Jewish people praying, Western Wall

Should Judaism Matter to Christians (and Other Jesus-Believing Groups)?

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61 comments Judaism

Jewish people praying, Western Wall

A kind of anti-Judaism pops up quite often from Christians looking at Judaism from the outside. It also can be seen coming from the thought of some Messianic Jews, non-Jews in Messianic Jewish groups, and people in Hebrew Roots communities.

I am not talking here about anti-Semitism. I am not talking about racism of any kind. That, obviously, is deplorable.

No, I mean a gentler but still insidious disdain for the set of historic practices of the Jewish people — what is known broadly as Judaism. Most people are fine with bagels and cream cheese, even matzo ball soup. Sprinkle a few Passover references into a sermon or bring up the existence of “completed Jews” or something like that and people are fine.

But when people encounter Jews who actually practice their religion, something quite different happens. When someone sees an Orthodox Jewish boy with peyot (sidelocks of hair) and/or strings draping down from their belts (tzitzit, ritual fringes), there is a certain wagging of the head. When a Jewish person attends a meal and it is discovered she does not eat shrimp or pork, there is a certain roll of the eyes. If Friday nights and Saturdays are observed, this seems to some people an excess of religious fervor.

Among some Messianics and Hebrew Roots people there is a love for “Torah” in some general sense, but often a little scorn for traditional Jewish observances. The false notion of “biblical Judaism” often arises or “written Torah only.” Tradition is thought by some to be something Jesus opposed (which is silly, since all people, religious or otherwise live according to traditions).

Well, this isn’t a long post. I simply discovered something I wrote way back in 2006 when I used to attend a conference of Christian missionaries to the Jews. Yeah. I used to do that. And increasingly I saw the error of my ways back in those years. I realized that these Christian missionaries (many of them Jewish and belonging to well-known Jewish evangelistic ministries) would say out of one side of their mouths, “Replacement theology (supersessionism) is wrong.” But they practiced their own kind of replacement theology.

Over the years I have pointed out that many who use labels like Messianic, Hebrew Roots, Two House, Ephraimite, One Law, One Torah, and Sacred Name, also practice a sort of replacement theology (non-Jews who keep Torah become de facto Jews, replacing, you know, actual Jews).

Well, anyway, back at a conference in 2006 I wrote the following paragraph. My old friend and a brilliant teacher who has influenced my like, Rabbi Stuart Dauermann, quoted me in an article he wrote in 2011. Here is what I said:

Many . . . are still infected with anti-Judaism while at the same time being pro-Jewish. It is as if we imagine you can love Jews and oppose the religion that has preserved Jewish identity. It is Judaism that has held Jewish people together, even though many do not practice it. Judaism the religion is what led to the succession of Brit Milahs (B’ritot Millah) through the ages, entering Jewish boys into the covenant of God. It is Judaism that led Jews to marry other Jews and not assimilate into the surrounding cultures. It is Judaism that has caused Jewish people to remain distinct, keeping Sabbath and dietary law as God commanded in the Bible. Without Judaism there would clearly be no Jewish people.

I actually read that aloud at the conference. I’ve never lacked chutzpah.

Here is the full article by Rabbi Dauermann: “Another Mold Infestation to be Wary of.”

Now, here is where I would love to see what you think in the comments.

61 Comments

  1. Jesus and Paul, etc. were not against tradition, they were against tradition that negated Scripture.

    I have learned to appreciate both Messianic and non-Messianic Jews in all of their versions of Judaism. As I understand Scripture, Jews in doing the so-called Jewish identity type commandments (that a gentile is not required to do) are teaching about spiritual things using physical realities.

  2. Here’s my take: The primary vehicle preserving the Jewish people is God. Orthodox praxis is ONE of the ways God has used to preserve us as a distinct people group but it’s not the only way.
    I disagree with the premise from the get-go that today’s “Judaism” is or should be defined by Orthodox praxis. Orthodox praxis is one (of many) EXPRESSIONS of one’s Jewish identity. But it’s not the be-all-end-all.
    I do agree with you however that if a Jewish believer feels the conviction to abide by more traditionally defined “Jewish orthodox praxis” that they should not be discouraged from doing so. Conversely I don’t think a Jewish believer should be pressured or “guilted” into orthodox praxis.
    What I DO object to however is “torah observance” by gentile Hebrew Roots groups. Essentially these groups have created a new form of Replacement Theology. It is not for gentile believers to be defining or usurping our identity. Jewish praxis is an IN-HOUSE discussion, not a gentile perogative.
    I do believe there needs to be some level of visible distinction between Jewish believers and gentile believers. The “how” of this visibility is an ongoing internal conversation/debate which doesn’t benefit from confusion by gentile wanna-bees.

    1. Merrill,

      “What I DO object to however is “torah observance” by gentile Hebrew Roots groups. Essentially these groups have created a new form of Replacement Theology. It is not for gentile believers to be defining or usurping our identity. Jewish praxis is an IN-HOUSE discussion, not a gentile perogative.
      I do believe there needs to be some level of visible distinction between Jewish believers and gentile believers. The “how” of this visibility is an ongoing internal conversation/debate which doesn’t benefit from confusion by gentile wanna-bees.”

      Can you (SOMEONE) please shine some light on the praxis we as gentile hebrew roots believers should be about. The confusion and diversity is rather frustrating and from my perspective we should be receiving wisdom and discernment from our jewish brothers instead of criticism. There needs to be more “IN HOUSE discussion” on this matter. As they say “If you’re not part of the solution…you’re part of the problem”
      I say this with the utmost respect and in love!

