Upcoming Books

I want to share a little with all of you about some of my upcoming writing projects. I have been a writing fool for the past few months, working on some freelance assignments and write-for-hire as well as my own book, The World to Come.

First, let me tell you about Feast. I was contacted by a new department of LifeWay, the mega-publisher associated with the Southern Baptists. LifeWay has many departments, including Broadman and Holman, who produce Bible and Christian books.

They have a new department called Threads, which you can see at threadsmedia.com. This is a media-savvy group publishing material for small group studies and especially aimed at 20’s.

Threads asked me to do a six-part study on the Feasts. Through the teaching of people like Rob Bell, a young pastor in Grand Rapids Michigan whose popularity is just slightly less than that of Messiah himself, many emerging Christians have developed a respect for and passion to know about Judaism and how faith in Jesus grew out of it.

Here is a very short excerpt from Feast. It will be available in March of 2008:

In another place, many centuries ago, the place of worship was outdoors. On a small mountain, Mount Zion, the temple sat. The stones shone like gold in the late afternoon sun. In fact there was gold on some parts of the temple.

In front of the building was a courtyard with a large altar. A fire was always burning. Parts of animals were always going up in smoke.

Hundreds of thousands are gathered. There are no pews. There are no chairs. There is no ceiling or windows or chandeliers or projection screens. There are Levitical choirs of hundreds and also hundreds of musicians. There are priests leading prayers and psalms as well as attending to sacrificial duties. This is the worship of Israel at the temple, the central sanctuary of Israel.

To be sure, there is a building. But no one is inside. The building is God’s temple. It has two rooms. Only the priests go inside and they can only go into the first room.

At the back of the temple, though only the priests have even seen the veil that covers it, there is another room. It is the Holy of Holies. God is in there. God is hidden, separate.

The people just try to get close. Close to a temple where God is hidden in the back room. The building is not the place of worship. It houses the object of their worship: the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Does the worship of the Israelites seem better, inferior, or simply different from our way of worship? Explain.

Some might say, “Our worship is better. Our worship is in spirit and theirs was not. Their worship was primitive. Ours is advanced.”

If an Israelite could visit your church, what would he or she say? “Where is the glory of God hidden in your sanctuary? Why is the crowd so small? Where is the reverence? Why aren’t people chanting Psalms?”

The Israelite in temple times did not see God, hidden in the Holy of Holies in the back of the temple. But neither do we. God is hidden to us as well.

Next, let me tell you about The World to Come. It is due out in March also, by Lederer, also known as Messianic Jewish Resources (www.messianicjewish.net).

I wanted to write a book about coming events in God’s plan and, more so, the nature of the Messianic Age and the New Earth that are coming. I am a major fan of C.S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce and I appreciated Randy Alcorn’s book, Heaven. Add to this the beautiful descriptions of the prophets (“every man a vine and fig tree”) and the rabbis (“there will not be a grape which will not yield thirty measures of wine in the world to come”).

Here is a very short excerpt from The World to Come:

The Bible does not tell us everything about the World To Come. Yet it tells us enough to know more than what it says. From the Bible we determine that there is another text, one that lies alongside the Bible and prefigures the World To Come.

The desires of the heart point the way. The unsatisfied desire will at last be satisfied. Joy will be real.

A man climbs a peak to find a trout pond in the clear mountain air. It is a sign. A woman enjoys a story of love found at last. It is a sign. A child looks longingly at a picture in a storybook. It is a sign.

We can experience signs every day, though we easily overlook them. We can be reminded a thousand times what the World To Come may be like. It is there in beauty. We look at the face of our mate and we see a hint of heaven. Our toes curl in green grass and we know paradise is real. We hear a child’s innocent laughter and we can imagine. We forget ourselves and fall into the joy of friends and conversation, and we can imagine true companionship.

Joy in this world is a text alongside the Bible, clueing us in to the World to Come.

I also have a six-session study on themes from Job coming out before March. And in 2008, Lederer has asked me to write another book on Yeshua, which I’m hoping will be titled In Yeshua’s Sandals, and another book on Paul. These last two will be expansions of and updates on my earlier books, Jesus Didn’t Have Blue Eyes and Paul Didn’t Eat Pork.

In short, I have a lot of writing coming out in the next year or so. I hope to be able to share more about them with you.

