Divergent Trajectories

I have recently been involved in a discussion online with Christian pastors who argue that the “Law” is passed, or fulfilled and therefore they believe Judaism is religion of works righteousness. I told them that is not Judaism, and the Law is not passed, but is part of living a godly life. It highlights for me why Messianic Judaism is not Christianity. We do follow the same Messiah, but the idea of how we are to live is vastly different. Does following Yeshua make one a Christian, or do you think we are something different? Outside of Yeshua, I see nothing in common with them.

-Rabbi Dr Michael Schiffman
from his Facebook comment

Rabbi Dr Schiffman made this comment in a closed Facebook group to which I belong, so I can’t post a link to the entire conversation. I do want to insert a few of the responding comments, but I will disguise the identity of the responders:

RG: we have nothing in common with them…at least I don’t have…G_d’s Covenant with Abraham is an Eternal Covenant for all the ages, as is the Covenant of Circumcision…Forever means ’til revisionists decide to jettison it…?

KS: If I may interject, it’s not that our brethren that don’t see Messianic Judaism as a doctrinally pure way to live feel you can do anything you want. Rather they recoil at the idea that God would expect you to do anything for Him. He is “love” and our greatest and in their mind only commandment is love. But what is the standard. How do I know what love is? Their concept of the Gospel is very subjective. If you engage many christians in dialogue the only firm thing they believe is that you should not follow the “Old Testament” because that is “law”. Unfortunately they then are like the blindfolded men who come across the elephant and one thinks he’s a trunk, another a big foot, a third thinks he is this little tail. We need to walk in the light and then we will see. The light is what David describes in the Psalms: “Torah” is a lamp for my feet and light for my path”. If you reject His written Word how can you hear clearly the Living Word?

YL: So far it seems the conversation is focusing on Christians whose theology is supersessionist, and speaking of those Christians as if they represent the whole. But there are also Christians who have rejected supercessionism and are working to repair its horrible effects on Christian theology and Christian/Jewish relations. If the primary thing that defines Messianic Judaism as a different religion than Christianity is supercessionism and anti-Judaism, then what about those Christians who affirm the Jewish people’s ongoing covenantal relationship with Hashem via the Torah?

Rabbi Dr Schiffman: There is always some overlap among different groups, just as there are differences between Messianics. While there are some post-supersessionist Christians, the majority are supersessionist, and as they find dispensationalism wanting, many have turned toward tradiitional supersessionist theology. Hopefully this will change in the future, but if we are really in a “post-Supersessionist” era, why do we have so many supersessionists around? I guess it hasn’t trickled down yet.

YL: Agreed. So what, if anything, can we do to help make the vision of post-supercessionist Christianity a reality? And are there things we need to avoid as MJs because they subtly undermine that vision?

SB: If a Gentile respected Torah, he (she) would follow the Noakhide instructions. They were given to all mankind. This respect for Torah, I think, is something that should be spread.

I’m sorry for posting such a lengthy transaction but keep in mind this is only a fraction of the responses I’ve reviewed in the conversation as I write this “meditation.” You may be wondering why I’m bothering with all this, but the question of the relationship between Christianity and Messianic Judaism (and I’m deliberately setting aside the Hebrew Roots variants including One Law and Two-House) has been a problem, at least once it came to light that Messianic Judaism must be a Judaism in order to function and be a valid religious and cultural expression of faith in Yeshua for halakhic Jews.

Nearly two months ago, Rabbi Dr. Schiffman wrote a blog post called Messianic Judaism and Christianity: Two Religions With The Same Messiah which more formally presents his ideas on this matter. It is very much in line with what you’ll find in Mark Kinzer’s book, Postmissionary Messianic Judaism: Redefining Christian Engagement with the Jewish People

To distill all of this down into a single sentence, necessarily compressing many complex details, what is being suggested is that Christianity and Messianic Judaism are mutually exclusive religious expressions that, although they share the same God and the same Messiah, otherwise service wholly different populations. Granted, that’s a gross oversimplification, but I believe it captures the essence of what Kinzer and Schiffman are trying to communicate to the rest of us…that is, Christians.

