Torah and Tradition, Answering Criticism Pt. 4

We’re continuing to discuss and critique one Christian’s critical comments about Messianic Judaism. As we get into the last four or five items on Charles’ list, I think his comments are more problematic. They are even a bit offensive. This will especially be apparent in tomorrow’s segment where I’ll discuss Charles’ comments to the effect that Israel blew it. (I can’t but preview my response to that with two points: (1) Israel could not blow it because God made it foolproof and (2) yeah, Church History sure does look better than Jewish history on the morality and ethics scale!).

Anyway, here are my thoughts on Charles’ arguments 9 and 10.

Charles said:

9) I believe in moving forward rather than backward. I honour those of the past who are worthy of honour just like Hebrews 11 does. And of course, we include all those after Hebrews was written as heroes of the faith, although imperfect the way David or Rahab was, if they believe in and follow the Messiah to the best of their understanding, I do not believe they are under condemnation but under grace.
10) I honour Jesus as the author of the first Torah who IS THE LIVING TORAH, more than I honour the first Torah given to the Israelites wandering in the desert.

“Moving forward rather than backward.” What does Charles mean by moving backward? He is referencing the notion of evolutionary progress in religion. Perhaps he might put it more politely as progressive revelation. Here are my definitions of these terms:

EVOLUTIONARY PROGRESS IN RELIGION: The idea that primitive man had primitive notions of the cosmos and deity. Through the ages man’s ideas about religion have become more sophisticated. Thus, earlier ideas of religion tend to be inferior.

PROGRESSIVE REVELATION: The idea, which is upheld in Hebrews 1, that God’s self-revelation through the inspired writings we call the Bible, develops ideas in a chronological progression. That is, some concepts in the early books develop and grow into new or expanded concepts in later books.

A SIMPLE SUMMARY OF CHARLES’ REASONING:
1. Things like temple worship, dietary law, and sacred times and seasons are from the early books of the Bible.
2. Progressive revelation renders early concepts obsolete.
3. Therefore, many Torah concepts have become obsolete.

THE FLAW IN CHARLES’ REASONING: Step #2 is invalid. Progressive revelation does not necessarily mean that later concepts render earlier ones obsolete. In fact, quite often the early concepts are perfectly consistent with the later ones.

What I am saying is this: temple worship is not primitive or unsophisticated. It is glorious and it is coming back. Get ready, because Jews and Christians will be worshipping at said temple after Yeshua comes. All the prophetic pictures of the Age to Come include the statutes and ordinances of the Torah. Would anyone like to debate about that?

The truth is, the doctrine of progressive revelation has nothing to do with Charles’ point that he prefers to move forward and not backward. Really Charles’ position is closer to the idea of evolutionary progress in religion: the Israelites were primitive so God gave them an unsophisticated religion. Let’s not go back to that bygone era. Well, I can’t wait to see some serious temple worship and to experience the joys of God’s name being one and everything in Jerusalem being holy. I’m ready to go back and forward at the same time.

As for point #10, trying to determine an exact meaning for Charles’ words is no easy matter. He says that Jesus is the author of the First Torah who is the Living Torah. Does he mean that Jesus is both the author of the First Torah and in himself the Living Torah? I’ll assume that as it would be very confusing to figure out how Jesus could be the author of another being who is the Living Torah.

Jesus is called the word. He is said to exegete or manifest the Father. He was with God in the beginning and he is God. God revealed the Torah and perhaps this is what Charles means by Jesus being the author of Torah.

Yet here the logic escapes me. Let me spell out what Charles is saying:
1. MJ honors the Torah of Moses too much and Jesus not enough.
2. Jesus is the ultimate author of the Torah of Moses.
3. Therefore, jettison the Torah of Moses and honor Jesus.

Charles, I write books. If you were to burn one of my books or say that it was primitive or overrated, I would not be honored, but offended. Jesus, as God, inspired Torah. That calls for us to see Jesus in light of the truth of Torah and not as opposed to Torah.

Now it is possible Charles’ reasoning was intended to follow a different course, something more complicated:
1. There are two Torahs: the inferior one of Moses and the superior one of Jesus which is unwritten and can be called the Law of Christ.
2. MJ honors the Moses-Torah too much and should turn to the Law of Christ, the Living Torah.

I’ll gladly do that as soon as someone shows me a Law of Christ that supersedes the Torah of Moses. I will not be waiting with anticipation as no such Law of Christ exists (see “The Law of Christ” on this blog to understand what Paul means by the term).

SUMMARY
It is simply demeaning to the very idea of God’s infallible revelation to suggest that early parts of God’s word are inferior and we should move forward and not backward. That is not a fair understanding of progressive revelation. The beginning is true, but is less developed. Yet in development, the beginning continues to be true. We’ll experience that firsthand when we all find out how much more exciting a temple worship service in Jerusalem is than a Protestant church service!

