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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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Sunday, May 14, 2006

Be Careful Out There: Toward a Spirituality of Obligation

The following posting is based on a message given on Shabbat Emor at Ahavat Zion Messianic Synagogue, Beverly Hills, CA.

You can only start from where you are and from where you've been, and where the Messianic Jewish Movement has been is in evangelical space, only now really awakening to its destiny, identity, and responsibilities as part of the Remnant of Israel. This being the case, part of my teaching task is to help Messianic Jews realize how our sojourn in evangelical space has, in some ways, conditioned us against things honored in Jewish tradition and found in Scripture, but overlooked by such evangelicalized people. Additionally, one encounters among some Messianic Jews a resistance to positions which are mistrusted because they differ from familiar [and here read "Conservative Evangelical"] paths.

Yet we must have the courage to think new thoughts and reconsider truisms, if we would respond to our God-given responsibilities and destiny and truly allow Scripture and not the familiar to mold our viewpoint and agenda.

One of the areas where I have encountered such intransigence is in the matter of "obligation." I continue to be astounded by how many people treat the idea of obligation as somehow spiritually toxic, as if "freedom of conscience," meaning "I don't have to do what I don't feel like doing" were an unquestioned axiom of biblical, Jewish and even Christian spirituality. I find this to be astounding. Not only that, I find it to be very suspicious that the choices that people make in the area of religion are almost always the ones that demand the least of themselves. Thus, those who elect to keep "biblical kosher" rather than rabbinically kosher are choosing the less burdensome path, and so with many other areas.

Here is an interesting assignment for you: see what people you know in the Messianic Movement who choose a path other than that which rabbinic Judaism chooses, and see if I am not correct that invariably, the path that is chosen and justified is that which makes less demands upon us. Does this not make you suspicious?

I will not easily relinquish my fantasy that relationship with the Living God inevitably involves an element of obligation, and, horrors, even inconvenience. Toward defending that fantasy, I offer the following essay, which could and perhaps ought to be supplemented with many others.

What do you think of the following quotation, found on the web?

We can slide into the thought that when we sin, God is angry with us. Even though surrounded by a pagan world, David [when he killed Uriah] found that God demands nothing. He is a forgiver. Grace has nothing to do with our behavior. God pours out His grace apart from works.


There is much here that sounds familiar to those of us nurtured in evangelical space. But this quote makes me uneasy. Is it true that “God demands nothing?” Is it true that “Grace has nothing to do with our behavior?”

Consider this quotation against two representative quotations from our Torah and Haftarah readings for today, the first from Vayikra/Leviticus 22:31-33, and the second from Ezekiel 44:23-24.

In the first case, the passage concerns all the Israelites: look what they were obliged to do. They had to obey certain rules of life.

31 You shall faithfully observe My commandments: I am the Lord. 32 You shall not profane My holy name, that I may be sanctified in the midst of the Israelite people — I the Lord who sanctify you, 33 I who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God, I the Lord.

And the Haftarah concerns an idealized vision of the priesthood, who were meant to be exemplars to all the people of Israel. Just look at all the particulars with which they had to concern themselves.

23 They shall declare to My people what is sacred and what is profane, and inform them what is clean and what is unclean. 24 In lawsuits, too, it is they who shall act as judges; they shall decide them in accordance with My rules. They shall preserve My teachings and My laws regarding all My fixed occasions; and they shall maintain the sanctity of My sabbaths.


By any construal, there were some big things the priests had to keep in mind, obligations that were theirs from God.

Many people operate on the conviction that the Newer Testament, in contrast with the Older, simply requires nothing of us but to believe in Yeshua—plus nothing. In our couch potato generation, this is most appealing—a religion that demands nothing.

But is it true?

Our earlier quotation of a certain construal of Newer Covenant faith is built on the assumption that forgiveness, right standing with God [justification], and emotional comfort about our destiny and relationship with God is ever and always independent of anything we do, of any aspect of our behavior, any action or attitude we might be nurturing. The assumption is that somehow, because of what Messiah did, how we act doesn’t enhance or impede our relationship with God. In fact, “God demands nothing.” This is the ultimate free ride. And in the words of the narcissist credo, “It’s all about me! Whee!”

From the Bible’s perspective, how careful should we about our relationship with God and humanity, about how we live our life? Is it not possible that the emphasis we have inherited which stresses “salvation by grace through faith plus nothing at all” has catered to our native laziness and the narcissism or our age, so that we are all apt not only to be morally and spiritually sloppy about how we live, but also resent as “legalism” or as “oppressive” any person or statement that challenges us to measure up to some sort of standard?

