A Response to Comments on July 25 Blog

I wrote on July 25 about a statement just released by Dayeinu, a network of theologically conservative Messianic leaders. Several of my friends and a few I don’t know wrote to object to Dayeinu’s statement and my agreement with it.

Sean said, “You seem to pose that dayeinu is pro-Yeshua faith and Hashivenu, specifically the teachings of Rabbi Dr. Mark Kinzer as less than pro-Yeshua faith.”

Sean, I am a disciple of Dr. Kinzer and one of his biggest fans. Yet we disagree about this and a few other issues. I am in agreement with Hashivenu’s sociological outlook, but not all of its theological outlook. Regardless, I would not characterize Dr. Kinzer’s or Hashivenu’s position as less that pro-Yeshua faith. They are very pro-Yeshua faith. The issue is rather about the reasons for and the solution to the problem of separation from God.

Sean also said, “though lewis was speaking about those who have never been exposed to the gospel, i think it is worth considering that the all sufficient sacrifice of Yeshua could and may be applied to those who had not specifically called upon Yeshua or were prevented from seeing Yeshua as the Jewish messiah, whose followers in the church was killing Jews left and right.”

If you will read the paper that I included as a link at the end of the July 25 post, you will see my response to this idea, specifically to John Sanders who argues your case cogently. I would be thrilled to hear your response to my paper.

Susan said that my blog article implied that her deceased child was certainly in hell.

Susan, I am sorry for your loss. I am a father of seven. I can relate to the pain of losing a child. I did not say that anyone’s child was categorically destined for hell. I said I agreed with the Dayeinu paper, including the statement that scripture does not address exceptions to the need for Yeshua-faith. I leave the justice to God.

Rabbi Stuart, my good friend and mentor, said that I implied some in Hashivenu are denying the corruption of humanity and the need for Yeshua-faith. I did not mean to imply that. I do think, however, that in declaring that people may be forgiven of their sins and included in the life to come and filled with the Spirit apart from Yeshua-faith, you are guilty of taking the problem of human corruption lightly. While I am not certain exactly how the sacrifice of Yeshua atones, I lean towards a notion of penal substitution. Our faith is our participation in the sacrifice to derive its benefit. Without leaning the hands on the sacrifice, so to speak, it cannot benefit. That would be a great discussion for a longer article and more time.

Rabbi Stuart also suggested that I am saying peolpe must receive Christ personally to be saved and that this is an external act. This is a subtle argument and deserves more than the cursory answer I am forced to give (I need to take a shower and get downstairs to the conference): Yes, the revivalism of the early twentieth century created many silly ideas about salvation, such as the sinner’s prayer and altar calls. My position has nothing to do with that. There is something the Bible recognizes as active faith. That, my mentor and friend, is what I’m talking about.

I will be back today with an on-site post about the UMJC Conference. Please note the exciting story below about a First in Messianic Judaism!

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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
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3 Responses to A Response to Comments on July 25 Blog

  1. Susan says:

    Derek wrote, “Susan, I am sorry for your loss. I am a father of seven. I can relate to the pain of losing a child. I did not say that anyone’s child was categorically destined for hell. I said I agreed with the Dayeinu paper, including the statement that scripture does not address exceptions to the need for Yeshua-faith. I leave the justice to God.”

    I should have been more careful not to leave room for anyone to think I was accusing you or the Dayeinu group of being unfeeling. Please forgive me. I am very passionate on this subject and I was expressing concerns about the implications of the Dayeinu statement.

    (I should also say that I am not a “universalist” and I believe firmly that Yeshua is the only way to God. But I am trying to point out a serious shortcoming in the Dayeinu statement on the issue of conscious faith.)

    You say that “the Dayeinu paper… does not address exceptions.” But it does, though not with the transparently I think they deserve. First it says, “Sin separates humanity from God and the world to come. The mystery of salvation lies only with God who has authorized only one way to enjoy right relationship with God now and in the world to come. That way is personal, conscious faith (in this lifetime) in Messiah Yeshua as Lord and Redeemer.”

    If God has authorized only one way”, then there are no other ways (and thus no exceptions). This is Logic 101. Also, as a language teacher, there is no other grammatically correct way to read that statement.

    Stating that God is righteous and just, or that you “leave justice to God” can only mean that He sticks by the “one way”. No righteous judge departs from the law. If he makes exceptions, He is not just, but becomes a breaker of His own law. I know that you do not believe that about God.

    Exceptions are specifically mentioned in #10 of the Dayenu statement, ” If there are exceptions to the requirement of personal faith (as some theologians suggest), scripture is silent about them.”

    The Dayeinu position seems disingenuous. First, there is “only one way” but then “IF there are exceptions…” If the Dayeinu statement is really based on Scripture, shouldn’t it say, “Since Scripture mentions no exceptions, there are none”? I can’t imagine that Dayeinu believes that truth on this vital issue can be found outside Scripture.

    These “exceptions” are not rare occurrences. Every human life is precious, and these “exceptions” occur by the tens of thousands thousands every day. Tens of millions of babies are aborted every year. Tens of millions of children (for example in the Holocaust and throughout history in poor nations) have died before they reached an age where they could comprehend the gospel. And many, many more die without ever having heard the gospel (or hearing it in a way that they can understand).

    You say that “the Dayeinu paper… does not address exceptions.” If it didn’t, it would be like a description of a medication that does not mention side effects. I believe it does discuss “exceptions”, but without real transparency and wholeness.

    I know that it is difficult and heart-wrenching to deal with these things openly and fully. There is so much (legitimate) concern about “two covenant theology” and “universalism” that many of the leaders think that it is best not to discuss “exceptions”, at least not publicly.

    But every human life is precious, and a million human lives are a million times precious, no matter what their eternal fate. I think we diminish ourselves when we ignore these millions of “exceptions”.

  2. GracieRuth says:

    I think you are trying to force things into a preconceived box. Sometimes the scriptures can’t be reduced to simple theologies. In the specific case of the Jews, Paul clearly teaches an exception. We know from the letter to the church in Rome (chapter 11) that Jews who are not Yeshua-believers are still part of the ELECT. “With regards to election, they are beloved for the sake of the patriarchs.” “All Israel shall be saved.” It’s not a matter of whether you wish to argue with Hashivenu, but whether you wish to argue with Rav Shaul.

  3. GracieRuth:

    Thank you for participating in this discussion. You bring up an interesting argument, that Romans 11:28 is declaring Jewish people as a whole rightly related to God because they are elect.

    I would not be alone in telling you that being Chosen does not necessarily mean rightly related to God. Elect and redeemed are very different ideas.

    Let me know if you have a response. BTW, I attend Hashivenu forums when I can and I am in many ways a disciple of Hashivenu leaders. This is simply one area where we disagree.

    Derek

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