At one point a few years back, this idea bothered me so much that I created an entire blog and series of blog posts, starting with something called Fractured Fellowship.

So where does that leave us. YL provided the most hopeful suggestion in the above-quoted conversation, with the idea that there are “post-supersessionist” Christians who “are working to repair its horrible effects on Christian theology and Christian/Jewish relations” and “who affirm the Jewish people’s ongoing covenantal relationship with Hashem via the Torah.”

I’m not sure YL’s comments were all that well received, especially with the follow-up query about whether or not post-supersessionist Christians should follow the Seven Noahide Laws (and to my understanding, by definition, Christians should already be obeying them).

I must admit to a bit of confusion. I was invited to this Facebook group with the knowledge that I’m not Jewish, so there is some idea that it’s “OK” for Christians and Messianic Jews to occupy the same space, or at least the same virtual space in Facebook. I also have a few Messianic Jews who I feel are my friends and who I have worshipped with fairly recently. Others have invited me to worship and associate with them should we ever overcome the geographic barriers that keep us apart.

This isn’t the only conversation on the web discussing this topic. Both Derek Leman and Gene Shlomovich have written recent blog posts contrasting Christianity and Messianic Judaism. For my own part, I too have have discussed early Christian and Jewish relations as they affect the interaction and fellowship between believing Jews and Christians today.

Yet in reading many of the comments in the Facebook conversation, it is as if fellowship between Messianic Jews and Christians on many levels is undesired and unwelcome.

I wonder if this was built into the original design?

They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

Luke 21:24 (ESV)

Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.

Romans 11:25 (ESV)

It would seem that not only have (most of) the Jewish people been temporarily blinded to the identity of the Messiah for the sake of the Gentiles, but until the time when Jewish eyes will be reopened, there will be enmity between the Jew and the Gentile (Christian). This somewhat flies in the face of the following:

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.

Ephesians 2:13-16 (ESV)

However, if you add the passages from Luke and Romans to my analysis of Cohen from his book From the Maccabees to the Mishnah, you start seeing a picture of a less than rosy relationship between the first Jewish disciples of the Messiah and the first Gentile disciples right from the start.

Gene Shlomovich confirms this in a comment on his blog:

To begin with, it took nearly 20 years since the all Jewish Messianic community was founded around 30 CE to make first Gentile converts. So, only around year 50 CE we have first Gentile believers coming unto the scene. Even then it wasn’t all flowers between the two groups. I think the example of Peter being afraid to be seen with Gentiles shows that the two groups had an uneasy social relationship from the get go, which hardly meshes with your statement of “unprecedented level of social cohesion” and supposedly fully integrated messianic synagogues. (While you read this, keep in mind that Romans destroyed Jerusalem and led Jews away in chains mere 20 years later, in 70 CE).

Secondly, almost immediately after the first converts among the Gentiles were made, there was a rise in Roman antisemitism. We read that already in Acts 18:2 that Roman Emperor Claudius threw out all Jews from Rome (around 50 CE). This had effectively ended whatever the Jewish presence that existed among the Roman Christians, who were probably the biggest single group of Gentile believers at the time. Secondly and some say as a result of that expulsion, we see an undercurrent of pride and anti-Judaism beginning to appear among Gentile believers – and we have Paul warning (some say around year 56 CE) Gentiles under his care about it. (Romans 11:18) And just 16 years later, Jerusalem and the Temple was destroyed, effectively ending the Messianic Jewish presence in the land, along with whatever communities and synagogues that had existed at the time.

