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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


Friday, January 13, 2006

Is the Gospel Good News for the Jews? Not Since the Second Century [Part II]

This is the concluding part of a presentation I delivered at a Conference held at Fuller Theological Seminary on “New Perspectives on Jesus and the Jewish People," October 20-21, 2005. You will notice that my rhetoric is adapted to my Christian audience, not as to content, of course, but as to style. In this section I begin by addressing the common Christian and Jewish mission assumption that Jewish faith is valueless and spiritually void apart from explicit faith in Christ. I demonstrate that the Newer Testament speaks otherwise.

Time does not permit thoroughly defending my point but let me just reference the eleventh chapter of the Letter to the Hebrews and the eleventh chapter of Paul’s Letter to the Romans.

In the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, the author speaks not simply speaking of Biblical characters, but of heroes of faithfulness to the God of Israel. He moves beyond speaking of individuals to generalizing about those who exemplified suffering faithfulness:

35Women received their dead by resurrection. Others were tortured, refusing to accept release, in order to obtain a better resurrection. 36Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37They were stoned to death, they were sawn in two, they were killed by the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, persecuted, tormented-- 38of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.

39 Yet all these, though they were commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40since God had provided something better so that they would not, apart from us, be made perfect.

The author of the letter explicitly contradicts one of Jewish mission’s most common assumptions—that spiritual inheritance in Christ only comes to those Jews who have explicit knowledge of and faith in Jesus Christ.

On the contrary, the author states that the purity of the faith of Jews who suffered mightily for the God of Israel is sufficient to make these named and unnamed heroes eventual beneficiaries of the work of the Christ whom they did not know, but whom they faithfully served and awaited nonetheless. Furthermore, the text says that it was the purpose of God, that as we of Israel who DO believe in Jesus enter into our greater fullness of inheritance through our knowledge of Christ and our explicit faith in Him, our blessedness washes back over the faithful of Israel with whom we are in solidarity. The letter clearly says that they too become beneficiaries of the greater inheritance we have received. Indeed it was the purpose of God that this be so.

Contrary to the post-Justin Martyr worldview we have inherited, which postulates that Jews who do not believe in Jesus have no faith, the Letter to the Hebrews extols Jewish faith and faithfulness, even among those ignorant of the Messiah who came.

F.F. Bruce expressed it this way, in his commentary on the Letter to the Hebrews.

They lived and died in prospect of a fulfillment which none of them experienced on earth; yet so real was that fulfillment to them that it gave them power to press upstream, against the current of the environment, and to live on earth as citizens of that commonwealth whose foundations are firmly laid in the unseen and eternal order. Their record is on high, and on earth as well.. . .

But now the promise has been fulfilled; the age of the new covenant has dawned; the Christ to whose day they looked forward has come and by his self-offering and his high-priestly ministry in the presence of God he has procured perfection for them—and for us. ‘With this in mind, God had made a better plan, that only in company with us should they reach their perfection’ (NEB). They and we now enjoy unrestricted access to God through Christ, as fellow-citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem. The ‘better plan’ which God had made embraces the better hope, the better promises, the better covenant, the better sacrifices, the better and abiding possession, and the better resurrection which is their heritage, and ours.


Paul uses the same argument through two metaphors in his Letter to the Romans: "16If the part of the dough offered as first fruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; and if the root is holy, then the branches also are holy." It is the Yeshua-believing Remnant of Israel that is the part of the dough offered as first fruits, and the root of the branches of Israel. Paul’s argument, like that of the Letter to the Hebrews, is that the status of the Remnant washes over the rest of Israel.

Are we to assume that since the time of Christ, there have been no Jews who demonstrated this kind of exalted, suffering faith, apart from those who accepted the Christ proffered to them by a persecuting Church? Must we negate Jewish faithfulness in order to extol the King of the Jews? I think not!

2. The Second Bitter Seed is the negation or entire relativizing of the ways of life to which our ancestors adhered for thousands of years, the life of Torah obedience. This is now viewed as passé, and, according to many Christians, a form of fruitless bondage from which the Spirit of Christ and the good news of the gospel comes to deliver us. More commonly, due to contemporary assumptions of the primacy of freedom of choice, in Jewish mission circles, the commandments of God are treated as nice folkways that may be embraced if one chooses, as long as one doesn’t go overboard. After all, if you start obeying one commandment of God, that could lead to obeying others, and then where would we be?

Instead of loyalty to God’s laws for Israel, Jewish mission culture fights to preserve freedom of choice in this area, as if God’s commandments to Israel are but suggestions instead of mandates. This is part of the mission agenda to legitimize assimilation. This also disembowels the entirety of Jewish piety and ill commends our gospel to thinking Jews.

A recent Jewish missionary newsletter put it this way.

Some Messianic Jews are teaching that it is incumbent on all Jewish believers to observe the Law of Moses. . . . They would agree that we are saved by grace through faith in Messiah Jesus. However, they would add that Jewish believers who want to fulfill their destiny as Messianic Jews must continue to be a part of the Jewish community, which means living a "Torah-observant" lifestyle, a lifestyle that can only really be lived out in the context of a community of Messianic Jews. I have heard of instances where, failing to find a Messianic congregation in the area, some Jewish believers have chosen to attend a synagogue rather than a church. This is a form of neo- Galatianism, pure and simple (Galatians 3:2-3).


