UMJC On-Site Blog, July 25

More delegates’ meeting today. We discussed some important business, but nothing blogworthy (except one thing that I’ll wait for an official announcement before I mention).

So, what should my topic be today? How about salvation, Messianic Judaism, and Dayeinu?

First, I bring this up because I attended a Dayeinu breakfast this morning. Dayeinu is a network of theologically conservative leaders in Messianic Judaism.

I’m sort of an in-betweener in the UMJC. I love the work being done by Dr. Mark Kinzer and I’m a fan of the work of others involved in Hashivenu (hasivenu.org). I am also “conservative” on theological issues like the inerrancy of the Bible, the necessity of faith in Yeshua, etc. Thus, I also belong to a group called Dayeinu (dayeinu.org).

Dayeinu just issued a position paper on the need for faith in Yeshua to be included in the life to come. Here are some quotes:

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. God is a righteous judge and will judge no one unjustly.

The scriptures teach that every person, whether Jew or Gentile, stands in need of the atonement for sin provided by God’s grace through Messiah Yeshua’s once-for-all, perfect sacrifice.

The position paper goes on to make a scriptural case for the separation of humanity from God through sin. Here is a summary of the argument:

1. Ultimate truth is beyond the ability of reason or experience to determine.
2. There is a human propensity to elevate reason and decide we know moral and spiritual truth on our own.
3. This is why God commanded Israel to wear fringes to remember commands (Num. 15:38-40) and the very idea of Torah is that moral truth must be divinely commanded to be known.
4. God declared humankind corrupt before and after the flood (Gen. 6:5; 8:21).
5. Israel was repeatedly declared corrupt and separate from God (Isa. 1:2-4).
6. Paul declared Jew and Gentile corrupt (Rom. 3:9-10).
7. The problem of humanity’s corruption cannot be ignored or whitewashed.
8. Yeshua taught personal faith.
9. Paul taught personal faith.
10. If there are exceptions to the requirement of personal faith (as some theologians suggest), scripture is silent about them.

What are we to think of this Dayeinu position paper? I agree with it. If I try to get into this issue, it will require a series of articles. I think that the way the case is made in the Dayeinu paper is less than satisfactory. I would like to see a fuller treatment of issues and less reliance on proof-texts. Nonetheless, I agree with and would defend vigorously the notion that humanity is separated from God in a meaningful way and a meaningful solution is required to bring a person back to God.

I’d be interested to hear your BRIEF thoughts. I’ll not let this turn into a lenghty debate.

If you’d like to read some of my thoughts, here is a paper which will be in a coming issue of Kesher (kesherjournal.com): Derek on Salvation by Faith in Yeshua Only.

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About Derek Leman

IT guy working in the associations industry. Formerly a congregational rabbi. Dad of 8. Nerd.
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8 Responses to UMJC On-Site Blog, July 25

  1. Susan says:

    Of course “God is a righteous judge and will judge no one unjustly.” But if I understand the Dayenu position, God justly judged the child I lost as a miscarriage, who did not express “personal, conscious faith (in this lifetime) in Messiah Yeshua as Lord and Redeemer” and sent her to hell. I see no space in this statement for any other conclusion.

  2. sean emslie says:

    derek,

    good to see you will be providing reports from the umjc conference, sadly i am unable to attend.

    as one in solely the hashivenu camp, i think that it is important to respond.

    first off there isn’t an either/or proposition on the issue of the importance of Yeshua faith. 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.

    the perspective that i hold to and i would say that is reflective of those of the hashivenu perspective is that the scriptures are clear that specific, conscious Yeshua faith is the sole basis of assurance of a right relationship to G-d, yet to categorically know the eternal fate of all people is not given to us to know and is not our call, that is up to G-d, the righteous judge.

    in his book. mere christianity, c.s. lewis writes:

    We do know that no man can be saved except through Christ;
    we do not know that only those who know Him can be saved through Him.

    (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, p.64) from my post on my blog:
    http://towardblog.blogspot.com/2006/08/cs-lewis-yeshua-and-jewish-people.html

    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.

    the “Jesus” that most jewish people have been offered is not the jewish messiah, but the source of millenia of suffering and death.

    to say categorically, as it appears dayeinu would, that all jews who have died without specific yeshua faith are damned and in hell, may be a way of reading the scripture, but i would say ignores the mercy and justice of G-d, just to cross all the t’s and dot all the i’s in a fundamentalist christian playbook.

    i think it is better to make Yeshua known as the way, the truth and the life and let G-d be the judge, we have enough to do with molding ourselves and our synagogues into the image of messiah than to spend our time marking off people as “saved” or “damned” based on our theological perspectives.