I think that a solid understanding of Judaism brings much that is missing in thought about Messiah and the life of faith in Yeshua. I am trying to give a fuller, richer view of this life.

About Derek Leman

IT guy working in the associations industry. Formerly a congregational rabbi. Dad of 8. Nerd.
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17 Responses to Upcoming Books

  1. Gene Shlomovich says:

    Derek… your seeming affinity for Rob Bell and the Emergent movement is disconcerting. I was a part of Calvary Chapel for years, until his teachings and books started to be introduced, and started to see more and more of this abhorrent teaching coming from them. I am bothered by Rob Bells assertion especially that G-d speaks through all religions, truth is everywhere. Emergent Christianity’s fondness of Catholic mysticism and Easter Orthodoxy is another bothersome aspect. I know you like the fact that Rob Bell looking at Jewishness of original Christianity, but having experienced the “emergent” for myself, it still bothers me a great deal that you even giving it a (positive) time of day.

    Gene

  2. Shalom Bayit says:

    Gene:

    I hate to cite Wikipedia. However I did a quick search and this is what I came up with. Is it essentially accurate as far as you know?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emerging_Church

  3. Gene Shlomovich says:

    Shalom Bayit…

    I’d hate to site Wiki. as a source as well. It does address many of the points. However, it’s best to look up info on the leaders of the Emergent movement, e.g. Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, Spencer Burke… and others and the teachings they put out. This will give you a much better idea.

    Shalom.

    Gene

  4. Gene:

    First, I’d ask that you don’t blame Rob Bell for everything you see in the emerging movement. I don’t think he follows all those fads.

    Second, I’d love to hear citations of Rob making statements that are problematic.

    Third, I’m a major fan of his book Sex God. I’m perusing Velvet Elvis now, which has some factual errors about rabbinic stuff (which he probably picked up from Dwight Pryor and Ray Vanderlaan, who read rabbinic history too far back into the New Testament era).

    Fourth, I’m sure that Rob Bell has flaws. But I’ve seen a power in his imagination and poetic description that I rarely find in other authors. Sex God blew me away and I’d highly recommend it to you, Gene, to see the wonderful side of Rob Bell.

    Fifth, my main point was that young Christians are open to hearing the truth about Israel, Judaism, and Messiah. This is unprecedented. They are not swallowing the historic theologies of Christianity whole as previous generations have.

    Yes, you are right about many bad trends. But let me mention a few good ones:
    1. Emphasis on action and not the mere mental assent which is all too common in Protestantism.
    2. Experiential reality and honesty instead of blind allegiance to creeds.
    3. Emphasizing love and not institutional membership as the sign of true discipleship.

    Derek

  5. Gene Shlomovich says:

    Derek… I will provide you with his quotes.

    However, I will not just be talking about his books, but also about the affect that I personally witnessed that the Emergent and postmodernist thought (including Rob Bell’s ideas) has had on solid believers, pastors and their congregations. I would liken this to reading Karl Marx and thinking “oh my, he makes a lot of good points – I never thought about it that way!”, but then actually seeing the sad result of his “revolutionary” theories and ideas when they are actually implemented in the “real world”. It’s not pretty, Derek. I can only speak from experience.

    No, I do not and didn’t blame it all on Rob Bell (did I?) and I don’t blame postmodernism on all ills of today’s Christianity. I am sure Rob Bell a wonderful writer and a gifted communicator. I am sure he makes a lot of good points. But…

    Shalom…

    Gene

  6. Gene Shlomovich says:

    Derek… I really would like to understand your position on the Emergent Movement a little better, so I hope that you can help me out here. Let’s forget about Rob Bell for a moment, shall we…

    Could you tell me, what are some things about the Emergent Movement and it’s major proponents that BOTHER you? What things in EM do you see as heading in the wrong direction and dangerous to the Body, if any?

    Thanks,

    Gene

  7. Derek, I have been increasingly concerned with the state of the church in America. I was speechless when the leaders of Willow Creek announced their shock over the fact that people go to church to learn about the Bible! Imagine that ~ after decades of influencing church growth and being involved in church leadership, these men figured out only because they took a survey of their followers that Bible literacy is important. So, while I agree there is problems in the church in America, I am also concerned with Rob Bell.

