Standing on the Jewish Foundation of the Bible

ShabbatIt shall be that at every New Moon and on every Sabbath all mankind will come to prostrate themselves before Me, says Hashem.

Isaiah 66:23 (Stone Edition Tanakh)

Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day—things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.

Colossians 2:16-17 (NASB)

On the surface, these two passages of scripture seem to contradict each other, at least according to traditional Christian interpretation. I pulled them from yesterday’s review of The Promise of what is to Come series episode What Day is the Sabbath, produced by First Fruits of Zion. I published my review a day early (usually, my reviews of the show appear every Wednesday morning) because I wanted to build on a specific point and attempt to arrive at a personal conclusion.

For some time now, I’ve been trying to explore what I consider inconsistencies between the ancient Jewish scriptures, also known as the Tanakh or the Old Testament, and the later scriptural writings, also refered to commonly as the New Testament. If we’re supposed to have one, unified Bible that is all “God breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16), that is, if everything we read from the first chapter of Genesis to the last words in Revelation all originate from the same source, from God, then everything in the Bible must be internally consistent and provide a single, cohesive revelation from God to humanity.

Human beings artificially divided the Bible into “Old” and “New Testaments,” not God, and we’ve applied many more divisions, filters, interpretations, and traditions to how these texts are now understood in “the Church.” But I have to remind myself that, like Judaism, Christianity isn’t a single, monolithic entity. There are many “Christianities,” just as there are many “Judaisms,” each with its own theology, set of doctrines, and sacred interpretations. Sure, there’s significant overlap. The fundamentals of the Christian faith should be shared by all valid Christianities, in spite of other differences, but the multiple ways different Christian streams understand what the Bible is saying are dizzying.

However, the problem I’m confronting now is more basic than just different denominational biases. I am attempting to resolve a more fundamental (sorry for employing that word so much) problem. Using the above-quoted scriptures, how are we to reconcile the apparent contradiction between the prophet Isaiah, who tells us that in the Messianic Age, all human beings will worship God on every Sabbath and every New Moon, and the apostle Paul, who says (apparently) that Sabbaths and New Moons are mere shadows of what is to come (presumably in the Messianic Age), and the substance (or meaning or fulfillment) is in Christ? It seems as if Paul is undoing what Isaiah prophesied.

We have some options:

  1. Both scriptures are correct but traditional Christian interpretation of Paul is flawed, leading the Church to come to a false conclusion. A new paradigm is required to understand Paul and Isaiah (and the entire Bible) within the same Judaic context.
  2. The Christian doctrine of progressive revelation allows for Paul to provide additional meaning to Isaiah’s prophesy, expanding upon our understanding of the earlier text.
  3. In Christ, the function of the Law was fulfilled at the cross, and thus later prophesies and holy scriptures replace or supersede earlier texts, with the later texts (on the right side of the cross) always “winning” in any apparent contradiction.
  4. The Tanakh or the Jewish holy scriptures were the only revelation of God given to man through the Jewish prophets. The later apostolic writings, and especially Paul, were a distortion of the teachings of Jesus and created a new, non-Jewish religion that was ultimately called Christianity.
  5. The Bible is broken and unreliable.

Let’s handle the easy items first and then proceed to the more challenging points.

tallit-prayerItem 5 is what atheists would say. The Bible is a series of ancient tribal writings and can no more be considered as originating from a Divine supernatural being than any other “holy book” ever written in human history. Christianity and Judaism are fantasies and superstitions that have no place in the modern age.

Item 4 is what traditional observant Jews would say, including groups such as Jews for Judaism. A Jewish man named “Yeshua” or “Yeshu” may have lived in the late second Temple period and taught along with many other itinerant Rabbis, but if he thought he was the Messiah, his death proved he was not. The Tanakh is the extent of God’s revelation to mankind. The New Testament is a radical distortion of the teachings of Jesus, and Paul, in writing letters directly contradicting the Torah and the Prophets, was a liar, hypocrite, and a traitor to the Jewish people, to the Torah, and to God.

