The Internet, Messianic Judaism, and the Myth of Biblical Judaism

Those who try to learn from the internet about Messianic Judaism and a Jewish perspective on faith in Yeshua are only slightly more likely to find good information as those seeking fine coffee at an interstate truck stop. The internet gives pretty much anyone a voice, including many who are willing to speak authoritatively about matters of Jewish faith in Yeshua without being part of the hard work of engagement with the Jewish community. For many, the mere fact that they own and read a Bible is license and empowerment to speak about delicate matters of identity, history, and practice.

Needless to say, the authentic voices of Messianic Judaism should be the many leaders and communities busy applying the Bible and history to actual communities of Jewish people and actively engaging Jewish thought.

It amazes and appalls me that people feel empowered to interpret and apply the quintessential book of Judaism–the Torah–with little regard for what the Jewish people have historically said about it.

Case in point is a recent blog post by an Anglican Christian who believes that all Christians should keep the Torah. Nate Long feels that Torah is the provenance now of Christendom and that “Rabbinic Judaism” took the Torah in wrong directions. Surfers of Messianic Judaism online (the broadly labeled phenomenon on the internet which runs a gamut of actual belief systems) can certainly find worse voices than Nate Long, but maybe it is particularly intelligent but misguided voices that concern me most.

In a recent post, Long decides to address our community directly. He writes “An Open Letter to Jewish Believers in Jesus” (see his post here). Nate Long, the Anglican, has advice for the community of Jewish people navigating the path of Jewish life and Jesus-faith. His major points include:

–Messianic Judaism, says long, is a “cultural expression” of Jesus-faith (and apparently nothing more).

–Christians have been “grafted in” to Israel, says Long, by which he virtually means there is no difference between Jews and Christians in Christ.

–Contemporary use of the term Judaism, Long asserts, refers to those who departed from Jesus and began a variant religion to what might be called “Biblical Judaism” (note: Long doesn’t use this term, but the idea is clearly in the background).

–Using the term Judaism, as in Messianic Judaism, declares Long, is a misnomer!

–When the believers at Antioch (in the book of Acts) began to be called Christians, says Long, this was the beginning of a new identity and called for Jewish and Gentile followers of Jesus to separate from the synagogues and keep Torah the Christian way.

–Jewish believers in Jesus today should identify with Christianity and not Judaism, says Long (while, ironically, he also undermines Christianity in its historical expressions by calling for Christians to be under the yoke of Torah).

–Finally, and most frightfully, Long calls upon Jewish followers of Jesus not to pretend they are returning to Judaism, since Judaism, according to Long, is bankrupt. Rather, says Long, Jewish followers of Messiah should be separate from Judaism and acknowledge membership in the Body of Messiah (apparently this concept of “Body of Messiah” for Long is not identifiable with any actual community such as the Church, but is a nebulous ideal group of believers with no historical or physical identity).

Well, consider this a response to Nate Long’s unsolicited advice to Jewish followers of Jesus:

Is Messianic Judaism Simply a Cultural Expression of Christianity?
I have nothing against cultural expressions of Christianity. In fact, all expressions of Christianity are culturally bound. The old wives’ tale that some American brand of Christian expression is “Christian” culture can only be believed by people who have never flown in an airplane across large bodies of water. There is nothing about 19th century hymns, soft rock modern religious music, Southern Gospel, or any other form of Christian cultural expression that is neutral or simply “Christian.”

While I admire diverse cultural expressions of Christianity, such as the Latino church where everyone hugs you twenty times or the Korean church where people gather daily at 5 a.m. to pray for an hour, I must say Messianic Judaism is not a cultural expression of Christianity.

Messianic Judaism, in all its diverse cultural forms (there is no monolithic Jewish culture either), is supposed to be the continuation of Israelite covenant faithfulness to Hashem renewed in Yeshua. Let me unpack that briefly for those who don’t understand my language here. We, in Messianic Judaism, believe that the descendants of Israel remain under the teaching and covenant of Genesis through Deuteronomy as initiated by Hashem (God, literally “the Name”). We believe that faith in Yeshua (Jesus) flows naturally from Torah living and that historical notions that Torah and Jesus are somehow opposed are all mistaken.

