Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


Saturday Afternoon Book Review: Derek Leman

posted by Scot McKnight
MAPPING MESSIANIC JEWISH THEOLOGY: A CONSTRUCTIVE APPROACH
Richard Harvey, Paternoster, 2009
reviewed by Derek Leman
For some Jesus Creed readers Messianic Jewish will be a term with a good connotation and for others not so good. The difference depends on many things, not least what experiences you may have had with someone or some group using the label. The fact is, the idea of Jewish Christianity or some variety of return to Jewish or Hebraic roots occurs in many contexts, some of them not at all Jewish.
Why should a Christian know about Messianic Judaism, which Harvey defines broadly as “the religion of Jewish people who believe in Jesus (Yeshua) as the promised Messiah” (pg. 1)? 
My answer would be two-fold. First, the gospel is inextricably bound up with the past and the future of the people of Israel. Some would dispute this and many would be unaware of the idea. If you take a holistic approach to the Bible, Israel is not easily dismissed. Second, many Christians are likely to run into Jewish people from a variety of backgrounds, including intermarried Jews or Jews in the church. Israel is not merely a theoretical category, but a particular one you will likely encounter in the face of a Jewish man or woman.
Harvey’s map of the entire field of Messianic Jewish theology is broad, including groups and individuals all the way on the spectrum from Christian-barely-discernible-as-Jewish to practically-Orthodox-Jewish-but-following-Yeshua. He acknowledges that MJT (Messianic Jewish theology) is under-developed and only beginning to find its voice. He says in the book’s conclusion, “Whilst MJT is still at an embryonic and developmental stage, the study has shown that it does exist and must continue to develop if it is to meet the challenges facing Messianic Judaism” (pg. 284).
It is important to learn, as Harvey shows in the opening of the book, that Messianic Judaism developed historically through several important developments. The early MJ movement is to be located in the days of the apostles and the generations soon after. There were some very limited identifications of Jewish faith in Jesus during the long interim of the Middle Ages and into modernity. The modern rebirth began with the Christian Missions to the Jews movements, starting with Joseph Samuel Christian Frey in 1809 (The London Society for the Promotion of Christianity Among the Jews). These movements resulted in a the gathering of Hebrew Christians, as they made themselves known, a new idea that Christians of Jewish descent should not cease their Jewish identity. Perhaps the most famous is Alfred Edersheim whose books are still widely read.
The emergence of MJ continued in the Jesus movements of the 1970′s, the emergence of Israel, and the increase of Jewish faith in Jesus. From this many in Christian missions to Jewish people and pioneers of Messianic Judaism emerged. This was the fertile ground from which Messianic Jewish congregations started forming in the 1970′s and eventually congregational networks such as the Messianic Jewish Alliance and the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations. At the same time there was a rise in Christian missions to the Jews such as Jews for Jesus and Chosen People Ministries.
Harvey maps the whole spectrum of Messianic Jewish theology from the groups in America and Israel which continue from these 1970′s movements. He cites more than a score of academic papers and doctrinal dissertations studying the phenomenon of MJT. 
There are penetrating sociological questions. Are Messianic Jews Christians, Jews, both, something else? There are unique theological challenges. Should MJT accept the historic Christian ways of explaining the natures of Christ and the Trinity, or is there a need to develop the differentiated unity of God along Jewish theological lines and the divinity of Messiah with Jewish traditional categories?
On my own blog, “Messianic Jewish Musings,” you can find a fuller treatment of the book by searching the category “Richard Harvey.”
Questions that might make good discussion for the Jesus Creed community:
What about Messianic Judaism surprises you the most?
Do you see MJ as simply an indigenous Christianity, or is Jewishness something that runs deeper?
Are you comfortable seeing Messianic Jews alongside, in relation to, but separate from other churches?
*Note: I will be online Saturday evening and Sunday morning to respond to comments. 


