Post-Missionary Messianic Judaism, 3 Yrs Later

As a Messianic author, I mean no disrespect to any other author when I say that thus far in our movement, we have had only one truly academic book published about Messianic Judaism. It is the 2005 volume Post-Missionary Messianic Judaism: Redefining Christian Engagement With the Jewish People by Mark Kinzer (get it HERE).

The fact that the book is academic has pluses and minuses. There are people who have read and will read the book specifically because it is by an academic press and written in the language of the academy. There are people who won’t read the book because it is written in this way. Many people simply will not make the effort to read an academic book (which is why I write in a more popular style–that and the fact that I don’t have a PhD and perhaps would not be able to get published by an academic press).

If the importance of Israel as a people is something you care deeply about and if you are a reader, both of which qualifications are likely what drew you to this blog in the first place, then I urge you to read this book. If you want to understand the future of Messianic Judaism, I believe Dr. Kinzer’s book is the beginning of that future.

Some have been put off by the title “post-missionary,” as if the title means we do not have a message to share with our Jewish people. Dr. Kinzer is quite clear about this. Of course we have a message. We have Messiah. But “missionary” refers to a certain stance Christians have taken toward the Jewish people, a stance which has promoted continued misunderstanding. The missionary stance is: (a) you Jewish people are wrong, (b) we Christians are right, (c) you Jewish people must listen to what we have to say.

In Jerusalem, at a recent lecture, Dr. Kinzer delivered a paper, “Post-Missionary Messianic Judaism, Three Years Later.” I am not aware at this time of the paper being available online. I will make it available on Messianic Musings if that becomes a possibility. At any rate, reading the article that follows should give you a good idea of the heart of Dr. Kinzer’s message.

Speaking at “The Lindsey Lectures” in Jerusalem on July 1, 2008, Rabbi Dr. Mark Kinzer reflected on the review and discussion of his 2005 book, Post-Missionary Messianic Judaism (get it HERE). Kinzer’s book has been discussed and reviewed in both academic and missionary publications. Naturally the reaction by the missionary world was unfavorable, as Kinzer’s book calls for a change beyond what mission agencies would be likely to consider. Thus, Kinzer summarizes the reaction of Rich Robinson of Jews for Jesus and Baruch Maoz, an Israeli Christian leader who opposes the very idea of Messianic Judaism:

Some readers have found PMJ deeply disturbing. One of the earliest reviews called it “profoundly defective“ and “unbiblical“ (Robinson 2005). Another asserted that “If Mr. Kinzer’s platform were to be adopted, the biblical faith of Jesus would be destroyed among both Jews and Gentiles“ (Maoz).

Quite helpfully, in this paper, Kinzer shines the spotlight on two main ideas in his book. The first idea is widely accepted in Messianic Judaism but is rarely accepted even by forward-thinking Christian theologians. The second idea is only narrowly accepted by a sub-movement within Messianic Judaism. What are these two seminal ideas?

1. Jewish followers of Yeshua have a covenantal obligation of faithfulness to the Torah which necessitates Messianic Jewish communities as distinct from yet related to Christian communities. These Messianic Jewish communities are a part of the larger Jewish community.

2. Jewish tradition has legitimate authority in defining Torah observance and God (and Yeshua) have been active in Jewish tradition, though this tradition is not infallible.

The case for Messianic Jewish faithfulness to Torah and for distinct congregations (as opposed to Jewish believers simply blending into churches) is simple. The New Testament upholds to obligation of Jewish believers to live as Jews bound by the Torah. Living the Torah must be done communally. The Torah life is not an individualistic life, but one that calls for mutual support and walking out commandments and observances together. It is impossible for Jews in non-Jewish communities to truly follow their calling as Jews. Assimilation is not an option for a faithful Jewish believer. Kinzer refers to the case he makes in his book:

In that chapter I examine how the Apostolic Writings deal with a set of Jewish practices rooted in the Torah which by the first-century had become crucial markers of Jewish identity: circumcision, Shabbat and holiday observance, and kashrut. I reach the
following conclusion:

Our survey of the New Testament teaching on Jewish practice (for Jews) has produced a surprising result. We have good grounds for upholding the view that the New Testament as a whole treats Jewish practice as obligatory for Jews. (95)

I do not assert here merely “that Messianic Jews lived Torah observant lives during the New Testament period“ (Glaser, 31). Instead, I contend that the Apostolic Writings consider such observance to be an obligatory expression of Jewish covenantal fidelity rooted in theological conviction rather than prudential judgment.