Jewish life is more than a culture (really a set of diverse cultures). It is the continuation of God’s covenant with a specific people. Latino and Korean Christianity are cultural expressions of something bigger than culture too: God’s relationship with the nations.

Are Christians Grafted Into Israel and Thus Bound to Torah?
I have a horticultural expert in my synagogue. His common sense wisdom is something that many interpreters of the phrase “grafted in” desperately need. My friend says to me, “A branch grafted onto a tree never changes its nature.”

That is, a wild olive grafted onto a cultivated variety of olive tree, will never become a cultivated olive branch. Readers of the New Testament will certainly recognize the analogy from Romans 11, “If some of the branches were broken off, and you, a wild olive shoot, were grafted in their place to share the richness of the olive tree, do not boast over the branches.”

The language of non-Jews being “grafted in” is regularly misused. Few remember Paul’s admonition, “Remember, it is the root that supports you.” Few believe that the existence and nature of Israel supports the Church. Among the One Law and Hebraic Roots groups few take seriously that wild branches do not become natural branches.

The distinction between Israel and the nations (Jews and Gentiles) is no more erased by verses like Galatians 3:28 than the distinction between male and female. And as for the relation of non-Jews to Torah, Acts 15 makes it clear that Gentile obligation is not the same as Jewish obligation. (Note: the common misinterpretation of Acts 15:21 by Hebraic Roots and One Law groups can be easily demonstrated to be a false attempt to overthrow the meaning of the rest of the chapter by use of false assumptions.)

Is Judaism a False Step-Child of “Biblical Judaism”?
Long seems to have hit on a simple and profound formula. Biblical Judaism plus Jesus faith equals Christianity. Biblical Judaism plus the rabbis equals Judaism, the false religion of those opposed to Jesus.

It should be apparent from the Hebrew Bible that this formula is absurdly wrong-headed. Yet some people will only listen to the New Testament, or only to Paul. Thus I present to you the revolutionary formula of Romans 11:2, “God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew.”

For the truly stubborn, those who wish to define Israel in Romans 11 as something other than Jewish people (some says only Jewish believers in Jesus are meant or that the whole thing is a cipher for Christians in general), I further present the appallingly clear sayings of Paul in Romans 11:28-29, “As regards the Gospel, they are the enemies of God . . . [nonetheless] the gifts and calling of God [i.e., naming the Jewish people as his Chosen People] are irrevocable.”

Consider the absurdity of Nate Long’s position that Judaism is false. It means that while God continues to regard the Jewish people as his covenant people he nonetheless has not been working within Israel for the last two millennia. Instead, God has spent all his time on the Church, leaving his Chosen People in the darkness.

Equally consider a more promising idea: neither Judaism nor Christianity, in any of their various forms, represents a total claim on God’s truth and love. If Judaism is false, then answer this: which expression of Christianity is true? Which historical community of Christians has lived the lifestyle taught us by Jesus? And which synagogue is devoid of the beauty of God’s teaching?

Though I cannot fully develop the idea here, there numerous signs of God’s continued work within Judaism and even of Yeshua’s hidden presence within Judaism (see Mark Kinzer, Post-Missionary Messianic Judaism for more).

Is Judaism, as in Messianic Judaism, a Term to Be Avoided by Yeshua-Followers?
When we use the term Judaism we mean to say that we are continuing God’s covenant from Sinai, through the history of the kings and prophets, into the time of Yeshua, and also the tradition for the past 2,000 years since Yeshua in which God has very definitely been at work within Israel. Thus is the natural outgrowth of the idea that God has never ceased his covenant with Israel or ceased to develop communal life within Israel.

Some prefer to ignore the last 2,000 years of Judaism, assume God has not been involved ever since the Jewish community largely rejected Yeshua (note: so did the Gentile world), and promote the myth of Biblical Judaism. Biblical Judaism means following Torah, allegedly, separate from the developments of rabbinic tradition.

The idea of Biblical Judaism is laughable. Practitioners of Biblical Judaism fast on Yom Kippur, light candles on Shabbat and Hanukkah, and observe holidays on the Jewish calendar. These are all elements of the allegedly false rabbinic tradition.

