Introduction to Messianic Judaism: Fulfilling the Prophesy of Amos, Part 1

conference2The most momentous decision the early Christian movement had to make was on the status of Gentiles who wished to join it. That Gentiles should join the movement was not in itself problematic, since there was a widespread Jewish expectation, based on biblical prophecies, that in the last days the restoration of God’s own people Israel would be accompanied by the conversion of the other nations to the worship of the God of Israel. Since the early Christians believed that the messianic restoration of Israel was now under way in the form of their own community, it would not have been difficult for them to recognize that the time for the conversion of the nations was also arriving. What was much less clear, however, was whether Gentiles who came to faith in Jesus the Messiah should become Jews, getting circumcised (in the case of men) and adopting the full yoke of Torah, or whether they could remain Gentiles while enjoying the same blessings of eschatological salvation that Jewish believers in Jesus did.

-Richard Bauckham
“Chapter 16: James and the Jerusalem Council Decision” (pg 178)
Introduction to Messianic Judaism: Its Ecclesial Context and Biblical Foundations

This should be a familiar theme to those of you who regularly read my blog. I spent a considerable amount of time and effort reviewing Luke’s Acts, thanks largely to D. Thomas Lancaster’s Torah Club series Chronicles of the Apostles, published by First Fruits of Zion (FFOZ). I was pleased to find that several of the articles in Rudolph’s and Willitts’ book addressed the same issues. But let’s back up a step.

Darrell Bock, in “Chapter 15: The Restoration of Israel in Luke-Acts” sets the stage for the drama of Gentile inclusion into a branch of normative Judaism by deconstructing the traditional Christian view of these books of scripture.

Burge argues for a landless and nationless theology in which the equality of Jew and Gentile in Christ is the key ecclesiological reality. In this view, Jesus as Temple or as forming a new universal Temple community becomes the locus for holy space. Israel is absorbed into the church and hope in the land is spiritualized to refer to a restored earth.

This chapter seeks to redress the balance. When I speak of Israel in this essay it is the Jewish people I have in mind as opposed to new Israel.

-Bock, pg 168

It is true that Luke-Acts is really all about the Gentiles. According to Bock…

Luke-Acts was written between CE 60 and 80 in part to legitimate the inclusion of Gentiles in an originally Jewish movement according to God’s plan. Theopolis (Luke 1:3; Acts 1:1) is a Jesus-believing Gentile who needs assurance. Luke-Acts presents Jesus as God’s exalted and vindicated bearer of kingdom promise, forgiveness, and life for all who believe, Jew and Gentile. The bestowal of God’s Spirit marks the new era’s arrival…This message completes the promises made to Abraham and Israel centuries ago.

-ibid, pp 168-9

The Messiah movement was a wholly owned and operated franchise of Judaism (if you’ll forgive the slight levity here). It’s only natural to imagine that Gentiles hearing that they too could join might have been skeptical about the reality of this promise and the status that they would (or wouldn’t) be granted. Luke means to reassure them that they will be equal sharers in the blessings made to Israel, but make no mistake, there is another side to Luke’s narrative.

Luke argues that the church roots its message in ancient promises, a story in continuity with Israel’s promised hope found in God’s covenantal promises to her. The entire saga involves Israel’s restoration. For all that Gentile inclusion and equality in the new community brings, we never lose sight of the fact that it is Israel’s story and Israel’s hope that brings blessing to the world, just as Genesis 12:3 promised.

-ibid

Nothing Luke, let alone Bock, writes allows Gentile inclusion to delegitimize the Jewish people as God’s people and nation Israel. Messiah is depicted as “the light to the Gentiles and the glory of Israel” (pg 171). We among the nations receive blessings because of Israel, not because we become Israel. Bock also states:

Thus, redemption involves both political and spiritual elements, nationalistic themes (Luke 1:71, 74) and the offer of forgiveness (1:77-78).

