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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.

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Monday, December 26, 2005

Future Talk: The Emerging Messianic Jewish Paradigm

I have been privileged to be involved with the key thought leaders in today's Messianic Judaism. Together, we have been seeing emerge a new paradigm for understanding where Messianic Judaism needs to be going if we are to meet up with our God-given destiny.

One of those thought leaders is my very good friend, Dr. Mark Kinzer, who has written a recently published book which no one reading this blog should fail to read. The book is "Post-Missionary Messianic Judaism: Redefining Christian Engagement with the Jewish People." (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2005),

In part, this book communicates a new ecclesiological paradigm with which I entirely agree, and which accords with conclusions I have reached and upon which I have reported and will continue to report on this blog.

For now, content yourself to read the following outline and brief explication of his paradigm. Then, by all means, read the book!

1. God is honored by Jewish Torah obedience. This applies no less to Messianic Jews than to the wider Jewish community.


In the Older Testament this is evident from narrative texts concerning the giving of the Law (Exodus 19-20; Deuteronomy 4:5-8). In addition, prophecies concerning Jewish renewal at the end of days state that this end-time turning to God will include a renewal of Torah obedience (e.g., Deuteronomy 30:1-10, and Ezekiel 36:24-27). The Newer Testament also extols Jewish Torah obedience for all Jews, including Jewish Yeshua believers. Luke-Acts highlights the Torah obedience and Jewish piety of Zechariah and Elizabeth (Lk 1:6); Mary, Joseph, and the child Jesus (Lk 2:21-24, 27, 39-51); Simeon and Anna (Lk 2:25-26, 36-38); Jesus Himself (Lk 4:16 and many others); and the Church in Jerusalem (Acts 21:17-26). Clearly, Jewish Torah obedience for all Jews was presumed to be the God-ordained norm.

2. Such Torah-faithful Messianic Jews form the living link whereby the Church from among the nations is joined to the Commonwealth of Israel, and serve the Church by helping her reconceive of her identity and vocation as rooted in that of Israel.

The One New Man of Ephesians, chapter two, expresses a unity of two distinct communal realities living together not in uniformity, but rather in love and mutual blessing. These two distinct realities are the Yeshua believers in Israel living as Yeshua’s people in Torah-based Jewish piety, and the Church from among the nations, serving Him in their own contexts, apart from the requirements of Jewish piety. This is why Paul was insistent that Gentile Yeshua believers should not become circumcised and seek to keep the Law: not because the Law is wrong, but because it is not God’s call and will for Gentiles, who become part of the people of God through Christ alone. This is also why James expected Paul to model Jewish piety, but said he required no such thing of the Gentiles who have believed (Acts 21:24-25), and this is why the Jerusalem Council disputed long (“much debate,” Acts 15:6) before deciding that Gentiles did not need to be circumcised, and required to keep the Torah. This dispute only occurred because Jewish Yeshua believers assumed they were responsible for continuing to do so. Their debate was over whether the requirement of Torah-obedience applied to Gentiles as well (see Acts 15:1-21). Rather than superseding the Jewish people, the Church instead joins with them as part of the Commonwealth of Israel. Only in this way can the “dividing wall of hostility” – which supesessionism maintains – be removed, with Israel and the Church living in the peace Yeshua established rather than in competitive enmity.

3. Understanding her identity and vocation in this context, the Church will celebrate and support Jewish covenant faithfulness, seeing Yeshua-faith in the power of the Holy Spirit as its perfect embodiment, and will partner with Torah-faithful Messianic Jews as one ekklesia.


By being joined as one ekklesia with the Torah obedient Jewish Yeshua-believers, the Church becomes part of the Commonwealth of Israel (Ephesians 2:12-14), and therefore celebrates all of the God-given distinctives of Israel, including her Torah obedience. This position contrasts sharply with the denigration of Jewish Torah obedience so common in Christian thought and feeling. The Church joins with Israel without taking on her unique Torah responsibilities. This balance of unity and diversity is further highlighted in Ephesians 3:6, where Paul says “Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” The terms “fellow heirs, fellow members, and fellow partakers” require another communal reality with whom the Gentiles are joined, Jewish Yeshua-believers living as part of wider Israel.