Notice how the author treats allegiance to Jewish covenantal responsibilities as secondary, and purely voluntary. Notice how he questions whether the commandments of God are “incumbent” upon us as Jews. For him commandments are more suggestions or optional folkways, or outmoded now that Messiah has come.

The head of another Jewish mission wrote me recently. He began by quoting from a statement on the website of Hashivenu, Inc., an organization I serve as President. He takes issue with our presuppositions. I encourage you to notice his presuppositions:

[First a quotation from our website].

When we say that Messianic Judaism is "a Judaism," we are also acknowledging the existence of other "Judaisms." We do not deny their existence, their legitimacy, or their value. We are not the sole valid expression of Judaism with all else a counterfeit. We recognize our kinship with other Judaisms and believe that we have much of profound importance to learn from them, as well as something vitally important to share with them.


He then begins his query.

How does one recognize the "legitimacy" and "value" of a religious movement that, at its core, denies the all-sufficient atoning work of Yeshua, the Son of G-d. Given rabbinic Judaism’s two millennia rejection of Yeshua, in what way does Messianic Judaism have "kinship with" these expressions of Judaism?

Stuart, if modern Judaism (Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, et. al.) denies Yeshua, in what sense can one say that these expressions of Judaism hold equal legitimacy and value with Messianic Judaism which embraces Yeshua as the Son of G-d and as Messiah and Saviour? However much the various denominations within modern Judaism differ, at their core they are all opposed to Yeshua.


This negation of Judaism and its community leadership is fundamental to modern mission to the Jews and much Christian theologizing. Anyone who will take the trouble can find the seeds of this in the writings of Justin, Irenaeus, Ignatius, and others of the Fathers, Apologists and Doctors of the Church. And such a modern Jewish mission leader as I have quoted could never say and would never say what the Apostle Paul said of the Jews of his day, “they earnestly serve God night and day,” (Acts 26:7).

How is such a message good news for the Jews? Does not a Jewish person have a right to say "How can this Jesus be the Messiah if the result of his coming is the unraveling and dissolution of the way of life and the communal identity for which millions of my people suffered and died?" Such a message of the abolition and relativizing of Torah living is not good news for the Jews. Such messages, and such subtexts, are anything but good news for the Jews.

The key to what I am saying is this: We must abandon the habit of basing our gospel presentation to the Jewish people on their own alleged “neediness” and alleged spiritual bankruptcy. Instead of basing our evangelism of Jewish people on their “need for the gospel,” let us instead base it on this one splendid fact: “The Messiah has come, and he is coming again. His name is Yeshua, and he is the best possible good news for panti tow laow [all the people of Israel] as well as for panta ta ethne—all the other nations.”

Is it too much to ask for a good news gospel? I hope not!

Finally, then, what am I calling for?

1. I am calling for a gospel of humility rather than stridency. We need to demur from assuming as a starting point the eternal perdition of all Jewish people. We seem to forget that for Paul, the Jewish people were “home base” for the people of God, and Gentile former idol-worshippers, formerly without hope and without God in the world, who came serve the living and true God through faith in Yeshua His Son, only became part of the people of God as they became part of the commonwealth of Israel. Don’t you agree that the church needs to reconsider and renounce the “us-them” mentality inherited from the Church Fathers, such as Ignatius, who first postulated Judaism and Christianity as two antithetical religions and antithetical communities? Don’t we need to reexamine Scripture and renounce this historically conditioned legacy of stridency and polarization? As our Hashivenu Core Principles put it, “the Jewish People are us, not them.”

2. I am calling for a gospel of consummation rather than replacement. We need to realize that God is up to something among the Jewish people which he terms in the eleventh chapter of Romans “greater riches” than the salvation of the nations. The Great Commission will give way to this Greater Commission—God is not through with Israel yet, and the Church from among the nations is not God’s final word. And while the Church becomes part of the Commonwealth of Israel, it does not displace Israel no more than Canada displaces Great Britain. What God is up to among the Jews will not look precisely like what he has been doing in pursuing the Great Commission, and certainly any Great Commision which negates, minimizes or dismantles Jewish covenant fidelity is not good news for anyone.

3. I am calling for a gospel of affirmation rather than negation. If in Jesus all the promises of God are “Yea” and “Amen” then should this not include His promises to the Jewish people?


4. I am calling for a gospel that is unambiguously good news for the Jews which says, “The Messiah has come and He is coming again. His name is Yeshua, and his coming is the best possible news for panti tow laow [all the people of Israel].


The Kingdom of God, and the purposes of God, are broader and other than our organizational agendas and provincial concerns. It is past time to uproot the bitter seeds which have grown like tares amidst the wheat of the Kingdom. Come and join those of us who are serving the Greater Commission—the greater riches that will come to the cosmos, as the Jewish people enter into their rightful inheritance foreshadowed by the Remnant.

