Dr. Kinzer on Reasons for Witness

After writing Post-Missionary Messianic Judaism, Mark Kinzer has often been misunderstood as a Jewish universalist or someone who has no motive for witness of Yeshua to Jewish people. The following are notes from his lecture delivered this morning at the UMJC annual conference. Dr. Brown, are you reading?

Dr. Mark Kinzer
Yeshua, the Glory of God, and the Glory of Israel: Motives for Post-Missionary Messianic Jewish Outreach

What does post-missionary mean? It does not mean ignoring God’s mandate to bear witness to Yeshua. It does not mean that we simply assume that all or most Jewish people are rightly related to God. It does not mean that we simply consider Orthodox Judaism the only valid expression of Jewish life. It means that we believe that God has been actively involved in the formation of Judaism for the last 2,000 years. God is not merely using a human construction. There is something about Jewish life that is a product of God’s work. Yeshua is hidden within Judaism. God has been working and there are hints of him in the tradition of the past 2,000 years. For example, some of the remarkable coincidences we find in the Seder, popularized in Passover presentations in churches, are surely a sign that God has been at work in Jewish tradition.

Neither do we assume that all Jewish people who do not accept Yeshua are at enmity with God. Neither extreme should be assumed.

What motives would we have to bear witness to Yeshua in a post-missionary framework? The only pure motive is love. It is a three-fold love: ahavat HaShem [love of God], ahavat Yisrael [love of Israel], and ahavat Yeshua [love of Yeshua].

Ahavat HaShem: The subject of the Shema. We are to be governed by a theocentric passion. The second blessing preceding the Shema is the ahava rabbah is about God’s abundant love and then we return that love in the Shema. How is God honored most? Yeshua’s prayer focuses on God’s will and glory. The glorification of Messiah Yeshua, whom God sent, is loving God. Thus, we are glorifying and loving HaShem when we bear witness to Yeshua. If we love God we will obey his commandments and Yeshua commands witness.

Ahavat Yisrael: PMJ sees in Yeshua the truth of Jewish identity, calling, and destiny. PMJ boldly claims that Yeshua is the mysterious center of all Jewish history and life. Yeshua is the rock who followed Israel in exile and provided Israel with water and sustenance. Bringing individual Jews into the life to come is too small a goal. We need to bear witness to all Israel of the key that is Yeshua. How can we withhold this key that is for our people? It is our privilege to bear witness to this Joseph, this hidden one, who is actually providing for Israel. Also, we believe that the restoration of Israel and the Glory of Jerusalem will only occur when our people respond to Yeshua with, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of HaShem.” PMJ does not assume that all Jews who reject Yeshua are doomed to Gehinnom. Nevertheless, we must be aware that the spiritual condition of our people today is not good. Agnosticism is high. Love of Torah is low. Few are seeking to live their lives in such a way that the sanctification of God’s name is central. Therefore, if we love our people, we will be concerned about its spiritual welfare. We are making God known as well as making Yeshua known.

Ahavat Yeshua: Yeshua brings love of HaShem and love of Israel together. He is the one in whom and through the God of Israel has made himself known. We see in Yeshua the Beit HaMikdash of this world. We are encountering the one through whom God created the world and through whom God revealed Torah at Sinai and through whom God will redeem this world. Passionate love for Messiah Yeshua is ahavat HaShem. He is the living Torah. Yeshua’s “I am” statements: living water, way, truth, life, resurrection, or just plain “I am.” In Yeshua, God is entering into this world. Our love for God gets focused on Yeshua. Our love for Israel also comes to ultimate expression in the person of Israel, since he is the king of Israel, the revelation of Israel himself. He is the only one who has perfectly observed Torah. He is the High Priest who mediates Israel’s relationship to God. He is the perfect embodiment of Israel’s calling and destiny. Jews reach full identity only when joined to him. “Grace be with all who love our Lord Yeshua with love undying” (from the end of Ephesians). “For me to live is Messiah and to die is gain.” Yeshua is not merely some peripheral piece of Judaism, but he is the hidden core.

Conclusion: The question is not, “Yeshua or Judaism?” The question is, “Do we have Yeshua in Judaism as its fullness or do we have Yeshua apart from Judaism?”

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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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10 Responses to Dr. Kinzer on Reasons for Witness

  1. Amy Downey says:

    If Mark Kinzer does not have univeralist tendencies what does he mean by the following statement that you included in this blog — “PMJ does not assume that all Jews who reject Yeshua are doomed to Gehinnom. Nevertheless, we must be aware that the spiritual condition of our people today is not good.”

    I have read his book and I do believe that he has universalistic tendencies.

  2. Amy Downey says:

    And what about this quote — “Neither do we assume that all Jewish people who do not accept Yeshua are at enmity with God. Neither extreme should be assumed.”

    Anyone (Jewish or not) who does not receive Jesus as Messiah is at enmity with God. Does not Paul say that in Romans 8:1-8?

  3. Susan says:

    In accusing Dr. Kinzer of universalist tendencies, Amy makes a basic mistake of logic. Dr. Kinzer is reported to have said that ““PMJ does not assume that all Jews who reject Yeshua are doomed to Gehinnom.” This is NOT equal to “… all Jews who reject Yeshua are headed to Heaven.” But a universalist does believe that all people are going to Heaven. Nothing Derek’s report indicates that Dr. Kinzer has “tendencies” in that direction.