Item 3 is the most traditional, historical Christian interpretation. Jesus fulfilled the Law at the cross, and when he died, the Law died with him, along with any prophesies that contradict the later Gospels and Epistles. This is called supersessionism or replacement theology and it has been the bedrock for Christian interpretation of the Bible for nearly 2,000 years. Although the Christian Reformation may have changed a good many things, this foundational conceptualization and interpretation of scripture remained intact. Later events, and especially the Holocaust, have resulted in “the Church” softening its perception of Jews and Judaism to a much less anti-Semitic position, and many Christian denominations are now pro-Israel, but the fundamental Christian doctrine that the Law is dead continues unchanged.

Item 2 is something of a variation of item 3 but it has to be handled delicately. The idea is that, over the vast span of Biblical history, God continually revealed more and more about Himself and His plan to human beings. Abraham only knew so much about the plan of God. God revealed more to Moses. God revealed more to Isaiah. And God provided His ultimate revelation in the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the second part of the Trinity. Paul, as Christ’s special emissary to the Gentiles, was able to reveal, through the Spirit, even more than the previous prophets, thus adding much more meaning and dimension to the Biblical narrative of God’s plan as a whole. In this interpretation, the scripture from Isaiah 66:23 is incomplete and Paul added more to our understanding than Isaiah ever had access to.

That would work out fine except for one thing. Christianity still understands Paul as contradicting (apparently) Isaiah. No matter how you spin it, sooner or later, progressive revelation must believe that later revelations not only add meaning and dimension, but in cases where a later revelation seems to contradict an earlier one, the later revelation is always correct. In other words, the later revelation supersedes or replaces the earlier revelation, thus making items 2 and 3 close cousins if not sibling interpretive methods.

high-trail-hiking1And that brings us to item 1.

Periodically, I have been accused of being wishy-washy. I’ve always seen a life of faith as a journey of discovery. God places us on a path and sends us in a direction. We have a “map” of the territory ahead, but we all know that the map isn’t literally the territory. What we find on the trail should always provide unique details and experiences that make the journey necessary, otherwise, we could all just sit in the comfort of our homes, read the map, and know everything there is to know. There would be no need to study, pray, worship, or “wrestle” with God. The Bible would be a simple narrative, like reading a novel or even a children’s story. One or two passes through the book, and we know everything there is to know. God is reduced to a finite number of words on the printed page.

But that obviously isn’t true, otherwise we’d all agree about what the Bible says and there would be only one interpretation of the Word of God possessed by all human beings of faith.

In traveling the road of faith as I have, I occasionally manage to annoy some people or to frustrate them. Most other “religious bloggers” or “religious” people in general don’t think that a life of asking questions is sufficient. They want definite, concrete answers, and they want to hold onto them unswervingly, not exploring, not journeying, but always possessing the destination in the palm of their hands. They always want to be “right.”

And they want me to do all that, too.

Alright. If I’m to be pushed into a corner and you want a definite answer from me, here it is.

I believe in item 1. I believe the Bible is a single, unified document that represents God’s revelation to mankind, primarily through the Jewish prophets and apostles. I believe where ever we experience a fundamental contradiction in the Bible, such a contradiction does not actually exist. Using the television episode What Day is the Sabbath as my example, I believe that Biblical contradictions between how Christians and Jews understand the Sabbath are a result of incorrect interpretation based on anti-Semitic and anti-Jewish doctrine that was originally developed in the first several centuries of Church history and that hasn’t changed very much in almost two-thousand years. Such traditions have been so ingrained in Christian thinking among nearly all streams of the Christian faith, that it never even occurs to most kind, compassionate, intelligent, well-read, devoted believers, including many Pastors and New Testament scholars, to question those extremely ancient and I believe faulty assumptions.

They can’t possibly imagine that their interpretative traditions are wrong.

I’m not trying to sound like the old T.V. show The X-Files, but I believe the truth is out there. I believe that later Christian viewpoints such as The New Perspective on Paul have merit and are enabling believers to view the apostle in a different light, one where we can read him as not contradicting the earlier prophets or abandoning Judaism.

Movements such as Hebrew Roots among Christians and Messianic Judaism among Jewish believers, are embracing this paradigm shift and taking a fresh look at the Bible, especially the apostolic scriptures, peeling away hundreds of years of stale doctrine, and learning to see Paul as a Jew, as a Pharisee, and as a zealot for Torah, the Temple, the Messiah, and the God of Israel.