    I ran across Bell about a year ago and copied his recommended reading list. I had access to the books by Thomas Cahill. So, I started my reading with Desires of the Everlasting Hills: The World Before and After Jesus in which Jesus is described as a “male baby of uncertain paternity” rather than the Messiah, conceived of a virgin. And salvation means:

    Yes man is saved by faith, if by that you mean faithful commitment to the cosmic Christ-that is, to the poor, to the afflicted, and to the healing of the world.

    That quote is secular humanism draped in Christian words. Man will save himself by being committed to caring for the poor and down-trodden. This isn’t biblical Christianity. We are saved by faith in the death of Jesus. We have a debt we can never repay. Out of gratitude we become like Abel, Jacob and David… we feed His sheep.

    While the book communicated a historically accurate picture of the culture in which Christianity emerged, I really couldn’t get over this book being on any pastor’s reading list. Except for the Sketches of Jewish Social Life which was already in my library, I doubt I will complete Bell’s recommended reading list and I am not very motivated to buy any of his books.

  8. Acceptance-With-Joy:

    Thank you for sharing. I know you are trying to help me see that Rob Bell is dangerous or harming the spiritual state of people in America. But you did not persuade me.

    What you did was describe reasons why Thomas Cahill’s book is not a Christian book. Therefore, since Rob Bell found something he liked in the book, Rob Bell is, allegedly, guilty by association.

    I don’t agree. I have been moved by poetry and books that contradict parts of my faith. I am moved by the human struggle to deal with the evil of this world. Perhaps Rob Bell found something human and moving in Cahill’s book that you missed, because you were looking for doctrine instead of beauty.

    I am not determined to defend Bell at any cost, but neither you nor Gene has yet to give me reason to be concerned about him.

    Derek

  9. Gene:

    You asked, “Could you tell me, what are some things about the Emergent Movement and it’s major proponents that BOTHER you? What things in EM do you see as heading in the wrong direction and dangerous to the Body, if any?”

    Well, I am no expert on the movement, but I have read some things and seen some trends. As I said, I appreciate the emphasis on doing rather than merely assenting to doctrine. I appreciate the emphasis on active love and not simply belonging to an institution (i.e., being like Yeshua instead of merely going to church).

    I have also seen things I do not like. The emerging churches are often looking for some tradition to fill the void evangelicalism has left. Since evangelicals have despised tradition and liturgy, many emergents are looking to the fourth and fifth century church for traditions. People are emphasizing lent and worship mazes and all kinds of strange things. They are overlooking many rich sources of tradition that are more closely tied to the Bible.

    I also do not like attitudes that are anti-evangelical more than pro-Yeshua. Nor do I like the experiential being followed without regard to the intelligent. I think that form is more important sometimes to these crowds than substance. I would not like for form to be disregarded, but would like to see form and substance.

    I like the questioning of doctrines and creeds that is going on. Christendom has promoted certain ideas that deserve questioning. I just hope that the questioning leads to submission to authoritative scriptures and not submission to pluralistic ideas.

    Don’t know if this helps.

    Derek

  10. Gene Shlomovich says:

    Thanks Derek, that somewhat cleared things up for me where you stand. Glad to see that you are not in that camp (while still not closing your eyes to what’s going on out there).

    As far as Jewish traditions go, some might argue whether the post-biblical Jewish traditions are of a higher value than some of the Catholic or EO traditions. As a Jew, for me they are (at least some of them), but I am biased. Some religious Jews, have their own superstitions that may border on idolatry of religious objects and adoration of dead saints (tzadiks) found in Catholicisms and EO, and other weird customs.

    Yes, Evangelicals may despise tradition and liturgy, but I am not sure that either Catholic or Eastern Orthodox traditions are something that should be brought back. Getting away from those, I think, was a good thing. What should Evangelicals have replaced them with, in your opinion?

    Shalom,

    Gene

  11. Shalom Bayit says:

    Gene:

    I know of no group of people who worship without some sort of tradition. When I was coming through MJ evangelicals were fond of saying that their belief was “not a religion but a relationship”. While I think this has some merit its really quite an arrogant statement. It implies that 1)the practitioners dont have a religious tradition and that therefore everything that they do is somehow pure and 2) the others dont have a relationship.