My experience indicates that even among religious people, there is a strong resistance to any demand that we live up to some sort of standard. Furthermore, it is my observation that a surprising number of evangelicalized religious people think, live, and believe as though how we live makes no real difference—that we can live as self-serving and sloppy a life as we want, because, after all, “Jesus paid it all” and “Grace has nothing to do with our behavior. God pours out His grace apart from works.” We are left to relax and look upon the obedient, dedicated life as an option for some, for the superstars, but one we need not take. In fact, if we choose not to go that route, we really lose out on nothing much since it’s all of grace anyway.

I want to demonstrate that this view—that “Grace has nothing to do with our behavior [that] God pours our His grace apart from works,” too often leads to a laziness and carelessness about our walk with God which the New Covenant warns us against in no uncertain terms.

In this treatment I will be focusing on the Newer Testament, since too often, people tend to pit the Newer against the Older Testament, suggesting that a religious culture of obligation is now outmoded. I strongly disagree, and will demonstrate why from the Newer Testament.

I am quoting quite a bit from a book by Paul A. Rainbow, "The Way of Salvation: The Role of Christian Obedience in Salvation," which is helpful in this regard, although he himself unfortunately postulates an overdrawn and supersessionist discontinuity between the Older and Newer Testaments. Still, his analysis of post Reformational misconstrual of the nature of sola fide (by grace alone) and his arguments against such are most useful to the present project.

In addition, I differ with him on his subsuming "salvation" under the umbrella of the faith experience of individuals alone. There is a corporate aspect to matters of salvation, and a Divine concern for the life of nations and people groups, that he misses, as do most conservative evangelicals. These caveats aside, his book is useful for my purposes.

So, consider the following survey of related matters, lightly sketched out.


Sixteenth Century Approaches to Assurance

Luther configured his theology in contrast to the Roman Catholic theology and experience he knew, positing that faith in Yeshua was everything and good works, nothing. In this, he was guilty of overstatement. Calvin too saw faith as utterly removed from and other than works, and sought to keep the two entirely distinct. Some forms of Reformational thinking even to this day tend to make good works superfluous. And, as Krister Stendahl taught us to see, the theological tradition of the West tends to misunderstand Paul through the anxiety ridden experience of Luther. Paul had a robust conscience—he knew himself to have been blameless as to the righteousness of God’s Law: Luther was tormented by doubt, not Paul. We must not read Paul as if he were Luther, which is what many Christian theologies have done.


The Framework for Assurance – Divine Grace - From a New Covenant Perspective


Paul A. Rainbow points out the following:

1. We are saved because of God’s electing purpose. And as Romans 8 reminds us, of those whom God foreknew, all are predestined, justified, and glorified.
2. Yes, there is a sequence of events, but there is no wavering on God’s part as to whether participants in one part will be included in the next. All this is of God.
3. “Our standing with God is firm. The necessity for a future judgment of believers arises not from any possibility that God would change his mind about those whom he has justified for Messiah’s sake, but from God’s own definition of reality that requires an empirical as well as a categorical basis for his verdict."

Grace Attested Within and the Fruits of Transformation

1. But how can one know he/she is a child of God? There are two concrete criteria: The internal witness of the Holy Spirit, and the observable fruits of grace.
2. In the first case, God pours His Spirit into our hearts so that we know ourselves to be His children (Romans 8:15-16; Gal 4:6]. Despite situational variables, believers have profound peace and joy [ Rom 8:28; 14:17; Gal 5:22].
3. In the second case, there are also external fruits of the Spirit which demonstrate and reassure us to be the children of God. We must remember that the presence of the Spirit is sanctifying Presence—he is making us more holy not simply more spooky. “The presence of the Spirit in a life immediately produces changes in behavior, some dramatic, some incremental. . . . [And the Spirit inspires and requires personal effort and struggle]. Paul pummeled his body lest he should be disqualified (1 Cor. 9:27). He pressed on, straining forward, that “if possible” he might attain the prize of the resurrection (Phil. 2:11-14). He knew, at life’s end, that he was due for his wreath of victory (2 Tim 4:6-8) [but this because he had ‘fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith]. A lifestyle evolving from one degree of glory to another (2 Cor 3:18) is the evidence of the reality of a claim to belong to the Messiah.

