A Brief Introduction to Tent Builders

The church is the biggest stumbling block for the people of Israel to see the true message, the redemptive message of the Messiah.

The church is fundamentally good but the church needs to change.

-Boaz Michael
from a short video introducing his
Tent Builders Seminar

I have inserted the link to the YouTube video at the bottom of this page, so you can see Boaz’s entire presentation below. It’s not quite seven minutes long, so it won’t take much of your time to review.

I’m writing this for a couple of reasons. The first is that I received a DVD in the mail from First Fruits of Zion (FFOZ) that contains an eighty-two minute “sampler” of Boaz’s eight-hour Tent Builders Conference, which he presented in various venues across North America (registration is now closed so I assume there’ll be no additional conferences).

This is, or was, the training companion piece to Boaz’s book Tent of David: Healing the Vision of the Messianic Gentile, which I most recently reviewed last October 6th and October 10th.

I haven’t had a chance to view the DVD yet, but I feel it’s necessary because in spite of all of my efforts and my reading and re-reading of Boaz’s book, something’s still wrong.

I’ve gotten this sense of “wrongness” most recently from writing the first part of my review on MacArthur’s sermon series From Judaism to Jesus. If you’ve read that review, you know that I’m appalled and dismayed at MacArthur’s approach not only to the early Messianic Jews of the apostolic era, but to their modern-day counterparts, the Messianic Jews of the twenty-first century.

Boaz MichaelI’ve already read the second part of MacArthur’s three-part series and have written the review (it will appear online next Sunday morning). I can’t say my opinion of John MacArthur or any of his perspectives on Judaism has improved. More’s the pity, because Pastor MacArthur is one of the significant voices if not “the voice” of the modern Evangelical Fundamentalist movement in Christianity today. He’s been writing and preaching for over forty years and even though I had never heard of him before  last year, his name is practically a household word among the members of many churches.

I wanted to view the Tent Builders DVD sampler but only have the ability to currently hear Boaz’s brief introductory video on YouTube. He describes Tent Builders as a missionary effort which provides a purpose in which each Christian can participate. The “mission field,” so to speak, is the Church. Christians in the church or “Messianic Gentiles” who have left the church, can find in Tent Builders, a path back, a path that can lead to teaching that the church must see itself in partnership with Israel, not in competition with or as a replacement for Israel.

Another question that comes in…in relationship to something that’s happening in our current church scene today is explain why we have Messianic Jewish temples. What is the need for them? Are you familiar with this? Recently, there has been a…a…a surge of Messianic Jewish temples.

But what’s happened is, I think that many well-meaning Christian people, evangelical people, are catering more to a sociological minority movement than they are to the Word of God. Because the Bible would never tolerate a Jewish church and a Gentile church.That is the one thing that the Apostle Paul spent the last months of his ministry trying to resolve…

Dr. Feinberg said to me one day, he says, “I don’t know why everybody thinks because we’re Jewish Christians, we’re something special. We’re not.” Something special to God. Something marvelous to be Jewish, but not something for which you deserve an entire church all to yourselves. And now they have Christian bar mitzvahs. What is a Christian bar mitzvah?…You know, there were some people who filled out applications to go to Talbot Seminary, and they applied because they wanted to become Christian rabbis. Dr. Feinberg said to me, “What is a Christian rabbi?” They’re out of their mind. They think a church wants a Christian rabbi? They think a synagogue wants a Christian rabbi? No, neither want either.

So you know what they do? They start their own Messianic temple. Some of these dear people really mean well; and I…I pray God that they’ll win people to Christ; but that isn’t what it’s all about.That’s, in a sense, Judaizing. I don’t see any need for that at all. I praise God for the Jewish people in our…in our church. All you have to do is read Acts chapter 13, and you read about the five pastors there. Some of ’em were Jews. Some of ’em were Gentiles. Some of ’em were white. Some of ’em were black. Read it, Acts 13. They all pastor the same church. We don’t have the Grace Community Irish-American Church. Don’t see the point.

-John MacArthur
“Bible Questions and Answers, Part 5”
Grace to You: Unleashing God’s Truth One Verse at a Time

Well, tact isn’t exactly one of MacArthur’s strong suits but beyond that, he obviously has definite, though incredibly uninformed opinions about Messianic Judaism. Do you think a few Tent Builders graduates in his church are going to make much headway?

In the video I’m referencing, Boaz does say that the goal is to find receptive churches who may have never considered the Messianic perspective on the good news of Jesus Christ and help them understand what it is to partner with Israel. The implication is that not all churches are going to be receptive based on a variety of factors, not the least of which is the doctrine of the church and how married they are, especially the Pastoral staff and Board of Directors, to said-doctrine.

Boaz says it’s important, even vital to change the church for the sake of Israel.

But what can one person do?

Tent BuildersYes, I did hear Boaz’s “pep talk” in the brief video, how easy it is to get discouraged, how we can be part of the hope for the future in summoning the Messianic Age.

Either God introduced me to a brick wall I’m incapable of breaching in any respect, or He put me in a situation I should be very capable of managing, but instead, I’ve managed to fail.

