Insomnia

Notes On the Church From an Insomniac

Old English cir(i)ce, cyr(i)ce, related to Dutch kerk and German Kirche, based on medieval Greek kurikon, from Greek kuriakon (dōma ) ‘Lord’s (house),’ from kurios ‘master or lord.’

I’ve always wondered how you get “church” out of “ekklesia” and in a bout of insomnia, I decided to find out. It’s not so much that I want to know about the usage of “church” as a building or even an organization, but as the entity that has, in some circles, replaced Israel as the focus of all His New Covenant prophesies and promises (see my five-part review series on D. Thomas Lancaster’s lectures, What About the New Covenant for more).

The definition above is what I first came up with in a Google search using the search string “origin of the word church”. Here’s more detail:

church (n.) Old English cirice, circe “church, public place of worship; Christians collectively,” from West Germanic *kirika (cognates: Old Saxon kirika, Old Norse kirkja, Old Frisian zerke, Middle Dutch kerke, Dutch kerk, Old High German kirihha, German Kirche), probably [see note in OED] from Greek kyriake (oikia), kyriakon doma “Lord’s (house),” from kyrios “ruler, lord,” from PIE root *keue- “to swell” (“swollen,” hence “strong, powerful”); see cumulus. Phonetic spelling from c.1200, established by 16c. For vowel evolution, see bury. As an adjective from 1570s.

Greek kyriakon (adj.) “of the Lord” was used of houses of Christian worship since c.300, especially in the East, though it was less common in this sense than ekklesia or basilike. An example of the direct Greek-to-Germanic progress of many Christian words, via the Goths; it probably was used by West Germanic people in their pre-Christian period.

Also picked up by Slavic, probably via Germanic (e.g. Old Church Slavonic criky, Russian cerkov). Finnish kirkko, Estonian kirrik are from Scandinavian. Romance and Celtic languages use variants of Latin ecclesia (e.g. French église, 11c.).

-from Online Etymology Dictionary

This resource has links that define the sources used to generate the information above so please click the link for more.

As you can see, it’s not as simple as saying that “church” equals “ekklesia” which is how it seems if you simply read your English-language Bibles.

Now what about “ekklesia” (alt. “ecclesia”)?

noun, plural ec·cle·si·ae [ih-klee-zhee-ee, -zee-ee] Show IPA .

1. an assembly, especially the popular assembly of ancient Athens.

2. a congregation; church.

Origin: 1570–80; < Latin < Greek ekklēsía assembly, equivalent to ékklēt ( os ) summoned ( ek- ec- + klē-, variant of kal-, stem of kaleîn to call, + -tos past participle suffix) + -ia -ia

The same source, dictionary.reference.com also provides the following:

— n , pl -siae
1. (in formal Church usage) a congregation
2. the assembly of citizens of an ancient Greek state

[C16: from Medieval Latin, from Late Greek ekklēsia assembly, from ekklētos called, from ekkalein to call out, from kalein to call]

churchAccording to biblehub.com, the “English word “church” comes from the Greek word kyriakos, “belonging to the Lord” (kyrios).” By comparison, “ekklēsía(from 1537 /ek, “out from and to” and 2564 /kaléō, “to call”) – properly, people called out from the world and to God, the outcome being the Church (the mystical body of Christ) – i.e. the universal (total) body of believers whom God calls out from the world and into His eternal kingdom.”

So as nearly I can figure, not being a linguist or etymologist, we can understand the word “ekklesia” as originally meaning (for the purposes of this brief study) an assembly of Greek citizens or more specifically, a popular assembly in the city of Athens. In its most generic sense, it was probably used to mean any assembly of people for a common purpose.

There’s also a sense, when used to describe an assembly of believers, as it’s used in the New Testament, that said-assembly is a group of people “called out”. This is probably (in the minds of the Jewish writers of the New Testament) related to the Hebrew word Shaliah, meaning “legal emissary” or “agent,” equivalent to the Greek word “apostolos” from which we get the English word “apostle”. It’s reminiscent of the use of the word Shaliach as employed by the Chabad to mean “a member of the Chabad Hasidic movement who is sent out to promulgate Judaism and Hasidism in locations around the world.”

That probably fits since historically and into modern times, one of the primary functions of the Christian Church as an institution is to send out members as missionaries or “sent out ones” to “promulgate Christianity in locations around the world.”

Called out ones, sent out ones. In either case, a population of individuals separated from the larger group for a common purpose. From a Christian standpoint, “the Church” is called out of the generic population of the nations for the purpose of being worshipers of Jesus Christ. An important secondary mission (Matthew 28:19-20) is to spread the gospel message of salvation to the world, creating more called out ones to join “the Church.”

Except, as you may have noticed above, the word “church” is more related to the Greek word “kyriakos,” so I’m not sure it’s reasonable to directly translate “ekklesia” as “church”.

But I haven’t written this in the middle of the night to be that picky. I’m just using it as background.

In studying Lancaster’s What’s New About the New Covenant lecture series, I started wondering, given the centrality of Israel in all the New Covenant language, how “the Church” managed to replace Israel or usurp her position in that Covenant. Actually, I’ve wondered this for a while and it keeps bothering me.