The final sentences of Chapter 2 demonstrate how I view the importance of this proposition:

This conclusion has profound theological implications. In many ways, the remainder of this book is an attempt to reflect on those implications and on their significance for the church and for the Jewish people. (96)

The discovery of an enduring requirement for a basic level of Torah observance for Yeshua-believing Jews is interesting and important in itself, and stands as a foundational principle of much of the Messianic Jewish congregational movement in the Diaspora.

This concept is widely (though not universally) accepted among Messianic Jewish congregations. Messianic Judaism is not about bagels and lox, but Shabbat and Torah. Messianic Judaism is more than another cultural expression. It is a distinct community within the body of Messiah, the Jewish wing of Yeshua’s global movement. Messianic Judaism’s roots are in the Jewish mission of Peter and James from the book of Acts.

Christian theologians, even those highly disposed toward Israel and Judaism, are reluctant to accept this idea. Even R. Kendall Soulen, author of The God of Israel and Christian Theology, expressed concern:

Kinzer’s vision of the church as a community of reconciliation between those who remain genuinely different left me with some lingering questions about how Kinzer would deal with the more traditional but nevertheless wholly justified ecclesial concern to express messianic peace through visible unity.

If the first of Kinzer’s seminal ideas is accepted in Messianic Judiasm but not so much by Christians, the second seminal idea is only narrowly accepted even in Messianic Judaism. Here is the idea described in Kinzer’s paper:

This sets the stage for the most radical and controversial chapter of PMJ. Having looked at the historical Christian “No“ to Israel, we now examine the historical Jewish “No“ to Yeshua. The underlying premise of both Chapters 6 and 7 is that Jewish practice requires a living tradition of communal application, and that any twenty-first century version of the Jewish ekklesia must recognize Jewish tradition as having some measure of

One cannot build a contemporary Judaism exclusively on either the Bible or modern (or postmodern) sensibility. Without some connection to the historical experience of the Jewish people, Judaism evaporates into thin air. (215)

But this raises the question, how can Yeshua-believers treat as in any sense authoritative a tradition that said No to Yeshua?

Kinzer’s answer to that question is yes. Messianic Judaism cannot make an end-run around Jewish tradition. While the rabbis did not believe in Yeshua, this does not mean that God, or even Yeshua, has been absent from their work. The Bible is filled with examples of God working through people and institutions that reject key components of God’s revelation (I might mention Balaam as one example and the magi of the New Testament as another).

Post-Missionary Messianic Judaism is a book calling for change. It is calling for Christians and Messianic Jews to recognize a new paradigm which can be summarized in the following points:

1. Jewish followers of Yeshua are a distinct group within the community of Yeshua in the world.
2. Unity and diversity are not contradictory and distinction within unity is both possible and necessary.
3. The New Testament affirms the Torah lifestyle for Jewish people, whether followers of Yeshua or not.
4. Jewish followers of Yeshua cannot effectively live out the mandate to be Torah-faithful Jews and at the same time assimilate into Christian communities.
5. The unity of Jew and Gentile in Messiah cannot mean blending and assimilating, but must mean a unity on a higher level, the practical implications of which greatly need to be discussed by Christians and Messianic Jews.
6. Faithfulness to God’s Torah means involvement in the people of the Torah, the larger Jewish community.
7. God has appointed judges in Israel to set standards for the community of Israel and the rabbis fulfill this function.
8. Accepting the authority of the rabbis decidedly does not mean conforming to various varieties of Orthodox Judaism (anyone knowledgeable about Judaism knows the wide variety of opinions).
9. Where there is a large consensus within Israel about how the community keeps the Torah, Messianic Jews are duty-bound to follow in order to be faithful to Torah in its communal sense.
10. Private Biblical interpretation is very important, but must not be allowed to separate Messianic Jews from the larger Jewish community.
11. Messianic Jews must work toward the vision of being a voice in the Jewish community and a voice in determining community standards (we are far from realizing this dream–but keep in mind promises of a great turning to Yeshua in the future within the Jewish people).
12. Messianic Judaism must represent Yeshua within Judaism and not as a voice from the outside.

