Saturday, November 16, 2013

Torah Talk with a Christian Teacher

For anyone interested, here's a taste of an on-going discussion I'm having with a Christian teacher whom I greatly admire:

RE:  "I am not sure if this was clearly conveyed in your previous reply.  Which aspects of what was given (Levitical Code) do you see necessary for a Gentile believer to keep? "
Everything that is practicable given one's circumstances, everything which would not conflict with the spirit of the Biblical command and which comports with the letter of the Biblical command.  

RE:  "...I would like to understand how you define the Law."

To a non-Messianic Orthodox Jew, the Law includes d'oraita and d'rabanan.  To a Messianic, the Law consists of only d'oraita, those commands given in Scripture (which I believe includes the Apostolic Writings and any instructions issued by the Holy Spirit).  We exclude (or should exclude) d'rabanan--commands issued from rabbis--from carrying the force of law.  That said, where a command d'rabanan is helpful to the spirit of the law and not harmful to the spirit of the law or harmful to the letter then I see no reason why a rabbinic rule cannot be voluntarily obeyed.  

There are two models for rabbinic authority.  The deontic model (duty-based) says that the rabbis must be obeyed implicitly;  The epistemic model (knowledge-based) says that the rabbis must not be obeyed implicitly but only where the rabbinic instruction comports with Truth (knowledge).  The epistemic model gives the rabbis a presumptive but not final authority.  Where the rabbis are wrong, the epistemic model demands that one ignore the rabbinic instruction.  It is this latter model which I don't have a problem with.

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