Michael Brown and Post-Missionary Messianic Judaism

I promise, I will blog about other things. I was enjoying some posts of a more inspirational nature before this debate started. See “Sabbath Meditation, Picking You Up Off the Floor” and “The Rabbi and the Businessman,” for example.

I promise you, this post will not be angry. Now, I will turn to some of Dr. Brown’s ideas and critique them. This is no longer about whether anyone misrepresented anyone or imputed motives. Now we will talk about theology and practice.

Dr. Michael Brown has recently proposed five main points in response to Dr. Mark Kinzer’s book, Post-Missionary Messianic Judaism. Dr. Brown’s five points in response to Dr. Kinzer are:

1. “Our calling as Jews in general and as Messianic Jews in particular requires us to be active witnesses.”
2. “The Jewish rejection of Yeshua today is integrally related to our forefather’s rejection of Moses, the prophets, and Messiah himself.”
3. “The New Covenant documents make abundantly clear that our people are lost without explicit faith in Yeshua as Messiah.”
4. “The overwhelming emphasis of the New Covenant documents is YESHUA rather than Judaism.”
5. “The path to Post-Missionary Messianic Judaism is the path to negation of the true Messianic faith.”

Now, of these five statements, I only agree with the first and third. The fourth, while true in its simple sense, is misleading.

OUR CALLING TO BE ACTIVE WITNESSES
I do not disagree that we are called to be active witnesses. I suspect from some of the comments in his paper that Dr. brown means something different by the term than I do. I think relational witness is active. I am also not against all forms of proclamation. I simply think that in some cultural settings it does not work. In fact, though I am no student of Christian missiology, I believe that finding culturally relevant forms of connection is a principle in modern missions.

I contend that in post-Christian America, many forms of public proclamation are harmful rather than helpful. We all know this. We have all seen street preachers bringing discredit to our Messiah. I am not talking about the Jewish missionary handing out pamphlets here, but more egregious forms.

I further contend that pamphlet distribution, the mainstay of Jewish missions, is no longer effective. Anecdotally, I can tell you, that in a former phase of life I distributed hundreds of thousands of pamphlets. I met thousands of Jewish people on the street. I never saw a cold contact developed on the street show any interest in meeting, much less placing faith in Yeshua. All of our effectiveness in the Jewish mission I worked for came from relationships built with Jewish people by Christian friends.

Here is where I disagree with Dr. Brown’s first point. He suggests that being an active witness is a rejoinder to Dr. Kinzer’s book and to Post-Missionary Messianic Judaism (PMJ). I don’t agree at all. Let me illustrate.

There is a movement of contemporary and emerging churches in America. These churches are often criticized for shallowness or bad theology. Yet it is nonetheless true that these churches are at the forefront of bringing people to Yeshua in America. I am well aware that many people come to faith in traditional churches as well. Nonetheless, my point is simple: the trend on evangelism in the church is a relational model. Where it is being practiced, there are results. Where the methods are still from previous eras, such as door-to-door intrusions on people’s lives, the results fall off sharply.

Dr. Kinzer is calling for a widespread relational witness of Jews to fellow Jews, from within, not from without. He is calling for a witness from a position of mutual appreciation and not one side being triumphal with regard to the other. This kind of witness is active, not passive.

By contrast, the active witness of Jewish mission agencies is harming the cause of Yeshua. Sure, there are some results. These are mostly the result of relationships and not the results of bold, street proclamation. Jewish mission leaders should be more forthcoming with this information as mission agency newsletters imply (usually without directly saying so) that street proclamation is the reason for changed lives. Rather, many Jews are frantic not to make friends with Messianic Jews for fear they will be embarrassed by bold tactics they have seen on the street.

THE IDEA THAT JEWISH REJECTION OF YESHUA TODAY IS THE SAME AS IN YESHUA’S TIME
I do not agree at all with Dr. Brown’s assertion that the modern Jewish rejection of Yeshua is equatable with that same rejection in Yeshua’s time or in the age of the prophets.

In the first place, it is possible to read Yeshua’s statements about the faithlessness of Israel in an anti-Semitic manner. I do not believe Dr. Brown has done this, but let me preface all my remarks with this statement: if God had chosen the Italians, the Chinese, or the Americans, none of these people groups would have fared better than Israel. Israel is not especially anti-God. Israel is part of the same human race with the same anti-God issues as everyone else.