Fortunately, he followed up with another comment:

I have no problem fellowship and worshiping with Gentile believers. In fact, the goal of this blog, as it says in the head, is ” Jewish-Gentile Reconciliation”. What I take issue with is the Supersessionism found within some Hebrew Roots circles, the appropriation of Judaism and misuse of Jewish sancta, anti-Judaism, and misleading Christians (Gentiles) to force them to do things that G-d never intended them to do by making them feel that they are sinning if they do not eat up the One Law agenda.

So what we have, at least from Gene’s perspective, is not a requirement for absolute separation between Messianic Jews and Christians in our individual silos, but a clear definition of relationships and roles within any mutual fellowship context.

Of course, you’ll find variation among believing Jews, with some advocating for total or at least significant inclusion of Gentiles within a Jewish worship and cultural lifestyle, and others advocating for the polar opposite and requiring that non-Jews be excluded from any Messianic Jewish community (which will be pretty tough, since to the best of my awareness, there currently is no Messianic Jewish synagogue, congregation, or community composed of exclusively Jews or even of a majority of Jews).

But then what do we do with the following passages?

Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord say,
“The Lord will surely separate me from his people”;
and let not the eunuch say,
“Behold, I am a dry tree.”
For thus says the Lord:
“To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths,
who choose the things that please me
and hold fast my covenant,
I will give in my house and within my walls
a monument and a name
better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
that shall not be cut off.
“And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord,
to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord,
and to be his servants,
everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it,
and holds fast my covenant—
these I will bring to my holy mountain,
and make them joyful in my house of prayer;
their burnt offerings and their sacrifices
will be accepted on my altar;
for my house shall be called a house of prayer
for all peoples.”
The Lord God,
who gathers the outcasts of Israel, declares,
“I will gather yet others to him
besides those already gathered.”

Isaiah 56:3-8 (ESV)

Thus says the LORD of hosts: In those days ten men from the nations of every tongue shall take hold of the robe of a Jew, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’”

Zechariah 8:23 (ESV)

While the Matthew 28:18-20 imperative is the command of Jesus to his Jewish disciples to also make disciples of the nations, it doesn’t necessarily pre-suppose a lasting relationship and a fused corporate identity between said-Jewish and Gentile disciples. Certainly there is ample evidence to support how the Jewish and Gentile disciples of the Master almost immediately developed separate communities, probably within a few decades of the first Gentile being brought into worship of the God of Israel through the Jewish Messiah.

And yet Isaiah and Zechariah suggest that we Gentiles (Christians?) may have a closer relationship to the Jews and the Temple than what modern-day Messianics such as Schiffman and Kinzer would necessarily support. It has been suggested that in the future Temple, even Gentiles (Christians?) will be allowed to serve as Priests, but this is disputed by Gene Shlomovich in another of his recent blog posts:

Will the reign of Yeshua as Messiah mean that anyone who truly worships G-d, Jew or Gentile, could finally just waltz into the sanctuary of G-d in the new Temple, have the unfettered access anywhere, even if they are not priests? Does this mean, as some teach, the Gentiles will be selected to work as priests in the new Temple? Not at all!

They [that is “priests, who are Levites and descendants of Zadok” Ezekiel 44:14] alone are to enter my sanctuary; they alone are to come near my table to minister before me and perform my service. (Ezekiel 44:15)

Gene also quotes scripture that supports the idea of Gentiles continuing to be restricted to the outer courts of the future Temple in Messianic times.

Go and measure the Temple of G-d and the altar, with its worshipers. But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. (Revelation 11:2)

His final comment on the matter is this:

The Temple will be a place where both Jews and Gentiles could worship the G-d of Israel, both together and in unique ways. All nations will come to learn from Israel because they will all know that G-d is with the Jewish people:

This is what the L-rd Almighty says: “In those days ten people from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, ‘Let us go with you, because we have heard that G-d is with you.’” (Zechariah 8:23)

The bottom line seems to be that Messianic Jews and Gentile Christians may have started out at a single point in history but once we began to diverge on separate trajectories, those separate and distinct paths forever defined our destiny in terms of a relationship with each other (Jews and Christians) and our separate relationships with God (relative to differences in application of Torah upon Jews and Christians).