You can’t keep Torah in a vacuum. Let me say that again: you can’t keep Torah in a vacuum. Torah means more than the text of the Biblical page. There are a thousand examples of ambiguity in the Torah, ambiguity clearly intended by God as places for the community to fill in the gaps. Ignoring the tradition is akin the wicked generations of Judges who “did what was right in their own eyes.”

Should Jewish Yeshua-Followers Identify With Christianity to the Exclusion of Judaism?
Messianic Jews are a community of Jewish followers of Yeshua rooted in Judaism and related to Christianity.

Being rooted in Judaism is a matter of covenantal obligation and communal identity. Being related to Christianity is a matter of joyous reconciliation in Yeshua between Israel and the nations, Jew and Gentile.

When the outside community in Antioch began calling the Yeshua-followers (Jew and Gentile) Christians, this did not in any way indicate that Jewish followers should depart from the synagogue. In its origin “Christian” simply means “follower of Messiah.” It does not mean, as Long perhaps imagines, “one who has departed from Judaism to join a new community called Christendom.”

Are Messianic Jews Often Returnees to Judaism?
An oft-noted pattern in Messianic Judaism is the path of the indifferent Jew who comes to faith in Yeshua and begins to return to Judaism.

In some cases, the indifferent Jew is rather secular, with some experience in Jewish life, but little connection to God and faith. Learning to sing the Hebrew text of the Torah for a Bar or Bat Mitzvah is a chore to be endured so one can have a party with a D.J. and all of one’s friends. Hebrew School is a laborious chore to be left behind at the soonest possible opportunity.

Then comes Yeshua and faith in God. Suddenly that Hebrew text is God’s word and not a stepping stone to girls, dancing, and D.J.’s. Suddenly that prayer book is a way to converse with God who is no longer remote or mythical.

In other cases, the indifferent Jew is indifferent because of Christianity and its frequent disregard for Jewish life, covenantal obligation, and identity. A Jewish person comes to Jesus, is handed a ham sandwich by the well-meaning but ignorant church community, and comes to think of their Jewishness as a cultural choice to be abandoned for the alleged culture of Christianity.

Then comes a crisis, such as a death in the family or a feeling of guilt at a relative’s Bar Mitzvah, and Jewish Christian seeks out a Messianic Jewish synagogue. Or, if not a crisis, some relationship draws the Christianized Jew into a community of Jews who follow Yeshua. And over time a clarity of purpose slowly (or quickly) grows in the life of the Christianized Jew. The Judaism of their family and friends is no longer the foreign “other” but the welcome homeland of faith and practice. The taboos of populist evangelical Christianity, such as its disdain for liturgical prayer, begin to fade.

These Jews are returning to something Nate Long does not wish to call Judaism. Why does Nate Long not wish to call it Judaism? He imagines that he is following a non-Jewish path of Torah observance. Torah, he thinks, is for Christians. Jews, he thinks, have made a mess of Torah. Christianity, he vainly imagines, has found the way. (Please note: thoughtful Christians, and I hope Nate Long is among them, realize that Christendom is human, fallible, and far from achieving the ideals of Yeshua).

Conclusion
I and many others in Messianic Judaism reject Nate Long’s open letter. We do not see Judaism as the bankrupt branch of those who rejected Jesus. We see Judaism as a continuation of God’s covenant people and way of life. We do not believe that God ignores and withdraws from people and cultures which do not yet follow Yeshua. We believe God works among all peoples and cultures, first and foremost with his Chosen People, Israel.

We rejoice in our rootedness in Judaism as well as our relationship with Christianity.

About Derek Leman

IT guy working in the associations industry. Formerly a congregational rabbi. Dad of 8. Nerd.
This entry was posted in Bible, Christian, Gentiles, Judaism, messianic, Messianic Jewish, Messianic Judaism, Talmud and Tradition, Torah. Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to The Internet, Messianic Judaism, and the Myth of Biblical Judaism

  1. Nate Long says:

    Derek, I appreciate your willingness to engage my thoughts. I’m discouraged that my thoughts were inaccurately represented.

    I knew I was stepping into a minefield on this one, but I did it because there is a fine line of articulation that is of critical necessity for the hope and success of believers pursuing an authentic Gospel life(style). These believers are to be found in a wide variety of “camps,” and they will be aided by language that highlights their unity rather than their differences.