4. Messianic Jewish outreach to the wider Jewish community involves revealing the Presence of Yeshua amidst Jewish life rather than importing Him as an outsider or exporting Jewish Yeshua-believers to other communities.

The Jewish Yeshua believers of the Newer Testament believed that in a mysterious manner the Messiah had been with Israel throughout its history (1 Corinthians 10:1-4; Ephesians 2:12). Because of this, they saw in all of Israel’s sacred institutions (e.g., the Temple, the holidays, the Jubilee year) signs of the Messiah’s presence, and proclaimed him to be the fulfillment of Judaism rather than its nullification. Though Jewish communal life has developed over the past two thousand years without explicit faith in Yeshua, we find him present there nevertheless, just as Joseph provided for his brothers who rejected him even before he revealed his identity to them.

5. Such outreach proclaims the Name of Jesus, not the neediness of Jews.

Sometimes mission approaches to the Jewish people include the assumption or even declaration of the emptiness and inadequacy of Jewish religious practice and faith. In contrast, the apostolic motivation for outreach to Jewish people was driven by the realization that in Yeshua, the long awaited Messiah had come. The oft-quoted passage, “There is no other name given among mortals by which we must be saved,” comes in a context where Peter and John were seeking to lift up the name of Jesus rather than put down the Jewish people: “for we cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:12, 20). We would do well to imitate their example and lift up the name of Yeshua without denigrating the holy things already given to the Jewish people (see Romans 3:1-4; 9:1-5).

6. The honor of God is enhanced, and His reign established, when His people honor the Messiah whom He sent.


Newer Covenant texts such as Matthew 23:39, Acts 3:19-21, and Romans 11:12, 15, imply that Israel’s acceptance of Yeshua will inaugurate the Kingdom, thus establishing and extending God’s reign.. Looking toward that day, we seek to model and advance his honor among our people, Israel.

7. This paradigm enables concerned Christians to be both deeply faithful to Christ and deeply respectful of the living Jewish tradition and the Jewish community.

Paul Himself exemplified this respect when, toward the end of his life, standing before Herod Agrippa, he characterized Jewish piety in this manner: “they earnestly serve God night and day”(Acts 26:7). Sadly, this respect has not generally characterized standard Christian approaches to the Jewish people. Isn’t it about time that it did?

At 12/28/2005 3:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"This is also why James expected Paul to model Jewish piety, but said he required no such thing of the Gentiles who have believed (Acts 21:24-25)"

This phrase should not be considered as part of Acts. It is not found in the most reliable texts.

 
At 12/30/2005 12:25 AM, Blogger Stuart Dauermann said...

Anonymous [the name sounds familiar!] is right. I was quoting from memory, but yes, the "best manuscripts" do not have this phrase. However, that does nothing to undermine my point. The New RSV has this for these verses. Notice how the text indicates different strokes for the Jewish folks and for the Gentile folks, as set up by the "But" at the beginning of verse 25. "24Join these men, go through the rite of purification with them, and pay for the shaving of their heads. Thus all will know that there is nothing in what they have been told about you, but that you yourself observe and guard the law. 25But as for the Gentiles who have become believers, we have sent a letter with our judgment that they should abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is stranglede and from fornication."

The different halacha for Jewish communities and Gentile communities is what we would expect from an at-its-roots Jewish movement. Even if the language is not from Acts, the point is demonstrated in the text that James expected Paul to follow the standards of Jewish piety, but that James "required no such thing of the Gentiles who have believed," that is, that he did NOT require of them adherence to the halacha applicable to Jews.