-ibid, pg 171

Redemption for Israel is not just spiritual, it’s national and physical. If Israel is obedient to God, Messiah will place Israel at the head of the nations and take up his Throne in Jerusalem. However, there is a problem. Bock does not cast the Gentiles as the primary roadblock to God’s restoration of Israel, but instead declares:

The warning to the nation is that if she rejects God’s message, then blessing may not come to her but may go to the Gentiles. Israel’s story has an obstacle, her own rejecting heart. The question is whether that obstacle is permanent or not.

-ibid, pg 172, citing Luke 4:16-30

the-prophetTraditional Christian supersessionism would say that the obstacle was permanent and the blessings forever left Israel and were transferred to the (Gentile) church. However, since the blessings promised to Abraham only come to the nations by way of Israel, if Israel were permanently eliminated what would happen to us? By definition, any roadblock confronting Israel can only be temporary, just as the Old Testament (Tanakh) record presents how God only turned away from his people Israel “momentarily,” turning immediately back when they humbled their hearts and turned to their God.

Luke 21:24 pictures a turnaround in Israel’s fate. Near the end of the eschatological discourse, Luke describes Jerusalem being trodden down for a time and refers to this period as “the times of the Gentiles.” It refers to a period of Gentile domination, while alluding to a subsequent hope for Israel.

…this view of Israel’s judgment now but vindication later suggests what Paul also contents in Romans 11:25-26: Israel has a future, grafted back in when the fullness of the Gentiles leads her to respond. These chapters certainly have ethnic Israel in view, not any concept of a spiritual Israel. Romans 9-11 develops the temporary period of judgment noted in Luke 13:34-35.

-ibid, pg 173

I should say at this point that Bock extensively cites scripture to support his statements. To restrict the length of this blog post (and I’ve already had to split it into two parts), I am editing out most of his references, so I encourage you to read his chapter in full to get all of the corroborating details.

In covering Acts, Bock deliberately omits Acts 15 and presents several other key areas. Using Acts 1:4-7, Bock establishes the “promise of the Father” which leads the disciples of Jesus to anticipate that the kingdom of Heaven is at hand and that Messiah, prior to (or instead of) the ascension, will restore Israel nationally and spiritually. He does no such thing, but not because the desire is inappropriate. It simply isn’t time yet. However in Acts 3:18-21, Bock shows us that Peter is completely aware that the “times of refreshing” refer to future “refreshment”, which promises the messianic age of salvation as foretold by the Prophets.

But what’s important for we Gentiles to note, is his treatment of Acts 10-11:

In the two passages involving Cornelius in Acts 10-11, the Spirit’s coming shows that Gentiles are equal to Jews in blessing, so that circumcision is not required of Gentiles. The Spirit occupying uncircumcised Gentiles shows they are already cleansed and sacred. The new era’s sign comes to Gentiles as Gentiles. There is no need for them to become Jews. Israel’s story has finally come to bless the nations.

-ibid, pp 175-6

Notice that the nations (Gentiles) did not have to actually become Israel, either by replacing them or joining them as Jews (or pseudo-Jews). We are blessed within one ekklesia made up of Israel (Jews) and the nations (Gentile believers).

As I mentioned before, Bock omits the most critical part of Acts for Gentile inclusion. Bauckham picks that theme up in the following chapter, which you’ll read, along with how we Gentile Christians fulfill the words of the Prophet Amos, in Part 2 of this meditation.

156 days

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26 thoughts on “Introduction to Messianic Judaism: Fulfilling the Prophesy of Amos, Part 1”

  1. James, enjoying your book reviews for sure. Last night I watched a program by Simcha Jacobovici. My daughter had DVRd it off the History Channel I believe. Very interesting. Thought you would enjoy it too. He was exploring the explosion of Mt. Vesuvius and the spread of Christianity. How Jewish and Christian believers were brought to Pompeii as slaves and they brought the message of Yeshua to that region. There was archeological evidence of such. Anyway. I know its a little off topic. Keep reading and sharing with us. You amaze me. I have no idea how you read all these book and then blog the (lengthy) post that you write. I read 2 paragraphs in a book and my eyes get heavy… So I enjoy your reviews of the books.

