Boaz says that you are like the heretic Korach if you question the Mosaic authority of the Rabbis…
This is how he scared those former One Law guys into reverting to racially-classed M.J. He tells the gentiles they are heretics on par with Korach if they go against the Rabbis. So they got scared and gave in. Good ol’ scare tactics.
But guess what, folks? If you believe Yeshua is G-d then you’ve already gone against the “Mosaic” authority of the Rabbis. You want you should be a more acceptable heretic to them? A more pleasing apostate?
-from a comment on Gene Shlomovich’s blog
…their view in simple terms is not only a form of apartheid, it is demonstrably anti-biblical. Folks like some of those in UMJC and in leadership at FFOZ may try, but they simply cannot smother the Torah lifestyle movement among HaShem’s elect. How sad for them.
-from a comment on Judah Himango’s blog
I’m tired. My daughter had to be at work at five this (Sunday) morning so I had to get up at about a quarter to four so I’d be available to drive her. So as I write this (between 6:30 and 8 a.m.), I’m tired. Coffee doesn’t seem to be helping and I’ve got a full day ahead of me between watching my grandson, doing the lawn, including winterizing the trees, and hopefully being able to get to the gym.
But that’s not the only reason I’m tired. I’m tired of all the fighting in my little corner of the religious blogosphere. I’m tired of the backbiting, the demanding attitudes, the self-righteous attitudes, the “I have my rights” attitudes, and those people who think Jews are being racist because they feel that Gentiles (including Christians) aren’t Jewish.
So much for the united and loving body of Christ. So much for John 13:34 and 1 Corinthians 13. If we are supposed to be loving because God so loved the world, then obviously, we’ve failed miserably.
Regardless of whatever branch or variant of Christianity to which you find yourself attached, there always seems to be those people who can’t stand other Christians in different types of churches, who can’t stand people in their own congregations who disagree with them personally, and who barely can stand to live inside their own skin. It goes without saying that they can barely stand Jewish people or can’t stand them at all. And yet Paul said that Christianity is grafted into (in some manner or fashion) Judaism (see Romans 11:11-24).
In spite of that, I see (One Law) Christians calling Jews racist, which brings them frighteningly close to the old, lamented, historical church and its vitriolic supersessionism and anti-Jewish rhetoric that I hoped was rapidly fading from our ranks.
Boy was I wrong.
Rav Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev was known for his love and good will toward his fellow Jews always trying to assess the good in people rather than expose the bad.
That’s where we should be. Sadly, I find few of my fellow Gentile Christians who even aspire to be like Rav Levi Yitzchok.
I recently read another One Law Christian’s commentary (I don’t dignify the source by linking to it) who accused the Chabad of “brainwashing” someone (probably a Jewish someone) into rejecting Jesus. From a Christian point of view, that’s probably what it looks like and how it seems functionally, but from the Chabad’s point of view, they are “evangelizing” to the secular and apostate Jewish population (from their point of view) in a manner similar to how Christians see their mission to offer Christ’s salvation to the world.
I’m reasonably sure this is what convinced my wife to accept a more standard Jewish theology and what caused her to believe that Jesus couldn’t be the Jewish Messiah. I’m not happy about this turn of events because it places a wedge between how my wife and I see and understand God, but I can’t deny her the choice of understanding and accepting her Judaism on her own terms. I certainly don’t think she’s any more “brainwashed” as a Jew than I am as a Christian. I don’t see her as a racist because she believes that the Torah is for her and not for me. It’s not always an easy peace I’ve come to as far as this dynamic in my marriage is concerned, but it is a peace.
But every time I visit the blogosphere, I don’t find peace at all, but war.
Long has my soul dwelt with those who hate peace. I am peace; but when I speak, they are for war.
–Psalm 120:6-7 (Stone Edition Tanakh)
I’ve been debating within myself about what I should do, if anything, in response. More and more, the topics on my “meditations” have been in reply to this “war” I see happening within the confines of the Messianic Jewish and Hebrew Roots sphere of communication. I understand that the larger Christian community is not a peaceful one (in spite of John 13:34) but this is ridiculous.