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dopderbeck

posted January 23, 2010 at 3:41 pm


Thanks for this interesting review.
My question / problem is this idea: “First, the gospel is inextricably bound up with the past and the future of the people of Israel.”
In all honesty, and respectfully, I simply don’t agree with that claim. God’s promises to national Israel were extended to all the nations and taken up in the Kingdom of God in Christ, which is a spiritual, not a political, Kingdom. My sense is that this statement about the “future of the people of Israel” reflects a twist on dispensational hermeneutics, which IMHO don’t work. And I’m afraid that a dispensational hermeneutic that emphasizes the nation of Israel in eschatology has contributed to some not-very-good approaches to law and policy among Christians in the U.S.
The idea of local communities of Jewish Christians who continue to observe forms of worship, feast days, and the like seems very beneficial and fascinating to me, and much in line with the diversity of practices in the early Church. But IMHO, and admittedly as an outsider to the Messianic Jewish movement, the strong tie between these practices and dispensational theology today is unfortunate.



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derek leman

posted January 23, 2010 at 4:07 pm


dopderdeck:
Dispensationalism is one tradition which has a concern for the continuation of the Jewish people and perhaps the one you have had the most interaction with. However, you should know that many streams of theology have interacted with these ideas in Jewish-Christian relations, including Catholicism, mainline Protestantism, and the Eastern churches. I might point to R. Kendall Soulen’s The God of Israel and Christian Theology as an example of a theologian saying what I am who has no relationship whatsoever to dispensationalism. I also might mention Jewish scholars like Michael Wyschogrod and Daniel Boyarin who explore these ideas and, of course, have no relation to dispensationalism.
Derek Leman



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Mike M

posted January 23, 2010 at 4:16 pm


@dopderbeck: you are correct. The connection between SOME Messianic Jewish groups and dispensational theology is strong. But I’ve traced the gamut of these groups and Derek (and apparently Harvey) are right: the diversity of practices and beliefs is amazing. That variety is what “surprises me the most” about Messianic Judaism. Probably the best thing we can do as Christians is to let the Messianic Jews sort things out amongst themselves: (1) not make demands on them to conform them to traditional Christianity; and (2) recognize their validity as Jesus-followers.



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AHH

posted January 23, 2010 at 5:01 pm


I should start with “forgive my ignorance about this topic,” but I want to ask another question about the statement that caught dopderbeck’s eye: First, the gospel is inextricably bound up with the past and the future of the people of Israel.
What is meant by “people of Israel” in that quote?
Am I (without Jewish heritage that I am aware of but a follower of Jesus the Messiah) included in that? So that “people of Israel” is more-or-less synonymous with “God’s people” (as it was before Jesus, come to think of it)?
If the quote is saying that God initiated a mission through OT Israel, which reached a climax point in Jesus and expanded (as opposed to replaced) into “new Israel” centered around Jesus the Messiah, I could not agree more that this story of God’s continuing working through his people is central to the Gospel. I like the way for example N.T. Wright has pointed out that Jesus and the Gospel fulfill Judaism rather than rejecting it. But if (as in dispensational thought) the “people of Israel” today is a special club that Gentiles are excluded from, who are on a separate track to salvation that need not include Jesus, or is identified with a political entity in the Middle East, then I have a problem with the quote.



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AEW

posted January 23, 2010 at 5:48 pm


I too have limited exposure to Messianic Judaism. I have had positive experiences with Jewish people who have come to recognize Jesus as the Messiah and seek to minister to other Jewish people. And then I have had bizarre experiences with American Evangelicals who become fascinated with the Jewish roots of the Christian faith and haphazardly apply their understanding of Judaism.
What concerns me most is that for both groups is that they seem to fall out of/never enter into conversation with the broader church. Messianic theology that I have read seems to be done in a bubble that does not reference the theology of the historic Church. Any references to the broader Church seems to be done to in order to prove a distance from anti-semitic traditions, such as not including the cross in worship in order to avoid painful reminders of past abuses.
I would be interested in hearing the opinion of someone more familiar with Messianic Judaism.



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Scot McKnight

posted January 23, 2010 at 5:54 pm


This jumps outside the review technically, but I wonder if David Opderbeck — and anyone else who cares about this issue — thinks the “apostolic decree” restrictions/injunctions for Gentile converts was:
1. Just for Gentiles but not for Jewish converts (so that Jewish converts still were to keep law)?
2. A temporary compromise that the apostle Paul — or someone after him — eventually rejected?
3. Gentile Christians still ought to be keeping those injunctions?
4. The Church, which has become nearly universal Gentile, no longer keeping Acts 15, and virtually asking Jewish converts to become Gentile converts (that is, no longer genuinely Torah observant), is wrong in operating in such a manner?