      1. Joe,
        Acts 15 does a good job of explaining the obligations that Gentile believers have. They should not be taking on overtly Jewish “markers” like kashrut, ritual circumcision, wearing of tzit tzit, etc unless they make a full conversion to Judaism. It doesn’t mean they shouldn’t learn about these things. They are rich with meaning for all believers. But they shouldn’t be appropriating them in their personal practice and witness.
        When Gentiles take on these “markers” it confuses the unique distinction that God gave the Jewish people. And it inadvertently causes a type of Replacement Theology. By appropriating distinctly God given “markers”, Gentiles usurp a distinction that was not given to them. These laws were specifically given to the ancient Israelites when He established us as a nation at Sinai. There is a reason for this distinction which I believe relates to the temple worship. (But this is a long discussion which gets off topic. Plus I’m not sure Derek would agree with me on this.)

        Anyway, that’s my take.

  3. During a discussion on the Disciple series Bible study, a comment was made that invariably someone has the epiphany, “Jesus was Jewish?”. Judaism and Christianity has become so separated that Christianity has lost touch with with the Judaic roots of the faith. In a way, Christianity has lost its center; the how and why of worship.

    When I retired, I found I had lost that spiritual connection to the Messiah I felt as a child. I realized I needed to do something to bring me back to center. After thoughtful consideration, I realized I needed to connect with the Messiah through His roots of faith. I began reading as much as I could on the theology of Judaism and the practices of Judaic worship and adopted some of those practices into my worship. I was amazed at the the world that opened up to me reading scripture because now I had understanding I never had before from books like “Paul Didn’t Eat Pork”, “Jesus Didn’t Have Blue Eyes”, “A New Look at the Old Testament”, “Praying like the Jew, Jesus”, and many others by many authors.

    Perhaps it shouldn’t be you have your ways of worship and I have my ways of worship and never shall the twain meet, but should be what brings us together in prayer and community no matter the faith and identity. The symbolism of the tallit ties us all together as one with Him. We all want to come under His protection and to remember to love Him with all our heart, soul and might.

  4. Derek,

    Your comments that you spoke at the conference is probably the best that I’ve ever heard it explained: G-d preserved the Jewish people through Judaism. I was recently eating with friends from Greece, and we were talking about the Jewish people and they were surprised to hear that Jewish people have accepted Yeshua as Messiah. The first response was “they have to stop believing in all their traditions,” AKA, Judaism. That’s one of many example that I’ve experienced of people being Pro-Jewish/Anti-Judaism. It seems that there is a long way to go in cleaning out Anti-Judaism, just as Rabbi Dauermann said, “We need to do the equivalent of a bedikat chametz (search for leaven which comes at the inception of Passover) in order to be purified of this infestation and its stench.”

  5. ONLY the historic, normative, majoritarian Jewish community worldwide has the right to decide
    what is necessary to its survival and what contributes to same…and what TAKES AWAY from same.The historic majority of
    the worldwide Jewish community has come to the conclusion that the Church, One Law Gentiles, Replacement Theology,
    Two House theology, and ALL FORMS of the contemporary “messianic” community (whether they are pro-rabbinics, pro-Torah,
    pro-Tradition…whatever….),,,,ALL of these things have been deemed to be a spiritual DEAD END for Jews in relation to
    the survival and long-term flourishing of the historic Jewish community….looking at the broad sweep of history….. To actively participate in ANY of these activities is to DAMAGE the Jewish community vis-a-vis Jews retaining Jewish identity. All you have to do is look around the 2-4th generation of the offspring of Jews who have taken one of these “alternative” paths and the results speak for themselves. For someone to say they “support” the historic Jewish community and affirm its continuity…and then to turn around and give time, energy, scholarship, counsel, etc. from the standpoint of one of these “alternative” paths is just……(I really don’t want to use the “H” word…..can anyone think of a way I could word this in closing???????) People who REALLY, REALLY care about the health and longevity of the historic Jewish community worldwide need to “put their money where their mouths are” and LEAVE the alternatives behind….Jews need to find a decent spiritual community and rabbi who can help you to fully “come home” and non-Jews need to be steered towards a conversion program that meets the needs of their journey into becoming REAL JEWS, not “made-up” ones.

      1. Not sure what “properly understood” actually means? By whom? Gentile Christians? Jews who have left the normative Jewish community for “alternative” paths? Mainline Jewish historians?

        1. Alan,

          By “Messianic Judiasm properly understood” I mean the groups who practice actual Judaism. As you know, many use the label Messianic Judaism and practice evangelical or charismatic Christianity with some window dressing.

    1. “ONLY the historic, normative, majoritarian Jewish community worldwide has the right to decide what is necessary to its survival and what contributes to same…and what TAKES AWAY from same.”

      Says who? The only thing the “historic Jewish community worldwide” has in common is its rejection of Yeshua and those Jews who believe in Yeshua. Everything else is pretty much up for grabs.

      1. Merrill,

        I don’t think it’s true that the “historic Jewish community worldwide” has nothing in common other than rejecting Jesus. If that were the case, the Jews would have disappeared long ago. You see, it was agreement that Jewishness must be passed down, circumcision practiced, Jewish marriage primarily between Jews, etc. These unifying decisions have created one of the greatest examples on earth of a people enduring and living according to customs over thousands of years even though spread over many nations. (When you add the “spread over many nations” to the mix, I feel comfortable saying the Jewish people are the greatest example on earth of enduring as a people).