People want me to make a stand, so I announce my platform. I suppose it shouldn’t come as a total shock, but I’m tired of being considered noncommittal. You don’t have to like it and you don’t have to agree with me, but I believe a pro-Jewish view of Paul and a Judaic interpretive lens is the correct way to read the later, apostolic writings and to heal the divisions we have historically carved in our Bibles, especially “between the Testaments.”

Yesterday, I partly quoted Boaz Michael when I said:

He also said, and this is very important to me, that studying the Bible, all of it, from a Jewish cultural, national, historical, ethnic, and traditional perspective “makes our Bibles consistent and upholds the Biblical truth that God doesn’t change.”

Torah at SinaiGod doesn’t change His mind. When He said the Sabbath was an eternal sign of His covenant with Israel, He wasn’t lying, and this wasn’t some sort of cosmic “bait and switch.” Refactoring our understanding of the Bible to accommodate a Judaic and pro-Jewish perspective on scripture is the only way to view the Bible as a single, unified revelation of God. There is no need to throw out “Biblical sufficiency.” The languages of the Bible still say what they say, and the Bible remains a record of God’s interaction with man and a guide to holy living. The only thing we must change is our tradition about how we interpret the Bible.

I choose not to adhere to a tradition of Biblical interpretation that, by definition and having long been established historically, must rewrite the Old Testament to fit the New Testament as understood by the Church. Christianity has found it necessary to invent man-made ways to retrofit the prophets to map to a Jesus who denies Judaism and an anti-Torah Paul. God’s “eternal covenant” can’t be “eternal” if the Church must interpret Paul as saying it’s temporary. The Church’s fundamental matrix for understanding the Bible is flawed because it denies the unchangability of God and even under the most benign and apparently pro-Israel perspective, must replace or at least significantly “spin” portions of the Messianic prophesies of the Tanakh in order to make sense of a non-Jewish Messiah who is not part of Judaism and does not uphold the primacy of his people Israel.

Nothing else makes sense. Christians can pepper me with this individual verse and that individual verse from New Testament writings, but in the end, the Bible isn’t just a list of verses we can “cherry pick” to fit an outmoded doctrine, it’s a single thing or unit made up of all of its elements, an “Echad.” If all the elements aren’t unified, then the Echad must disintegrate and collapse in upon itself. I don’t believe the Bible does that, so the problem lies elsewhere…with human beings.

It’s time to do this better before the bridegroom comes and finds our lamps are without oil.

Who am I? I’m a Gentile Christian who studies Messianic Judaism. I also go to church, and I’m trying to build bridges between the different members of the body of Messiah.

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24 thoughts on “Standing on the Jewish Foundation of the Bible”

  1. This was very helpful to me. Thank you for giving insight and clear explanation. My heart is drawn to all things Jewish and this helps me to understand why that is.

  2. @Rudy: I’m sure people would argue over at least the fourth commandment and some would argue whether or not even the Ten Commandments, as part of the Torah, remain valid. One thing to consider. In Judaism, the First Commandment is “I am the Lord thy God,” which doesn’t even sound like a commandment but, without that foundation, nothing else God says makes sense.

    @Tammy: I’m glad this was helpful. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  3. The Isaiah and Colosians quotes aren’t a contradiction if we understand that Paul is talking to non-Jews, who will someday keep the Sabbaths, then it makes total sense. I’m sure you agree.

    The frustrating thing is how Christianity leans so heavily upon the doctrines created by non-Jewish Church Fathers and “Doctors of the Church” who were not apostles, and therefore the NT, Paul, and Jesus are sullied as a result of their sometimes flawed interpretations.

  4. A word on this, “shadow,” thing: I am sure most of you have heard teachings that decry (sometimes via mockery) the idea that one would focus and embrace a shadow in preference to the real things, such as daddy comes home from work and you hug his shadow and ignore him.) Perhaps a better expression would be, “exact copy, replication, reflection or image.” Take a look at this: 4639 skiá – properly, the shadow of a looming presence; (figuratively) a spiritual reality (good or bad) relating to God’s light or spiritual darkness. And here is the root of the word translated, “copy”: hupodeiknumi: to show secretly, to show by tracing out, to teach, make known.

    In the new Jerusalem, there will be no need for Shabbat because time will be eternally Shabbat. There will be no need for the festivals to either look backwards or forwards because the fullness will be with us and there will be no time. There will be no need for korban to draw near because he will dwell in the midst of us.