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derek leman

posted January 23, 2010 at 6:15 pm


AHH #4:
I asked N.T. Wright at SBL in front of a thousand scholars what continuing role he sees for the people of Israel. I asked politely and respectfully, by the way. Wright said basically that God’s promises to Israel are done, fulfilled in Jesus. This is also the position you are taking in your comment.
It sounds like theology matters greatly to you. I’d encourage you to read Soulen’s The God of Israel and Christian Theology. There are many reasons why supersessionism (the view you and Wright are taking) is counter to the gospel.
Also, to be very simple about it, Romans 11, especially verses 1-2 and 25-29, do not go well with a supersessionist (Israel is done) point of view.
Derek Leman



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derek leman

posted January 23, 2010 at 6:19 pm


AEW #5:
You are right about some MJ groups being in a bubble, even in some cases rejecting Christian creeds and all association with the church.
My segment of MJ swims fully in the stream of Christian and Jewish theology.
I’m glad you raised this point because a few anti-Christianity groups and websites can give people the impression that all Messianic groups are this way.
Derek Leman



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derek leman

posted January 23, 2010 at 6:25 pm


All:
Let me rephrase the question Scot threw out in comment #6. In Acts 15, the apostles said that the Gentiles should not be troubled with Torah and Jewish life. Yet they should be careful to observe four very important restrictions (various reasons have been given, but I suggest Leviticus 18-19 is the source).
The question Scot is asking is this: was this decree:
(1) only for Gentiles, thus assuming Jews in Christ would keep Torah and Jewish life?
(2) A temporary compromise, but later Gentiles could even violate these four?
(3) Should Gentiles keep these four injunctions still?
(4) Is Acts 15 old context and now it is right for the Church to ask Jews to surrender their Jewish life in order to follow Messiah?
Derek Leman



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derek leman

posted January 23, 2010 at 6:26 pm


Mike M. #3:
Thank you ever so much.
Derek Leman



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Richard Harvey

posted January 23, 2010 at 6:55 pm


Thanks for allowing my book “Mapping Messianic Jewish Theology” to be reviewed on this blog.
It is interesting that most comments so far do not engage with the existence of Messianic Judaism as a theological reality, or discuss the development of its theology. Rather they express a variety of Christian perspectives on the theological significance or non-significance of the continuing existence of the Jewish people.
It is not the purpose of my book to justify the non-supersessionist position which I assume, pace N T Wright and most Christian understanding over the past 2000 years. That is far more ably put by writers such as R K Soulen, Karl Barth and Mark Kinzer in his important work “Postmissionary Messianic Judaism”(Brazos 2007.
My project is more limited. I have tried to map the theological construction of those Jews who like myself accept Yeshua (Jesus) as our Messiah, and wish to articulate that in a way that is authentic, coherent, contemporary and with communal acceptance (good criteria for all theology).
BTW, I am neither a Dispensationalist, nor a supersessionist. The challenge for MJT is to find ways of stating the truth of Yeshua in modes of discourse that are not limited to the traditional Christian or Jewish forms.



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Louis

posted January 23, 2010 at 6:56 pm


concerning post 7 ,I agree with N.T. Wright concerning the promises fulfilled in Christ .Rom.1;1-2 is evidence that it is referring to conversion-redemption, not some future restoration of a nation of Isreal, the apostle is speaking in a present tense,example did Christ reject his people By no means,Paul said i am a isrealite,Paul on the road of Damascus to kill the disciples was struck down when he was converted fulfilment of jews being converted to Christ(church in rome was made of jews and gentiles)jews were being converted to Christ from his death to now is what the Apostle Paul was saying verses1-2 and 25-29 referring to the cross,Christ taking our sins upon Him on calvery. Isreal is done as a nation,jew and gentiles are believing in Christ as rom.11 teaches.



