My blog reading went a bit far off center this morning, which is why I am posting a bit later than usual. Following a link here and there I was reminded that the community of Messianic Judaism and the Christians and other groups who are near to it have something special.
Things we take for granted are issues of contention out there. Judah Himango today has a blog post about a discussion on Facebook in which he defended Israel and the biblical notion of Israel’s continuing role versus a supersessionist, anti-Zionist writer (see it here). I found that Messianic Jewish Musings had an incoming link in a strange article, a student who went to a Reformed seminary and is writing about how he no longer believes Israel is unique but that it simply is encompassed into the church. I found it was actually a commenter there who linked to Messianic Jewish musings. He used me as an example of those crazy Messianics who value the Talmud more than the New Testament!!
My point in mentioning these meanderings is simple: all of us who love Israel and see God’s plan for his chosen people coming to fruition, we do have something in common that sets us apart from a sad segment of Christendom. After reading the comments of some triumphalist Christians, I was ready to share shots of scotch with Christian missionaries to the Jews. I could have and have had far more meaningful friendship with missionaries, with whom I differ on matters of Jewish identity, than I ever could with triumphalist Christians.
So that gets me to my main point, and the reason I started this short series. Talk about greater unity in the broader Messianic (and Hebrew Roots and Christian Missions) movement, got me thinking about what I consider to be the bottom line. For me it is a statement. I believe it is a statement that accurately sums up the mission of God in the Bible.
I would love it if people from some diverse POV’s entered into dialogue about these points. I will expound on them briefly. To me they are all vital and missing even one of them harms the whole. They are a package.
final redemption through Israel to the nations by the work of Messiah…
What it is: it is that fulness we talked about in parts 1 and 2. We believe in the world to come and in making this world as much like it as possible.
What it looks like if it is missing: the shallow gospel of my-personal-salvation (or pie in the sky after you die) is the antithesis of final redemption. The common religious notion that Jesus came so we could be personally saved is the greatest enemy from within to final redemption.
What it looks like: those who believe in final redemption see the gospel holistically, as a call to join Messiah in helping and healing. God’s kingdom and fulness are breaking through by the work of Messiah and we are called to take part.
Questions: do you agree that conversionism (the gospel equals believe so you can go to heaven) is an enemy from within? How does your community or movement make the full gospel a reality?
What it is: it is belief that the Abrahamic covenant is the root of God’s redemptive purpose in history. God chose and still chooses to work through one people to reach all others.
What it looks like if it is missing: there are two common ways this is missed. (1) Belief that Israel is no longer in this role, has been replaced, etc. (2) Belief that Jewish believers are now Christians and covenantal obligation to Torah and Jewish life has ceased.
What it looks like: Messianic Judaism is about being Israel, in Messiah, and remaining Israel by not assimilating or abandoning Jewish callings as the priestly people.
Questions: in your community or movement, how does Israel’s continuing role matter?
To the Nations
What it is: a realization that from the beginning the work of God was always for the whole world and not just Israel.
What it looks like if it is missing: there are two symptoms of missing this vital truth. (1) Those who criticize the “Old Testament” and/or Judaism as an ethnocentric religion and praise Christianity as universal religion. (2) Those within Judaism and Messianic Judaism who demean the church and Christianity or who demand that Christians live like Jews (One Law, for example).
What it looks like: respect from Jews and Messianic Jews for Christianity. We see ourselves as brothers and sisters, not adversaries. We look at our own shortcomings before criticizing Christian denominations or accusing denominations of paganism and the like. We admit that traditions have a place, even when they are not our own traditions.
Questions: how does your community or movement relate to Christianity? Do you find a place for the nations to come to God without taking on Jewish identity in some way?
By the Work of Messiah
What is is: belief that the incarnation, teaching, death, resurrection, ascension, present intercession, and return of Messiah are the essential causes of the coming fulness of final redemption.
What it looks like if it is missing: it may look like one or several elements of Yeshua’s work being downplayed or denied (such as those who deny that Yeshua is God who came as a man). It may look like a focus on Jewish teaching that does not integrate such teaching with the centrality of Messiah Yeshua.
What it looks like: in Messianic Judaism it should look like our synagogues are Yeshua-communities and everything we do we do in Yeshua (e.g., we say Shema in Yeshua and we understand Shema differently because of Yeshua).
Questions: how does your community or movement keep Yeshua at the center? Have you experienced Messianic Judaism where Yeshua was not the center and will you tell us the story (no names, please)?