I would like to hear from you, especially regarding the twelve points above. What do you think? Please comment (reasonably short comments please). If possible, refer to one of the twelve points above as you express agreement, objection, or a need for further clarification.


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, Mark Kinzer, Messianic Jewish, Theology. Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to Post-Missionary Messianic Judaism, 3 Yrs Later

  1. kliska says:

    Well, I know I haven’t posted much here, but this topic is one that I have discussed with others, elsewhere on the ‘net. I have to start by saying that I haven’t read the book, but I believe I would disagree with the very basis of the book. From studying the New Testament verses and teachings surrounding the observance of the Law, I do not believe anyone is under the Law, as the Law (or obligation) any more, and that includes Jewish believers. (I also, from reading some of your other posts, believe that your opinion will differ from this, I’m not wanting to start a debate, but just to offer one Christian’s viewpoint on this.)

    1. Jewish followers of Yeshua are a distinct group within the community of Yeshua in the world.

    I would say that this only holds true from a human perspective; once in Christ, we are truly one unified body and there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile, and this lack of distinction leaves no room for a completely “distinct group” within it. In a way we are “beyond” labels, even though we may fulfill different functions at different times, there is a blending together, rather than a sharp “distinction.” Maybe it is just the wording that bothers me.

    3. The New Testament affirms the Torah lifestyle for Jewish people, whether followers of Yeshua or not.

    I don’t believe it does (and I know that there will be many that disagree). It gives the freedom to engage in the lifestyle of the Law (as long as it is done with the correct heart and understanding), but it also gives the freedom to not, regardless of being Jewish or Gentile. For those still holding to the Law without Messiah, it can only condemn if not followed to the place were it is pointing…at Him.

    5. The unity of Jew and Gentile in Messiah cannot mean blending and assimilating, but must mean a unity on a higher level, the practical implications of which greatly need to be discussed by Christians and Messianic Jews.

    I disagree; the unity in Messiah is as the unity of a person’s body. Everything is connected and works in concert together. To try to separate Jewish believers from other believers in Christ, is to try to separate one’s heart, or feet, or hands…it doesn’t work, as the body functions most optimally as a solid whole.

    Conversely, if one wanted to argue for a unity with “distinctions” I suppose one could use the Triune nature of God to serve as example. However, I would still maintain that the type of unity we see amongst believers (and between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) will not lead to sharp contrasts in belief or action between believers, or a “separating.”

    6. Faithfulness to God’s Torah means involvement in the people of the Torah, the larger Jewish community.

    Believers and Non-believers is the distinction where the true line now lays, not between Jewish believers and Gentile believers. I do believe that Jewish believers can and should be active in the larger Jewish community.

    7. God has appointed judges in Israel to set standards for the community of Israel and the rabbis fulfill this function.

    They used to fulfill the function, but now, I cannot see how or why a Jewish believer would want to, or feel the need to follow an earthly, non-believing rabbi…can anyone offer a perspective on this? I do believe that if there are believing, Messianic Jewish communities that the system of governmental leadership presented in the Old Testament could still be used to good effect.

    10. Private Biblical interpretation is very important, but must not be allowed to separate Messianic Jews from the larger Jewish community.

