Judaism and Christianity

What I Learned in Church Today: The Eisegesis of 1 Timothy 1:8-11

In church today, Pastor Randy preached on Deuteronomy 5 and 1 Timothy 1:8-11 but I want to preface this “meditation” by citing some of the notes from the Sunday school class, which taught on Deuteronomy 9.

What can cause us to not give God credit for our successes and blessings? Why is it important for us also to “remember and never forget” (citing Deut. 9:4-7) what God has done for us “in Christ”?

The obvious answer to that first question is “pride” and that plays into the next classroom question.

Have you or I been a source of frustration to someone in leadership responsibility over us? Give examples of our acts or omissions that make their job more difficult.

For me, the answer is “Well, yes, of course” and my examples would be most of my conversations with Pastor Randy over various theological issues, principally the issue of the continuation of the Jewish obligation to the Torah commandments.

Now I have to be very careful. Before the beginning of class, the teacher was telling me what a challenge putting together this week’s lesson was and later during class, he said that he prepares a full two-page lesson outline so we’ll have to study for several days before class and not just whip out our notes the night before.

Except I didn’t think his lesson was particularly challenging and I did complete the worksheet the day before in something under an hour.

To be fair, I have probably spent more time studying the Torah than most of my fellow students so grasping the essentials of the material seems a fairly straightforward affair, at least as my teacher presents them.

And I have to watch out for that “pride” thing. I had to keep stopping myself (my train of thought) in class and remind myself not to be so arrogant, which I’ve written about before. I thought I had successfully re-evaluated my role in church but I still find that I am struggling with some very difficult but very typical attitudes in Christianity.

One last question from Sunday school before I get started on the sermon.

In Deut. Chs. 9 and 10, God answers Moses’ prayer not to destroy the nation. He goes up for a 2nd written copy of the 10 Commandments. How easily do you and I give up on others?

As I’ve mentioned many times before, although Pastor and I don’t see eye-to-eye on very much in terms of theology and doctrine, I have a great deal of respect for him as a person, a scholar, and a Pastor. When he preaches, I usually am frantically taking notes and writing commentary and critique on the various points he makes, but this was the first time when, after he said something quite specific, I almost stood up and walked out in mid-sermon.

But let me back up a bit.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, Pastor is taking several weeks to lay the foundation for a series on the Ten Commandments and his assertion that these specific commandments are universal, timeless, and apply to all Christians today. He’s lifting just the Ten Commandments out of the Torah and saying they are the only parts of the 613 Commandments that remain in force for the Church (although he has an interesting spin on the commandment to keep the Shabbat), and that the rest of the Law ended with Jesus (Romans 10:4, Galatians 3:19).

All this, I knew and it didn’t surprise me, but when he left Deuteronomy 5 and moved on to 1 Timothy 1, I was in for a surprise. I suppose I should insert the specific text for reference. Actually, it’s a little more than just verses eight through eleven.

As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith. But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.

But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.

1 Timothy 1:3-11 (NASB)

Talmud StudySo the issue, as I’m reading it, was that Paul was relating to Timothy how in Ephesus some men were teaching “strange doctrines” that had to do with “myths” and “endless genealogies” and giving rise to “mere speculation”. Apparently, these guys wanted to be “teachers of the Law” but according to Paul, they didn’t know what they were talking about.

It would seem to indicate that these men weren’t Jewish since it would be fairly likely that Jewish teachers would have some idea of how to teach the relevant essentials of the Law (Torah) to newly minted Gentile disciples of the Master. I suppose the “endless genealogies” could be indicative of Judaism since we find numerous genealogies in the Torah and later, when the Apostolic Scriptures were canonized, we find that the genealogy of Jesus (Yeshua) is included and considered important in establishing his credentials as Messiah. But I hardly think that Paul would consider anything related to the Torah, including Jewish commentary on the scriptures, would qualify as “myth”. This is more reminiscent of how I have experienced, at different times over the past ten years or so, some non-Jewish teachers have rendered their interpretations of the Torah, and more than a few theories have been rather fanciful.

So what “strange doctrines” were the fellows Paul describes trying to pass off on the disciples in Ephesus?

In verse eight, Paul says that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully…” but while Pastor acknowledged the wordplay in Greek (“Law”, “lawfully”), he chose to translate the latter word as “properly”. Toward the end of his sermon, in his notes, he asked “What is the improper use of the law?”

One of the misuses, according to Pastor, is following speculations, controversies, and myths rather than “sound doctrine”. So who is engaging in these speculations, controversies and myths?

Although it would have been impossible for Paul to have meant this, Pastor is applying this “misuse of the Law” to Rabbinic Judaism with all their “man-made rules” (which most Rabbis consider the interpretation of the various mitzvot and their application across history and the differing requirements and circumstances that arise). He also cited the teachings of Seventh-Day Adventism as distracting from the doctrine that one is saved only through faith in Christ.

And then he mentioned Messianic Judaism as “speculative” and “controversial” with their proposition that a Jew can have faith in Jesus as the Messiah and still realize that the Sinai Covenant and its conditions, the statutes and laws of the Torah, remain obligatory for Jewish Jesus-believers.

I know all of the areas that Pastor and I disagree upon, but this is the first time, especially publicly, that he directly hammered on the theological and doctrinal platform which is the foundation of my understanding of the Bible.

Imagine being a Seventh-Day Adventist and listening to this part of the sermon. How would you feel? Or at different times, Pastor or others in the church have taken exception to Pentecostals, Catholics, and Mormons. Imagine being a member of one of those denominations or orientations and being a guest in Pastor’s church to listen to such sermons and teachings.

Like I said, my first impulse was to stand up and walk out. My second impulse was to wait until the sermon was over and then leave, skipping Sunday school.

I thought better of both actions and when I’m caught off guard, it’s usually a bad idea for me to go with the first thought that pops into my head.

So I’m writing about it instead.

I used the word Eisegesis in the title of this blog post, which is basically reading your theology and doctrine into the Biblical text, as opposed to Exegesis which is reading the Biblical text and allowing it to develop your theology and doctrine, and I never thought I’d say something like this about Randy.

Although we disagree on many things, I know that he’s an intelligent, well-educated and well-read, thoughtful, and honest researcher. I know, like most of us, that he comes from a particular theological tradition and that perspective colors how he reads the Bible. My perspective equally colors my interpretation of the Bible, and I don’t believe any human being can be perfectly objective, especially in the realm of religion.

However, I do believe that my theology is driven by a more straightforward view of what the Bible says and treats all of scripture as a single, unified document which doesn’t require suddenly “jumping the tracks” from one major version of God’s redemptive plan to another at Acts 2. But to equate Paul’s comments on speculations, controversies, and myths specifically to variants on religious Judaism, as well as a Christian denomination that is generally accepted by most other mainstream Christian denomination, is pure opinion and cannot be reasonably derived from the text.

rabbis-talmud-debateI know that even Christians who say they love Jewish people and Israel, draw the line at Judaism as a religion, generally expressing at least some disdain at what is considered “the traditions of men” (and remember, it wasn’t that long ago in Church history when we were burning volumes of Talmud and calling said-volumes “obscene”), but I know that the “love” many Christians say they have for the Jews, once you throw religious Judaism into the mix, has a severe limitation.

I suppose this is just my opinion, but what if when Messiah returns, the way we will be worshiping and studying will be more like a Judaism than a Christianity? After all, “ekklesia” doesn’t mean “church”. I’ve written before that the word “church” didn’t come into existence for many centuries after the Bible was canonized.

Pastor himself said assembled Israel was referred to in Biblical Hebrew as “kahal” which is (interestingly enough) translated in the Septuagint as “synagogue”. The Apostolic Scriptures use the word “ekklesia” and they all (more or less) mean a gathering of people for a specific purpose.

I think it’s a shame that all English Bibles translate the word “ekklesia” as “church” not only because it’s anachronistic (although referring to the Children of Israel in Deuteronomy 5 as “synagogue” is as well) but because it sends the message that the Jews as Jews are out of the picture and replaced by Gentile (and Jewish) Christians.

Now to his credit, Pastor spent a significant amount of time saying that all of God’s promises to the Jewish people in the Bible are true and, if they aren’t, then we (Gentile) Christians have no assurance that God’s promises to us aren’t true as well (although all of God’s covenant promises are made with the House of Judah and the House of Israel…and only His covenant with Noah involves the rest of humanity…we’re just grafted into the blessings of the New Covenant).

But how can God’s promises to Israel all still be true if virtually all the conditions of the Sinai Covenant expired when Jesus died on the cross (something God never mentioned even once when He made the Sinai Covenant)? How can God’s promise that the Aaronic priesthood is an eternal covenant (Numbers 18:7) if, as Pastor says, the Priesthood of Melchizedek replaces the Aaronic? The Prophet Ezekiel says in no uncertain terms that the sons of Zadok, who are from the sons of Levi, will be the priests in the future Temple that will be built in Messianic times (Ezekiel 40:45-46).

