Rudolph’s “Paul Rule” Article, Part 1

One of the things that astounds me is the depth of scholarship in our tiny little movement. Messianic Judaism, further delimited in my understanding as the Jewish movement by that name and not the slightly larger movement including many non-Jewish groups, is very small as religious denominations go.

One mega-church or metro Reform synagogue can outnumber our entire movement.

Yet we have a contingent of a dozen or so every year at the Society of Biblical Literature. We are working on having our own track at SBL. If you can be a fly on the wall at our annual Hashivenu event, you will be surprised at the level of research and knowledge in the room. We have a number of scholars with PhD’s from top schools including Cambridge and Harvard.

And the trend is increasing, not decreasing.

The name of Mark Kinzer is already well-known to many beyond the provinces of Messianic Judaism. Another name that will become increasingly known is David Rudolph, a New Testament scholar who is young, articulate, a PhD from Cambridge, and whose measured writings show promise of bringing the ideas of Messianic Judaism to the broader world of Judaism and Christianity.

In a decade, I would not be surprised to find that the name David Rudolph is recognized by New Testament scholarship as a leading player.

I can see David blushing and telling me I am wrong, because that is his humble nature. To meet David Rudolph is to love him. I find that his kind make the best scholars — not the brash ideologues who beat on others (like me), but the calm, humble scholars whose ideas are well-organized and able to speak for themselves with little chest-pounding.

The peer-reviewed journal, Studies in Christian-Jewish Relations has just published an important article by David Rudolph and it is available free online at http://escholarship.bc.edu/scjr/vol5/iss1/2/.

It’s not that David Rudolph has not been published elsewhere (he has) or that this is his first major article (it is not). It is that this is such a good article with important implications for Messianic Judaism, Christianity, Judaism (and something I hope the universal-Torah (a.k.a. One Law or Two-House) people will read).

Overview and Main Argument
Please take the time to click on and read Rudolph’s article at Studies in Christian-Jewish Relations. The article is not long. And the number of clicks can help promote further work by David Rudolph in that journal and others in the future.

Clicking here is a mitzvah: http://escholarship.bc.edu/scjr/vol5/iss1/2/

The full title is: Paul’s “Rule in All the Churches” (1 Cor 7:17-24) and Torah-Defined Ecclesiological Variegation

The passage being discussed is:

“Nevertheless, as the Lord has assigned to each one, as God has called each person, so must he live. I give this sort of direction in all the churches. Was anyone called after he had been circumcised? He should not try to undo his circumcision. Was anyone called who is uncircumcised? He should not get circumcised. Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Instead, keeping God’s commandments is what counts. Let each one remain in that situation in life in which he was called. Were you called as a slave? Do not worry about it. But if indeed you are able to be free, make the most of the opportunity. For the one who was called in the Lord as a slave is the Lord’s freedman. In the same way, the one who was called as a free person is Christ’s slave. You were bought with a price. Do not become slaves of men. In whatever situation someone was called, brothers and sisters, let him remain in it with God.”
(1Corinthians 7:17-24 NET)

The author says he questioned church leaders in various settings if any of them were familiar with “Paul’s rule in all the churches.” It’s an interesting question. The phrase makes it sound as if this rule would be important in churches. Yet, as the Messianic Jewish Musings reader can easily surmise, none of the church leaders had any idea what Rudolph was talking about.

I wouldn’t have known either. Would you?

The main point in Paul’s discourse here concerns marriage and celibacy. Yet he brings up the issue of Jewish and non-Jewish identities. Why does he bring these up?

Rudolph says, and a simple reading of 1 Corinthians 7 confirms, that the Jewish identity issue is a supporting argument for Paul’s point about marriage versus celibacy.

The issue Paul is discussing is about each person’s calling in life, by which Paul means the social choices and position they will occupy (a recent commenter said that “calling” always means calling to salvation — but I hope this dispels that false trail). Calling here is equated with “situation in life.”

Paul says, very significantly, that a person’s calling to Jewish identity or to non-Jewish identity is a boundary not normally to be crossed. Those who are Jewish do not need to assimilate into a non-Jewish identity in order to make the community evenly conformed. Nor do non-Jews need to assimilate (convert) to Jewish identity in order to make the community evenly conformed.

