Jewish Roots and non-Jews, Part 3

In Part 1, I described seven blessings of non-Jews discovering Judaism, Jewish roots, and the biblical (Hebrew Bible and New Testament) theology of Israel’s unique election and role in the redemption of the world. These blessings have also brought confusion and problems, with people confused about their identity. Does being a follower of Jesus (Yeshua) make someone a de facto Jew? An Israelite? An Ephraimite to be rejoined in the prophetic age to the Jews (the Judeans or Judaites)?

In Part 2, I considered two issues which must have bearing on identity, belonging, and roles. The first of these two issues is individualism versus communal identity. I discussed the problem of extreme individualism which makes it all to easy for people to deny their family and national identity and assume any identity they can get away with. The second, and more burning issue for most people caught up in these matters, is the subjective sense of calling balanced with universal principles. How do we value and listen to our subjective notions that God is calling us to a lifestyle choice?

There are many other issues that remain:

(1) What might the Church have looked like if it had developed without supersessionism (replacement theology) and anti-Semism and anti-nomianism (an over-reaction against law as the way of God)?

(2) How can non-Jews who desire a greater practice of Temple-Torah worship express themselves without becoming part of the problem (the virtual erasing of the remnant of Israel in Yeshua by people who deny any unique election and calling of Jewish people)?

(3) Is there a place in Messianic Judaism for non-Jews and if so, what is it? Within this issue, there is also the matter of existing Messianic Jewish communities in which non-Jews are already an integral part and where covenantal relationships of faith and love are already established.

I remind readers of a caveat I made in Part 2: Who will play God and answer these questions for other people? Not I. I am simply exploring these ideas and do not claim to be God’s authority in your life. Please interact with the ideas presented here and gain from them, without taking them as gospel.

Reimagining a Jewish-Friendly Christianity
Some people think that if the Church had developed with a full appreciation of its Jewish origins that Baptists and Catholics would be tzit-tzit-wearing Hasids.

While that picture may seem a bit silly, think about the un-nuanced, naive depictions of what the Church should be that come up in discussions by zealots for Jewish roots. There is a tendency to call any aspect of church culture which is not Jewish pagan.

Christmas trees are pagan, so they say. Let’s examine this foolish argument. People will say, “Derek, it is obvious that Christmas trees are pagan. Pagans of Germanic tribes and in other cultures worshipped trees. Jeremiah 10 speaks about idols carved from wood. High places of idolatry in the Bible often had cultic trees as mentioned in the narratives and prophets of the Hebrew Bible.”

Well, have you considered the following things, all done by pagans, which are somehow exempt while Christmas trees invite bitter invective:

–Pagans offered animals on altars to their gods.

–Pagans had sanctuaries remarkably like the one God commanded Moses to build.

–Pagans had fall feasts remarkable like Sukkot (Tabernacles) and spring festivals somewhat comparable to Passover.

–God did not completely forbid the use of hills and high places for worship, but demanded that sacrifice only be offered at a central shrine (but even for this he made exceptions such as with Samuel and Elijah).

–Pagans had calendars following the cycle of the moon.

–Pagans considered corpses and death unclean.

Okay, my big point is coming: if God can give his people customs and ways which are modified from pagan customs, how is it then inappropriate for Christians to adapt customs from their various national heritages and use them to glorify God?

Some people look at churches keeping Advent or Lent and shake their heads. Why can’t they just be biblical and follow the seasons of God’s calendar?

When and where does God demand this? Not only does the Pentateuch not demand that gentiles keep Jewish practices, but the New Testament speaks repeatedly of seasons which are not required of non-Jews.

The Church is the expression of the nations of following Yeshua. The Church is and should be based on the cultural expressions of its members directed toward God in worship through Yeshua.

Passover as an Exception
The one Jewish holiday that I think the Church is bound to, and which has been sadly lost, is Passover.

Yeshua passed down through the Last Supper the importance of re-casting Passover as a celebration of the redemption of Israel from Egypt and the redemption of the world through his death and resurrection.

He said, “as often as you do this.” He said, “remember me.”

He never instituted an “ordinance” of wine and bread separate from the larger context of Passover.

There is plenty of evidence, take 1 Corinthians 5 for example, that early Christians kept Passover. This is probably what was behind the Quarto-Deciman controversy between Asian bishops like Polycarp and Papias and other bishops who urged a Judaism-free practice.

But there is also evidence that the Pauline churches did not restrict their observance to once a year (see 1 Corinthians 11).