        1. Respectfully Derek, I disagree. Both my parents are Jewish. Both come from secular Ashkinez backgrounds. (My mother’s family fled WW2 Europe and her father was a Marxist.) However even in their secular upbringings they strongly upheld their cultural Jewish cultural identity. It is the Jewish refusal to give up our unique identity and heritage that has kept us distinct, not merely Orthodox praxis. Sometimes the only necessary “praxis” for maintaining identity is publicly identifying as Jewish. This was the case with my parents (and their parents and parent’s parents before) them as well as all my extended family and childhood friends. None of us were religious. But we ALL identified as culturally Jewish.
          It can’t be denied that the one main unifying factor of “normative Judaism” (whether Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, or Reconstructionist) is rejection of Yeshua and those Jews who have accepted Him.
          Growing up as Jewish I was taught that I was “Jews don’t believe in Jesus. PERIOD”. I was taught that this was the PRIMARY distinguishing factor between “us and the Gentiles”. This is how ALL “normative Jews” are taught. That’s how it was in the Middle Ages and this is how it is now, no matter one’s praxis or lack of it.
          And yes, of course the relatively low rate of intermarriage was huge in keeping us together. However even if one was secular, they were much more likely to marry a Jew than a Gentile. Only in our generation (post WW2) has this begun to change.
          The overarching CAUSE for our continued existence in the diaspora is God’s providence. Praise God now that the modern state of Israel exists, our survival as a people group is visible to the entire world.

          1. And BTW, many Israelis do not have any praxis whatsoever. Yet ALL would Identify as “Jewish”. Some young secular Israelis embrace eastern religions. But they would never deny their Jewish identity. Judaism is more than the religion. It’s culture, genetic heritage, and self identify.
            And for me, that cultural, genetic, and self-identify is absolutely NOT incompatible with belief in Yeshua as Messiah (as well as God incarnate).

          2. Merrill,

            I hear your point. I’m not sure you hear mine.

            I’m not talking about the factor that unifies the most diverse selection of individual Jewish people. I’m talking about the aggregate characteristics of the entire people.

            And I have empirical evidence on my side. If, as you claim, only rejection of Jesus can be pointed to as a defining Jewish characteristic, then Jewish people would already be declining out of existence. But if, as I am saying, circumcision and Jewish identity based on Torah (even among non-observant Jews) is the defining Jewish characteristic, then Jewry continues to preserve itself. Since, empirically we see that Jewry, even in secular America, is being preserved generation after generation, then it must be circumcision ad Torah-based Jewish identity that defines the Jewish people. Rejection of Jesus is not enough to preserve Jewish identity. It is more a bottom line criteria that marginal Jews cling to. There is a big difference.

          3. Derek,

            I DO understand what you are saying. I’m not discounting that traditions such as Sabbath observance, circumcision, feast day observance, kashrut, low intermarriage rate, etc have ALL been factors in keeping Jews from assimilating into oblivion. However the overarching factor is that GOD HIMSELF has miraculously preserved us, and He’s done this in a variety of ways.I agree with you that traditional observance is a BIG one.

            To be clear, I WAS NOT MAKING THE POINT that the ONLY factor keeping us together as a people group was/is rejection of Yeshua. However, this too has been one of the MAJOR contributing factors over the centuries. And it’s a factor that largely continues up to the present day by “NORMATIVE Jews” (including those Jews who don’t observe the Biblical traditions).

            Jews like myself who believe in Jesus (whether we keep the traditions or not) are NOT considered “normative Jews”. We are “ABnormal” not “normal”.It’s just a fact.

            I’m quite sure Alan will agree that disbelief in Yeshua as Messiah was one of the “biggies” that, in a sociological sense, contributed to our NON-assimilation.

          4. “If, as you claim, only rejection of Jesus can be pointed to as a defining Jewish characteristic…”

            Respectfully Derek,
            I never “claimed” that.

          5. Merrill,
            You say, “Says who? The only thing the “historic Jewish community worldwide” has in common is its rejection of Yeshua and those Jews who believe in Yeshua. Everything else is pretty much up for grabs.”

            Well, first of all, since my own brain is the ONLY mediator I have between my inner “self” and the outside world, I guess I would have to say that I SAY, in that this is what my life experience has taught me. In addition, your assertion that rejection of Jesus is the ONLY thing the Jewish community has in common is simply FALSE. I can understand why you might come to this conclusion, since you have indicated that your experience of “Jewishness” is a secular one only, including your family and friends.

            What has sustained the Jewish community in, say, China, for hundreds of years…often cut off from World Jewry?? Rejection of Jesus?? How about the Jews of India?? Jesus was/is no factor there? And the Jews of Africa, like the Lemba, many of whom converted to Christianity, only to find their way back to historic Judaism?? Now Jews from all over the world are helping them rebuild their truly Jewish community. Did “rejection of Jesus” sustain them as a community since the time of the Assyrian Invasion??

            Jews of every stripe all over the world recently celebrated a “worldwide Shabbat” in spite of the differences between them. Chabad rabbis in New Orleans (where I came from 3 years ago, now in Georgia), teach in Reform (!!!!) synagogues during LimmudFest…and many other examples can be cited. Torah, Shabbat, circumcision, davening, the Shema and many other factors form a matrix which has sustained Jews for 4K years, quite apart from the “rejection of Jesus”.

            I don’t doubt for a moment that as a “secular” Jew, the only truly unifying factor in your immediate Jewish environment was “rejecttion of Jesus”, since SECULAR Judaism is a spiritually empty path (no wonder you fell in with the “messianics”!!). However, if you decided to NO LONGER be a “lost sheep of the House of Israel” and came back to the historic Jewish community, you would find many, many of the beautiful things that bind together (however imperfectly) modern-day Jews worldwide.

          6. Alan, I clarified what I was trying to convey in my response to Derek. I NEVER said that disbelief in Yeshua was the only thing that “sustained” (as you put it) the Jewish community since antiquity. There is a big difference between being “sustained” and having a belief in common. It cannot be denied that ONE of the factors that “normative Jews” have in common historically is DISbelief in Yeshua as Messiah and rejection/ostracism of those Jews who believe in him. If you can show me ONE intact Jewish Yeshua believing community that has survived since the apostolic era, I will retract my statement. The fact is that none of them survived. And perhaps if they had maintained Orthodox praxis in spite of pressure from the “normative” historical Gentile church as well as pressure to reject Yeshua from the “normative” historic Jewish community this would not be the case. But so far, this is what history reveals to us.