    What we have now is designed to teach us what is unseen through what we can see, and bring what is outside time and space into that boundary. I think of how I taught my kids geography with a globe and a map. These things are not the real world, but a representation. I couldn’t take them up in a rocket that orbited the earth to allow them to see it in reality. But these so-called shadows are our ticket to a journey beyond time and space.

  5. The frustrating thing is how Christianity leans so heavily upon the doctrines created by non-Jewish Church Fathers and “Doctors of the Church” who were not apostles, and therefore the NT, Paul, and Jesus are sullied as a result of their sometimes flawed interpretations.

    That’s one of the reasons why I wanted to look into the Didache, Ruth. It seems to be an earlier representation of what the apostles or those closer to them, wanted the Gentile disciples to learn and so far, it has a much more “Jewish flavor” to it. It think we might want to consider what this document has to say to “Judaically-minded” Gentile believers today.

    Good point about this “shadow” thing, Chaya. Of course, in the Messianic Age here on Earth, we probably will be observing the Shabbat and the Festivals as they are described in the Tanakh, Jew and Gentile alike. I also believe there will be a Temple and sacrifices will be made their, again by both Jews and Gentiles.

    I agree that at the end of everything, there will be no Temple, for God and the Lamb will be our Temple. But that’s a time so removed from us, that it’s difficult to imagine what things will be like then.

  6. James, I agree with many points you made in this post, but I am also seeing contradiction in your own statements. What’s new right?

    You talk about how Christianity ends up with the Torah being changed, which is true, but then you argue that the Torah will change in the Messianic Kingdom, what makes your view that much different than theirs? So it doesn’t change now, but it changes later.

    If all religions would agree to simply teach and follow the ten commandments, this world would be a better place. (King Solomon’s philosophy)

    @scatterwisdom, this philosophy is against the teaching of Messianic Judaism, as Messianic Judaism believes the 10 commandments only apply to Israel.

  7. Zion, I’m saying that as far as the Messianic prophesies in the Tanakh are concerned (See Isaiah 66:23 above), the whole world will prostrate themselves to Hashem in the Messianic Kingdom on every New Moon and Sabbath. But it’s not the Messianic Age yet since Messiah has yet to return to establish his kingdom.

    As I’ve said about a billion times before, there’s nothing to prevent non-Jews such as you and me from observing Shabbat in the current age, it is simply not mandated for us as it is for the Jewish people (and I know you’ll disagree with that statement).

    As far as your comment to scatterwisdom, it’s overly simplistic and inaccurate, since the teachings of Messiah and even what I gather from the Didache substantially mirror to the Ten Commandments and many other portions of Torah (see my write up on the Didache for details).

  8. Tammy,
    The first commandment can be applied to any religious faith. The problem with different faiths is each on claims their faith is the true faith and that statement creates walls instead of cooperation.

    The fourth commandment states Sabbath. If one religion believes it is Saturday and another Sunday, let each faith decide for themselves and don’t impose any one faith believers laws on another faith.

    If an atheist wants to ignore these two commandments, the commandments that is thier choice., as long as any theist is not harmed, so let it be a personal matter.

    Maybe the reason for so many different religions is God decided to test all faiths to live peacefully with respect for each other.

  9. James, What I stated is what King Solomon believed. ” Fear God and obey his commandments.” Because peace reigned in his Kingdom when he ruled, his simple message apparently worked. In my humble opinion, too much time is being spent by everyone complicating the simple instructions God gave us..

  10. Rudy, Solomon had his own problems, such as too many foreign wives who led him to worshiping foreign gods. For the sake of his father David, God chose not to visit the consequences of Solomon’s actions on him, but did so upon subsequent generations. As much as I love Israel, the ancient nation was never completely without problems. Idolatry was a recurrent theme in the nations history, as was conquest by foreign nations, exile, death, famine, and so forth.

    The problem isn’t with the commandments, it’s with human beings and it always has been. It would be nice to believe there was one, perfect, shining moment in human history when everybody got along with everybody else, but that’s not true. Also, even if Israel in ancient times ever had such a moment, the rest of the nations and people of the world were outside of that framework and thus outside of God.