I think there is much freedom in the development and Passover for churches may look quite different than the modern Jewish customs, but I believe the Church needs to reclaim Passover. Some mainstream Jews will object and say this is “exclusive Jewish territory.” But Judaism has to recognize Christianity as its sister and not its enemy.

Christianity Without anti-Semitism
If we reimagine the Church as a Jewish-friendly institution, we will see many of those seven points I originally made part of church life. I offer a modified list that could be a picture of a Church that recognized from the beginning its Jewish heritage:

(1) The rejection of supersessionism (replacement theology).

(2) The rejection of anti-nomian reactions to God’s commandments.

(3) A discovery of and deep love for Passover.

(4) A much-increased and proper appreciation for the Pentateuch as the foundation of scripture.

(5) A realization and practical devotion to Jesus (Yeshua) as Israel’s Messiah.

(6) An affection for and better relationship with Judaism.

(7) A relationship of mutual blessing with the remnant of Israel in Yeshua, Messianic Judaism.

What Can Be Done If No Such Church Can Be Found?
Many readers have expressed their frustration at not having a Jewish-friendly church to attend. When worshipping with the churches in their area, they are frequently plagued by anti-Jewish statements from the pulpit (caricaturing the Pharisees, for example). They are saddened to see Passover come and go with no recognition.

I am talking right now about Christians who have not already been enculturated by the Gentile-Messianic-Congregation phenomenon. I am talking about philo-Semitic Christians who want a Jewish-friendly church.

I can offer the two following paths as legitimate options:

Remain in the local church, overlook insults, be a good influence, and supplement your education. You have wonderful options for supplementing your education and remaining close to your love for Jewish roots.

I recommend highly that you make use of materials produce by First Fruits of Zion. If you are not already familiar with FFOZ, check out their website at www.ffoz.org. The HaYesod Program is the best place to start, followed by Torah Club. If you have like-minded people in your church or in several churches, start a group together. But remain faithful to your church family. Be gracious and understanding about ingrained prejudices against Jewish things. Patiently stand up for Israel and Judaism. Your calm witness will help repair the world.

You can also join with local Messianic Jews for various holidays. Or join with local Jewish organizations for educational and community events. What will happen when Jewish groups see more and more Baptists, Presbyterians, Catholics, and Pentecostals showing up for the annual Kosher Festival or the Purim Parade?

Or . . .

If you have a group of like-minded people, start a Jewish-friendly congregation. Please don’t call it Messianic. You don’t really have to choose a label. People will get the idea that your church is different without needing some name as a clue. If you must use labels, I suppose Jewish-friendly or philo-Semitic sound a little geeky. Maybe “holistic biblical community.” Okay, geeky too.

Can anyone suggest possible labels?

I’d avoid “Hebraic” and “Zionist” as well, since these have connotations already of unhealthy trends. Sorry, but Christian Zionism is often unbalanced (not denying the positives in these groups, though) and Hebraic is a label that has already been used to erase Jewish distinctions and imply that non-Jews in Messiah are actually Israelites.

Discussing Choices
Given these two options, do you see more possibilities?

Which option appeals to you and why?

Do you think I have left something out or that I am wrong about something? I will put on my “be-nice-Derek” face and not beat up on people who comment sincerely and with the right tone for a discussion (but if you come on here with unfounded dogmatism and finger-pointing, I make no promises).

NEXT TIME: To what degree is it proper for non-Jews to “take hold” of Jewish practices if they desire it?

About Derek Leman

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

47 Responses to Jewish Roots and non-Jews, Part 3

  1. With all respect, Rabbi Derek, you’re doing some impressive logical gymnastics here. On the one hand, you’ve been consistantly arguing that mainline Christianity is pretty much doing what it’s supposed to be doing in ignoring the Feasts of the Holy One, and that it is in fact undesirable that Christians observe Sabbath. On the other, you’re now arguing that Passover should be kept by Christians because of Yeshua’s “re-casting Passover as a celebration of the redemption of Israel from Egypt and the redemption of the world through his death and resurrection.”

    Why then should not Christians observe HaBikkurim, which has been recast in terms of our Messiah’s Resurrection (1Co. 15)? Why should they not keep Shavuot, which has been recast as the giving of the firstfruits of the Renewed Covenant, e.g. the giving of the Spirit (Acts 2)? Why should they not observe Yom Teruah, which is presented as the prototype of the Second Coming and Resurrection (1Th. 4)? Why should they not keep Yom Kippur, which has been recast in terms of Yeshua’s intercession for us in the Heavenly Mishkhan (Heb. 7-10)? Why should they not keep Sukkot, in which we find the strongest hint of the birth of their Redeemer, as well as the celebration of the Wedding Feast and Millennium?