It would be impossible for all of the Torah precepts except for the Ten Commandments to have ended permanently “at the cross.” If that were true, the Levitical priests in Ezekiel’s Temple wouldn’t know what to do with themselves since their duties are described down to the last detail only in the Torah.

That’s also why, when the New Covenant fully emerges into our world in Messianic Days, the Torah must continue as the conditions of that covenant, even as they remain the conditions of the Sinai Covenant, which is still incumbant on the Jewish people (including Messianic Jewish people) today.

Maybe in a later blog post, I’ll insert the diagram Pastor put in his sermon notes, which map the Ten Commandments to 1 Timothy 1:9-10 and which supposedly serve as proof of Pastor’s assertion that only the Ten Commandments survive out of the full body of laws given at Sinai. It is (again, this is all my opinion) wildly speculative to somehow read this portion of 1 Timothy and believe this is what Paul was presenting, rather than the Apostle writing to address a situational problem occurring at that point of time within the ekklesia at Ephesus.

Although his comments on Messianic Judaism were the real “capper” for me, I was still astonished with him explaining that the two greatest commandments we see Jesus teaching in Matthew 22:34-40 were “proof” that Jesus said only the Ten Commandments apply in Christianity (nevermind that Jesus was still alive so the Law hadn’t been “nailed to the cross” with him yet, that he was a Torah observant Jew, and that with rare exception, all of the people he spoke with and taught were Torah observant Jews) because the Ten Commandments can be divided into those laws that relate to God and man and those laws that relate to men and other men.

And yet, all of the 613 mitzvot can be divided into those two general groups, so Matthew 22:34-40 is not a good proof text to support Pastor’s assertion.

I know Pastor is well-educated in theology and I’m just an interested amateur, but I feel like I could walk through the gaping holes he left in his presentation.

I’m sorry, I really am. I know I’m probably going off half-cocked and I’m trying really hard not to let my feeling like my tail has been stepped on overwhelm my good sense, but it just seems fantastic to me that Pastor’s read on the Ten Commandments and especially his opinion on Messianic Judaism being a controversy and even a myth isn’t a projection of Christian traditions being read back into the Bible in order to support what he considers “sound doctrine”. It’s more like a defense against the idea that God really did make permanent covenants and that His promises actually do endure just as God uttered them and had recorded in the Bible. Pastor admits that the Jewish people will always be a nation before God, but he’s missing just how they’re supposed to remain recognizably and “covenantally” Jewish.

I inserted my Sunday school class notes above in part because they included a suggestion that disagreeing with church leadership is a bad thing. Am I being disobedient and prideful by disagreeing, especially so strongly, with the Pastor’s teachings? Is this my pride talking or am I allowed to have my own theological opinions independent of what’s being taught? God did make Randy the head Pastor of this church. He has authority over everyone who chooses to attend. Who am I to argue?

I stopped referring to Randy “my Pastor” when he called me on the fact that I disagree with him on almost everything. But why is it only “sound doctrine” when it’s stuff that he teaches based on the particular model of theology to which he subscribes? More than ever, I’m convinced that the Church teaches on principles that more resemble sound tradition. What one considers “sound” simply depends on what Christian traditions are employed to interpret scripture.

ChurchI don’t want to be prideful, disobedient, and arrogant, thinking I’m right and everyone else is wrong. Believe me, I know I’ve got a lot to learn. But what am I supposed to do, especially now, when I feel like I’ve been backed into a corner?

I used to worry that I’d never make any sort of impact in this church environment but now I’m worried I am making an impact, a bad one. If this is the result of my discussions about Torah and the Jewish people with Pastor in specific and with others more generally, then what a terrible thing I’ve done.

Oh, and yes, I plan to go back to church next week if for no other reason than because Pastor said that today’s and next week’s sermons are necessary to understand the foundation he’s putting down. He’ll be speaking on Galatians 3 next week. Oy.

Addendum: Continued in The Consequences of Disagreeing.

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87 thoughts on “What I Learned in Church Today: The Eisegesis of 1 Timothy 1:8-11”

  1. Well, I can understand your impulse to get up and place some distance between yourself and a speaker and a place which seem about due for the earth to open up and swallow whole. It is truly to be pitied that from that pulpit is preached a blatant denial of Rav Yeshua’s explicit teachings in the Sermon on the Mount, specifically Mt.5:18 about the continuing validity of all Torah’s finest details until heaven and earth become replaced with newly Edenic ones sometime after Messiah’s thousand-year reign (not to neglect its impact on greatness in the kingdom of heaven in the subsequent verse). As for the pastor’s authority, it must pale in comparison to that of “rightly dividing the word of truth”, just as Pharisaic authority must be derived from Torah itself. It is a shame when such authority is misused to promote ignorance and denigration of its very source. However, HaShem will call to account every teacher for every word.

  2. Sounds like a gauntlet hitting the floor to me. I hear these types of stories over and over again and experienced the same thing when I was teaching a small study group about the Festivals. It was all good until I started hinting that the Torah was eternal. Good luck!

  3. That’s an interesting insight, Steve, about the gauntlet. But is it possible that James has already made such an impact that his views require the pastor to engage a direct conflict and challenge? Now, there’s a scenario guaranteed to raise the specter of pride and antagonism and conflict and division. The problem is that the study of scripture is never supposed to devolve into a pissing contest. It then becomes a lose-lose proposition, because neither side of such a conflict is able to focus on the attitudes required to enter into a scriptural mindset or discussion.

    So the question to be considered is about what strategy can James pursue that confronts his erstwhile pastor with the observation that he has engaged in eisegesis to press a theological agenda which ignores explicit scriptural teaching, while at the same time leaving a door of escape open to him that allows him to feel that he has not “lost face” entirely. Perhaps Mt.18:15 offers a suggestion here, as beginning with a private conversation.

  4. Thanks for the feedback PL and Steve.

    I spent over a year having weekly, one-on-one meetings with Randy with each of us presenting our views so he knows exactly what I think and believe. He also regularly reads this blog so he’ll know my response to his sermon. He could see me in the church when he was preaching so he knows I was there and I’ve never been known to have a “poker face.”

    No, I don’t want to stir the pot any more than I have but I feel caught between the competing priorities of unity and truth. I know that he would respond to my criticism that he spoke unkindly about Seventh-Day Adventists and, in the past Pentecostals and Catholics by stating that his first duty is to preach the truth. However, the door swings both ways since it appears as if “truth” is in the eye of the beholder, to bend a common aphorism.

    The tragedy is that Randy doesn’t see himself as promoting ignorance or contradicting scripture. Quite the opposite. I truly believe he has an honest motivation to uphold scripture (as he interprets it via Church tradition) and to promote the knowledge of God. More’s the pity.

  5. Oh, I think Randy is done having private conversations with me, PL. We went that route for over a year and he became unavailable after he was finally convinced he wasn’t going to be able to change my mind to accept his point of view. He really can’t understand why I don’t see the logic of the rightness of his position and has accused me of “digging in my heels”.

  6. Sorry that you had to experience that, James. It’s not a fun feeling. I sat through a number of those sermons that I felt were sometimes directed at me before I gathered my family together and said we need to leave. I didn’t just make a cut for Tulsa either. I talked to the pastor first and left on good terms with a send-off blessing after one Sunday morning service. Sadly, I find out a couple of years later that he’s telling other local pastors that him and I have unfinished business. Argh, the drama never ends, even when you do leave. I’m glad I left the Church…best decision I’ve ever made. I feel for you, James. I hope you don’t get burned and buried. You’re a good guy and you don’t deserve that.

  7. @James, I think you mentioned that Randy considered torah and Judaism and rejected those, and perhaps not only for theological reasons, but for personal and professional ones as well.

    I wasn’t there, but to preface a sermon with the idea that the role of a person in the congregation is to not challenge the leader and make his job more difficult seems manipulative and self-serving.

    My take is that once he made his decision, he had to stick to it and validate it. That is the problem with religion; it is about setting up a defense and attacking others, rather than learning and growing. He is probably actually threatened by those groups he criticizes. Also, in the church, the pastor is not a member, but above and over.

    Do you think his only reason for meeting with you was the hope of changing your mind to his truth? Or was he honestly willing to expand his horizons?

    This is the one thing about Christianity I really want to throw out, and actually am resentful that it was drilled into me. That is, the idea that this or that group has dangerous idea that must not be examined, and the holders of those ideas are lost, evil, whatever. This does not include those whose ideas involve violence or persecution of others.

    You might want to mention to Randy that SDA’s in the US have the highest longevity and also the largest private health care system. I doubt if it would matter.

    @PL: Like that comment about scripture debate as pissing contest 🙂

  8. @Steve: After being knocked for a loop, I may well recover my balance and not be homeless, but we’ll see.

    @Keith: Thanks. Yes, I couldn’t help but think that the “Messianic Judaism” crack was aimed directly at me. I can’t think of anyone else in church who has a background in that area. Maybe he’s a tad miffed that I’ve been sharing resources with a few other interested parties.

    @Chaya: Pastor never said that he couldn’t be questioned. I was borrowing from some of the Sunday school study notes. The Sunday school teacher is a lay teacher, just an interested guy who also teaches the same material to the retired men on Wednesday morning. He really pushes unity and getting along which sometimes puts me in a bind.