While I’ve been trying to decide, in recent weeks, whether or not to return to a traditional Christian church to foster a sense of fellowship with other believers, I’ve come to the conclusion that going back to church won’t make things better at home or in me. I left my previous religious community because (in part) of the negative impact it caused on my wife and the embarrassment my being “One Law” caused her as a Jew. I had hoped that my departure would ease things enough so that I could participate with her in synagogue life, but I recently learned this was a vain hope. I have chosen to proceed hopefully forward anyway for the sake of cherishing her yiddisher neshamah, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences to my decisions.
My original intent for this blog was to record my transition in theology and to learn to find my faith in a more traditional Jewish setting. But the anticipated outcome never happened, and now I realize, it never will. I’ve mentioned before that I will need to chart a new course, but while in an ultimate sense, Jesus is still the goal, the path to reach him, from where I’m standing, has become increasingly indistinct. It’s like realizing that I’m stranded in a forested valley and completely shrouded by a dense fog. I can’t see well enough to even tell which direction the trail leads. I can’t see how to climb out at all.
But in the dark all around me, I hear the sounds of battle, fighting, growling, and hostility. That would be the people who are backbiting, the “believers” with demanding attitudes, self-righteous attitudes, “I have my rights” attitudes, and those people who think Jews are being racist because they feel that Gentiles (including Christians) aren’t Jewish.
Is this all I’ve got to look forward to by continuing to participate in this online community? If so, where the heck can I find the Jewish Messiah in it? Among people who say they love Israel but who (seemingly) hate Jews; who accuse Jews of racism and brainwashing?
This blog was never intended to be an endless stream of my thoughts and feelings without a goal or destination in mind. It was intended to be a chronicle of my journey of faith, not a “war journal” describing battle after meaningless battle between people who supposedly all share the same Messiah and the same God.
Maybe I’m just tired and maybe I’ll see this all differently if I manage to get some rest, but these thoughts have been plaguing me for some time now.
Maybe I’ll wake up tomorrow, or next week, or next month, or the morning of December 31st (a Monday), and feel that I can go on writing meditations regardless of the fog or the clanging of sword and shield resounding in the mist surrounding me. Maybe I’ll wake up and find the fog has lifted and the din has ceased or at least traveled a good distance from me…or I’ll discover that the weapons of hostility and war simply don’t affect me anymore, and everyone else can just knock themselves out in their need to fight, while I can pass safely among them.
And maybe not.
There are infinite worlds beyond ours and beyond the worlds of the angels, all full of divine light, beauty and oneness.
But know also that all this was brought into being with a single purpose: G‑d desires to be at home within your mundane world.
-Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
Based on letters and talks of the Rebbe
Rabbi M. M. Schneerson
This is what I’m looking for or close to it.
Anyway, I’m giving myself 78 days to find it or to figure it out. I’ll continue writing “meditations” as I always have during that time period, but I’ll also continue to contribute to this “time-limited series” as a commentary on this branch of my journey of discovery. Where will I end up when January 1, 2013 rolls around? Stick around and see. I don’t even know the answer yet myself.
34 thoughts on “78 Days: Peace and War”
James. I have much love and respect for you in Messiah. I appreciate your public struggles and pray that you will find the right cord and continue to sing your meditations.
This song is for you. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nxdGQ7BQX6E
Very reflective piece, James.
If you don’t mind me asking, ( I know this is somewhat off topic ) what specifically drove your wife to give up her faith in Christ?
@Boaz: Thanks. I’ll have to watch it later because I’m watching my grandson and fertilizing my trees so I’m kind of “in and out” as far as the computer is concerned.
@Nate: I actually don’t know. I just know one day in casual conversation, my wife mentioned she wasn’t a believer anymore. It was a rather “off the cuff” remark, as if she thought I already knew and that she’d made the decision some time previously. I can only assume that through her contact with the Chabad, she learned the traditional Jewish viewpoint on a variety of topics, including Jesus.
Thanks for the support, guys.