    Especially because it’s a nuance I’m addressing, it is particularly critical that we understand and address one another’s points with fine accuracy.

    I’ll respond to your inaccurate representation of my views in a post on my blog. For now, let me say that other than your characterization of me and my viewpoints there is much to appreciate in your post.

    One last quick note; I’m incidentally Anglican, and very purposefully a believer in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and in His Son, Yeshua. In today’s world that is most widely recognized as being a Christian.

  2. Nate:

    I look forward to reading your clarification. I ask that you do not redefine your original statement and pretend that the redefinition is what you meant all along. I would ask that if I have misinterpreted you, show me how your original words meant something different than my interpretation. If, on the other hand, you have changed your mind about some things, please be honest and admit you do not stand by your original words.

    When I criticize the published thoughts and ideas people espouse, I find they often say, “You are inaccurately representing me.” I do not try to misrepresent people, so I hope that you will demonstrate how I have done this.

    Derek

  3. Nate Long says:

    That is my intention; I will expect the same in return.

  4. Nate Long says:

    Thanks for the head’s up, by the way. I appreciate it.

  5. judahgabriel says:

    I agree with Nate that Christians grafted into Israel ought to keep God’s standard of righteousness defined by the Torah. One law for all God’s people, Jews and gentiles. (This doesn’t erase differences between Jews and gentiles as Derek seemed to imply. However, it does put Jews and gentiles on a level playing field before God.)

    While Derek explains away Romans 11 according to his theology, I think Paul again makes it clear in Ephesians 2 that gentiles are first-class citizens of Israel and no longer foreigners to the covenants made with Israel, including the Mosaic covenant.

    However, I agree with Derek about use of the term “Judaism”. While “the rabbis” have certainly taken the faith of Moses from an agricultural, land-of-Israel-centric, priestly, sacrificial one and morphed it into a more modern, palatable tradition-based religion, I don’t find this to be problematic or in error.

    That isn’t to say Judaism is without faults.

    While Judaism, like Christianity, has it’s problems, I do not think we need to run away from Judaism. On the contrary, if the faith in the God of Israel is known as Judaism, we ought to run to Judaism, even with its faults. Embracing both Messiah and the Jewish religion is, I think, at the heart of Messianic Judaism. This stance, on the whole, is a righteous, Scriptural one.

  6. rightrudder says:

    Messianic Judism does several things for the Church. First, it provides people raised as Jews, but who are interested or believe in Jesus, a familiar means of worship. So if you believe that Jesus is who he claims to be then you would have to agree that the messianic movement is beneficial to his church. Secondly, if there are people of Jewish dissent who have become out of touch with their roots then this movement seems to be a means to provide “culture” to a society that is loosing its culture. Besides, I do not see why anyone that is a christian is against someone choosing to live as the Bible instructs. (?) That logic is counterintuitive to any proud Bible thumper – such as myself. Third, this movement is a means by which someone who is not of Jewish descent can learn more about what Jesus was taught. Though it is not popular for a run of the mill Christian to say – Jesus was a Jew. And I he lived life like a Jew.

    What disappoints me is that when I looked up Messianic Judaism there were so many people wanting to tear it apart. Seriously, when will christians stop trying to rip each other’s flag off the pole and decide to just put God’s flag then live with it. Believe me I have read the ending – and it is going to get much worse from here. When you run someone else’s worship down be very careful – you might be just running down the church.

  7. servantofadonai says:

    Dear Derek,

    Your post was very long. I just want one clarification from you as I did not quite grasp what you meant in the long post. My question to you is, were you saying that non-Jewish believers in Yeshua should not keep Torah (Torah observant etc)?

    I personally believe God’s Torah is for everyone, Jew and non-Jew! While Torah observance is quite a matter of the heart, a heart issue…basically whether one wants to be obedient to God, it cannot be forced. It is and always has been a heart issue.

    Take care and God bless. Looking forward to your reply.

  8. judahgabriel says:

    ServantOfAdonai,

    I won’t claim to speak for Derek, but I can reply in the meantime and say that yes, Derek believes the Torah is for Jews only.

    Derek does encourage gentiles to keep the Feasts, however, and has written a book to that end, see Feast! Finding your place at the table of tradition.