The gospel is still good news for panti tow laow—all the people of Israel. It is about time we said so.

At 2/09/2006 9:55 AM, Anonymous Chayamindle said...

The deeply perceptive and spiritually compelling articles below are written by one of our Orthodox Jewish brothers, in Jerusalem. Could anyone dare challenge his zeal, love and service for G-d?

Stuart, what an amazing affirmation and complement to all you are standing for and teaching, amidst those who would oppose you.

May Ha Shem always uphold and strengthen you as you proclaim the Wisdom He showers upon you!!

http://www.shorashim-emagazine.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=12&Itemid=28 ( Check out this excellent website)

Introduction to Teacher Preacher
Written by Shorashim

Teacher Preacher The book, The Teacher and the Preacher, has met with great success and has achieved its major goal in ways we did not expect. The idea for the book originated out of our observations of the growing Hebraic roots movement. We saw a growing number of Christians who sincerely wanted to understand how we Jews see and interpret scripture and so we wanted to open up the world of Torah Judaism to them. Not to convince, but simply to explain how we interpreted scripture. Over time, however, we began to see symptoms of what we refer to as the "Martin Luther Complex" in some segments of the Hebraic roots movement.
Regrettably, a small but growing segment within this budding movement were becoming extremely frustrated with the Jewish people. They were convinced that when the Jews sensed the incredible support and love they were being showered with by the Christians, they would then "open their hearts to the teachings and understandings of Christianity. Feeling very secure in their theological and scriptural moorings, many believed that once Christians showed love rather than hate towards the Jewish people, then the "veil of ignorance" that had kept the Jewish people from believing would be removed and they would finally accept the Christian message.

When this did not begin to happen, these people blamed the Jewish rejection of their faith as a symptom of Jewish arrogance, not ignorance. They began to resent the Jewish people and viewed them as stiff necked, recalcitrant rebels. Hatred and reborn anti-Semitism were not very far away. This was the essence of what happened to the "great" reformer Martin Luther and it was beginning to occur in some of Israel's greatest friends.

The book, The Teacher and the Preacher, was not meant to convince Christians of the veracity of the Jewish claims inherent in a Torah approach; rather, it was written to give the Christian the opportunity to see the Bible in the way that Torah Jews see and study it. These Christian readers may forever remain unconvinced but they would at least understand the Jewish view of the words of the Bible that has been their companion for thousands of years.

To build bridges, one must know where the other side of the river is. Otherwise the bridge would simply collapse into the raging river in spite of all the good intentions. That was the purpose of The Teacher and the Preacher – to begin building a bridge.

The book seems to have achieved just that. It accentuated the differences that exist between Judaism and Christianity, it challenged, and yet it did not anger or alienate the reader, even though it presented a completely different world view. That, to us, is success.

Only when we begin to understand can we begin to build bridges.

Only when we begin to listen can we begin to understand.

To listen, LiShmoa appears as one of the pivotal concepts in the Tanach (the Bible). It is the lack of listening that leads to the ignorance and the arrogance that has always preceded hatred.

The book, The Teacher and the Preacher, attempted to address the issues that have for so long been the basis of the chasm between the Christian and the Jew – salvation, blood and atonement, the purpose and focus of the law, and the Messiah's purpose and identity. It also focused on the Scriptural differences highlighted in Isaiah 53, Daniel 9, Isaiah 7 and 9, Zechariah 12. Psalm 2, 22 and 110, and others.

The book intentionally did not end with a chapter offering resolution for these differences. Many people asked us to mirror in the book the tone and emotions of the bridging discussions that occur in the Shorashim shop in the Old City. We have decided not to acquiesce to these requests because we have found that, especially in Western society, there is a strong passion and need for closure, for resolution. In our society, when one hears a simple statement of resolution that puts closure on difference, then the preceding events or discussion is forgotten. There is no reason to keep thinking.

It was our intent that the issues remain a challenging impetus for thought and meditation since, when dealing with issues of the spirit, such thought and meditation is critical.

On the other hand, we have decided to allow for the beginning of such bridging in the form a web page on our Shorashim site. The critical word here is "beginning." The missing chapter that will be presented here is not the "final" chapter of The Teacher and the Preacher but rather "the next chapter."

Many more chapters will be spoken and written with G-d's help.

http://www.shorashim-emagazine.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=13&Itemid=28

The Next Chapter
Written by Shorashim
STARTING WHERE WE LEFT OFF

The book ended with the following interchange and this next chapter will continue from there.

Says the Preacher
Then do you believe that people like me are destined for eternal damnation and separation from G-d?

Says the Teacher
Actually no one is eternally separated from G-d. That is not what hell means to us. One cannot be eternally separated from G-d and "be." One cannot exist separated from G-d.

A minority of souls will cease to "be" but all the others who do not merit entering heaven will immediately undergo the purifying experience of hell, as it says in Hoshea 13, "I will redeem you from Sheol." It says also in 1 Samuel 2: 6, "The L-rd kills and gives life. He brings down to the grave and brings up." The experience of moving into the Next World and
confronting and KNOWING the awesome reality of G-d's existence is a shattering and restructuring awareness.