    I think Randy’s primary reason for meeting with me so long was to try and change my mind, but I also think he found our discussions stimulating, at least from what his wife once told me. There were times I thought I saw his mind trying to open up a bit, but he’s got too much invested in his present theology and doctrine and I don’t think he even imagines that he could be wrong.

    I know that I’m walking a very fine line between presenting interesting and informative viewpoints in Sunday school and blowing everyone away and being considered a heretic or cultist.

  9. It is this type of treatment that results in Messianic congregations; but, forces in Messianic Judaism want us Gentiles out of there too. We get to become homeless wanderers ourselves.

    Measure for measure, I guess.

  10. I don’t think that applies in my case, Steve. There are no Messianic congregations in my area and even if there were, I’d attend sparingly if at all in deference to my wife who is Jewish but not Messianic.

  11. Not only does he have to ignore the p’shat of Matt 5:18 as mentioned above, but also Acts 15. The Apostles had the opportunity to totally dismiss Torah observance for Jewish believers in Yeshua, but they did not.

    10 years ago I was firmly planted in your pastor’s camp (after 35 years of attending a very large SBC church) and would have labeled you as a “cultist.” It has taken over 8 years of studying such authors as Young, Heschel, Wilson, Nanos, to name a few, to get to where I am today.

    Regarding your comment on eisegesis: paraphrasing J. Goldingay (Fuller Theological Seminary) by way of Scot McKnight in “The Blue Parakeet,” – “the New Testament is a series of footnotes on the Old, and you don’t build a theology out of footnotes.”

    Some people study to reinforce their positions – others study to learn.

  12. Wow, James… What a tough position in which to be. I don’t know how you’ve hung in there this long. I pray the Lord gives you wisdom and guidance. We all need fellowship with other believers, so we need to assemble. But being the “odd man out” can make it really tough.

    It is curious just how it is justified that only the ten commandments are still “valid” but none of the others. From your years of study, I’m sure you know they were a summary of the Covenant, so the part stood for the whole.

    I’m looking forward to seeing what will develop in the upcoming congregation soon to be formed in a town about 35 minutes or so from where I live. It’s difficult to think it could develop into a lasting congregation when the Rabbi’s main congregation is out of state where he lives, and we only plan to meet twice a month. My teacher of many years is an international minister and scholar, but we only get to meet with him once a month for study. He and the Rabbi will take turns teaching in the new congregation. So it’s only planned to meet two times a month, hopefully starting in January. Nevertheless, I look forward to it. Other than that, my regular small congregation developed out of our worship & prayer ministry. I’m not a church hater by any means, but I don’t know of one in my area I would want to attend full time. Best wishes, James

  13. I’ve learned that an important part of group bonding is viewing outsiders as, “the other,” and sometimes a threat.

    Have any of your church friends ever played, “what if?” What if what they believe is all wrong and the converse is true? What if they are the heretics and the cultists are the ones that are right?

    I understand that an an intellectual – and I am an intellectual also, you separate the academic issues out. But the psycho-socio-neurological aspects carry a far greater weight. Beneath anger is always fear of some sort.

    The unity guy? Isn’t he only about unifying under his flag? That is called conformity.

    This was my situation. The people are very kind, loving, well-meaning people, and they seek to love God and people. So, what can be wrong with that? There is a lot of additional baggage, and I suspect that I expected more of them than they were capable of, and they wanted to believe and so presented that they were more open-minded than they were.

    Perhaps you crossed the line between believing/practicing something a bit fringe into influencing and attracting others. I suspect one reason for the need to inculcate a fear and despising of all things Jewish is that once the gentile gets a hold of them, they are very attractive and fulfilling.

    I remember I was doing an article for a local paper, and my husband and I got to go to this multi-course, very high end French restaurant, and the bill for 2 would have been around $500 if we had to pay. Each incredible course was paired with a wine and the winemaker was there to discuss his product. It is like I was ruined for the ordinary stuff from then on, not that the mundane stuff was bad.

    To only love those who love you (your doctrine) is what tax collectors do. What is the mindset of tax collectors? They are kind and friendly to those who benefit them and share their values and won’t criticize or out or challenge them. This is not pretty.

    A friend of mine has JW relatives. She asked them,, “Do you ever question what you are taught?” They said no, they just accept it. But doesn’t everyone else do the same?

    There was a time in my life where I traded thinking, honest and creativity for love, support and help. Perhaps it was a good deal at the time, but it no longer is.

    The 7.000 have to be somewhere.

  14. @Jim K: I have a lot of respect for Randy but he definitely thinks that he’s right based on his extensive studies (you should see his library), however all of that information is filtered through an interpretive matrix that is based on hundreds of years of Christian tradition. He’s not about to change.

    @Linda: Thanks. In some sense, I’m in church because I’m the odd man out. What would I have to offer if I was just a face in the crowd?

    @Chaya: First off, I want to make sure I’m giving a correct image of my church environment. The vast majority of people there are friendly, good, and kind. There’s only one guy who actively doesn’t like me and it has nothing to do with my theology (he felt like I’d invaded his territory when I designed a brand new website for the church which required that the recordings for the sermons be managed differently).

    As far as the “unity guy” or the Sunday school teacher, he’s actually a really nice guy. He’s friendly, always kids and jokes with me, but he’s a very straightforward person with not a lot of nuances to his comprehension of the Bible. To him, it’s pretty much what Christian traditional doctrine says it is, no ifs, ands, or buts.

    Pastor is sometimes a bit of a mystery to me. He lived in Israel for 15 years, really does like Jewish people and has Jewish friends in Israel, but get him talking about “the Rabbis” and he really struggles to find any redeeming qualities. If anything about the Torah survives for the Jews in his opinion, it didn’t advance beyond the destruction of Herod’s Temple…at best.

  15. Here’s where I think your time in Pastor Randy’s church is headed (I’m just speculating). Your pastor might eventually become disturbed by knowing your thoughts, blogging activity and even mere presence within the congregation that he’ll find it difficult or impossible to absorb you into his “fold.” He’ll see that he has the responsibility of keeping the peace among “his sheep” (this is how pastors view their congregants). Eventually, he’ll have to deal with you. For him to accept and grant you full membership would mean requiring his congregation to absorb and accommodate factors which are contrary to his own beliefs. In his eyes this would do a disservice to them. Your beliefs are at odds with the beliefs that others hold individually and as a congregation. He’ll eventually root you out. So, in my opinion, this church adventure will end up playing out in either two ways. One, you step out own your own. Or, two, you’re asked to step out.

  16. I’d have to apply to be an actual member of the church, which I won’t do since I can’t agree with their theological viewpoints. Yeah…I know it’ll end sometime, but in the meantime, I can still pursue an encounter with God there. No house of worship will ever be perfect as long as there are human beings in it.

  17. Go to elijahnet.net and read Constantine’s letter to the churches/Church (what he was establishing as “authority” — imagined authority in the sense of truth in God, but actual in the sense of power on the earth and for the minds of those who would listen to him and choose “peace” over suffering as martyrs for the faith and for their siblings in the faith). Look at his sickening appeal to unity. If you just read the letter, it can sound nice to the ear trained in church.

    It can be easy, nevertheless, to point the finger at those Catholics, those Byzantines, those Messianics [even though that’s who Constantine hated, the surviving Jewish believers amongst the surviving gentile believers] — whoever else “being wrong” can be pinned on. But Constantine (with his accomplices of Eusebius and his learned Origenism) paved the way to reject Judaism. It’s EASY now to carry on the exclusion, with centuries of enforcement via more than words.

  18. James said:

    It would seem to indicate that these men weren’t Jewish since it would be fairly likely that Jewish teachers would have some idea of how to teach the relevant essentials of the Law (Torah) to newly minted Gentile disciples of the Master…
    …I hardly think that Paul would consider anything related to the Torah, including Jewish commentary on the scriptures, would qualify as “myth”.

    And

    Although it would have been impossible for Paul to have meant this, Pastor is applying this “misuse of the Law” to Rabbinic Judaism with all their “man-made rules”

    Why would it have been “impossible for Paul to have meant this”?
    Just because a tradition (or commentary) is Jewish doesn’t make it more acceptable than “church” tradition. It was Jewish tradition that Jesus was referring to when He said:

    “why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, “Honour your father and mother” and “Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.” But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is “devoted to God,” they are not to “honour their father or mother” with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:

    ‘“These people honour me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.
    They worship me in vain;
    their teachings are merely human rules.”’

  19. @James: Knowledge puffs up. However, perhaps it is the divine will that a person be in the spiritual place they are, with the belief system they have, and to, “awaken love,” prematurely would be wrong? Couldn’t it be like trying to help a chick crack the shell or a caterpillar emerge before its time? Aren’t attempts to convince others often more about validating our own understanding?

    All religion is the same; each just has different boundaries and boxes.

    I would feel much more at home with a group that says, “We obviously don’t see things so clearly, but we sure want to see better.” Thanks for making me think.

