Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Instructions Not Included: Why Many Gentiles Leave Messianic Judaism for Non-Messianic, Halachic Judaism [UPDATED]

[Please see "UPDATE" below]

"Res est misera ubi jus est vagam et invertum" ("It is a miserable state of things where the law is vague and uncertain")

Some of you probably remember the following lines from "The Tale of Peter Rabbit" by Beatrix Potter:
"'Now my dears,' said old Mrs. Rabbit one morning, 'you may go into the fields or down the lane, but don't go into Mr. McGregor's garden: your Father had an accident there; he was put in a pie by Mrs. McGregor."
This is what parents are constantly doing:  issuing specific instructions so that our children don't get hurt and/or die.

Don't play in the road.

Don't run with scissors.

And we also have to give specific instructions if we want our children to do something good for themselves and do it correctly.  Whether it's for the purpose of avoiding something harmful or directing towards something good, we try to give specific instructions because....why?

What happens when vague instructions are given?

Answer:  bad things will happen.

And a loving father doesn't want bad things to happen to his child.  He shows his love then through specificity.

But according to the UMJC, G-d doesn't have specific instructions for the Gentiles.  

A Gentile wonders "which commandments do I have to perform?" David Rudolph says "Well, you're exempt from the most distinctively Jewish requirements of the Torah" (note 1).  So which ones are those?  That's rather vague...  Mark Kinzer says "Well, you're only obligated to keep a limited number of commandments from the Torah" (note 2).  So which are those exactly?  That's extremely vague.  Dan Juster says "Well, you're just supposed to keep the morally good commandments" (note 3).  But if morality refers to G-d's value system then aren't all of the commandments moral?  So that hermeneutic isn't even workable.  Michael Rudolph says, "Well, you're only obligated to keep the commandments that apply to Gentiles as opposed to the commandments that apply to Israelites," (note 4).  Right...which ones are those again?

It's little wonder that I've seen so many Gentiles leave the UMJC for non-Messianic synagogues (which, sooner or later, also involves rejecting Yeshua).  But I can sympathize with them.  They want a Heavenly Father who loves them--loves them with specificity.  But all they're offered is a Heavenly Father who doesn't care what they do. 

To the Gentiles I'd just like to say:  G-d does love you with specificity.  He does want you to have clear and specific instructions for how you should live your life.  And if you want to know more about how Torah applies to you, please check out these ministries:

MESSIANIC APOLOGETICS

TORAH RESOURCE


UPDATE:

Shortly after publishing this post, a commenter named Yahnatan said I misrepresented these UMJC leaders and that they're actually providing clear instructions to Gentiles.  He cited vaguely to a book written by Michael Rudolph.

However, this book proves my point.  Compare the following 2 quotes and see for yourself if it sounds like the UMJC is presenting an unambiguous message to Gentiles:

"...Gentiles are not required to keep specific calendar days as Sabbaths (i.e. no work)..." Dan Juster, The Law of Messiah Compiled as Mitzvot, Introduction by Daniel C. Juster
"...we would teach that God wants [Gentiles] to keep the Shabbat (Isaiah 56:3-8)," Michael Rudolph & Ralph Finley, Messianic Judaism:  A Response to Mark Kinzer

Does that sound clear to everyone?  "Don't keep Shabbat....but remember that G-d wants you to keep the Shabbat."  Right...





NOTES SECTION:

Note 1:

“[In] the Acts 15 Jerusalem Council decision [James] exempted Jesus-believing Gentiles from most of the distinctively Jewish requirements of the Torah…” David Rudolph, A Jew to the Jews, pg. 56


“The Jerusalem Council decision in Acts 15 centered on the question of whether Jesus-believing Gentiles were exempt from Mosaic law…The apostolic decree was only addressed to ‘Gentile believers’ and clarified the ‘requirements’ (including certain minimal food restrictions) that were incumbent upon the ‘Gentile believers’ (Acts 15:19-20, 23),” David Rudolph, A Jew to the Jews, pg. 49.

Note 2:

“Jervell notices what most commentators miss.  James’s exegesis of Amos 9 leads to the immediate conclusion that ‘two groups exist within the church.’  The first group consists of the Jewish Yeshua-believers, who constitute Israel’s eschatological firstfruits.  As we showed in chapter 2, the controversy in Acts 15 makes sense only if all parties assumed that this Jewish group is obligated to live according to the Torah.  The second group consists of Gentile Yeshua-believers, the ‘people’ whom God took for himself from among the nations.  Amos 9 treats this as a distinct group, related to Israel but also distinct from it.  Therefore it cannot be presumed that the commandments incumbent on Israel are also incumbent on this group.  According to the implicit Torah exegesis of James [in his fourfold decree] based on Leviticus 17-18, this group associated with Israel is obligated to keep only a limited number of commandments from the Torah.  Thus James roots his halakhic decision in the bilateral ecclesiology he derives from Amos 9,” Mark Kinzer, Post-Missionary Messianic Judaism, pgs. 159-160.