  9. servantofadonai says:

    Dear Judahgabriel,

    Thank you for the prompt response. :) I have to say though, “oi vey” to Mr Derek thinking that Torah is only for Jews. On this I disagree of course. God’s Word is for everyone who trusts in Him and is called His child. Grafted in non-Jews do not replace the natural branches, but are grafted into the house of Israel and are equal, note, equal co-heirs to partake in the blessings. :) That said, the non-Jew will never become a Jew because I believe a Jew is a physical descendant of Jacob. Israel was always made up of a mixture of Hebrews and foreigners who chose to follow God and His laws, so these non-Hebrews (or non-Jews) are not to be seen as second class citizens. Physical has a role and purpose in God’s plan for the end days.

    Take care and shalom!

    • servantofadonai:

      The statement “God’s word is for everyone” does not prove or disprove my point about Gentiles not having the same obligation to Torah as Jews. My point is that scripture teaches (both in Torah and in the New Testament) a different relationship of Gentiles to Torah. Are you familiar with the scriptures that differentiate Gentiles and Jews both in Torah and in the New Testament?

      If you are, then shame on you for implying that “Mr. Derek” rejects the universal application of scripture :-)

      If you are not familiar with he scriptural verses on this topic, then perhaps you should inquire about them.

      Derek

  10. servantofadonai:

    I realize now that I never responded to your first comment in which you asked if I am truly saying Torah observance is not incumbent on Gentiles. That’s right. This is the Jewish view of Torah and it comes from Torah itself. But there is a large non-Jewish movement out there promoting Torah for Christians (and some even saying Christianity is wickedly wrong). I don’t agree at all.

    Consider, non-Jews are not allowed to eat the Passover sacrifice (not the same thing as having a Seder): Exodus 12:45-48

    Consider, Shabbat is between Israel and God: Exodus 31:13

    Consider, circumcision has only ever been required of Israel: Genesis 17:10

    Consider, Jews can sell unclean meat to Gentile sojourners in Israel (which would be wrong if it was a sin for these Gentiles to eat such meat): Deuteronomy 14:21

    Then we come to Acts 15, Romans 14, and Galatians.

    Derek

  11. judahgabriel says:

    ServantOfAdonai,

    Many of us who believe Torah is applicable to gentiles place a condition on this belief: that gentiles are grafted into Israel and become citizens of the commonwealth of Israel, no longer foreigners to the covenants with Israel. See Ephesians 2. This Israel is called to follow Torah. We believe God’s people following the Torah is an important part of living a holy life for the Lord.

    You may want to read up on some Messianic studies on Ephesians, Romans, and Galatians. A friend of mine, J.K. McKee, a Messianic apologist and frequent commenter on this blog, has a number of intellectual and fair-minded papers that argue for the position that Torah is applicable to gentiles in Messiah. I recommend looking into them, as he addresses many of the arguments Derek has raised here. You can find them at TnnOnline.

    You may also wish to view a little over-the-web interview I did with Derek. It clarifies Derek’s stance on the Feasts and gentiles, and I think in the end you’ll find his view to at least be loving towards the Torah, even though we may not agree 100%: Interview with Messianic rabbi Derek Leman.

    Shalom in Messiah.

  12. Nate Long says:

    Derek,

    Upon reflection I was very hesitant to respond to your characterization of my remarks. The difference seems so stark as to beg the question, what axe are you grinding? My words are there for people to compare and I think the truth is readily apparent. However, you mentioned that this happens often when you criticize the remarks of others, which I hope gives you pause. So, here’s some examples of how you misrepresented my words.

    By association, you imply that the following applies to me:

    It amazes and appalls me that people feel empowered to interpret and apply the quintessential book of Judaism–the Torah–with little regard for what the Jewish people have historically said about it.”

    In fact, I have great regard for what the Jewish people have said about Torah. I said:

    …[Jewish believers] show the Body of Messiah the benefit of having practiced Torah for centuries.

    You said:

    Nate Long feels that Torah is the provenance now of Christendom and that “Rabbinic Judaism” took the Torah in wrong directions.

    I said:

    I’ll be the first to admit that Christianity was often corrupted along the way, and that she lost her distinctive Jewish character, but the reality remains that Christianity is the spiritual descendant of those (originally almost exclusively Jewish people) who accepted Yeshua as Mashiach. While Judaism refers to the spiritual descendants of those who chose to reconfigure their observance of the Torah without Jesus.