The modern Jewish rejection of Yeshua is in a much different category than in Yeshua’s time. Yeshua did not ask his generation to turn their backs on God’s covenant in order to become a Christian. Yeshua came from within Judaism to his fellow Jews, the very thing Dr. Kinzer is calling for in PMJ.

For most of the last 2,000 years, Jews have been required to say no to God to say yes to Yeshua. This is an undeniable fact. The only way to deny it is to say that God’s Torah for Jewish people is obsolete. Many Christian theologians will now at least admit that circumcision is still required for Jewish people (it goes back to Abraham, which gives it an upper-hand even in anti-Torah theologies). Yet, even circumcision has historically been denied for Jewish Christians (I mean circumcision on the eighth day with intentionality).

Dr. Kinzer is right to point out this ironic tragedy. Supersessionism and antinomian theology have been the devil’s tool for far too long. He must laugh that in order for a Jew to believe in the Jewish Messiah, the church has required that Jew to say no to God.

If Dr. Brown had made a simpler point, I might have agreed with him. Had he said we are naïve if we think Torah-observant Messianic Jews are likely to start a revival of Yeshua faith any time soon, I would agree. However, the point would not mean much. After all, the vast majority of human beings in this world are rejecting the witness of the church. It is not as if pamphlet-passing is bringing revival either.

THAT JEWISH PEOPLE ARE LOST WITHOUT FAITH IN YESHUA
Dr. Brown and I agree on this point. Nothing Dr. Kinzer says in his book clearly denies this point. It may be an implication of some of Dr. Kinzer’s statements in this book, if you push the word implication a little far. Nonetheless, I would challenge Dr. Brown to cite PMJ as stating that salvation without faith is possible for any person.

THAT THE NEW TESTAMENT EMPHASIZES YESHUA, NOT JUDAISM
Of course this is true. But it is meaningless. It is like saying, “The book of Esther emphasizes the human characters and not God.” Right. But God is understood and that is the point.

It is not surprising when Jews, such as the authors and characters of the New Testament, take their Judaism for granted. In fact, it is common to be around Jews who live Judaism and rarely talk about it. The same is true of Christians. If I meet a Christian who spends more time talking about Christianity than living it, I know something is wrong.

The Jews of the New Testament already had Judaism. What was new was Yeshua and the Holy Spirit and the good news. So, naturally, that is what they discussed. Factor in the fact that the audience of the New Testament is largely Gentile, and you can understand even more why there are no pointers on reading Torah in the synagogue in Paul’s letters.

Dr. Brown, in this section of his paper, goes on to suggest that Paul had veritably left Judaism behind, at the very least relegating it to minor importance. He asserts that Paul made statements about the Torah no Orthodox Jew would make today. I disagree. The Orthodox Jewish position on the Torah and Gentiles is much like Paul’s: Gentiles are not required to keep all of it. If you are a Gentile, try an experiment, ask a rabbi if you should stop eating pork. You will find that Judaism believes there is nothing wrong with pig. It is simply forbidden to Jews.

THE IDEA THAT PMJ, IF FOLLOWED, WILL RESULT IN APOSTASY
Dr. Brown considers PMJ a slippery slope away from the faith. I suppose he means that if Jews who believe in Yeshua start living like Jews, attend Jewish community events, and think of Israel as “our people” instead of “those people,” then the next logical step is to jettison Yeshua-faith altogether.

This is preposterous. People leave the faith all the time and for various reasons. Being true to one’s Jewish identity is not an example of a dangerous mixing of fire and ice.

PMJ does not call for Messianic Jews to abandon meeting together and being Yeshua-centered. PMJ does not call on Messianic Jews to reject Christian churches and brotherhood with Christians. PMJ calls for a different stance towards the Jewish people and for the reality of Jewish covenant identity in the lives of Messianic Jews.

What about those Post-Missionary Christians in all the contemporary and emerging churches? Are they all becoming atheists? I don’t think so.

Neither will Jews who connect with Sinai, with Abraham, with the covenant of God with his people, be in danger because of that connection of rejecting Yeshua. Integrating Yeshua and Judaism was not Dr. Kinzer’s idea. It was Yeshua’s.