    Based on your argument, you could make the case that the minor feasts and fasts are the exclusive province of the Jewish people, but the same argument you’ve just put forth for Passover fits all the other Feasts as well.

    Shalom

    • Gene Shlomovich says:

      I think that “Return of Benjamin” has a point – one is hard-pressed to find in the Bible a definitive command for Gentiles to be REQUIRED to celebrate Passover (or especially celebrate it in the manner of Jews). Considering that one could make a case for “Lord’s Supper” being a frequent event (instead of just once year, on Pesach) in Gentile churches, this becomes even more likely.

      It’s also interesting that Passover is not mentioned as required for Gentiles in the Millennium. Why is then then the Feast of Tabernacles required for them in the Milleinnium? My take is that this is because one builds sukkahs (booths) on Sukkot and Gentiles who are worshiping the King in Israel will need to be sheltered in the tabernacles (since they are away from home and there will be multitudes of them in Jerusalem during the holiday).

  2. Return of Benjamin:

    I see a difference between Passover and the other cases you mention. Passover is the one holiday about which Yeshua passes down a commandment to his disciples. I do think that the Last Supper was the ordination of a practice for the Yeshua-community to come. I don’t think Christianity has been wrong to see this in the gospel text. I think where Christianity has erred it is in separating the wine and bread from Passover and the entire remembrance from Passover.

    Feel free to challenge me further if you think I have missed it. But, if you wish to argue that Christianity is obligated to Shavuot and Bikkurim, you will need to make as compelling an argument as I just made for Passover.

    Derek Leman

    • shopharim says:

      Derek,

      I’m new around here. I ask that you pardon my abrupt entry to the conversation which has history to which I’m not yet privy.

      With that caveat, I’d like to suggest the argument for Pesach only is odd to me because it has the highest barrier of entry (i.e. No uncircumcised person may participate).

      Also, I’m concerned that the entire premise of “reimagining the Church as Jewish friendly” assumes that a separate entity would exist at all. I see know evidence that Y’shua set out to establish a new entity. His own words point to at goal of unity of the fold (John 10). I see nothing in the behavior of his immediate followers that suggests they were creating something new. Rather, they continued in the life they already knew (going to prayer at the Temple, celebrating HaShem’s feasts…).

      I realize we can not ignore the reality that Christianity and Judaism are unique entities today. But, if I were going to reimagine the path that would not be my starting point.

  3. Gene:

    I tried to clarify that I did not mean Passover for gentile churches would be significantly patterned after the Jewish seder. I mentioned specifically that the timing could be more often than once a year (though I would really think it important to do it on the proper night as well) based on 1 Corinthians 11. I also mentioned that the part which has been lost includes the redemption of Israel from Egypt as inseparable from the redemption of the world through Yeshua. Also, the meal and the story of Passover cannot and should not be separated from the bread and wine, as if Yeshua were commanding his disciples to simply bless bread and wine and remember him. He was commanding them to remember him at Passover.

    Derek

  4. rebyosh says:

    Derek,

    There are actually models for the type of congregation you are advocating for. The most prominent being The Disciple Center in Anaheim, CA. It’s spiritual leader, Dr. H. Bruce Stokes, is a Christian scholar (Dean of School of Behavioral Sciences at California Baptist Theological Seminary), served on the Translation Update Committee for the NASB, an ordained Baptist Pastor, and well-connected in the Christian world.

    However, he is also super active in the Messianic Movement. He is the VP of the Union of Messianic Believers, an advisor to the International Messianic Jewish Alliance, teaches at Messianic conferences, and is also published in Messianic Jewish publications.

    Dr. Stokes dubs his successful congregation “Judeo-Christian” and makes clear that they are a Church, but supports the Messianic Jewish Movement, and

  5. rebyosh says:

    (continuing) … they work hard to correct exactly the theological aspects you addressed. They also incorporate aspects of Jewish holiday observance, and at times, aspects of liturgy. For example, during their declaration of faith section, once a month they recite the Shema in Hebrew and English.

    I would highly recommend Dr. Stokes (and the Union of Messianic Believers (UMB), an affiliate of the UMJC) as a definite recourse to those who might be interested in forming similar groups – a sort of Judeo-Christianity (or whatever else you call it).