PaulI’ve learned in past conversations with Pastor Randy at the church I attend, that “the Church” was created in Acts 2 at Pentecost, was originally made up of mostly Jewish people, and was centralized around Jerusalem and the Temple. Subsequently, the Church began to spread and its locus of control was shifted to the assembly at Syrian Antioch (see Acts 11 starting at verse 19 and subsequent chapters) as more Gentiles were added. Paul returned to Antioch after his first two “missionary journeys” rather than Jerusalem, to give a report of his activities. He only returned to Jerusalem after his third journey (Acts 21) at the prompting of the Holy Spirit (Acts 20:22-23), not as a missionary going back to his “home church” to make a report, but for a larger and most likely eternal purpose.

From this perspective, as time goes on, starting during the lifetime of Paul, “the Church” becomes less and less Jewish and less and less of a Judaism, and increasingly describes a body of Jewish but mostly Gentile people focused on the worship of Jesus Christ, while divesting themselves of the various practices, perspectives, and even thoughts that previously associated it with a first century stream of Judaism (very similar to the viewpoint of John MacArthur on this topic).

Can you see why this bothers me? I’ve mentioned recently that if God really did reject Israel and replace her with “the Church” in all of the covenant prophesies and promises, then it would be like a man cutting off his own legs and expecting to run a marathon afterward.

It would be impossible.

All of the New Covenant language we see in Jeremiah 31 and Ezekiel 36 is focused on Israel as the object of God’s prophesies and promises, not another entity, and certainly not an entity that isn’t Israel and Judah (which “the Church” isn’t). It’s as if traditional Christian thought on the New Covenant starts in the Gospels and particularly the Epistles, and then works its way backward into the “Old Testament,” proceeding to engage in some significant theological and eisegetical gymnastics to rework the words of the Prophets in order (some how) to make them fit the way institutional Christianity chooses to interpret Paul.

I’ve also mentioned recently how at least some of what Paul wrote is all too easily interpreted as anti-Torah, anti-Judaism, and anti-Jewish people, making Paul a big problem for understanding the New Covenant as it’s described in the Prophets, and giving “the Church” the (apparent) leverage it needs to reinterpret the New Covenant in a Gentile-focused manner that diminishes Israel and the Jewish people in favor of Goyim Christianity. At this point, if the Jews weren’t kicked out of the Church (unless they converted to Christianity and gave up Judaism and being Jewish people), they would have walked out, since the “no Jews allowed” sign had been raised. The Church isn’t a Jewish place, it’s a Gentile place.

“The older I get, the more I realize how different it is to be a Jew in a Jewish place as opposed to a Jew in a non-Jewish place. It’s definitely a different feeling in terms of how freely you can be yourself and celebrate your culture and religion.”

-Natalie Portman

Etymology is defined as “the study of the origin of words and the way in which their meanings have changed throughout history.” As we’ve seen above, the etymology of the word “Church” isn’t as straightforward as the casual users of that word might believe. In fact, “Church” is more related to a completely different Greek word, but most people don’t know that.

JudaismI suggest that the way most Christians understand the word “Church” today isn’t how the original apostles and disciples of the Master understood “ekklesia” or meant for anyone to understand it. The “ekklesia” were the called out body of Messiah, but did not call out Jews from Judaism. If the New Covenant prophesies mean anything at all, then primarily, it was the non-Jewish peoples who were “called out” of paganism in order to be grafted in to the commonwealth of Israel to benefit from the blessings of the New Covenant through their Abrahamic faith in Messiah, Son of David. The Jewish disciples may have been called out of other Jewish streams and into the Judaism of “the Way,” but if they had been called out of Judaism as modern Christians believe, then they (and we) would have exited the New Covenant altogether.

But just as we see how the word or words that eventually became “church” in English went through many changes throughout history, the meaning, purpose, and composition of the body of believers has also “morphed” a great deal over time. I doubt Paul would recognize a modern group of Christians in a Sunday worship service because of the result of nearly two-thousand years of evolutionary changes.

I wish I could do this wee study more justice, but it would take more study and time than I have right now. I fell asleep exhausted several hours ago, woke up way too late (or too early) and now I can’t sleep at all. For some reason, I keep thinking of “the Church” in general and the little local church I attend in specific.

I emailed one of the associate Pastors earlier today in relation to the church’s website, and one of the things he asked in response was, “How are you doing in your walk?”

Given how unusual I am in relation to just about everyone else in church, I didn’t know how to respond. I feel “fine” in my “walk,” but I don’t know if that’s how I’d appear from his point of view.

I suppose I should try to get some more sleep. Morning will come all too soon and I’ll regret it if I go to work with my brain in a fog. Maybe I’ll write a “part two” to this when I get more time and can do more research. I don’t really feel like I’ve said what I wanted to say, except that I wanted to say that what the Church has become today, not as a building or even an institution, but as an entity or even a concept, seems to have changed a great deal from the hopes and dreams of the apostles and from the spirit of what was intended in the New Covenant, a covenant non-Jewish people can only partake of through Israel and her firstborn son, Messiah, Son of David…the person we call Jesus Christ.