    Ah Chaya, another book. *sigh*

  11. Zion, I’m saying that as far as the Messianic prophesies in the Tanakh are concerned (See Isaiah 66:23 above), the whole world will prostrate themselves to Hashem in the Messianic Kingdom on every New Moon and Sabbath. But it’s not the Messianic Age yet since Messiah has yet to return to establish his kingdom.

    As I’ve said about a billion times before, there’s nothing to prevent non-Jews such as you and me from observing Shabbat in the current age, it is simply not mandated for us as it is for the Jewish people (and I know you’ll disagree with that statement).

    But you are saying it is mandated in the Messianic Kingdom, thus the Torah changes, that was the contradiction you were making. Which does not make your argument very much different from the Christian who also believes it changes/d.

    As far as your comment to scatterwisdom, it’s overly simplistic and inaccurate, since the teachings of Messiah and even what I gather from the Didache substantially mirror to the Ten Commandments and many other portions of Torah (see my write up on the Didache for details).

    But you can’t have it both ways. You argue the scripture is clear on what applies to Jews and thus what does or does not apply to gentiles, and now you are saying it is not as clear. If the Law of Moses is for those who stood at Mount Sinai, you cannot make an argument for the 10 commandments towards all people or Christians, as you do not believe they are party to the covenant. This goes for Yeshua as well, if Yeshua’s audience is Jewish, then His words are not directed towards non-Jewish Christians, to apply Yeshua’s words to gentiles would be taking Him out of context from your very perspective. So you are saying two different things, no matter how you swing your argument, it just makes your message confusing and not very convincing.

  12. It seems clear to me that historically and in the current age, the Torah is applied differently to Jews and Gentiles, but you can’t say that the return of the Messiah will have a null impact on how life will be lived in the Messianic Kingdom. Lots of things will change. There will be world wide peace for the first time in human history (unless you count Gan Eden before the fall). The entire world will have one King and everyone will pay homage to him. The Torah will go forth from Zion in a way that has never occurred before.

    The religious would is doing what you and I are doing, Zion…debating about the meaning of the Bible and how it can be applied to people. It’s complex because we’re not allowed the luxury (although people do this all the time) of cherry picking only those portions of scripture that agree with our positions. We have to take the Bible as a unit and try to understand how all of the parts that supposedly contradict each other are supposed to be implemented across time.

    It would be nice if the Bible were a simple narrative with a simple answer, one size fits all for all people across time, but if that were the case, the Acts 15 trial wouldn’t have been necessary, all of Paul’s letters, especially Galatians and Romans wouldn’t have been necessary. There would be no Jews or Gentiles, just generic people and God would have gathered representatives of all the nations at Sinai and given the Torah to all of them.

    But that didn’t happen. God gathered Israel at Sinai. History progressed, the Temple was built, Israel went into exile. How they worshiped God changed. Israel returned to her Land. Another Temple was built. Conquests, destruction, occupation, exile, pogroms. Messiah came. Messiah died…rose, ascended…the Spirit came as a comforter…

    In each of these circumstances, the Bible was interpreted and reinterpreted many times in an attempt to adapt applications to the demands of history. So here we are in the 21st century have another in a long list of theological arguments. Will it change anything? Probably not. What we can be certain of is that when we turn to God, He will turn to us, even though we are flawed, error-prone, uncomprehending children in His eyes. Fortunately, He loves us enough to forgive us of our goofy theologies.

    I can’t wait for the Messianic Age when Messiah returns and will teach us correctly. I suspect all of us will have egg on our faces and will be eating more than a little humble pie, you and me included.

  13. I am of “Sojourning’s” view that the Church Fathers’ “ethnic cleansing” of the Judaism that Jesus taught, leading to the [hostile(?)] takeover of the former in favor of what became a non-Jewish religion known as “Christianity,” was the watershed event of history, as Dr. David Stern describes, the greatest satanic schism that ever occurred.Laced with powerful doses of anti-Jewish invective and hatred, the tangent of Christianity then went off from there and increasingly “missed the mark” as concerns the fact that the “New Testament” must be interpreted by the Tanach, not the other way around, Which, I think, James, speaks to your point of the Didache as being an important document for at least some healing of this cataclysmic theological skewing of the Judaism of Jesus. Such documents as the Didache may help some Christians to become more familiar with the ‘non-anti-Jewish’ point of view of first century Gentile believers grafted into Israel. Though we will likely never be able to undo what the early hijacking of the messianic movement founded by Jesus and the disciples has wrought, we may, perhaps, be able to use intermediary documents such as the Didache to heal a few Christians of their theological Judeophobia and soften their hearts toward Judaism, the Jewish people, and, of course, most importantly, the Jewish Jesus, whom they only see through a glass, somewhat darkly, at present. Thanks for the good, thoughtful post. There is much to do and talk about with regard to who we are and what we stand for in these, the acharit hayamim, last days, as the days grow short. May Messiah come quickly.