    This, again, is an odd, and foreign position to me (hey, at least I admit it ;) ). It seems to discount the direct influence and guidance of the Holy Spirit in a special, unique way in the lives of believers; Jewish and Gentile. Living the life of a believer in Jesus means that He is our head, and that we should hearken to Him directly, and if that conflicts with a non-believer’s position, then we should always place Him, and His guidance first and foremost…sometimes embracing Jesus as Messiah is going to separate people within a community, regardless of intent.

    Just some thoughts,

  2. Kliska:

    Thank you for being brave enough to go first. Obviously you and I have arrived at some very different theological conclusions.

    Your comment is quite long and I desire to be brief. So let me attempt to throw a few thoughts to challenge you to further thinking.

    You say, “we are truly one unified body and there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile.” The same verse that teaches the unity of Jew and Gentile says there is “neither male nor female” (Gal. 3:28). Are you in favor of Christians eradicating the male-female distinction?

    You say, “It gives the freedom to engage in the lifestyle of the Law.” How does Acts 15 make any sense at all if we do not read it assuming that Jewish believers are bound to Torah? Why would the apostles stop short of giving the whole truth if that is, in fact, what they meant?

    You say, “the unity in Messiah is as the unity of a person’s body.” I think you are mixing metaphors (mixing 1 Corinthians 12 with Galatians and Ephesians). Isn’t the oneness of a man and woman in marriage a better illustration of the unity of Jew and Gentile?

    You may have misunderstood what I meant about rabbinic authority. I meant that the rabbis, as leaders of the community, have authority to say how the Torah should be kept. I don’t know if you have had much time to think about this issue, if you don’t keep Torah, but the Bible leaves many of the details up to the community. It would be chaos if everyone did what was right in his own eyes. So there are community standards to answers questions like, “What does it mean to deny yourself on Yom Kippur?”

    As for the Holy Spirit versus the rabbis, again I think you misunderstood. I meant that we should not appeal to private biblical interpretation as a way to separate ourselves from the Jewish community in the manner of following the Torah. Of course we have the Holy Spirit and we interpret the Bible.


  3. kliska says:

    I agree that we have arrived at different conclusions; though I hope that we can both respect each other’s positions while still disagreeing. Sorry for the length of my first post, I was wanting only to hit on some of the points that were listed from my perspective.

    Colossians 3:11 also speaks in the same vein, but adds, “Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision…” The main point, isn’t that there are not physical differences, or even some role differences, such as those between male and female, but that all should be united as one, and in God’s eyes there is an equality between these things through faith and He sees us all as the body of Christ, which is how we are described. You later touch on the husband/wife relationship (echad) as I alluded to the Oneness (echad) of God in unity…what I’m trying to communicate (rather poorly) is that you don’t see a husband and wife separating themselves from one another, and are in fact taught not to except in rare instances. And I feel that the ideas of separating out Messianic Believers from Gentile believers to the extent hinted at doesn’t constitute echad, if you’ll forgive the bumbling use of Hebrew. If the Messianic Believers are “only” in, or restricted to a community of non-Messianic Jews, then how is there that level of oneness and unity between Messianic and Gentile believers? I suppose it could be limited to an invisible unity as between all believers…

    James was the head of the church at Jerusalem, and headed the council. James, from what we can tell from the scriptural accounts came to his acceptance of Christ after Christ was crucified and resurrected, as did many other Jewish believers. There is a theme of Jewish believers holding to some of the old teachings, and it appears that was what was occurring, and also, in some quarters, wishing Gentiles to hold to the Law as well. In Acts we read Peter “10 Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.” Paul also had to correct Peter in some of his actions…there were disagreements in the early church; see Galatians, such as Galatians chapter 2, where we have Peter hiding from James’ men.

    Paul, in his letters, explains that there is now a righteousness completely apart from the law, and that the law functioned as a schoolmaster. I don’t believe the law functions in the same capacity in the new covenant as in the old for believers, for Christ fulfilled the law, and the law pointed the believer to the need of Christ. I’ve always found Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 9:20 interesting, “And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;” Paul apparently doesn’t consider himself (in Christ) a Jew nor a Gentile, nor under the law nor without the law. I suppose that is a type of the mindset I’m try to express. There is freedom in Christ; but freedom with responsibility.