  20. This will come across as very self-centered but I am going to give you my first mental thoughts after reading: Brawahahah…You are lucky you are not a woman. Had you been a woman, the pastor would have given you maybe 15 -30 minutes of condescending conversation. A year! You had a year?! Now, look in the mirror and say, …’I thank you Lord, I am not a woman…’ You see, if you were, the pastor would have thought (perhaps) ah..tsk tsk..silly women laden with sins and can not come to the knowledge of the truth…’ must not usurp authority over the man and teach being the weaker vessel…tsk tsk.. So you see, it could be worse, you could be a woman and get nowhere. I think you are making an impact. Don’t give up. ;p

  21. The reason it would have been impossible for Paul to have meant Rabbinic Judaism is because it didn’t yet exist. However, that is not quite what James said in response to another recent Sunday with his church. It also is not quite what he is saying in this response to the most recent Sunday (when considering other things he says). It is apparently hard to remember there were Jewish leaders and teachers who were not teaching properly (and who were not living properly), Jews AND gentiles.
    Meanwhile, “Pastor” is fixated on what was wrong with Jews and figures it’s about all Jews who don’t get with the program. A way to remember that leading Jews were corrupt at the time of Jesus is to think God’s reputation is more important than that of Judaism. And a way to remember (or start to grasp) that Jews aren’t all losers until they join Christianity is to think God’s reputation is more important than that of Christianity.

  22. @Marleen: Thanks but I’ve had quite enough of Constantine.

    @Onesimus: It would have been impossible for Paul to be referring to Rabbinic Judaism simply because it didn’t exist as such during Paul’s lifetime. Besides, the concept of “church” as we understand it in the 21st century, would have been totally foreign to Paul, since he was a Jew, a Pharisee, a devotee to the Messiah, and totally devoted to the God of Israel, the Temple, and the Torah. It was his duty to bring the Gentiles alongside Israel, teaching them what they needed to know to have fellowship and to enter the ekklesia of Messiah as equal co-participants.

    @Chaya: You’ll never know if a person is ready for a revelation unless you present it to them. If they reject it, then I guess they’re not ready, but I have to try.

    @Cynthia: Interesting thought. I hadn’t considered that. I know that Pastor is pretty traditional about gender roles. All of the elders on the board of directors are men and I once heard Pastor’s wife says that he doesn’t do housework (except that time when she fell and broke her pelvis…then he pitched in).

    @Marleen again: Yes, agreed. Also, you’re right. There were Jewish leaders and teachers who were teaching falsehoods, such as requiring the Gentiles to undergo the proselyte rite in order to benefit from the New Covenant blessings. On the other hand, I didn’t get that sort of message coming from Paul in 1 Timothy. It was more like some Gentiles with a little Torah under their belts thought they had the tiger by the tail (sorry for the mixed metaphors) and figured they could sell their particular theology to those around them. Just my two cents worth.

    However, extrapolating those particular verses in 1 Timothy and applying them to groups and individuals who, as such, didn’t exist at that time is an enormous stretch. Ironically, Paul and the Jews like him probably have more in common with modern Messianic Jews then with modern Gentile or Jewish Christians.

  23. @James:
    @Marleen: Thanks but I’ve had quite enough of Constantine.

    Wow. This is the guy who established the Church. And that’s what “Pastor” thinks Jews should join onto, just as Constantine said they should. But I’m sure that’s too trivial to evaluate.

    Pardon me, but the writer at elijahnet.net is a Messianic Jew. His work is quite meaningful, and not obsessed with Constantine over church people suppposedly cleaning up by being less pagan.

    No, your readers [nor obviously you] shouldn’t bother with understanding more about that guy or themselves or more of history. I am sorry, though, my post followed directly after you.

    I didn’t mean you specifically, or only or mainly, should look at his letter. But why would you discourage people looking? I’m tired of a lot of things, had enough for sure. Yet here we are. You done?

  24. @James, while I don’t agree with your pastor either, I did want to point out something here, you said:

    But to equate Paul’s comments on speculations, controversies, and myths specifically to variants on religious Judaism, as well as a Christian denomination that is generally accepted by most other mainstream Christian denomination, is pure opinion and cannot be reasonably derived from the text.

    Titus 1:14 says,

    This testimony is true. For this reason reprove them severely so that they may be sound in the faith, not paying attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men who turn away from the truth.

    It is not unreasonable to believe that some of these teachings were in relation to Judaism. We also see that there is a difference between commandments of men and commandments of God. We see Yeshua state such in Mark 7, how some of these traditions, invalidate the words of God. It seems to me, that you are saying, that Jewish tradition can do nothing wrong, but you are very willing to accept that Christian tradition is dead wrong… I think you need a more balanced approach.

  25. As I said in an earlier comment Zion, Rabbinic Judaism as such didn’t exist at this point in history, so Paul couldn’t have been referring to Rabbinic Judaism any more than he could have been referring to Messianic Judaism or Seventh Day Adventism. Could Paul be critical of other Jews? Sure:

    But perceiving that one group were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, Paul began crying out in the Council, “Brethren, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees; I am on trial for the hope and resurrection of the dead!” As he said this, there occurred a dissension between the Pharisees and Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor an angel, nor a spirit, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all.

    Acts 23:6-8 (NASB)

    Obviously, Paul could be critical of Jewish people with whom he did not agree, particularly as a Pharisee. Of course in the Titus example, was he addressing the same issue as he was writing about in 1 Timothy? We don’t know. We don’t even know if the “teachers” in the 1 Timothy example were Jewish. We do know that in the Titus 1 example, he was complaining about “many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families…” Being Jewish doesn’t automatically mean being a good person and I never said it did. However, from a more traditional Christian point of view, at least historically, being Jewish did automatically mean a person was bad or at least automatically in error if they were religiously Jewish. I should note that many Hebrew Roots (Gentile) Christians share a similar attitude with Evangelical Christians regarding religious Jews. I’ve said that the Pastor of the church I attend has read his personal theology and doctrine back into the Biblical text, but we are in danger of doing the same thing, at least if we choose to make the relevant passages of 1 Timothy 1 about religious Judaism being bad. Somewhere in all of this is what Paul was really writing about, not what is being projected upon him from the 21st century from the pulpit and in the blogosphere. My sense of balance is just fine.

  26. @James

    As I said in an earlier comment Zion, Rabbinic Judaism as such didn’t exist at this point in history, so Paul couldn’t have been referring to Rabbinic Judaism any more than he could have been referring to Messianic Judaism or Seventh Day Adventism. Could Paul be critical of other Jews?

    I never said anything about Rabbinic Judaism, I said traditions in Judaism, this can apply to any time in history and like I stated above, it is not unreasonable to believe that is what Paul is referring to, as we see in the examples of scriptures given, which you stated could not be reasonably derived from scriptures… this was what I was addressing.

    Can a similar situation where bad traditions, bad theology and commandments of men as seen in Paul’s day, exist today, of course, it is very reasonable to make such a connection. The balancing act is not in claiming it was good or bad, but simply embracing what is good and tossing out the bad. It is just as much error, to think nothing is wrong.

  27. I don’t think I said anything, especially in my last comment, that contradicts what you just stated, Zion. That said, you were responding to my original comment in the body of the blog post in which I used the word “impossible” in relation to Pastor’s sermon and his applying the letter in question to modern incarnations of Judaism and a denomination of Christianity. As far as whether all Jewish tradition is bad and wrong, that’s a whole blog post all by itself.

  28. Zion said:

    It seems to me, that you are saying, that Jewish tradition can do nothing wrong, but you are very willing to accept that Christian tradition is dead wrong

    Thank you SO much for pointing that out Zion.
    That is the thing I’ve been trying to get across in my comments here and on another thread. It comes across to me as tantamount to idolising Jewishness – giving far less importance to the “Messianic” (making Messiah central) than to the “Judaism” (making Jewishness central).

    James said:

    “It would have been impossible for Paul to be referring to Rabbinic Judaism simply because it didn’t exist as such during Paul’s lifetime

    But clearly the foundations of it WERE there. Jewish leaders and teachers had CLEARLY added their own traditions and their own interpretations and were giving them equal status to the law. Jesus Himself made that very clear and it was one of the common causes of conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees – for an example see their regular objections to what Jesus did on the Sabbath. Were their objections based on what the Law said about the Sabbath or were they based on man’s traditions about the Sabbath?

  29. I guess it’s time for me to chime in. In what you call my eisegesis, James, you conveniently skipped over the three basic questions I attempted to answer regarding I Timothy 1:8-11. For anyone who wishes, the recorded sermon is available on line at (as are all the previous and coming sermons). Here are the three big questions:

    What is the purpose of the law? (this will help to understand the proper use!)
    1) to display the holiness of God and identify the standard of holiness required to have fellowship with Him
    2) to identify sin (Rom. 7:7)
    3) to bring conviction of sin and condemn sinners (II Cor. 3:3-11)
    4) to point man to the holiness of Messiah, our Savior (Gal. 3:24; Rom. 10:4)
    5) to motivate us to obedience

    What is the proper use of the law?
    1) punitive use (deterrent) – to condemn them as sinners
    2) pedagogical use – to instruct them in what is right and wrong
    3) pious use – to lead them to Messiah

    What is the improper use of the law?
    1) to think it will help you attain salvation or a good standing with God
    2) to follow speculations, controversies, and “meaningless talk” (I Tim. 1:7)
    3) to enslave people by equating or mixing it with the Gospel as a code of laws (or merely a system of ethics).