  14. Though we will likely never be able to undo what the early hijacking of the messianic movement founded by Jesus and the disciples has wrought, we may, perhaps, be able to use intermediary documents such as the Didache to heal a few Christians of their theological Judeophobia

    I think the Didache can work in a few directions, Dan. It can certainly show that the very earliest Gentile Christians were taught basic Jewish concepts in a Jewish discipleship framework. It can also clarify what the earliest Jewish and Gentile believers thought was the proper “Way of Life” for the Gentile vs. what the Church has created for itself in the modern era. I’m also seeing that it was not an expectation that Gentile disciples become “Torah observant” or “Torah submissive” in the identical manner of the Jews as an obligation. It seems a subset of Torah commandments and the direct teachings of Yeshua were applied in the Didache. If a Gentile wanted to take on more voluntarily, even up to full observance of the mitzvot, this was not forbidden, but if they could not take on the full yoke, what they could observe was acceptable.

    Since the modern Hebrew Roots movement is trying to get back to its “roots,” the Didache seems to present a major clue on how to get there.

    For the traditional Christian who wants to explore “Jewish Roots” as a way to better understand how the first Gentiles understood their faith, I think it will provide illumination as to who we are supposed to be now.

  15. The thing that strikes me most is your first statement and which is most of the problem Christians have with understanding scripture, ” traditional Christian interpretation”. Christians hang more on tradition than what the word says. They hang on more to what they are taught on Sunday than what they spend time trying to understand in the Bible. God says His Word is eternal. If the 4th Commandment says to honor the Sabbath. That’s exactly what it means and Sunday is not the Sabbath.
    Christians don’t really try to separate what is in scripture versus church doctrine as interpreted as it was changed by Constantine and Antiachus.
    Christians won’t study for themselves and challenge the tradition of christmas and easter even though neither are in scripture.They used to proudly proclaim “what would Jesus do” yet never have a clue that Jesus would never honor His birth date in December or have ham with His dinner on easter Sunday. Jesus, a Jewish Rabbi would have celebrated Passover and most christians don’t even understand it fully or the Hebrew traditions surrounding it and the other festivals of God.
    When Christians learn to put away their ” traditional Christian interpretation” and return to the Word of God, then they will understand the importance of honoring the 10 Commandments and the Book of Instructions, known to Christians as “the law: that Jesus supposedly did away with.
    Christians can embrace the Torah/Tanakh without becoming Jewish and a Jew can believe in Jesus (Yeshua His given name) as Messiah without becoming a Christian.
    When you understand this, you will see the differences and rebel against ” traditional Christian interpretation” and church doctrine, challenge your church leadership to truly teach what is written in the Word of God. .
    When Christian stop trying to “do away with the law” they will learn to see Jesus in every book of “the law” Jesus and the disciples never taught anyone from the New Testament. “The Word” is in all of scripture. Jews and gentiles that followed Jesus and His teaching were not called Christians until centuries later. The were referred to as followers of “the way” as Jesus referred to himself as “the Way”. Believers were said to be walking in the Way. One can not ignore “the law” and still be in “the Way”.

  16. Greetings, Rog.

    Interestingly enough, I just got back from my weekly discussion with my Pastor. I won’t say it was heated, since we get along well, but we were both passionate about presenting our points of view, including about the Shabbat.

    I will disagree with the blanket statement that Christians don’t look past their doctrine to see the scripture. First of all, we all have a filter that stands between us and the scripture, something we use to interpret what we read and that tells us what it means. That can be Christian doctrine, Jewish doctrine, or something else, keeping in mind that neither Christianity nor Judaism are single, monolithic entities, but rather, composed of multiple and sometimes competing streams of thought and belief.

    Even in Messianic Judaism, there is more than one perspective, and as far as Hebrew/Jewish Roots is concerned, I’ve encountered many different interpretations, sometimes overlapping and sometimes not.

