Sunday, August 4, 2013

Divisions in the Family: How Fundamental and Peripheral Doctrines Shape Intrafaith Boundaries

I rather like how the Crossway ministry, a Christian ministry, has described four categories of relative importance for doctrines:

(1) Absolutes:  which define core doctrines

(2) Convictions:  which sometimes create different denominations

(3) Opinions:  which are so subjective that people generally don't bother to divide over

(4) Questions:  unsettled matters.

So, for example, Christians and Messianics are united in the same family as Believers because we both believe certain fundamentals (e.g. the Deity of Yeshua, the Inspiration of Scripture, etc).

Yet there are divisions in the family (unfortunately)...

  • Christians believe that the Sinaitic Torah has been abolished;  Messianics believe it is valid.
  • Christians believe that the New Testament is anti-Judaic;  Messianics believe that the Apostolic Writings are pro-Judaic.
And there are divisions with the system of Christianities and also within the Messianic movement.  These are all caused by certain convictions.

Are these convictions worth dividing over?

I believe so.  We can't build Messianic communities in the same way that Christians build their communities.  

But that doesn't mean we can't find times to fellowship with one another.

Are there convictions worth dividing over within the Messianic movement?

I believe so.  Messianic non-Jews cannot learn how to live a Torah lifestyle in a community that teaches that non-Jews are excluded from Israel.  That's why I've dedicated my life to building the Messianic communities that promote Inclusionism.  

Also, Messianic Jews and Non-Jews should immediately leave any congregation that denies that Yeshua is L-rd.

Are there convictions not worth dividing over within the Messianic movement?

Yes!  I'm saddened that some groups divide over "Two House".  That belief, whether true or not, is extremely peripheral.  It's about eschatology which, everyone should agree, is something that we can't know for certain--thus, it's what the Crossway ministry terms "Questions".  And no one should divide over something that we can't even know for certain!  And then there's people who divide over differences with regard to speaking the Name of G-d, etc.  These are all what the Crossway ministry calls "opinions", matters that are peripheral to our essential belief in Yeshua as L-rd and a Scripture that is G-d-breathed.

May G-d grant help us to become patient and humble regarding peripheral differences and may He make us to be discerning in regard to the fundamental matters of the Faith!



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