It can be so tricky sometimes with conversions, reversions, and the reasons given as to why they make the decision. So often we hear that traditional Judaism simply cannot allow for Jesus as Messiah, but then you have many devout Jews, learned in Torah, even Orthodox Rabbis for Heaven’s sake, throughout history who have in fact, come to faith in Him. And vice-versa, ad infinitum.
It certainly doesn’t make things any easier, but I always am intrigued by reasons given as to why they accept or reject Messiah. Usually the issues are never as black and white as both sides make them out to be.
Anywho, hope you rest up, and enjoy the remainder of your weekend!
Thanks, Nate. I’m actually less “upset” about my wife and her Jewish identity than I am about some of my fellow “believers” and their rather negative attitude toward Jews, at least those in the Messianic community.
Agreed. It’s disgusting.
Peace to you, James.
And to you, Nate.
Boaz, I’ve seen you mention The Killers before on Facebook, but I’ve never actually heard of them or their music before (I tend to listen to “oldies” from the 1980s and earlier). The Wikipedia article doesn’t mention anything about a religious or faith base for the band, but the link you provided certainly fits in with matters of ‘enduring in faith’. Thanks.
James, sometimes the most spiritual things come from non-religious people. You’re welcome my friend.
I understand this frustration. Often I have shook my head at those who claim to be in the Torah and yet live like they are in the world. And I too have the scars to show for my battles. Ironically, those who have shown the most love and grace of the Messiah are those often on the fire being roasted. History repeating itself? I have been in this place many times. But, God is good! And as always he blesses the journey. I will be interested to read your thoughts.
It is frustrating. I called you out on it the other day, saying, “James – you’re hurting other brothers in Messiah with these wrongful criticisms. Please stop!”
You responded that you’re not about to just shut up, nor change your thinking.
Now, when others take you to task, you start quoting John 13 and 1 Corinthians 13? It’s an empty plea. It’s as if you slapped and slapped, but when you’re slapped in return, you start quoting the “turn the other cheek” lines.
You want love? Start sowing love in your writings. Really. Stop the supersessionoia. Stop the wrongful criticisms. These are brothers in Messiah, loved by God. Stop tearing them — us — down.
We love you and and wish you the best.
I never crossed the line can called Jews racists or apartheid. I didn’t call One Law folks those names either. As you’ll recall, I was calling on Christianity or the One Law subset to “return the Torah” to the Jews. That’s not inconsistent with anything else that I’ve said.
OK. Had to stop writing before as I was playing with my grandson.
Anyway, in the the blog post in question, I was calling for Christians to support Jews, including Messianic Jews, in returning to the Torah and as part of that mission, emphasizing that we should return the Torah to them. In this context, that means returning the right of Jews to behave like Jews, a people who are unique to God with a unique role and purpose, even within the larger Messianic/Christian realm.
I didn’t absolutely say that non-Jews were forbidden from taking on any additional mitzvot, only that we non-Jews need to recognize and give the Jews what is their due according to God and the Bible. I’m not sure how that actually hurts anyone, but apparently it does according to you, Judah.
I even pointed out two examples, one a Jewish rabbi and the other a Christian priest, who were both working to return some aspect of Torah to the rightful hands of the Jewish people, so there is precedent for what I’m suggesting within the larger Jewish/Christian world.
However, when certain (OL) Christians (and I noticed you weren’t one of them, Judah) accuse Jews of being racist for simply desiring that they be allowed to be distinctly Jewish within the larger Christian/Messianic movement, I perceive that as much more hurtful and unloving than my pointing out the Jews and Christians have parallel and even overlapping, but not identical missions and roles in God’s plan for the Kingdom.
You make it sound like I’m “beating up” on OL Christians just because I can, but when the shoe is on the other foot, I suddenly cry out for peace. That’s hardly the case, Judah. Disagreement on theological matters is one thing. Playing the “racist” card is another thing entirely.