Jews will, as a rule, remain Jews. Gentiles will, as a rule, remain Gentiles.

Paul’s Rule and Bilateral Ecclesiology
Paul is basically making the point, Rudolph argues, that has been called in our time by Mark Kinzer “bilateral ecclesiology.”

Bilateral ecclesiology (which some of us call co-community in Messiah) is the idea that Yeshua’s timeless and universal Congregation contains Jews and gentiles as distinct groups.

The common pattern and opposite of bilateral ecclesiology in church history has been assimilation of Jews into gentile callings.

The common pattern and opposite of bilateral ecclesiology pushed or by some of the Pharisees in Acts 15 was the opposite, gentile assimilation (conversion) to Jewish identity.

The modern twist, framed by the universal Torah movements with various labels including Messianic, One Law, Ephraimite, and Two House is gentile assimilation to the status of Israelites which is alleged to be different than Jewish identity, but is practically with all the same markers. It is important to note that Rudolph’s article does not address this particular twist and I am simply bringing it to the fore since it is an issue for many of my readers.

The truly important observation about “Paul’s rule in all the churches” is that there is no intention, according to Paul, that identity in Yeshua will erase Jewish identity or cause non-Jews to need to conform to Jewish identity. Thus, the Jewish-Gentile distinction will continue in the congregations and must be factored in to models of congregational identity and structure.

It is a further step, one not explicit in Paul’s words, to say that separate congregations for those of Jewish identity will be important. This is because Torah life requires communal reinforcement and a one-size-fits-all congregation will not encourage adherence to Jewish identity (just as today, Jews in churches are not able to maintain identity for more than a generation).

I will write more in coming weeks about David Rudolph’s article, extracting from his well-reasoned exegetical and theological observations more of the practical and movement-specific implications. I invite readers of all theological bents (including those who cannot agree with me, which is no sin, I assure you) to comment briefly on their reaction to the article.

You can read Yahnatan Lasko’s thoughts here http://gatherthesparks.blogspot.com/2010/07/david-rudolph-on-pauls-rule.html

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, Mark Kinzer, messianic, Messianic Jewish, Messianic Judaism, Paul and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to Rudolph’s “Paul Rule” Article, Part 1

  1. jennbrooke says:

    Great post, and great linked article. I couldn’t agree more with the idea that Jewish believers need to retain their identity as Jews, and as a rule, Gentile believers need to embrace their calling as Gentile believers. And the church needs to encourage this. However, my question, as a Gentile believer who is putting “Yeshua in context” and reading more and more about the Hebrew roots of our faith, and the counter-narrative to centuries of supercessionism, how do we do this and retain unity in Christ? Everything seems to be pointing to separation as the only way to retain our “callings” per Paul’s rules. Separate but equal. Where’s the fellowship? Where’s the unity? Is that how the early church did it?

    My fear is that the idea of looking “Jewish enough” to outsiders, as well as well-founded, and legitimate reactions to many, many years of Jews being told they have to “become Christians” to believe in Yeshua is resulting in a reactionary separation. Shouldn’t it be our hope that, even with our distinct identities and callings, worship together?

    I’ve been doing a lot of talking with people in my church about supercessionism, the idea of how the church become more and more “Gentile” until we developed this nonsensical notion that to believe in Yeshua a Jew must “convert to christianity” or somehow forsake their covenantal obligations (nay, gifts, which are irrevocable!) to follow Yeshua. I’ve talked about the odd notion that we celebrate the resurrection of our Jewish Savior with an Easter (Ishtar) ham. Not that it’s wrong for us to eat ham, being Gentiles, but there’s a certain irony there. Or the idea that the church has completely thrown out Biblical holidays that have deep meaning, both in the history of God’s people, Israel, and deep symbolism for both Gentile and Jewish believers, yet we wholeheartedly, embraced pagan holidays and symbols and dressed them up in Christian symbolism (not to mention celebrating our Saviors birth using graven images). Again, not that celebrating Yeshua’s birth is wrong, but there’s an irony there that no one stops to think about! The fact that we seldom, if ever, stop to realize that our weekly communion is actually a re-enactment of Christ celebrating passover, and his own place as the Paschal lamb.

