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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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Saturday, March 18, 2006

What is God Up To in the World and What Does It Have to do with You?

(This is a sermon for Shabbat Parah presented March 18, 2006 at Ahavat Zion Messianic Synagogue, Beverly Hills, CA. It concerns how the gospel must be reconceptualized in accordance with the Emerging Messianic Jewish Pardigm.)

Lesslie Newbigin was a missionary to India for forty years. When he returned to his native England, he realized how much the Western world had changed during that time. He saw how we now live in a post-Christian, pluralist society, where many competing religions, philosophies and ways of life claim to be equally true, and where many people gauge the value of a religious commitment by the slogan, “If it works for you!” Newbigin began writing some important books about the good news of Yeshua and western society. “The Gospel in a Pluralist Society” (1989) is one of those books. One of the matters he addresses in that book is the issue of contextualization, which is a concept that has long characterized the mission (outreach) enterprise.

According to Newbigin, the purpose of contextualization is to enable the gospel to come alive in each specific cultural context in a manner that comes as good news (rather than foreign news) to that context, yet in a manner which does not, for the sake of relevance and reception, sacrifice the nature of the gospel itself. It is a matter of presenting the gospel without being needlessly culturally intrusive. But Newbigin realized that if we are to keep the gospel intact in each of the cultures with which we interact, it is crucial for us to know what is the intrinsic gospel we are to transmit.

Of course, when we think about outreach, for the Messianic Jewish context there is another factor, unique to the Jewish world, which David Stern recognized decades ago in “The Messianic Jewish Manifesto” (1988). That factor is rediscovering the essentially Jewish context and nature of the gospel message despite two millennia of other-culture accretions. Here the issue is not one of adapting or communicating the gospel to the contemporary Jewish context, as is the concern of contextualization, but rather of, in Stern’s words,”restoring the Jewishness of the gospel.”

The concerns of the Emerging Messianic Jewish Paradigm which my associates and I are championing, and which we teach at Ahavat Zion, run deeper than this. Our concern is not simply the effective, non-imperialistic, culture-respecting communication of the gospel in a Jewish context, nor is it the restoration of the gospel’s original Jewish character and context. Rather, the project of the Emerging Messianic Jewish Paradigm is the reconceptulization of the gospel itself in keeping with a post-missionary, non-supersessionist paradigm which is alert to the eschatological responsibilities of the Remnant of Israel.

“Post-missionary” does not mean “anti-missionary.” Rather it means that the times are changing and are calling for a different approach to our people Israel. More than that, both Scripture and the times in which we are living call for a very different concept of what our outreach task is! (More about that later).

As for “supersessionism,” by this we mean the theological position which views the Church as the new Israel, which, in the purposes of God, eclipses the old Israel. What shall we say about this?

The gospel cannot be good news for the Jews if its proclaimers treat the dissolution of Jewish community cohesion as a matter of secondary importance. Nor can it be good news for the Jews if, imbedded within it, is the assumption that the path of Torah faithfulness is a secondary issue, non-issue, or expired priority. Neither can it be good news for the Jews if the gospel we proclaim fails to prepare Jewish people for the eschatological commitments of which the prophets speak, including being “careful to observe” his ordinances [Ezekiel 36:27].

The concerns of the Emerging Messianic Jewish Paradigm are more than a matter of style and of being careful to not be culturally intrusive or imperialistic. They are even more than simply rediscovering what is the essential gospel, which is Newbigin’s concern. Rather, this paradigm is concerned with discovering, serving, and proclaiming the wider context of the will of God for the Jewish people, the setting in which faithfulness, even gospel faithfulness, is meant to be lived out by Jews, as highlighted in Ezekiel 36-37 and elsewhere throughout Holy Writ. This setting will include Israel's Regathering, Renewal, Repentance, Regeneration, and Recognition of Yeshua as the Messiah formerly hidden from Jewish eyes [as is evident from reading Ezekiel 36-37].

The Emerging Messianic Jewish Paradigm is post-missionary in its assumptions, in part because the Standard Jewish Missions Paradigm is supersessionist. Even Dispensational Jewish missions that doctrinally decry supersessionism are functionally supersessionist when they treat the distinctive covenant responsibilities of the Jewish people as expired or secondary. One Jewish mission routinely refers to itself as “an arm of the local church.” In doing so, they are acting not as the Remnant of Israel but as Jewish-born emissaries of the new and improved people of God, the Church. They are also committed to treating covenantal Jewish living as but one option among many, and term it "neo-Galatianism” when treated as a divine responsibility incumbent upon all Jews.