The distinction between Messianic Jewish practice and Christian practice is clear here, and the guidelines given to the Gentiles are a kind of "house rules" whereby the Gentiles and Jews in Messiah can live together in peace as one differentiated Household of God.

 
At 1/05/2006 1:14 PM, Blogger jon cline said...

well said.

i think a lot of this makes much more sense when looking through the actual halachic requirements (sabbath, fornication, etc.) for each side to the point of it all.

Soulen gives one of the best possible reasons for what Dr. Dauermann is talking about here in chapter 5 of his book "The God of Israel and Christian Theology".

It is only 3 pages and gives a summary of Soulen's understanding of how it is God's plan for his creation to live in various distinct relationships of "mutual blessing". These relations include God to man, man to creation, man to woman, parent to child, generation to generation, and Israel to the Nations.

Certainly the King of the universe can order his world...

my 2 cents. :D

 
At 1/09/2006 1:29 AM, Anonymous Ruth in Alberta said...

I'm sorry but I don't understand this line of thinking.

This is what I hear you saying and I'm sure you'll correct me if I'm wrong...:)...Jews stay on the Judaism side of the line and Gentiles stay on the Christian side of the line and we'll all be happy and support each other in our expressions of faith. Is this correct?

While I believe that one should always be respectful/supportive of another's choice of religious faith and the expression of that faith, Judaism and Christianity *are* separate religions. But at the same time it sounds like you are saying that the Christian Messiah and the Jewish Messiah are the same? How can this be? If there is one true G-d, the G-d of Israel and His nature is expressed in the Tanakh, He is the same past, present and future, it is not the same path as the Church is following. The Christian Messiah says the Laws have been abolished, all flesh is kosher and the day of worship is Sunday. Christianity has some similar concepts as Judaism but it also has a lot of differences.

How is it that it is the role of the Gentiles in Christianity to support their Jewish brothers and but not of other "Gentile" religions? Every religion has a moral obligation to respect humankind so I don't understand the distinction being given to the Church here. In the community of the world yes we need ways of respecting our differences and being able to get along in a spirit of love, respect and compassion. I understand the need to have positive and caring dialogue between people of different faiths. I can understand why some Jews feel that Gentiles are usurping their place in the way Messianic "Judaism" is practised in some places, is this a reaction to that? Because of the history of Christian missionaries trying to convert Jews, is this a reaction to keep Gentiles out of Judaism? Messianic Judaism should not be Christianity with a kippah or tallit, it should be recognized legitimately along side all the other streams of Judaism. But how did Christianity get chosen as "favourite" friend?

If G-d provided a Messiah for the world, it was Himself in human form, not a son or another entity, G-d is one. Are you saying that there are different paths to G-d and all religions lead to the same G-d? If you are not saying this, then why are you saying that 2 separate religions, Judaism and Christianity do?

Yes, there are 2 roles, just like in a marriage a husband and wife have different roles but they live in the *same house*. My soul's worth is equal to that of my husband's before G-d but my role in our relationship is different, I'm a woman he's a man. But I don't live in the house across the street. We build a family together. Because of the enmity between Jews and Gentiles the "One New Man" is explaining how both can be spiritually equal before G-d. It's not a premise to create another religion completely separate from Judaism or Christianity as some try to do, nor is it a premise to keep Gentiles from converting or an encouragement to "Christianize" Jews.

Because I was born Gentile I can't be adopted into the family of G-d? Or are you saying that G-d has 2 families? G-d's Chosen people were to be a light to the Nations, why? What purpose did G-d have for the nation of Israel to be a light to the world if people from the Nations can only look on the light from next door? What if I want to feel the warmth of the light on my skin? If the light is beckoning to me why am I only permitted to come so far? I totally don't understand your perspective. If I'm adopted into the family of G-d why would I have a different standard than my adopted family? In the natural, when my parents chose to adopt my sister she did not continue to live according to the standards of her birth family. She became a full-fledged member of our family and accorded all the rights and priviledges afforded under the law and according to the standards of the family.