    Anyway, all that rambling to say, I am struggling with how to maintain a proper context for my faith, that pays proper respect and recognizes that while I am a Gentile, and will likely always be a Gentile, I’m included in the larger story of God’s redemptive work THROUGH His People, Israel, as a Gentile, as part of God promising to bless the earth through Abraham’s people. In the complete separation of Jewish and Gentile believers in practice and worship, while Jewish identity is preserved (and it needs to be), it’s hard for Gentiles in the church to maintain their identity as part of the story, and the proper context for their faith. It can’t be all Luther and Calvin, but the separation kind of lends itself to, well, furthering the separation.

    In other words, we’re getting a really good picture of what Rudolph, and others, want the Jewish faith to look like, in Yeshua. What should the Gentile Yeshua faith expression look like? We can’t say, “the same as it is now” because we all know there are centuries of skewed views to contend with, and de-contextualization (if that’s a word :-). How can we work together to find that, without either dilluting Jewish identity (for Jewish believers) or Gentiles crossing the line into believing they ARE “Jews.”

  2. jennbrooke says:

    For instance, what holidays are ok, or even beneficial for Gentile believers to celebrate both as fortelling Yeshua’s life and redemptive story, as well as the history of God’s redemptive work on Israel’s behalf, and which ones would be overstepping into Jewish identity?

  3. danbenzvi says:

    Derek,

    So what are you going to do now? Unconvert, so you can go back to your calling you have been called to being a Gentile?

    It is amazing how you guys want to have the cake and eat it too…Never let Scriptures interpret Scriptures.

  4. wordmachine says:

    Derek, I agree with when you say “Jews will, as a rule, remain Jews. Gentiles will, as a rule, remain Gentiles.”, but I don’t agree that they always should be separate. If you can give me some scripture saying that Gentiles are not supposed to participate in the Biblical feasts and other things the Lord puts in their hearts that you can only find in MJ than I would believe you.

  5. Danbenzvi:

    Do you ever wake up on the right side of the bed? You’re so negative all the time. But there must be something here at Messianic Jewish Musings you like. You keep reading.

    David Rudolph is a friend and was and is fully supportive of the choices my family made. Perhaps you didn’t notice the phrase “as a rule.” It means “generally” but there is still room for exceptions for specific cases and for the right reasons.

    Derek

    • amechad1 says:

      Derek,

      I think Dan is poking at you because he cannot resist the delicious irony in your repeated insistence that the One Law, etc., etc, etc. are wrong and Gentiles need not become or practice as Jews – despite what you and your family have just done in converting. It seems to some of us a sort of “do as I say, not as I do” thing and you are going to get pinged on it every time you bring it up. Yet, you repeat it every time the issue of Gentile vs. Jewish practice in the body is mentioned.

      What you have failed to consider (at least as far as I can see in reading your blogs, etc.) is that Gentile believers ARE called to keep the same “rules” as Jews. That doesn’t mean they must do so in a Jewish fashion. In fact, imitating Jewish practice is detrimental for a number of reasons – not the least of which is confused issues of identity. Gentiles can and should develop their own culturally relevant methods of obedience. But no one should mistake them for Jews.

      G-d is calling Gentiles in increasing numbers to the totality of His Instruction. That’s why they are coming to the Jews wanting to learn. We need to teach them that they can be and do all that G-d is calling them to WITHOUT imitating Jewish people, practices and norms. Let’s let them know it’s OK to “remain as they were when they were called” and still follow all that G-d has given to them to do and to be.

      Sue

      • >> G-d is calling Gentiles in increasing numbers to the totality of His Instruction. That’s why they are coming to the Jews wanting to learn. We need to teach them that they can be and do all that G-d is calling them to WITHOUT imitating Jewish people, practices and norms. Let’s let them know it’s OK to “remain as they were when they were called” and still follow all that G-d has given to them to do and to be.