Hi James. Don’t let a small number of people sour you on blogging and transparency. That, my friend, would be awarding them a very undeserved victory,
Actually Carl, that has crossed my mind. The ol’ “hang in there and fight the good fight” thing has kept me going for awhile now, when I’ve gotten discouraged with all the “stuff” that periodically gets spewed about in our little corner of the “blogoverse.” It’s actually kind of interesting as things become increasingly clearer for me as far as the purpose of Christianity goes, the pushback from those who don’t want to see that vision gets greater, too.
Thanks for the encouragement.
I can understand your perspective, James. I know I have appreciated reading your blog and do hope it continues. But of course the decision is yours. At the moment I will enjoy seeing how this time (these 78 days) unfolds.
Thanks, Carol. It unfolds each day as God provides them.
James sorry to hear you might shut you web-site down but Boaz is a racist. And he is putting up the dividing wall in an effort to make a name for himself (and some cash while he’s at it). That’s why Tim Hegg got outta dodge. Look up Tim’s response to Boaz so called “divine invitation” theory. He dismantles his false doctrine like 1,2,3 brother. Distance yourself from Baalim!
Ouch, Mike. I’m not sure you read my blog post carefully enough. I understand that you disagree with FFOZ’s organizational stance regarding Jewish and Gentile roles in the body of believers, but saying that Boaz Michael is a racist is over the top. It’s this sort of attitude that has made me question the effectiveness of my blog in the first place, and whether or not it is in my (or anyone else’s) best interest to be part of an online community that seems to tear down rather than build up.
As far as what happened between Boaz and Tim, that’s between Boaz and Tim. Unless you or I have spoken with either one of them and found out what their last conversation was all about, we can’t say with confidence exactly why Tim “got out of Dodge” so to speak. While I respect Hegg’s position in his community and his education, I can’t say that I believe he’s always right in his conclusions.
In any event, within the world of religious scholarship, even well educated and experienced researchers and authors can disagree. For instance, recently, highly respected New Testament scholar Larry Hurtado mentioned that he disagreed with a conclusion arrived at by a scholar he deeply admires, Adela Yarbro Collins. And yet, Hurtado hardly threw insults at Collins nor brought the concept of “Baalim” into play.
Just one last word about what you refer to as “divine invitation…” it was never meant to be any sort of “official theology” and is rather a poor way to refer to how FFOZ conceptualizes the roles of Jews and non-Jews in the body of Messiah. It’s probably easier and more accurate to say that FFOZ supports Jewish covenant obligation to the Torah given at Sinai while non-Jewish disciples of Yeshua can voluntarily take on board certain additional Torah mitzvot if they (we) choose.
While this is more my viewpoint then anyone else’s including FFOZ’s, I tried to explain how “Messianic” non-Jews and Jews have a relationship while maintaining our distinctiveness in a recent blog post of mine. I’ll just let you know in advance, that you won’t agree with my premise or conclusions.
Thanks for commenting, Mike. While we disagree on a number of things, I hope we can still maintain a conversation as brothers in Messiah. Peace.
I hear you James. I’ll tone it down a little bit. Let’s agree to disagree on the Boaz thing. I’ll share these two verses of Shaul for Boaz in love 1 Cor 11:19 “No doubt there have to be differences among [us] to show which of [us] has God’s approval” (emphasis mine) and Rom 14:22 “Whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves”.
Shalom James and God Bless you man!
I can connect with the cry of your heart and have been there many times. Why can’t Christians see how valuable Jews are to God? Why can’t they see their calling as ones to reciprocate blessing to them and that we Christians have no hope if a. God replaced the Jews with Christians and b. if there are no Jews.
The only thing that comes to mind is (spiritual) blindness, ignorance, and envy. None of these are attributes. But I’ve also interacted heavily with Chabad and can I say these traits are present there too?! It’s not just a Christian problem. Some of (R) Judaism is simply a matter of altering the religion to make sure the Christians aren’t right. Some of Christian theology is an attempt to divorce from Judaism and make sure they (Jews) aren’t “right.” Then you have the factions within the particular religions as you mentioned. There are many “anti” Chabad (Jewish) folks who say to stay far away from them as they are a cult, they teach reincarnation (only to a select few) and brainwash Jews and that they aren’t a true “Judaism.” And you have the same thing in the Christian realm.