  6. Excellent, rebyosh. I should have mentioned Bruce Stokes as an example. He is a scholarly and articulate example of Jewish-friendly Christianity, of a person leading a community to be in a relationship of mutual blessing with Messianic Jews.

    And the label “Judeo-Christian” may be perfect for non-Jewish groups observing some Torah without taking on the identity of Israel. I love it. A Judeo-Christian Fellowship is a term that people could understand at least to a degree even before knowing the details.

    Derek

  7. rebyosh says:

    Gene-

    It was great to meet you in Seattle!

    In support of Derek’s point on Christian observance of Passover, the ancient Church historian, Eusebius of Caesarea, discusses Christian (i.e. “non-Jewish”) observance of Passover well into the first few centuries. In fact, other scholars have noted that Passover might well have been the hardest Jewish practice to completely weed-out of Christianity due to its having such a prominent role in both faith and practice.

    Although I think some discussion is in order to how non-Jews should observe Passover, I agree that IMHO it is something lost to them that needs restored. But as I noted earlier, in a way appropriate for non-Jewish followers of Yeshua who are not doing so within the context of Messianic Judaism.

    • Gene Shlomovich says:

      Josh, it was a pleasure meeting you as well. Great job on laining Torah!

      I understand that Passover (at least a Gentile Christian interpretation of it) in the early church was an established observance. However, my point is to establish something else – (in the light of One-Law controversy) was its observance REQUIRED of Gentiles in the same way Jewish holy days are required of Jews? Was there ever an element of obligation upon non-Jews? Do Gentile who fail to observe the holy day actually sin or do they have the freedom to not celebrate it if they so choose (just as they have freedom in observance of Jewish holy days, seasons and Sabbaths of which Passover is but one)?

  8. rebyosh says:

    Gene-

    “Was its observance REQUIRED of Gentiles in the same way Jewish holy days are required of Jews?”

    That is a good point. IMHO I don’t think so. Israel’s obligation to observe the mitzvot are a direct result of the conditions of our Covenant with HaShem. Throughout the Torah the conditions of the covenant are listed – we must do our part so G-d will do G-d’s part. It is a relationship where something specific is required of both parties.

    However, again IMHO, non-Jews do not have the same obligations expected upon them and their relationship to HaShem.

    So to answer your question, NO, I do not think non-Jews would be bound to Pesach in the same way Jews are bound to the Torah. BUT there is still something unique about Passover for Christians which has been lost. And although they may not be “obligated,” they should indeed be encouraged.

    Cheers!

  9. If you say Yeshua’s followers are not bound to remembrance at Passover with Yeshua integrated with Pesach in some way, then how do you take Yeshua’s words to his disciples?

    Was this only for the Twelve? Only for Yeshua’s Jewish followers? Was it really about a new ordinance of bread and wine?

    Justify your theology with some exegesis, please.

    Yeshua’s followers must obey his teachings as Torah. Messiah can bring new stipulations. I see not conflict with a solid theology of Israel and the nations here.

    NOTE TO MOST READERS: This mini-debate about whether Passover in some way is a requirement for the Church is a side issue. I hope others will not hesitate to comment on other aspects. What do you think of the term Judeo-Christian Fellowship for a congregation of philo-Semitic Christians desiring a more holistic tradition from scripture without taking on “Jewish” identity? Have you tried either of the two options I suggested? Any thoughts?

    Derek

    • wordmachine says:

      Derek,
      I think Judeo-Christian Fellowship is good if it’s practiced the right way. I attended a Judeo-Christian school for two and a half years and there was not anything Judeo that I noticed about it. We had one Jewish person that I knew of in class. I can’t remember anything Jewish being taught and not any of the Biblical feasts were mentioned. Maybe they called it Judeo-Christian to attract both Jewish and Christian students. Or, maybe there were Jewish themes in other places at the school and I just missed them somehow. I don’t know how they arrived at that name. Churches may go about Judeo-Christianity differently though.

    • rebyosh says:

      Derek,

      In the words of one of our great Jewish sages – Tevya the Milk Man – “You are also right!”

      Yeshua’s command, “do this in remembrance of me” does seem to be a mitzvah directly to Yeshua’s followers. And the “this” Yeshua is discussing is clearly Passover. So indeed, there does seem to be a command to the followers of Yeshua to observe Passover (as well the historic realities I mentioned earlier).