    As a result evangelicals in this country have cut themselves off from thousands of years of the benefit of the human experience of their betters, and have fabricated a commerical Amereican “McReligion” that is neither traditional nor biblical. In MJ this vulgar process has been exacerbated by the movement being doubly cut off from our own Jewish traditions as well as the experience of the best of Christianity. Thus we have the “apostolic streams” dictating liturgy pretty much according to the whim of whoever happens to be in power. And of course modified by what is popular with the public and brings in crowds and money.

    I personally find much to admire in both the Catholic and EO traditions. There is a lot there besides statue worship to look to. For one thing they dont allow just anybody to mess with their tradition. I have to give them credit for sticking to their guns.

    We would do well to emulate their “fence building”.

  12. Gene Shlomovich says:

    “I personally find much to admire in both the Catholic and EO traditions.”

    Shalom Bayit… Muslims also have their traditions that they stick too (to death). So do Buddhists. Or Hindus… Should we admire them also because their hold on to their traditions? I don’t want to admire people for their traditions, but for the theology in their proclaimed beliefs. Catholic and EO – I never will admire anything to do with their religious systems, including their traditions. I have seen their theology at work, that’s enough for me. I will never want to find myself admiring them. Any traditions in Judaism that trump G-d’s commands – I don’t want them either (but those that don’t, I want to embrace as a Jew). Not all tradition in Judaism is good, would you agree with that?

    That’s just my personal opinion.

    Gene

  13. Shalom Bayit says:

    Gene

    I have have a tradition that I like to honor. Its called Shabbos. Lets pick this up afterwards.

    Good Shabbos to you.

  14. Gene Shlomovich says:

    Shalom Bayit…good Shabbos to you as well, my friend!

    Gene

  15. Shalom Bayit says:

    Gene

    Hope you had a good Shabbos.

    What are we talking about here? Catholics and EO suicide bombers blowing themselves up? Has that happened recently? Did I miss something?

    Also what specific aspects of their theology are you referring to?

  16. Gene Shlomovich says:

    “What are we talking about here? Catholics and EO suicide bombers blowing themselves up? Has that happened recently? Did I miss something? “Also what specific aspects of their theology are you referring to?”

    Shalom Bayit… I was referring to the fact that other religions (like Islam but ALSO the mostly non-violent Buddhism) have strong traditions as well (like Catholics and OE). As far as for the violence committed by Catholic religious establishment at the highest levels SPECIFICALLY IN THE NAME OF THEIR RELIGION (a campaign against “New Christians”, or converted Jews “Maranos” come to mind), I think we all know about that. Catholic systemic antisemitism (tempered only recently) is well known.

    As far as EO, their strong historic anti-semitic stand and (something that I more familiar with) support of pogroms in the Pale of Settlement is historically documented. Again, all supported by their theology (of a Jew being the child of Satan and a plotter of evil against Christians). I have read enough of their recent materials to know that I would like to have nothing to admire them about.

    Something of interest: Russian Orthodox Church & recent distribution of Protocols of Elders of Zion: fsumonitor.com/stories/120601Russ4.shtml

    Yes, Protestantism is filled with anti-semitic examples as well (I am not advocating for P – we are talking about traditions).

    Shalom Bayit, in any case, I know that you seek to follow the traditions of our fathers, and I respect that. Shaul was doing the same. One thing to note, is that he never came against other Jewish believers for lacking something in the traditions department (he did chide Peter once for living as a non-Jew, but only because of Peter’s hypocrisy). That said, traditions ARE important for Jews. However, I do not want traditions (which vary greatly, even among traditional Jews depending on their origins) to become a point of contention among Messianic Jews, to the point of causing divisions. Our focus should be sharing the Good News with as many of our fellow Jews as possible, feeding them spiritually, helping them physically, and naturally encouraging them to live as Jews (that’s where the traditions come in, of course). When Yeshua disciples violated some traditions of the elders (ritual hand washing), he defended his disciples instead of reproving them. That said, I am quite sure Yeshua himself kept probably most of the traditions (including the extra-biblical one), as there are not too many examples in the scripture of him personally being accused of violating traditions.

    Shalom,

    Gene

  17. Shalom Bayit says:

    Gene:

    other religions…..have strong traditions as well<<<<

    This is exactly my point my good man. Everyone has a tradition. Some are good. Some are evil. Some are banal and stupid. Most religions contain a combination of these. Including the ones you cite.