True, I’m not in John MacArthur’s congregation, but his thoughts, opinions, and presence are written all over the walls of the church I do attend.

How important is it to you that your children follow in your footsteps as Jews and that they marry Jews? If it is important, then you have to realize that you are their role model. Your love of Judaism and things Jewish is what will communicate to your children. You can’t legislate feelings — they are felt and internalized. When Jews came to America and found the difficulties facing them in living Jewishly, the lament was often heard, “Oy, it’s tough to be a Jew!” If it’s tough to be a Jew, then why would your child want to be Jewish? You have to feel the joy, the meaning, the beauty in being a Jew — it’s GREAT to be a Jew! Then you have hope with your kids.

-Rabbi Kalman Packouz
“Shabbat Shalom Weekly”

MacArthur would never understand in a million years that even as a Christian husband and father, it is very important for me that my Children live as Jews. I’ve really dropped the ball on this one, especially when my kids were growing up. If I knew twenty-five years ago what I know now, the course of my life and their lives would be very different, but in a universe created by God, you don’t get “do overs”. There are no time machines, and I can’t send radio waves back to the past to talk to my younger self.

Boaz called the church “the biggest stumbling block for the people of Israel to see the true message, the redemptive message of the Messiah,” but the church, or at least MacArthur’s version of it, is also a stumbling block for me. If he were the only example of what it is to be a Christian when I was about to come to faith nearly twenty years ago, I’d have dropped Christianity like an angry rattlesnake.

Boaz said that if there is not a healthy Messianic community available to a “Messianic Gentile,” they should join a church for the sake of fellowship. After all, the mission of Tent Builders only works in the context of relationship.

But given men like MacArthur and the Calvinistic and supersessionistic shroud he has cast over church worship and teaching, what am I supposed to do with that relationship now? I’m hoping Boaz’s DVD has some answers.

13 thoughts on “A Brief Introduction to Tent Builders”

  1. I would argue against the idea that the institutional church was a God idea; I believe it was a man idea, towers of Babel each seeking to make a name for themselves. And you can’t be both a prophet and a salesman, you have to pick which one you want to be. However, there are those within this Babel that are not of Babel, and we know his sheep hear his voice and will follow him, not the voice of another.

    Yes, “the church,” has been a barrier to Jewish people recognizing their Messiah, as the Messiah presented by “the church,” is more like Antiochus or Zaphenath Paneah. It is dishonest pandering to tell those who scripture says is cursed that they are not so bad. You are good but you could be better. No, I don’t see how anyone can argue the fact that those who curse the Jewish people are cursed from heaven, as well as those who remove or add to the words of torah.

    MJ and HR have also, in their own way, created barriers even as they seek to do things differently.

    According to the paradigm of measure for measure, the “church,” that has disdainfully, hatefully and sometimes violently separated itself from the Jewish people is now plagued by separation, hate, violence and disdain from within and without. And JM is in the thick of it. And I don’t have any sympathy for the Christians now crying foul that the liberals, the neo-Darwinians and the gay agenda are coming after them and uprooting their Christian privilege, as they brought it upon themselves.

    I don’t know Dr. Feinberg’s back story, and why he thinks the way he does. I suspect that he lacks positive experiences with Judaism and Jewish thought in his own past, and is unwilling to even seek any of this out. Perhaps when he came to faith he experienced horrific persecution from his own family and friends, and is still smarting from those wounds. Maybe he was shown great love and acceptance by Christians, and unquestioning loyalty was required either overtly or covertly. Otherwise, his own self-hated doesn’t make sense.

    I wouldn’t worry about JM’s influence any more than I would worry about any celebrity’s influence. We know that itching ears will heap up teachers after their own lusts. I honestly believe God is not going to fix the “church.” He is calling his people out of Babylon, lest they suffer her plagues. Just don’t go start your own Babylon.

    If JM is ticked because his own camp is going continuist, just wait and see his reaction when his own people grab the tzitzit of a Jew and say, “We will go with you because we know the Holy One is with you.”

  2. I have come to the realization that the church contains people that in many respects may correspond to the ‘four sons’ mentioned in the Passover Seder. When talking to a person about a Messianic perspective on the Bible, you really need to work at figuring out what kind of person you are dealing with, then use an appropriate response.

    ‘The Torah refers to four sons: One wise, one wicked, one simple and one who does not know how to ask a question. What does the wise son say? “What are the testimonials, statutes and laws Hashem our G-d commanded you?” You should tell him about the laws of Pesach, that one may eat no dessert after eating the Pesach offering.
    What does the wicked son say? “What does this drudgery mean to you?” To you and not to him. Since he excludes himself from the community, he has denied a basic principle of Judaism. You should blunt his teeth by saying to him: “It is for the sake of this that Hashem did for me when I left Egypt. For me and not for him. If he was there he would not have been redeemed.”

    What does the simple son say? “What’s this?” You should say to him “With a strong hand Hashem took me out of Egypt, from the house of servitude.”