Read Part 2: When Is Church Not Church?

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40 thoughts on “Notes On the Church From an Insomniac”

  1. Thank you for bringing this out James, and I look forward to you going farther with it.

    I think it was perhaps necessary for “the Church” to become somewhat it’s own entity, even though I sharply disagree about Acts 2 being it’s genesis.

    However, it wasn’t necessary for “the Church” to become “emancipated” by creating a route around the Jewish people, and I believe it was a huge failure to do so. Unfortunately there’s yet to be wide scale acceptance of this failure that would lead to needed repentance. We are a proud bunch. Stiff-necked comes to mind, as does a “partial hardness” regarding how we feel about the Jewish people.

    Certainly, if God hadever covenanted with us Christians – and then written about it, the pages would be littered with jealousy and atrocities against the Jewish people, our spiritual elders, and we’d look like imbeciles.

    I said in “Identity Crises” “…once Gentiles out numbered Jews in their (Gentile’s) newfound religion, we didn’t just level the playing field, Church Fathers set dynamite into Mt. Sinai and created a cliff to push the Jews off of.

    For this there is no excuse, and no justification. It is counter to everything God literally dictated to Moses, mouth to mouth. It is contrary to everything the prophets said throughout the Tanakh. It contradicts Jesus’ teachings–everywhere– and his stated purpose.

    I know, I know, none of that is enough for some people, so let me also include Paul who said:

    “do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you.”

  2. Sojourning said: Thank you for bringing this out James, and I look forward to you going farther with it.

    I look forward to getting enough sleep that I get my brain back. Oy. Hopefully, I’ll get enough cognitive wherewithal back to be able to return to this topic at some point.

  3. I definitely recommend sleep — you seem in need of a bit to “knit up the raveled sleeve of care”. The lack thereof might also have some bearing on a word that you included above but which doesn’t appear in either Merriam-Webster or OED: “gisegesial”. I would guess that you meant “eisegetical”; and somehow that got scrambled.

    I suspect that from a Jewish perspective, the Greek word “kuriakon”, from “kurios” (Lord) and “oikos” (house), might have been reserved as a reference to the Temple as the LORD’s House, though I can see how that appellation might have been appropriated after the Hurban to apply to lesser houses dedicated to HaShem — particularly by non-Jews who could never have developed the feeling that Jews held for the one-and-only Mikdash. I suspect that “kuriakon” might have represented a somewhat later streamlined linguistic form for what the Septuagint termed “οικω κυριου” (oiko kuriou) in Ps.134:1. Nonetheless, the tracing of “kuriakon” to “kirche” and “church” is an interesting one. Of course, it is a different term from “ecclesia”, which can refer to the assembly that results from calling people out of their homes, or out of their former sinful lifestyles. The literal perspective of “calling out” doesn’t quite tell us that the result was also a calling together into an assemblage of people, though we know that was its usage.

    Of course, our modern sense of “assembly” is rooted in the “together” concept, which takes us back to the Greek “sunagogos” or synagogue. Thus the so-called “ecclesia” was rather a synonym for a synagogue, and, of course, a bi-lateral ecclesia is simply a synagogue with a mechitzah or divider to create distinctive areas within it, such as between men’s and women’s sections reminiscent of the Temple’s sanctuary and the court of the women. Perhaps Mark Kinzer’s focus on the two segments of ecclesia visible in Acts 15 actually should be broadened to a tri-lateral or quadrilateral ecclesia, because even a distinctive “court of the gentiles” might need to distinguish further the appropriate roles of non-Jewish women from those of non-Jewish men.

    But now I think I should try to nap, as preparation for the all-night Israeli border police shift I will begin in a few hours. Have a nice day!

  4. PL said: The lack thereof might also have some bearing on a word that you included above but which doesn’t appear in either Merriam-Webster or OED: “gisegesial”.

    Fixed. Yes, I’d recommend sleep as well, but what I want and what I get are sometimes two different things.

    PL said: Perhaps Mark Kinzer’s focus on the two segments of ecclesia visible in Acts 15 actually should be broadened to a tri-lateral or quadrilateral ecclesia, because even a distinctive “court of the gentiles” might need to distinguish further the appropriate roles of non-Jewish women from those of non-Jewish men.

    That’s an interesting thought. Do you really believe the ancient synagogues were multi-partitioned, so to speak, to accomodate Jewish men, Jewish woman, Gentile men, and Gentile women? Do we have any textual or archeological evidence supporting this?

    In picturing the Gentile God-fearers in the synagogue (such as the synagogue in Pisidian Antioch depicted in Acts 13), I always imagined that the Gentiles just sat at the back. Even in modern Orthodox synagogues, if there are Gentile vistors or attendees (such as an intermarried couple at Chabad), wouldn’t the Gentile person sit with their same-sex Jewish counterparts in the same section?

    Be safe tonight.