      However, agreed that does not necessarily mean Christians will/must observe Passover in the same way Jews do.

  10. Mike says:

    I think, that there are ‘One Law’ groups out there, such as the one James belongs to, that does not fit into the mold of some of the sterotypes I hear of. Such as being antisemetic, or not liking Oral Law, or not paying attention to traditional rabbinic teachings. Perhaps if they could, somehow, begin to identify with each other, they could form some kind of union. The ‘Judeo-Christian’ name sounds great!

    This process probably would take some work, but I think it wise to at least give it some thought. Great work Derek!

  11. tandi119 says:

    “if God can give his people customs and ways which are modified from pagan customs…..”

    I hope someone will challenge this statement!

  12. tandi119 says:

    Why would God give Israel “modified pagan customs” when He specifically instructed His people NOT to syncretize the customs of the heathen in Deut. 12? Is He a hypocrite?!

    “When the LORD thy God shall cut off the nations from before thee, whither thou goest to possess them, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their land; Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God: for every abomination to the LORD, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods. What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.”

    And then there is Jeremiah 10……….”learn not the way of the heathen, for the customs of the people are vain.”

    Actually the message is all over the Scriptures from beginning to end about eschewing syncretism, separating the clean from the unclean, etc.

    Similarities in pagan worship are the result of pagans adapting and counterfeiting God’s original worship and ways; you’ve got it backwards if you believe YHVH is the copycat. I realize that modern scholarship/archeology suggests such a thing. But why should we listen to intellectual infidels over the Word of God?

  13. rebyosh says:

    The Judeo-Christian idea is a good one. And it would be a way to clarify identity issue with a number of groups who wish to identify with the Messianic Movement, but may not really be Messianic congregations.

    This is actually an idea the Union of Messianic Believers (UMB) is seeking to pursue.

  14. Pingback: Jewish Roots and non-Jews, Part 3 | eChurch Christian Blog

  15. The both options that you outlined are good depending on the person and circumstances. IMHO while starting a separate group is good for study and growth it is not necessarly good if it means a complete separation from the Church. The only way for the Church to become more understanding and welcoming of their Jewish roots is to have people in them who are bring this information to them. While some denominations may be ambevilent or anti-Jewish in some of their statements this does not mean that there are not countless member who are working against this tide and seeing victories. If everybody leaves who is interested in Jewish roots etc what are we left with?
    There are many teachers out there who are teaching their people this information (you may not agree with everything they say but least they are trying) such as Dwight Pryor, Perry Stone, Chuch Missler just to name a few. It would also do well imho for messianic Congreations where appropriate to make contact with churches firstly on a get to know you basis and then eventually in a teaching capacity.

    As for people above who consatntly slam Christianity as being pagan they have no hope of affecting Churches and teaching them. They obviously need help to understand who to speak in love and humility. I do not agree with what they say but if they at least spoke in love and humility they might get a hearing but because of their arogance people simply ignor them. Sorry for sounding harsh but this is the way most christian feel when they read or hear such thing.

    Thanks Derek for your writing and look forward to the next part.
    Peter

  16. tandi119:

    Your attempt to explain away what I was saying about God giving Israel customs very similar to the surrounding nations shows that you have preconceived ideas which cannot be confused by facts.

    Now, don’t think that I am saying Israelite ways are the same as pagan ways. Don’t think I am unaware of the many commands you refer to in which Israel is told not to imitate its neighbors. (You didn’t think I was unaware of them, did you?)

    But, let me say two things.

    (1) You cannot wish away the evidence by your faith in a notion that, apparently, has no basis.

    (2) The catch, always, in God’s commandments about rituals and customs is the way his commands DIFFER from the pagan customs.

    So, the larger point I made is that God gave his people ways which made use of the same symbols and external features, but which he infused with new meaning and which he changed to avoid all semblance of idolatry, of the lowering of the image of God to being a slave to mankind, and so forth. Thus, if non-Jewish nations take customs (such as the Christmas tree) and infuse them with new meaning, so that they do not serve idolatry any longer, then we have no basis to claim this is a pagan practice anymore than the corpse-taboo in Israel was merely copying a pagan practice.

    Derek

  17. Peter:

    I hear what you say about starting a group to study Torah and Judaism and that this could be harmful if it causes a group to separate from a church.

    First, many such groups exist about many other issues, people in churches who want to serve in some kind of program the church is not doing (food bank, tutoring school kids, whatever).