Note 3:

“As for gentile believers, they are given the direction to ‘abstain from the pollutions of idols and from unchastity and from what is strangled and from blood’ (Acts 15:29).  We recognize here one of the historic Jewish positions:  A gentile who is to be accepted as righteous must follow the Noahic Covenant. …[James] affirmed the basic moral dimensions of the Law as universally applicable as well as the sanctity of blood…It is also of note that this is the minimum standard for Jews and gentiles to achieve table fellowship, that great symbol of spiritual unity…,” Dan Juster, Jewish Roots, pg. 83

Note 4:

"In this paper, I posit that the [Fourfold Decree of Acts 15] was intended only as a minimum requirement, and was neither meant to limit Gentiles' adherence to Torah, nor infer that Torah was not applicable to them.  I then proceed to suggest that, not only has Torah always been for Gentiles, but that Gentiles were its first recipients....Since we have shown that Torah predated Israel and the Mosaic Covenant, obedience to Torah cannot possibly be claimed by Judaism as a unique Jewish distinctive.  That notwithstanding, particular requirements of Torah and the manner in which they are obeyed may indeed be identity-dependent....In the same way, certain commandments apply only to Israeltites (Jews), certain ones only to Gentiles, and many to both....In the New Covenant, both Jews and Gentiles need to seek guidance from the Holy Spirit in order to know how to apply commandments that were given under the previous Covenant and many centuries ago...." Michael Rudolph, "Of Course Torah is for Gentiles!", 2005



33 comments:

  1. I think you're misrepresenting all the parties you've quoted. In the case of R. Dan Juster and R. Michael Rudolph, you may want to explore their joint work The Law of Messiah Compiled as Mitzvot. The document's Application Code clearly indicates their intention to answer in explicit detail the questions you are raising.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yahnatan,

      It's fine to voice your opinion that you think I'm "misrepresenting" all of these parties. But your opinion would carry more weight if you supported it with evidence. Show evidence where I've misrepresented EACH party.

      Also, vaguely referring to a source of evidence (e.g. the book you mentioned, "The Law of Messiah...") is what one might call the promise of evidence. You haven't actually cited to anything INSIDE of the book. Except that you did provide us with a link to a convoluted "application code" which posits that the Torah is encrypted and that only Michael Rudolph and Dan Juster hold the key to this powerful encryption.

      Looking forward to your presentation of evidence.

      Shalom,

      Peter

      Delete
    2. Oh, one more thing. Mark Kinzer, President of the MJRC, the leadership training arm of the UMJC, says explicitly that he doesn't want Christians to identify with the "way of life" (i.e. Judaism) of Messianic Jews:

      "Still, Gentiles who are joining us are joining Jewish congregations and entering Jewish space. They are thereby identifying with the Jewish people as a whole and its way of life in a manner that the Gentile churches cannot and should not do," Kinzer, The Nature of Messianic Judaism: Judaism as Genus, Messianic as Species

      So here we have someone who is a top leader (if not THE top leader) of the UMJC saying that Gentiles "cannot and should not" practice Judaism (i.e. the Biblical Faith, the Torah) but rather stick to Christianity (i.e. an adulterated faith).

      If Kinzer's position isn't widespread in the UMJC (as I'm sure you will now claim) then how come he made it to the top? How come he's in charge of training the UMJC's rabbis? How come no one kicks him out of office?

      Again, looking forward to your response.

      Shalom,

      Peter

      Delete
    3. Yahnatan,

      I have updated the blog post for you.

      Shalom,

      Peter

      Delete
  2. Peter,

    As I have time, I'm happy to pass along pointers into the sizable body of work of Rabbis Kinzer and Rudolph.

    Re: the Juster/Rudolph link - I wasn't trying to refute your claims per se. I was trying to highlight what I see as an omission of key resources. Claims that individuals have not adequately addressed a topic cannot adequately be supported with selective quotes. To support such a claim, one must present evidence from a thorough survey of all available work. That is what I think you're missing here.

    Re: the Kinzer quote:

    "Still, Gentiles who are joining us are joining Jewish congregations and entering Jewish space. They are thereby identifying with the Jewish people as a whole and its way of life in a manner that the Gentile churches cannot and should not do," Kinzer, The Nature of Messianic Judaism: Judaism as Genus, Messianic as Species

    I read this differently from you. You're reading of Kinzer here doesn't appear to distinguish between "Gentiles" (who in this quote ARE joining Jewish congregations, entering Jewish space, and identifying with the Jewish people) and "Gentile churches" (who cannot and should not do so, according to Kinzer). Of course this quote must be set within the larger context of Kinzer's blateral ecclesiology in which Gentile churches are united with Israel through Messiah and the Messianic Jewish community, a topic he has written on extensively.