    For all of us though, if we’re honestly seeking God, we are trying to do the same thing. We are trying to figure out how to get closer to the Word and closer to God, which indeed sometimes requires that we make a paradigm shift, which is not an easy thing to do. My Pastor lived in Israel for fifteen years and he took a good, hard look at shifting his paradigm, his basic way of relating to God and the Bible to a Jewish perspective, but in the end, he decided it wasn’t for him. He has challenged me to make a better effort to shift my paradigm, even temporarily, to a Christian one, at least as he presents Christianity to me, so I can give his perspective an honest look.

    He’s got a point, if I want to be fair, but on the other hand, I’ve already hopped off the fence, so to speak, and landed on the side of adopting a Judaically aware perspective of scripture. Nevertheless, I’ll be doing some reading over the next couple of weeks on Daniel 9 in order to see how Evangelical Christianity views the stream of information from the older to newer scriptures as providing an ever expanding view of the plan of God without any of the later pieces rewriting the earlier ones.

    I’ll be blogging about it naturally, so when I go through this experience, I’ll let you know.

  17. Thanks Chaya, but I doubt an eight minute video is going to radically change his perspective on things, especially when, at one point in his life, he seriously considered a Jewish point of view or even a Jewish faith. At this point, it’s fairly obvious (and he’s said it point blank) that he’s trying to change my mind. He is glad though, that I did come off the fence (though not on the side he would have preferred).

  18. If you watch the video, the purpose is not to change anyone’s mind, but to challenge their thinking, and I believe an intelligent person would “get,” the concept behind failing to see a card because it is not in the normal deck. I haven’t finished Rabbi Fohrman’s book, but the focus is how Eden changed our process of determining truth and good and evil by mixing it with desire.

    I would be curious to know what Pastor’s thought process was regarding a Jewish approach to scripture and Judaism, and what led him to make the decision he did? Did it have to do with remaining loyal to what he was taught and brought up with vs. embracing an alien way?

  19. I can’t promise to be able to get him to watch a video and then capture his thought process. In addition to being a full-time Pastor, he’s in a Ph.D program so his time is really booked. I’m still amazed he meets with me regularly.

  20. Your pastor is rare commodity, James, for sure. My personal experience helps me to recognize the kind of rarity he is.

    I was marginalized by pastors when I moved back to my current upstate NY home from the West Coast… a “Messianic Jew” was a complete unknown in these parts, never mind a Gentile with a Jewish/biblical approach. It took ten years before a pastor really listened to me, and this, after he attended a group Passover seder I’d organized and facilitated. But, sadly, he suffered somewhat for accepting my Messianic point of view, as it turned out. The head pastor of the church which our K-12 school is affiliated with is the other pastor that heard me out, vetted me as a candidate for the teaching position I hold today, and realized, in the process, that we were “on the same team” and accepted my Messianic p.o.v. to the point of trusting high school students to my teaching in the classroom. But it took years before I even received a full hearing.

    Sometimes I wish pastors were more like teachers than preachers, embracing questions as an opportunity to pursue greater truth instead of warding them off as a threat. In my classroom I allow students to challenge test questions on works of literature that I teach. After corrections, they place a star next to the question they intend to challenge and I put the grade on “hold.” If they can defend their answer in writing, using appropriate citations from the text in a satisfactory way, I may or may not accept their answer as correct. I want my students to THINK about the text beyond just putting down the right answer. Just the fact that there is a “challenge option” makes them think more deeply about every question on a test, as there is hope that their argument may be heard and considered.

    This seems to be the way Yeshua taught. I’ve read that He asks over one hundred questions in the gospels (though I’ve personally never counted them) and much of His teaching stems from being asked questions. His disciples are THINKING about the things He says, not memorizing His answers. And He allows them to ask the questions they need to ask. As an opportunity to THINK about more than just the next sermon, so to speak. But they are under the gun, themselves. To move toward adoption of a more Jewish perspective constitutes a huge risk for a Christian pastor.

    I can appreciate your appreciation of your pastor. He is a rare commodity, indeed, and a well-versed commodity, at that. It would be hard to find another pastor that was secure enough to handle such rigorous debate. I’ll keep him and you in prayer more regularly. It’s a real encouragement to me just hearing about your vigorous, ongoing dialogue.

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