Admixture of Goodness and Sin in the Life of the Yeshua-Believer

1. That there will be fits and starts, that there will be times of great progress, times of leveling off, times of regression and repentant return, is a given. Still, through the Holy Spirit’s presence in us due to our being joined to Messiah, there is a Divine energy and a spiritual gyroscope within us that works to bring us back into balance, that works to set our feet once again on the right path, and that works to fill our sails once more with the wind of the Spirit that we might move in the right direction, serving God with purpose, energy, and a demonstrated attraction to holiness of life. And if we don’t experience this gyroscope, this wind, this other-empowered return to the paths of life and holiness, we should be concerned as to whether we are really joined to Messiah.
2. In 1 Cor. Paul speaks of two instances, one hypothetical, and the other actual, where there is evident sinfulness of life in a believer. In chapter three, he speaks of the person who builds on the foundation of Yeshua the Messiah:

11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Yeshua the Messiah. 12 Some will use gold, silver or precious stones in building on this foundation; while others will use wood, grass or straw. 13 But each one's work will be shown for what it is; the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire - the fire will test the quality of each one's work. 14 If the work someone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward; 15 if it is burned up, he will have to bear the loss: he will still escape with his life, but it will be like escaping through a fire.”

He says that the Day [and here it is surely Judgment Day] will test each man’s work, and the person whose life and work has been junk will be exposed as such. He will suffer loss and will escape with his life but just barely. The important thing to note is that this person is a true believer with a substandard life—and this results in loss in the judgment, but also diminished satisfactions now [when one leads a substandard life, how can she/he have substantial satisfactions? Impossible!]
3. The second case in 1 Cor 5 is actual, of a man who is having sexual relations with his stepmother, a form of second-level incest frowned on even by pagans. In this case too, the prospect of his eventual salvation is mentioned, but it is contingent—it is not a slam dunk. Listen to Paul’s language:

1 It is actually being reported that there is sexual sin among you, and it is sexual sin of a kind that is condemned even by pagans-a man is living with his stepmother! 2 And you stay proud? Shouldn't you rather have felt some sadness that would have led you to remove from your company the man who has done this thing? 3 For I myself, even though I am absent physically, am with you spiritually; and I have already judged the man who has done this as if I were present. 4 In the name of the Lord Yeshua, when you are assembled, with me present spiritually and the power of our Lord Yeshua among us, 5 hand over such a person to the Adversary for his old nature to be destroyed, so that his spirit may be saved in the Day of the Lord.


Radical action needed to be taken that the person in question might repent and return to the ways of the Lord “so that his spirit may be saved in the Day of the Lord [the Day of Judgment]. But what if that radical action were not taken?

4. Paul A. Rainbow comments on these matters in this way: “In neither case did Paul contemplate the salvation of a person who showed apathy towards or contempt for God’s will across the board, for then he would have warned of certain damnation as a consequence (1 Cor 6:9-10; Gal 5:19-21; Eph. 5:5-6). Complete lack of inclination to obedience makes it evident that the justification of the subject has never been inaugurated and, unless repentance intervenes, ensures that it will not be culminated. [There is no room for the notion] that a bare profession of faith in Messiah at some past date in one’s life provides everlasting fire-insurance, regardless of whether obedience ever follows.”

5. The best summary of the viewpoint we need to have is found in 2 Peter, chapter one, where we read:

3 God's power has given us everything we need for life and godliness, through our knowing the One who called us to his own glory and goodness. 4 By these he has given us valuable and superlatively great promises, so that through them you might come to share in God's nature and escape the corruption which evil desires have brought into the world. 5 For this very reason, try your hardest to furnish your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, 6 knowledge with self-control, self-control with perseverance, perseverance with godliness, 7 godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if you have these qualities in abundance, they keep you from being barren and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah. 9 Indeed, whoever lacks them is blind, so shortsighted that he forgets that his past sins have been washed away. 10 Therefore, brothers, try even harder to make your being called and chosen a certainty. For if you keep doing this, you will never stumble. 11 Thus you will be generously supplied with everything you need to enter the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Deliverer, Yeshua the Messiah.

Notice the emphasis on effort, and on attaining assurance of our eternal state through proving ourselves to be God’s kind of people. There can be and ought to be no real assurance for people indifferent about the kinds of lives they live because they are trusting in some long ago “decision for Messiah.” We all need to “try even harder to make our being called and chosen a certainty. For if we keep doing this, we will never stumble. Thus we will be generously supplied with everything we need to enter the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Deliverer, Yeshua the Messiah.”