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Dana Ames

posted January 23, 2010 at 7:03 pm


Derek,
my understanding is that supercessionism means that the OT promises to the Jews have devolved upon the Church, and the Church should continue to expect that God will treat the Church the same way as the Jews before Jesus, with the same privileges, etc. This sounds like something different than what Wright told you. I heard an audio where he was asked point-blank if he is a supercessionist, and he said no. Perhaps there is an element at play here of not working with the same definitions.
Have you listened to Wright’s “Romans in a Day” audios, esp the third, where he goes into this discussion? If so, what do you think?
Dana



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derek leman

posted January 23, 2010 at 7:09 pm


All:
Yes, Richard is right, his book is not really about whether Christianity has in some way subsumed, replaced, or fulfilled Israel. It is a given for Messianic Jewish theology that God is completing his covenant with Israel (not has completed).
MMJT is about the variety of theological streams from among Jews who believe that Jesus (Yeshua) is the promised Messiah.
One reason I was so elated to share a review of this book with you is that I believe many people would benefit in their theology from a broadening out into the issues of Jewish faith in Messiah. It certainly was one of the top three or four theological issues in the New Testament (surely no one will disagree about that).
So, what if it is still a live issue and not just yesterday’s issue. Messianic Jews exist, are writing, are being studied, and may even be in your town. What does this phenomenon mean to you as a Christian?
Derek Leman



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derek leman

posted January 23, 2010 at 7:15 pm


Louis #12:
I invite you to email me at derek4messiah at gmail if you’d like to discuss further. I don’t want to make this thread into “he is still keeping covenant with Israel” vs. “he is no longer keeping covenant with Israel.”
Dana:
Wright certainly is sensitive to Jewish issues and is an insightful historian of Second Temple Judaism. I am a huge fan. Yet sensitivity is not necessarily enough to escape the problem of supersessionism. Soulen defines varying kinds or levels, including punitive supersessionism, economic supersessionism, and structural supersessionism. I believe Wright fits into the category of economic supersessionism. This in no way causes me to dismiss Wright’s work, especially in the gospels. I think he is brilliant. I also think this question has not been one that he has investigated closely as he has been preoccupied with so many other theological hot topics.
Derek Leman



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Kendall Soulen

posted January 23, 2010 at 7:43 pm


I think Scot McKnight’s questions are interesting ones. I am curious how he himself would answer them.



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bryant

posted January 23, 2010 at 8:52 pm


I couldn’t help myself and had to throw in a few thoughts on the subject. I recall, partially in reading Brad Young?s book ?Jesus the Jewish Theologian? how apt he was in pointing out the Jewish context in all of the sayings of Jesus and honestly from this perspective I have appreciated the insight from this view in concordance with the formation of Christianity. I do not think it is so far out there to assume the Jewish nature of early Christianity as the root of our faith. When I think of Paul?s missionary journeys and those of Peters, you begin to see a divergence of Judaism and Christianity (more properly called the way at this time) in that Paul?s theology lent itself to gentiles (converts), Messianic Jews and Judizers, probably at the time, post exilic Jews. How much of Torah and Christianity that melded together are open for debate. I suspect once a Jew always a Jew, even in the doctrine of Paul?s teachings. I think this is clear from Peter?s understanding and to lend itself to James the Lord?s brother understanding of the Jewish theological nature of the work of the Messiah. While I am on the subject, another interesting book comes to mind ?Jews and Christians the Parting of ways A.D. 70 ? 135?
(A collection of essays edited by James Dunn.) I realize I am digressing from the OP, but it merits pointing out that the two faiths have a common origin, that being a people called out to worship God. In part to a dispensationalist point of view I would agree that there are not two separate identities as this is a product of the 18th century and certainly I wish no ill will to anyone holding this view, but it does not abode well when the two become one as in Ephesians. It is one people of God and that may very well be an Israelish leaning in that direction, we are grafted into Israel, not that we worship as the Jew but that we worship God as his chosen people. This finds its merit in the beginning with Cain and Abel. It really is a full circle in this sense. Can God?s people be called the new Israel as Messianic Jews would acknowledge, I think so. I think also that Christianity has morphed itself (varying denominations and sects) more so than the Messianic Jews have. They at least have not changed since the time after Christ?s earthly mission. Sorry for rambling, but it is a interesting subject that has resurfaced and I will pursue reading this new work.