            A “socially normative Jew” (in contrast to, but not in exclusion to, a “religiously normative Jew”) can be anything from an agnostic/atheist, to a “Jew-Bu” (Jewish individual who practices Buddhism such as Leonard Cohen or Goldie Hahn), to a Kabbalah practicing Ultra-Orthodox individual, and everything in between. The Jew-Bu or agnostic/atheist Jew as well as Conservative, Reform, Orthodox or Reconstructionist Jew are ALL considered today as being SOCIALLY NORMATIVE Jews both inside and outside of Israel and I believe all Reform (and some Conservative synagogues) will accept these individuals as members. Jewish individuals however who believe in Yeshua as Messiah (whether they embrace orthodox praxis or not) are NOT considered socially normative Jews. We are ostracized by our own people. The Jew-bu or agnostic/atheist Jew is not ostracized by the normative Jewish community. It is only the Yeshua believing Jew that has this notoriety .This simply cannot be denied. And if you wish to deny this, then please show me where there exists ANY normative Jewish congregation (Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, etc) that will allow us to become members. (And please don’t tell me that the Jew-bu or agnostic/athesist Jew is not allowed membership in Reform congregations. I have several childhood friends who are active members of their Reform congregation who are agnostic/atheists and/or Jews who also practice Buddhism).

          7. Here is a video I came upon today. This touches upon what I was trying to explain earlier. Joy’s upbringing is not “fringe” or even atypical of many Jewish families growing up during the rise of Darwinian/Marxist thought. It was highly influential in causing young Jewish minds to question belief in God, and with it centuries of Orthodox praxis.
            My mother’s father came from an Orthodox background. He embraced Marxism as a young man during his medical studies in pre WW2 Europe. However he held strongly onto his Jewish identity. He was a Zionist. He moved to Israel later in life where he eventually renounced Marxism and became a Spinoza-type agnostic.
            I am posting this only to show that my grandfather’s story is not an isolated incident. Many Jewish young people growing up during and around this era were influenced by Marxist ideology. It’s what much of the early Kibbutz movement was based upon. Orthodox praxis was/is certainly instrumental in maintaining our existence as a people. But it’s not the only (or even primary) factor. God is the one preserving us.

            https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=DBOG9n3X4gw

            PS: And yes, I do think maintaining Jewish distinction and praxis is important. 🙂

  6. Alan,
    I understand your frustration, but please consider the frustration of many life long Christians who come to the realization that their Messiah is Jewish and that their replacement theology is wrong. They are now on fire with the reality that they are finally on the right path. The frustrating problem is that they are left without new direction, what do they do with this Jewishness. This is a relatively new issue with no suitable, agreed upon by the majority answers. The “majoritarian Jewish community worldwide” is not any where near dealing with the involvement of Gentiles in the traditions of are beloved Messiah. Any suggestions for this side of the problem
    Joe

    1. Joe,

      Thank you for a thoughtful and tactful reply from a point of view we all need to hear from. I appreciated Alan’s comment and understand where he is coming from. You eloquently made your case, and I see also where you are coming from. Dialogue like this helps us see that most issues are not as simple as being loyal to Side A or Side B. I am looking forward to what I will learn as I keep pondering what you both have said. And maybe there will be still more revelations as people share what this looks like from their side of the problem.

    2. Joe, I understand your frustration, as this is a paradigm for Christians that has not existed much before. While the historic
      Jewish community is not in much of a position to speak directly to your journey into the “Jewishness of Jesus” (although some people can help), my best advice to you is to learn AS MUCH about historic Judaism as you can….and learn it from people who are ACTIVE PARTICIPANTS in the normative Jewish community.

      Yes, you can learn a bit about Judaism from some gentile Christian teachers and some “messianic” Jews (many of whom were NOT active participants in the normative Jewish community as adults), but you would be far better served to be educated by people who are active players in historic Judaism.

      Learning about “Judaism” from people who have never been ACTIVE participants as adults in normative Judaism’s educational, worship and community life is like learning about SEX from people who have only read about it in books.

      1. Alan, I very much appreciate your comments and advice. We (my wife and our three younger, at home children) have been attending a Hebrew Roots congregation for the past six years and have been fed bountifully from a teacher/leader that pulls deeply from the writings and teachings of historic Judaism. What is missing from our congregation is any sanctioned praxis. I do understand their position and might even agree with their stance due to the diversity of peoples religous history (or baggage) and comfort levels.
        I have come to a reascent conclusion that there is a tremendous void of a common praxis once you step away from “the normative Christian community” and into the realm of following Yeshua our Jewish Messiah/Master/Teacher. I am truly perplexed and feeling somewhat lost by this reality!

        1. Joe,
          In case you are not aware, Alan is not a believer in Yeshua, though at one time he was (from what I recall he mentioned previously on Derek’s FB page.)
          Also, I think what is important to realize is that “normative historic Judaism” is not necessarily authentic BIBLICAL “Judaism”. When the temple was destroyed in 70 AD Jewish praxis was adapted to life without temple sacrifices. These “adaptations” are what we now see in Orthodox praxis. These are man-made adaptations.This is important to keep in mind.(I’m not saying they are wrong or right, only that these are not necessarily God mandated adaptations in every instance.) Lack of the temple cultus significantly altered Jewish praxis. So in my mind while Chazal has much to contribute to understanding the Jewish roots of our faith, archeological and Ancient Israelite academic scholarship also provides much insight into 1st Century Biblical faith and praxis.
          I appreciate that Derek shares the cutting edge academic scholarship he is gleaning.
          We need to weigh ALL things with God’s Word and Spirit as we decide how to live our our faith.