It is also a red herring to set Jesus as the Living Torah against the written Torah of Moses. The Torah was Jesus’ idea, you might say, and not Moses’. So let’s just believe the whole thing and see it as a progressive unity, not a polar disunity. The word of God stands forever.

About Derek Leman

IT guy working in the associations industry. Formerly a congregational rabbi. Dad of 8. Nerd.
This entry was posted in Christian, Judaism, Messianic Jewish, Replacement Theology, Supersessionism, Theology, Torah. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Torah and Tradition, Answering Criticism Pt. 4

  1. My question to someone like Charles is always:

    “Which commandments in Torah do you object to?”

    Usually, it all comes down to wanting to eat bacon and not keep Shabbat, not some high-minded theological difference.

  2. dishtvdeal says:

    I guess I need to explain more. However not having time now, I simply say that I have read what you said and you are getting way too theological.

    Why put all these names on things. Just look at the Bible.

    Sorry, I must have offended some people. If I have offended you forgive me. All I am trying to do is search for the truth, not demean anyone else.

    What did Jesus say?

    Master, which is the great commandment in the Law? Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.
    (Mat 22:36-40 MKJV)

    Seems pretty simple doesn’t it? Fulfill these commandments and we have fulfilled all.

    Or do you see a different meaning here?
    -charles

  3. A Simple Jew says:

    DishTV

    Sorry, I must have offended some people. If I have offended you forgive me. All I am trying to do is search for the truth, not demean anyone else.<<<<

    You havent offended me. I dont know who you might have offended.

    <<<<Master, which is the great commandment in the Law? Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets<<<<<

    Seems pretty simple doesn’t it? Fulfill these commandments and we have fulfilled all.

    Or do you see a different meaning here?<<<<<<

    I think you are correct in what you read.

    You might be interested to know that a major rabbinical source said something similar. And added of the rest of the law “all the rest is commentary”. What this means is two fold:

    1) Clearly these commandments are primary and on them hang all of revelation.

    2) All the rest of Torah, while perhaps not primary are necessary if we are going to know how to carry out the commandments in category (1). What if someone wants to Love G-d with all their soul etc and their neighbor as themself but they dont know how to start? Where do we begin? This is why we need the rest of Torah. It fills in the details.

    That tends to be the Jewish view on these verses. What do you think about that?

  4. dishtvdeal says:

    I am certainly not anti-Jewish, just the opposite. However why would it be said in the Old Testament AND in the New Covenant by Jesus that the law would be written on our hearts?

    The Torah law was needed before the law was written on our hearts but after, it was not necessary except to study background.

    What do these words mean?

    Behold, the days come, says Jehovah, that I will cut a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah, not according to the covenant that I cut with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which covenant of Mine they broke, although I was a husband to them, says Jehovah; but this shall be the covenant that I will cut with the house of Israel: After those days, says Jehovah, I will put My Law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. And they shall no more teach each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, Know Jehovah; for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says Jehovah. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sins no more.

    (Jer 31:31-34 MKJV)

    And we are not like Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the sons of Israel could not steadfastly look to the end of the thing being done away. (But their thoughts were blinded; for until the present the same veil remains on the reading of the old covenant, not taken away.) But this veil has been done away in Christ. But until this day, when Moses is read, the veil is on their heart. But whenever it turns to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away. And the Lord is that Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with our face having been unveiled, having beheld the glory of the Lord as in a mirror, are being changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Lord Spirit.

    (2Co 3:13-18 MKJV)

    But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by so much He is also the Mediator of a better covenant, which was built upon better promises. For if that first covenant had been without fault, then no place would have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, He said to them, “Behold, days are coming, says the Lord, and I will make an end on the house of Israel and on the house of Judah; a new covenant shall be, not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day I took hold of their hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt,” because they did not continue in My covenant, and I did not regard them, says the Lord. “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My Laws into their mind and write them in their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. And they shall not each man teach his neighbor, and each man his brother, saying, Know the Lord, for all shall know Me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities I will remember no more.” In that He says, A new covenant, He has made the first one old. Now that which decays and becomes old is ready to vanish away.

    (Heb 8:6-13 MKJV)

    But once in the year into the second the high priest goes alone, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the errors of the people) the Holy Spirit signifying by this that the way into the Holiest of all was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing. For it was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices that could not make him who did the service perfect as regards the conscience, which stood only in meats and drinks, and different kinds of washings and fleshly ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation. But when Christ had become a high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building nor by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood He entered once for all into the Holies, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling the unclean sanctifies to the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ (who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God) purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause He is the Mediator of the new covenant, so that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first covenant, those who are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. For where a covenant is, the death of him covenanting must be offered. For a covenant is affirmed over those dead, since it never has force when The one covenanting is living.

    (Heb 9:7-17 MKJV)

    But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born who are written in Heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel. See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape, those who refused him that spoke on earth, much more we shall not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from Heaven,

    (Heb 12:22-25 MKJV)

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