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Irenicum

posted January 23, 2010 at 10:51 pm


Thanks so much for posting this. I can’t wait to order this book. As a gentile baptized into the faith through a Messianic congregation, this hits close to home. I’ve seen the variety of Messianic Judaisms over the years and can attest to the range from gentile “wanna-be Jews” to seriously Jewish believers who are Torah observant. Unpacking the range and understanding their cultural origins is, I believe, key to understanding the various types of Messianic Judaism. Some exist within the stream of historic Christian teaching as expressed in both the east and the west, but others express views that reflect variants, and I would dare say deviants, of basic Christian theology, and would be seen as modern expressions of ancient heresies such as Christ as a created being, but first among creation. Both modern unitarianism and the JW’s are modern expressions of early rabbinic Jewish critiques of Christianity. I would add that gentile heresies also percolated through the various early Christianity’s as well, so it’s not just a Jewish problem, it’s a human problem. The authors I would highly recommend in analyzing NT theology are Richard Bauckham and Baruch Maoz. Bauckham, a gentile, has presented a magisterial treatment of the utter Jewishness of early high Christology. And Maoz, a Jewish believer, offers a great insider critique of Messianic Judaism that shows the differences between rabbinic Judaism and what Jesus and Paul taught. His book in particular was helpful to me.



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Stuart Dauermann

posted January 24, 2010 at 12:59 am


As one charged with interpreting Messianic Judaism to the Christian world for Messianic Jewish Theological Institute, I often run across two straw men, often erected, even if innocently. The first is to collapse any talk about a discrete and divine future for the Jewish people into Dispensationalism, which in many circles is a pejorative label. The second, is to similarly stigmatize any talk of the right of Jews to the Land of israel as “Christian Zionism,” usually accompanied by guilt by association spurious linkages to some of the more sensationalistic scenario-painters, such as Jerry Jenkins’ Left Behind Series. For too many people, these two propagandistic ploys settle matters.
The fact is though, that non-Dispensationalists (like myself) and non-adherent to some sort of gaudy four-color end-time scenario (like myself) can also firmly believe in a discrete future for the Jewish people and the Jewish State, driven to these convictions by our own encounter with Scripture.
As for N.T. Wright, whose writings deeply impress and enrich me, I believe his fundamental error is to collapse the destiny of Israel into Christ, rather than seeing him as the One in whom the promised destiny of Israel (both people and Land) moves forward toward that destination of which his resurrection is the guarantee.



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SCA

posted January 24, 2010 at 1:59 am


Well the Bible does say that God will choose Israel once again?. I?ve never heard of Messianic Judaism before, but after taking a university course in western religion I decided that something like Messianic Judaism is closer to what Jesus had in mind when he walked the earth. Paul was alive when Jesus lived, but Jesus never called him to be a disciple. Paul was brilliant, but Jesus choose Peter (who was devoutly Jewish) to be the head of his ?church.? Paul wrote eloquently, but I think many of his ideas were wrong. For example, the Jewish Messiah is not God. It is a supreme irony that Romanized Christianity became the norm, as though Rome never stopped crucifying Jesus.



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Ted M. Gossard

posted January 24, 2010 at 6:18 am


Derek,
I appreciate your contribution on Jesus Creed in your comments and now in this post. And this is a good learning curve for me. I do tend to side with N.T. Wright in the question considered here with reference to Israel, but nearly by default. I do want to study further into the question. And most certainly we know the Jewishness of Christianity has come to the fore so that we are learning just how Jewish our faith is.
My question from what little I’ve observed is simply to what extent Messianic Jewish Christians and churches think that all should follow suit with them, that for Christians to live out the faith according to the revelation given, they would follow their practice. Or if they consider Messianic Judaism one viable and important expression of the faith for this present age in relation to ethnic Israel.



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Joanie

posted January 24, 2010 at 8:23 am


Derek, just so I do not feel so ignorant, tell me which (if any) of these terms you feel can be applied to you and your beliefs: Christian Jew, Jewish Christian, Christian, Jew. My husband is of the belief that if you are Jewish, you cannot also be Christian. I disagree with him, but I also realize that there are many groups within the Messianic Jewish “movement” and they may describe themselves in various ways. I am just curious as to how you would describe yourself in ADDITION to being Messianic Jewish. Would you feel insulted to have people say to you, “You are a Christian.”? Would it be insulting only if it came from a Jewish person?
IF the Jewish temple was to be re-established, would a Messianic Jew feel that they were following Jewish law to continue the sacrifice of animals or would they feel that due to Jesus death and resurrection, any other sacrifices within the temple are passe?