  5. I don’t know of any references to check to determine if the Temple’s “court of the gentiles” might have been further subdivided into men’s and women’s sections, though I doubt it because women in that era didn’t get out much in the first place. The synagogues of that era tended to be specialized in a different manner, such as the synagogue of Freedmen. They operated a bit more like men’s lodges. On the other hand, after the Hurban, the synagogue morphed into a focal point for each given Jewish community, and therefore it took on many additional communal functions. One of them was to provide a clearer commemoration of the Temple, hence the addition of the mechitzah to symbolize the court of the women and to facilitate men’s concentration on the prayer function in commemoration of the sacrifices. I suspect there was very little gentile participation — less, in fact, than there had ever been at the Temple. The Temple was, at least, a central focus that could concentrate all gentile participation into one locale. Dispersing that into all the places where Jews fled would have diluted that to a very rare occurrence — even rarer because doing so would be particularly dangerous for all concerned given the much-increased persecution level and the general anti-Jewish climate within the entire area of Roman influence. Thus a special section for gentiles would not likely have been seen as any sort of priority. Therefore no such tradition arose to be carried forward Into modern times when greater gentile interest became possible. It is quite likely that only within the messianic movement has such interest grown to such proportions that the question about a need for a mechitzah could be considered. And this comes at a time when even the tradition of a women’s-section mechitzah has come under challenge as an anachronism.

    So you’re right that individual gentile visitors to an otherwise purely Jewish space (like a ‘Habad shul) would tend not to be singled-out, nor would anyone call attention to them unless they do so themselves. If a group were to attend, they would probably be identified specifically as a visiting group, who would likely also have a group sponsor and guide to coordinate their visit, and who would likely therefore all sit together in a de-facto segregated space. These represent exceptional cases, however, and do not really illuminate our question about significant numbers of regular gentile attendees who are not already attached to the Jewish community in some way as are intermarried spouses. Something I have noted anecdotally is a tendency for non-Jewish visitors to take seats in the rear, rather than to risk calling attention to themselves by trying to participate in unfamiliar proceedings up front where they would be noticed. There may also be some reticence even for those who are more familiar, so they will not feel embarrassed at having to refuse an offer of an aliyah or some similar honor that they know would not be knowingly offered to a non-Jew. Similarly, they would not wish to be criticized for accepting such honors when it becomes known that they are not Jewish. Having dedicated spaces, therefore, can be a means for everyone to feel more comfortable, ensuring that each individual may find a proper place of acceptance and preventing inadvertent procedural faux pas.

  6. I sit in the back even when I’m in church but I guess in some sense, I feel just as segregated (though of my own choosing) in church as I would in a synagogue.

    I did attend our local conservative/reform shul when my kids were in their early teens and going to Hebrew school. Yes, I sat in the back, but the Rabbi offered me an aliyah anyway. I turned it down and I suspect he thought I was just being unfriendly.

    Hope you had a good nap.

  7. First of all, 1) I don’t mean to take this conversation in a “paganoic” direction, 2) and do not wish do demean my sibling Christians, 3) and I would not attempt to build some kind of theological theory around the information I’m about to bring up… and yet… I’ve always found it intriguing that the German “kirke” is related to “Circe” the goddess pharmakeia (witch or sorceress) (who was skilled in the magic of metamorphosis, the power of illusion, and the dark art of necromancy [theoi.com]).

    As a Holocaust educator, there is a dark spark of intrigue to be found in this fact.

    But also, if this linguistic connection is less than credible I would appreciate hearing so, as it seems somewhat “pagan-oish”.

  8. I don’t think the Old English cirice or circe is necessarily related to the Greek goddess Circe but not being a language expert, I could be wrong.

  9. Good quote from Mandy Hale, I think I will FB it. I think both of us have come to the same conclusion. Sometimes we are meant to be in a place for a certain time and purpose, and then the cloud moves on and we need to move on with it, rather than building monuments and theologies around that place.

    In response to Natalie Portman, I don’t feel at home in a Jewish group that does not love and support Israel, and would feel more at home with non-Jews who do.

    I understand the concern of the pastor about, “your walk.” If you want to make him feel better, just use the right buzzwords to provide relief. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’ve discovered that guilded cages are toxic for me; to be surrounded by kind, loving, accepting (there’s the hook) people who don’t get me, and while they are polite, can’t provide the encouragement and affirmation I need to launch into my divine destiny and contribute my voice to the heavenly song.

    I don’t recommend entering another cage, of a different design. Don’t think the HR/MJ world isn’t another cage. Perhaps this Passover, Messyworld could clean out the leaven? But I am not holding my breath.

    I was prepared to go out into the wilderness, to bear his shame outside the camp(s) and then this wonderful motley crew of four torah pursuant ladies that meet for 3 hours of no holds barred conversation every Tuesday morning at Panera found me. I warned the person who invited me, “Are they going to say, ‘She thinks she knows everything because she is Jewish?'” The answer was the no, there was already another person like that in the group, who wasn’t Jewish but was fluent in Hebrew, and expertise in any area was appreciated rather than resented.

