Sunday, April 19, 2015

My Review and Response to McCarn's "Give Me a Place Where I May Dwell"





I just finished reading a book that is attempting to do for the Ephraimite Movement what Theodor Herzl's book "Der Judenstaat" did for Zionism.  Some of what it says is good...other portions are very troubling indeed.

First, here's the author, Albert McCarn:


As you can see, he is a well-decorated ex-military officer.  And we can all be very thankful for his many years of service to our country.

Here's the book which, you will note, displays a proposed national flag for the Ephraimite Nation:

So let's get into it.

Every book is about a problem and a proposed solution.  This book frames the problem something like this:  

You very well could be a descendant of the 10 Lost Tribes of Israel which means that you're living in exile from your homeland (the tribal territories of the Northern Tribes of Israel), deprived of a sense of national community with your people--the Ephraimites, suffering from the onslaught of increasingly hostile, anti-Biblical culture in your host country or even outright oppression.

But there is hope for you to rejoin your lost community and reclaim your birthright to the Northern Tribal Territory of Israel:

You can help restore national consciousness to Ephraim by (1) envisioning the kinship you share with other Ephraimites all over the world and (2) joining many others in a mass exodus from all of their various host countries as they embark on an epic quest to reclaim the "land of the fathers."

OPENING CHAPTERS

The first point he makes is that G-d did not promise the Land of Israel exclusively to the Jews.  He takes several pages to explain that G-d promised the Land to Abraham's descendants and that when the Land was officially given to the nation of Israel, in fulfillment of that promise, the nation consisted of more than just Jews (i.e. the Tribe of Judah).

So then the question becomes:  what ever happened all of those non-Jewish tribes to whom belong significant portions of the Land of Israel?  While there exists an identifiable Jewish community, there is presently no identifiable community representing the Northern Tribes of Israel (i.e. Ephraimites or "House of Israel" as opposed to "House of Judah").

But there's a solution:  "...the Ephraimite nation...may be...envisioned into existence."

He offers 3 elements that must be met in order for someone to belong to the Ephraimite nation:

ELEMENT 1:  ISRAELITE ETHNICITY

He lays out on pages 34-35 a genealogy that shows how most people are descended from ethnic Israelites.  'Ethnicity, or physical descent, does therefore compose one of the identifying features of our Ephraimite community."  He adds, "That, indeed, is key to our national definition..." [emphasis added].

ELEMENT 2:  ALLEGIANCE TO YESHUA

ELEMENT 3:  TORAH OBSERVANCE

"...the third component of Ephraimite identity is an adherence to G-d's Torah."  He explains that this does not mean perfect obedience but rather an acknowledgment that the Torah is still the foundational guide for our way of life.

EXAMPLES AND APPLICATION

Having defined the in-group, he goes on to define the out-groups.  Muslims are obviously out since they deny the Messiahship of Yeshua;  Christians are out because, though they may have Israelite descent, and though they profess allegiance to Yeshua, they reject Torah as G-d's standard for their lives; non-Messianic Jews are out because they reject Yeshua's Messiahship.  Lastly, he says 'But what of those who are not physical descendants of Ephraim, but do profess faith in Yeshua and try to keep Torah?"  He answers that such a person only becomes an Ephraimite if he rejects his prior ethnic identification and affirms a specific tribal identification within Israel.  For this point, he cites to the case of Ruth as precedent.  Finally, by way of application, he announces:  "Let all the world know henceforth that I am an Israelite, of the House of Joseph, of the Tribe of Ephraim.  Who will join me and other committed Israelites in reconstituting our nation of the House of Joseph?"

THREAT TO ISRAEL?

Anticipating the threat this nationalized brand of his particular version of Two House Theology poses to the Modern State of Israel, he is quick to add:

"Before going further I must state emphatically that the Ephraimite movement has not intention of usurping the sovereignty of any existing state.  Regarding the State of Israel in particular, we have no desire to infringe on Israeli territory."

And this I would like to believe.  However, he says elsewhere:
"There is no need to hide our hope and expectation that the L-rd will establish all of our people within the borders he has promised,"  
and:
"We cannot consider permanent settlement anywhere other than the ancient land promised to our forefathers...Much of [the Promised Land] is already under the sovereignty of the State of Israel,"

and then later in Chapter 5 where he lays down concrete steps for building the nation of Ephraim (e.g. learning the Hebrew language, creating a national press, establishing an Ephraimite Knesset, recognizing a national flag, starting an Ephraimite National Fund, etc), he uses a very particular expression:

"Ephraimite Birthright Foundation" [emphasis added]

This is the foundation that will serve to educate the youth via trips to Israel about their "birthright" to the Northern Territory of Israel.  And he specifically uses the term "birthright" to define how an "Ephraimite" should view the tribal territories that belonged to the ancient Northern Tribes.

RESPONSE:

On page 98, McCarn says something good:  "There is a place for compromise..."

And he says on page 28 that "the world's Jewish population contains elements of all the tribes."  

This is a good place to begin.  Can we agree, given that Jewry contains elements of all the tribes, that modern Jewry has a right to the entire Land of Israel--even "Greater Israel"?

I hope that Mr. McCarn is willing to compromise on this point.  Because I feel that a guiding principle to any viable Messianic Nationalism must be the recognition of the Jewish right to the entire Land of Israel (even Greater Israel).