    With the Rabbi points, I guess I see it a bit differently…there is going to be a fundamental difference between a Messianic Rabbi and a Non-Messianic Rabbi…the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, that special relationship between us and Him, that allows us to truly understand scripture, is only available on that deep level with believers in Jesus; if you wanted an answer to “What does it mean to deny yourself on Yom Kippur?” and you are actually viewing it from a spiritual/law point of view, would it not be prudent to seek out a Messianic Rabbi?

    I understand that there are a lot of theological issues going on here at once, and also that I don’t always to the best job giving a clear explanation of my thoughts, so thank you for wading through it,


  4. Kliska:

    It is not possible, in a short space, to discuss all these issues adequately. I would love to be able to challenge your paradigm about Jewish believers and the Torah, but space does not permit. I do hope you keep reading Messianic Musings and maybe over time, you will understand more where we Messianic Jews are coming from.

    Since there is limited space, I will focus the discussion with you on one issue: the unity of Jew and Gentile and the diversity of Jew and Gentile.

    You said yourself, “The main point, isn’t that there are not physical differences, or even some role differences.” Exactly. I’m talking about a role distinction. Jewish believers have a slightly different role in the Body of Messiah.

    Now, you also said, “I feel that the ideas of separating out Messianic Believers from Gentile believers to the extent hinted at doesn’t constitute echad.” Here I would like to continue to challenge you.

    Consider a different but related issue, ethnic churches. Would you agree that it is helpful for communities to form based on cultural and linguistic commonalities? For example, isn’t it a good idea for Koreans in America to gather with other Koreans for worship, if they choose? Is this a sort of divisive segregation?

    I think not. There is no such thing as a neutral “Christian” culture. And we are creatures of culture and language. We need support from others who understand how we think.

    The need for Messianic Jewish congregations separate from churches is of a different order than this Korean example, but I hope you understand my point.


  5. kliska says:

    Derek, I agree that there is much too much to go into here, and I have a sense that it isn’t the time, nor the place, but I do hope you can see that I have a respect for your position, even if my thoughts differ.

    Now, it is interesting that you bring up the cultural splitting in churches…I lived in Mississippi for four years while doing my graduate work, and was able to observe exactly what you are referring to, and it grieved me. There would be all black Baptist churches (for example) and one street down there would be all white Baptist churches…they’d be televised on TV even, and I couldn’t help but think that if there was a bit more mingling between the brethren, that everyone may learn something. (I do know that here are some churches where that happens.)

    There is so much that we could learn, and that could enrich our understanding of each other, and I believe God, or at least our worship of God by a greater unity amongst Christians…and I don’t mean a unity such as the Roman church pushes for. I guess, for me, the idea of being a believer has always trumped any other difference, whether it be ethnic, or age, or gender, etc…

    In a way I may be an idealist, but I can imagine a congregation made up of all ethnic groups, supporting one another, worshiping together…perhaps it is just a longing for the world to come, but I know, for example, that I would learn a lot if we had the opportunity to have Messianic Jewish Believers be in our congregation, and it does make me pause to hear/read about someone (the author/speaker you mentioned) who seems to flat out believe it is akin to a religious duty to split off from fellow believers…

    Grace and Peace,

  6. Kliska:

    You are right. I do think you are an idealist :-) Multi-ethnic churches exist and they work to a degree. But all people need people who understand them to be in their close circle.

    Let me try to show you that your words are unrealistic idealism. You said, “I couldn’t help but think that if there was a bit more mingling between the brethren, that everyone may learn something.”

    Alright, then, do you attend a Black church? Or a Korean church? Why not? Wouldn’t the mingling be good for you and your children?