  10. I’d already answered the associate Pastor’s question and he gave me a nice response:

    Thanks for sharing. In many ways each of our “walks” is unique as we each have a different story from before we entered into belief in Christ and the wonderful relationship with God that we now are able to experience. I’ve talked with individuals who have been to church all their lives and yet still experience a sense of disconnection/ uniqueness in their walks as they dimly perceive the walks of others. I say “dimly” not in the negative fashion, but as “limited”. We (believers) are so limited in our own understanding of our relationship with God and equally limited in our understanding of others who likewise run the race with endurance. I guess that’s why God tells us in Hebrews 12:1-3 “…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down at the right had of the throne of God. Consider him, who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not lose heart.”

    I still don’t think he’d really “get” me if he knew more about me, but that’s OK.

    I think, on some level, we all want/need a community of like-minded people with whom to share our faith, ideas, and other things about us. That’s community isn’t always available face-to-face, so we often try to find it on the Internet.

    Frankly, I wouldn’t mind a more or less traditionally Christian environment as long as they could keep themselves open to new ideas. As I continue to go through Lancaster’s “What’s New About the New Covenant” lectures (number four in a series of five publishes tomorrow morning), I’m convinced that the Church’s normative understanding of the New Covenant completely violates what it says in Jeremiah 31 and Ezekiel 36. The New Covenant that favors Israel and the Jewish people really would be “good news” to Jewish people, but it puts Gentiles in a somewhat lower position, because we are dependent on Israel’s relationship with God in order to gain any of the blessings of the New Covenant at all.

    Once you know where to look, it becomes easy to see all the connections and to realize that Church tradition about the New Covenant is incorrect. I think there are Christians who would find this totally eye-opening and illuminating, but finding them and associating with them is the trick.

    While the Natalie Portman quote may not resonate with you, I think it does with plenty of other Jewish people and I inserted it to attempt to convince Gentile Hebrew Roots folks that Jewish people needing affiliation with other Jewish in a Jewish community space is a for real thing and not just “racism” and “exclusiveness.” It doesn’t bother me in the slightest and I can’t understand why it’s so offensive to others. When my wife needs to enter the Jewish community space without me, it’s perfectly OK with me. We share plenty of other things in our relationship and we’ve been married for 32 years.

    It’s all good.

  11. Actually, Natalie Portman’s quote does resonate with me. It is just that I have a difficult time really connecting with someone who doesn’t love Israel – whatever their politics. And if they hate or act antagonistically towards Israel, they are on my doo doo list no matter what other positive qualities they may possess.

    I tried to explain to pastor that for me, this is not a theological issue, it is personal. I would be the same if you hated one of my kids or thought they were horrible people, there would be no way I would touch you or anything to do with you with a pole as long as Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion.

    I don’t have a problem with gentiles in Jewish space, although I stand by my, “Is the One New Man a Golem?” – in that demographically, there is no alternative but to conclude that the Jewish part of the One New Man will be cannabalized. If the gentiles in Jewish space have the courage and dedication of a Ruth, or a Rahab, that is fine with me. While many profess to be Ruths and Rahabs, they are few and far between.

  12. From a review of the book: ‘One of the major puzzles of Western civilization is how early second century Christianity was transformed into a non-Jewish, Gentile religion, when Christianity began as one of many Jewish factions in the diverse Judaism of the period. The author uses theoretical insights from the social sciences to deal with the complex issues raised by the parting of Judaism and Christianity, and the accompanying rise of Christian anti-Semitism in ancient Antioch. While previous attempts to solve this problem have focused mainly on ideology, his study emphasizes the interplay between sociological and ideological elements.’

  13. Ruth, good point. You mean the manifest presence of heaven didn’t come down at Nicea, envelop the participants with a cloud of glory so thick they couldn’t stand and spout their dreck any longer? You mean signs and wonders didn’t follow the post-apostolic “church fathers,” to validate their message and messengers?

    I also wrote an article about my door number 3 answer to the cessationist/continuist debate, that miraculous manifestations ceased because the Holy One is not about to provide special efforts to provide a stamp of approval to something man, and even demonically sourced. Paul also warned that wolves would come in and not spare the flock after his death. The wolves are still here. But there are real sheep in the wolves’ dens. Our mission is to mount a search and rescue mission for sheep and bring them back to the true shepherd and a safe sheepfold. Let’s not worry so much about the wolves and hirelings that have sprung up among us.

  14. Chaya said: I don’t have a problem with gentiles in Jewish space, although I stand by my, “Is the One New Man a Golem?” – in that demographically, there is no alternative but to conclude that the Jewish part of the One New Man will be cannabalized. If the gentiles in Jewish space have the courage and dedication of a Ruth, or a Rahab, that is fine with me. While many profess to be Ruths and Rahabs, they are few and far between.

    No, I don’t believe Jewish people in the community of Messiah must be cannaballized by having Gentiles in the community. Either the Gentiles have the courage and dedication of Ruth and Rahab, or the Jews involved need to have an exclusive Jewish space which, in my mind, pre-supposes a love for Israel. Jews shouldn’t have to compromise being Jewish because Gentiles have been grafted into the blessings of the New Covenant. That’s not what God intended and the Church has been guilty of such a crime for centuries. Time to make that stop.