  2. You amaze me. I have no idea how you read all these book and then blog the (lengthy) post that you write. I read 2 paragraphs in a book and my eyes get heavy… So I enjoy your reviews of the books.

    If I’m reading in my car over my lunch hour, sometimes I’ll sneak in a quick “power nap.” 😉

    Thanks, Joy.

  3. Interesting discussion James. Though I don’t hold to a “bilateral-eschatological” view, as you do, I can at least appreciate a survey of the books you’re reading and interested in.

    You said:

    // We among the nations receive blessings because of Israel, not because we become Israel. //

    Something that weighs heavy on my mind in discussions like this, goes back to the very basic question of how the Torah (and how the Tanakh in general, since it is based so largely on the Torah) relates to non-Jewish believers in Messiah Yeshua. Since the Torah was so uniquely given to Israel, and not to the nations (gentiles), how is a non-Jewish believer in Yeshua supposed to then read the Torah, and apply the Torah to him/herself, if they are not in fact “Israel” (and by “Israel” I should probably clarify that I’m not talking about literal citizenship according to Rabbinic authorities today, but rather, to the much broader “Israel of God” or “Kingdom of Israel” that Yeshua will be Lord and King over at his return).

    If a non-Jewish believer is in no way, shape or form “Israel” then how can such a believer even begin to apply the Torah (let alone the rest of the Tanakh) to their lives? When the word “Israel” or “Children of Israel” is used in the Torah, won’t such a believer read that as: “That’s written to them, Israel, but not to me.”?

  4. That’s the same problem that faced James and the Council of Apostles in Acts 15. What are we to do with these Gentiles? James came up with halachah that allowed the Gentiles to enter the community of the Messiah and remain Gentiles. He interestingly enough applied Lev 17-18 (see Part 6 in my Return to Jerusalem series) to identify “Messianic Gentiles” as essentially ” resident aliens” among Israel, with much but not all of the Torah applying to them (us).

    Toby Janicki, in his article “A Gentile Believer’s Obligation to Torah”, published in Messiah Journal 109, unpacks and expands upon the “apostolic decree” of James to illustrate just how much of the Torah the Gentile is obligated to. The Bible can be deceptively simple and linear in its presentation, but to answer questions like yours (and I’m sure you realize this) requires a bit more digging. In fact, the Torah applies to all of humanity, but it is applied differently depending on whether you are Jewish or a person from among “the nations who are called by God’s Name.”

  5. // That’s the same problem that faced James and the Council of Apostles in Acts 15. //

    Sort of. I don’t think the question at the council’s feat was a theological question like: “Are non-Jewish believers a part of Israel.” Rather, the question before them was much more narrow: “Must non-Jews get circumcised in order to be saved” (which can be read: “Must non-Jews get circumcised in order to enter God’s covenant people,”, i.e. Israel), with the answer being ‘no’. At least, that’s a brief summary of Acts 15 from my perspective.

    Regarding “Messianic Gentiles” having resident alien status among Israel, I’m not sure I’ve heard your take on Ephesians 2:19 — which seems to be against holding that position, but maybe you see Eph. 2:19 differently?

    And though I don’t personally believe non-Jewish believers have “resident alien” or “foreigner” or “stranger” status today, if for the sake of discussion we granted that this were the case, wasn’t the sojourner also commanded to observe most of the Commandments found in the Torah, as a native-born Israelite was, such as the Feast of Unleavened bread (Exodus 12:19), the 7th day Sabbath (Ex. 20:10), etc?

  6. Here’s my take on Ephesians 2:13-16, Rob. My blog post for Wednesday illustrates what happens when we try to take the Jewish leg and the Gentile leg of the ekklesia and fuse them into a single limb. I know it’s a metaphor, but it’s a good one.

  7. I remember reading that post and disagreeing with Lancaster’s analysis (which I commented on), but I don’t see you directly discussing Eph. 2:19 — but I only just skimmed it, so maybe I missed it.

    What’s your take?