        Awesome, you nailed it there. Thanks for articulating this point so clearly.

  6. Jennbrooke:

    The question you ask is involved. To many times I have given quick answers. Remind me by email and I will do a blog or two or three on the question. I think I have something to say about your question, but I’d like to work through it and not shoot from the hip.

    Derek

  7. jennbrooke says:

    Will do! Thanks, Derek!

  8. danbenzvi says:

    Derek,

    Make sure not to hurt yourself stretching…

    I will write on the issue on my blog, then you can comment….

  9. danbenzvi:

    haha-hurt-myself-stretching . . . that was funny.

    Derek

  10. k3z7 says:

    jennbrooke – I get what you are saying and I think it would be great to have a Messianic Jewish (meaning from the truly Jewish side of the movement)response to the growing number of Gentiles who are coming to this realization but find themselves in an awkward place within their own Church.

    I would like to see each ethnic/ cultural group from the Goyim be able to truly live out their own personal and communal ‘calling’ renewed in Messiah – unapologetically- each with their own unique faith expression.

    It will probably take Gentile leaders from various denominations and cultural backgrounds working together and within their own faith community to really change the situation.

    I look forward to reading the blog posts on this topic.

    • amechad1 says:

      k3z7,

      That is EXACTLY what I am referring to – each group living out the totality of G-d’s Instructions for us in our own contexts and cultures! You’ve got it!! Now, how to get help everyone else to “get it” and come along side to help? I’m open to suggestions for that one.

      Sue

  11. AmEchad touched on the point that some folks are called to Torah, even gentile folks. I don’t think Rudolph’s paper excludes these people any more than it excludes converts like Derek.

    Mr. Rudolph stuck to the Scriptures and did some theorizing, and –importantly– didn’t make some of the nasty theological jabs folks I’m so accustomed to on the Messianic blogs. I really liked this paper.

  12. ameched:

    You said, “What you have failed to consider (at least as far as I can see in reading your blogs, etc.) is that Gentile believers ARE called to keep the same “rules” as Jews.”

    I have not failed to consider the issue you bring up. I have argued against it from the Torah, from Jewish tradition, and from the New Testament. I don’t understand why you say “failed to consider.”

    I have a tab on my blog called “Acts 15.” I address it there. I have a book called Paul Didn’t Eat Pork. I address it there.

    And, no, it is not the theology of the Torah, the New Testament, or of Judaism than non-Jews are obligated to the full Torah in the way Jews are. This is something I have demonstrated over and over again. Rudolph’s article demonstrates it, in fact. Ritual circumcision (eight day, as a sign of the covenant) is not for non-Jews.

    Derek

  13. Judah:

    Yes, David’s paper is excellent. And yes, he does stay above the fray. Alas, I am in the muck of it.

    But his paper is about bilateral ecclesiology and, yes, it does argue against universal obligation to Torah — ritual circumcision and all it entails is not for non-Jews. And a major point of his paper is that the circumcision and uncircumcision will have to be distinct communities within the larger Yeshua movement.

    Derek

  14. jennbrooke says:

    “Distinct communities” doesn’t have to mean complete faith segregation, though, does it? How did the early church handle these distinctions? Was it strongly discouraged for Gentile and Jewish believers to worship together? Or is this more a reaction to what ensued after the Bible was written? I recognize the historical problems, but shouldn’t we be working towards educating Gentile believers to the importance of distinct identity, and keeping Jewish identity and practice for Jewish believers, while encouraging joint fellowship?

    I guess I’m confused, because all the books I’ve read, seem to indicate that only reason there is such a division between Yeshua believers and Gentile believers is because eventually the body became increasingly Gentile, and eventually the Gentiles got rid of any semblence of Jewish roots in Christian faith and practice. That is not to say the GENTILES became less Jewish (they’re not Jews) or that they stopped obeying Torah (they were never required to), or started eating pork (they never really had to stop), but that they created a clear dividing line between “us” and “them.” Meaning, anything Jewish is old and bad and “Plan a”, and the New Covenant is the Gentile Christian church that replaces all that old stuff. So if you come to Yeshua faith you become a “Christian” – completely ignoring the fact that we were included with THEM in Yeshua faith, no the other way around, with some clear distinctions.