As I see it, the common denominator is our fallen self-seeking humanity. At these times of anguish when I don’t see what’s “supposed” to be there in the faith communities, I remember that it’s God who works it out in people, THROUGH people. If I “get it” then I need to go and sow it, if I have “it” (the vision, at least) then I need to go and share it.
” It’s like realizing that I’m stranded in a forested valley and completely shrouded by a dense fog. I can’t see well enough to even tell which direction the trail leads. I can’t see how to climb out at all.”
At the rusk of being too bold, may I say the path is clear, take a look and you’ll see it after you move away some of the brush that’s hiding it in plain sight.
Human being, you have already been told what is good, what ADONAI demands of you-
no more than to act justly, love grace and walk in purity with your God.”
“not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
@Mike: Thanks. Blessings to you as well.
@Lrw: Too true. It’s not a Christian problem, it’s a human problem, and thus we are all vulnerable. I’m aware that the Chabad is a far less than perfect organization, but again, that’s because it is made up of human beings. And yet, just like Christianity, the Chabad has also accomplished much good in the world. The fact that I frequently quote from their writings shows that, on a conceptual level, they produce much that is meaningful. Of course, that doesn’t mean that each and every single Chabad person always does good all of the time, anymore than each and every Christian performs only good all of the time.
I try to reflect Micah 6:8 in my writings and these words are among those I’ve quoted from often in the past. And yet, all people of faith, including those who disagree with me, also feel that they are acting justly, being loving, full of grace, and walking in purity with God. To those who accuse Jews in the Messianic movement of blatant racism, I have a problem imagining that they are actually being loving and full of grace, however.
Hebrews 10:25 for me is difficult to accomplish, and I’ve expressed my reasons many times on this blog. Even the small group of men I had been meeting with on Thursdays after work met less and less and finally, we just don’t get together at all. Attempting anything more “formal” would be a strain on family relations (though I’d never hear a word of complaint about it) so I’m at a loss.
First, I agree you do reflect Micah 6:8 a LOT and I’ve said how gracious and measured I find you to be number of times.
But here’s where the “I hope I’m not being too bold” part comes in. Its perplexing that while I’m anguished over another’s blatant disregard for some aspect of scripture I’m mindful of, they seemingly remain oblivious to their own lacking and how it’s effecting me and the greater “body” of Messiah (and with internet, even the world). I don’t understand how something so obvious to me could be so NOT even on their radar. Yet, I typically find that I’m willfully and blatantly disregarding a different area of scripture, and sometimes using those I’m focused on and their lacking, as my excuse to disregard it. So, I wonder to myself, who is anguished over my blatant disregard? Who am I causing pain to by not heeding scripture.
Experientially I’d say that there are always rewards in following Gods commands and directives and fearing Him over any man or religious construct. He says the only way to please Him is to TRUST Him, and that means with our spouses and kids too. I’d respectfully say you need to get back into community with fellow believers and let God work out His will with your wife.
And BTW, when you do go back into community, you won’t find everyone there all together. But after experiencing much of what you’ve gone thru too, I am now in a group with some precious people who are beginning to have the light turned on and slowly and prayerfully I’m teaching them to see their Messiah as the Jew he is and to see the bible in a non supersessionist light. It’s quite humbling as I figured this would never happen, yet God has seen fit to use me to spread this vision to them.
Unfortunately, for me, there are no perfect solutions, and regardless of which fork in the road I take, there’s a consequence for not taking the other.
I am now in a group with some precious people who are beginning to have the light turned on and slowly and prayerfully I’m teaching them to see their Messiah as the Jew he is and to see the bible in a non supersessionist light.
You are really going to enjoy Boaz Michael’s soon-to-be-published book, Tent of David. It’s all about what you just said.
So James, have you thought in terms that you’re robbing people of your fellowship? You have something that is vitally needed to be heard by the Christian community. Not to mention your sweet and gracious nature that is a great example.
Do you have a good enough reason planned out when you’re called to account about it? Just asking. ..