I know I keep saying this but I really don't understand this perspective. I don't know how to say this any other way and I know I'll there will be heat over this. I respect Christians and believe they feel deeply about their faith and are committed to it but I no longer want to be part of a religion that believes all Jews are spiritually bankrupt if they "don't have Jesus" and in your post it comes across like you are saying because I was born a Gentile I have to stay in that religion.

 
At 1/10/2006 3:27 AM, Blogger Stuart Dauermann said...

Ruth,

Thank you for your long, intelligent and articulate posting. In the words of "Cool Hand Luke," "What we have here is a failure to communicate." And this failure is based in part upon a dissonance in presuppositions. I will have to deal with these each in turn, and this will take time!

You say,

"I'm sorry but I don't understand this line of thinking. This is what I hear you saying and I'm sure you'll correct me if I'm wrong...:)...Jews stay on the Judaism side of the line and Gentiles stay on the Christian side of the line and we'll all be happy and support each other in our expressions of faith. Is this correct?"

No, that is not what I am saying here. What I am saying is that from the beginning, God intended that those Jews who believe in Yeshua should continue to live Jewish lives ordered by Torah, because this is a God-given way of life, because it honors God, because it was never some kind of sin that Jewish believers in Yeshua needed to repent of or forsake (!!), because this is how Yeshua and the Apostles lived, etc. At the same time, the Newer Testament teaches that Gentiles who have believed in Yeshua need/ought do no such thing.

There is a pre-planned cultural diversity evident in the Newer Testament. And just because there is a pre-planned cultural diversity does NOT mean that there is a pecking order or division in the Body of Messiah [the community of the Yeshua-faithful]. A distinction does not mean a division, any more than a woman being a woman and a man being a man necessitates a division in their marriage: only a distinction.

You also say, " While I believe that one should always be respectful/supportive of another's choice of religious faith and the expression of that faith, Judaism and Christianity *are* separate religions. But at the same time it sounds like you are saying that the Christian Messiah and the Jewish Messiah are the same? How can this be? If there is one true G-d, the G-d of Israel and His nature is expressed in the Tanakh,. ."

Ruth, if Yeshua IS the Messiah then he must be the same Messiah for the Jews and for the Gentiles [even if unacknowledged as such], because if Jesus the Savior of the Gentiles is not the Messiah of Israel, then he is a fraud and no one should believe in Him! As the Book of Isaiah says of Messiah, "It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth" (Isa 49:6). Many other passages as well make it clear that Messiah MUST be both Messiah of Israel and Lord of the Church for him to be who the Bible says he will be. Please see my blog posting, "Do You See What I See? A Messianic Jew Speaks to Christian Seminarians," to flesh this out.

From this point of view, Yeshua (Jesus) is the Messiah of all the Jewish people even if not recognized as such. It could not be any other way, unless Yeshua were a fraud.

As for Judaism and Christianity being too separate religions, that is certainly the way they have developed, isn't it? But it is interesting to note that the very terms "Judaism" and "Christianity" were coined in the second century by St. Ignatius of Antioch, and that the presupposition that these are two separate religions is a post-biblical category.

There is much more to say, but this will be enough for THIS responding comment. More later.

Thanks again.

 
At 1/10/2006 11:16 AM, Anonymous Ruth said...

We may be experiencing a failure in communication. Thank you for acknowledging my post. I agree with you that G-d's plan for salvation is for all mankind and in actuality there is only one Messiah. But it is also true that perception is reality and who the Christian faith perceives the Messiah to be has actually created a different distinct Messiah, someone who's purposes and teachings are held to be different (and superior) to those of Judaism. So on one hand you can say they (Messiahs) are the same but in the reality of people's hearts and minds they are not. Whether or not it was G-d's plan for Judaism and Christianity to diverge and develope separately (and differently) I cannot say, however history shows that they have. The people who follow each faith believe that they are different. One of the first things I learned upon leaving the "Christian world" is that when speaking to my Christian family and friends on spiritual matters although we were using and communicating with the same words from the English language, we were not speaking the same language anymore. Perspective changes everything.