    But what it kind of sounds like I’m hearing is “Gentiles shouldn’t do anything that looks Jewish” and stick to their own ways and traditions, and just kind of figure it out for themselves. Doesn’t that just continue the problem that’s occurred for 2,000 years? Gentiles being out of the proper context for their faith. And most of us are so far removed from that context, that we need guidance. This isn’t really something we’re going to figure out on our own, for the most part. There is a real need for guidance on the line between proper context and distinct identity, and I think that’s going to have to come from members of the Jewish Yeshua faith community.

  15. k3z7 says:

    I’m NOT saying everyone is obligated to Torah and they just need to re-shape Torah and give it their own cultural flare. I totally agree with Derek about the role of Jew and Gentile relating to Torah, Jewish Tradition, etc. I am also perusing Jewish conversion (have Jewish spouse)so I very much understand the needs (and confusion) of Gentiles within broader Messianic Judaism as well as the need for Jews to remain Jews in every way. My decision to convert was not made lightly and it is most certainly not the choice for the majority of Gentiles within the movement. But conversion is a viable option within broader Judaism – and Messianic Judaism is supposed to be a Judaism.

    Anyway, I don’t see these distinct believing communities being isolated… I see them being comfortable in their ‘own skin’ and then being able to participate with each other in a unifying way to better their communities. Native Americans, Africans and Asians don’t have to all conform to the Anglo/Saxon religious experience… Not everyone desires to be a good Southern Baptist… and that’s ok. But they should still be able to work together in love despite their differences. I think we’ve come a long way since the 1950’s in that regard and hopefully the kinks within the Jewish Roots movement will be worked out enough for each Yeshua-faith expression to maintain their own identity without feeling they must conquer and subdue other cultural expressions.

    Christianity is not supposed to function like the Borg.

    • jennbrooke says:

      I love this: “I see them being comfortable in their ‘own skin’ and then being able to participate with each other in a unifying way to better their communities.”

      I totally agree! And my hope is that there’s a way to do that without anyone sacrificing their “calling” in Yeshua. We are one body, with many members, and different members have different callings and functions. But still one body.

      I agree – Christianity is NOT supposed to be like the Borg. “Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated.” Jews shouldn’t feel compelled to join churches, or Gentiles synagogues, and you’re right, not everyone should feel like they should be Southern Baptist. I, myself, attend a Presbyterian church. LOL I’m just saddened, to an extent, by how fractured the body of Yeshua seems to be – even within Christian circles. How many different denominations are there, and they’re all considered their version of the theology is “right” and the other guys don’t have it quite right. Lots and lots of “isms.” And, so, I kind of cringe when I see what *appears* (and I admit, I could be reading it wrong) a call for more separation. Men and women are different, and have distinct and different roles and callings within the body, but we don’t worship separately.

      And it’s not just a matter of “well, Jewish believers shouldn’t feel the need to go to a church.” No, they shouldn’t. But at the same time, while Gentiles are welcome within most Messianic congregations, there is a clear theme of “but it’s not a good thing” because of fears that Gentiles in the Messianic synagogue dillutes the Jewish identity and appearance to mainstream Judaism. Which leads to more calls for more distinction and separation.

      I just wonder if there’s some middle ground that can be found. Where we preserve unity AND distinction. Maybe I’m just dreaming an impossible dream?

  16. k3z7:

    Well said. The Borg (hive mind) analogy is good, LOL.

    I want to say that many people affirm and support the idea of intermarrieds seeking conversion. I don’t want to step into the lives of all the non-Jewish spouses of intermarriage and say, “You must convert.” But I will say that anyone who denies the need for conversion in Messianic Judaism has not thought deeply about the issue of intermarriage.

    So, I affirm the course you are looking into. Your journey of seeking this must be handled with care and respect, which I am confident is not a problem in your case.

    Derek Leman

  17. Jennbrooke:

    You said: “I kind of cringe when I see what *appears* (and I admit, I could be reading it wrong) a call for more separation.”