    It is striking that in your list of “my points” the first three are things you acknowledge I did not say, but that you suggest I must mean. This is evidentiary of the entire post as it relates to my words—you read something into my thoughts and expression that simply is not there. (You also do this to the One Law position as a whole, by the way.)

    I say that using Judaism to “refer to Jewish Believers in Jesus or Gentiles who worship in a Jewish context” is a misnomer only because, “contemporary use of the term “Judaism” refers to the religious descendants of those [proto-rabbinic, post-Yavneh] who formed a new variation on the biblical religion.

    You portrayed me as saying:

    When the believers at Antioch (in the book of Acts) began to be called Christians, says Long, this was the beginning of a new identity and called for Jewish and Gentile followers of Jesus to separate from the synagogues and keep Torah the Christian way.

    I actually said:

    I consider it axiomatic that neither Jesus nor Paul began a new religion;

    Let it be noted that I never suggested that believers “ought to keep Torah the Christian way.” I did say:

    Ever since they were first so-labeled at Antioch those who believe Jesus is the Messiah, whether Jew or Gentile, have been called Christians.” This is simply an historical observation.

    Note that I said nothing which suggested a “call” for “followers of Jesus to separate from the synagogues.” I didn’t discuss the historical separation of the Church and Synagogue. For the record, my thoughts on that are that when it happened (at different times in different places) it was primarily because believers were driven from the synagogue, not because early believers felt any need to separate—that came later (think Chrysostom, etc. but isn’t it interesting that 300 years later Chrysostom was still having to berate believers to get them out of the synagogues?!)

    I did ask the question:

    … who do you primarily identify with?” Note that I said “primarily” and did not suggest that Jewish Believers in Yeshua should not identify with Judaism at all, as you imply.

    Furthermore, you suggest that I undermine the historic expression of Christianity by calling for Christians to be “under the yoke of Torah.” First, I call for Christians to be under the yoke of Messiah, not of Torah. Second, calling for Christian obedience to the commandments of God, does not undermine the historic expression of Christianity. The call for Christian obedience is amply testified to throughout our history (e.g., 39 Articles of Religion, Westminster Confession, the writings of John Wesley, one could go on and on). It has only been in the last roughly 100 years that Christians have widely suggested that the Law itself was nailed to the cross with any enduring acceptance. There are ample examples of this heresy popping up ever since Marcion, but this anomia has been consistently rejected by the majority Church through the centuries. Disagreement over which commandments ought to be kept, or even who ought to keep what is a different matter.

    Nowhere do I claim that Judaism “is bankrupt.” I don’t even say that “Jewish followers of Messiah should be separate from Judaism”, rather that in today’s world, given the semantic range of “Judaism” in today’s world, that all followers of Yeshua, whether Jew or Gentile, should acknowledge that we are part of what is known today as “Christianity.”

    As concerns Messianism, let me be crystal clear; I believe what many refer to as Messianic Judaism is a gift from the Father; it is wonderful that it exists; please do carry on, and (as if it mattered) with my blessing.

    What I am discussing is semantic in nature. Normally, I’m not a big fan of making an issue over semantics. In this case, I believe it can (and is) making a big difference. I’ll continue honing my attempt to communicate the importance of this semantic issue over at my blog. In these comments I’ve contented myself with using only my original words to evidence the inaccuracy of your portrayal of my thoughts and beliefs. I would appreciate it if you could re-write your post (and subsequently delete this comment) in such a way as to deal with an issue of concern only in an impersonal fashion, and remove the portions that slander me and my views.

  13. Connie says:

    Speaking as a Gentile, I view parts of Torah as being commandments that separate the Hebrews (let’s use the word Jews) from the Gentiles, keeping them pure, so that they can fulfill the purpose of bringing light to the world (Yeshua). They are culturally distinctive. That does not mean that a Gentile whose heart is moved to be Torah-observant should refrain from doing so, but it is not uncumbent upon Gentiles. I believe that is scripturally supported and the many sites can be found in Derek’s “Israel, Torah and the Nations,” a read I recommend to everyone interested in this subject.