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About Derek Leman

Rabbi, writer, Weight Watchers leader, blogger, geek. My main blog is DerekLeman.com/Musings and my health blog is LemansLoserBlog.wordpress.com
This entry was posted in Gospel, Mark Kinzer, Messianic Jewish, Michael Brown, Theology. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Michael Brown and Post-Missionary Messianic Judaism

  1. Susan says:

    I gotta say something about pork, I heard on a local news station yesterday that pigs don’t have pores like us and other animals and pores help us to release toxins built up in our bodies (could this be the reason they roll in the mud to keep cool?) anyway, so when we eat pork , we are eating meat with built up toxins in it……..I just wonder if this is really true.

  2. Robert Efurd says:

    I have been reading the blog for the past few days thinking about Messianic Judaism and the world we live in.
    Today I was driving to work and noticed a large billboard that stated, “Jesus saved my wife from cancer.” As I stared at this two story sign, it revolved and changed to an ad for a local eatery. That sign really bothered me. Not necessarily the message -but it was the presentation.

    When I got to my office I went online and reviewed Dr Brown’s paper and I found the following passage that really spoke to my heart.

    “To be sure, my hundreds of hours of dialogue and discussion with the rabbinic community – especially, Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox rabbis – have produced in me a profound respect for traditional Judaism, an appreciation for the beauty and spirituality of many of our traditions, and a pained conflict in my heart over the lost ness of these people for whom I deeply care. To me, traditional Judaism is the most beautiful and comprehensive religion made by man, yet it remains so near and yet so far.”

    This is what bothers me about street corner preaching. It takes the love of Yeshua, a beauty of scriptures, traditions and brings it down to the level of a hot dog vender like the billboard I saw on the road.

    When I was in the 6th grade we had a Chaplain at my middle school. If ever there was a person that emulated Yeshua-, it was she. She was kind, considerate person, and a great scholar. She always took her time and showed me through her actions that Yeshua shone through her. Years later, I was completing my Boy Scout Eagle Project and I needed a religious leader to write a letter. I went to her. She remembered me and wrote a wonderful letter of recommendation to the committee. I will always remember her kindness.

    On the other hand, I was introduced to the Youth Minister of a mega church in Atlanta. He was an attorney in a large law firm and a real “fire and brimstone” sort of guy. His favorite movie was Top Gun (except for the sex scene) and very hostile to those who would ask any probing questions in the Torah. He would say- Do not read the Talmud. Do not read any commentaries from anyone who was not a Christian. Do not drink wine. Do not dance. Why? Simply because of misguided traditions in the church. I think of all the people he has chased away from Yeshua.

    Today, I see personalities like Matisyahu- the Chasidic rapper reaching the top 20 in pop music with people of all colors and creeds digging his music.

    Rabbi Shmuley Boteach states “I believe we have to make the world more Jewish. I believe Judaism will be the Buddhism of modern times, that much of its wisdom will be adopted without conversion to the religion.”

    Is that not the opportunity we have been seeking to introduce Yeshua to the world?

    The future is Messianic Judaism. We are going forth to build that bridge. It will take time. First, it must have Yeshua as the architect and the Torah as His blueprints.

  3. Tom Amiel says:

    Dear Susan. This link might be of some interest to you, as it is written from a Messianic Jewish perspective.

    http://www.biblicalresearchinstitute.com/give_babe_a_miss.html

  4. Ralph says:

    Derek,

    I have hesitated to respond within this public blog. I generally reserve my comments to private forums where most of the people are known colleagues, and statements are not projected to whoever comes across the site. And as you know, in the past, in at least one of the private forums we both belong, some have expressed the concern over how instance email responses can quickly lead to people talking pass each other and to ad-homenim attacks and therefore they refuse to participate in the private forum discussions. How much more a public forum? Yet I was surprised that it seems that a few of those same people have weighed in on this blog. So I decided to join in on responding in a more public internet arena than I normally do.