          1. Merrill, Regarding Alan’s belief in Yeshua… I assumed as such. One of the influencers in my pursuit of my Jewish Messiah was an indirect and I’m sure unintentional result of an Orthodox Jewish co-worker. When we discussed scripture I quickly realized that his knowledge and understanding of G-d was beyond me and that of any Christian I knew. I guess it sparked something in me that I had known for sometime, but just never made relevant to my faith. His Jewish Praxis pushed me to want to know more about Yeshua’s. He did invite my wife and I to his brothers wedding in Queens NY. It was amazing!
            My wife and I have moved very slowly these past six years and are still attempting to figure out what to do in regards to traditions, both our previous Christian traditions and possible Jewish traditions that so beautifully identify with and symbolize our Jewish Messiah.

          2. That’s beautiful, Joe. As a Gentile, you are much more likely to be embraced as a friend by your Orthodox co-worker. (This is not the case however for Yeshua believing Jews such as myself.)
            One of the biggest problems in the church is that they largely ignore the Tanakh (OT), and in particular the Law portions of Torah (Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy).
            I embarked on a more serious study of Torah about 4 yrs ago. I’ve learned so much. Derek’s book “Yeshua Our Atonement” is an excellent primer for understanding the temple sacrifices. I highly recommend this book (if you haven’t already read it) as well as Derek’s Daily Portion. (First Fruits of Zion also has some excellent resources as well, but they’re pricey).
            Blessings to you Joe.

        2. Joe,
          I can understand how you feel about being “adrift” in a sea of “anything goes…compared to the established traditions of both Judaism and Christianity….problem for you is: who in your spiritual world has the AUTHORITY to define Ortho-praxy for your spiritual world? Since your spiritual world is largely a product of Protestant “do your own thing (Luther, et. al), I don’t know how you would answer that question, now or in the future.

          As to your comment that you ” have been fed bountifully from a teacher/leader that pulls deeply from the writings and teachings of historic Judaism”, just curious: what kind of “Jewish” education as an adult does this teacher have? Is he/she Jewish?? Has this person EVER been an active participant in the normative Jewish community? So please comment on your leader’s “Jewish” education.(my guess is NO formal Jewish education from REAL Jews….please correct me if I’m wrong)…

          As I noted in my first post to you, if you are NOT learning about Judaism from people who have been/are active and educated Jews from the historic Jewish community, you are “learning about sex” from people who have only read about it out of a book.

          1. “As I noted in my first post to you, if you are NOT learning about Judaism from people who have been/are active and educated Jews from the historic Jewish community, you are “learning about sex” from people who have only read about it out of a book.”

            Translation: You can’t learn from ANY Messianic group, scholar, or leader because they haven’t been educated like a “REAL Jew” . Well then Alan, if this is the case, why are you coming on THIS Messianic site? What is your purpose here?

          2. Merrill you took the words right out of my mouth.

            Alan, I really don’t agree with your stance. I firmly believe that G-d has equipped and gifted a handful of gentile and Jewish (D.Leman) teachers in these days to bring correction to biblical interpretations and theology. Our congregational leader and teacher is Grant Luton and our assembly is called Beth Tikkun. Grant is extremely gifted at assimilating the historical Jewish teachings and then bridging them to and relaying them through the teachings of Yeshua. That is the teaching I am being called to at this point in my journey home. My issue with a lack of straightforward praxis instruction is not with Grant, he is attempting to allow people to move into a praxis that they find compatible with their level of knowledge and understanding. Please realize that this is an extremely significant paradigm shift and it leaves many families and spiritual friends with a religious and/or theological tension that can be very difficult to deal with.

  7. Rabbi Derek, you know where I stand on the law so we won’t get into that. However without Judaism Christianity would never be able to stand on its own.
    There is not much in most Christian dogma which can stand on its own. My question is where do most Christians get there ideas, you like yeshua is the father. That type of dogma has no root in judaism. Judaism is the key to all three major religons.

  8. The question you have presented as the title is is one that I have only recently become definitive on. I am now convinced Jesus didn’t come to begin a new religion and he certainly didn’t say he was going to found his “church” upon Peter. I have learned from various rabbis and my own studies how so much is lost in translation and what I thought to be true was not close. The Greek word is actually “assembly” and someone we have culturized “the church” from translations. But the entire view of Christians has become something out of context. So the answer for me is yes. I honestly don’t believe we can separate the two and have a full correct understanding of the Father and his path for our life and his expression through Yeshua. Right now, I am relearning. I had read the Bible three times by my early twenties but through the wrong lenses and without the context of Judaism.

  9. To think that Judaism is a religion of works and Christianity of grace has done so much damage to the faith. Christianity has a tendency to view the faith something as a spiritual experience only, devoid of any ritual and tradition. But the Bible has clear and precise appointements, rituals, symbols and realities. These cannot be followed only “by the letter” of the Torah.

    To reject the Jewish tradition (that is, the way to keep the mitzvot) is rejecting what our Master has done all his life. He read from an interpreted and traditional scroll, in a tradition-filled synagogue, he went to the Temple where composed prayers were prayed, where if was filled of traditions in the way the offerings and sacrifices were given to G-d. He prayed for the food according to the Jewish tradition, he tied his tzitziyot and put his tefilin according to tradition, he ate according to the traditional Jewish way of killing an animal, he believed in pharisaical beliefs such as judgment and reward in the afterlife, angels, resurrection of the dead; he even had a seder full of traditions, he taught according to the Pharisaical belief of a literal Messianic Kingdom…he taught using Pharisaical ways of teaching (hermeneutics and parables), there is nothing that our Master didn’t do that wasn’t a form of Judaism in his time.