 
At 1/10/2006 1:28 PM, Blogger Stuart Dauermann said...

Ruth,

I do not argue with that. What I am speaking of in my posting is what I perceive to be the intent of Scripture and thus the intent of God, as compared with the misperceptions and missteps of the Christian establishment.

Not all Christians have so embraced Jesus as to disenfranchise the Jewish people, although too many have. I suggest you read "The God of Israel and Christian Theology" but R..Kendall Soulen and "Post-Missionary Messianic Judaism: Redefining Christian Engagement with the Jewish People" by Mark Kinzer. And I also suggest that your conflicted relationships with your family of origin are complicating matters for your understanding of what is being said on my blog. But I can't say I blame you.

Shalom for now,

Stuart

 
At 1/10/2006 2:39 PM, Anonymous Ruth said...

Well you could be right, my upbringing could be the cause of my misunderstanding, or it could just be that I am human. :)

Addressing the intent of scripture, with regard to the Apostolic writings teaching that gentiles who become "believers" are not required to keep the Torah laws, we do disagree on this point. My thought on this subject is that nothing in the Apostolic writings can be at odds with Hebrew Scripture. If it appears to contradict then 2 possible scenarios come to mind; either our understanding is faulty or the Apostolic text is incorrect. Some people may feel it is a bit of both.

If what you are communicating is that the Apostolic writings teach that Christians/gentiles have a place in the World to Come and Christianity is/can be a religion for gentiles to follow the "Noahide Laws" then perhaps upon further reflection and study I could find my way to seeing this. If however, you are claiming that the Apostolic writings *supported* by Hebrew Scripture teach that Christians/gentiles can be full brothers and heirs without being active participants in the Covenant G-d made with Israel, then we disagree. The Hebrew Scripture teaches otherwise. One such scripture would be Yesha'Yahu (Isaiah) 56:1-7.

"And the foreigners who join themselves to Adonai to serve him, to love the name of Adonai, and to be his workers, all who keep Shabbat and do not profane it, and hold fast to my covenant, I will bring them to my holy mountain and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all people." verses 6 and 7

Where does Hebrew Scripture teach that one can have all the rewards of the covenant without committing to it? Actively participating in and committing oneself to the covenant of G-d is not the same as claiming the Jewish Messiah as your own but refusing to wear it's yoke. Yeshua (G-d in the flesh) Himself said otherwise. Yochanan (John) 14: 15, 21

"If you love me you will keep my commands." verse 15

He also said keeping the commandments wasn't difficult. Mattityahu (Matthew) 11:30 "For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

I fear I am now "clogging your blog" :). I will look for the books you are referring to. Shalom you and yours. May you have a blessed day.

 
At 1/25/2006 12:18 PM, Blogger Aliocha said...

Hi!

Thank you for the previous comments: they have been most enriching. Maybe I can provide some more insight from a different perspective.

I am not a Jew. I am a Christian, and specifically, I am a Catholic.

I have recently (and joyfully) become aware of the existence of Messianic Jews, and I am still in the process of understanding them. So I ask Stuart to correct me if I say some nonsense.

As far as I could understand, the Messianic Jews' vision has much in common with the Catholic vision. I believe I have some knowledge of the Catholic vision, from the fact that I spent a year of my life in Rome, in a school for lay missionaries.

Some obvious points in common:

1 - Jesus was Jewish and has never stopped being so, has never abandoned His jewishness in the name of His mission.

2 - The Church started as a community within the Jewish people. For Peter, Paul, John and the others, the Ressurection of Jesus and the acknowledgement that He was God did not mean they would stop being jewish.

3 - The Church later became a community where Jews and Gentiles coexisted (with a big role being played by St. Paul).

4 - Throughout the centuries, this notion was lost. There were historical periods where Judaism was treated as a religion separated from Christianity.