  8. And I don’t think non-Jews observing the 7th day Sabbath or the Feast of Unleavened Bread erases the distinction between Jew & non-Jew. The commandments and feasts/holy-days that we keep are only one aspect of a person’s ethnic and cultural identity — not the sum-total.

  9. but I don’t see you directly discussing Eph. 2:19 — but I only just skimmed it, so maybe I missed it.

    I was hoping it would be obvious from the context. I’m not a big fan of taking a single verse out of one letter and making an entire theology around it. However, no, I don’t believe that we Gentiles are foreigners or strangers to the community of God since we are brought near by our faith in Messiah. That also doesn’t mean we become a fused entity eliminating the Jewish people by replacing them with a hybrid Jew-Gentile Israel. I believe that Jews and Gentiles get to be Jews and Gentiles and still part of one body…but different parts of one body.

    In Ephesians 3 (remember, context…Paul’s brain didn’t turn off at the end of Ephesians 2, and from his viewpoint, his letter was probably not broken up into chapters), he called “the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you” a mystery.

    Ephesians 3:6 should be the key. Only the NIV says, “This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus,” differentiating Israel from the Gentiles as members in one body and sharers of the promise. Most other translations say that Jews and Gentiles are “members of the same body.”

    Mainstream Christianity sees this as a sign that Jews and Gentiles are identical “Christian units,” so to speak. The lack of Jewish and Gentile distinction destroys Judaism and Jewish people, turning them into Christian. What you are suggesting is doing the same thing, but in the opposite direction, but the net effect is identical.

    Look at it this way. I have a heart and a liver. They inhabit the same body. My body absolutely needs both of them so I can live. Without either of them, I would die. But they are absolutely not the same identical organs. My liver could never take the place of my heart or vice versa. We Gentiles, as a unique “organ” have been “grafted in” (transplanted in?) to the larger body (ekklesia) of Messiah, but that doesn’t require that the Jewish people stop being Israel or be forced to “share” Israel within the body of Messiah.

    The verses cited don’t prove my point of view over yours but then they don’t prove the reverse, either. I can choose to be cautious and take this perspective and walk with it, and you can choose otherwise, and one day we will know with absolute certainty.

    I have observed Shabbos with my wife and children in the past, we had a family Passover seder together, I build a sukkah in our backyard every year. If we have a “bilateral” family, I don’t think it’s a terrible stretch to have a “bilateral congregation,” either.

  10. And a quick word on the NIV’s translation of Ephesians 3:6, the NIV actually adds a bit more information to this verse than the actual Greek. The Greek simply says that gentiles are Fellow-Heirs (or Joint-Heirs), a “Joint-Body” (σύσσωμα / part of the same body), and Fellow-Partakers (or Joint Partakers).

    Regarding something you said:

    // Mainstream Christianity sees this as a sign that Jews and Gentiles are identical “Christian units,” so to speak. The lack of Jewish and Gentile distinction destroys Judaism and Jewish people, turning them into Christian. What you are suggesting is doing the same thing, but in the opposite direction, but the net effect is identical. //

    98% of the Jewish people I’ve met who have come into the Messianic congregations I’ve attended were either only nominally practicing Judaism, or not practicing it at all. And when these Jews come into, say, a Messianic “One-Law” congregation, they are actually confronted with more Judaism than they ever practiced before they became believers. So how can you say that a One-Law approach eliminates “Jewishness” when most Jews coming into this actually end up observing more Torah than they ever did before?

  11. Maybe a discussion like this can be boiled down into a question of what makes Jewish believers distinctive from non-Jewish believers, biblically speaking. I’m currently reviewing J.K. McKee’s book “Are non-Jewish Believers Really a Part of Israel.” He has a list in that book of what he believes are the differences, at least as far as the scriptures go, plus some cultural/ethnic distinctions as well (a shared history/memory of having been affected by the Holocaust, for example).

    I plan on quoting that section at length in my review. Once I post it, I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on this particular “One-Torah” author’s view on the differences between Jews & non-Jews.

  12. hat also doesn’t mean we become a fused entity eliminating the Jewish people by replacing them with a hybrid Jew-Gentile Israel. I believe that Jews and Gentiles get to be Jews and Gentiles and still part of one body…but different parts of one body.