    Second, the idea of para-church groups has always been that every local church cannot provide for every kind of education, service, and interest its members have.

    Third, some will want to start new churches with a Judeo-Christian ethos. There is nothing wrong with this. Every church and denomination was new at some time. Many started because a need was felt to have a place in a certain neighborhood or with a certain theological distinctive or a unique practice in a certain area or whatever. If a group wished to form a Judeo-Christian Fellowship, there would be nothing wrong with this.

    I know you probably agree. Your comment simply led me to want to clarify.

    Derek Leman

  18. tandi119 says:

    Derek, how can you have it both ways? You say that God’s commands about rituals and customs DIFFER from pagan customs and ways, and then go on to say they are “the SAME symbols and external features but….infused with new meaning…”?!

    God’s altar DIFFERED from that of the pagan altars in appearance as well as meaning. It was made of whole stones, was not to use steps or be ornately engraved, etc. It was not to be surrounded by groves of trees. All of God’s ways are to demonstrate holiness, a set-apartness from the commonplace and the ways of the heathen.

    I don’t want to harp on xmas trees so let’s take another example. How about tattoos? Can God’s people have tattoos and infuse them with new meaning? Many today are engraving Christian symbolism or Hebrew letters on their bodies. Is God pleased with this “infusion of new meaning?” Taking heathen customs and “Christianizing” or “Judaizing” them is forbidden in Scripture from what I read in my Bible.

    • Gene Shlomovich says:

      “Taking heathen customs and “Christianizing” or “Judaizing” them is forbidden in Scripture from what I read in my Bible.”

      Tandi… you know the tzitzit (fringes) that Jewish men wear? Well, apparently the Egyptian priests wore fringes to indicate their priestly status, which is probably one of the reasons G-d commanded Israelites, the “Nation of Priests,” to do likewise.

  19. tandi119 says:

    Gene:

    Which came first? God’s ways, or pagan ways? American Indians wore fringes also. Seems to me that the variations on the theme were derived from a common source. Could it be that God invented tzit tzit and the Egyptians copied? Why is God cast as the copycat?

    • Gene Shlomovich says:

      “Which came first? God’s ways, or pagan ways?”

      Who came first – pagans or Jews? Did Jews just drop in from another planet? Part of the mistake is to assume that everything non-Jews did or do today, all their traditions and cultural customs, their scientific and technological achievements are automatically “idolatrous” and “evil” (pagan!) and are not to be copied by ‘G-d’s people” simply because they are non-Jewish, which is of course not the case at all.

  20. The answer to that, Tandi, is simple. Egyptian culture and customs are older than the Torah.

    Derek

  21. tandi119 says:

    Who taught Cain and Abel about proper sacrifices, etc? Were God’s ways known in the Garden? Or is the Genesis account mythology? Could it be that God brought a people out of Egypt to re-learn what was once known to His people but had become corrupted and paganized?

  22. Tandi:

    Weak. Do you suppose that Seth had a Talmudic academy?

    It serves the theology you want to uphold to assume that Adam and Eve recited Kaddish and kept the Sabbath. But these kinds of assumptions (and, yes, I am being a tad sarcastic too) are purely invented.

    Who says Abel or Cain knew the Torah laws of sacrifice? Is there any way in which the text leads us to this conclusion? I would say not.

    But, to sustain your argument that the pagans all copied God’s ways, you have to try and create a mythical Torah-observance for the pre-flood patriarchs. Maybe Adam read the book of Revelation with his morning cup of Starbucks, but we don’t know that or base our theology on it.

    Derek

  23. k3z7 says:

    I really, really like the idea of ‘Judeo-Christian’ congregations. That leaves a LOT of freedom for Gentiles to practice their Yeshua-faith within the context of their own culture while making an obvious Pro-Torah, Pro-Jewish stand in their theology.

    I also appreciate this quote: ” … if God can give his people customs and ways which are modified from pagan customs, how is it then inappropriate for Christians to adapt customs from their various national heritages and use them to glorify God?”

    I totally agree. Every people group can (and should) redefine and make holy various aspects of their own culture.

    I would love to see the UMB incorporate these ideas and train potential leaders. Many people have a desire to contribute but they lack education and do not know how to implement these ideas in their own sphere of influence.

  24. Hi Derek I do agree with the points you make. I think I was just showing how things could work out if they where not handled properly. As fo Judeo-Christian congregations I think they would work has long as they where done right and had links to Churches otherwise we are just starting another denomination and there are too many of them as things stand.