It is that awareness that is either hell or heaven. No fires in hell can burn as painfully as the awareness of how far you have moved from the Infinite G-d. And conversely there is no bliss greater than being aware of how close your walk was.

Says the Preacher
But if I believe as I do that G-d manifested Himself as a man in order to be the ultimate sacrifice for all mankind, does that not condemn me to hell if I don't believe?

Says the Teacher
As for your question, I have no idea who is going where. It is not in my domain. G-d is the judge. He judges our hearts. He determines if that heart was turned towards Him or not. The direction of the turning in the context of each individual's experience, education, and emotional makeup determines the assessment. Heaven is not only for Jews.

Says the Preacher
I still have a sense that you are avoiding the issue. Aren't my beliefs antithetical to yours?

Says the Teacher
If I were to embrace your beliefs, then I would be blaspheming. If I were to believe that G-d as it were came as a corporal man, I would be denying the most basic tenet of my belief.

Says the Preacher
And so...

Says the Teacher
I still cannot judge you. I don't know what Hashem is doing in your heart and how He intends to bring you closer to Him. That closeness and that cleaving is what you and I desire with all our hearts, soul, and might. As difficult as some of your theological constructs are from my point of view, that still does not describe your heart's desire.

So, yes, I have difficulty with what you believe but after meeting you I have no difficulty believing that your yearning for G-d is sincere. This sincerity and humility are the keys. They are the keys for you as much as they are for me. But in the end, I believe as you do - that G-d leads and reveals so long as sincerity, yearning for truth and humility remain our
rudders. These things will lead both our ships of faith to safe harbor.


THE NEXT CHAPTER

Says the Preacher
I find your views fair and benevolent, yet I cannot believe that you are saying that all paths are correct and will lead to salvation.

Says the Teacher
You are right, my friend, not all paths will lead us to where we need to be. Yet the sincere – and that is the key issue here – the sincere desire to cleave unto the Creator of the universe "enables" G-d to then put into action his part of the equation .

Malachi 3:7, "Return to Me and I will return to you."

Says the Preacher
But aren't we disagreeing about who the "Me" is that we are returning to?

Says the Teacher
You have now touched on the issue that will help bring about the bridging that we both so desire. When we have clarified the "Me" that we both desire, we will suddenly find that we are standing very close together in front of the One we both seek and desire.

Says the Preacher
You know that despite my difficulties with some of what you have presented in our discussion, the ability to stand together is extremely important for me as well.

Says the Teacher
Well, in order to do this, we need to return to some issues, but this time using a very broad paintbrush. As a Torah based Jew, the details of an issue are as critical as the broad strokes, but for us to effectively begin to build bridges, we must paint with broad strokes. The detailed, finishing touches will await a future when we begin to understand each other more. It will also await a time when G-d's clear resounding voice will wash over the earth like an ocean and will wash away all the discrepancies and details that are getting in the way of our understanding.

Isaiah 11:9
"..for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of HaShem, as the waters cover the sea."

Says the Preacher
Let us be careful that in those broad strokes we don't erase issues that are critical or include thinking that would clearly not be Biblical.

Says the Teacher
Thank you, your point is well taken. Let us begin with your comment earlier in which you said that not all paths are correct and lead to salvation. In addition to this simple truth, you also need to understand that for Jews the issue is not salvation, but rather of cleaving unto our G-d. The focus in my life is not about Heaven, Salvation and Eternity.

Says the Preacher
Yes, we have discussed this before, but you also believe in Heaven and Eternity.

Says the Teacher
Of course we do and our desire like yours is to be sitting before G-d's presence eternally, but that is not the focus of our walk with our G-d.

The focus in our life is to be cleaved to G-d with all our hearts, souls and might. This desire, called in Hebrew "Dvekut," forms the core of all that we do. We are constantly asking ourselves, "G-d, am I walking with you correctly? Am I loving you appropriately? Am I truly representing Your Glory in a way that is pleasing to you?"

Says the Preacher
That is exactly what I feel and desire as well.

Says the Teacher
And so the first strokes have been painted.

Says the Preacher
Yes, but it is not that easy. It is one thing to desire to be at one with G-d; it is another to achieve it. Jesus tells us clearly, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14: 6).

It is our understanding that accepting the Divine Messiah is the only way to be accepted by the Heavenly Father.

Says the Teacher
You have clearly expressed your difficulty in understanding our Jewish Torah view. I understand this but cannot be moved by it. The things that move me are the words of G-d as expressed in His Bible. I do not mean to be disrespectful about quotes from the book that has so deeply impacted your life, but still it is not my book.

The Tanach, the book you call the Old Testament, is the only text that resonates in my soul. It contains the words that I live and, if need be, die by.

Says the Preacher
I understand that, but you must see why it is so important for me to convince you. I am concerned for your eternal life. I sense in you a deep commitment to cleave unto G-d. I want to help you achieve that.

Says the Teacher
I respect your concern and heartfelt plea. I believe, though, that this desire does not always come out of concern for my soul but rather from a need to confirm a Christian's faith.

Says the Preacher
I believe that is an unfair statement.