    And the one who does not know how to ask, you start for him, as the Torah says: “And you should tell your son on that day, saying ‘It is for the sake of this that Hashem did for me when I left Egypt.’

  3. @Chaya: I never thought of MacArthur as a celebrity, but I suppose relative to certain streams of Christianity, he is. On his website, he’s billed as “the pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church as well as an author, speaker, president of The Master’s College and Seminary, and featured teacher with the Grace to You ministry.” The really scary part, in addition to what I’ve already said about him, is that he’s teaching and training the next generation of Evangelical preachers in his own image.

    @Steve Peterson: You said, I have come to the realization that the church contains people that in many respects may correspond to the ‘four sons’ mentioned in the Passover Seder.

    That kind of describes the human race. Why shouldn’t it describe all of the human beings within Christianity? I guess that casts MacArthur in the role (and I’m sure to offend someone by this) of the wicked son, since he characterizes Judaism and the mitzvot as “drudgery.”

  4. “The church is the biggest stumbling block for the people of Israel to see the true message, the redemptive message of the Messiah.”

    I’d go further than the statement above and say that to a great extent the “church” is the biggest stumbling block for ANYONE (Jew and gentile) to see the true redemptive message of the Messiah. The message of the gospel isn’t understood or taught in far too many “churches” and congregants are being given a false sense of security, thinking their church involvement and a token recognition of Jesus is sufficient for their salvation (with those involved in Calvinist groups assuming that their involvement marks them as God’s elect and therefore secure for eternity).

    1. I agree that many people in the church doesn’t really grasp the true message of the gospel and, to be fair, many Pastors and teachers don’t teach it or even understand it themselves.

      Scot McKnight wrote a good book on the topic called The King Jesus Gospel which I reviewed last summer. I also commented on it relative to the phrase “wrong side of the cross” which always seems so odd to me as a theological concept.

      1. “, to be fair, many Pastors and teachers don’t teach it or even understand it themselves.”

        Probably because they are part of a system established to perpetuate denominational tradition instead of genuine interaction with scripture.

        They come from approved colleges where they are taught by teachers who pass on what their own teachers had taught them. Somewhere in this teaching chain, scripture is made accountable to theology instead of vice versa.

  5. “Recently, there has been a…a…a surge of Messianic Jewish temples”

    It is frustrating that MacAurthur regards this as a bad thing. It may be that prophecy is being fulfilled, but he is failing to recognize it because it’s not in exactly the manner he was expecting.

  6. I can agree with Boaz about relationships being key to the change. The only problem is how long real trusting relationships can take to develop in a church environment, where people are often hesitant to really reach out for fear of connecting with someone only to have them disappear, or worse being “pulled away from the faith” by “some other gospel.” I think Church relationships take longer than some of those in the (forgive the expression) real world.
    Perhaps the last year and a bit has been necessary for tilling the soil in your congregation James. If it took 3 years to make any headway, would it be worth it?
    MacArthur’s Judaism to Jesus message was from ’76, Has he spoken of them since then? While I can’t say his view has changed at all for the better over the last few years toward the Messianic believers, I do think it would be interesting if he had his own Damascus experience. Perhaps we should keep him in prayer for that kind of enlightening moment.
    Peace brother.

  7. Chaya wrote “I would argue against the idea that the institutional church was a God idea; I believe it was a man idea, towers of Babel each seeking to make a name for themselves.” and “Yes, “the church,” has been a barrier to Jewish people recognizing their Messiah, as the Messiah presented by “the church,” is more like Antiochus or Zaphenath Paneah.”

    All I know is if it wasn’t for the roman church I wouldn’t be here at all… Why all this has happened? Let me explain:

    There has been some 1900 years (more or less) of hidden truth about what Yeshua did come to do and how Jewish He is. So here we are at the beginning of returning knowledge of the Jewish Messiah Yeshua and thus, we have had the “chance” of being born. So the way I see it, God loved us so much, that He wanted to “wait” until we were born, so that we also could have an opportunity to receive His Grace through His Messiah, and to have eternal Life.

    So, if His people would have repented and heard Yeshua’s message, He would have reign in this world right there at that time. And if it wasn’t for the “church”, Jewish people would have recognized Him sooner in time, so he would also had returned long time ago, and we wouldn’t be here, in year 5774. But God chose to have all this happen so that you and I would be born and exist, and receive His Blessings, and receive His Mashiach and eternal Life.

    I guess that as I’m trying to learn about “dan l’kaf z’chut”, about giving the benefit of the doubt, I’m seeing the “church” as an opportunity. Maybe Michael Boaz is also trying to do the same.

    Ve’heveh dan et kol ha-adam l’kaf z’chut –
    “Judge everyone on the positive side of the scale.” (Pirkei Avot 1:6)

  8. By the way, as much as I’m trying to learn about “dan l’kaf z’chut”, with Mr. MacArthur I’m having a lot of trouble 🙂 but I must keep on trying !

  9. I understand that’s very hard to do Alfredo, especially on the Internet. I’m hoping that if any of us actually met MacArthur in person, we’d find something about him that we could judge positively.

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