    I will attempt in this series to work out issues like this one. Can non-Jews validly be called to be part of Messianic Judaism? Must a strict separation of Jews in one house and gentiles in the other house be the only possible path?

    I hope I will be able to make my case and answer these questions. I do not want to rush it, though. So thank you for being patient with me. This series needs at least half a dozen parts.

    Derek Leman

  18. k3z7 says:

    Ah, I do want to add… many Messianic congregations seem to be speaking out of both sides of their mouths. “Jews and Gentiles are separate” on the one hand and “one in Messiah” on the other.

    I have seen countless Gentiles offered financial assistance to make it to a Messianic conference or read from the Bima or learn how to lay tefflin, etc. while my husband, who has a Jewish heritage and I (who chose to convert) were not Jewishly encouraged in any way whatsoever. In fact, in our desire to live Jewishly, we have been accused of being “too Jewish” … We have had to LEAVE Messianic Judaism to discover what Judaism really is. That is sad.

    At the same time, the Gentiles who are participating in the local Messianic congregation are developing a heart connection to this pseudo-Jewish expression and begin to take on Jewish identifiers and then are reminded by some flippant comment that they themselves are not Jewish. What a slap in the face… to be led one direction, to be given a certain impression, and then to have the (usually anti-Rabbinic) Jewish members of the congregation point out what they aren’t really. To add insult to injury, they do not give the Gentiles a clear definition of who they are supposed to be – what they, as Gentiles, are supposed to do.

    The Jewish community at large does not have this problem. They set clear boundaries from the start – either you are Jewish, you convert to Judaism, or you are a Noachide. I’m not saying they don’t have their own issues, but this approach doesn’t leave much room for confusion. And when there is some kind of confusing situation they have a process for dealing with it and helping people take hold of their identity – one way or the other.

    From what I have experienced, the typical Messianic congregation leaves Jews unfulfilled and Gentiles with identity crisis.

  19. k3z7 says:

    “Resistance is futile” LOL

    No rush Derek – take your time- we will be curiously patient :)

  20. k3z7:

    Yes, there are problems from many angles. One I have not explored, but which you bring up, are the Torah-rejecting Jewish folk in MJ, who then are not welcoming toward gentiles who love Torah.

    Oy! There is such a need for a clearer vision. There is also such a need for us all to be patient with each other. Errors are going to exist. To what degree can we prefer love and unity over ideological separation?

    I never want to give the impression that I think the faith of people who disagree with me is insincere or that God does not accept people who follow different principles than mine. If I said that, what would I do when I stood before him? I cannot hope to be right about everything. And God’s acceptance of people who got many things wrong is evident in the stories of the Bible.

    In my own synagogue, we have a variety of views on these issues. But we have community that overshadows the ideological disagreements.

    Derek Leman

    • k3z7 says:

      Achieving balance is a challenge in itself. Everyone with the greatest intentions will screw up at least once while trying to make things better. (Not saying you are… just people in general… probably everyone posting here has had that unfortunate experience.) But, IMO, it’s much better to at least have tried or to commit to work on the issues than to give up entirely. And I’m very thankful to everyone who has put time and effort (and blood, sweat and tears) into such a large (but worthy) task.

      I certainly do not have the impression that you think less of people with whom you disagree. Disagreement isn’t pleasant but it is sort of a fact of life. It’s gonna happen. I think a person can lovingly and at the same time strongly disagree with another perspective. (Not saying it’s always easy! But it can happen ;)

  21. jennbrooke says:

    Thanks, Derek! I promise to be patient. :-)

  22. amechad1 says:

    Derek wrote:

    “And, no, it is not the theology of the Torah, the New Testament, or of Judaism than non-Jews are obligated to the full Torah in the way Jews are.”