    In all the above discussion, one squishy issue that MUST be defined before any valuable discussion can continue is, “What exactly and specifically is Torah?” You’ve never given me a clear answer to this.

    Before your readers climb on the “wildly speculative” critical wagon about my understanding of the Ten Commandments, it might be worthwhile to listen to the last 3-4 minutes of the sermon. Next Sunday’s sermon will explain this a bit more but then I plan to do this for each of the ten in the coming sermons.

    And, just so you know, I’ve never (!) placed myself or my interpretations above question. There is only one standard of truth…what does the Bible say?! No pastor (and no rabbi) is ever above that.

  30. Pastor Randy,
    You make some ood points about the Law above, but I think you left out one important aspect – it was established with the people of Israel to set them apart from other nations.
    The Law was not given and was never applicable to other nations, although recogniton of parts of the “10 commandments” have been recognised and adopted by other societies as the basis of their legal systems.

  31. Pastor Randy, do you believe that Jewish believers in Jesus have a covenantal obligation to the Laws God gave to them?

  32. Pastor Randy you made some GOOD points about the Law as well as the “ood” ones I mentioned above. 🙂

    While I can appreciate the desire to bring a more BIBLICAL view to the continuing role of Israel in God’s purposes, and that the church to a large extent HAS taken an unbibilcal turn away from the Jewish roots of the gospel, there is also a danger in making Jewishness of greater importance than the King of Jews; looking for Jewish answers (even from unbelieving Jews) rather than BIBLICAL answers.

    Time and time again I’ve mentioned on this blog the importance of turning to scripture for ourselves, and seeking the Holy Spirit’s help to gain understanding rather than having a bible in one hand and a commentary in the other: whether those commentaries are the work of “Church” or “Jewish” theologians.

    We need to avoid the trap of theological duelling, pitting “church voices” against “Jewish voices” and we need to turn to SCRIPTURE to find what SCRIPTURE actually says and means rather than looking for someone else to tell us what it means.

  33. It still depends upon what biased lens one views scripture through. A Jew is unbelieving, but a Christian isn’t? Are you a scholar in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, as well as versed in the related ancient historical works that inform what we call scripture? Otherwise, how can you say, “find out what scripture says?”

    Are you saying to find out what scripture, translated via theological and marketing agenda into English, informed certainly by someone else, should tell us what it means?

  34. “Torah” – poorly translated as “law” – more correctly as teaching (the root word of which is the force that directs the arrow to its destination.)

    AJ Heschel – “people say I keep the law to get God’s grace. Never! I love God and it is what he’s told me to do.” paraphrase from “God in Search of Man.”

    Why Torah:

    Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’(Deuteronomy 4:6 ESV)

    Soli Deo Gloria

  35. Shalom Pastor Randy. Questions: Is it possible that truth and reality is something different from the way you view it, or the manner in which you have been taught?

    If God’s ways and thoughts are as high as the heavens are above the earth, how do you (or anyone else) have the truth? Can you imagine if things were turned upside down, and everything you believe is really the opposite, or at least quite different?

    Is it necessary to believe you have that one truth, and every other understanding is therefore false? Can you accept and make peace with ambiguity and mystery? If we picture God’s totality of wisdom as the Pacific Ocean, and you have a drop, and I have a drop, and lots of people have a drop, and maybe a great wise and godly person has half a cup, don’t we all look silly arguing over who has it right?

    I think you are aware that torah comes from the Hebrew, “yarah,” and means, “to throw.” This is not judicial law as Western culture defines it. So we have sin (chatah) which is a picture of throwing (such as to shoot an arrow) and missing the target. I don’t see where any of this has to do with correct doctrinal belief (Plato) but rather actions that don’t fulfill the divine purpose.

    Many attempt to argue and attempt to convince others to guard, keep and highly esteem torah. I believe that is a mistake of Greek proportions. The Hebrew method of torah is to demonstrate its beauty and meaning. You may be aware of the custom of a young child licking honey off a slate on his first day of cheder in order to associate learning torah with sweetness. Now they put a handful of candies on the notebook 🙂

    Another question – and I might get in trouble for this, but Jews, unless well socialized in church, tend to be blunt and just put things on the table: Do you value @James’ thimble-full, or is it poison that might contaminate the pure?

  36. You have no personal interpretations and traditions? I see the only issue as traditions that violate rather than beautify and illustrate the divine directive.

    It sounds like you equate truth with traditional evangelical theological interpretation of some brand. In accusing us of idolizing Jewishness, can you see you are idolizing your favorite evangelical theologian or preacher? I don’t know which one, but the attitude sounds Neo-Calvinist, with a just barely hidden despising and fear of things Jewish. No problem, every single church father, including all the reformers, except Anselm were known Jew-haters, so you are in good company.

  37. אונסימוס היקר,

    עד שתוודה יכולתך לפרש תמלילי עברית אינני משוכנה שתוכל לזהות פרוש נכון של כתבי הקודש. מסורת נוצריות רחקה ממקורות יהדותיות וכן אי אפשר לסמוך בה. רק ביהדות ימצא אצם הפירוש של כל הנמסר לנו מפי השליחים של רבי ישוע.

    The above lines ought to be right justified rather than left justified, but I don’t know how to accomplish that here. Nonetheless, if Onesimus does have the background to interpret them, then his approach to “what scripture actually says” may have meaning (even though properly I should have included a similar test of his knowledge of Koine Judeo-Greek). The post-Nicene “Church” disqualified itself by cutting itself off from its roots, and it has not yet, even now, corrected its errors of disregard. This is much worse and more fundamental an error than the supposed Jewish rejection of Rav Yeshua’s messianic candidacy, because at least they (we) retained the anticipation of a properly suitable messiah. This is why modern Jewish messianists reject virtually anything issuing from traditional “Church” theologians and support Jewish views, even those that require a grain or two of salt for their consideration. We have an even more developed view of the two roles of messiah, and we can redeem traditional Jewish views. Redeeming the views of Christianity requires a much more radical review and reformation. Apart from Jewish biblical views, there cannot exist any biblical views. The written text cannot interpret itself, contrary to one common Christian ideal. It contains none of the linguistic tools required to interpret idiom, usage, literary references, et al. Only the broader perspective of Jewish civilization and literature can help to interpret these texts that span a broad range of Jewish generations and cultural impacts.

    With appreciation to Pastor Randy for joining this discussion, the definition of Torah is multi-variant. However, its definition can never under any circumstances be severed from its application by Jews. Without a living Jewish community to incorporate it, Torah becomes a meaningless dead letter. Hence the authority of those in the Torah’s roles of “judges and magistrates”, who “sit in Moshe’s seat” to interpret and apply it in his stead for each generation of Jews, is critical to its definition. This is why Rav Yeshua instructed his own disciples to obey the Pharisees in Mt.23:2-3 (with some qualifications throughout the remainder of the chapter about not emulating some of their behavioral failings). This is why modern Jewish Rav-Yeshua messianists dedicate themselves to follow the patterns defined by our aggregated Torah authority as determined over centuries of rabbinical study and deliberation about how to apply Torah in our varied stages of development. The living Torah represents the contract of the Jewish covenant established at Sinai in partial fulfillment of the covenant established with Avraham. The same living Torah is what is promised to be inscribed on Jewish hearts in Jeremiah’s prophecy of a “new” (or renewed) covenant.

    Elsewhere in James’ blog we have discussed the mechanisms by which such “heart” inscription can occur, as well as the mechanisms by which non-Jews can benefit from relationship with HaShem via Rav Yeshua’s symbolic sacrifice without benefit of a covenant (not even the “new” one that is reflected in that symbolic sacrifice). Hence we see in Acts 15 the exemption of non-Jews from obligation to the Torah contract, and the re-iteration of some of the “Noahide” principles that predate Avraham’s covenant that was sealed with circumcision. Instead, we see that a comparable faith can grant non-Jews a new heart and a new spirit and a virtual carte-blanche of spiritual blessings. Instead of a contract under Torah, we see for non-Jews an education in its principles that redeem lives from natural selfishness and inculcate openness with HaSHem. Nonetheless, for Jews the Torah contract, and HaShem’s faithfulness to it remain valid as long as do the heavens and the earth and HaShem’s contract with astronomical bodies in the heavens and meteorological processes on earth. These then serve all humans as examples of HaShem’s faithfulness and reliability, with and without benefit of explicit contracts. Thus we can look forward to the establishment of the Messiah’s millennial kingdom centered in Jerusalem, quite likely in what is now the near-term future.