5 - This separation was an "historical deviation", something that obviously should not have ocurred, if we were all faithfull to God's will. The original vision has been regained, mostly since the Vatican II council. As pope John XXIII pointed out: "It is not that the Gospel has changed, it is simply that we begin to understand it better." (I am quoting by memory and translating from portuguese at the same time, it may not be very accurate).

6 - There is no reason why one cannot be simultaneously Jewish and Christian. One of the simplest examples I can give is Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, who is a Catholic Cardinal and a Jew, who became a christian at the age of 19, and that refuses to speak of his "conversion", because he says that by embracing christian faith he has left nothing behind of his jewish faith. He states clearly that Christianity is the "completion" of Judaism, not an alternative to it.

The biggest difference that I see is in the meaning of the word "Christian". I use the word Christian as a synonym of Stuart's "believers in Yeshua". Stuart sometimes writes as if Christians were someone exterior. I am not sure whether you use "Christians" in the sense of "Gentile Christians", and therefore you would place yourselves outside. The way I see it, Messianic Jews are part of the Lord's Church.
By the way, I have one question: are Messianic Jews baptised?

I would also like to add a book to your list of must-reads: cardinal Lustiger's "La promesse". I do not know if it has been translated to english or if you can read french, but it is a profound meditation on Jewish-Christian relationship.

 
At 1/25/2006 5:33 PM, Blogger Stuart Dauermann said...

With all due respect to Aliocha, whose comments I appreciate, and with all due respect to Jean Marie Cardinal Lustiger, there is another perspective which must be considered. Jewish Theologian Michael Wyschogrod in correspondence with the Cardinal pointed out to him that he is not truly a Jew. When the Cardinal asked him why not, Wyschogrod asked him, "What Jewish community are you are part of?"

You see, Aliocha, Jewish identity is not simply a matter of genetics or how one views oneself. It has an inescapable communal dimension. There is a group of fine people who call themselves Hebrew Catholics, and all due respect to them. But they are not Messianic Jews in the sense spoken of in these postings, because their communal associations are not with Jewish life and community.

Although we Messianic Jews are fully brothers and sisters to those Jews and Gentiles who whose communal home is the Church, it is not helpful to call us "Christians," since that implies rootage in the Christian communal context, the Church from among the nations. Rather, we are Jews within Jewish community who embrace Yeshua and live in Jewish life.

I trust this clarifies matters.

Shalom

 
At 1/26/2006 12:20 PM, Blogger Aliocha said...

Stuart, thank you for your answer, but I'm afraid it raised more questions than gave answers.

I believe you make a very good point, and I agree (in the middle of my ignorance) that there is an important communal aspect as part of being Jewish. Now, I don't know if you would agree with me, but what I would say in this situation is that a person with Jewish heritage and Jewish beliefs, and regarding oneself as Jewish, but lacking a community could be described as a sort of "incomplete" Jew. I know the wording is probably not the best, I cannot think of anything better now, but what you are saying is not exclusive to being Jewish, it applies also to other religions: a Catholic that doesn't go to Mass is not a "complete" Catholic, he is not "fully" Catholic.

On the other hand, if you apply this question to the broad spectrum of Jewish people, would you not find a multitude that also are not "fully" Jewish, based on the criteria of living in a community, and that fail that requirement for reasons others than believing Jesus? Are they not Jewish, anyway, to a certain extent?

Now, the question is: what is the Church? The answer I know is: it is the community of those who welcome Jesus as their Saviour. And in this notion, it doesn't make any sense, for me, to leave Messianic Jews outside.

It seems to me that the separation of the church of the Gentiles and the church of the Jews might have caused todays Christian churches to have become places where one cannot be fully Jewish. I do not see any reason why that should not be changed. Moreover, it seems to me that the way to get there must be inspired in the way-of-life from the early followers of Jesus.

But I am still guessing and maturing my opinions.

What do you think?

 

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