    @Steve: Good thing it’s reasonably priced for Kindle. :O

  15. Well, the One New Man worked fine back in the 70’s and 80’s when MJ congregations were about 80% Jewish – at least the ones I was aware of. Do you understand that I don’t mind a joint space as long as we also have our own space? I am not saying the gentiles have any evil intention and I understand that many are struggling with an identity crisis. I also don’t know of any MJ congregation of any stripe that would reject the gentile spouse of a Jewish person.

    It is fair to acknowledge what appears to be unfairness and injustice to individuals for the good of the whole.

    It might help to employ some honesty, instead of mickey mouse work-arounds I have read about, even if they are trying.

  16. I think it’s awkward for Jews to have Gentiles trying so hard to appropriate their identity, which makes it hard for them to speak up at times, they don’t want to be mean or hurtful. I can think of an example in another aspect of life, but I’ll refrain.

    I also maintain it’s the replacement theology taught by the church that sets the stage for this crazy stuff and identity crises in the first place. Besides that, I happen to know it’s not only MJ that deals with the issue of insecure Gentile wannabes, and worse.

  17. Ruth, now you have me curious as to what you are hinting at 🙂 When I was involved in MJ, the involved non-Jews I knew didn’t claim to be Jewish, nor did they try to call the shots in regard to halacha. But that was then and this is now.

    I hope you guys know that this whole deal with encouraging gentiles to not practice torah and go back to the churches from whence they came is due to an unholy handshake whereby certain unnamed moneychangers tables agreed to quit poaching church members in return for $$$$ financial support.

  18. I will add that there was a mentally unbalanced woman at Beth Messiah who claimed that, “God told her she was Jewish.” Everyone attributed this to her delusional state. Now this seems par for the course. I wonder what they are putting in the Oneg?

    @James, I reread your pastor’s comment. Do you think he considers the “stuff,” you are into a weight that hinders your walk and needs to be thrown off? I suspect he may see torah as getting in the way of Messiah, rather than a blueprint for following him.

  19. Chaya said: I hope you guys know that this whole deal with encouraging gentiles to not practice torah and go back to the churches from whence they came is due to an unholy handshake whereby certain unnamed moneychangers tables agreed to quit poaching church members in return for $$$$ financial support.

    I suppose you have proof of that allegation. Rather than get into “naming names” in my comments section, which I don’t permit, you can get into the specifics of this one with me via email if you’d like.

    Chaya said: I reread your pastor’s comment. Do you think he considers the “stuff,” you are into a weight that hinders your walk and needs to be thrown off? I suspect he may see torah as getting in the way of Messiah, rather than a blueprint for following him.

    Actually, that comment came from one of the associate Pastors. My main relationship has been with the head Pastor, who I previously met with on a more or less weekly basis. This other fellow doesn’t know me nearly as well and as far as I know hasn’t read my blog at all. I don’t doubt though that most evangelicals would consider me climbing the wrong tree, so to speak.

  20. @James and @Chaya — Thank you James, for gently calling Chaya to account for her allegation about financial incentives to influence doctrine. I do believe she would be hard-pressed to support that allegation with regard to Rav Shaul’s teaching to non-Jews and the Jerusalem Council’s halakhic decision in Acts 15. Others of us, in modern times, who are theologically oriented, do not make our living from it and receive no funding nor contributions from anyone for the positions we derive from the apostolic writings. Those whom I know personally take very seriously the rabbinic injunction against using the Torah “as if it were a spade to dig with”. I have always worked in a professional engineering capacity, akin to the advice to “labor with [one’s own] hands” even as Rav Shaul worked as a tentmaker. Hence I wonder greatly about “conspiracy theories” that allege nefarious plots of this sort, to denigrate and mischaracterize a valid scripturally-supportable viewpoint.

    You have, of course, written a great many words to share your own struggle with the unsupportive Christian world which Jewishly-informed non-Jews must address if they do attempt to integrate into existing church environments rather than to create new ones that are willing to support the need for Jewish distinctiveness in covenantal identity by operating separately in parallel. I wonder if we might draw a midrashic parallel between the tandem operation of the heavenly mikdash and the earthly one that we see in the Hebrews letter/sermon, and a tandem operation of distinct non-Jewish and Jewish communities of Rav Yeshua’s modern disciples? This is not to suggest that one is heavenly and the other not so much — that is not the intended parallel — but merely that tandem operation is possible and would be beneficial.

  21. PL said: I wonder if we might draw a midrashic parallel between the tandem operation of the heavenly mikdash and the earthly one that we see in the Hebrews letter/sermon, and a tandem operation of distinct non-Jewish and Jewish communities of Rav Yeshua’s modern disciples? This is not to suggest that one is heavenly and the other not so much — that is not the intended parallel — but merely that tandem operation is possible and would be beneficial.