    James, glaring contradictions are like a bull in a China shop for me. I can’t help but conclude that your view if taken and applied to the gentile within the Torah, such as the stranger and foreigner were somehow a hybrid Jew-Gentile Israel, because the stranger is instructed to keep majority of the commandments. So if I apply your thoughts here, we would have to conclude that the reality of what this means, is that God was diminishing Jewish distinction when He obligated the stranger who was among Israel to obey the Torah, I know you don’t think that, but your argument if applied consistently across scripture would make this so and that God had a hybrid Jew-Gentile Israel…

  13. 98% of the Jewish people I’ve met who have come into the Messianic congregations I’ve attended were either only nominally practicing Judaism, or not practicing it at all. And when these Jews come into, say, a Messianic “One-Law” congregation, they are actually confronted with more Judaism than they ever practiced before they became believers. So how can you say that a One-Law approach eliminates “Jewishness” when most Jews coming into this actually end up observing more Torah than they ever did before?

    Let me get this straight, Rob. You’re saying that One Law congregations, as a rule, are more “Jewish” than Messianic Jewish congregations? May I know the source of this data?

    I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on this particular “One-Torah” author’s view on the differences between Jews & non-Jews.

    If someone wants to Postal Mail me a review copy of the McKee book (publisher, author, whomever), I promise to give it a fair review. Reviewing a review isn’t usually illuminating.

  14. Zion, I never said that the Torah doesn’t apply to Gentile believers at all, it just doesn’t apply in a way that makes the Gentile an identical “unit” to a Jew (thus, in essence, replacing the Jew since they’re identical units, like spark plugs).

    Even the ancient Ger Toshav in Israel was commanded to obey a majority of the Torah mitzvot but not all of them universally, not was the Ger Toshav “Israel,” particularly since they could never be a tribal member. There’s a difference between ancient days when the Gentile who desired to live among Israel obeyed God’s specific commands on how to do that, and the present when Gentiles who desire to obey the Torah claim that they are Israel.

    Lancaster and others in interpreting Acts 15 state that James and the Council leveraged Lev. 17-18 in establishing halachah for the Gentiles in Messiah as Gentiles among Israel, but again, while they took on significant aspects of the mitzvot beyond what was expected of general Gentile humanity, their role and obligation was never expected to be 100% identical to the Jewish believers in Messiah.

    I’ve said this before, but from my point of view, I hardly can object to Gentile believers conducting some form of rest on Shabbat, choosing to keep some form of Kosher (and living in Idaho, I can tell you how difficult it is for even Orthodox Jews to keep kosher short of living as vegetarians), choosing to pray at the set times of prayer with a siddur, and so forth. My real objection is Gentiles (and I’m not saying this is you) who not only claim but demand that it is their “right” to be obligated to Torah, to enter national, cultural, ethnic, and spiritual Israel as a “Jew” (albeit without a circumcision in most cases), and who claim their is categorically no distinction whatsoever between believing Jew and believing Gentile across any element or aspect of either party whatsoever.

    Most Jewish people, believer or not, would prefer that Gentile believers don’t try to use the New Testament to eliminate their Jewishness from existence by claiming that every believer is “Jewish.” Or as Syndrome once said, “And when everyone is super, no one will be.”

  15. “Even the ancient Ger Toshav in Israel was commanded to obey a majority of the Torah mitzvot but not all of them universally, not was the Ger Toshav “Israel,” particularly since they could never be a tribal member. There’s a difference between ancient days when the Gentile who desired to live among Israel obeyed God’s specific commands on how to do that, and the present when Gentiles who desire to obey the Torah claim that they are Israel.”

    James, but you know this is not the argument today. Today they exclude Gentiles from wearing a Tzitzit, did they do it in ancient Israel? Today they exclude Gentiles from everything that they deemed to be Jewish, did they do the same in ancient Israel?

