Torah and Tradition, Answering Criticism Pt. 5

Finally, we reach our last installment of answering the critical comments offered by Charles. It has been a lot of fun and, most of all, I hope it has helped people question cherished assumptions. Assumptions can be the greatest enemy of truth.

Charles said:

11) I think the chosen people, the Jews, were given a mission through Abraham and his descendents, to be a light to the world. Because they blew it and starting looking inward at details which were thought to be required to be a good Jew, they could not see beyond their navel, that the world was going to hell in a handbasket. So Jesus cut off some Jewish branches of the vine and grafted in the gentile Christian line. Now we in turn have also many times blown the mission. However if you look at the world today with daily Christian TV, hordes of Christian ministries, Bible translations in many languages, and missionaries giving their all to accomplish the great commission, progress is being made toward that mission.
12) I would find it very difficult to inform all those Christian missions that because they are not studying the Torah enough or eating kosher, they are blowing it. In fact I would not just find it difficult but also ridiculous.

I would welcome your comments Derek because you seem to have a sense of balance. I am not asking you to agree or disagree with ALL my statements but any comments you have would be welcome and considered.

Now, let me deal first with Point #12, that Charles would find it difficult to tell the denominations and missions of the church that they are blowing it because they are not living like Jews.

I hope by now it is obvious that I would not tell the denominations and missions any such thing. The Jewish identity markers of Torah (dietary law, Sabbath, circumcision, fringes, etc.) are not for non-Jews. They never were. God told humankind they could eat all the meats (Gen. 9:3). God told Israelites they could sell unclean meat to non-Jews (Deut. 14:21). God indicated that circumcision was not required even for non-Jews living in the land and enjoying the protection of Israel’s laws (Exod. 12:48).

Thus, it was no surprise when James and Paul agreed that non-Jews in Messiah need not live like Jews (Acts 15).

Still, I would say and do say to churches that there are some changes needed:

1. The church needs to let Jews be Jews and even encourage the Jews who are in churches to live their covenantal calling. That is, the church needs to quit calling the Torah legalism and quit teaching that Jewish followers of Yeshua are Gentiles. The church needs to promote Torah for Jewish believers and encourage Messianic Judaism as a complementary movement alongside the non-Jewish church.

2. The church needs to learn Passover and other Torah traditions that are central to the very identity of the church. Polycarp and Papias were still keeping Passover in the second century (this claim could be disputed, but I think the evidence is there). Certainly the Corinthians, mostly non-Jewish, were keeping Passover. This feast is so central to the church, I think it should be reclaimed. Other examples could emerge as we begin walking down this path.

Then, we come to Charles’ 11th point, that the Jewish people “blew it.” He admits that the church has blown it also, yet he would argue that the church has done far better than Israel ever did. His argument is full of flaws.

1. The church has not done better. I will be brief here, though I’d love to go on at length. First, the church has been confused about what the gospel is. The church would have to include Catholicism and Christian Orthodoxy, which have spread a syncretistic, idolatrous form of worship to the world. Protestants, in my judgment, have done better in some ways, but have proclaimed a very weak gospel. It is all faith and no works, according to the Protestants. Where is James’ emphasis on works? Where is Paul’s emphasis on good deeds? Protestant evangelicalism and the Charismatic wave sweeping the world right now have so diluted the message of Jesus, I can hardly congratulate them. So in what sense has the church done well? It has either spread idol-worship mixed with Jesus faith or a weak, insipid version of the gospel, and by and large has done little or nothing to change the world. It is exactly what you would expect of any human enterprise, so I do not claim I could do better.

2. While we are on to the failings of the church, have you ever considered that church history looks no better than the history of Israel in biblical times? Israel immediately made a Golden Calf. The church immediately started venerating Mary and dead saints. Israel failed to carry out God’s commands. The church slaughtered people, mostly Jews, in the name of Jesus, in a chain of horror leading through the Inquisitions, Crusades, Pogroms, Ghettos of Europe, Blood libels, and to the Holocaust itself, perpetrated in a “Christian” Europe with full theological support from the church. Again, we learn the lesson of history that human enterprises are doomed to terrible failure. I know there are also bright spots, but we are considering the negative right now because the church gets off too easy compared to Israel.

3. Finally, Charles, Israel did not blow it. Israel could not blow it. Israel’s mission to be the priests of the nations was a fool-proof mission. God made it fool-proof. God’s plan was by birth, not by religious assent. That is, a Jew is born into the family and carries on the Abrahamic covenant without regard to choice. God’s plan was to get the Bible and the Messiah into the world through the Jewish people. He did. Can the church point to any success like that? And God is not finished. Israel continues to be THE VENUE through which God works in this world. Messiah will return to Israel. The people are in the land. It will all come down to Jerusalem. And did Israel blow it? No, they couldn’t blow it. God’s plans for Israel do not depend on the human will at all and they are working just fine. The fact that we may long to see Israel following Yeshua is another matter. That too will happen someday, as Paul says in Romans 11:26.

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.