    • Gene Shlomovich says:

      I think that it would be far better to work with EXISTING churches and help them remake themselves as “Judeo-Christian” communities. For this, we need to reach out to existing church leadership.

  25. Hi Gene, I think I agree with what you are saying. You do need to reach out to existing Church leadership and IMHO I think that there are many in leadership who would have an open mind to such endeavours.

  26. k3z7 says:

    I also like the idea of taking the Judeo-Christian concept into existing Churches. Like I have said, the Churches need a remodel … not a demolition. How could this be accomplished – without appearing to be divisive?

    • Gene Shlomovich says:

      “How could this be accomplished – without appearing to be divisive?”

      Perhaps a regular Judeo-Christian conference could be organized under the auspices of UMB, where MJ leadership could invite leading Christian pastors, leaders and authors. There trick would be to NOT use this conference (or allow other to do so) to promote Judaism as “universal religion” or allow any Judaizing of Christians attending there – instead, make it a neutral common ground where issues at hand could be discussed, a place where all cultures and cultural expressions are equally precious to G-d if offered with the right spirit.

  27. asadia says:

    i have always believed that Churches should be observing Passover and not the cut and paste version that they have now. as for what rules to follow and so on i think that the Didache points to many things in which the Church should follow. it is the laws expounded upon by Yeshua that applies to the nations. of course it is not case specific and does not expound upon things such as food and marital roles (they have the Brit Hadasha for that), but it does give a glimpse into congregational life, and things expected by it’s members. here’s a copy of it from another website http://www.psalm11918.org/references/apocryphal-references/141-the-didache.html tell me what you think. if i am in the wrong direction point me to the right one (so i can study on my own and come to knowledge) :)

  28. tandi119 says:

    Derek said: “Weak. Do you suppose that Seth had a Talmudic academy?

    This is the problem I have with MJ theology. Determining how to do something seems to be dependent on sages and scholars and oral tradition handed down. As Catholics need the Pope and the Magisterium, torah seekers who wish to follow their Messiah are told they need to consult the Jewish authorities or they are not doing things right. Yet, if they are Gentiles, they are told they should not be doing “Jewish things” like Sabbath and dietary laws anyway. Yet….if they make up their own rules based on their best judgment from Scripture, they are criticized as being lone rangers doing their own ridiculous and offensive thing.

    When we stand before the LORD, we will give an account for the lifestyle choices we have made. Should we answer, “The priest told me” or “the rabbi told me” or “the best scholarship told me” …..or does HE expect an answer based on “As it is written……”. This was how Yeshua answered the Devil’s discourse. “It is written….” He did not appeal to oral tradition.

    I do not discount the value of oral tradition, but neither do I make it the absolute standard and the only way to obey God’s directives. If you want to distinguish between Jew and Gentile, why not call for Jews to embrace their culture and tradition, and Gentiles to be free to obey Scripture without Jewish tradition being the standard for proper observance of a commandment of God! Seems simple enough.

    Call me a “rabid fundamentalist” as I’ve been called by my atheist friends, but I just believe God’s Word. Pretty simple minded I suppose, but I believe God recorded what we need to know in the Scriptures and that it is a reliable guide to life. I believe the patriarchs had a reliable guide to life in written form, as did Seth, Enoch, etc. I believe there were clay tablets containing holy writ that Moses used to compile our Bible eventually. I believe God’s ways, in simplified format, predated Egyptian civilization.

    Call me a simpleton, but I still believe these things.

    Sorry this is rambling……..got to get going on my day and no time to clean this up……hope you can decipher what I’m trying to say.

  29. Tandi:

    I know you mean well. But you keep doing things like this.

    You have an interpretion. Let’s call it Tandi’s interpretation.

    Tandi’s interpretation is authoritative. Tandi’s interpretation is just-the-Bible.

    Everyone else’s interpretation (unless it agrees with Tandi’s) is based on external authority. If you researched the ancient context of a verse, that makes you guilty of using something-other-than-the-Bible. If you base it on a traditional understanding in Christianity or Judaism, then you are basing it on the-rabbis-and-popes of the world.

    But Tandi’s interpretation is authoritative. Why so? Because Tandi has a direct line to God?

    Think about the finger-pointing you do and how you insult others so with your simplistic I-am-right-and-no-evidence-is-admissible-when-arguing-against-me approach.

    Evidence, Tandi. Viewpoints need evidence to be convincing, not declarations of self-made authority.

