful effects of Christian anti-Judaism.  It can do this in the following ways:

(1) Intimacy:  Following the Biblical commandments helps Gentiles understand G-d better and experience intimacy with Him;

(2) Inclusionism:  By understanding how the Gentiles are included with Jews in the national covenants of Israel, Gentiles will be better able to relate to one another as well as their Jewish brethren;

(3) Discipleship:  The original Gospel wasn't just about spreading a message.  It involved making disciples.  A pro-Judaic Gospel enables Jewish discipleship.  By understanding that the Gospel is truly pro-Judaic, Gentiles can finally transmit a Gospel that (a) celebrates Jews as a Chosen People; (b) encourages the zealous observance of the Law; (c) replaces cultural Christianity with the culture of New Covenant Judaism.

The Problem with Exclusionist Messianic Judaism

The loudest voices (but by no means the majority) in Messianic Judaism are those of the Exclusionist camp who say that the New Covenant excludes Gentiles from the nation of Israel.  They teach that the New Covenant is really a multi-national covenant that separates Jews and Gentiles into their nations of origin.  On the basis of covenantal exclusion, this camp teaches that Gentiles who keep the distinctive Jewish commandments are committing "Torah-theft" which robs the Jewish people of their identity and damages the uniqueness of the Jewish people.

What's the harm in excluding Gentiles from the covenants?

Exclusionism harms Gentiles in at least three ways:

(1) Loss of intimacy.  When Exclusionists prohibit Gentiles from keeping the commandments, they prevent Gentiles from experiencing the intimacy of the commandments;

(2) Damaged relationships.  To be excluded from the lifestyle of the commandments is to be excluded from the Jewish community.  This second-class citizenship leads to feelings of inferiority amongst Gentiles.  This feeling of inferiority coupled with the lack of relational wisdom that comes from experiencing the commandments, wreaks havoc on Gentile families and on the relationship between Gentile families and the Jewish community.  Additionally, with the pulpit saying one thing and Scripture saying another, many Gentiles suffer from identity and role confusion;

(3)  Communal rejection forces gentiles to reject Yeshua.  People need a community.  This is instinct just like the instinct to eat or procreate.  We are social beings.  When a Gentile feels excluded from a Messianic community, he often seeks acceptance from a non-Messianic Jewish community and eventually succumbs to the social pressure to reject Yeshua.

Is there a way to reverse these harmful trends of Exclusionism?

Yes!

Inclusionist Messianic Judaism reverses the harmful trends of Exclusionism.  When it is understood that the New Testament teaches that Gentiles are included in the covenants of Israel and in the way of life mandated by the covenants, there are benefits to not only the individual but also to the entire community!   In addition to Gentiles experiencing deeper intimacy with G-d, feeling welcome as equal members in Messianic Jewish communities, the entire, global community of Jewish and Gentile Believers can experience peace and harmony with one another.  Under the unifying influence of a pro-Judaic culture, the community of Messianic Believers would grow and truly become a witness to Yeshua that the whole world might believe.

END OF INTRODUCTION

Stay tuned for the main body of the book...





Monday, November 12, 2012

What are the Respective Costs of Christian Anti-Judaism and Exclusionist Messianic Teachings?

The Consequences of Christian Anti-Judaism

We know that Christianity is anti-Judaic.  There's the anti-Semitic Church history, the anti-Judaic hermeneutics which make Christians think that the New Testament doesn't promote Judaism but rather discourages it, the Christian preference for non-Biblical practices of pagan origin, etc.  So what is the cost of all of this?

It would be flat out wrong to say that Christians will suffer all the Deuteronomic curses because of this. The blessings/curses listed in Deuteronomy are primarily contingent on national obedience.  Thus, there's no guarantee that any individual person who observes the Torah will be blessed or that any individual person who rejects the Torah will suffer curses.  It's entirely possible that a Believer who lives his whole life unaware of Judaism could live a prosperous life--and even have a good relationship with G-d.  So why follow the Torah?

Because the Law helps us to know G-d, to orient to Him, to better our relationship with Him.  Thus, at a minimum, the Christian who rejects New Testament Judaism and opts for a syncretistic religion like Christianity is HURTING his relationship with G-d.  It means that a Christian's relationship with G-d is not as good as it could be.  