  16. // Let me get this straight, Rob. You’re saying that One Law congregations, as a rule, are more “Jewish” than Messianic Jewish congregations? May I know the source of this data? //

    First, I’d say there are One-Torah congregations that consider themselves as Messianic Jewish congregations — so the distinction is between those adhering to a “One-Torah” perspective, and those holding to a “Bilateral-ecclesiological” perspective.

    Second, I wasn’t comparing One Law congregations to those holding to Bilateral Ecclesiology. I was only addressing your point that a “One Law” understanding “destroys Judaism” — in my experience that’s the exact opposite of what I’ve seen in the Messianic congregations I’ve attended, where you have Jewish people actually returning to and/or practicing Judaism, when most of them weren’t practicing it before, and you have non-Jewish believers doing the same (keeping Shabbat, the Feasts, eating Kosher, learning from a Hebraic/Jewish perspective, etc).

  17. “to enter national, cultural, ethnic, and spiritual Israel as a “Jew” (albeit without a circumcision in most cases), and who claim their is categorically no distinction whatsoever between believing Jew and believing Gentile across any element or aspect of either party ”

    Common, James, You know that OL does not teach that, you have been once a OL follower….

  18. I have definitely witnessed what Rob is speaking of as well, including in my own life, being told by Jews that I am more observant than they are, and in some cases provoking a few to return to obeying God’s word. So a One Law perspective does not destroy Judaism, I have benefited so much from Judaism and from the traditions that help me observe God’s Law, and I am not the only, there are many many gentiles who would agree. The fact that most Christians and Hebrew Roots groups when trying to keep some of the commandments, borrow directly from Judaism, such as a “Seder”, shows its not all shunning and hating on Judaism, or the same people who are hating or shunning Judaism are simply shooting themselves in the foot.

  19. Rob said: where you have Jewish people actually returning to and/or practicing Judaism, when most of them weren’t practicing it before, and you have non-Jewish believers doing the same (keeping Shabbat, the Feasts, eating Kosher, learning from a Hebraic/Jewish perspective, etc).

    I think we’ve experienced different OL congregations, then. Since OL is unregulated and un-uniform to the extreme, you have lots and lots of OL congregations, home fellowships, and such (many of which call themselves “Messianic Judaism”) that are pretty much shooting from the hip. While the group I attended and worshiped with for a number of years were and are good people, most of the time, the level of adherence to actual Jewish practice was just so-so (it was elevated somewhat when a Gentile fellow who reads and speaks fluent Greek and Hebrew and knows Jewish practices to a “T” was with us, but he is unique and he moved on).

    Admittedly, there are OL groups who are led by people who have a relatively high degree of education in theology and Jewish practices and who do attract Jewish people, usually those who had one Jewish parent and who weren’t raised in an ethnically or religious Jewish home. In some ways, it’s safer for them (yes, I’ll admit it) to encounter “Judaism” in this environment, since they’re less likely to feel judged. My wife was such a person but eventually, the need to be among a “real” (sorry, but there’s no other way to put it) Jewish community, first the Reform/Conservative shul, and then the Chabad, was too powerful.

    BE Messianic Judaism is the ideal for Jewish people who have been raised in an ethnic, religious, and culturally Jewish home, who have some or even a lot of Jewish religious education, and who are already comfortable in Jewish communities. David Rudolph is just such a Jewish person and he gives a bit of his history in the introduction section of his book.

    It’s an interesting dynamic, because mainstream (non-Messianic) Jewish synagogues (and especially the Chabad for obvious reasons) want to attract secular Jews or some of the Jews who end up in OL congregations, but the “Jewishness” of those shuls are often intimidating. I remember being at our local Reform/Conservative synagogue on one Shabbat many years ago. There was Jewish gentleman there with his two young daughters. He probably hadn’t been in a synagogue in years…maybe since his bar mitzvah. He was incredibly uncomfortable and it was obvious he was struggling. He left in the middle of services and I felt so sorry for him. It’s hard for some Jewish people who are unfamiliar and intimidated by their own people to come back, but they need to come back.