I will also respectfully say you’re limiting God. I find that if I trust Him enough to obey and not focus on all the reasons I can’t, shouldn’t, it’s too hard too, then He is faithful to work out the details that I have no control over (the heart condition of others). After all, he doesn’t ask me to control others, only to obey Him.
Do you have a good enough reason planned out when you’re called to account about it? Just asking. ..
Oh you would have to ask, wouldn’t you. 😉
I haven’t thought about that, as my focus has been more immediate. “Robbing people of my fellowship?” I was once accused of “abandoning” my (previous) One Law congregation by leaving them to pursue other avenues. I don’t feel I’ve really abandoned them as I took a great deal of time and effort to make sure their needs were met before I left. Also, I was only one member of the board of directors, and the rest of them are competent and capable adults.
Really, in person I’m quite shy and don’t speak a great deal until I “get the lay of the land,” so to speak (then, I don’t shut up, but that’s another story. *wink*).
I will consider what you’ve said, Lrw. Thanks.
Just saying that if we are faithful to Him and His word, regardless of our obstacles (the definition of trust) then He will bring the audience to you.
I too am shy (believe it or not) and figured too un-important and un-educated (not your issue, I know) about all this to ever have any influence. I stopped going to church too (unlike you my Jewish half and I do go to Messianic S.) but re-joining Christians (and white-knuckling it for a while) eventually gave way to them referring to me as their group leader. They are hungry… And God brought the opportunities for them to see the scripture, Jews, Israel and Christianity in a different light. It’s still in flux but I’m quite frankly blown away.
My goal is to make as manny friends of Israel, and massage as many Christian hearts to tenderness for His chosen people, as I possibly can while there is yet time. Many Christians don’t realize how much is at stake for them to A. Still be Jews and B. for us Christians to support and love them back to Torah and their Messiah. But you and I have even more at stake since we’re married in to this people and as anti semitism rises I want to do as much as possible to keep as many in my sphere of influence out of that hellish hole.
Btw I didn’t mean to imply Christians are Jews in point a. above. I meant that its important to Christians for their to still be Jews. All the mishegos about “no distinction anymore” is like shooting yourself in the foot.
Thanks, I know what you meant, but it’s good to make it clear for all the people who read the comments but probably won’t respond.
I know what you’re saying and I know what it will probably mean if I do decide to re-enter a church at some point. I know I can discuss it with the missus and I know she’ll tell me that I’m free to worship where and how I see fit, but I also know that it will be something that stands between us. I wish there were a way to avoid that aspect of it, but I just don’t see how, barring a miracle.
I know what you mean by trust (as opposed to faith) and I know that certainly is an issue for me.
But James, it “seems” in the this blog you’ve described a situation where you already have quite a bit “between” you. Her rejection of Christianity, then MJ, then Yeshua, in order to adhere to the Chabad definition of her calling, and her “embarrassment” of having you, a non Jewish Christian, as her husband. I think that’s a lot right there. But don’t forget, God didn’t just call her, He called you too.
Here’s how I describe it: By the act of being born, every Jew is in a covenant whether they know it or not, or whether they submit to it or not. No matter what, the offspring of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are all called, selected, and chosen.
But He said that wasn’t a big enough thing, He was gonna call the Nations too. However, I haven’t seen evidence of “all” Scottish people being called, or all Irish, Spanish, Italian, German, Indian, Asian, African etc… Have you? In fact, I can tell you that not even all of my family has been called to Him, in fact, hardly any of my family has.
But He did select those of us that are Christians, just not based on our lineage, family, ethnicity etc. I don’t know about you but that floors me. It makes me feel so humbled and precious to Him. 1Peter says (metaphorically) “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” He is using beautiful language to point out that we gentile Christians have been called to a very high calling, and task, to be in this world but not of it, and to walk that line of being a gentile yet connected to His precious Israel.
My point is that you shouldn’t sell yourself, and God’s calling on your life. short… You need community and fellowship too, your nature isn’t lower than hers or less significant.
“…your nature isn’t lower than hers or less significant.” No, not as a Christian but as her husband, I still have a responsibility to provide for her including her feelings.