The next issue where compromise should be sought is the definition of nationalism itself.  McCarn has proposed an ethnocentric basis for membership in the nation thus characterizing it as an Ephraimite Nation.  Put another way, McCarn excludes the possibility that the greater family of Israel contains non-tribally affiliated members.  Yet there are many Messianics, myself included, who claim no tribal descent and base our identity purely in covenantal terms.  So I propose, as a compromise, that we identify purely in covenantal terms--as followers of Yeshua.

Now, I realize that this latter proposal means that Gentile Believers will have to approach the Land more humbly and without any sense of entitlement.  Indeed, we will be the least in the Kingdom and can only hope for the extra-tribal portions of the Land that once belonged to Edom and Moab and various Canaanite city-states.  In short, we could only hope to form a protective barrier around the entire Tribally-allotted territory of Israel.  And I say "hope" because we would only be able to live in those parts if (1) the Modern State of Israel enlarges its territory and (2) for some reason (perhaps for national survival) allows us to dwell in those outer regions of Greater Israel.

And now I'd like to open things up for anyone to share their thoughts.  Any brave souls out there?  : )

Shalom,

Peter

12 comments:

  1. "
    You very well could be a descendant of the 10 Lost Tribes of Israel ..."

    Stopped reading the review just there....Circular reasoning...He assumes something and builds a whole doctrine on this assumption, which proves NOTHING!

    Been there, done that.....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You made it farther than I expected

      Delete
  2. I agree with Dan, however I did read the entire post :P . Unless one can actually prove some form of descent, the rest is a fairy tale or wishful thinking at this point. But, lets imagine his desire or thoughts are true concerning his "lost heritage", that this is the fulfillment Ezekiel spoke of, concerning the Northern Kingdom coming back to life, if he is truly a "lost descendant" of the northern kingdom, it really means nothing without evidence. So like Dan said, this is nothing more than circular reasoning. Come back with some proof, then I will be interested, until then, it just seems counterproductive.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I would like to say that, while I disagree with the gentleman, I applaud the fact that he's getting the conversation started. What Messianic doesn't want a community? And then the idea of a whole nation of Messianics sounds extremely appealing! I certainly want to belong to a nation of Jewish and non-Jewish Messianics. I want to be included in G-d's People--Am Yisrael. This is a very real need and we should be very understanding when this need manifests in other Messianics. We just want, as brothers and sisters, to make sure that this nationalist feeling manifests in a legitimate form, and in a way that provides a service to the Modern State of Israel.

    I'm sure that McCarn would agree with that. I think we'll have a lot of common ground as the conversation continues.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, Peter, your comment compelled me to read the whole article, and this is what I found:
      "Ephramite nation..."

      As a navy general the guy is not around much. There is already an "Ephramite nation" in existence, in Utah...Let this swindler round up all the Batia Wootens and Eddy Chomneis of this world and go up to Utah and duke it out with the Mormons first to decide who is the real Ephramite first...

      Been there, done that....

      Delete
    2. What Messianic doesn't want a community? And then the idea of a whole nation of Messianics sounds extremely appealing! I certainly want to belong to a nation of Jewish and non-Jewish Messianics. I want to be included in G-d's People--Am Yisrael. This is a very real need and we should be very understanding when this need manifests in other Messianics. We just want, as brothers and sisters, to make sure that this nationalist feeling manifests in a legitimate form, and in a way that provides a service to the Modern State of Israel.

      I understand the need and desire for community, but understand, this is more than wanting a community, this is claiming to be the fulfillment of a prophecy in Ezekiel, and without proof, this is a dangerous claim, would if this guy is not part of the Northern Kingdom as he claims, he could be going against God, by fabricating something that is not real. Also, consider this, the nation of Israel, currently ranks as one of the least religious countries in the entire world. Israel is a majority secular nation, we have a better chance of having community in American, than in Israel.

      Dan, lol, yup, Mormons are big proponents of being part of the lost tribes, and they probably are... :P

      Delete
    3. Zion,

      All good points. I'm hoping that he will visit and share his thoughts about the points you've raised. I did have a cordial email conversation with him. It's possible he'll visit.

      Delete
  4. Shalom Peter,
    Thank you for offering your opinions and suggestions to help us all evaluate this great work (through human hands) of our Kinsman Redeemer as He continues to restore the whole house of Israel.
    Yeshua was sent by the Father to fulfill all that was spoken through Israel's prophets and we know how faithful He is to accomplish it, even through we His servants see through a glass darkly. Yeshua wants to return to us all and rule over the restored house of Ya'acov, but must stay in the heavens until all is fulfilled that has been written. (see Acts 3:19-21).
    Ephraim

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ephrimona,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Re: "we His servants see through a glass darkly"

      Agreed!


      Delete
  5. So I just received an email from a friend of mine who said he published a comment but that it didn't show up. I'm going to try to figure out what might be causing this problem--it doesn't appear to be the spam system blocking comments. I just hope that this glitch hasn't prevented others from commenting as well.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Shalom Peter.

    Thanks very much for the review and the opportunity to comment. I had hoped to put all my comments here, but sadly I have exceeded the allowable number of characters! I have just posted the comments on The Barking Fox at http://thebarkingfox.com/2015/04/28/comment-on-peter-vests-review-of-give-me-a-place-where-i-may-dwell/.

    In brief, we are certainly in the same chapter, if not exactly on the same page. Your review has helped me clarify and expand on what is in the book, and I hope my comments will be constructive in advancing this dialogue to everyone's mutual benefit.

    Blessings,

    Al

    ReplyDelete