    You completely avoided my counter to your earlier point: you assume that Cain and Abel knew the laws of sacrifice and imply that this is part of a larger pre-Flood Torah observance which the pagans later copied. I gave evidence against your view. Now it is your turn.

    Derek

  30. tandi119 says:

    I will ignore the bullying and put-downs. I am merely sharing my opinion, to which I am entitled, as you are entitled to yours.

    What evidence did you present? Maybe I could not see it through the heavy fog of sarcasm of the Seth post. (#27). Or did you mean your statement that Egyptian culture and customs are older than Torah? So you outright reject the Genesis clay tablet theory? (Wiseman, Sewall, etc.). Do you accept JEDP?

    See for example:

    http://www.trueorigin.org/tablet.asp

    I base my opinion that Cain and Abel knew the laws of sacrifice on this common sense evidence:

    How is it that God judged Cain’s sacrifice as improper and unacceptable if Cain had not been made aware of the “laws of sacrifice”?

  31. Tandi:

    You are the one who comes in at full attack making strong statements and insinuating that those who do not accept your interpretations as valid are “intellectual infidels.” I know you have good things to say and, believe it or not, I respect you. But I reserve the right to be rough and playful with those who throw hardballs. Soften your tone. Argue from evidence. Don’t insult those you argue with. And you will get better results.

    Notice I am nice to some commenters. And I hope our tit-for-tat will become more humane in the future.

    Derek

  32. tandi119 says:

    Derek, I think you tend to take me and other people the wrong way sometimes. I insinuated nothing of the sort. I don’t really know how to soften my tone……this is how I write my thoughts, and I can’t help how it comes across to you. No insults intended. Maybe if you can quote an offensive statement of mine, I could see better what you mean and I can clarify. I am open to correction and want to be a better communicator.

    Here is my remark about “intellectual infidels”……..

    “Similarities in pagan worship are the result of pagans adapting and counterfeiting God’s original worship and ways; you’ve got it backwards if you believe YHVH is the copycat. I realize that modern scholarship/archeology suggests such a thing. But why should we listen to intellectual infidels over the Word of God?” (post #16)

    I was referring to scholars and authors who are former Christians, Bible skeptics, atheists, agnostics, etc!!! People are reading popular books, watching the History channel and skeptic documentaries and learning things that are destroying their faith in the Bible. I was not referring to you!!!

    ……Unless you concur with things like this:

    “Archaeologist Israel Finkelstein of Tel Aviv University also points out that there’s no physical evidence that thousands of people wandered for decades in the desert. Besides, Jericho and other Canaanite cities described in the Bible didn’t exist when the Israelites were supposed to be conquering them. Finkelstein says the Bible isn’t just fantasy, though. He thinks the first books of the Bible were written in the seventh and sixth centuries B.C., long after the Exodus might have happened. The writers drew on a pool of folk tales, of myths, of shreds of evidence to build a history for Israel, he says.”

    I only sporadically read this blog so I am not familiar with all of your views or those of MJTI. Maybe you can point me to a post about your views on the historicity of the Genesis account for starters.

    Shalom, Maureen

  33. Tandi (Maureen):

    I put a bunch of links to past posts in a new post, just for you.

    Derek

  34. Re Gene’s post above of having a conference. I think this could be if it is done properly be one of the best places to start. Not only would it be good to bring Pastor, leaders and so-called lay christians together with Messianics for worship, fellowship and teaching, but also in discussion. We need to start where people are at and not where we think they should be. There are many Christians who would welcome such a forum or conferance.

  35. tandi119 says:

    Thank you, Derek……..I will try to get up to speed in understanding where you are coming from.

  36. Shopharim:

    You bring up two excellent points: (1) Passover is forbidden for non-Jews (Exod 12:48), so how can I say it is the one that the Church should practice? and (2) Yeshua did not come to start a new entity, so how can I say the Church should exist alongside Messianic Judaism?

    With regard to the first, “the Passover” means the meat of the sacrificial animal, which is holy, not whether a non-Jew may participate in the stories and symbolic foods (most of which came much after the Torah and in any case, non-Jews can certainly hear stories and eat matza and bitter herbs).

    With regard to the second, I believe and have written in many places (such as my upcoming Yeshua in Context book), Yeshua came to start a renewal movement within Israel/Judaism and this was planned to extend to the nations, where it would become a new people of God, the commonwealth of Israel (separate, but joined to Israel).

    Derek Leman

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