Says the Teacher
That may be and insulting you and those who these words do not apply to was certainly not my intent. But you must know that this is a commonly shared feeling.

Says the Preacher
That is sad and may unfortunately be true of too many out there to be ignored, but if it is an EITHER OR situation as our Faith teaches, then how do you see grounds for commonality?

Says the Teacher
When we human beings are faced with seemingly irreconcilable obstacles on the ground, we need to look higher – the higher our gaze, the greater the possibility of finding a common point of reference.

Says the Preacher
The metaphor is sweet but we cannot ignore the differences.

Says the Teacher
Please be patient. It has already taken two thousand years for us to reach this opportunity for dialogue. Stay with me just a little longer.

Says the Preacher
We live in a time where we all are told that we must always try to rush ahead. You are right. Please go on

Says the Teacher
The purpose in my life is to be cleaved unto my Father in Heaven, Avinu SheBaShamayim, with all my heart and soul. I believe that is your purpose in life.

Says the Preacher
I agree that is what he whom I call the Messiah has taught me.

Says the Teacher
The Master of the Universe whom I call my Father is the same G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that you call the Father. It is to that same Father that we both yearn to reach out to and connect with. It is He who continues to speak to all of us through the generations. It is Him that we sometimes have difficulty hearing, because we have lost our ability to listen. Yet when all is said and done, we both yearn to be enveloped in the comforting arms of our Father in Heaven.

I have no concept of a son of G-d. I have no concept of a spirit that is separate from G-d. I have no concept of a Messiah that is Divine. I have nothing but G-d. I don't yearn for anything but G-d. I don't search for any entity but G-d.

So, for two thousand years we thought that we were heading in different directions, but we were actually yearning to follow the same direction and to be cleaved unto the same End. We have been disagreeing about how to get there, but not the destination.

As we have seen, the "how to" has great significance in your doctrine. I don't want to minimize or belittle that important part of your doctrine. Yet we have a clear promise from G-d that He will take care of the "how to." What G-d wants from us is to turn our heart towards Him. If that turning is truly sincere then G-d will direct as He desires.

Says the Preacher
What you have just said truly resonates within me, yet that is the reason why I am so impassioned to witness to the world.

Says the Teacher
Perhaps your understanding would be better served if you would focus on how to be a better servant rather than trying to be a better witness.

Says the Preacher
My being a better witness is my way of being a better servant.

Says the Teacher
I think it is the other way around. You may become a better witness if you just concentrate on being a better servant. It is far better to be a tract than to give them out.

Says the Preacher
I cannot change what I believe is the Great Commission to spread the word in the world.

Says the Teacher
I am not trying to change what you believe. I can just tell you, as a representative of a people that has been at the "receiving end" of the great commission, the results have been tragic if not fatal. It says in your Bible that the "tree is judged by the fruit." You must understand that the fruit that we have tasted has been anything but sweet over the last two thousand years. Perhaps we have reached a time when G-d's will is better fulfilled if all people, yours and mine, truly accept that G-d is sovereign. We need to develop our relationship with our Father in Heaven so that we truly represent His Holiness. G-d will then reveal what is hidden and uncover what is covered. This is what He declares in the mighty prophecy in Isaiah:

And in this mountain will HaShem Tsvakot make unto all peoples a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined. And He will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering that is cast over all peoples, and the veil that is spread over all nations. 8He will swallow up death for ever; and HaShem G-D will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the reproach of His people will He take away from off all the earth; for HaShem hath spoken it (Isaiah 25: 6-8).

Says the Preacher
Please do not be upset with me, my new found friend, but my scripture tells me that though you may be very knowledgeable in the words of the Bible you are nevertheless covered with a veil that prevents you from seeing the truth.

The book of Corinthians says the following:

We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read,a veil covers their hearts.

But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. That is what I believe but I mean no insult or injury. (3:13-18)

Says the Teacher
I am not insulted by these words, since this concept is the basis for our being able to bridge the gap between us. You believe that my eyes are veiled based on this quote from your Bible and I believe the eyes of the nations are veiled based on the prophet Isaiah.

Says the Preacher
I am sorry, but I see only more conflict. Where do you see the bridge?

Says the Teacher
The bridge is right here before our eyes. You believe that my eyes are veiled and G-d will unveil those eyes at the right time. I believe that G-d will ".. destroy in this mountain the face of the covering that is cast over all peoples, and the veil that is spread over all nations."

HaShem, the Father of all Mankind, is the bridge – if we seek Him with all our heart, soul and mind, if we trust in His power and ability to make all those who seek Him, truly see, if we believe that He is the loving compassionate Father we both know Him to be, if we let Him be sovereign and spend our days trying to cleave unto Him – then we will be standing shoulder to shoulder in bringing Glory to His Name.

Says the Preacher
You have touched me deeply. I too trust G-d completely and believe that you will understand. Yes I must agree – this is the beginnings of a bridge.

Says the Teacher
The beginning is always the most difficult part of a voyage. May we continue to cross this bridge with care and courage. We may find that as long as we keep our eyes Heavenward, we will be walking closer than we both imagined.v



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At 2/09/2006 10:24 AM, Anonymous Chayamindle said...