By contrast, the Emerging Messianic Jewish Paradigm is non-supersessionist, seeing the Jewish people as still beloved for the sake of the ancestors (Romans 11:28), and Jewish Torah-based covenant responsibility not only as persisting since ancient times, thus a continuing obligation from the Jewish past, but also as a necessary and integral component of God’s consummating purposes for Israel, thus a present privilege and responsibility in anticipation of that consummation. If covenant faithfulness is our Jewish legacy from the past, and our destiny in the future, how can it not be our responsibility in the present?

Therefore, we are not calling for contextualization as commonly conceived, nor are we calling for the recontextualization of the gospel, as David Stern suggests. Rather, we are calling for a reconceptualization of the outreach task, especially for Messianic Jews, as it concerns being agents of God’s consummating purposes for Israel. That reconceptualization includes the imperative of assisting Jewish people to grow in Torah-based covenant faithfulness, for this too is the will of God for Jewish people, and this is what God is up to in the world. We should play our part.

Today’s Haftarah is crucial because it reminds us of the truest, the deepest motivation for outreach. And what is that motivation? It is the honor of God—the sanctification of God’s Name, or in Hebrew, Kiddush Hashem. This is the strongest and purest motivation for service to God, for obedience to Him, in short, for living for Him in any area of life. It is the deepest place in the heart of those who love God: they want to see Him honored, adored, treated as holy. In fact, when Messiah taught us to pray, he made this to be the first petition of what is termed “The Lord’s Prayer.” “Hallowed be Thy name,” in Hebrew, “Yitkadash sh’mecha,” is Kiddush Hashem—the sanctification of Gods Name, that He might be honored in every aspect of life, and ultimately, throughout the entire created order.

Rav Sha’ul, the Apostle Paul, mirrors this motivation, when he says in 1 Timothy 1:17, “To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

Of course the Bible is full of this kind of language—in both Testaments. David says, in 1 Chronicles 29: 10 . . . "Blessed are you, O LORD, the God of our ancestor Israel, forever and ever. 11Yours, O LORD, are the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty; for all that is in the heavens and on the earth is yours; yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all. 12Riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might; and it is in your hand to make great and to give strength to all. 13And now, our God, we give thanks to you and praise your glorious name.” This is the sanctification of God’s Name, giving Him the honor that is due to Him alone in all of life.

The root of this imperative in the Hebrew Bible is found in Vayikra/Leviticus 22: 31 Thus you shall keep my commandments and observe them: I am the LORD. 32You shall not profane my holy name, that I may be sanctified among the people of Israel: I am the LORD; I sanctify you, 33I who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God: I am the LORD.

The Amplified Bible translates verse 32 in this way: “Neither shall you profane My holy name [applying it to an idol, or treating it with irreverence or contempt or as a byword]; but I will be hallowed among the Israelites. I am the Lord, Who consecrates and makes you holy.” Our Stone Edition Tanach translates it this way: You shall not desecrate my holy name, rather I should be sanctified among the Children of Israel, I am Hashem who sanctifies you.” Three times in that one, core verse we find the Hebrew root “kadash” which is also found in Kiddush Hashem: V’lo titchal’u et shem kadshi vnikdashti b’toch be’nei Yisrael, ani Hashem mikdashchem.” And not only does this verse three times allude to Kiddush Hashem, it also includes the root very for the opposite of Kidddush Hashem, which is Chillul Hashem—the descreation of the Divine Name. And that term is found right at the beginning of our verse: “V’lo titchal’u et shem kadshi.”

Finally, we must not miss the fact that Kiddush Hashem necessarily involves keeping the commandments of God: Thus you shall keep my commandments and observe them: I am the LORD. 32You shall not profane my holy name, that I may be sanctified among the people of Israel. . ., or as Yeshua said it: "Hallowed be thy Name; Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” And how can we do God’s will unless he tells us? This telling his will is the issuing of commandments. Our sanctification of God’s Name necessarily includes honoring His commandments.