A Spirituality of Duty Rather Than of Possession
“Paul’s daily spirituality was not centered in answering the question, ‘How can I know for sure that I am already saved?’ but in the question ‘ Am I responding in trust and obedience to my Lord in the here and now?’. . . . Nowhere in Paul’s epistles do we find a paragraph which addresses nervousness about individual status and destiny. For a man of Pal’s world view, that question did not arise. Paul devoted himself to faitahfully carrying out his commission in the strength of God’s enablement, sure that God would see to his final salvation. Paul’s strategy . . . is well summed up in the motto ‘Rest in the Lord without presumption, Labor with the Lord without anxiety.’”


We have a choice: We can adapt this common attitude: "God demands nothing. He is a forgiver. Grace has nothing to do with our behavior. God pours out His grace apart from works."

Or we can keep the following in mind.

2 Cor 5:1 For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2For in this tent we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling-- 3if indeed, when we have taken it off we will not be found naked. 4For while we are still in this tent, we groan under our burden, because we wish not to be unclothed but to be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. 6 So we are always confident; even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord-- 7for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8Yes, we do have confidence, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10For all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Messiah, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil. 11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade others; but we ourselves are well known to God, and I hope that we are also well known to your consciences.

Ephesians 5:15 Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise.


Be careful out there.

At 5/15/2006 3:05 PM, Anonymous Chayamindle said...

Would not spirituality of obligation imply an adherence to established halacha?

But is it Orthodox that is messianically amended? Or Conservative amended from the Orthodox, further amended messianically.
Or " a new Messianic" yet to be codified as original but in combination with the best of the above? "Messio-Eclectodox", perhaps?
To which authorities should we now look for the specifics of our observance of the laws of Kashrut, Shabbat, Taharat Hamishpachah, marriage divorce, death, conversion, etc. etc?

These are some of the vital issues in our walk with HaShem. that as you as a spiritual leader know so well your flock must grapple with in everyday choices.

Please lend us your guidance.
Thank You.

 
At 5/15/2006 6:04 PM, Blogger Stuart Dauermann said...

Dear Chayamindle,

You are asking the right questions.

The short answer is this. Yes, this does bring us inito the entire realm of established halacha. Yes, such halacha should be reflective of Jewish norms [after all, the halacha was given to the Jewish people and not simply to us as individuals. It would be the height of chutzpah for us to ignore and bypass the understanding of that halacha that has developed among our people who have taken these matters seriously and by divine design for milennia!]

Yes, there will be some aspects that reflect our Messianic Jewish distinctives, but this should NOT mean that we would invent our own halacha out of whole cloth, no more than Yeshua and his disciples did!

This entire process is a communal process. Knowledgeable leaders of the MJ community need to meet respectfully, prayerfully and knowledgably and deal with these issues, and our movement needs to grow in awareness of the neeed for answers in these areas and willingness to act on responsible halachic guidelines. Fortunately, there is already a group of this sort that has been meeting for a number of years, preparing halachic guidelines in respectful interaction and substantial agreeement with Jewish norms. Cop-incidentally, we are having a meeting in New England beginning next Sunday. Please pray for us.

And keep asking those bright quesitions.

 
At 5/16/2006 11:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why was the Sermon on the Mount given and to whom was the "you have heard it said" referring to?

How long does it normally take before the "norm" is no longer "Godly" according to the Biblical text.

How long did the work of Moses, the Judges or the prophets keep the people on track? Are the writers of the current Jewish norms greater than these?

When were the Jewish "norms" of today written, in a time where Israel was free and following God or under pagan rule indicating disobedience to Torah following Jews?

 
At 5/16/2006 11:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You find this quote on the web:


"We can slide into the thought that when we sin, God is angry with us. Even though surrounded by a pagan world, David [when he killed Uriah] found that God demands nothing. He is a forgiver. Grace has nothing to do with our behavior. God pours out His grace apart from works."

And you respond thusly:

"There is much here that sounds familiar to those of us nurtured in evangelical space. But this quote makes me uneasy. Is it true that 'God demands nothing?' Is it true that 'Grace has nothing to do with our behavior?'

After finding the quotation in a context quite similiar to your own position, a question arose:

"Did Stu read this quotation correctly?"

