Thursday, October 30, 2014

Vanhoff and Hegg Devote Entire Show to My "Open Letter" Post

Just got done listening to the Rob and Caleb Show #48 (LINK).  They get to topic at the 13 minute mark and spend the next hour responding to my "Open Letter" post.

To Rob and Caleb:  thanks for the great discussion!  If we weren't separated by 3 thousand miles, I'd insist that we all have a beer and talk some Torah.  

For others who haven't heard show #48...

In my open letter post I expressed puzzlement that Caleb indicated he believed that One Law (or "One Torah" if one prefers) was not a Judaism.  After all, I suggested, the one thing that all Judaisms have in common is their core conceptual model for Law:  the foundational idea that Mosaic Law is controlling.

The guys, while agreeing with my assertion that One Law is a Judaism (and, interestingly, I'm told that Tim Hegg also agrees with me), nevertheless have some reservations about using that term.  

First let me back up:  why should any of this even matter?  It matters because how we define our faith, how we conceptualize it, answers the question "Who does what and why?"  It informs our social identity in relation to other social groups and why we do the things we do.  So names are important.  It's important for Messianics to understand whether they are a Christianity or a Judaism--this affects belief and practice.

So the guys have some reservations.  Caleb brought up the point that Reform Jews seem to defeat my definition of Judaism as a conceptual model that views Torah as controlling.  After all, Reform Jews seem to have no problem ordering unkosher food, etc.  So it sounds kind of absurd to say that Reform Jews view Torah as controlling.  In other words, Caleb seems to be saying that my definition may need to be refined because there are Judaisms such as Reform Judaism that do not view Mosaic Torah as controlling.

I have just 2 brief points in response:

The definition I'm using for the purposes of comparative religion analysis is purely descriptive rather than prescriptive.  This definition merely describes sociological commonalities between the Judaisms.  This definition does not seek to define the "One True Judaism" (although such a definition might be useful in other contexts).

Second, Reform Jews are for the Torah in a social collective sense.  For example, the Statement of Principles for Reform Judaism (Pittsburgh Convention) says this:

"We affirm that Torah is the foundation of Jewish life."

Yes, you'll see Reform Rabbis eating pork hot dogs at ball games.  But here's the thing:  at the baseball stadium, you might catch a glimpse of a Reform rabbi eating a Ball Park frank;  but when that same rabbi is at Shul, you will never see him (or her) eating anything that appears blatantly unkosher.  

Maybe not the best Judaism--but still a Judaism.

Anyway, great discussion.  G-d bless everyone over at Torah Resource.  




  1. Great discussion! I wish that you'd been there to add to the conversation. Perhaps you could call in? This was my first time hearing their show and I LOVED it! I love the entire station ( ).

  2. They are very likeable, down to earth guys. May G-d bless them for their work.

  3. Peter, you are not Jewish, so what qualifies to defines what is or is not Judaism? Get a hold of yourself....

  4. What qualifies a scientist to define a galaxy when said scientist is not a galaxy?

  5. Well, you have adopted one trait of Judaism, answering a question with another question....

    Now, answer my question.

  6. Here's my qualification: G-d gave me a brain with built-in pattern recognition.

  7. Each religion has a distinctive symbol. I believe that the distinctive symbol of Judaism is the Torah. My opinion is based simply on pattern recognition.

  8. Not good enough. Did you ever visit a Reform Synagogue? Orthodox? Conservative? Reconstructionist? What do you really know about Judaism? And college words that you use are not impressive....

    Still love you, but I have to wipe out your smug smile....

  9. Yes, I attended a Reform synagogue for 10 years and a Messianic synagogue for 3 years.

    Dan, I love you too. Good Shabbos. : )

  10. That's not a smug smile, that's the smile of a Ruach-filled goy who loves Jews! You can't wipe out this smile. I'm the guy who wakes up in the middle of the night with his heart on fire with love for Israel! : )

  11. I don't discount this. But by staying with reform for 10 years it just shows you have no idea what Judaism really is....Shabbat Shalom.

  12. You asked if I attended synagogue and I politely answered your question. My response was not intended as proof of my qualifications. Because I don't have to prove anything to you.

    My definition of Judaism is virtually identical to definitions offered by Shaye Cohen, Neusner, Chilton. But when they say it, you have no problem with it. You only have a problem when I say something. That indicates you have a really strong bias against me.

    So I'm really not interested in discussing this with you. Get your issues sorted out then we'll talk.