Simple Jew is a friend. I appreciate his perspective. I get unique insights from his perspective. But I cannot agree with him in full. And now, I am going to briefly challenge some of his positions.
First, I need to address an unwarranted and harsh criticism of someone who did not deserve or merit this criticism. Simple Jew said:
I havent met “Rabbi Rich” and can only go by what I glean from the RC web site and from Nathan and Derek. However there sounds like something is wrong either at the knowledge level or the reasoning level. Or I just am not hearing right and need to shake the water out of my ears.
Simple Jew disagrees with the decision of the Messianic Jewish Rabbinical Council to have a broad definition of Jewish identity, especially from the paternal side. This is fine as far as halakhic disagreement goes. Yet here are some erroneous concepts that Simple Jew is guilty of:
1. Rabbi Dr. Rich Nichol is not solely responsible for the decisions of the MJRC (ourrabbis.org). He is one of many rabbis on the council. Rabbi Dr. Stuart Dauermann, for whom Simple Jew has great respect, is equally responsible for the decisions of the council.
2. There is nothing wrong at the “knowledge level” with Rabbi Dr. Nichol. He is a brilliant, learned man. Simple Jew went too far in suggesting otherwise. If the two were to enter a debate over halakhic matters, I’ve no doubt Simple Jew would be humbled.
Second, Simple Jew has a strong desire for a Messianic Judaism that is Jewish. Since Messianic Judaism currently is mostly a movement of non-Jews, he has opted not to be a part of Messianic Judaism. Simple Jew attends a traditional synagogue and avoids Messianic Judaism.
I respect this choice, though it saddens me. Messianic Judaism needs people like Simple Jew. I do pray that someday it will be possible for him to fully participate in the community of Jewish followers of Yeshua. I believe Simple Jew is missing out on more than he realizes. There is power in community that is centered around Yeshua. There is a reason Yeshua came and formed a community and those who choose to exclude themselves from it suffer from their choice. Whatever the reasons, and many are good, no reason can make forsaking the assembly of Yeshua a good choice.
Third, Simple Jew is pessimistic about the future of Messianic Judaism. In his pessimism, he is discounting two of the few (only?) good forces for positive change: the UMJC and the MJRC (umjc.net and ourrabbis.org).
I understand the pessimism, but let’s consider a little history here:
1. Long ago Jewish Yeshua-followers had to assimilate into Christianity.
2. Hebrew Christianity, rising up in the late nineteenth century, at least brough some improvement and allowed Jewish Yeshua-followers to communicate and identify.
3. Early Messianic Judaism arose out of charismatic and dispensational Christianity. It was barely a Jewish movement, but it was still a step forward beginning in the 70’s.
4. Messianic Judaism has since had numerous spin-offs of Gentile groups who have a Torah focus but not a Jewish focus. These groups are, I believe, a dead end. I hope they will end up dissolving back into the church, but with a pro-Israel, biblically holistic focus.
5. Messianic Judaism has kept a core that is at least partially Jewish and that is where my optimism lies.
6. Just as earlier movements of change brought us Hebrew Christianity and incipient Messianic Judaism, I believe that we are on the edge of more change for the better. I believe a truly Jewish Messianic Judaism is arriving.
The UMJC’s definition of Messianic Judaism was and is a key step in this revolution of change. The formation and development of the Messianic Jewish Rabbinical Council is a vital part of the change. The Messianic Jewish Theological Institute (mjti.org) is the first true seminary for Messianic Judaism (and not Hebrew Christianity).
Meanwhile, as Messianic Judaism comes into its own, I do not believe the non-Jews in the movement will be left behind. I believe there will a maturing. I believe some of the nonsense ideas and splinter groups promoting Torah while replacing Israel will leave MJ and fade into well-deserved obscurity.
Simple Jew, I have faith. I believe great things will happen in the Jewish remnant as Messiah’s coming draws near. I hope you can catch some of my optimism. I hope you can be part of making something great. Your critiques from the outside do have a positive effect, but your participation from the inside would do more.