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derek leman

posted January 24, 2010 at 8:29 am


Ted #21:
My segment of Messianic Judaism is not of the variety that wishes to make all churches become Jewish or Messianic or Torah-observant. We recognize that God accepted on-Jews as non-Jews and believe in the message of Galatians and Acts 15. Chapters 6 and 7 of MMJT deal with the variety of views of Torah in Messianic Judaism. There are also many non-Jewish groups who use the label Messianic and argue that all followers of Jesus must keep Torah. We call this view One Law and it is not something we believe in.
The one thing I think all Messianic Jews do want to impress upon our Christian family, however, is that Israel has not been superseded. Yeshua is actively present within Judaism right now, though hidden. God’s purpose for Israel in the present is described in Romans 11 and is something rather presupposed by the apostles. The gospel understood apart from God’s ongoing covenant with Israel is a half-gospel at best, missing out on the grand picture of the fulness of God’s redemptive purpose.
I know, because I started my faith journey in a Christian community, that the canonical narrative of traditional Christianity, the way the Bible story is understood, is compelling and we get used to reading it that way (creation-fall-redemption-consummation). Yet this reading omits 80% of the Bible, the whole part where God incarnates himself in the people Israel, works through his covenant, and becomes a man from within this people to extend the citizenship of Israel to the nations.
Many Christians might be surprised to find that, rather than seeing Messianic Jews as part of the church, many Messianic Jews see Christianity as part of the commonwealth of Israel (but not Jewish and bound to Torah as Jews). This is reflected in Ephesians 2, in my opinion.
Derek Leman



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derek leman

posted January 24, 2010 at 8:37 am


Joanie #22:
We tend to correct people when we are called Christian. Many of us then tend to explain that we believe the New Testament, the Messiahship and divinity of Jesus, and the historic doctrines shared by Christians. The fact is that Christian is a historical-sociological name with many extrabiblical associations (as is the term Jewish). We’d prefer to be associated with Judaism and seen as brothers/sisters to Christians.
My views on the sacrifices are published in a book called A New Look at the Old Testament (it’s on amazon). A classic misunderstanding is that the sacrifices should be understood by going backwards from the cross. I suggest sacrifices should be understood as presented in Leviticus. I argue that the levitical sacrifices were to cleanse the pollution of sin and impurity that conflicted with the holy presence of God amongst the people of Israel. The sacrifices did not cleanse the offerer per se. The cross is of a different nature, a sacrifice to purify the person. My views rely heavily on Jacob Milgrom’s Leviticus commentary.
So, like Paul in Acts 21 who offered the offerings of a Nazirite, I would not see any conflict between worshipping at the temple and following Yeshua, but would rather feel they went together.
My views are not representative of Messianic Judaism on the whole. There are many views.
Derek Leman



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bryant

posted January 24, 2010 at 8:49 am


Many interesting questions and answers; of which I have several to state.
To the one poster #19
As for N.T. Wright, whose writings deeply impress and enrich me, I believe his fundamental error is to collapse the destiny of Israel into Christ, rather than seeing him as the One in whom the promised destiny of Israel (both people and Land) moves forward toward that destination of which his resurrection is the guarantee
How do you reconcile Paul?s statement in Eph. Ch. 4?
4 There is one body and one Spirit?just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call? 5 one Lord, one faith, zone baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
I admit I have a difficult time understanding (in the sense of one people of God) a dichotomy between national (ethnic) Israel and the Gentiles and yet at the same time scriptures are full of references uniting the two into one as Paul not only in Ephesians, but in his epistles. I fully understand that God chose out a people group to reflect the Kingdom of God on earth thru Israel. But Paul seems at least in his missionary work to the gentiles to proclaim an oneness theology of both Jew & gentile. Does this not harbor back to the beginning with Adam & Eve as the federal headship of humanity as a whole?
And, to the opposite extreme the promises to (ethnic) Israel most vividly portrayed in the prophetic voicing of God?s chosen vessels proclaiming to Israel the blessings and the curses. Would one see in the O.T. allusions to a people called Israel and to a people called gentiles?
I can see how two people groups would be separated by an O.T. interpretation of God?s chosen people and the gentiles and thus infused into a classic dispensationalist understanding. Yet Paul clearly teaches one people. Is this not in accord with God?s promise to all humanity in the protoevangulum?