    That said, there is harm being done by a fairly new movement of Gentiles who condemn Christians for not being Torah-observant. We live in an area that is mostly Jewish and has one Messianic congregation. In attempting to dialogue with their Jewish neighbors, the MJs are greatly hampered by groups of Gentiles, going about wearing prayer shawls and tzitzit, and blowing shofar at the new moon. Many of my Jewish neighbors lump these people in with the Jewish MJs (who do not admit Gentiles to their congregation) and despise both.

    I believe God made me a Gentile for reasons known only to him. I think the new roots movement, which has done immeasurable good, has a dark side when it does not respect our God-given differences.

  14. Connie:

    Thanks for the helpful examples and the kind word.

    Derek

  15. Nate:

    You said: “you mentioned that this happens often when you criticize the remarks of others, which I hope gives you pause.”

    Clever. But here is my response. You could be right. I could read the words of others, like yourself, misinterpret them, and then argue against my misinterpretation. I have several times, for example, admitted I got some of Daniel’s points wrong and have made changes.

    Or it could be the other way. People, like you, could say things they don’t fully understand the implications of. I could be truthfully pointing out the wretched implications of faulty reasoning. And the owner of those thoughts could be reluctant to consider if I am right. I will briefly expand on this in a post where I examine whether I have misinterpreted you.

    Derek

  16. Nate Long says:

    Derek,

    It wasn’t “clever” it was earnest. Don’t whisk it away by considering it rhetoric. Until reading your comment I was leaning in the direction of not responding.

    If your point is that my language is easily misunderstood, I would welcome your participation in helping me clarify. But you can’t do that until you understand my message accurately, and so long as you read me as anti-semitic, anti-judaic, supersessionist, or separatist you will not hear/read me rightly.

  17. judahgabriel says:

    Connie,

    The Messianic folks, both Jewish and gentile, that are in favor of gentiles keeping God’s commandments do so because we believe it’s an important part of living a holy life for the Lord.

    Are you familiar with the Messianic organization First Fruits of Zion? Derek and I both respect their scholarly, Scriptural publications. They recently posted a great article about God’s commandments and the role gentiles play in regards to Torah. I hope you read it: Aaron Eby – Gentiles and Torah.

  18. Connie says:

    Judahgabriel,

    I have read their website in the past, although not recently. I know a number of Torah-observant Gentiles, so I’m familiar with their thinking, but I’m always interested in the views of others, so I’ll check out your link. Thanks.

  19. llynn56 says:

    Derek – “Consider, non-Jews are not allowed to eat the Passover sacrifice (not the same thing as having a Seder): Exodus 12:45-48″

    Actually, the text says, “But if a stranger sojourns with you, and celebrates the Passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near to celebrate it; and he shall be like a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person may eat of it.
    The same law shall apply to the native as to the stranger who sojourns among you.”

    A stranger who sojourns with Israel is welcome to celebrate the Passover, the males just need to be circumcised, which means they need to be covenant members. (Gen. 17:10-14) And if we would read circumcision as conversion in the text, that would be anachronistic.

    Derek – “Consider, Shabbat is between Israel and God: Exodus 31:13″

    Yes, Shabbat is a sign between Israel and God, and apparently that also includes those who have joined with Israel, as Ex. 20:10 commands the sojourner to rest along with the rest of Israel and as Ex. 31 says, anyone who does work will be put to death. Therefore the sojourner has been commanded not to work just like Israel and observe the Sabbath as a covenant member.

    Derek – “Consider, circumcision has only ever been required of Israel: Genesis 17:10″

    Again, Israel who is circumcised includes every male of Abraham’s household, “And every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised throughout your generations, a {servant} who is born in the house or who is bought with money from any foreigner, who is not of your descendants. A {servant} who is born in your house or who is bought with your money shall surely be circumcised; thus shall My covenant be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.” (Genesis 17:12-13) The covenant of circumcision is for both the native descendants and foreigners of Abraham’s house. And Gentiles are of Abraham’s household according to Romans 4:16; Galatians 3:6-7.

    Derek – “Consider, Jews can sell unclean meat to Gentile sojourners in Israel (which would be wrong if it was a sin for these Gentiles to eat such meat): Deuteronomy 14:21″

    Actually, Leviticus 17:12-16 specifies that any Son of Israel, a native or alien, is not to eat of blood, or an animal that dies or is torn. Therefore Deuteronomy 14 must be speaking of another kind of “alien” since they are not called a “Son of Israel.”