Chayamindle said...
The deeply perceptive and spiritually compelling articles below are written by one of our Orthodox Jewish brothers, in Jerusalem. Could anyone dare challenge his zeal, love and service for G-d?

Stuart, what an amazing affirmation and complement to all you are standing for and teaching, amidst those who would oppose you.

May Ha Shem always uphold and strengthen you as you proclaim the Wisdom He showers upon you!!

http://www.shorashim-emagazine.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=12&Itemid=28 ( Check out this excellent website)

Introduction to Teacher Preacher
Written by Shorashim

Teacher Preacher The book, The Teacher and the Preacher, has met with great success and has achieved its major goal in ways we did not expect. The idea for the book originated out of our observations of the growing Hebraic roots movement. We saw a growing number of Christians who sincerely wanted to understand how we Jews see and interpret scripture and so we wanted to open up the world of Torah Judaism to them. Not to convince, but simply to explain how we interpreted scripture. Over time, however, we began to see symptoms of what we refer to as the "Martin Luther Complex" in some segments of the Hebraic roots movement.
Regrettably, a small but growing segment within this budding movement were becoming extremely frustrated with the Jewish people. They were convinced that when the Jews sensed the incredible support and love they were being showered with by the Christians, they would then "open their hearts to the teachings and understandings of Christianity. Feeling very secure in their theological and scriptural moorings, many believed that once Christians showed love rather than hate towards the Jewish people, then the "veil of ignorance" that had kept the Jewish people from believing would be removed and they would finally accept the Christian message.

When this did not begin to happen, these people blamed the Jewish rejection of their faith as a symptom of Jewish arrogance, not ignorance. They began to resent the Jewish people and viewed them as stiff necked, recalcitrant rebels. Hatred and reborn anti-Semitism were not very far away. This was the essence of what happened to the "great" reformer Martin Luther and it was beginning to occur in some of Israel's greatest friends.

The book, The Teacher and the Preacher, was not meant to convince Christians of the veracity of the Jewish claims inherent in a Torah approach; rather, it was written to give the Christian the opportunity to see the Bible in the way that Torah Jews see and study it. These Christian readers may forever remain unconvinced but they would at least understand the Jewish view of the words of the Bible that has been their companion for thousands of years.

To build bridges, one must know where the other side of the river is. Otherwise the bridge would simply collapse into the raging river in spite of all the good intentions. That was the purpose of The Teacher and the Preacher – to begin building a bridge.

The book seems to have achieved just that. It accentuated the differences that exist between Judaism and Christianity, it challenged, and yet it did not anger or alienate the reader, even though it presented a completely different world view. That, to us, is success.

Only when we begin to understand can we begin to build bridges.

Only when we begin to listen can we begin to understand.

To listen, LiShmoa appears as one of the pivotal concepts in the Tanach (the Bible). It is the lack of listening that leads to the ignorance and the arrogance that has always preceded hatred.

The book, The Teacher and the Preacher, attempted to address the issues that have for so long been the basis of the chasm between the Christian and the Jew – salvation, blood and atonement, the purpose and focus of the law, and the Messiah's purpose and identity. It also focused on the Scriptural differences highlighted in Isaiah 53, Daniel 9, Isaiah 7 and 9, Zechariah 12. Psalm 2, 22 and 110, and others.

The book intentionally did not end with a chapter offering resolution for these differences. Many people asked us to mirror in the book the tone and emotions of the bridging discussions that occur in the Shorashim shop in the Old City. We have decided not to acquiesce to these requests because we have found that, especially in Western society, there is a strong passion and need for closure, for resolution. In our society, when one hears a simple statement of resolution that puts closure on difference, then the preceding events or discussion is forgotten. There is no reason to keep thinking.

It was our intent that the issues remain a challenging impetus for thought and meditation since, when dealing with issues of the spirit, such thought and meditation is critical.

On the other hand, we have decided to allow for the beginning of such bridging in the form a web page on our Shorashim site. The critical word here is "beginning." The missing chapter that will be presented here is not the "final" chapter of The Teacher and the Preacher but rather "the next chapter."

Many more chapters will be spoken and written with G-d's help.

http://www.shorashim-emagazine.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=13&Itemid=28

The Next Chapter
Written by Shorashim
STARTING WHERE WE LEFT OFF

The book ended with the following interchange and this next chapter will continue from there.

Says the Preacher
Then do you believe that people like me are destined for eternal damnation and separation from G-d?

Says the Teacher
Actually no one is eternally separated from G-d. That is not what hell means to us. One cannot be eternally separated from G-d and "be." One cannot exist separated from G-d.

A minority of souls will cease to "be" but all the others who do not merit entering heaven will immediately undergo the purifying experience of hell, as it says in Hoshea 13, "I will redeem you from Sheol." It says also in 1 Samuel 2: 6, "The L-rd kills and gives life. He brings down to the grave and brings up." The experience of moving into the Next World and
confronting and KNOWING the awesome reality of G-d's existence is a shattering and restructuring awareness.