For those of us who value experiences with the Holy Spirit, remember this: a good rule of thumb against which to measure options as to where you would invest your spiritual efforts is to find out what God seems to be doing in the earth, and help make it happen!

Today’s Haftarah tells us what God is likely to be doing among our people in these days. We are already seeing signs that now is the time. If you want to experience the Holy Spirit’s nearness in a deep way, the best idea is to involve yourself in what God is up to. And what he is doing is bringing renewal to the Jewish people in the area of covenant faithfulness. With the passage of time, it will become increasingly clear that God is doing this through Yeshua our righteous Messiah, in the power of the Spirit. This is already proving to be true in Israel, where some, in a Yeshua-believing Jewish community historically resistant to Torah living, are beginning to reconsider their position, due in large part to the influence of Jews from the fomer Soviet Union who are seeking a Messianic expression which is more of a Judaism than many Israeli Yeshua-believers have settled for up till now.

As for us, let us do our part in bringing honor to Messiah and to Hashem through pointing out to our people Israel what God is doing in fulfillment of Scriptures through the Presence of Messiah and His Spirit, and through honoring God ourselves through Messiah, in the power of the Spirit.

Newbigin goes on to say the following, which echoes what I have been saying to you here for a long time. Listen:

[Yeshua-believers] have privatized this mighty work of grace and talked as if the whole cosmic drama of salvation culminated in the words “For me, for me”; as if the one question is “How can I be saved?” . . . . But this is a perversion of the gospel. For anyone who has understood what God did for us in [Yeshua the Messiah] the one question is: “How shall God be glorified? How shall his amazing grace be known and celebrated and adored? How shall he see the travail of his soul and be satisfied?” [Isaiah 53:11] The whole discussion of . . . who is going to be saved in the end. . . God alone will answer, and it is arrogant presumption on the part of theologians to suppose that it is their business to answer it. We have to begin with the mighty work of grace in [Yeshua the Messiah] and ask, How is he to be honored and glorified? The goal of missions is the glory of God [1989:179-180].

He didn’t know it, but Newbigin was talking here about Kiddush Hashem. And so should we. Is it not obvious that this should be our deepest and sufficient motivation for outreach to our people Israel, and also to the nations?

23 I will sanctify my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them; and the nations shall know that I am the Lord, says the Lord God, when through you I display my holiness before their eyes. 24 I will take you from the nations, and gather you from all the countries, and bring you into your own land.
25 I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put my spirit within you, and make you follow my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances. 28 Then you shall live in the land that I gave to your ancestors; and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.

. . . 24 My servant David shall be king over them; and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall follow my ordinances and be careful to observe my statutes [Ezekiel 36:23-27; 37:24].

This leads us to a number of important questions:

1) What is God ultimately up to among the Jewish people according to these passages?

2) What might this mean for us personally, congregationally, and as a Messianic Jewish movement?

3) What if we don’t choose to get involved or to see things this way? What might be lost?

4) What role should and does Kiddush Hashem, honoring His Name, that is, bringing glory to God for who He is and what he has done/is doing, especially through Messiah in the Ruach HaKodesh in our days, have in our personal lives, our congregational agenda, and that of the Messianic Jewish movement?

5) If not this, what? If not you, who? If not for you, why? And, if not now, when?

At 3/19/2006 12:36 PM, Blogger Israel Benjamin said...

Dr. Dauermann,
I find your sermons most challenging and deserving of reflective thought. Perhaps my limitations derive from the fact that I am outside your community and lack the day to day context in which your remarks are proferred. I have little doubt that the individuals in your congregation must be in possession of extraordinary intellect in order to apprehend the depth of your thinking.
If you would be so kind as to validate my understanding of your endpoint in this sermon:
You are calling for Jews to acknowledge Jesus as the messiah and then live in Torah obedience. Is this correct? I have other questions, but if I have missed the thrust of your sermon, perhaps those questions are moot. Thank you so very much. IB

At 3/19/2006 5:19 PM, Blogger Stuart Dauermann said...

Mr. Benjamin,

Thanks for the kudos. You are kind.

Answering your query: I am calling Messianic Jews to embrace their own responsibility to live in Torah-true covenant faithfulness, to applaud all Jews who seek to do so, to encourage all Jews to do so, and also to proclaim Yeshua as the Messiah of Israel, who likewise supports, values and assists Jewish covenant faithfulness.