But, maximally, a Christian is distorting the gospel and this has really bad consequences for Jews who are in desperate need of hearing a gospel that the Torah will actually allow them to accept.

The Consequences of Messianic Exclusionism

Those One Law adherents out there know that Exclusionist Messianic Jews who teach that Gentile Believers in Yeshua are excluded from the national covenants of Israel (and the right/duty of all Israelite citizens to observe Torah), that this is not in accord with the teachings of the New Testament.  We know that the New Covenant is just as much a national covenant of Israel as the Old Covenant.  We see covenantal inclusion of gentiles in Acts 15 ("a people called by His name"); We see it in Cornelius, that it is praiseworthy (i.e. good) for a gentile and member of the New Covenant to choose to follow Torah (since he had a reputation for observing well the Torah of Moses);  We see it in Paul's instructions to the gentiles to abandon gentileness (1 Cor. 12:2; Eph 2; Eph 4) and embrace their status as members of the national covenants of Israel (Eph 2) and in his exhortation to the gentiles that they put into practice everything they've observed him practice;  We see it in Peter's statements to the gentiles (1 Peter 2);  We see it in the historical reality that ex-pagan Gentiles had no other religious option than Judaism and that they were well-known to be observing Judaic practices (Col. 2).  Etc, etc.

So what's the harm in those of the Exclusionist camp in teaching that gentiles are excluded from the national covenants of Israel (i.e. Old and New Covenants)?  

It would be wrong to say that such Exclusionists will suffer Deuteronomic curses.  However, if gentiles are meant to be included in the national covenants, then teaching them that they are excluded could, at a minimum, lead to role/identity confusion that damages their relationship with G-d, and, at a maximum, could imperil the souls of the ones who, seeking Judaism in non-Messianic communities, end up rejecting Yeshua in order to feel included in the Jewish community.

What You Owe to Six Million Jews


Why Follow the Commandments? To be Happy? To be Blessed? Or Something Much More...

Here's some notes from my little black notebook from earlier today...

People say that we should follow the Torah so we will be blessed.  But is that why we should do it?

The motivation for performing chukim (supra-rational decrees such as kashrut, Shabbat, etc) is NOT that it will make us happy (it may not) or that it will make us wise (it may not) or that it will bring us health, wealth, and love (it may not); rather, the motivation to perform the chukim is knowing that it HELPS (rather than hurts) our relationship with G-d and brings pleasure to Him (rather than pain) and, secondarily, that it helps us toward fulfilling the mitzvah to love our neighbor as ourself.  

If we have a relationship with G-d then we have EVERYTHING good.  Therefore, our sole motivation in life is to help our relationship with G-d and not to hurt it.  This thought should guide every choice we make.  


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Shaye Cohen on Paul's Use of the Term "Judaize"

The following comes from Cohen's book "The Beginnings of Jewishness":


pg. 175  "The verb ioudaizein, 'to judiaize,' consists of two elements:  the noun stem iouda- and the verb stem -izein.  The verb then is of the same class as medizein, 'to medize,' attikizein, 'to atticize,' and numerous other such verbs that are securely attested in classical, non-Jewish, non-Christian Greek.  I shall first study this verb family as a whole and then turn to the specific meanings of ioudaizein...
Verbs in the -izein family have three basic meanings:  (a) to give political support (a political meaning); (b) to adopt customs or manners (a cultural meaning); (c) to speak a language (a linguistic meaning)....The verbs refer not to a change of essence but to a change of behavior, not 'to be' but 'to be like.'"

pg. 181  "In Jewish Greek the word ioudaizein appears only four times.  The first instance is the Greek version of Esther 8:17.  Here is the Hebrew text as translated in the New Jewish Version:

And in every province and in every city, when the king's command and decree arrived, there was gladness and joy among the Jews, a feast and a holiday.  And many of the people of the land professed to be Jews, for the fear of the Jews had fallen upon them.