  38. There’s a lot of responses to go through but I need to start with the obvious one:

    @Randy: I left out a great deal of your sermon from my summary because to include all that material would have made for a very lengthy write up. Actually, I had planned for a follow up to this one to explain more thoroughly from the notes I took in church, what I understood from your sermon.

    As far as the purpose of the Torah, I don’t think it can easily be reduced to a numbered list. I have to disagree with your interpretation of “telos” as in “Jesus is the end of the Law, since it makes more sense (to me) that he is the goal, the target, the focus of the mitzvot, especially given his role as mediator of the New Covenant. It also involves the difference between how we see what a covenant is and that I don’t believe the Torah mitzvot are the Sinai Covenant but rather the conditions of the covenant (It’s a complicated explanation but I’ve summarized it in this blog post).

    As far as a nuts-and-bolts definition of the purpose of the Law, as I said, it’s not easily condensed. I did, in fact, attempt to answer your question last year. That it’s not satisfactory, I understand, but nevertheless, I wrote a series in five parts called “The Purpose of the Torah in New Testament Judaism” Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, What I Learned About the Purpose of the Torah So Far, and Part 4.

    In short, the conditions of the Sinai Covenant, that is the Torah, are also the conditions of the New Covenant as applied to the Jewish people, so it’s impossible to say that those conditions cease to exist because Jesus entered the world. The only difference between covenants is that those conditions are written on the heart rather on external tablets, scrolls, or books, thus they become part (or rather they will become part) of human nature rather than a set of standards to which we continually struggle to uphold in our lives.

    Of course how those conditions are applied is different for Jews and non-Jews, so I’m not suggesting that Christians take on Jewish practices as such, but being a Christian and a disciple of the Messiah doesn’t require that Evangelical theology and doctrine replace, adjust, or modify Jewish covenant obligation to God.

    I know we could go round and round on this issue as we have many times before and still never come to a resolution between us. I knew the impact my writing this blog post would likely have on you, just as you knew the likely impact of bringing Messianic Judaism into your sermon would have, so we are both people who are compelled to state the truth of the Bible as we see that truth. It becomes a matter of interpretation and each of us, as we’ve long known, have different perspectives.

    I’ll address the rest of the comments sometime later today and consider next steps.

    For what it’s worth, it was never my intention to step on toes or to cause pain, but I also can’t simply agree or keep silent and behave as if I agreed with what I don’t see in the Bible. I suppose that’s on of my bigger flaws as a human being.

  39. @Marleen: After reading Randy’s comment and noticing that he mentioned his sermons being online, I’ve debated posting the link. Up until now, I’ve been careful not to mention the name of the church I’ve been attending let alone post a link to its website in order to protect them from any unwanted attention, but since Randy has just posted the link in the comment above, I suppose my policy has been rendered moot.

    @Onesimus: The problem is that you can make the Bible say almost anything. For nearly 2,000 years, organized Christianity has made the Bible say that the Church replaced the Jews in all of the covenant promises of God (and I want to be clear, this is NOT what Randy preaches), so just saying “give Biblical answers” isn’t sufficient. My understanding of the New Covenant is completely Biblical, in my opinion, and doesn’t depend on a shred of Talmud or other Jewish (or for that matter Christian) commentary or tradition. It does depend however, on setting aside Christian tradition and actually reading what the Prophets say about the New Covenant and how the House of Judah and the House of Israel are the objects of that covenant, not the Gentiles of the nations.

    As I’ve said before O, no one reads the Bible in a 100% unfiltered manner. We all depend on some sort of interpretive context (whether we want to admit this or not) to tell us what the Bible is saying. That’s why we have literally thousands of different denominations of Christianity and hundreds if not thousands of translation of the Bible just in English. Messiah will have his hands full straightening us all out when he returns.

    @Chaya: I take it you mean specifically Isaiah 56:4-8 which speaks of eunuchs and foreigners holding fast to God’s covenant and keeping the Sabbath and how God’s Holy Mountain will be a House of Prayer (indicating the Holy Temple in Jerusalem) for all peoples. My interpretation of those verses when taken within the larger Biblical context, is that the nations can be brought near to God through an association with Israel and the Jewish people, and I’ve interpreted Zechariah 8:23 (ten men from the nations taking hold of the fringes [tzitzit] of a Jewish man as that Jewish man being Messiah) as the Gentiles clinging to Messiah in order to be drawn near to God (“no one comes to the Father except through me” – John 14:6).

    @Jim K and Chaya: If your comments were directed at Randy, just to let you know, he lived in Israel for 15 years and his Hebrew is impeccable. I doubt most people here, except for a native Hebrew speaker and/or Biblical Hebrew scholar, could tell him anything about how “Torah” is translated. Just saying’.

    @PL: You said an interesting thing (well, all of it was interesting) with ”The post-Nicene “Church” disqualified itself by cutting itself off from its roots, and it has not yet, even now, corrected its errors of disregard.” One of the values I see to a “Messianic” approach to Bible study for both Jews and Gentiles is the focus on setting aside the vast majority of traditional Christian interpretive praxis, and to go back to the text with a fresh perspective, employing (to the best of our ability) the original contextual lens with which to view what has been written. This necessitates attempting to replicate what the Jewish authors intended to say and how their Jewish (for the most part) readers would have heard (read) and understood the message.

    The Christian tradition of assuming, for example, that Jesus was the author of a major change in the message of Israel’s redemption and altered said-message to say that the Law (apart from the Ten Commandments perhaps) had been “fulfilled” in the sense that it no longer has authority over the life of Jewish people, is not a likely scenario we would come across unless we were still looking at the Bible through a later constructed lens (post-Nicene Church).

    As I imagine everyone reading this can understand, traditions are sometimes born out of the need to “fill in the gaps” of the Bible or to interpret certain Biblical commandments in a way that is meaningful for a particular circumstance, audience, or historical context. When the body of Jewish and Gentile Jesus-believers went through their dramatic divorce in the 2nd and 3rd centuries CE, it became necessary for the non-Jewish believers to develop an interpretive method that would allow non-Jews to ascend in authority and primacy over the Jews in God’s redemptive plan, based on scripture and Biblical answers as Onesimus so forcefully put it.

    However, that retrofit of scripture and Biblical history had little in common with how the Jewish believers saw the Bible and even less to do with how historical Judaism going back to Moses and even back to Abraham would have heard and understood God and His covenant relationship with them. I suppose I could also comment on modern Judaism and twenty centuries of Rabbinic interpretation, but the focus for right now is what the development of Christian tradition and its variant interpretive models have bequeathed to the Church today. Is it really the best model with which to view the Bible or should we consider it the dust and debris on our car’s windshield that only obscures a clear image?

    As Boaz Michael said in his book “Tent of David”, “The church is good, but the church must change.” The church is good. I don’t want to give anyone the impression that I disdain the church I’ve attended nor that I have ill feelings for the people I worship and study with. While I may disagree with what is preached and taught due to my own particular interpretive model, it doesn’t mean I can’t see how they are feeding the hungry, visiting the sick, sending out emissaries to far-off lands to preach the good news of Jesus, and how much they love each other. In many ways, they do perform the mitzvot we find in Torah in the spirit of faith and grace, they just don’t call it “Torah.”

    Even though I started all this (initially just by going back to church), I don’t want this conversation to devolve into antagonism or hostility. I believe it’s possible to disagree and not personalize conflict. The question I must face now is whether or not it is worthwhile to continually be the thorn in Randy’s side by commenting on the Church or Christianity as it occurs within the walls of his sanctuary.

  40. James, you said:

    “It doesn’t mean I can’t see how they are … sending out emissaries to far-off lands to preach the good news of Jesus.”

    Yes, and in your words more or less, since you “disagree with what is preached and taught”, aren’t they just spreading a somewhat faulty teaching? I can’t see how this could be a positive thing. They’re not only indoctrinating their local community with a poor view of Judaism and Torah, but now on a global scale. That just makes our work in MJ that much harder. So, in my eyes, their missionizing not a commendable act.

  41. Well Keith, I see your point and it’s one I’ve recognized myself. On the other hand, who is sending out the majority of missionaries in the world today? On the one hand, the knowledge of the existence of Jesus and the path to personal salvation is being taught, so I have to be supportive of that. On the other hand, the wider implications of what salvation and redemption mean as far as Israel being the focal point for the redemption and perfection of all God’s Creation is being missed, so that does concern me.

    I believe that Christians who sincerely believe Christ is Lord and subsequently act that way are “saved” so it’s not like God is going to slam a theological pop quiz on humanity to make sure we all understand what the New Covenant means in exactly the same way. I do believe that one of the purposes of Messiah’s return is to teach the Word of God correctly, repairing all the damage we’ve done to it, so I don’t doubt that each and every one of us is in for a surprise about what we’ve misunderstood.