Therefore, our "inner mission" [Mark Kinzer's term] to the Jewish world involves both applauding, supporting, valuing and assisting Jewish covenant faithfulness among all Jews, and also advocating Yeshua-faith for all Jews, since we are convinced that He is indeed the Messiah.

What I wish to make clear is that even in cases where Jewish people would not receive our message of Yeshua faith, we would seek to assist them, applaud them, encourage them in Torah faithfulness for this is a Divine good. We do not use this activity as a sort of evangelistic fly-paper to entrap Jews. We believe it to be a divine imperative--for all Jews, including Messianic Jews.

I would encourage you to read "Post Missionary Messianic Judaism: Redefining Christian Engagement with the Jewish People," by my colleague Mark Kinzer. He lays the theological groundwork for our perpective as it outlines responsiblities for Christians. I am writing a companion book outlining the paradigms implications for Messianic Jewish relations with the wider Jewish world.

I hope this helps clarifiy matters. Thanks for asking.

At 3/19/2006 8:54 PM, Blogger Israel Benjamin said...

Dr. Dauermann,

Again I am grateful for your response. Not only do your posts require reflection, but your responses do as well!

Surely you are aware that others are seeking to define you and your efforts in a supposedly unbiased way, but the more you share the particulars of your thought, the less I think of those efforts.

Unless I am mistaken, you and your colleagues are looking for ways to embrace the larger Jewish community, identify as followers of Jesus, maintain collegial ties with the church, and challenge other messianic Jews. Is that accurate?

In addressing other messianic Jews, are you including those who identify themselves as Christian Jews, Jews for Jesus, and the like, who have converted and joined church communities? One of the criticisms of groups such as yours is that they are calling upon such Jews to leave their communities and join messianic Jewish synagogues. I do not sense this as your message, but could I be mistaken?

Another criticism is that in some fashion you are calling on Jews who have embraced Jesus to return to Judaism. I believe this is termed a type of "Galatian heresy." I believe such characterizations are afield, but the use of the term "Torah-true covenant faithfulness" could be misconstrued.

I suppose that they are not the only ones misunderstanding the term. I find myself somewhat at a loss when parsing the terms. Within Judaism the concept of being "Torah-true" can take on different understandings depending upon the communal context. What is "Torah-true" in an Orthodox community yields different results than that found in other expressions. Can you help me understand what you mean by the term? When you call upon your parishioners to live in "Torah-true covenant faithfulness" what are you calling upon them to do? How are they to live differently than they may be living? When you call upon the larger group of messianic Jews, do you have additional goals in mind?

Thank you for the reading recommendations. Your comments about your colleague's book lead me to think his audience is composed of Christians. I am more interested in how you and your colleagues want Jews (both those who do see Jesus as you do and those who don't) to order their lives. When you applaud,support, value, and assist them in living, what do you envision them doing?

Again, thank you for helping me as I wade through these complexities. IB

At 3/20/2006 10:00 PM, Blogger Stuart Dauermann said...

Dear Mr. Benjamin,

You said,

“Unless I am mistaken, you and your colleagues are looking for ways to embrace the larger Jewish community, identify as followers of Jesus, maintain collegial ties with the church, and challenge other messianic Jews. Is that accurate?”

I would say that this is close. I would only add that we are also seeking to understand and respond to what Scripture says about the Messiah’s future role with respect to Israel, and to live out the meaning of our own identity as part of the Remnant within Israel. This includes being a sign, a demonstration, and a catalyst among our people Israel for the kind of covenantal living and Yeshua-faith to which we believe ourselves to be called, as well as they.

You ask, whether we are addressing Messianic Jews in churches, Christian Jews, etc, and asking that they leave their communities and join Messianic Synagogues. Our efforts are theological and missiological, dealing with theory and with our vision of what Scripture and the flow of history are demanding of Messianic Jews [and the Church] at this time. Our target is not so much the kind of audience you deescribe as an understanding. We are seeking understanding and sharing what we have discovered with all interested to hear it. But we are not involved in what is derogatively called “kingdom building” [note the small “k”]. Do we wish all Jewish believers in Yeshua agreed with us? Of course! Are we seeking to rearrange their lives, loyalties and affiliations? Of course not! What they do with their lives and the choices these people make are between them, God and their family members! If we were more Machiavellian, maybe we would be richer! But that is not our style.