    Not sure how to wrap my brain around that one, especially so early in the morning. It is said by some that Messiah will only come if Israel were to repent as a nation, but I think that those Gentiles who are not “Jewishly-informed” need to do some repenting of their own in terms of their (our) relationship to God and our association to the New Covenant through Israel and faith in the Messiah.

  22. @James — I didn’t realize that a great deal of “brain-wrapping” would be required for that one, though you’re undoubtedly correct that the development of tandemly cooperative non-Jewish assemblies/communities would occur only among repentant thoughtful gentile disciples alongside repentant thoughtful Jewish ones. The separation between heavens and earth is fairly obvious to most folks, hence no one is all that likely to confuse their two respective sanctuaries — though not everyone is clear about how they actually operate in tandem. Recognizing the continuing (virtually permanent?) separation that HaShem chose to make between Jews and all-other-nations on earth seems a little harder somehow, so maintaining separate sanctuaries seems correspondingly harder to justify — especially when folks still haven’t quite understood what was actually meant by breaking down “the intervening wall of partition” and think it denies any kind of distinctiveness or separation between Jewish and gentile disciples. Other churched folks have little problem with separate sanctuaries for Jews and Christians, but they mistake Jewish disciples of Rav Yeshua as Christians rather than as the separate commodity known as Jews — and operating completely in tandem, even with redeemed Jews, is a notion that is a bit too far “outside the box”, largely because of Nicene-styled perspectives. Resolving these mistakes would likely obviate entirely the current distinction between existing churches and more Jewishly- supportive “roots-driven” congregations.

  23. I didn’t realize that a great deal of “brain-wrapping” would be required for that one…

    Needed more coffee. Sometimes my brain is slow to thaw this early in the morning. I’m better now, thanks.

    Even if Jewish distinctiveness from Gentiles in the community of Messiah could be apprehended by most Christians, I think most would still believe (assume) that in the Messianic Kingdom and/or the world to come, that distinctiveness would cease to exist.

    Looking to the extreme future, beyond the time of the heavenly mikdash, Revelation 21:22 says there is no Temple in the city (New Jerusalem) nor even a sun or moon for light (v.23). It is interesting that even then the scripture says (v.27 that “nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life,” which presumes that things unclean still exist and people who do things that are “detestable or false” will still exist, which seems to contradict the idea that everything and everyone evil and sinful were thrown into the lake of fire.

    However, the next chapter may be describing a time even after that because Rev. 22:3 says that there will no longer be anything accursed. I rather like that verse 2 says that the leaves of the tree of life are for the healing of the nations, so we too will be servants of God and of the Lamb.

  24. Well, since beginning with the start of ch.21 we seem to be looking at the new heavens and earth, but we who are looking are still using language derived from the old ones, the description that says none of the old problems will be present may not be addressing old-style things that actually exist in the new regime, but only saying that they aren’t present because they don’t any longer exist except in the memories of those reading the text from within the old regime, as the explanation of why they won’t contaminate the new situation. Of course, only those from the Lamb’s book of life will have survived the destruction of the old, in order to be able to enter into the new Jerusalem, though they might still need healing with the help of those leaves (herbalists take note!). The observation that there is no Temple would seem to be a hint that no sacrifices will be required, presumably because having the Torah imprinted on individual hearts prevents the commission of any sin that could thus need atonement; and I wonder if noting a lack of solar and lunar illumination is intended entirely to describe physical conditions or if it is another symbolic hint about the presence of widespread general “enlightenment”. It’s remarkably difficult to extract information about physical conditions from a vision that must by its very nature communicate symbolically.

  25. Is it entirely possible that we have made this much too complicated? Perhaps it is my lack of experience or knowledge, but the idea that we have to define what an assembly looks like seems like such a duplicate amount of work to me.

    God gave us the picture of what an assembly is supposed to look like within the Torah. There are roles and responsibilities for all walks of life. Natural born (Jew), the sojourner that wants to be like a natural born (proselyte), the foreigner, the slave, the employee, man, woman, child, etc. Each category of person was given a role in how to interact within the assembly.

    We Gentiles, were never intended to be in the lead. We don’t have that role nor were given that responsibility (perhaps privilege).

    At this point, per prophecy, the assembly (Israel) has been scattered. Without the assembly to be part of, we are all wandering, waiting until the assembly is called to reconvene.

    I would challenge that the reason it has been so hard to figure out for the last 1900+ years is because those chosen (Israel) to be in the leadership role have not played the role God intended. Without that leadership in the correct role, the rest of us are floundering trying to figure it out.

    Nothing new was created when Jesus came as the Messiah. He merely started the ball rolling by placing the Torah into proper perspective for those that were listening. Paul wrote in Romans 11:7, “What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened,” then continued on to discuss the famously used passage regarding Gentiles being grafted in, which we are not to become arrogant about. For a reason known only fully to God, the chosen were hardened.

    I just can’t help that this is as simple as the instructions were already written. We should be part of their (Israel) assembly and play the role that was already dealt to us within that assembly. That order will be reinstated when Messiah returns.

  26. That fits in line with the idea that the partial hardening led to reception of gentiles, and the fullness will lead to life from the dead.