  3. Derek.

    There are some non sequiturs here. That all humankind is corrupted by sin is denied by no one I know. That salvation is through Messiah alone is also denied by no one I know. However, people of Protestant/Protestantized religion influenced by revivalism and pietism go beyond this. They will say “You can only be saved by receiving Christ as your personal Savior,” in ways that are not once demonstrated in the Bible. We never see Jesus or the apostles telling people to bow their heads and say “the sinner’s prayer,” but for many people, unless you do that, you cannot be saved. True? Many treat as a truism “We believe in salvation by faith alone through Christ alone,” so that, for example, Pope John Paul II, who believed in Christ the Savior but also believed in the Virgin Mary, is necessarily in hell, or at least of very doubtful salvation, as far as some people are concerned because he does not believe in Christ alone. Indeed, is it not true that in reality some people content one is saved by believing in the doctrine of justification by faith, so that the salvation is doubted of a person who believes in Christ but still believes that his good works are necessary for salvation?

    In other words, have we not moved from salvation by Christ to salvation either by actions (praying to receive Christ), experience, or salvation by doctrine?

    Am I not right that such aberrations are common?

    And does not Scripture say repeatedly that there will be many surprises in the end…many of the first will be last, and the last first, and many who said “Lord, Lord,” will not make it, etc. Is not the Scriptural admonition for believers to avoid smug certainty about their own status, to therefore strive to live godly lives, and to NOT judge the eternal destiny of others, with the exception of the devotedly wicked?

    Again, do Protestantized, pietistic, revivalistic Christians REALLY believe in salvation by the work of Christ or is there actually something else that must happen for the salvation to “take.” Is believing in salvation by the work of Christ and in salvation by receiving Christ precisely the same thing, is the latter as necessary as the former?

    This calls for a certain amount of cultural perspective.

    Just wondering . . . .

  4. Glenn says:

    Derek 2 questions – (1) Does point #3 deny the theological/philosophical belief of Natural Law?

    (2) What do you think of Moltmann’s views concerning the Jewish people?

    “Moltmann refers to Saint Paul’s Israel chapters (Rom. 9-11), where Paul saw God’s will in Israel’s ‘no’. ‘Their rejection is the world’s reconciliation’ (Rom. 11:15). It is not the ‘no’ of unbelievers, but a special ‘no’ that must be respected. God imposes on the whole of Israel an inability to say the ‘yes’ of faith in Jesus, in order that the gospel may pass from Israel to the Gentiles. Had the Jewish people as a whole somehow come to acknowledge Jesus as the Christ, how could the Covenant have been opened to all nations, Moltmann asks? The non-recognition of the Messiahship of Jesus by most of historic Israel falls within the sovereign purposes of God, for through this series of historical events his redeeming grace could be extended to the pagan realm. Without the Jewish ‘no’, the Christian Church would have remained a messianic revival movement within Judaism itself. Moltmann hopes that also Israel, in spite of its own observance of the Jewish ‘no’, can view the Christian ‘yes’ to Jesus also as a positive contribution to the ultimate salvation of humankind, as the preparatio messianica of the nations”

  5. Glenn:

    Moltmann is a theologian worthy of respect, but I simply do not agree that Israel’s no is coerced by God. Free will is too firmly established as God’s way. I think Moltmann is tragically misunderstanding Paul.

    Derek

  6. Derek,
    Why does it have to be that Israel’s no is “coerced by God”? Don’t you think that someones’s free will choice can also be God’s will?

  7. Debbie:

    I am aware of compatibilist theologies which suggest dual causation (Aquinas, I believe).

    While I have not read Moltmann’s take on Romans 9-11, I accepted the summary Glenn gave. He said, “God imposes on the whole of Israel an inability to say the ‘yes’ of faith in Jesus.” Imposing is coercion.

    Now, if you want to use different language and say, “The mystery of Israel’s no to Yeshua is at once divinely ordained and freely chosen,” that would be something a bit more sophisticated.

    Yet I would still agree. I do not accept the compatibilist definition of free will (not coerced but not able to choose otherwise). I have a long Jewish tradition and a strong Christian tradition on my side when I choose to believe in free will (I lean toward middle knowledge, which I would guess you are aware of).

    I believe Israel’s no was foreknown (and foretold, Isaiah 53). I do not believe Israel’s no is an exception to the general call for faith in the good news.

    Let me know if I have properly understood you. If you still think I don’t have it right, keep challenging me.

    Derek

  8. Derek,
    Thanks for your reply. I don’t agree with you about Moltmann but I was primarily reacting to your use of the word “coerced”. I think coercion implies unjust authority and unethical tactics so I just don’t like the word.
    I read your blog several times a week and really appreciate your posts. Thanks again for replying to my comment.

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