    I am not making absolute pronouncements against cross-cultural relationships. I am simply saying that human beings are not culture-neutral. Nor does God call us to be.


  7. kliska says:

    Derek, as I mentioned earlier, not in these comments but elsewhere, I live in a very rural area in the Midwest (I’m from a town of 750 people)…there are no multi-cultural churches here, the closest would be around a two hour drive.

    The mingling probably would be good for me, and my husband (we don’t have any children at the moment), and it would probably be good for others as well. I don’t believe for a moment that God calls us to be culture-neutral, but I do believe He calls us to be united with other believers in a way that is special between us, as opposed to unbelievers. As I said, I understand why believers split into groups, and I don’t necessarily have a problem with it (although the ideal would be better, IMO, as it will be in the ages to come) but I don’t think I could support a religious call to do so; esp. when that call tells believers to group with non-believers over their own spiritual brethren.

    Grace and Peace,

  8. geoffrobinson says:

    Maybe I’ll break this up into a couple of posts. Maybe not.

    I agree with the first comment, but I’ll add a little bit. Torah observance, as far as I can read from Romans 14, falls under liberty in Messiah. Each be convinced in your own mind.

    I’m currently reading and blogging on Shapiro’s “Limits of Orthodox Judaism”. Now that’s a must-read. His chapter on the Eternality of the Torah is pertinent (and that happens to be my next post on

    You are assuming the position that Torah observance is for today (as opposed to those who believes it is fulfilled). If that falls, this all goes down with it.

    Interestingly, a large stream within Orthodoxy held the possibility that Torah would change when Messianic times arrived. Some of their arguments are downright cessasionist.

    Lastly, bringing together Jew and Gentile into one body and thereby fulfilling many prophecies and blessing the nations seems, to me at least, to be a prominent theme in the Bible. Working with a spiritual dead populace for expecting acceptance seems quite foolish.

    While I see where a lot of the points are coming from 7) seems incredibly off-base.

    9) Most in Israel are secular. Most Orthodox, if you limit it to them, believe following Jesus is idolatry. That is a big consensus as to Torah. Which brings us back to the foolishness of 7.

  9. Geoff and Kliska:

    Thanks for commenting. I think it is interesting that so far only Christians who do not believe in the Jewish obligation to Torah have posted.

    Any Messianics out there who share my paradigm?

    I enjoy challenging Christians to see a Torah-faithful paradigm for Jewish believers, but I had hoped for some intra-Messianic conversation.


  10. Geoff:

    By Israel I meant the Jewish people, not the land of Israel.

    Since you said that you do not accept the obligation of Jewish believers to Torah-faithfulness, let me ask you a question Kliska never answered: How do you interpret Acts 15 without assuming that Jewish believers are to keep the Law of Moses?

    All through their deliberations, the only debate was whether Gentiles had to keep the Law of Moses. If the point was, “No one need keep Torah anymore,” the apostles surely failed us, right?


  11. siseleanor says:

    Hi, I’m following fascinated. I don’t have a problem with Kinzer’s understandings as summed up by Derek, and find it difficult to understand how others don’t see it, I find it difficult to stand in their shoes and see it through their eyes, I think because it comes so naturally to me to see that getting on with living a life centred on Torah and mitzvot is the best thing for my ruchnius, for my soul and its wellbeing as a part of the wider whole that is the Jewish people. What else is there for Jews? What else could possibly be better for a Jewish soul than to passionately and faithfully live ethically, and with those distinctive observances that are for the Jewish people? The former Rosh Beis Din here in the UK told me simply ‘halachah is ethics’. How could I be a better Jew – Messianic or otherwise – by abandoning the tried and tested, forged-over-time, Jewish ethics? I don’t believe the rabbis have understood it all perfectly. There are a few areas of concern even beyond their rejection of Yeshua as Messiah, these touch on what we now understand to be human rights and gender discrimination etc. But those are details compared to the whole, and the whole has I trust been developed under the guidance of the Holy Spirit over the centuries, just as it was before the time of Christ. We will never get understanding and applying halachah perfectly right, but that doesn’t mean it is to be given up! It is to be lived even more carefully and thoughtfully because of the centuries of conscientious and yiras shomayim-filled development that have gone into it.