Boaz Michael’s new book Tent of David: Healing the Vision of the Messianic Gentile will become available in January 2013 and defines the Gentile mission in the community of the church as one of healing between Christian and Jew. There is also an educational group open to Jews and (Gentile) Christians called MJ Studies that bills itself as “a gateway to post-supersessionist New Testament scholarship”. This group presumably would allow Christians to participate with Jews in mutual study and fellowship (at least virtually) so Jewish/Christian relationships don’t have to be totally severed for the sake of the modern Jewish disciples of Messiah.

There’s a part of me screaming in my ear that the easiest method of satisfying Messianic Jewish requirements is just to let them be. If the integration or even occasional inclusion of the Gentile Christian into a Messianic Jewish context is a great a difficulty, I can solve the problem by having nothing to do with Messianic Judaism. I can exist in a wholly separate and sealed conduit containing only Gentile Christians or, if that’s not to my taste, I can form a “community of one,” but in either case, I can allow Messianic Judaism to develop and grow without injecting my presence into their awareness. Of course, that’s an extremist solution, but it’s the easiest one to implement.

But while some Messianic Jews (and many Jews in general) see Christians as “the enemy,” largely due to the centuries of crime, hostility, rejection, and murder we’ve committed against Jews and Jewish communities, all fueled by our supersessionistic theologies, there are a few voices out there (including a few Jewish voices) that express the hope that some in the church actually support the Jewish right to define Judaism, including the Jewish worship of the Messiah Yeshua. If that is true, there may be hope for future dialog between our two groups. Perhaps that will lead to healing.

I want you to know that I support Jewish uniqueness both generally and as it applies to the Messianic movement. For my part and with that in mind, if someone invites me into their house, I will enter. If they have a “keep out” sign in their yard, I’ll pass by their house and keep on walking.

As for unity in the body of Messiah…as far as I can see, based on everything I’ve just said, that is yet to come.

I know that on Fridays I typically post a commentary on the week’s Torah Portion, (this week it is Vayishlach) but the current topic captured my thoughts and I found I had lost all enthusiasm for that other endeavor. Besides, with images such as “warring” brothers, and man wrestling with God, maybe the theme of Christian vs. Messianic Jew isn’t so off base after all.

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31 thoughts on “Divergent Trajectories”

  1. James, my writings are not intended to be anti-Gentile. Gentiles who respect Messianic Jewish teachings and values are more than welcome in our midst. The issue is gentiles who want to co-opt our identity, or devalue our relationship to the torah, or relegate the Torah to something historical but has no current value now that Yeshua has come is the issue. Personally, I welcome, and deeply value Gentiles who have cast their lot with us. There are many such people, and I appreciate them, and am glad they are among us.

  2. I appreciate your comments and your quick response, Dr. Schiffman. I realize from my other conversations with you that you are not anti-gentile, but the language of any discussion regarding Christianity and Messianic Judaism isn’t always easy to navigate. Writing blog posts like this one is a way for me to try to process that language and those concepts.

    Thanks.

  3. James,

    I’ve not been in every M Synagogue by any stretch, but I have interacted with some of the men you mention by name and I can’t relate to your post today, not that it’s a requirement or anything though! 🙂

    To me it’s simply about humility. There’s far more Gentiles, after all, than Jews.

    Also, there’s a plethora of churches that Christians can go to, so why do they feel the need to make Messianic Jewish congregations into another church experience?

    If I wonder this, then how much more a Jew.

    I support the right of MJ Synagogues to create their own space and to begin to adhere to the covenant to the varying degrees they are each respectfully comfortable with. I see them (MJ’s) as working it out, breaking free of the restraints that have come thru gentile majority, gentile rule, and gentile theology.