    I agree 100% that Gentiles are NOT called “to the full Torah in the same way Jews are” – that is the main reason I do not use the term “Torah” – it is a Jewish term with Jewish meanings and Jewish connotations. As you state in the next post, “Torah does not mean merely the biblical commandments but the whole tradition of Israel that goes with it. There is no such thing as Torah without tradition. The Torah is designed to be filled in by the community of Israel with traditions. So Torah without Judaism is bankrupt. In fact, the word Torah includes tradition inherently” I agree with you 100% on all these things. Again, that is why I do not use the term “Torah” to communicate what I am saying.

    G-d is calling His people to the totality of His Instructions to us. That does NOT mean that all people are called to live Jewish lives in Jewish contexts – aka Torah. It means they are called to live out G-d-focused, Y’shua-honoring lives in whatever culture and context they find themselves – “as they were when they were called”.

    The REASON they are coming to the Jewish believers is to learn – as stated below:

    Jennbrooke wrote:

    ‘I’m hearing is “Gentiles shouldn’t do anything that looks Jewish” and stick to their own ways and traditions, and just kind of figure it out for themselves. Doesn’t that just continue the problem that’s occurred for 2,000 years? Gentiles being out of the proper context for their faith. And most of us are so far removed from that context, that we need guidance. This isn’t really something we’re going to figure out on our own, for the most part. There is a real need for guidance on the line between proper context and distinct identity, and I think that’s going to have to come from members of the Jewish Yeshua faith community.’

    That is EXACTLY the point I am trying to make – Israel as the first born and oldest brother has an obligation to teach and lead the younger siblings. Israel can teach obedience without requiring either non-compliance at all – “go away, this is MINE!” or complete obedience – “You have to do it THIS way!” Jewish believers can instruct in the basics and let the others work it out for themselves on the details. Let’s help and guide, not send them away with the “you don’t belong here” message.

    Sue

    • Gene Shlomovich says:

      Sue, you have made a lot of great points and I agree with you on many of them. I also agree on the issue of education.

      However, the issue still remains – how does a “Jewish” community preserve its Jewish identity and focus, how does it keep itself and especially its children from assimilation (and intermarriage) when the said community is 80% Gentile? How does such a community prevent itself from thoroughly Judaizing Gentiles attending there and making them wish they were “Jewish” by making some things off-limits to them? The answer – it can’t. It just doesn’t work. Besides, can a Gentile majority community even call itself “Jewish”?

      So, may be instead of “Go away, this is MINE” or “everyone should do things THIS way”, perhaps it should be “Let’s meet for table fellowship at this time and in this place,” or, “Let me visit your “church” or “synagogue” or, “Let’s have a joint conference…,” or “Come to this class”.

      • amechad1 says:

        Gene,

        I understand the problem in the MJ community is the same as it is everywhere – demographics and Jews being a small minority. In the MJ movement, the issue is magnified tremendously! However, I still maintain that Gentiles are beating down the doors because G-d is DOING SOMETHING in their hearts! He’s opening their eyes to see that there is WAY MORE to living in total obedience than they have ever been taught and that much of what they have been taught is just plain wrong.

        I am a Gentile who has been involved in the MJ movement for about 12 years. I understand the issues and the problems (and even those of you that see ME as the problem). G-d is doing something among the Gentile believers and we (you and me, brother) can get on board and do our best to figure out what G-d would have us teach them or you can tell them (and me) that we don’t belong because this is a “Jewish thing”. In either case, we will stand before the Father and answer for everything we have done, both good and bad.

        G-d has given me a burden to help make this work between us all. MJs (that’s the actual JEWS) are a bridge between the Jewish people as a whole and the Gentile worshippers of Israel’s G-d. It puts you (Jewish believers) in a very interesting (and, IMHO, enviable) position – but unfortunately, it’s often an uncomfortable place to be. I wish I could make it easier for you. I’m doing everything I can. But I am only one person.

        Please help me as I seek to learn what it is G-d would have me teach the Gentile believers who are seeking the fullness of G-d will for their lives. Help me help you by helping them. I am also standing with one foot in each community.

        Will you be in Seattle so we can talk face to face? I’d love to meet you IRL and discuss this and a million other things.

        Sue

  23. Gene Shlomovich says:

    Sue, yes – I’m going to Seattle. When you get there, see Derek and he’ll introduce us.

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