  12. kliska says:

    I’m enjoying reading everyone’s POV’s on this! I will add in that I did address Acts 15 by the other points I made, these things must be seen in context, both scripturally and culturally. I believe certain things happened as they did in Acts because of James’ leadership of the church in Jerusalem…but, I quoted Peter himself saying that the Law was a burden they were not able to bear, as well as saying that the Jewish people would be saved as the Gentiles, which I can only interpret as being through faith and grace. I believe Paul goes on in his letters to make the situation clearer. The early church wasn’t perfect, as we can readily see things as I pointed out; Peter being corrected quite dynamically by Paul, Peter hiding from James’ men, fearful of their reactions, Peter being corrected by the Lord in a vision, etc…

    Also, of Paul says he became like one under the Law, became as a Jew to the Jewish people…then he apparently didn’t see himself, in Christ, as being Jewish in the same way he would have been outside of Christ and doesn’t see himself as being under the Law, or he would have simply said he became like one without the Law to the Gentiles; he did both. To me that hints that being in Christ is a totally different ballgame.

    I agree with Geoff, in that, one is free to follow Torah if done in freedom and faith; I have no problem with that, be the person Jew or Gentile, and I do not support the idea that Jewish believers give up being Jewish, or must give up Torah. My focus is on the splitting of Believers. I can’t support a position that again, religiously urges believers to split off from one another. If a believer, be they Jewish or Gentile, feels drawn by the Holy Spirit to live amongst a certain group of people, I’m all for that.

    Grace and Peace,

  13. Kliska:

    You said, “I believe certain things happened as they did in Acts because of James’ leadership of the church in Jerusalem…but, I quoted Peter himself saying that the Law was a burden they were not able to bear.”

    I encourage you to think more carefully about these issues. You speak as though you have certainty about them. I think you have barely researched or thought them through.

    Think of the problems with what you are saying as I cited above. You are saying that James made a mistake in his ruling at the Jerusalem council (Acts 15). That reminds me of F.C. Bauer, whom you would not agree with, who said that the Pauline and Jamesian wings of the early church were in conflict with each other.

    If James could make such a mistake (neglecting to realize that Jews are allegedly free from the Torah), then why trust anything he says about the issue of Gentiles? Are you so committed to your paradigm of a law-free gospel that you would cast doubt on apostles?

    I know I’m being hard on you. And I appreciate your patience and good will. But please realize that we should not be hasty to “solve” these issues of New Testament theology.

    My Paul Didn’t Eat Pork book covers a lot of this ground.


  14. kliska says:

    Derek, I’m sorry if you feel that I haven’t studied this, prayed about this, and researched it in depth…there won’t be anything I can really say to convince you otherwise, though I have looked at it seriously. I don’t claim certainty for much in this life, as I’m just as flawed as everyone else, all I can do is read, pray, and study and hang my faith on Christ. And I really do enjoy reading and studying different perspectives and am open to changing my mind if lead.

    I think you hurry too fast past my other points. The early church did have disputes…so much so that you do see Peter hiding from James’ men (Peter was living as a Gentile, when around gentiles (see Galatians 2) and Paul says later that he does the same, 1 Corinthians 9), and Paul having to step in. You also see what is required for righteousness, and Paul clearly outlining the role and limits of the law, and one can’t miss Paul’s anger and fervency in the Galatians letter about some of this.

    James and Paul do concentrate on different issues, and I can reconcile them through Christ’s words in the Gospel accounts. The ruling in Acts 15 pertained to what they were instructing the Gentiles to be mindful of, not the Jewish believers, and Peter is careful to point out that Jewish believers are saved and made righteous in exactly the same way as the gentile believers are; grace and faith.