It is that awareness that is either hell or heaven. No fires in hell can burn as painfully as the awareness of how far you have moved from the Infinite G-d. And conversely there is no bliss greater than being aware of how close your walk was.

Says the Preacher
But if I believe as I do that G-d manifested Himself as a man in order to be the ultimate sacrifice for all mankind, does that not condemn me to hell if I don't believe?

Says the Teacher
As for your question, I have no idea who is going where. It is not in my domain. G-d is the judge. He judges our hearts. He determines if that heart was turned towards Him or not. The direction of the turning in the context of each individual's experience, education, and emotional makeup determines the assessment. Heaven is not only for Jews.

Says the Preacher
I still have a sense that you are avoiding the issue. Aren't my beliefs antithetical to yours?

Says the Teacher
If I were to embrace your beliefs, then I would be blaspheming. If I were to believe that G-d as it were came as a corporal man, I would be denying the most basic tenet of my belief.

Says the Preacher
And so...

Says the Teacher
I still cannot judge you. I don't know what Hashem is doing in your heart and how He intends to bring you closer to Him. That closeness and that cleaving is what you and I desire with all our hearts, soul, and might. As difficult as some of your theological constructs are from my point of view, that still does not describe your heart's desire.

So, yes, I have difficulty with what you believe but after meeting you I have no difficulty believing that your yearning for G-d is sincere. This sincerity and humility are the keys. They are the keys for you as much as they are for me. But in the end, I believe as you do - that G-d leads and reveals so long as sincerity, yearning for truth and humility remain our
rudders. These things will lead both our ships of faith to safe harbor.

THE NEXT CHAPTER

Says the Preacher
I find your views fair and benevolent, yet I cannot believe that you are saying that all paths are correct and will lead to salvation.

Says the Teacher
You are right, my friend, not all paths will lead us to where we need to be. Yet the sincere – and that is the key issue here – the sincere desire to cleave unto the Creator of the universe "enables" G-d to then put into action his part of the equation .

Malachi 3:7, "Return to Me and I will return to you."

Says the Preacher
But aren't we disagreeing about who the "Me" is that we are returning to?

Says the Teacher
You have now touched on the issue that will help bring about the bridging that we both so desire. When we have clarified the "Me" that we both desire, we will suddenly find that we are standing very close together in front of the One we both seek and desire.

Says the Preacher
You know that despite my difficulties with some of what you have presented in our discussion, the ability to stand together is extremely important for me as well.

Says the Teacher
Well, in order to do this, we need to return to some issues, but this time using a very broad paintbrush. As a Torah based Jew, the details of an issue are as critical as the broad strokes, but for us to effectively begin to build bridges, we must paint with broad strokes. The detailed, finishing touches will await a future when we begin to understand each other more. It will also await a time when G-d's clear resounding voice will wash over the earth like an ocean and will wash away all the discrepancies and details that are getting in the way of our understanding.

Isaiah 11:9
"..for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of HaShem, as the waters cover the sea."

Says the Preacher
Let us be careful that in those broad strokes we don't erase issues that are critical or include thinking that would clearly not be Biblical.

Says the Teacher
Thank you, your point is well taken. Let us begin with your comment earlier in which you said that not all paths are correct and lead to salvation. In addition to this simple truth, you also need to understand that for Jews the issue is not salvation, but rather of cleaving unto our G-d. The focus in my life is not about Heaven, Salvation and Eternity.

Says the Preacher
Yes, we have discussed this before, but you also believe in Heaven and Eternity.

Says the Teacher
Of course we do and our desire like yours is to be sitting before G-d's presence eternally, but that is not the focus of our walk with our G-d.

The focus in our life is to be cleaved to G-d with all our hearts, souls and might. This desire, called in Hebrew "Dvekut," forms the core of all that we do. We are constantly asking ourselves, "G-d, am I walking with you correctly? Am I loving you appropriately? Am I truly representing Your Glory in a way that is pleasing to you?"

Says the Preacher
That is exactly what I feel and desire as well.

Says the Teacher
And so the first strokes have been painted.

Says the Preacher
Yes, but it is not that easy. It is one thing to desire to be at one with G-d; it is another to achieve it. Jesus tells us clearly, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14: 6).

It is our understanding that accepting the Divine Messiah is the only way to be accepted by the Heavenly Father.

Says the Teacher
You have clearly expressed your difficulty in understanding our Jewish Torah view. I understand this but cannot be moved by it. The things that move me are the words of G-d as expressed in His Bible. I do not mean to be disrespectful about quotes from the book that has so deeply impacted your life, but still it is not my book.

The Tanach, the book you call the Old Testament, is the only text that resonates in my soul. It contains the words that I live and, if need be, die by.

Says the Preacher
I understand that, but you must see why it is so important for me to convince you. I am concerned for your eternal life. I sense in you a deep commitment to cleave unto G-d. I want to help you achieve that.

Says the Teacher
I respect your concern and heartfelt plea. I believe, though, that this desire does not always come out of concern for my soul but rather from a need to confirm a Christian's faith.

Says the Preacher
I believe that is an unfair statement.