    If a Christian really wants to live without Jewish traditions, then he should throw his English Old Testament in the trash and start learning Hebrew to interpret the vowel-less texts, he should refrain from praying before eating and getting rest on saturday/sunday, he should stop taking “communion”, he should not get baptised, he should stop believing in a Messiah, in a Son of God, or in angel, judgement and reward in the afterlife, he should stop believing in the resurrection of the dead, and in a future Kingdom and so many other things…

    It is a reality that Pastors tend to ridicule Judaism and belittle the Pharisees of our Master’s time, making up traditions in a “stupid and random way”, calling their traditions “religious, unbiblical, a joke, a way to be seen, stupid man-made rules” because they are Jewish traditions. The things I am quoting were preached by my Pastor…who likes to say that Jesus was a Jew. Go figure…

    It is interesting to note that his mentor and sender (he is a missionary here in France) John MacArthur, has said the following in a sermon : “…for centuries, right up until now…there is a strong…let’s use Barry Horner’s term “Anti-Judaism.”  There is a strong anti-Judaism, not Semitism…not anti-Semitism as though it were a racial thing, but anti-Judaism as though it is a religious thing. There is a strong anti-Judaism in Reformed Theology saying Israel had lost its election, lost the right to all its covenants and promises. Horner goes on to say, “The wrong perception of Israel and the Jews by so-called Christians has produced consequences of horrific proportions during the history of the church.  Such a shameful legacy perpetrated during the illustrious Reformation and onwards remains undiminished, largely unconfessed and still prevalent in substantial degrees up to the present within a Calvinistic Reformed and Sovereign Grace environment,” end quote.  What he is saying is that while we’re being told we ought to apologize as a nation for the early attitude in America manifest in slavery toward African/American people, we ought to start apologizing to the Jews for the way the American church has treated them with its replacement theology.” – John MacArthur “Why Every Calvinist Should Be a Premillennialist, Part 3”

    I wish Christianity taught Christians to study more the Jewish context of our “New Testament”, they would learn that not only the Master was Jewish, but also very close to the Pharisees and the most pious men of his time, practicing the Torah hand in hand with the Jewish traditions and with the right intent of heart, showing the way to do things and to bring close any lost Jew to the Torah. (And later, the Gentiles too).

    1. David,
      I completely agree with your last paragraph. Growing up in Christian schools, my teachers would attempt to teach the New Testament from a today point of view. By doing so, I believe many Christians missed some of the word pictures and lessons taught in the Bible. When my dad when to Israel and Turkey with Ray Vander Laan, he brought back new ways to look at scripture I would have never seen if I hadn’t been told.
      The first idea coming to my mind is Psalm 23. The Psalmist mentions green pastures. Being from Iowa I had always thought of a lush, green field. When in reality it was probably little bite sized pieces so you always had to trust the shepherd. It is not necessarily that by believing in God, you will have all your hearts desires in abundance forever. The shepherd will give you what you need right now.

  10. This is an important topic. I think Christians need to change their attitude towards Judaism, there are still a lot of prejudices and replacement theology in Christian communities (though for most part unconscious due to lack of contact and dialogue). Words like those of Justin Martyr make me sad. Thank you, Derek, for all I have learned through you. I do no longer see faith in Yeshua and practicing Judaism as a contradiction. I do honor Judaism for preserving the Jewish People (or better like Merrill said, God´s providence through Judaism), I honor Jews for holding on to Torah and cultural identity against all odds and persecution, this is something I truly admire.

    Concerning written and oral Torah I have a question – I know of course it´s not mine to decide how Jews are to live, I only ask and search for myself to find a balanced approach. I value Jewish traditions, many are certainly good and beautiful, worth to be maintained, if anything because they have helped to keep the jewish people together, but I´m also careful not to put them on equal footing with scripture itself. I don´t think “because the rabbis don´t believe in Jesus, they must not know anything”, neither do I think they are always right, after all the rabbis are humans and humans err and humans sin, but can also say truly wise things. I recieve also Rabbi Sachs weekly Torah commentary and until now I have not read anything I could not agree wholeheartedly. I know Deut. 17 – since I have to do with laws in my job I understand that laws need to be interpreted to be practiced, Christians do that, too. Even I have a certain very small and limited
    authority to interpret laws (only laws about taxes, but it is a law) and in general the people have to obey my decisions, that is pay the tax. But every citizen has the right to raise an objection, of course he/she must argue reasonable with the law and not simply say I don´t like this – and then I have to check it again and sometimes I must admit, I made a mistake and change it. Could this be a comparison? The bible does teach to obey authorities, even the government and for Jews probably also rabbinic authorities, but not unquestioned and unlimited, we must always obey God more than people. Again, it is not mine to judge, I just want to understand. I agree with Merrill, that putting pressure on people in either direction and for both Jews and Gentiles will damage faith, there should be freedom to learn and grow and seek God on your own, As I understand it, God longs for loving and understanding obedience and only those deeds are of lasting value that are done out of faith and love. And thinking about freedom I don´t mean just doing what is right in my own eyes, true freedom includes respect as someone said “freedom is always the freedom of the other one.”
    Derek, I appreciate your openness to understand both sides of the spectrum.
    Blessings and peace to all of you!

    1. Thank you, Angelika for stating your wise and balanced view. The anti-Judaism by the church (both now and historically) needs to be fully acknowledged and repented of.
      Appreciate your congenial spirit, dear sister in Messiah.

  11. Derek, that which you call a ‘sort of Replacement Theology’, I coined a name for a few years ago: Reverse Replacement Theology. This happens when Gentiles become more Jewish than Jews and, in so doing so, water down Judaism, often to the embarrassment of real Jews who see their over zealous ‘Judaism’ for what it is – a sham.

    1. Good one, Norman. I have articles about “Reverse Galatianism” going back six years or so, where I describe it this way. Galatianism is telling Gentiles they have to be like Jews to be kosher to God. But standard practice in Christianity is the reverse, telling Jews they have to become Gentiles to have salvation in Jesus.