As far as calling Jews who have embraced Jesus to return to Judaism, again this is a Machiavellian, kingdom building mentality being projected onto us by others. And again, do we wish that all Jews who believe in Yeshua agreed with us? OF course! But they are not our target audience, so to speak. We concentrate our efforts on ourselves,on those who look to us for guidance, and those within our ranks who are winnable to our persepctive.

Chiefly, we are calling ourselves as Messianic Jews, and the Movement of which we are a part, to inhabit and practice a Messianic Judaism rightly so called. Our project is seeking to understand and serve “a mature Messianic Judaism.”

As for the “Galatian heresy,” those who throw this term around need to realize that Paul was, in Galatians, decrying those who would require of Gentile Yeshua-believers that they become circumcised observant Jews. Obviously, this bears no relation to our efforts. This is theological mud-slinging, I am afraid, involving the imprecise use of alarmist rhetoric.

As far as what it means to be “Torah-true,” let me quote for you from the mission statement of my synagogue. This will give you a feel for what I have in mind. Notice especially the statement made about our model.

• OUR IDENTITY - Ahavat Zion is a West Side Jewish congregation growing in covenant fidelity to the One who redeemed Israel from Egypt and gave us His Torah, that we might worship and obey Him.
• OUR MODEL - We reflect the loving obedience of Yeshua our Messiah, the One Man Israel, in the power of the Ruach HaKodesh, in continuity with Jewish discussion and precedent, and submission to Scripture.
• OUR PURPOSE - We are a catalyst of covenant faithfulness and commitment to Him among our people, Israel.
• OUR COMMUNITY - While we celebrate our unity with the faithful from among the nations, and seek to participate in God’s wider purposes in the world, we affirm the priority of our identity and calling as part of the remnant of Israel

You will notice that we believe in living Jewish lives “in continuity with Jewish discussion and precedent,” while also being centered in the example and teaching of Yeshua our Messiah. Our intended halachic direction should be unambiguously congruent with the halachic norms of the wider Jewish community and tradition. There will be some variations in details and style, as in the wider Jewish community, but we are seeking to live as Jews. . .not to reinvent Judaism.

Finally, let me emphasize that not everyone in the Messianic Jewish Movement agrees with us, nor are our views typical of the Movement as a whole. Our viewpoint is gaining adherents, and we believe will continue to do so. But I wouldn't want to give the impression that the views expressed here are universal in our movement. It just isn't so. At least, not yet! :-)

That must be all for now.


At 3/21/2006 6:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A few days ago I asked if your origins were church or synagogue. I thought an easy test would be to ask where you would go if not your congregation. That wasn't too helpful, but over the past few days, I think I'm getting it. Maybe you can correct me if I am wrong.

Your group's origin is church membership. Instead of belonging to a synagogue and being expelled for xian beliefs, you (in the collective) were church members or at least church goers. Along the way in your (collective) flow of personal history, you developed a heightened sense of your Jewish identity. Rather than abandon or sublimate your faith in Jesus, your group has developed an alternative.

This alternative looks to the Christian bible and Christian understandings of Jesus as authoritative. You do give some value (as opposed to most Christian groups) to Jewish customs and rulings, but ultimately you follow Jesus (the one man Israel).

Your interpretation of the Bible (both Tanakh and Christian) follows a traditional evangelical Christian line of thought, including identifying yourselves as the "remnant." You do not see Israel as the remnant, but only those Jews who have come to believe as you that Jesus is the messiah.

I don't have any gripe or trying to put you in a "have your stopped hitting your wife" position. I'm just trying to trace your religious lineage and describe your distinctives. I would be interested in your understanding of the role of Jews who don't believe as you do. Some think that "unsaved" Jews are playing a role in the return of Jesus, and that we need to be back in Israel for the end times to begin. Seeing that you are in Beverly Hills, I assume you don't buy into that way of thinking, but I've made so many mistakes in understanding before I don't want to jump to conclusions. Thanks.

At 3/22/2006 4:46 AM, Blogger Stuart Dauermann said...

