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A Discussion of Messianic Judaism, the Emerging Messianic Jewish Paradigm, and Related Leadership Issues from the Preoccupied Mind of Rabbi Stuart Dauermann, PhD.

All Contents ©2004-2007 Stuart Dauermann - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Toward an Expansive Biblicism

In the conservative Christian evangelical circles familiar to most of us those in positions of power or claiming to be spokespersons often invoke the Bible to set limits and discredit new ideas as "unbibilical." If one will step back for just a moment, one will realize that in such situations the Bible is often invoked to justify an already chosen theological grid or system, a theological camp of cronies. In such cases, it is not Scripture which is the bottom line, because what is being heard is not the voice of Scripture, but the voice of the system. Scripture is but a megaphone. I call this practice restrictive biblicism. The components of restrictive biblicism include firmly held theological commitments, the invocation of proof texts to justify such commitments, and a reflexive dismissal of all other positions and reinterpretation of all texts that vary from the position of choice. The position of choice becomes the non-negotiable.

It is naive to imagine that one can hear the Scripture apart from one's system, one's theological worldview, if you will. To do so would be impossible. Still, I am suggesting that spiritual vitality requires that we be willing to hear the Word afresh in a manner that questions, challenges, refutes, or replaces our own verities.

Two cases in point.

I contend the accusation "Your Jesus is too Small," is a valid one to be leveled at the Western Church. Eager to see Yeshua as "the Lord of the Church," the theological tradition of the West has been unable to see him as also the High Priest to all Israel and the King of the Jews. Their Jesus is too small. This is both the cause and the product of inadequate and stunted theological systems. If the Church and its leaders care about truth, they will need to practice expansive bibiicism leading to a revised theology.

A second example: the evangelical church is fixated on the Great Commission, viewing it as the be-all and end-all of God's will for them. An expansive biblicism would recognize that Paul speaks of a "greater commission," that is other than and greater than the Great Commission. In Romans eleven he says "11Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. *12But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their fullness bring! "* Paul is comparing two people groups, Israel and the nations, and two outcomes: "riches for the world"--the Great Commission and what flows from it, and "greater riches" which he later explains as "life from the dead" [v. 14]. He is saying that the consequences of the fulfilling of that Greater Commission will be greater than the Great Commission--the culmination of all things, what theologians call "the general resurrection."

This is a revolutionary truth about which I speak widely and which I will be covering in a forthcoming book. However, the Church has generally been blind to this. In order to see it and to serve it, they will need to employ an "expansive biblicism" allowing their theologies to be critiqued, challenged and revised due to hearing the voice of Scripture afresh.