    As I said, I believe anyone is free to follow Torah as they feel lead by the Spirit, I would never council anyone to go against that leading. And, I don’t believe in a law free gospel; we are to operate under the law of faith…which will lead us to following the spirit of the Law. Again, I understand where you are coming from, but I have indeed studied this, even from other Messianic believers, and there are a vast number of opinions on this very topic.

    Grace and Peace,

  15. geoffrobinson says:

    I see a debate in Acts 15, but I don’t see them fleshing out whether the Mosaic covenant still applied to Jewish believers. Right before Paul was to address it, he was hauled off to jail.

    I think Romans 14 is pretty explicit in that we have freedom in these matters. And Hebrews and Galatians are pretty clear as well about the relationship between the Old and New covenants.

  16. Geoff:

    My point is that if the apostles meant to say, “All Yeshua-followers are free from Torah obligation,” they missed their big chance in Acts 15.

    Acts 15 makes no sense if Torah is obsolete. If Torah is obsolete, then the apostles are asking the wrong question. It should not be, “Should we make these Gentiles live the way we do?” The question should be, “Do we need Torah anymore?”

    Acts 15 assumes Torah-faithfulness for Jewish believers and debates the case for Gentiles. Acts 21:21 and 24 make the Jewish case clear.


  17. kliska says:

    I was hoping, if I haven’t worn out my welcome, that I could ask a question that pertains to what we are discussing. How does a Messianic believer that follows, and feels obligated to follow Torah, and still tries to abide by all its mandates choose which parts are still in effect? Jesus, Peter, Paul, etc… touch on some things that they teach have shifted (they touch upon cleanliness laws, eye for an eye, murder, adultery, Sabbath, etc…)

    Also, I don’t see anyone being stoned for specific law breaking as laid out in the Old Testament. Obviously the animal sacrifices are not being performed. The question I’m getting at is that there are changes, so how does one decide what is an obligation and what isn’t? If you’ve tackled this question before in a different post on your blog, or if there is a website that addresses it, you can point me in that direction as well. I do appreciate your time.


  18. kliska says:

    PS, there was not supposed to be a smiley in the post above…I love it when that happens… :)

    Grace and Peace,

  19. geoffrobinson says:

    My review of the chapter in “Limits of Orthodox Theology” is up on

  20. jarinker says:

    The problem is idolatry. Non-Messianic Jews claim believing in Jesus is idolatry. Yet, they long ago forgot what idolatry is. They can see as clear as day the Cathlic saints are idols. And so can most Protestants. Yet, the Protestants idolize human “Founder” after founder in the place of the God who causes men to stand so strong as to humanity. Messianic Judaism has chosen to embrace Yeshua once again. And Judaism. Both of those things are right to do. But embracing sages who never accepted Messiah, who openly, knowingly, highly educatedly denounced the Messiah is nothing less than embracing the idols non-Messianic Judaism created for itself exactly because it was not following the one God gave to them, to follow. Blaming Christianity for having gone astray, what is their excuse for not leading right? And now that it is not do all death defying for Messianic men to lead, why is all this idolizing of Rashi etc still a problem. God will judge. “As for me and my house…”

  21. jarinker:

    The problem with your comment, first of all, is that you have a strange definition of idol. It seems your definition is any respected teacher. Thus, none of us should read commentators and teachers but only the Bible directly? If that is not what you mean, please advise.

    But be aware that you have a problem of self-contradiction. As much as you might like to think that your way of practicing the faith is pure and traditionless, I assure you it is not.

    An idol is anything that supplants God or an image used to worship God. Teachers and traditions do not fit the definition of idol.


  22. Pingback: “Post-missionary Messianic Judaism”: Liberation theology in disguise? « The Rosh Pina Project

  23. J Mye says:

    I fully agree with all of the points of this book as you have summarized them. I’m a shaliach in a 3rd world country and my study time is quite tightly managed. Do you recommend I buy and study this work understanding that this is time I will need to reduce my learning in the areas the author espouses? Thank you for your blog,

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