Dear Israel/Anonymous,

You said, “Your interpretation of the Bible (both Tanakh and Christian) follows a traditional evangelical Christian line of thought, including identifying yourselves as the "remnant." You do not see Israel as the remnant, but only those Jews who have come to believe as you that Jesus is the messiah.”

Yes and no. We see Yeshua believing Jews as part of the Remnant. Unlike many other Messianic Jews, we do not restrict remnant status to ourselves, but recognize that the Remnant is the Remnant of *Israel,* and that membership in that Remnant is the doing of God and is His business.

I thought I have made it clear that we do not arrogate to ourselves the right to determine who is “saved” and who is not. We believe the Jewish people remain God’s chosen people, and that faithful Jews are serving the will of God. I think of Josef Mengele, may his name be blotted out, who stood at the platform at Auschwitz pointing in one direction or another as to who would live or die. I refuse to play the role of a spiritual Josef Mengele, determining the spiritual fate of Jewish people, deciding who is “saved” and who is not.

This should not be taken to mean that I do not share with the Jewish community the message of Yeshua. But I do so out of zeal for Kiddush Hashem, not out of convictions concerning the certain perdition or spiritual poverty of those who do not believe as I do.

It disturbs me somewhat that you have a need to pigeon hole us as either “from the church” or “from the synagogue.” None of us entirely chooses his/her own biography or journey. For example, none of us chooses where we will be born, to whom, and under what circumstances. In our lives, each of us, to different extents at different times, find ourselves where we are and who we are due to combinations of circumstance, choice and influence, and then, through influences of one kind or another, sometimes divine, we make course corrections.

I was raised a somewhat nominal Conservative Jew, whose Jewish formation was more so in Orthodox associations. I became a Yeshua believer when I was 19, and spent twenty six years of my life in largely Christian space, although I did serve with and help shape an organization that sought to stretch the boundaries of that space in a Jewish direction, even if not as far as they should have been streched.

During my last few years in that context, I found growing within me a different sense of self, and upon leaving, I became increasingly a prime mover for a kind of Jewish self-identification, affirmation of the Jewish community and way of life for its own sake, and ever-growing sense of Israel’s destiny. I have become persona non grata with many of my former colleagues, because I am being drawn to envision, articulate, and serve a kind of Messianic Judaism which they find threatening and inappropriate.

Forgive me if I misjudge you, but you seem determined to disqualify me and my colleagues as being ersatz material. On the contrary, we believe ourselves to be responding to an influx of spiritual newness worth celebrating, and we wholeheartedly affirm the Jewish community in manner rare or nonexistent in the ranks from which we’ve come.

I should think you too would find this cause for celebration.

It seems to me that your questions, rather than being simply requests for clarification, are attempts to prove to yourself and especially to those reading over our shoulders that my friends and I are nothing but thinly disguised Christians, either naive or deceptive, and that your "questions" are designed to maneuver us rhetorically and expose us as such.

It appears to me that you are playing the following "game." Person "A" is an adherent of position "A" and approaches person "B." who is an adherent of position "B" which "A" abhors. Person "A" poses as a sincere inquirer and asks some "harmless" questions of person "B,"pretendting to try to understand the reasonabless of "B"'s position, but only in pretense. No matter what "B" says, person "A," the "sincere" inquirer, says "That doesn't seem reasonable to me." If person "B" or the audience toward whom this drama is pitched, accepts the premise that person "A" is sincere, then his inablity to understand the integrity of "B"'s position ereodes confidence in the latter.

I am no longer willing to play my part in this game.

Perhaps I err in this: perhaps you really are simply confused and are seeking clarification. But I think other motives are at work.

For my part, I have been quite transparent with you, Israel. It is time for you to do the same. IS your agenda simply a quest for clarity or are you seeking to make a display of me, are you gathering material for some sort of "expose," are you feeding this material to a coterie of people you are instructing in these matters, and are you person "A" as described above? Are my suspicions in any way true?

I ask this sincerely. I wish to be courteous, but I am no dope. I encourage our readers to join me in that.

And if I am entirely wrong on this, maybe it's because it's before 5:00 AM! But I think the truth is as clear as the approaching sunrise.

I know that there are secure people of integrity in leadership in the Jewish community who are prepared to have respectful dialogue with people like myself because they respect our integrity, our stance, and our process. The ranks of such will grow. But it appears this is not what is going on here. Sad.


