Monday, March 11, 2013

Supersessionism and a Recent Encounter with Mormons

Thought I'd discuss this briefly since the topic came up recently in the comments.

What is supersessionism?  It's kicking Jews out of their seat.  There are several ways to do that:  (1) say that the seat (i.e. Sinaitic Covenant and Law) is abolished or (2) say that Gentiles have replaced Jews in the Covenant.

On Shabbat, I went for a walk with my family (wife and daughter).  We found a path leading into the woods and so we took it.  As we climbed a hill, I looked and saw two young men in white shirts approaching, pushing their bicycles.  I knew right away that they were Mormons.

The conversation went something like this:

Some initial small talk, then:

Mormon:  What church do you attend?

Me:  We visit a Christian church but we believe in Messianic Judaism.  Have you heard of Messianic Judaism?

Mormon:  I don't think so.

Me:  It's the belief that Yeshua--that's the Hebrew name for Jesus--that He taught that the Torah is still valid for Jews and for Gentiles.  Yeshua said in Matthew 5:17-19 that He didn't come to abolish--

Mormon:  Right, he came to fulfill--

Me:  No.  "Abolish" and "fulfill" cannot be synonymous in that statement.  If they were, the statement would read "Don't think I came to abolish the Law, I did not come to abolish but to abolish" and that is ridiculous.  He said that those who do and teach the Law will be called greatest in the kingdom.  If, as you say, the Law is abolished then the covenant with Israel is abolished.  This is anti-Judaism and can lead to anti-Semitism.

Moses said that a prophet is someone who teaches Torah.  Thus, Yeshua as a true prophet taught people to follow Torah.  We believe that He is also the Messiah and will rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem.  If the Torah is abolished then what's to stop someone from trying to build his own temple?

Mormon:  We actually have a temple.

And then I wrapped things up, explaining where we fundamentally disagree (Christology) but explaining that we both share a love for ethics and good manners.  I also expressed a desire to be good neighbors to them.

So why do I mention this story?  Because Mormonism is a shining example of supersessionism.  They teach the Law is abolished (and thus, logically, the Jewish people are illegitimate and unnecessary as a distinct people).  In point of fact, they constructed their own "Temple" out in Utah.  What they have done theologically is to (in theory) kick Jews out of their seat.

That's supersessionism.

This is only a problem when the superesessionist movement is imperialistic (i.e. they believe in making others into what they are).  So it's also an issue within the Christianities.  Most forms of Christianity teach that Jews need to stop practicing Torah (i.e. stop being Jewish) and convert to whichever form of Christianity.  This coercive imperialism has and continues to drive Jewish assimilation into Christianity resulting in the extermination of Jewish identity.

Does any have any thoughts to add?  Agree or disagree with my assessment?

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