    Is it sometimes uncomfortable for me to take the backseat when I’m used to being the spiritual “force” in my home and among the majority in “community” i.e., Church? Yes. But as one married to a Jew, it’s my calling and a beautiful opportunity to serve God and His people.

    There’s a certain separation that needs to happen, a marking out of identities that I feel Dr. Schiffman and Kinzer are trying to accomplish but in no way do I feel that they are anti Christian or anti Gentile. They just don’t want to be in a box created by the Church/Gentile-Christian.

    We Gentiles just need to respect Jewish space and quit giving off the vibe that we are the leaders, the ones holding “truth” (via our long tradition of believing in Messiah) and most importantly our supersessionist ideas that crop up out of nowhere sometimes without even trying to.

  4. Also, there’s a plethora of churches that Christians can go to, so why do they feel the need to make Messianic Jewish congregations into another church experience?

    Actually, I wasn’t advocating for that at all. I believe that Jews have a perfect right to establish and maintain their own synagogues within the Messianic context. I certainly don’t expect Jews to have a “church” experience.

    The main point of my blog was to explore actual interactions between these two worlds that have for so very long, traveled along divergent trajectories. If we indeed do share the same God and the same Messiah, how far does that “sharing” go? Within even what I consider “proper” Messianic Judaism, there is some variability relative to acceptance of non-Jews. We can’t depend upon the “first century church” as a model, because the “connectedness” between Jewish and Gentile disciples began to break down almost immediately. Now that we are approaching the other end of the line, so to speak, is there a way to open relations again.

    I’m not particularly talking about “Judaically-aware, post-supersessionist” Christians who are already attending MJ groups, but larger Christianity. Can there be a relationship on any level and if so, what should it look like?

    There are a lot of different groups and different standards for each group, but if Messianic Judaism progresses on its journey to grow and be accepted as one of the normative Judaism of our age, is there a role for Christianity?

    That’s what I’m trying to explore.

  5. “We can’t depend upon the “first century church” as a model, because the “connectedness” between Jewish and Gentile disciples began to break down almost immediately. Now that we are approaching the other end of the line, so to speak, is there a way to open relations again.”

    James, I feel the whole thing depends upon humility, grace, and gratitude.

    Reasoning:

    1. Christians should be humble, gracious and grateful because without Jews we’d have NO knowledge of God, NO bible, and NO HOPE of redemption. They are our spiritual elder brothers, the covenant people of God, and the firstborn son of Adonai.

    Does that mean they have it “all” correct, and there is no failings? No.

    2. Believing Jews should be humble, gracious and grateful because it’s not their plan, after all, it’s God’s, and He has one for us gentiles too who have kept the Apostolic mission (go tell all nations) knowledge of Messiah alive for these 2k yrs. Additionally, most Jews who have entered into relationship with Messiah did so due to a gentile Christian.

    Does that mean they have it “all” correct, and there is no failings? (h, e, double toothpicks, No.)

    Therefore, no one is left out of the plan, and there is room for all IF there is first humility. Are there unreasonable Jews who want to act as if they have all truth and there is no room for a gentile?

    Yes, of course.

    Just like there are (far more) unreasonable gentile Christians who think all Jews need to become Christians and act like a Gentile to believe in their Messiah.

    It’s hard for reasonable God loving people to reject others who come in humility and offer love and grace.

  6. “Actually, I wasn’t advocating for that at all. I believe that Jews have a perfect right to establish and maintain their own synagogues within the Messianic context. I certainly don’t expect Jews to have a “church” experience.”

    Yes, I get that James, but my point is that this is how we gentiles cause the Jews offense and frustration to where they may think the answer is to exclude gentiles.

    The fix is for us gentiles to understand our calling and quit trying to “swap duties.”

  7. There’s a lot of education that has to happen between here and there and a lot of assumptions that have been held by the church for centuries will have to be set aside. You know how people hate to question let alone give up their traditions, even for the sake of the Bible and God.