At 3/22/2006 7:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for disclosing some of your personal biography. Since you are now censoring the comments made to your blog (which I find totally understandable and necessary given the amount of negativity you attract), it is commendable that you do allow comments you find critical of you and your position.

However, I think you have judged wrongly my intentions. Your posts have attracted my interest. Your thinking is on the original end of the spectrum of thought. Not only is it original, but it is not simplistic. Rather than jumping to conclusions I am asking you questions to better understand your way of thinking as well as help me understand the terms you use.
Maybe the fact that it is early, or maybe you are just tired of battling critics, but you seem to me to be on the defensive. I am not putting together an "expose" nor do I care about who or who may not be looking over my shoulder and reading these comments. I think we share the latter position.

I could not agree with you more about the forces that work on our personal histories. Looking back on your own history, do you ever wish that you had asked more questions about those who sought to lead you or teach you? I know I do. I learned much too late that not all teachers are altruistic or only want to teach how to think. Too many have other reasons for teaching and have an agenda to push.

Over the years I have developed deep appreciation for my teachers who were more concerned for helping me how to think, how to find the right questions to ask, and how to process information. I can also look back on my educational experiences and realize I had teachers who were just in it for the paycheck, or had to teach as a necessary evil for their research, or wanted to pump a particular position. Don't you find some of this true in your own experiences?

I came across a review of a book that surveyed the "messianic movement." The review took the author and publishers to task for their comments. Knowing that the book was put out by a competing organization that has a stake in seeing their supporters maintaining loyalty to the status quo helped me decide to skip that book as self serving trash. I would rather find out about the various aspects of your movement from hearing from the adherents themselves.

What I've seen so far is that the messianic movement has its roots in Christianity. That is nothing to be ashamed of, it is what it is. But most of the movement is content to use Christian terminology and goes to pains to identify Christian terminology that could be offensive to Jewish ears, and find euphemisms to say the same thing in less offensive ways.

You don't do this. Not only don't you buy into the process used by other messianics, you seem to be developing new ways of thinking. You made it clear before you aren't like other messianics who go around trying to determine who is part of the club going to heaven and who are lost and on their way to hell. Don't you agree that the majority of other messianics are binary in their thinking and that since your origins are that group, you have to distance yourself from them?

I do thank you for the part of your response that helped me get a better understanding of what you are about. I am not going to patronize you, however, and say that I wasn't put off by the defensiveness of a good deal of your response. In your characterizing me as playing to an audience, you tip your hand that you are doing this. You have made it clear that you prefer laudatory posts and that if any question can be taken as critical, the questioner can expect a blast.

I'll stop in from time to time, because I have found your thinking refreshing. But like I said, I prefer teachers who help me think rather than those who have an axe to grind. You've got enough enemies that maybe you need to sharpen your axes for now. I'm sure that as you gain adherents you will mellow. And as you mellow, you'll gain more adherents. In the meantime, may you grow in your closeness to God as well as living in holiness. I commend to you the new book by Rabbi Telushkin on holiness. We all have much to learn about interpersonal relationships.

At 3/22/2006 1:15 PM, Blogger Stuart Dauermann said...

Dear Israel,

You are outdoing me in the woundedness department. You say that I am censoring the blog. This is not true. I have started to moderate it [this is the operative term] because of one person who was using it not for real interaction but as a platform for his own statements to the watching crowd.

As for whether I am playing to the audience around us, of course I am. Blogs are by nature public forums, and it is altogether proper to write to each other with a consciousness that others are looking in. I make no apologies.

I am taking you at your word concerning the answers you supply above to my questions. I invite you to stop in more often than "from time to time." You are a more articulate and thoughtful correspondent than most.

I am sorry if my queries came across as insulting. No insult was intended.

Your move.


At 12/30/2006 11:57 AM, Anonymous MJinPDX said...

I am curious as to your response to the "two house" movement which is basically a renewed version of British Israelism which claims all Christians are Judah and Jews are Ephraim (or something of that sort)?
It is causing quite a problem here for Messianic Congregations. While it does appear to open "gentile" believers to Torah observance. It does seem to put Jewish believers like myself into a non-player status.
You are welcome to respond in private, if you feel it is too divisive. I would like to know as my daughter lives in the LA area and attends some of your events.


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