    Despite the modern rhetoric about the need for “moral absolutes” (which on the whole I agree with) we are paradoxically faced in the real world with choices between greater and lesser evils. This is true of all religious traditions. And all religions at times have chosen the greater evil. In our world at this time we are observing large segments of the Muslim world choosing the worst of their tradition. One does not have to accept the validity of any particular revelatory system to say that in the past there may have been much more to admire about it than one sees today. I agree with you that certainly today in much of the religious world, we dont see religion putting its best foot forward. One of the recent atheist writers on religion correctly stated that religion can make otherwise good people do bad things. I would add that so can non sceptical atheist ideologies like Communism. One only has to look at the number of Jewish Trotskyites to see the point.

    I will defer to you about EO, given current events and your much superior first hand experience. I will note in passing that if it had not been for some of their writings I would not have considered Yeshua as an option.

    Catholic systemic antisemitism (tempered only recently) is well known.<<<

    As for the Catholics, I know a bit more from personal observation and can comment on their recent role especially in the USA. You say “tempered only recently”. I say that this along with much of what they have done in the US over the last century IS part of their tradition. Since Vatican II the Catholic Church has made efforts not just to temper but to effectively deal with systemic antisemitism in particular and intolerance in general. I would argue more so than any other religious organization on the scene today. Especially under the last pope.

    As I have pointed out several times (without response from anyone BTW) , no major Catholic theologian would make the kind of public anti Jewish pronouncements that regularly come out of the MJ leadership pulpit from so called “rabbis”. It is particularly disturbing to me that some of these MJ leaders are now engaging in “dialogue” with the mid level Catholic hierarchy precisely at a time when the Catholic Church may be retreating from some of the progress it has made over the last 50 years. This should be a source of concern for all of MJ. As with most issues, these things go unnoticed and undicussed in any public fora while trival silly discussions which have no bearing on anything Jewish abound everywhere.

    Something of interest: Russian Orthodox Church & recent distribution of Protocols of Elders of Zion<<<

    I am not surprised.

    (I am not advocating for P – we are talking about traditions)<<<

    Dont you think the antisemitism in Protestantism amounts to a “tradition”? Whats the difference?

    he never came against other Jewish believers for lacking something in the traditions department<<<

    If you read my posts carefully I dont come against “other Jewish believers” who lack anything. I have nothing but sympathy for the average Yid in MJ. My beef is with MJ leaders. The so called “rabbis”. I tend to be an advocated of freedom of conscience and choice as well as free speech. I guest thats a bit “Protestant” of me. My concern is that the movement is authoritarian and DISCOURAGES observance among Jews. (Again please read what I have cited previously. It might clarify my position for you)

    Let me go further to clarify the context of my remarks in this thread. I have great respect for American Protestant/Evangelical traditions. One of them used to be systematic self examination and criticism. This has disappeared in the modern church and has been replaced with what I call a “McReligion” which tends to glorify the commercial, the popular and oddly at the same time the authoritarian. Its liturgical style appears derived from a Baby Boomer generation raised on rock concerts and sporting events with an extremely short attention span. Things which do not recall these types of secular occasions are considered “dead works”.

    From my observations of the evangelical world there are at least some restraints on this McCulture based upon some remaining ties of most of the American Church world to their traditional protestant roots. (Derek can comment on this better than I). These ties do not exist in MJ. Most of its “rabbis” are neither fish nor fowl, neither Jew nor Christian, claiming to combine the “best of both” they have neither but instead proclaim this hollow McReligion and enforce their “liberty in the spirit” with an authoritarian vengeance, intent on stamping out any traces of true Judaism. Thus Rev Justers condescening reference to attempts to honor Judaism as being “seeker friendly”.

    to become a point of contention among Messianic Jews, to the point of causing divisions.<<<<

    This makes good copy Gene, but read the rhetoric I am referring to. The divisions and the contention are from those OPPOSED to Judaism. There is NOTHING like this being said or written from the pro Jewish camp. In point of fact there cant be because there isnt a faction of any substance within MJ despite the bogey that the “anti tradition” faction has raised and all the talk about the “RC”. Its all pretty tame and timid when you look at the facts.

    That said, I am quite sure Yeshua himself kept probably most of the traditions (including the extra-biblical one)<<<

    We might want to start by looking at the central sacrament of Christianity. It appears to me to be based pretty much upon oral, possibly even rabbinic Jewish tradition. An odd paradox no?

    Be well.

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