  42. I have to admit, I didn’t get all the way through this and I really have little idea of what it was about the sermon that so hurt you but as a spirit filled Christian I can’t help but think your time would be better spent focusing on your own relationship with Christ. Jesus really was the fulfillment of the law. If you are walking in love and in the light of Christ, if you are filled with the spirit of God, if you are focusing on your own spiritual walk with God and not taking on the weight of responsibility that belongs to the Holy Spirit, which is the one that leads us into all truth, then this kind of stuff won’t bother you. My suggestion is that you pray for your pastor but also consider that you may be wrong. You may think your right and be dead wrong. As someone that walks in the prophetic, I didn’t have to read this whole blog to be impressed that the error that you need to be focusing on is not with your pastor. I read some of the other comments. It saddens me. I know there is a time and a place for discussing truth and doctrine, it just seems that as Christians our main focus should be unity, even at the price of deferring to others and considering them better than ourselves. Which in this case, may mean humbling yourself and dropping this idea that God wants to use you to straighten out your pastor. Pray for him. Support him. If you feel strongly to follow certain laws or whatever it is, then you be true to your own conscience. But you may want to consider that you do not have the full revelation of truth that you think you do, no matter how well studied you are, and that even if you are right in this matter, perhaps God is after something much greater than you being deferred to by your pastor. You have to be able to rightly divide the word of truth and there are several verses that tell us how to react in relationships, particularly with those responsible for pastoring our souls, that you could come up higher in. I think your pastor has been extremely patient with you if he met with you for over a year and I completely understand him not wanting to continue spending his time in debate with you. I am not trying to be harsh but just the fact that you have a comment policy seems to point that you are planning to write about things that stir up strife. The bible says to warn a divisive person once and than after that remove them from the fellowship. Unity in the church is of a very high priority to God. I don’t know if this will make it through moderation. I am writing it out of concern. Love, in all our learning if we are not walking in love, we have not fulfilled the law. The whole law can be summed up with the command to love. Love believes the best. Love is longsuffering. Love keeps no records of wrong.

  43. Emily said: “My suggestion is that you pray for your pastor but also consider that you may be wrong. You may think your right and be dead wrong.”

    Believe me Emily, I think about that all the time.

    “… it just seems that as Christians our main focus should be unity, even at the price of deferring to others and considering them better than ourselves. Which in this case, may mean humbling yourself and dropping this idea that God wants to use you to straighten out your pastor.”

    Since you are aware that Pastor and I have spent over a year meeting regularly to discuss many things and to let “iron sharpen iron” as the case may be, you know this isn’t an isolated concern (and yes, he is very patient). The other part you may not be aware of, is that one of the reasons I created this blog was to give me a forum to organize my thoughts and feelings, which I find easier to do when I write. I can make better sense of a sermon, book, or other source of information when I write it all down and see the result. Additionally, I am able to gather feedback from others, such as yourself, regarding what I’ve said.

    “Unity in the church is of a very high priority to God. I don’t know if this will make it through moderation. I am writing it out of concern. Love, in all our learning if we are not walking in love, we have not fulfilled the law. The whole law can be summed up with the command to love. Love believes the best. Love is longsuffering. Love keeps no records of wrong.”

    Yes, it makes it through moderation and the reason I have a comments policy may not be all my fault in terms of what I write about, but the nature of the “blogosphere” as well. Any discussion of religious topics will eventually attract those who really do say angry and hurtful things, and as the blog owner, I have a responsibility for all the content that appears here, including content written by others.

    I appreciate and sincerely believe you are writing out of concern and love and for that I thank you. The part I get stuck on is the apparent suggestion that any Pastor or other religious leader must be deferred to and never questioned on any matter whatsoever for the sake of unity and peace.

    I agree that in serious matters, any real complaint or concern should be handled in private and you are correct in saying that the Bible outlines procedures for such an eventuality, but I’m hardly questioning Pastor’s integrity which I find above reproach, or even his scholarship, since I find him to be intelligent, well-educated, and an honest and hardworking researcher. Where we part company is in what I think of as Christian tradition in the interpretation of scripture.

    But then, I’ve already written a further response based on everyone’s comments. Thank you again for your genuine concern, Emily. I have much to ponder.

  44. James previously wrote:

    What would I have to offer if I was just a face in the crowd?

    From my perspective, we don’t have to “argue doctrine” or convince others to have something to offer. We all have something to offer for the sake of the Kingdom. And the Kingdom is much larger than only the future Messianic Kingdom. It’s the rule of God, and it’s right now. It breaks in when His will is done on the earth. So it’s a matter of submitting to His will and making ourselves available for His will to be done through us. I’m sure there are many ways you could be a blessing to your faith community other than arguing doctrine, as tempting as that may be (and I understand that – really, I do).

    It would have to be very upsetting to be called out (well, Messianics) publicly. And it would also have to be very upsetting to read a blog about yourself (as a pastor) with the content you posted, naming him (even if everyone else didn’t know his last name or church name).

    Myself, I don’t think I would ever publish negative material about my pastor, naming him, on the internet. (This has become personal when you call each other out publicly.) However, I seriously might post an article dealing with the issue(s). Just my thoughts. Hindsight is always better than foresight. I really hope you guys can get past this in a positive manner.

    Since blogging is your way of dealing with the issue and making sense out of it, maybe you could do it without bringing reference at all to Pastor. Deal with the issues instead of who said them. It leaves your church out of it and doesn’t personalize it on the internet. But then you could no longer record it as your “restoring the tent of David” experience, I suppose… Your call, obviously. I guess the proverbial cat is already out of the bag at this point, anyway.

    It’s not always easy to treat others as we would want to be treated, even in our passion for truth (which I am passionate about as well), but it is the way of the Kingdom. We’re all a work in progress, and none of us have “arrived.” I know I certainly haven’t. (Neither do we hold all truth ourselves; we see through a glass darkly.) But the way of the Kingdom sure would spare us all of a lot of heartache. May the Lord give you both an overdose of love and wisdom in this situation.

  45. There is a comments policy because of the need for reasonable peace; not agreement and conformity in everything, but filtering of the entire world that can come visit a site.

    Does the very fact that apostolic scripture gives suggestions or instruction on what to do about conflict mean Christians intend strife in their very nature?

  46. To be fair Linda, up until today, I never provided identifying information about the Pastor or the name/location of his church. That Pastor chose to post a link to his church’s website, revealing all of that information, is a choice he made.

    You have a good point about acting for the sake of the Kingdom rather than any more personal goal, however.

  47. Chaya1957 said:

    It still depends upon what biased lens one views scripture through.

    It depends on whether one CHOOSES to view scripture through a biased lens. It depends on whether one chooses to view scripture through Jewish commentaries or Christian commentaries – or whether one chooses to trust a God who wants us to know the truth and is capable of revealing the truth to those who genuinely desire it.
    Chaya said:<blockquote? “A Jew is unbelieving, but a Christian isn’t?”
    Both Jew and “Christian” are unbelieving if they aren’t trusting Jesus, the Jewish Messiah.

    Are you a scholar in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, as well as versed in the related ancient historical works that inform what we call scripture? Otherwise, how can you say, “find out what scripture says?”

    I don’t need to be a scholar in ancient languages. I can find out what scripture says because I trust the One who inspired scripture to give me understanding instead of trusting human intellectual ability (my own or that of “scholars”). I trust a LIVING and communicating God, not a dead silent God locked behind doors only accessible to “intellectuals”.

  48. Chaya1957 said:

    You have no personal interpretations and traditions? I see the only issue as traditions that violate rather than beautify and illustrate the divine directive.
    It sounds like you equate truth with traditional evangelical theological interpretation of some brand. In accusing us of idolizing Jewishness, can you see you are idolizing your favorite evangelical theologian or preacher? I don’t know which one, but the attitude sounds Neo-Calvinist, with a just barely hidden despising and fear of things Jewish. No problem, every single church father, including all the reformers, except Anselm were known Jew-haters, so you are in good company.

    I’m guessing you are addressing me again here.

    No I don’t equate truth with “evangelical theological interpretation” – my association with any kind of “evangelical” church ended in the late 1980s. I spent the next 15 years in a “spiritual wilderness” struggling to believe in the God I’d been taught to follow during the previous decade and a half of church involvement, because of the contradictions I’d seen and tried to ignore.

    That struggle endeda round 2001 when I realised the contradictions were in what I’d been taught to believe and weren’t in scripture. Since that time I’ve had little involvement in organised churches: just enough to confirm to me how dangerous theological tradition (both historical and modern) can be. I left the last church I attended about 4 years ago because of its strong Calvinist influences. I see Calvinist theology as being one of the worst distortions of scripture in all of church history, equal to the errors of replacement theology.

    I thank God for my time within that church because it encouraged me to look even more to scripture so I could gain more understanding of things like “predestination” and God’s sovereignty, so that my understanding would be based on more than the handful of proof texts used to “support” Calvinism.

    My comments about “Idolising Jewishness” arise from what I’ve seen in some of the discussion here – where the teachings of Jewish teachers seems to be acceptable whether those teachers recognise Yeshau/Jesus as Messiah or NOT. It seems their Jewishness is supposed to give them an authority or an insight into truth even though they ignore or reject the One who revealed Himself as THE TRUTH.

    I have a great love for the people of Israel, enough NOT to dilute the truth, that they need to discover the identity of Israel’s Messiah (Yeshua/Jesus) and to put their trust in Him. Until they believe in Him they are no closer to relationship with God than any unbelieving gentile is.