    As you know, in a forum we both belong, I have already expressed my concern over your initial angry response concerning Dr. Brown’s paper.
    I will repeat the gist of it here. I have read Mike’s paper and I do not hold to the same premise that it was a hatchet job and full of add-homenin attacks. His paper in a number of places expresses his gratitude to Mark’s scholarship, acknowledges his personal commitment to the Lord, and even acknowledges that some of Mark’s premises were challenging and forced him to ask searching questions. He clearly states that many of the topics in the book have been presented in a clear, reasoned way that demands our attention. I felt the paper endeavored to avoid personal attacks and kept a balance between expressing perspectives that were both positive and negative. Although very bold in his presentation (which may be a negative to some, but not to me), I feel that Mike pinpointed areas that I know that others within MJ share similar concerns, where some are alarmed and others desire a greater clarity.

    In the software engineering world that I also participate, one of the products of think-tank groups is to put forth “white papers” expressing and defending new ideas to promote innovative solution to processes and problems. These solutions are usually a combination of established, sound defense of known and tried concepts that most see clearly and also a visionary part of ideas that have not been fully implemented. The white paper product of this group are full of expectations and models of how this new idea is “THE solution” . I view Post-Missionary Judaism in the same light as the white paper. It has elements that are clearly seen, known and agreed upon and it has a visionary dimension that has yet to be fully implemented and its outcome untested and thus somewhat experimental in nature. In the software world we depend upon engineers outside the group to weigh in on what is being proposed — offering counter arguments and alternative constructs and projecting possible negative outcome, because it can be too costly to go down a track that may have serious and potential flaws. I think Dr. Brown’s paper plays this part and we need to weigh his concerns in similar manner….for the cost could be great.

    I also add that I don’t see any foul in Mike adding his concern that the centrality of the Yeshua (my take) could be diminished by the implementations of the proposed Post-Missionary approach. Nor is he wrong to be concerned that it may be driven by a desire to be accepted in the larger Jewish world based on conversations he has had with students , colleagues and others within MJ. I am confident to say after 25+ years of being in the MJ movement, that I currently know and have known some who have expressed the need for acceptance and sadly some of them have forsaken Yeshua and are now at home in the Orthodox world. There are others who boldly state how they are part of this traditional synagogue or another as proof of Post-Missionary in action, yet when you press them for whether they are known to be believers in Yeshua — they sheepishly say no or you find that they are not allowed full expression. These are realities and although not tied directly to the PMMJ book, I think anyone discussing the topic will see that they are somewhat related. There is so much to say on this subject, and a blog may not be the best forum to cover it all.

    In any case, I am glad and commend you for dropping the angry arguments, being a mensch by adding a retraction to early mis-statements and moved on to focusing on addressing more substantial points in which you disagree. Maybe it will lead to some great exchange that will bring added insight into the matter.
    One of those in our circle that we both know and respect, challenged us in the area of communication to be able to state the weak areas of the views we hold. You have stated that you agree 99% of PMMJ book, what is the 1% you do not agree and what if any are the weaknesses of the 99% you do agree?

    Blessings to you,
    Ralph

  5. PB and J says:

    derek

    thanks for this latest post. i think it really clarifies the entire situation.

    shalom
    peter

  6. Bill says:

    Derek,

    I apologize for the sarcastic remark on yesterday’s blog about engaging the substance of Brown’s five points (“Just a novel thought”). I was not aware of your thoughtful reply above.
    I commend you for sincere theological and practical nuancing here. Thanks.Point taken that the in-your-face street pampheteeting method does not define active witnessing.

    However,(which relates to Browm’s Point #5), I stand by my comment that Kinzer’s PMJ “comes close (not there yet), to “‘salvation by race.'” He draws from Markus Barth, who did hold this view. I do not know if Kinzer affirms that theme in M.Barth. But Brown’s warning is valid. Remember the Ebionites (who reverted to Yeshua- diminishing Judaism), and recall Pirke Avoth’s “All Israel has part in the world to come.” Though people or movements do not always reach the bottom of the slope, slippery slopes are real and if red flags are not heeded, many do reach the bottom. This because of the gravity of fallen human nature and the self-deception of pride of race. As to the danger of PMJ falling prey to the “Messianic Paradox” (Mark 8:35, seeking to save life, while losing it), I enclosed a link to an article I wrote for IJFM, in which I address the Messianic Jewish m’vt on this more in depth. See, especially the second-to-the-last sub-heading of the article entitled “Jewish Identity Crises and Fulfillment” at:

    http://www.ijfm.org/PDFs_IJFM/21_3_PDFs/110_Bjoraker.pdf

    ——-

    Finally, a few brief comment on your rejecting #2 above:

    RE: Point #2- You rightly recall the abuses of the church’s supercessionism, and antinominianism. BUT, you and Kinzer seem to equate the Judaism of Yeshua’s day with current Rabbinic Judaism. Big difference! Since the parting of the ways, the “18 Benedictions”, etc., Rabbinic Judaism has morphed in an anti-Yeshua direction, and is at least as far or further from faithfulness to God as the church (“Everyone who denies the Son is aleo without the Father…I Jn. 2:22-23). According to most Rabbinic Judaism, you can believe most anyting (“JuBus”, Jewish atheists, etc), but to profess faith in the Jewish Messiah, you are ostracised. There is something perverse about that, that cannot all be laid to blame on the church. Yeshua remains the scandal, and He cannot be soft-pedaled, watered down, because of the sbuses of history.

    Thanks again for your honest engagement with the ideas above.

    Bill Bjoraker

  7. Derek,

    I apologize for my sarcastic remark on yesterday’s blog (“Just a novel thought”). I was not aware of your thoughtful engagement with Brown’s five points then. Thanks for your more irenic and nuanced response to each of the points. I was not angry, however, as you said. And your point under Brown’s Point #1 is well taken: in-your-face street pamphleteering does not define or circumscribe “active witnessing” (which Mike also did not imply). Relational approaches can also be active witnessing.

    I stand by also (relating to Brown’s Point #5) my assessment that Kinzer’s PMJ “comes close (not there yet) to SALVATION BY RACE.” I was not protecting myself by saying “not there yet.” I mean it exactly as I said it, and even as you said it—“salvation by ethnicity.” Kinzer draws from and affirms Markus Barth, who believed exactly that about the Jewish people. I have not scoured the text of PMJ to see if Kinzer affirms Barth on this specific point, but the warning still stands. Not every person or movement that starts on a slippery slope reaches the bottom, but slippery slopes are real and if the red flags are not heeded many indeed reach the bottom. This because of the downward pull of human nature, and the self-deception that pride brings. Remember the Ebionites (who reverted to a Yeshua- denying Judaism) and the trajectory or slippery slope they slid down. Also the phrase from Pirke Avoth—“ALL Israel has a part in the world to come.” (inclusivist universalism for all Israel). I have thought much about this, and wrote an article published in IJFM in which I applied what I call “the Messianic Paradox” (Mark 8:35, seeking to save one’s life, while thereby losing it) to the segment of the Messianic Jewish mv’t that tends toward PMJ. I offer it for your perusal at:

    http://www.ijfm.org/PDFs_IJFM/21_3_PDFs/110_Bjoraker.pdf

    See especially the second-to-last sub-heading before the Conclusion entitled “Jewish Identity Crises and Fulfillment.” I would be eager to know what you (or anybody out there) think, in that I can see you are a serious thinker, Derek.

    —-
    One further point, RE: Brown’s Point #2- Indeed the Jewish people are an “example people”, so their rejection of Moses and the prophets and Messiah is a picture of the perversity and depravity of the whole human race; they are not being singled out, but neither are they exempt. You and Kinzer seem to (correct me if I am wrong) nearly equate the Judaism of Yeshua’s day with current Rabbinic Judaism. Big Difference! Since the parting of the ways, the Shemonah-Esrey Benedictions, and the decided anti- Yeshua (“Yeshu”) stance of Rabbinic Judaism, we cannot deny the God-dishonoring valence of this (“Everyone who denies the Son is also without the Father…” (I Jn. 2:22-23). As you know one can be a “JuBu,” an atheist, and still be an acceptable Jew, but not if one embraces the Jewish Messiah. Yeshua remains THE scandal, THE Cornerstone. We cannot soft-pedal him. So granted the inexcusable abuses of supersessionism and antinomianism, and demonic antisemitism in the church, Rabbinic Judaism in arguably no less dishonoring to God than the church has been; in fact Paul includes both under sin, equally in need of mercy. And regardless of historical reasons for Jewish rejection of Yeshua, everyone must bear their own responsibility and not shift blame, or play the victims.