Do you realize that the author of the quote started his statement with, "We can slide into the thought..."? The author observes that one can slide into an erroneous belief. Why does this quote make you uneasy when you share the same criticism?

 
At 5/16/2006 11:39 AM, Blogger Stuart Dauermann said...

Dear Anonymous,

Touché! You are of course right that the "slide into" phrase indicates that the author agreed with me as to the spuriousness of the position stated. And I agree with him/her.

Nevertheless, the position I critique is far from a straw man as it embodies presuppositions easy to find in the kishkes, thoughts and words of too many.

For example, do a Google Search on the words "Grace plus nothing."

Thanks for your sharp eyes and mind.

 
At 5/16/2006 11:56 AM, Blogger Stuart Dauermann said...

To another Anonymous poster, who began with a reference to the Sermon on the Mount.

I trust I am not misreading you when I detect in your posting an assumption that Yeshua and the Newer Covenant Scriptures always critique Jewish leaders and religious norms, and that you are at best suspicious of my respect for the halachic process and of the general God-honoring intent of religious Israel. I am well aware of the excoriating statements about Jewish leaders and practice in Holy Writ. But this is a measure of Jewish moral greatness, that this people would preserve as Holy Writ such indictments of its own level of leadership and practice.

I have heard from you before and not posted your musings, for the most part. I am afraid you will always find me on the other side of the fence, assuming the best about the Jewish people and the leadership of religious Israel, and accepting their failings as being due to judicial blindness, to understandable revulsion at the idea that Jesus the God of their persecutors is set forth as Messiah, due to inevitable human frailty, and not to the kind of indictable reprehensibility laid on the Jewish people since the second century and still commonly misattributed to them in some circles.

You will continue to find proof texts to justify your position, and I, proofs for my own. I prefer mine.

With great heat, and hopefully some light - - - Stuart.

 
At 5/16/2006 1:28 PM, Blogger jon cline said...

Hello Dr. D. Thanks for helping us ask the right questions. I can't help but think of the words of Peter in Acts in your previous post:

"I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.”

Is it so strange to think that the King of the Universe might have some expectations as does any Father of children?

Is it equally strange when we hear James ask the question, "was it not by works that Abraham was justified when he offered up Isaac?"

And going back to the calling of Abram out of his hometown. Was it only after G-d commanded Abram to leave (obligation) and Abram di so (obedience) that G-d "reckoned his works as righteousness"?

I think we sometimes mistake G-d's exceptions for the rule. Certainly G-d overcomes human weakness and fault to perform His will. However, since G-d is both the Just and the Justifier, is He not also able to bring us to account or account grace to us at His discretion?

Wouldn't it be more accurate to live as though we were accountable as the rule, and to be grateful for His accounting of grace for the (many) exceptions.

Be perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect.

I trust our Lord meant what He said.

 
At 5/17/2006 12:59 PM, Blogger Shanah said...

"Here is an interesting assignment for you: see what people you know in the Messianic Movement who choose a path other than that which rabbinic Judaism chooses, and see if I am not correct that invariably, the path that is chosen and justified is that which makes less demands upon us. Does this not make you suspicious?"

As a Messianic Jew, I choose to follow Torah completely, because that is the lifestyle that HaShem commanded and fulfilled through Yeshua the living Torah. Rabbinic halacha, to me, is only worth following inasmuch as it agrees with Torah. When a Rabbinic lifestyle goes from being Torah-based to being based on the legalistic interpretations of the rabbinate, however, I see no point in following it; as Yeshua asked, "Why do you break the command of G-d for the sake of your own tradition?" (Matt 15:3) As Yeshua echoed from Hosea, "I desire mercy, not sacrifice." (Matt 12:7; Hosea 6:6) A life lived for Yeshua is a life lived in Torah-- HaShem's laws, not merely the Rabbinic interpretations thereof.

I agree with your theory that many believers (especially those who practice as "Christians") willingly negate Torah practice because of the sacrifices required. The great shame of it is that in doing so, they are paying more attention to securing their eternity in heaven instead of fulfilling their responsibility of glorifying HaShem here on earth. As Messianic Jews, we should revel in living a Torah lifestyle as Yeshua did; however, I believe most Messianics are too fearful of becoming or being perceived as legalistic in their practices. What a shame.

 
At 5/19/2006 9:48 PM, Blogger Stuart Dauermann said...

Dear Shanah,

Thank you for looking in and signing on.