  27. @Terry Ocana, I like the way you put that.
    God gave us the picture of what an assembly is supposed to look like within the Torah. There are roles and responsibilities for all walks of life. Natural born (Jew), the sojourner that wants to be like a natural born (proselyte), the foreigner, the slave, the employee, man, woman, child, etc. Each category of person was given a role in how to interact within the assembly.
    What I would add, is many time ‘assembly’ could better be understood as ‘community.’
    Replacement theology has wrecked havoc on scriptures. I’ve even heard some preachers go so far as to apply even ‘Old Testament’ passages as ‘hinting’ about the ‘church.’
    I am going to upset the ‘apple cart’ here. IMO, today, we have the body of Christ(Bridegroom) being called out, where there is neither Jew nor Greek etc…The Bride is clearly the nation, Israel. No where in the ‘New Testament’ will you ever read the bride of Christ. It isn’t in there. Many preachers parrot it over and over, but it isn’t there. Always, it is the Body of Christ. I am still trying to sort this out in my understanding. As I said to a Jewish friend one day, I see myself as part of the body of the Bridegroom fighting for the Bride (Israel).

  28. *….”Church” is more related to a completely different Greek word, but most people don’t know that.

    I suggest that the way most Christians understand the word “Church” today isn’t how the original apostles and disciples of the Master understood “ekklesia”[…]

    […] or meant for anyone to understand it.*

    *Greek kyriake (oikia), kyriakon doma “Lord’s (house),” from kyrios “ruler, lord,” from PIE root *keue- “to swell” (“swollen,” hence “strong, powerful”)*

    In fact, this might be a lesson in itself. The original apostles PICKED a different Greek word AND DID NOT PICK church/kyriake/kyriakon for the concept they signified by ekklesia.

    Most Christians, if they read today that there was a meaning relating to a house of a lord, will automatically think of the Lord Jesus (and their church); not realizing the meaning might actually be the lord of the Lord. But there was a reason Greek already had a word for a Lord before Jesus and before Jewish monotheistic scripture was translated using that Greek [and such a house would have been very unlike what Jesus was and is about]. We know Greek wasn’t considered completely off limits (in general). But we shouldn’t be so uncritically accepting of something the apostles (specifically) did not do. They, rather, did try to hold some distance linguistically from the culture steeped in honor for other lords (or gods).

    But, instead, over the same period of time that replacement and exclusion and even violence and “overlording” became the norm, the word “church” became the norm. I accept the word church, but as a historical reality. Thus, along with that word comes the meaning of replacement and of gentile dominance (and worse). Now, that doesn’t mean all you have to do is remove that word. I go ahead and use the word, seeing it as appropriate for gentile institutions who haven’t seen fit to face the full reality of their heritage. So, I do not cry out for “the Church” to be what it ostensibly was to be in the first century.

    I find the etymology of this morning meditation (just having come across it after months reading here) interesting. My reason for not employing apologetics for “the church” as the entity of the Bible has been simply the clear history [multifaceted and sustained and added to over centuries and various languages] and the unclear origin of the word church, which gives us no reason to latch on to it. Why hold onto this word as if it is something sacred and biblical, rather than simply acknowledge it as a force with which to recon?

  29. Marleen, I believe we do a certain amount of “violence” to the Apostolic Scriptures by translating the word “ekklesia” as “church” since there’s no direct connection. It would be better if our Bibles either left the word as it is in Greek or used the better translation of “assembly”. Even “body” would be a better rendering, even though technically it is inaccurate. “Church” completely removes the gathering of early Jewish and Gentile believers from their original context and anachronistically, makes them seem as if they are a bunch of modern-day “Christians” in thought, function, and teaching. If we could actually see and talk to these people (assuming a common language for communication), we’d hardly recognize them as compared to the mental image we get when we read the New Testament using a Christian mindset.

  30. I certainly agree. When I say I accept the word (church), I hope it was clear I don’t mean that I think it fits at all in Bible translation. I pretty much just mean it’s not enough for a church to say, OH, it’s not the right word — then change their shingle to “assembly” or something and not change anything else. Historically speaking (including today in history), there is “such thing” as church; it’s just not from the Bible (as a lot of what is taught in churches is not from the Bible too). Nevertheless, that is, even though I acknowledge there is such thing as church, I appropriate the wisdom stated in “The Matrix” (a movie I like) as applicable for understanding how much weight should be given to church as authority in my life: Only understand the truth; there is no spoon. [We can dispense with the sugar to make bad medicine go down and don’t need to dispense said medicine, nor take it.]

  31. It’s one thing to recognize that “church” isn’t what the apostles were talking about, and another thing entirely to attempt to recapture what they *were* talking about. There’s a lot of rather comforting tradition in not just calling yourself a church but in everything that makes up “church” in the modern Christian landscape. Even if a Pastor or group of Elders should recognize the issues involved, they’ve got way too much invested in “church” to easily make effective changes.

  32. In fact, I’ve equated the spoon more with “the Church” itself (and only today thought of the Mary Poppins spoon and medicine).

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