  12. MERRILL: You say: “The Jew-bu or agnostic/atheist Jew is not ostracized by the normative Jewish community. It is only the Yeshua believing Jew that has this notoriety .This simply cannot be denied. And if you wish to deny this, then please show me where there exists ANY normative Jewish congregation (Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, etc) that will allow us to become members. (And please don’t tell me that the Jew-bu or agnostic/athesist Jew is not allowed membership in Reform congregations. I have several childhood friends who are active members of their Reform congregation who are agnostic/atheists and/or Jews who also practice Buddhism).”
    This is true overall, but the reason is that the “Jew-Bu” is not practicing another RELIGION. Buddhism is not a “theistic” religion per se, but more of a pyscho-spiritual-meditative path…the Buddha was NOT seen as “God Incarnate” or a deity of ANY kind. In contrast, a Jew who was a practicing Hindu priest would NEVER be accepted as a member in any congregation I am personally familiar with. Likewise is true for Jews who are actively practicing Mormonism, for instance.

    As to the atheist/agnostic Jew, Judaism can deal with them as a part of our 4K year-old struggle with our relationship with G-d. Someone once noted (I can’t document this) that most of the Jews who survived the Camps in WWII came out of the experience as ATHEISTS….but the historic community can deal with that reality.

    What the community CANNOT do is to absorb those (like Hindus, Mormons, etc.) who have affirmations and “doctrines” that simply put them beyond the Pale of the norms that have historically described “Judaism”.

    There are even some Orthodox writers who have called for their community to REJECT the beliefs of Lubovitcher Chassidim (Chabad) who affirm that the late Rebbe was/is Mashiach. These writers believe that the “mashiachists” should NOT be counted in a minyan, for instance.

    So, with very few (mostly academic) exceptions, “messianic Judaism” is basically seen as Fundamental/Evangelical/Charismatic Christianity “with gefilte fish on its breath”. If you DON’T think this assessment is accurate, the go to the web site of the National Association of Evangelicals and read their “statement of faith”….then go to ALL the major “messianic” organizations (UMJC, MJAA, etc.) and read THEIR “statement of faith”…and then get back to me and tell me what you think.

    1. Alan,
      You’re proving my point. Yeshua isn’t “kosher” in normative Judaism. But several other forms of worship (or lack of worship) are. I’m quite sure Moses would not have approved of Buddhism as a “form of meditation”, or agnostic/atheist lack of worship, or acceptance of homosexual marriage, and/or female rabbis (as we see in Reform and some Conservative congregations).
      And as for God appearing as a human being, this was already experienced long ago by the patriarchs. Gen 18 is one clear example.

      1. Merril,
        It is absurd to think that Gen 18 is in any way comparable to the historic Christian doctrine of the Trinity in its implication…
        in Gen. 18 you do NOT have the idea that G-d can be manifested in “3 persons”….HaShem can appear in a cactus if HaShem wants to (re: burning bush)…it does NOT mean that the cactus becomes “co-equal with the Father”…in historic Judaism even the Shekinah (the Divine Presence….very important in Kabbalah) is not a “second person”…but a MODE in which HaKadosh Baruch Hu (The Holy One, Blessed Be He/Her) communicates with humans. If anything, these images in Judaism are a form of “MODALISM” which was condemned by the Christians at the Council of Nicea (325 CE)….as one writer notes:

        At the first ecumenical Council of Nicea they made a very positive affirmation of both the full deity of Jesus Christ (against Arius) and the distinctions existing between the Persons of the Trinity (against Modalism). (http://christiandefense.org/oneness_c.hstoy.htm)

        Soooo, the Church and “Hebrew Christians” and “Jewish Believers” and “Messianic Jews” are the descendants of this Council, like it or not….sooooo, they have to jump through all kinds of “theological hoops” to try to reconcile the historic Jewish “Shema” (G-d is One,,,,or “only” as the case may be) with this “anti-modalism” which they are a spiritual/intellectual/historical product OF.

        My hope is that Jews (or Jew-wannabees) who have taken these “alternative” paths will “See The Light” and get tired of being part of the “Lost Sheep Of The House Of Israel” and COME HOME!!!

        The Kabbalah (Jewish mystical tradition) says that, not only were ALL Jews at Sinai for the giving of the Commandments, but all future CONVERTS WERE THERE as well…and one tradition even teaches that ALL SOULS who WOULD have converted to historic Judaism had they KNOWN about it, were there as well!!! All the “Sinai Gang” need to come home!!!!!!

        1. Alan,
          I can confidently refute your arguments outside of any church council declaration, but since I don’t think Derek would like a debate on his blog, I’m not going to engage you.
          However I would like you to answer my previous question which you ignored.
          What is your purpose here? Why are you engaging on a Messianic blog if you think it has no value in helping to educate and/or enhance one’s spiritual growth?
          Are you trying to warn fellow Jews (and/or Messianic minded Gentiles) that reading a Messianic blog such as this one is leading them along the wrong path? If that’s your intent, then just come right out and say so.

          1. Merril,
            I do think that by commenting on these things I am being a bit of a “party crasher”. I think my own zeal to help “gather the sparks” of the “lost sheep of the House of Israel” overrode my training as a Southern Gentleman (my mother is surely turning over in her grave) so I’m gonna just leave the party….

          2. Alan,
            I’m sure you’re a very nice southern gentleman. I’m sorry that you left Yeshua. It seems you have swallowed the anti-missionary narrative. I’ve fully explored their objections and they don’t pan out for me. I don’t see myself a “a lost sheep”.
            Anyway, maybe we can converse on Facebook when the occasion arises rather than turning Derek’s blog into a contentious debate forum.
            Shalom,
            Merrill

          3. Alan,
            I regret that we would loose your zealous perspective.
            I agree totally with Derek’s comment that we can learn from all perspectives. Grant shares many times that many of the Rabbinic writings are simply friendly disagreements.