    The question is, which community is better suited ultimately to provide a Jewish person with a Jewish experience and return them to living a Jewish life in Messiah and according to halachah, one run and operated mostly by Hebrew Roots (Gentile) Christians, or a community of Jews living as Jews?

    In my wife’s case, I have no idea if it would have made a difference to have a BE MJ congregation available locally, and today the point is moot. Jewish people at some level, if they are “triggered” to return to community and to Hashem, need to be among others Jews.

  20. The fact that most Christians and Hebrew Roots groups when trying to keep some of the commandments, borrow directly from Judaism, such as a “Seder”, shows its not all shunning and hating on Judaism, or the same people who are hating or shunning Judaism are simply shooting themselves in the foot.

    They also aren’t listening to Messianic Judaism Zion, or at least not the people I’m talking about. Again, it’s not like there’s a light switch that says “On” for full Torah observance or “Off” for no Torah at all (I’m not sure you can do good to another human being without, even unconsciously, obeying some of the mitzvot). There are large portions of God’s Torah that Christians obey every day, even in the church. The problem comes in when Gentiles want to adopt an alternate identity and say that they have no choice and are obligated. If Gentiles choose to adopt the Shabbat, eat kosher, and such, it’s not a problem, but it’s not because they have to. Even my Jewish spouse doesn’t understand why I avoid the occasional pork chop. I do it because I choose to, not because I have to or that I’m a (as she once called me) “Jew-wannabe.”

    By the way, that “Jew-wannabe” comment (not the only time a Jewish family member called me that) is the flip side of you provoking Jewish people to greater Torah observance because of your own practice. Some Jews can feel insulted or even mocked when they see a Gentile “rocking a tallit katan” or wearing a kippah in public.

  21. By the way, that “Jew-wannabe” comment (not the only time a Jewish family member called me that) is the flip side of you provoking Jewish people to greater Torah observance because of your own practice.

    If wanting to follow the greatest Jew to ever live, makes me a Jew Wannabe, all the more! I find my obligation in keeping God’s commandments, because I am a servant of Him, not because I want to take over Judaism or look like someone I am not, I am proud of who I am, with a very cool Scottish heritage.

    I tend to think some of you make identity more important than faith found in the Messiah, it is getting a bit out of hand in my opinion.

  22. Zion, just so I don’t have to type all this over again, here’s what I said on “Hollow Man”:

    The part where we go around and around Zion is what is the Torah? For most “One Law” people, the most important parts are the “Jewish looking” parts, wearing a kippah and tzitzit, praying in Hebrew, and so forth. For me, the most important parts of Torah are feeding the hungry, visiting the sick, showing kindness to the lonely. I know you probably don’t neglect the latter for the sake of the former, but many OL people I’ve personally encountered think that “keeping Torah” is only about the “Jewish looking parts.” Frankly, I’ll take a person whose idea of “keeping Torah” is helping other human beings (even if they never call it Torah…maybe they just call it being a Christian and loving God) than all of the “Jewish looking” stuff in the world.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think there is great beauty in many of the traditions, but your lighting the Shabbos candles doesn’t make you more righteous than the person who will never keep a Saturday Shabbat but volunteers to build houses for people left homeless by a hurricane in a third world country. Righteousness doesn’t come only out of a siddur and obedience to God isn’t ultimately dependent on whether I wear tefillin or not when praying to God. If I have to choose for myself, (I’ve already said I can’t choose for you, nor would I ever try), I’ll choose kindness every time, and that’s probably the majority of “keeping Torah” right there.

    If God wants to send me to hell without an iced tea or electric fan because of my choices, then He has the right to judge.

    I’ll never be a “cool” anything. I’m nobody special. But if I manage to do even one thing to please my Master with my entire life, then that’s all I ask. I don’t have to be someone I’m not. If it serves God, I don’t have to be anyone at all.

    I tend to think some of you make identity more important than faith found in the Messiah, it is getting a bit out of hand in my opinion.

    Haven’t you been paying attention to anything I’ve said? What do you think I value the most based on my statements above? What do you value?

  23. See my response in Hollow Man thread, I agree with much of what you are saying, but it isn’t addressing what I asked either…

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