'Professed to be Jews' translates the Hebrew mityahadim.  The simple meaning of the Hebrew (and, I think, of this English translation) is not that many non-Jews converted to Judaism but that they pretended to be Jews:  they professed themselves to be something they were not.  They did so because they feared for their lives; the Jews had just been given carte blanche by the king to kill their enemies, and therefore many gentiles pretended to be Jews in order to protect themselves.  The Greek translation of the crucial verb is perietemonto kai ioudaizon, 'they were circumcised and judaized.'  Many scholars have understood this to mean 'they were circumcised and became Jews'--that is, converted to Judaism--but this cannot be right, because, as I discussed above, -izein verbs indicate a change in behavior ('to be like'), not a change in essence ('to be')...Surely the Greek means that the gentiles either sided with the Jews (a political meaning) or adopted Jewish customs and manners (a cultural meaning)...
Paul uses the verb in Galatians 2:14 in his attack on Peter: 'If you although a Jew (Ioudaios), live in the gentile manner and not Jewishly (ethnikos kai oukh ioudaikos), how can you compel gentiles to judaize?'  The structure of the sentence makes clear that 'to judaize' here means 'to live Jewishly,' to follow the customs and manners of the Jews.  (Similarly, ioudaismos in Galatians 1:13-14 means the observance of Jewish traditions.)...The verb seems to be used in a general sense:  when gentiles adopt any distinctively Jewish customs and manners, they judaize."

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Free Audio Bible

You can download the entire KJV audio Bible here.

Group Dynamics, Black Sheep, and Likeability: Why Chabad is Effective in Making Believers Reject Yeshua

Should Christians Evangelize Jews?

"In light of Auschwitz, any deliberate attempt to convert Jews to Christianity can be seen only as a more subtle form of Hitler's 'final solution'--the plan to erase Jews from the face of the earth,"  Eva Fleischner



Christians hold to an anti-Judaism, a belief that Judaism is bad and Christianity (any of the Christianities) should be normative--even for Jews.

For this reason, I believe Christians should not evangelize Jews in the way they currently view evangelism.

Evangelism is proselytization, making someone conform to your lifestyle--essentially making clones of yourself and your religion.  Christianity teaches that the mitzvot of Torat Moshe (a.k.a. Jewishness) has been abolished and that one should follow the customs of Christianity (i.e. pagan customs mixed with Biblical customs).  So when a Christian proselytizes, the result is an anti-Semitic, anti-Judaic rampage of destruction.

So Eva Fleischner was correct.

What should Christians do then?  They should devote themselves to studying Torah and Jewish tradition, to forming One Law communities.  Only then can they proselytize and achieve a result that does not involve, in the aggregate, a second holocaust.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Spending the Shabbos at Hasidic Rabbi's House

So this past Shabbat was interesting.  After talking to Judah and Zion, I decided to visit a local hasidic shul.  Before I went, Zion said "Just remember you're a guest."

Flash forward to the drash:  the rabbi says "This week's parsha is about welcoming guests...the story of Abraham and the three guests..."

It was a funny coincidence.  : )

We had a good time, davening, singing.  Then we went to a house and had the meal.  Discussion was good.  The question for discussion before the food was served was this:

"So why do we pray...the G-d of Abraham, the G-d of Isaac, the G-d of Jacob?  Why not just say 'G-d of Abraham?  Why say it three times?  What are your thoughts?"

And so it was a good question and we all talked and ate and drank.  It was a lovely time.

And today we went to a Baptist Church again.  :  )

What a schedule.  But both are my people so why not?

Oh, I almost forgot.  There was a natural segue at one point and so I asked the rabbi "When did Israel transform from Am Yisrael to the nation of Israel?"

He explained that it was through Passover.  That Passover was the first of the months, the Spring, everything about birth, even the kabbalistic texts describe the blood on the doorposts and the emergence of the people as similar to a birth, etc.  So there was no question in his mind that Passover established Israel as a nation.

Shalom,

Peter

Friday, November 2, 2012

Going to a Non-Messianic Synagogue Tonight

Taking the family to a non-Messianic synagogue tonight.  Should be interesting.  I wonder how the conversations will go...  







The Christian Argument Against the Jews (Adversus Judaeos): A Brief Overview of the Ancient Christian Origins of Anti-Semitism


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Alphabetized Topical Index is Now Complete

See the new tab at the top of the home page.  I hope it will assist people in navigating the site.