  13. Merrill,
    I didn’t “swallow” anything. “Anti-missionaries” had virtually NOTHING to do with any changes in my spiritual journey. I can think through the issues for myself…..I have tried my whole life to be reflective and think as deeply as I could and be
    in touch with my own inner neshama and feelings and to try to understand as best I could what Truth (with a capital “T”) is..
    FISH thoughtlessly “swallow” bait which is NOT what it appears to be…they get hooked by something phony….I try to reflect on my life and, if needed, make “mid-course” corrections to keep me away from lures which are NOT what they seem to be…..

    1. Alan,
      Well, I’m glad you don’t swallow anyone’s bait. But your answers to me sure seem a lot like the usual anti-missionary fare. I’m glad you are a truth seeker. I am too, very much so. And this is why I believe what I do. NT faith makes sense to me. The Tanakh alone does not provide the mechanism for individual eternal redemption. There is no mention HOW an individual (Jew or Gentile) inherits eternal life. We see a lot in the way of sacrifices, but these are largely to “cleanse” the Temple and Israelites from ” impurities” encroaching upon the sanctity of the Shekineh. All these sacrifices were/are temporary in nature. They didn’t and don’t provide for redemption in the eternal realm. That was never their purpose.
      There is no knowledge from the Tanakh, by itself, HOW one’s redemption in the afterlife is secured. There are some hints that the righteous inherit eternal life (Daniel 12), but the MECHANISM behind one’s redemption is not given UNTIL we get to the NT.
      This, for me, is the central issue why I can’t
      accept the tenants of “normative” Judaism alone (which DOESN’T accept the redemptive sacrifice of Yeshua, the only sacrifice as per Isaiah 53 which atones for “the many”).

      1. Merrill,
        I have done quite a bit of reading from many sources and came across a quote that gave me pause. I will try to reproduce it here as it seems fitting for your comment:

        “The Tanakh without the New Testament is incomplete. The New Testament without The Tanakh has no base.”

        The quote may have said has no roots instead of base or similar wording. I don’t recall now the exact words. Maybe our difficulty in getting a full grasp of the subject under discussion is our lack of wisdom in tying the two together. We are seeing two instead of one. I know I am still trying to understand the nuances of the old to brings us together in the new.

        Does that make sense?

        1. Yes, great quote!
          All worship in ancient Israel revolved around the Temple sacrifices. Sacrifice was central for cleansing and approaching God’s holy space (i.e. the Temple/Tabernacle premises). Many hundreds of thousands ( probably millions) of animals were sacrificed over the course of ancient Israel’s history. They made it possible for the Shekineh to remain with the Israelites and for the Israelites to enter God’s holy space.So this begs the question, if it takes animal deaths to atone for individuals so that they can enter God’s holy space in the temporal/physical realm, then WHAT does it take to enter God’s Presence in the eternal realm?
          THIS is what Yeshua’s sacrifice accomplishes for us. It is the MECHANISM which provides for our redemption in the eternal/heavenly realm.

          1. Merrill,
            Well said!

            Malachi 4:2 or 3:20 depending on which version is used:
            But to you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will break out leaping, like calves released from the stall.

            The movie “Risen” is an interesting treatise told from the viewpoint of a Roman centurion given the task to find the body of the Messiah and his struggles trying to understand what he witnessed. The last line in the movie, “I will never be the same.” Even though the story line does not follow scripture, the movie brings our own struggles to the fore trying to gain understanding as is being defined by this discussion.

          2. Thanks V Clark. I’ve never seen Risen; sounds good from a deeply contemplative perspective. Will have to watch it. 🙂

      2. MERRILL,
        You say that, “The Tanak does not provide the mechanism for individual eternal redemption”. Of course it does! Since we know that the ENTIRE sacrificial system only dealt with sins committed against HaShem, and not those we commit against other people (which could keep us out of “heaven”…Even the Yom Kippur sacrifice could not deal with those sins, only sins against Hashem), if you have to have a “mechanism” (whatever that means) then you can begin your search in Ezekiel 33:14-16: “Even when I have told the wicked that he will die, but then he repents, and he does justice and righteousness; he returns the collateral when he is supposed to, he repays what he stole, he begins to live by the Laws of Life, and does not do evil, he will live, and he will not die. All the sins that he committed will not be held against him, for he has begun to do judgment and righteousness; he shall surely live.”

        NO SACRIFICE is needed to “go to Heaven” (as Christians call it), or have a place in The World To Come (as Jews call it).
        Tshuvah (turning, repentance) and Tefilah (prayer) and Tzdakah (charity) take the place of ANY sacrifice which may be needed as a “mechanism”.

        This obsession with “individual redemption”: while the theme appears in Jewish literature, the obsession of the Eternal Destiny of the individual soul is largely a Christian one, for whatever historical reason. Judaism is FAR more concerned with our activities as a Goy Kadosh (Holy Nation) in THIS world..and the issues of individuals in Olam Habah (The World To Come) will take its place as an outgrowth of our walk as a Nation.

        Besides the Talmud says in Sanhedrin 10:1 “All Israel has a place in the World To Come except those who do not believe in The World To Come”. So I definitely believe in Olam Habah, so I personally am covered.

        1. Alan,
          This requires a long discussion which first requires explaining the PURPOSE for the Temple cultus (which never granted one access to the heavenly realm). I think we’ve already gone way off topic here. If you wish to continue the discussion, please PM me via Facebook. I will be happy to engage you there.

          1. Merrill,
            Thanks for the offer, but I’ve said all I really have to say about the matter. Thanks anyway..

  14. Merrill,

    If you rent the DVD, watch the interviews with the actors and how they were impacted during the filming especially the centurion.

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