  8. Yep, I agree, but that is best, and most effectively, done within a relationship of grace and patience. Allowing others to find themselves (Jews) so to speak and affirming all we can, but also focusing on our own calling.

  9. @Dan Benzvi: “They”?! Who is “they”?. For that matter, who is “us”? And then there is the “Pogo paradox”: “We have met the enemy, and he is us!” Remember that the boundaries are rather porous, and largely defined behaviorally (even moreso than theologically).

  10. The question is, do Jews have the right to establish synagogues so that Jews can worship God as a body? We don’t deny that right for the Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, or any other sect of Judaism, why do some people try to deny that right for Jews who are Messianic?

  11. Mainstream Judaism does not exclude non-Jewish visitors from prayer services, because of the Torah precept that HaShem’s house shall be identified as a house of prayer for all peoples, though it would not accept them as members of the synagogue and they are not elegible to participate in every aspect of services. Even as “Yisrael” Jews cannot generally perform “Cohen” or “Levi” roles, there must be limitations on non-Jewish participation in Jewish services. Some congregations may accept some as “associate members”. A MJ synagogue need not be any different; though obviously a majority presence of non-Jews would tend to inhibit the very purpose for which such a shul is to be established.

    A question must be asked, however, in contexts where few Jews exist and a sufficient number of knowledgeable non-Jews are willing and able to support these few Jews in praying and living Jewishly. Must we penalize the Jewish minority by prohibiting such support in the form of a synagogue community context? Now, one may argue that some minimum standard of Jewish presence must be met to justify the operation of a synagogue (i.e., a minyan). And one may argue that the quality of MJ shuls in general has failed to meet suitable standards of support, both for the non-Jewish supporters and for the quality of Jewish life in the Jews themselves. But the failure in practice to achieve an ideal is not a justification to invalidate the pursuit of such a goal.

  12. While people’s devotion is focused on religion instead of on Jesus/Yeshua there will always be division, suspicion and hostility.

    Sadly many (maybe most) professing followers of Jesus/Yeshua prefer religious affiliation and maintain an “us and them” mentality. There is only ONE head and ONE body, made up of many parts with different functions but with one ultimate purpose.

  13. “A question must be asked, however, in contexts where few Jews exist and a sufficient number of knowledgeable non-Jews are willing and able to support these few Jews in praying and living Jewishly.”

    You of course conveniently omit MONEY from the support. FYI, there will not be MJ synagogues in existence without Gentile members. For this (money) they will give them even a bigger role…

    Who are you trying to kid?

  14. “Sadly many (maybe most) professing followers of Jesus/Yeshua prefer religious affiliation and maintain an “us and them” mentality. There is only ONE head and ONE body, made up of many parts with different functions but with one ultimate purpose.”

    Most religious people have a religious context made up of a social group, theology and so on. As human beings, we tend to create systems to help organize and understand our environment including our “faith” environment. No one has the inside track to pure, unadulterated truth.

    “You of course conveniently omit MONEY from the support. FYI, there will not be MJ synagogues in existence without Gentile members. For this (money) they will give them even a bigger role…

    Who are you trying to kid?”

    Huh?

    What, Dan. Your congregation doesn’t ask for donations to pay the bills?

  15. Well, Dan, you are absolutely correct that I wasn’t thinking about money when I wrote about “support” in describing my hypothetical scenario. Apparently you are more practically-minded than I am. I’ve virtually never encountered an MJ shul that was managing to do more than barely meet shoestring expenses, with or without non-Jewish contributions. And the American Conservative shul of which I was a member for decades would frequently host fund-raising events to which the non-Jewish community contributed financially. But if you’re trying to suggest that any shul, MJ or otherwise, is deliberately trying to milk the non-Jewish community for funding, I think you are by far too cynical. I strongly doubt that you can show me any self-respecting shul that is actually turning a profit — and certainly not by exploiting non-Jews or by “selling” to them some sort of position of privilege or power within the Jewish community. In the few cases where I have seen a shul whose members are sufficiently affluent for their shul to have any reasonable amount of discretionary funds (and generally these have been large Reform temples), those funds have been contributed to charitable causes.