    One more thing I think your post doesn't take into account is the possibility that the people you are challenging would agree with you (that there need to be more resources addressing specific questions of Gentiles and Torah). Perhaps they do, yet also feel the need to prioritize other important topics. Or maybe feel that they are not the ones best qualified to address the questions.

    L'shalom,

    Yahnatan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yahnatan,

      I just showed you where the authors of your "key" resource contradicted each other on a fundamental aspect of Torah observance:

      "...Gentiles are not required to keep specific calendar days as Sabbaths (i.e. no work)..." Dan Juster, The Law of Messiah Compiled as Mitzvot, Introduction by Daniel C. Juster

      "...we would teach that God wants [Gentiles] to keep the Shabbat (Isaiah 56:3-8)," Michael Rudolph & Ralph Finley, Messianic Judaism: A Response to Mark Kinzer

      Dan Juster and Michael Rudolph worked jointly on a list of mitzvot for Gentiles but it seems they can't even agree on whether Gentiles should observe Shabbat.

      Shalom,

      Peter

      Delete
  3. Re: R. David Rudolph, you might consider the position paper published (I think last year) at Tikvat Israel, Gentiles and Torah.

    This short paper's bibliography also includes a link to messianicgentiles.com, at which the "Practice" page is essentially an extended bibliography of Messianic Jewish publications explicitly addressing questions of Gentile Torah praxis. Since Rabbi Rudolph created MessianicGentiles.com, it stands to reason that he is putting these resources forward as being consonant with his views.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I've read it. He writes:

      "...Gentiles do not have a covenantal responsibility to keep those aspects of Torah that were given by God to serve as boundary markers of identity for the Jewish people....the Scriptures do not provide a detailed list of mitzvot that comprise boundary markers of Jewish identity...," David Rudolph, Gentiles and Torah

      So he's basically telling Gentiles that G-d didn't provide enough specific information in Scripture for them to figure out which commands they may pursue without stealing Jewish identity.

      Again, I don't think a loving Father would give vague, incomplete instructions like that.

      Shalom,

      Peter

      Delete
    2. "I don't think a loving Father would give vague, incomplete instructions like that"

      You are right, he didn't:

      " Yeshua came and talked with them. He said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make people from all nations into talmidim, immersing them into the reality of the Father, the Son and the Ruach HaKodesh, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember! I will be with you always, yes, even until the end of the age.”

      Delete
  4. Thanks Merciful. Hadn't caught this before:

    "“teaching them [nations] to observe all things that I have commanded [including Torah] you [jewish disciples]; and lo, I am with you [new singular ecclesia] always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.”
    ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭28:20‬ NKJV‬‬

    ReplyDelete
  5. Also:

    “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours... I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they *all may be one*, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.”
    ‭‭John‬ ‭17:9,20-21‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

    ReplyDelete
  6. Ariel Ministries is another excellent source. I personally believe that believing Jews don't necessarily have to need to keep "Torah" either.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am glad it is your personal belief, since it is not Biblical. Keep it personal and don't spread it.....

      Delete
    2. Most Jewish believers would argue otherwise, and don't feel a need to be Torah Observant. Yet, they're beautiful, godly individuals.

      Delete
    3. How many Jewish believers did you encounter in your life? Surely not "Most believers" as you claim....

      Delete
  7. Yeshua's message to citizens of Kingdom regarding Torah:
    “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
    ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:18-19‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

    Does this really apply to non-Jews?:
    “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.”
    ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭28:20‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

    The duration is explicitly indefinite for both.

    ReplyDelete
  8. It was a rhetorical question that the subsequent verse was supposed to clarify. Here it is again with the commentary included:

    "teaching them [all the nations] to observe all things that I have commanded [including Torah] you [jewish disciples]; and lo, I am with you [new singular ecclesia] always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
    ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭28:20‬ NKJV‬‬

    ReplyDelete
  9. You are choosing to take constantines teaching over moses.
    The Torah is plain.....ONE LAW, for the seed of Jacob and the stranger.
    The tanach is the bar. When the new testament conflicts with the teaching of Moses then the new testament shows its error.
    Its name alone is error. There is NO NEW testament. YHVH does not change.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Where does the "new testament" conflict with Moses?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Merciful,

      2 quick points:

      (1) Yeshua's instructions on divorce don't conflict with Torah;

      (2) If Yeshua's instructions on divorce did conflict with divorce then Yeshua's statement about not having come to abolish the law or change it in the slightest way would be proven to be a lie. He did not lie; and the Law remains in effect.