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derek leman

posted January 24, 2010 at 9:14 am


Bryant #25:
You asked he we can understand Jewish and Gentile distinction in the congregation of Messiah in light of Eph 4 and the idea of one body.
Differentiated unity is the way of God. A man and wife are one, yet differentiated. Father, Son, and Spirit are one and yet differentiated. Jew and Gentile in Messiah’s congregation are one and differentiated.
Jokingly I often tell people, we still have men’s and ladies’ restrooms in every church I have visited.
Derek Leman



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bryant

posted January 24, 2010 at 4:49 pm


Thanks Derek, I kinda know were this leads to. I have often wondered at the the two possibiblites. Suffice to say I have my opinions based on biblical hermanutics. Do you recommend any other resources on the subject?
Thanks



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Kathy

posted January 24, 2010 at 10:36 pm


I am fascinated by this subject and not nearly as able to converse about it as others here. I wrote a question to Scot last February and he was kind enough to entertain it on his blog (but I didn’t see it so I couldn’t ask follow up questions, unfortunately!)
The book sounds interesting. My small experience of Messianic Judaism has given me the impression that its varieties are just as bewildering as Christian denominations can be to an outsider!
Scot asked some questions about how Messianic Jews see the role of the Law for Gentile Christians, and that’s where my interest really piques because, as I explained to Scot in an email, I’m on a large message board for evangelical Christian mothers and they are experiencing a widening interest in messianic belief. Most of attracted to it are gentiles who like the idea of exploring the Hebrew roots of their faith.
There are couple of women who are influential who say that “Jesus is Torah” and that Gentiles should follow Torah as best they can. They interpret Acts 15 as instituting a *starting* place for obedience to the Law. The remainder will be filled in (they say) as believers attend their local synagogues and hear the Law read from week to week, citing for support Acts 15:21 – according to their interpretation. They tend to be more interested in observing Hanukkah than Christmas, and WAY more interested in observing Passover than Easter. Don’t get them started on the subject of baking an Easter ham!
To the average Christian mother who encounters these ideas, it’s attractive and/or bewildering, but few have the background to set these ideas in any kind of context other than to say to themselves, “hey yeah! Jesus WAS Jewish! So what these people are saying must be right.”
To understand that among Messianic Jews there are a variety of opinions and ongoing conversations on all this stuff would help so much.



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dopderbeck

posted January 24, 2010 at 10:56 pm


Derek — thanks for this fascinating discussion! I’ve now learned, contrary to my assumptions, that MJ is more diverse than that segment of it with which I had contact in my previous life in a very dispensationalist Christian church — where, if I recall correctly, we occasionally had an MJ speaker who would go on about how red heiffers are now being bred and the Temple is being rebuilt in preparation for the Triublation and the Millennium.
Your comments here and those of Stuart (#19) are fascinating me now — so you are talking about salvation and an ongoing soteriological / eschatological role for the Jewish people as a people even without a widespread, conscious acceptance of Jesus as Messiah?
I do hear echoes of what you’re saying here in the post-Vatican-II Roman Catholic dialogue with Jewish discussion partners. I always admired, for example, Richard John Neuhaus’ role in this regard. Neuhaus clearly believed that God was continuing to work providentially in and through the Jewish people. In short, I do like the idea of a “third way” if we dare use that term between supercessionism and dispensationalism, because I value ecumenical dialogue. Still, the “story” of election in scripture seems to be one that is not focused on any one nation after the advent of Christ.
In response to Scot (#6) – my untutored opinion is that this probably was a temporary compromise, that Paul’s epistles reflect futher developments, and that the “Romanization” of the Church was more than just a historical accident or perversion. Don’t forget that the Jewish community fairly quickly anathematized anyone who professed to follow Jesus. The growing separation between “Jewish” and “Christian” in the 1st – 3rd c. wasn’t only one-sided. None of which, it should go without saying, is to endorse the horrible anti-semitism and persecution of Jews that developed as soon as the Christians began to acquire some independence.