    Derek – “Then we come to Acts 15, Romans 14, and Galatians.”

    Yes, and surely no one would suggest Yeshua or His Apostles would change the foundational commandments found in the Torah.

  20. Job says:

    Well, according to the Bible and history, there is no such thing as Christianity. There is only Judaism. Now even in the New Testament period, there were Gentile adherents to Judaism, the proselytes (those not born Jews but Gentiles who fully converted) and the God – fearers like Cornelius of Acts.

    Truthfully, that was never supposed to change. Jesus Christ did not come to start a new religion. If He did, He would have said so. Instead, Jews were supposed to continue being Jews, and Gentile God fearers were supposed to continue being God fearers. That was the whole purpose of the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15. The Jews who believed in Jesus Christ wanted to eliminate the practice of allowing God – fearers and wanted to require becoming a proselyte as a condition of being accepted in the community of the followers of Jesus Christ (i.e. before they could be baptized, partake in the Lord’s Supper, etc.).

    Now, we know that this controversy had nothing to do with how the Jews viewed the Gentiles’ standing before God. Why? Because many Gentiles like Cornelius had already received the Holy Spirit. So it was impossible to claim that they did not believe in Jesus Christ and were not born again. So, the real reason why the Jews wanted to impose circumcision, the Sabbath, the dietary regulations etc. on them was for the Jews themselves: so that they would be able to fellowship with them and not be defiled. (Please recall that Peter withdrew from table fellowship with Gentile Christians.) But the result of the Jerusalem conference was that not only should the Gentiles be allowed to remain God – fearers, but that Jews were obligated to fellowship with them, as despite their still being Gentiles who were not keeping the law, they were not to be considered unclean. (Recall Peter’s dream before his encounter with Cornelius.) So, the letters to the Romans, Galatians, Colossians etc. should be interpreted accordingly.

    So, it appears that it is backwards. Instead of Gentile Christians demanding that Messianic Jews regard themselves as Christians, Messianic Jews should be demanding that Gentile Christians know and accept that Biblically we are merely God – fearers grafted into a Jewish branch.

    However, that is not all that scripture says. Romans and other epistles make it clear that Jews who reject Jesus Christ are only Jews after the flesh. It also makes it clear that Jews who reject Jesus Christ are spiritually blinded and spiritually dead. It even says that God – fearer Gentiles who accept Jesus Christ are true Jews, Jews after the spirit, while Jews that reject Jesus Christ are actually not Jews at all.

    So then, how can one spiritually blind, spiritually dead, and ultimately not a Jew at all (Romans 2:28) interpret the Torah? For Isaiah was not spiritually dead. Ezekiel was a Jew after the spirit, not of the flesh. Samuel was not spiritually blind. And so on. Romans 3:1 reads: “What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision?” (I will add to that the obvious context … “without faith in Jesus Christ!)

    Is there a scriptural basis for asserting that a spiritually blind spiritually dead Jew having any advantage over a spiritually blind and dead Gentile? For we both know that both spiritually blind Gentiles and Jews will share the same fate on the day of the great white throne judgment.

    1 John 2:22 Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.

    1 John 4:3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

    2 John 1:7 For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.

    There is really no getting around it. So the question, then, must not be whether Messianic Jews should become Christians, because that is completely Biblically, historically, doctrinally, and theologically false. Instead, the question should be whether there is any profit in any interpretation of the Torah that is produced by one who is an anti-Christ and in whom is the spirit of anti-Christ. My position, for the Jew and the Gentile, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, male and female, slave or free is that no profit exists whatsoever.

  21. “It even says that God – fearer Gentiles who accept Jesus Christ are true Jews, Jews after the spirit, while Jews that reject Jesus Christ are actually not Jews at all.”

    Job… you go and spew some old, tired, classic, antisemitic, supersessionist drivel like the above and still expect to be taken serious? Can you show me again where “it even says” that Gentiles who believe are the true Jews?

  22. Pingback: Last Week’s Firestorm « McHuey’s Weblog

  23. Pingback: Reasons and excuses behind Messianic Jews not becoming more observant « Daily Minyan

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