  4. Dr Michael L Brown says:

    Derek,

    How interesting! I have not visited your blog in many weeks and, quite out of the blue, I thought of checking it out — and then spotted your question to me. So yes, I have read Dr. Kinzer’s remarks and, for reasons that should be obvious to any careful reader, I am all the more alarmed and concerned.

    He writes, “It does not mean that we simply consider Orthodox Judaism the only valid expression of Jewish life.” Notice that word “only”! He is thereby saying that Orthodox Judaism is at least A valid expression of Jewish life, which is to thereby deny the neccesity of explicit faith in Yeshua.

    He writes, “Neither do we assume that all Jewish people who do not accept Yeshua are at enmity with God.” How does this comport with the testimony of the Gospels or the general NT statement that all those who live outside of faith in Yeshua are under the power of the evil one?

    He writes, “PMJ does not assume that all Jews who reject Yeshua are doomed to Gehinnom.” This, quite frankly, is heresy, plain and simple.

    He writes, “. . . we must be aware that the spiritual condition of our people today is not good. Agnosticism is high. Love of Torah is low. Few are seeking to live their lives in such a way that the sanctification of God’s name is central.” What he is then stating is that an Orthodox, “Torah-observant” Jew is in good spiritual condition but that a non-Torah observant Jew is not — once again reaffirming his belief in the validity of Orthodox Judaism.

    This is all quite illustrative. A disclaimer by Dr. Kinzer further solidifies the terribly dangerous nature of his position.

    Let fellow-believers beware.

    Blessings,

    Dr. Brown

  5. Martin F says:

    Derek,

    As I see this debate between Brown and Kinzer, I muse of the fact that I was told that this a classical example of Jewish thought vs. Christian thought.

    I was told that Mark Kinzer’s line of thought was a harmony with a belief in Yeshua and the Jewish community, which should not be viewed as “enemies”.

    While on the other Michael Brown’s views are classical Christian views that reflect a hostile opposition to the Jewish community. That these ideas are in fact “Christian” and not “Jewish”.

    While I do not want to indulge in the actual debated at hand, I would like to refer you (and who ever may be interested) to the 2004 Emergent Theological Conversation by Emergent Village and Walter Brueggemann. I think that you will find striking similarities to Mark Kinzer and those of the Emerging Messianic Jewish Paradigm.

    I think that anyone with a fundamentalist, conservative, or evangelical approach to G-d and Scripture will find their willingness to be open minded challenged.

    I wonder if there are any Messianic believers who are embracing the Emerging Messianic Jewish Paradigm not because they believe in it, but rather because it is not evangelical and is appears to be more reflective of the Jewish Community thought.

    Both the Emergent Village and Emerging Messianic Judaism are midrashic in nature. There are other similarities; like I think some people would interpret universalistic tendencies in both groups.

    I wonder how many would condemn the Emergent Village as heresy, while embracing Emerging Messianic Judaism. I write that with cheek-in-tongue, because I am not certain that either ideologies would embrace condemnation in that manner.

    Martin F

  6. Martin:

    Did we meet at the New England conference?

    I am slightly familiar with the Emergent Village. I plan to read and listen to a little more of their stuff. At the moment their website seems to be having a problem.

    I had not thought about some of these emerging and missional Christian groups as a possible parallel to Post-Missionary Messianic Judaism, but you may be right. Who knows, it may be a future thread for the blog.

    Other than Brian McLaren, I haven’t seen anything about Emergent Village that would raise evangelical red flags. If you know of some examples, please do share. McLaren is controversial though I don’t know details.

    Derek

  7. BenYachov(Jim Scott 4th) says:

    >He writes, “Neither do we assume that all Jewish people who do not accept Yeshua are at enmity with God.” How does this comport with the testimony of the Gospels or the general NT statement that all those who live outside of faith in Yeshua are under the power of the evil one?

    I reply: Isn’t this just the old Inclusivist Vs. Restrictavist debate?

  8. Martin says:

    Derek,

    We have not met. I have not been a member of a Messianic congregation for many years, and it has been over ten years since I attended a conference.

    I am not a follower of Emergent Village, but I did note their similarities. I find that website for Emergent Village more balanced than some of the speakers of the “movement”. I found it by accident looking for something called the Emerging Church, which I guess is something different.

    You do not have to create a thread on this topic on my account, unless it is helpful to you and the exploring Messianic Jewish future. My point is rather a simple and crude one; what makes Messianic Jews distinct is that they are Jews, not what they believe or practice per se. While Jews should have beliefs and practices that are commanded to them by God and scripture, it would be erroneous to claim that they are only ones that distinctly practice those things while others do not.

    Since their are many “Christian” groups practicing and believing what Jewish people believe and practice, the only thing that one can claim is that it is the exclusive right or obligation of Jewish people to practice and believe certain things from scripture if comparative distinctions are to be made.

  9. troybronsink says:

    Derek and Martin,

    it would be great to talk. I first met Dr Kinser at the wedding of a freind of mine from semeinary at Columbia, Jonathan Kaplan. i think this is a very important book! i think there is a unique conversation to be had between the post-missionary messianic judaism and the Emergent church. Meanwhile, I also had the great priveledge to meet many emerging rabbis at a Synagogue 3000 event 2 years ago. And so I am simultaneously deconstructing and deconstructed by the 2000 year relationship between judaism and christianity that has been further bifurcated by certain fundamentalist forms of 20th century western messianic judaism. It seems an emergent Christian’s association with either group creates conflict with the other group. what to do?

    Anyway. I’m in Atlanta and I’d love to talk about all this over beer, Derek!

  10. Pingback: Two links to what I am currently reading « BET MIDRASH

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