  8. A response to some comments by my friend and neighbor Bill Bjoraker.

    Bill, you commit the genetic fallacy here–the assumption that because Kinzer aquotes from Markus Barth that he is infected with all of Barth’s ideas and must be held accountable for Barth’s views. Bill, this is not allowed in logical debate. And biblically, what will we do with Paul who quotes from two pagan philopsophers in Acts 17? Is he therefore accountable for and stained by all of their writings and views? If we are going to disagree on the web, let’s not let our passion drive us to such stigmatizing, unallowable, and proscribed approaches.

    Just for the record, as one who counts Dr. Kinzer as one of my closest friends, your conjecture is utterly unfounded. But now the problem is that the false asociation is out there.

    As for the Ebionites, more recent scholarship has demonstrated that the stigmatized description of them in early sources was politically motivated and not to be taken at face value, And as for “All Israel has part in the world to come,” from the Mishna and Talmud, and which you find problematical, Bill, NOT a good point for two reasons. First of all, in the very next verse, the text goes on to list those of Israel who DO NOT have a share in the world to come. Even though the source says what you say, it does not at all mean what you think it means, as the very next verse indicates. Problem number two: Paul echoes this sentiment when he says “And so, ALL Israel will be saved>’ Is Paul a matter for doctrinal concern now too? Of course not!

    The slippery slope argument is viewed as disallowed in logical debate as being often fallacious. The website fallacyfiles.org says this: “This type of argument is by no means invariably fallacious, but the strength of the argument is inversely proportional to the number of steps between A and Z, and directly proportional to the causal strength of the connections between adjacent steps. If there are many intervening steps, and the causal connections between them are weak, or even unknown, then the resulting argument will be very weak, if not downright fallacious.”

    The argument in your case is a terrible one. Mark does NOT believe in salvation by race, nor can he be assumed to so believe simply because he borrows in some ways from Markus Barth (the genetic fallacy). Second, for Jews who believe in Jesus to hold jealousy onto their Jewishness is no more pernicious for Kinzer and company than it was for the many thousands who believed and were ALL OF THEM zealous for Torah, as clearly affirmed in Acts 21.

    As for your negative portrayal of Judaism since the time of Jesus, it is also most unfortunate, and founded much more in fear than in fact. Some misionaries to the Jews imagie that the Rabbis spend a good portion of their time insulating Jews from Jesus, and that they are preoccupied with this endeavor. In point of fact, Jewish traditional sources sought not so much to defame Jesus as to ignore Him. Thus the great paucity of references to Yeshua in the Talmud. Secondly, I would take the moral tone of Judaism over that of Christendom thoroughout most of its history. The Jews do not have their inquisitions, their pogroms, their locking Christians in ghettos, nor their rounding up Christians and putting them in Concentration Camps and ovens. NO group of Jews have ever marched around a huge Church burning it to the ground with all the Christian inhabitants inside of it, while they sanThis also bears witness to the Presence of God amidst the Judaism which you so negatively characterize.

    Yes, the Gospel of John has some hot comments about who believes in Jesus and who does not. It also has some problematical statements which have long been used against the Jews: “You are of your father the devil.” It is clear to me that this hot polemical language is born of a polemical situation-=John’s attempt to prevent his disciples from jumping ship and slipping back into the synagogues becaus of Roman persection under Domitian. In a crisis situation he builds a very alarmist case, just as you would use alarming language if your house was on fire and you were screaming for your wife and children to get out.

    But we must take his hot and intemperate langauge in context. The fact is, most Johannine scholars, including the wonderful Marianne Meye Thompson at Fuller, struggle with John’s inflated and intemperate language. We should not be so quick to quote him for a bullet point unless and until we have untied the Gordian knot of his alarmist language–why it is, and what it was meant to convey then and means to convey now.

    Certainly it should not be used to write off all the Jewish people and heritage as spiritually bankrupt, which you appear to be doing in your quote.

    More later.

    Stuart

  9. Sorry for the typos in the previous post. Sigh . . .

  10. Stuart,

    So, are you saying that John’s language was more “inflated and intemperate” than divinely inspired? Personally, I would not be comfortable to use terms like “inflated and intemperate” when referring to the words of Yeshua as recorded by His apostles and as preserved in the Word.

    Were the similar statements of the prophets re: our people also “inflated and intemperate”? If I didn’t know you, I would say that expressions like these indicated a somewhat liberal approach to Scripture.

    Your comments?