Although I commend you for your allegiance to Torah, I think you are quicker to judge rabbinic halacha than am I. In addition, I adhere to a principle discussed by David Weiss Halivni, of private truth versus public [or communal] truth. There is a Jewish proverb, "al tifrosh min ha-tzibbur," meaning, "Don't separate your self from the community." This points out the priority of preserving community cohesion wherever possible. Unless rabbinic halacha specifically advocates sin, God forbid, we should adhere to it, even if we believe that the rabbis went overboard or misunderstood something. We can have a "private truth" an opinon which we need not relinquish, but our "public truth" is to adhere to the standards of the community of which we claim to be a part.

For my admittedly oversensitive ears, your characterizing of rabbinic halacha as "legalistic" smacks too much of the anti-Judaic consensus of supersessionist Christendom. "Legalism" should not be used to characterize those zealous for the commandments and their details, lest we also label Yeshua as such (Matt 5:17-21)! Yes, we must not break the commandments of God for the commandments of men, but must we assume that rabbinic halacha is always and generally and merely the commandments of men? Sometimes it is, but only when it makes void the commandments of God! But surely you can see that rabbinic halacha is more concerned with explicating God's commandments than replacing them! What of Yeshua's word, in Matthew 23:3 that because the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat, we ought to do whatever they tell us to do?

Do the rabbis make mistakes? Of course. But I believe that you and I and the people we know would make far more mistakes in halachic interpretation due to our poor level of knowledge as compared with giants of Judaism who have labored hard and long over such matters for thousands of years. And we must never forget that the Torah was given not to Shanah or to Stuart, but to the Jewish people as a whole. Are we not guilty of extraordinary chutzpah to ignore the halachic opinions of that community to whom the Holy one gave the Torah? I guess my inclination is to presume the rabbis are right unless it is CLEAR that the position they advocate is SIN, not merely not according to my preferences.

As for this statement, "A life lived for Yeshua is a life lived in Torah-- HaShem's laws, not merely the Rabbinic interpretations thereof," all of us live by interpetations of HaShem's laws, and it is hard to find someone whose depth of consideration in these matters matches that of the rabbinic establishment which has taken God's laws seriously for milennia. As a friend of mine said long ago, when it comes to understanding Torah, who would you rather trust, Kenneth Copeland, or the rabbis who have been treating the Torah seriously for thousands of years?

Of course, there is much I agree with in your posting, as this statement, "As Messianic Jews, we should revel in living a Torah lifestyle as Yeshua did; however, I believe most Messianics are too fearful of becoming or being perceived as legalistic in their practices. What a shame."

I hope you'll agree that it is time to give the rabbis the benefit of the doubt when it comes to matters of interpreting Torah, unless the evidence clearly dictates otherwise. And in general, I prefer their interpretations on such matters to those of John Calvin or Martin Luther, for example.

Shalom.

 
At 5/21/2006 9:10 AM, Blogger Stuart Dauermann said...

Reconsideration of response to Anonymous,

It appears I was right in my characterization of the quotation from the web. The author was disputing that God might be angry with us (which was not my point of argument) and suggested instead an "all of grace" mentality which included a reference to the idea that God requires nothing of us (which I DO dispute). I stand by my understanding of the posting, and my disputation of the latter idea.

I think all who reread the quotation and my treatment of it will agree that that author was not, as you suggested, expressing an opinion with which I in fact agreed,

Shalom once more.

 
At 5/23/2006 4:53 PM, Anonymous Mark said...

I appreciate your comments on the role and meaning of "obligation" in relationship to salvation. As a Gentile, raised in a fundamentalist, legalistic evangelical tradition, I have lived, if you will, on both sides of the fence when it comes to this issue.
When I read scripture about truly important issues (the nature of Christ, the Trinity, and salvation, for example), I often find it does not have an either-or approach, but a yes-and approach. Jesus was not just a man, or just God, but both. God is one, and also expressed in three Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
And when it comes to salvation, yes, we are saved by grace, but it is also expressed by a life lived in increasingly sanctified ways.
When the main character in Pilgrim's Progress gets to the gates of heaven, the outide of the gate says, "Whosoever will come," but when he gets inside and turns around, it says, "Those whom God predestined." I love that!

We want to simplify this issue, usually because we want to soften what it means to be saved. But you have called us to keep two truths in tension, as scripture often does. Yes, we are saved by grace, but its proof (the fruit) comes by a changed life.
Thanks for bringing this issue up. It is timely in this day of lazy spirituality.

 

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