2 Responses to Torah and Tradition, Answering Criticism Pt. 5

  1. upwrite says:

    Hello! I have been faithfully reading your blog for several weeks now. I stumbled upon it when I was looking for information about Messianic Judaism, which has intrigued me as of late. I just want to say that I appreciate your writing very much, and I am learning a lot from the conversations taking place here. (Although, I confess, I look forward to the day you are done answering all these criticisms haha!) Blessings!

  2. dishtvdeal says:

    I have a problem with calling disagreements, criticisms. Even Paul and the other apostles had disagreements. They still loved each other and finally came to the Jerusalem ‘accords’ so to speak. I have NO hatred or sense of being superior to Derek or anyone else. I am assuming that any mature Christian would NOT think they have a monopoly on the truth.

    I have lots of problems with what you say because number 1 I am not a Roman Catholic. I have NO sense of being better than anyone.

    However I still maintain that we have all blown it. Yes the Jews did their part, Christians have done their part.

    However what does Jesus say? Would that not be an important consideration in all of this?

    Here are a few verses for your consideration.

    JESUS comments to pharisees about blowing it

    Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance; and do not think to say within yourselves, We have Abraham as our father. For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And now also, the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bring forth good fruit is cut down and cast into the fire.

    (Mat 3:8-10 MKJV)

    For I say to you that unless your righteousness shall exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no case enter into the kingdom of Heaven.

    (Mat 5:20 MKJV)

    Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, “This people draws near to Me with their mouth, and honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. But in vain they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”

    (Mat 15:7-9 MKJV)

    Then His disciples came and said to Him, Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying? But He answered and said, Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted shall be rooted up. Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.

    (Mat 15:12-14 MKJV)

    How is it that you do not understand that I did not speak to you about loaves, but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? Then they understood that He did not say to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

    (Mat 16:11-12 MKJV)

    But what do you think? A man had two sons; and he came to the first and said, Son, go work in my vineyard today. He answered and said, I will not. But afterwards he repented and went. And he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir; and did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father? They said to Him, The first. Jesus said to them, Truly I say to you that the tax-collectors and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him. But the tax-collectors and the harlots believed him. And when you had seen it, you did not repent afterwards so that you might believe him. Hear another parable. There was a certain housemaster who planted a vineyard and hedged it round about, and dug a winepress in it, and built a tower, and rented it to vinedressers, and went into a far country. And when the season of the fruits drew near, he sent his servants to the vinedressers to receive its fruits. And the vinedressers took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other servants, more than the first, and they did the same to them. But last of all he sent his son to them, saying, They will respect my son. But when the vinedressers saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and get hold of his inheritance. And taking him, they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. Therefore when the lord of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vinedressers? They said to Him, Bad men! He will miserably destroy them and will rent out his vineyard to other vinedressers who will give him the fruits in their seasons. Jesus said to them, Did you never read in the Scriptures, “The stone which the builders rejected, this One has become the head of the corner; this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes?” Therefore I say to you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you and given to a nation bringing out its fruits. And he who falls on this Stone shall be broken, but on whomever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. And when the chief priests and Pharisees heard His parables, they knew that He spoke of them.

    (Mat 21:28-45 MKJV)

    Then Jesus spoke to the crowd and to His disciples, saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, observe and do. But do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy and hard-to-carry burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders. But they will not move them with one of their fingers. But they do all their works in order to be seen of men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments.

    (Mat 23:1-5 MKJV)

    But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of Heaven against men. For you neither go in, nor do you allow those entering to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and pray at length as a pretense. Therefore you shall receive the greater condemnation. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you compass sea and the dry land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, you make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves. Woe to you, blind guides, saying, Whoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor.

    (Mat 23:13-16 MKJV)

    Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithes of mint and dill and cummin, and you have left undone the weightier matters of the Law, judgment, mercy, and faith. You ought to have done these and not to leave the other undone.

    (Mat 23:23 MKJV)

    Serpents! Offspring of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? Therefore, behold, I send prophets and wise men and scribes to you. And you will kill and crucify some of them. And some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city; so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Berachiah, whom you killed between the temple and the altar. Truly I say to you, All these things shall come on this generation. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to her, how often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you would not!

    (Mat 23:33-37 MKJV)

    And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eat with tax-collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, How is it that He eats and drinks with tax-collectors and sinners? When Jesus heard, He said to them, They who are strong have no need of a physician, but the ones who have illness. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

    (Mar 2:16-17 MKJV)

    And no one sews a patch of new cloth on an old garment, else it takes away from its fullness, the new from the old, and a worse tear occurs. No one puts new wine into old wineskins, else the new wine bursts the wineskins, and the wine spills, and the wineskins will be ruined. The new wine must be put into new wineskins.

    (Mar 2:21-22 MKJV)

    But He answered and said to them, Well has Isaiah prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, “This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. However, they worship Me in vain, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men, the dippings of pots and cups. And many other such things you do. And He said to them, Do you do well to set aside the commandment of God, so that you may keep your own tradition? For Moses said, “Honor your father and your mother.” And, “Whoever curses father or mother, let him die the death.” But you say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, Corban! (that is, A gift to God, whatever you may profit by me) and you no longer allow him to do anything toward his father or mother, making the Word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have delivered. And you do many such things.

    (Mar 7:6-13 MKJV)

    Have not finished but need to go for now.

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