    Michael

  11. Bill Bjoraker says:

    Stuart,

    I do not agree that I commited “the genetic fallacy” because I qualified what I said in the earler email (copied below): Note I said that I did not scour the text of PMJ to see if Kinzer affirms Barth on this specific point. I believe the warning is still valid. I also qualified the slippery slope argument, as you will see. So, you did not notice my qualifications, and so mischaracterized what I said:

    From my earlier posting:
    “Kinzer draws from and affirms Markus Barth, who believed exactly that about the Jewish people. I have not scoured the text of PMJ to see if Kinzer affirms Barth on this specific point, but the warning still stands. Not every person or movement that starts on a slippery slope reaches the bottom, but slippery slopes are real and if the red flags are not heeded many indeed reach the bottom.”

    As to Pirke Avoth, you may well be right that the rest of Pirke Avoth qualifies the universalist/inclusivist connotations of the opening declaration of the work, though I could not find such in “the very next verse” as you claim, nor in the several pages afterward in my translation (by Samson Raphael Hirsch, Feldman Pub.. Certainly, Paul qualified his statement “All Israel shall be saved”, one passage being– “For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel Rom. 9:6b).

    As to the atrocities committed by professing Christians of European Christendom against Jews, surely this is worse than anything done by Jews against Christians. At issue here is—were those professingf Christians true Christians? At the least, they surely were not following Jesus when they perpetrated such violence. By contrast, note the verbal violence (curses) in the Shmoneh Esrey against Yeshua and his followers, and the current verbal violence by Yad L’Achim, Jews for Judaism, against believers today, the orthodox Satmars in Arad, Israel who have physically acosted believers there, etc. But at the end of the day, this is not a competetion as to who is worse. As I said in my earlier posting, “in fact Paul includes both [Jews and Gentiles] under sin, equally in need of mercy. And regardless of historical reasons for Jewish rejection of Yeshua, everyone must bear their own responsibility and not shift blame, or play the victims.” I do not characterize all of Judaism in toto as negative. I agree with Mike Brown who said that of all religions, Judaism is the most beautiful. but in rabbinic Judaism’s rejection of Messiah, it has become only a human religion and ethical system, a shell of true Judaism. “Everyone who denies the Son is also without the Father…” (I Jn. 2:22-23). Why defend it, as Kinzer does, as still mystically being connected to the True Vine, when they have cut themselves off from Him?

    Brachot to you, my brother,
    Bill Bjoraker

  12. Bill Bjoraker says:

    Shalom Friends,

    Derek mentioned some of you had wanted to read my article discussing “Jewish Identity Crises and Fulfillment.” The IJFM site was down last week, and Time-Warner, custodians of the IJFM web site, had not fixed it. I understnd it is now up at

    http://ijfm.org (but not at- http://www.ijfm.org)

    Go there. Then search for: Issue 21:3 (July-Sept. 2004), article by Bill Bjoraker, “TO THE JEW FIRST…”: The Meaning of Jewish Priority in World Evangelization.”

    If this is still not accessible, please let me know.

    I here apply what I call “the Messianic Paradox” (Mark 8:35, seeking to save one’s life, while thereby losing it) to the segment of the Messianic Jewish mv’t that tends toward PMJ.

    See especially the second-to-last sub-heading before the Conclusion entitled “Jewish Identity Crises and Fulfillment.” The irony here is that when Jewish identity becomes the major pursuit of Jewish believers, they begin to lose that for which they seek. I do not contend that Jewish believers should give up or be uncaring for about their Jewish identity, but rather that there is a higher order of love and priority that transcends it. When this higher order is supremely pursued, it at least helpt to order Jewish identity. I base much of this on Isaiah 49:6,”It is too small a thing for you…”

    Bill Bjoraker

  13. Nancy Kurtz says:

    I just wanted to say that street evangelism isn’t all bad…..I was touched in a very significant way down town Chicago years ago when a street evangelist talked to me. I was very lost and in a spiritual fog. His words cut through all that and made an impact on me. Also, when I was in college, I was into the occult and some street evangelist was handing out tracts. I didn’t take one, but I picked one up off the ground when noone was looking and read it. I still remember those words to this day. They all helped me come to know and love Y’shua. Nancy

  14. Pingback: What is a counter-missionary? - Page 3 - Christian Forums

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