  16. Hey, guys, stop playing with doo-doo…

    Without Gentile members MJ will not survive. Gentiles are only equal when it comes to contribution, but will they be able to make aliah laTorah? Hypocrisy galore…..

    1. @Dan: Your cynical (and scatological) denigration of the MJ enterprise and the non-Jews who seek to paticipate in it is unworthy of this discussion. MJ began with Jews and flourished with Jews. There is no reason to believe that it could not do so without non-Jewish participation just as well as traditional forms of Judaism have done. However, non-Jews attached themselves to the MJ movement because they perceived in it a quest that they wished to share, for authentic pursuit of the real Rav Yeshua and his teachings. Neither these teachings, nor anything in the Torah that they elucidate, suggests to non-Jews that they should desire to make aliyah to Israel, nor that they should seek aliyot to the Torah readings in the synagogue context. It is regrettable that MJ attempts to define how Jewish messianists should conduct themselves could not also clarify how non-Jewish messianists should proceed. American concepts of individual equality have tended to confuse and obviate the Torah’s distinctives between Jewish men and women, and those between Jews and non-Jews. Americans have frequently failed to distinguish between equality and identicality (i.e., two different kinds of “sameness”). Equality is appropriately applied to innate individual rights, but it does not require sameness of societal (or religious) roles. This has likewise affected the interpretation and application of various passages in the messianic writings. Recent MJ thinking has recognized the sameness error (and the confusion and ill-feelings it has engendered) and tried to correct it by emphasizing proper distinctives. This need not denigrate non-Jewish participation, but it does demand positive clarification of appropriate roles and honors within the greater inclusive community of messianists. Those who wish to contribute positively to the resolution of admitted problems will be appreciated. Those who wish only to criticize are of no help.

  17. Dan, I pay an annual membership fee for my family to the local Reform shul. Although I haven’t attended in many years, I’m still a member. However, that doesn’t mean I’d ever be granted an aliyah. My giving to them isn’t contingent upon them granting me an aliyah or anything else. If a non-Jew chooses to attend a Messianic Jewish group with the understanding of Jewish and non-Jewish roles within that context not being identical, that’s a choice…not exploitation.

  18. “@Dan: Your cynical (and scatological) denigration of the MJ enterprise and the non-Jews who seek to paticipate in it is unworthy of this discussion. ”

    So why are you discussing?

    1. @Dan: I’m discussing the topic of Divergent Trajectories in order to consider its parameters and possibly to contribute a helpful worthwhile thought to other participants. Therefore I do not dismiss or denigrate the subjects of the discussion, even when I must identify negative aspects of a current problem. I’m answering you, because I also do not dismiss you as hopeless and I hope that I may possibly penetrate your cynicism with something far better.

  19. “If a non-Jew chooses to attend a Messianic Jewish group with the understanding of Jewish and non-Jewish roles within that context not being identical, that’s a choice…not exploitation.”

    Just like you chose, ha, James? How is it working for you?

  20. Just like you chose, ha, James? How is it working for you?

    A: There is not actual Messianic Jewish congregation in my area.

    B: Even if there were, for the sake of my wife, I would attend sparingly or not at all.

    How are my present choices working for me? Nothing is perfect, but then who knows where opportunities lie ahead? Eighteen months ago, I made a choice based, in part, on an assumption that didn’t pan out. Today, I’m moving in a different direction that seems more sustainable, assuming I can get past the “start up” phase.

    Just keep reading my blog posts. Like everyone else, you’ll discover how things are working out for me day by day.

  21. “Just keep reading my blog posts. Like everyone else, you’ll discover how things are working out for me day by day.”

    You remind me of an edict…One day at a time….As long as you please the BE/DI crowed…..

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