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derek leman

posted January 25, 2010 at 8:50 am


Bryant #27:
I recommend three books for theologians who want to be informed about this:
(1) R. Kendall Soulen, The God of Israel and Christian Theology
(2) Mark Kinzer, Postmissionary Messianic Judaism
(3) Richard Harvey, Mapping Messianic Jewish Theology.
Three books might seem a lot for a topic many do not consider to be on the front burner. Yet, the question of Jewish people, redemption, and the consummation of the world, is one that is more central to a well-formed theology than many people think.
Derek Leman



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derek leman

posted January 25, 2010 at 9:00 am


Kathy #28:
The stream of interest in Jewish roots you have run across is widespread and represents a good things subtly distorted. Many Christians, upon realizing that supersessionism and a poorly thought out reaction to the Law in Christian theology is in error then do not know where to go bext.
I regard the impulse of Christians to keep Torah and celebrate things like Hanukkah as well-intended and often a step on the way to a more mature theology.
I don’t think these women understand that in the Torah, non-Jews are accepted by God as non-Jews (the exact point James makes using Amos 9:12 in Acts 15:14-18). Jewish life is not incumbent on non-Jews in Messiah.
It’s a selfish thing to say, but if you were to encourage some of these friends to look up my book, Paul Didn’t Eat Pork, on amazon, it would likely speak to them.
Derek Leman



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derek leman

posted January 25, 2010 at 9:05 am


Dopderdeck #29:
I hope that the dialogue you and I have had here will be a bug in your ear in days to come and that the issue of Jewish people and God’s ongoing covenant will remain with you as you continue reading and developing your theology.
I am not saying one way or another what God’s ongoing covenant relationship with Jewish people implies about the final destinies of individuals. I believe the question of final destinies is something too many think we know too much about. One thing I know is that people should follow Yeshua. If they do not explicitly follow Yeshua, I am not willing to declare with any certainty what their final destiny will be. It is not necessary, though, to be a “Jewish universalist” to question Christian supersessionism.
I don’t think your temporary idea about the Jewish-Gentile distinction in Acts 15 is logically consistent, nor do I think it stands up to Romans 11:25-29. Blessings and peace.
Derek Leman



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derek leman

posted January 25, 2010 at 9:39 am


I have blogged about the discussion today here:
http://derek4messiah.wordpress.com/2010/01/25/what-is-supersessionism/
Derek Leman



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dopderbeck

posted January 25, 2010 at 1:37 pm


Derek (#32) — But the rest of Romans 11 seems very much to support my position….



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Jacob S. Heiss

posted January 26, 2010 at 3:30 pm


Great points all around. Another useful text to consider along with the reviewed and Leman’s suggested three is David H. Stern’s “Messianic Judaism: A Modern Movement With an Ancient Past.” Stern is one of those few authors in the Messianic Jewish movement who finds wide support from the majority of the movement’s corners as well as those who respectfully disagree with Messianic Judaism’s aims. One link:
http://www.amazon.com/Messianic-Judaism-Movement-Revision-Manifesto/dp/1880226332/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1264537687&sr=1-1
cheers,
JSH



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Antonio Cordero

posted February 2, 2010 at 11:13 am


The process of reformation was started within the renaissance and its return to the origins of thought, as mankind felt they had missed on many things during the middle ages, therefore decided to explore the past searching for hints that would lead society into the future, philosophy began to look at the classic authors, so were many disciplines in science. Finally in the field of theology, many scholars went back to the scriptures. Thus they started their way back to the original Christianity which ignited Protestantism. It has taken centuries to rediscover many old forgotten truths and one of those is the importance of the physical Israel in God’s plans.
A proper understanding of scripture leads us to believe that gentiles are grafted into the covenant of Israel (Not God’s people in general but the nation of Israel specifically) through the sacrifice of the Messiah. Individuals who refuse G-d’s salvation don’t undermine the truth about Israel’s distinctive role in G-d’s plan and Messianic Judaism is one of the most recent steps into the rediscovery of Christianity?s roots. We as gentile Christians don’t need to become messianic Jews though, because the law was given to the people of Israel on Mount Sinai. Any Jew can tell you that. We must only obey the universal laws, which according to rabbinical Judaism are the 7 noahide laws, and according to most Christians are the Ten Commandments. There are so many things we simply don?t’ understand in the Bible because we keep trying to interpret it from a Greek point of view instead of the original, truthful Jewish perspective. That’s what messianic Judaism must help us understand, we Gentiles need to accept them as fellow believers in the Messiah even though they can’t be labeled within Christian religion. Jesus himself obeyed many times even the Oral Torah though disobeyed it if He saw a contradiction with written torah in it, thus he didn’t deny the authority of halacha for the Jews. Salvation through Messiah is the only necessity for the Jews. The rest of what was given to them is completely valid, though it was meant for them alone.



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