Says the Teacher
That may be and insulting you and those who these words do not apply to was certainly not my intent. But you must know that this is a commonly shared feeling.

Says the Preacher
That is sad and may unfortunately be true of too many out there to be ignored, but if it is an EITHER OR situation as our Faith teaches, then how do you see grounds for commonality?

Says the Teacher
When we human beings are faced with seemingly irreconcilable obstacles on the ground, we need to look higher – the higher our gaze, the greater the possibility of finding a common point of reference.

Says the Preacher
The metaphor is sweet but we cannot ignore the differences.

Says the Teacher
Please be patient. It has already taken two thousand years for us to reach this opportunity for dialogue. Stay with me just a little longer.

Says the Preacher
We live in a time where we all are told that we must always try to rush ahead. You are right. Please go on

Says the Teacher
The purpose in my life is to be cleaved unto my Father in Heaven, Avinu SheBaShamayim, with all my heart and soul. I believe that is your purpose in life.

Says the Preacher
I agree that is what he whom I call the Messiah has taught me.

Says the Teacher
The Master of the Universe whom I call my Father is the same G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that you call the Father. It is to that same Father that we both yearn to reach out to and connect with. It is He who continues to speak to all of us through the generations. It is Him that we sometimes have difficulty hearing, because we have lost our ability to listen. Yet when all is said and done, we both yearn to be enveloped in the comforting arms of our Father in Heaven.

I have no concept of a son of G-d. I have no concept of a spirit that is separate from G-d. I have no concept of a Messiah that is Divine. I have nothing but G-d. I don't yearn for anything but G-d. I don't search for any entity but G-d.

So, for two thousand years we thought that we were heading in different directions, but we were actually yearning to follow the same direction and to be cleaved unto the same End. We have been disagreeing about how to get there, but not the destination.

As we have seen, the "how to" has great significance in your doctrine. I don't want to minimize or belittle that important part of your doctrine. Yet we have a clear promise from G-d that He will take care of the "how to." What G-d wants from us is to turn our heart towards Him. If that turning is truly sincere then G-d will direct as He desires.

Says the Preacher
What you have just said truly resonates within me, yet that is the reason why I am so impassioned to witness to the world.

Says the Teacher
Perhaps your understanding would be better served if you would focus on how to be a better servant rather than trying to be a better witness.

Says the Preacher
My being a better witness is my way of being a better servant.

Says the Teacher
I think it is the other way around. You may become a better witness if you just concentrate on being a better servant. It is far better to be a tract than to give them out.

Says the Preacher
I cannot change what I believe is the Great Commission to spread the word in the world.

Says the Teacher
I am not trying to change what you believe. I can just tell you, as a representative of a people that has been at the "receiving end" of the great commission, the results have been tragic if not fatal. It says in your Bible that the "tree is judged by the fruit." You must understand that the fruit that we have tasted has been anything but sweet over the last two thousand years. Perhaps we have reached a time when G-d's will is better fulfilled if all people, yours and mine, truly accept that G-d is sovereign. We need to develop our relationship with our Father in Heaven so that we truly represent His Holiness. G-d will then reveal what is hidden and uncover what is covered. This is what He declares in the mighty prophecy in Isaiah:

And in this mountain will HaShem Tsvakot make unto all peoples a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined. And He will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering that is cast over all peoples, and the veil that is spread over all nations. 8He will swallow up death for ever; and HaShem G-D will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the reproach of His people will He take away from off all the earth; for HaShem hath spoken it (Isaiah 25: 6-8).

Says the Preacher
Please do not be upset with me, my new found friend, but my scripture tells me that though you may be very knowledgeable in the words of the Bible you are nevertheless covered with a veil that prevents you from seeing the truth.

The book of Corinthians says the following:

We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read,a veil covers their hearts.

But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. That is what I believe but I mean no insult or injury. (3:13-18)

Says the Teacher
I am not insulted by these words, since this concept is the basis for our being able to bridge the gap between us. You believe that my eyes are veiled based on this quote from your Bible and I believe the eyes of the nations are veiled based on the prophet Isaiah.

Says the Preacher
I am sorry, but I see only more conflict. Where do you see the bridge?

Says the Teacher
The bridge is right here before our eyes. You believe that my eyes are veiled and G-d will unveil those eyes at the right time. I believe that G-d will ".. destroy in this mountain the face of the covering that is cast over all peoples, and the veil that is spread over all nations."

HaShem, the Father of all Mankind, is the bridge – if we seek Him with all our heart, soul and mind, if we trust in His power and ability to make all those who seek Him, truly see, if we believe that He is the loving compassionate Father we both know Him to be, if we let Him be sovereign and spend our days trying to cleave unto Him – then we will be standing shoulder to shoulder in bringing Glory to His Name.

Says the Preacher
You have touched me deeply. I too trust G-d completely and believe that you will understand. Yes I must agree – this is the beginnings of a bridge.

Says the Teacher
The beginning is always the most difficult part of a voyage. May we continue to cross this bridge with care and courage. We may find that as long as we keep our eyes Heavenward, we will be walking closer than we both imagined.v



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