      Delete
    2. Peter, 2 quick points

      1, you must not have read the Torah or Yeshua's commanment, you missed that Torah on marriage was from the begining, that Moses loosened that Torah because of Israels hardhartedness, that Yeshua was commanding the Torah from the begining, that marriage after divorce is adultery, that hardhartedness is not a reason for divorce, *paraphrase"

      2. Yeshua did not abolish the Torah, he explained the Fathers position from the begining and upheld it. "Let not man put apart what God has joined together"

      So, the law did not change it remains the same from the begining, it was Moses that gave the ordinace that was not from the begining and changed it. Yeshua restored it.

      The ordinance cannot remain because man is put together male/female by God, he is commanded "not".

      Delete
    3. Merciful,

      Yeshua enforced the Mosaic allowance for divorce. "I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery" (Matt. 19). So Yeshua allows for divorce in cases of sexual immorality.

      Shalom,

      Peter

      Delete
    4. Peter,

      Yeshua is not "allowing" for divorce. That would mean that the commandment "let not man put apart what God has put together" has no meaning. Instead, he is making the point that sexual immorality IS putting apart what God has put together.

      Moses made mistakes, this is why he was not allowed to enter the land, he did not always obey God .

      Yeshua never made mistakes, obeyed perfectly, did the will of the Father, is seated at the right hand.

      Consider the transfiguration, God did not say "listen to Moses" and he did not say "listen to Elijah". The distiction may avoid you, but God said "this is my son, listen to him".

      I can only point you to it. Yeshua said, "Now they know that everything you have given me is from you, because the words you gave me I have given to them, and they have received them.

      Do you think these words were just a repeat of what was given to Moses? Then why would he bother?

      No, these words were the pure and true instructions, unfiltered by man's flawed understanding and reasoning and hardheartedness. Yeshua fulfilled the torah, he did the will of the Father. Hear him! :)

      Delete
    5. Merciful,

      RE: "Yeshua is not 'allowing' for divorce."

      Scripture says otherwise. He allowed divorce in cases of sexual immorality.

      Shalom,

      Peter

      Delete
    6. Peter,

      This is my last comment, we do not see eye to eye.

      One thing you need to learn about Torah, God NEVER makes allowance for sin. The wages of sin is death. Putting apart what God has put together is sin.

      You are reading your idea into what God has ordained. If Yeshua was mearly supporting Moses, he would not have bothered to state "from the begining, it was NOT so. You made this point: "abolish the law or change it in the slightest way"

      So, Moses instruction was NOT so in the begining, then God gave Moses a torah stating "it NOW is so" and Yeshua did NOT explain the truth is how it was done in the beginning?

      God did not make Divorce OK. The scripture you are reading does not say "if there is sexual immorality, Divorce is fine and you can get remarried".

      The scripture is saying Moses left the Torah that was from the begining. "It was NOT so". Yeshua is returning us to how it WAS so".

      Your way, just commit sexual immorality and you have the right to a divorce and remarriage.

      Delete
    7. for one it has peter and paul saying that it is okay to go to pagan feasts.We are commanded NOT to associate with such.

      Peter is said to say that only 4 rules apply to gentiles, meats offered to idols, fornication, things strangled, and blood.
      while the prohibition to blood (of clean animals) is correct, his commands STILL override the admonition that the total of Torah is for the seed of Jacob AND the stranger(gentiles).

      The eucharist(blood and body) is an aberration: pagan.
      YHVH shares HIS glory with no one and the blessing that is to be allotted to HIM only has nothing to do with blood or body. It is about wine and bread.
      Psalms 16 addresses this when david speaks of the bloody libations not crossing his lips.

      Your blood and body of Christ is a perversion of the fallen ones, the devine beings who manage all the idolatrous religions.

      Our High priest Yehoshua/Joshua,i.e. HE-(YHVH)- shall save(NOT YAHSHUA_this is another name for YHVH,Isaiah 12), is a man, not a devine being.

      The new testament also has peter calling Yehoshua the son of david.
      This is wrong. He is a son of Aaron (psalms 118, I Samuel 2:35).
      The son of david who is to reign,_Zach.3 and 6- comes from davids prodgeny thru zerubabel.

      I.e. He will descend from the children of BOTH mary(aaron) and joseph(david) and be a great nephew to Yehoshua.

      This is why the dead sea scrolls show Jews waiting for TWO moshiacs, not one all rolled into a neat package of aaron, david and god.

      You cannot claim to follow Torah and STILL break the first two commands of Idolatry. This is what you do when you hold to the trinity.

      nuff said for now

      Delete
  11. "Your way, just commit sexual immorality and you have the right to a divorce and remarriage."

    Say what? Did someone imply that Yeshua requires a husband not to divorce his wife until he commits adultery first? Yeshua stated that if a wife commits adultery against her husband, the husband can divorce her:

    “But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.”
    ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:32‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

    ReplyDelete
  12. Jason, my reply to you ended up further down rather than under your comment

    ReplyDelete