Friday, August 31, 2012

Approaches to Messianic Halacha: An Introduction (Part II)

Approaches to Messianic Halacha:  An Introduction (Part II)

I.  Halacha defined

What is halacha?  Etymologically, halacha means "to walk."  But in the context of Scripture it means to live a Torah-observant lifestyle:

"If you walk in my statutes and observe my commandments and do them," (Lev 26:3)

"because they rejected my rules and did not walk in my statutes, and profaned my Sabbaths; for their heart went after their idols," (Eze. 20:16)

III.  Historical Plurality of Halacha:  

Different sects within Judaism have always had disparate approaches to halacha.  The Early Messianic Community was no different.

IV.  Historical Messianic Approach to Halacha

Here are a few verses to give you a sense that the Early Messianic Community had its own set of halacha:

Luke 1:6
“And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.”

Acts 21:21
“And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews that are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.”

Romans 13:13
“Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.”

I Corinthians 7:17
“But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches.”

John 14:6 "Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

Acts 9:2
and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.

Acts 14:16
Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways.

Acts 18:25
He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John.

Acts 18:26

Acts 19:9
But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus.

Acts 22:4
I persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison,

Acts 22:14
However, I admit that I worship the God of our fathers as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect. I believe everything that agrees with the Law and that is written in the Prophets,

Acts 24:22
Then Felix, who was well acquainted with the Way, adjourned the proceedings. "When Lysias the commander comes," he said, "I will decide your case."

1 Corinthians 4:17
That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church.

2 Peter 2:15
 Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;

2 Peter 2:21 
For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them.

V.  The Procedure for Interpreting and Establishing Messianic Halacha Today

There are TWO PRIME PRINCIPLES for establishing Messianic halacha:

(1) the New Testament is the prime hermeneutical authority for interpreting and establishing halacha;

(2) each provision of halacha must be Constitutional (i.e. within the scope of Written Torah).  How do we know that it's Constitutional?  By using the following analysis: 

(i) the provision of halacha must bear an obvious relation to a legitimate goal of Torah; 

(ii) the provision must not be prohibited by Torah (i.e. OT and NT). 

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