    It is through my own study of scripture that I discovered Israel’s ongoing place in God’s purposes. It is through my own study of scripture that I realised that Jews don’t need to become “gentilised” in order to follow their own Messiah.

    But scripture also makes it clear to me that Jewishness doesn’t give access to God or His truth – Yeshua/Jesus does. HE is the only way to the Father.

  49. O said: “It depends on whether one CHOOSES to view scripture through a biased lens.”

    I’ve said this before but no one has a completely unbiased view of the Bible, not even you. Only God can perceive absolute truth and even with the Holy Spirit, you and I are still human beings…thus we’re not perfect.

  50. So its better to rely on other people’s “biased views” of what scripture means instead of actually trusting God Himself to break through any biases of our own?

    The answer is found in whether we really WANT the truth and whether we are willing to dispose of our biases.

    If we refuse to believe that God is willing and able to lead us to truth – then our understanding will remain bound by lies with no hope of being freed from them ?

    No, we are NOT perfect – but we will never be perfected if we continue to limit God’s access to our lives through unbelief.

  51. Many people don’t recognise that their understanding has been shaped by theological tradition. Their ignorance prevents them from taking steps to change that situation.

    Others recognise the effect of theological tradition, and even with that knowledge still don’t take steps to change the situation but resign themselves to tradition’s continuing influence.

    The effect of both of the above is the same, but the latter has made the CHOICE not to seek or expect freedom from their condition. They are more likely to remain bound than the former.

    The above options aren’t the only one’s available.

  52. Something I learned from the book, “Rebbe,” is how Rabbi Schneerson separated theology/philosophy/politics from the individual. As such one can argue/disagree without the need to “dislike” one another. Indeed it was a helpful reminder to me that every human is stamped with the divine image and we are called to love as Yeshua loved.

    This has been an excellent forum. It reminds me of a Rabbinic adage, “if no one will argue with me, how will anyone learn?”

    I am also reminded that if Paul saw things “through a glass darkly,” I have to continue to study & grow & learn.

    Soli Deo Gloria

  53. James, I guess this is probably a sore spot right now, and I don’t mean to irritate. To clarify, I was aware no one knew the name of the church or the full name of your pastor until today. But you know that your pastor knew whenever you had written of him (Pastor Randy, as you referred to him) and publicly critiqued what he had shared. It would be extremely upsetting to any pastor to read that someone who regularly attends their congregation was criticizing their message(s) publicly. And in all fairness, it was also obviously very upsetting to you when he publicly made the remark about Messianic beliefs. It seems the gauntlet had been thrown down. This can’t make for a good personal relationship.

    So now what is important is going forward in a manner that will glorify God and exhibit love. I’m pretty sure that is what you’d like to do. May the Lord grant both of you the grace to do just that and learn from the past. (May we all do that as well.)

  54. You bring up good points, Linda. Actually, this isn’t the first time I’ve disagreed on my blog about a sermon or a Sunday school teaching at this church, so it’s not without precedent. On the other hand, of course it’s upsetting to him. I guess what set me off was his specifically mentioning Messianic Judaism in a negative light when he was quite aware that I was likely to react. I’m not saying that’s any excuse for me acting like a jerk, but I did really struggle walking the line between letting it slide past and issuing a rebuttal. For better or worse, I chose the latter course. As far as God’s grace is concerned there may be only one way to enact that now.

  55. I want to ask, since Randy posted the link, if anyone’s had the opportunity to listen to the sermon in question. I think the intent of making the link to the recording available was to get other opinions by having folks listen to the entire message. Hearing all of the sermon (it’s about an hour long), does his message make sense within a Biblical framework and does anyone agree or disagree with what he said and why?

  56. James said:

    The problem is that you can make the Bible say almost anything. For nearly 2,000 years, organized Christianity has made the Bible say that the Church replaced the Jews in all of the covenant promises of … so just saying “give Biblical answers” isn’t sufficient.

    But James, the fact is the Bible does not support replacement theology, neither can it be made to support it. People believe those doctrines NOT because they’ve been made aware of those doctrines through their own interaction with scripture, but because they have been taught those things. The problem isn’t in scripture, neither is it in the way someone reads scripture. It is in the fact that they push scripture aside and meekly accept what their church teaches them.

    Those who teach replacement theology do so through reference NOT to scripture, but to tiny PARTS of scripture, taken out of context and “reinterpreted” in a way that supports their viewpoint but contradicts what scripture clearly says when addressed beyond the favoured verse or two referenced by the teacher.

    Anyone who approached scripture for themselves and accepted that it means what it says and doesn’t need reinterpreting to understand a “real” hidden meaning would very soon see those “tiny parts” of scripture were being misused.

    EVERYONE has the choice – whether to remain faithful to their teacher and refuse to question what he says; or to search the scriptures for themselves and believe what scripture says.
    Despite what we’ve often been conditioned to believe, scripture isn’t a puzzle that requires an “expert” to decipher for us. We are more than capable of addressing and understanding enough of scripture to get a good grasp of the truth. The Holy Spirit is completely willing and able to help us to do that – AS LONG AS we put our trust in Him.

    It seems the majority aren’t willing to do that. They prefer to put their trust in others.

    As I’ve said before O, no one reads the Bible in a 100% unfiltered manner. We all depend on some sort of interpretive context (whether we want to admit this or not) to tell us what the Bible is saying. That’s why we have literally thousands of different denominations of Christianity and hundreds if not thousands of translation of the Bible just in English. Messiah will have his hands full straightening us all out when he returns.

    And as I’VE said before – you can resign yourself to a continued dependence on that “interpretive context” or you can start to trust God to bring change in your life, to allow His Spirit to bring understanding that overcomes faulty preconceptions.

    The more we address scripture for ourselves, the more our preconceptions (what we thought scripture said – or what we’ve been taught that scripture says) will be challenged, and then it is up to us whether we push those challenges aside or whether we need to change what we thought.

    But that takes CHOICE – we need to CHOOSE to trust Him and allow Him to teach us, and we need to CHOOSE to change what we believe until it conforms to scripture.

    Sadly it seems that many don’t believe God is either willing or able to bring about change in our lives.

  57. @PL, I think you are talking about ancient Jewish sources, rather than more modern ones?

    @Onesimus; I know a number of people who feel threatened and become antagonistic when I mention something about the Hebrew as it pertains to understanding. I hear, “You mean, it isn’t enough for me to read my favorite bible in English and trust the Holy Spirit to teach me? I dunno. But you miss something. Do you really believe every thought that comes into your head is divine revelation? Don’t you think if you put ten sincere people in a room with ten bibles each seeking to hear from heaven, they won’t have ten different interpretations? This is the anti-intellectualism that comes from Neo-Pentecostalism, as if it is more spiritual to be ignorant.

    This whole unity issue – I suppose unity means that the outliers conform to the majority. It is certainly a good thing that religion doesn’t run science, or we would still have a flat earth (Calvin) and otherwise dwell in the dark ages, as the brilliant innovators were able to stand alone against the forces of conformity.

    Sorry, but when I hear, “I walk in the prophetic,” I really need to see some evidence, and if one needs to make this claim, they likely aren’t.

    I suppose Pastor Randy just wanted to post his explanation and has no desire for any further interaction and doesn’t think any of us have anything valuable to say anyway. I assume he never thought of the fact that, as far as I know, SDA and Messianic Jews, for whatever real and imagined faults, have never killed anyone, something Christians can’t claim, as they have murdered millions over the past 2,000 years.

    @James, I dunno. Maybe I am not walking in the prophetic. I don’t get why your pastor would welcome you into his church knowing where you stand, and then attack you from the pulpit, which I believe is a cheap shot. I know my former pastor would never do something like that, and said he would never destroy his brother over food or anything else. Maybe people want to be better than they are, but realize they can’t be. Christians are supposed to be loving, but when that love doesn’t change the object to fit your parameters? Maybe I am repeating myself, but it is not a matter of I’m right and you’re wrong. It is more like those who are so sure they have it all right are wrong in my book, and at least to admit you have lots to learn is a starting point.

  58. One more thing: Ten men will take a hold of the garment corners of a man who is a Jew – That cannot refer to Yeshua because a plural you is used twice. We will go with (atem – you plural) because we know God is with (atem – you plural.) It doesn’t refer to one person, but to a group of more than one.

    But if one reads the bible in English and appeals to personal revelation, I am sure you could come up with that and anything else.

  59. James said:

    The problem is that you can make the Bible say almost anything.

    The Bible CAN’T be made to “say almost anything” but we can be made to believe that the Bible says things that it DOESN’T say if we put our trust in commentaries, study bibles with interpretive notes, or church teachers and don’t address scripture for ourselves.

  60. Oy!

    It was a good sermon, until it compared Rabbinical Jews, Messianic Jews, and Seventh Day Adventists, stated to be a cult, as what Paul spoke against:

    1 Timothy 1:6-7 (CJB)
    6 Some, by aiming amiss, have wandered off into fruitless discussion.
    7 They want to be teachers of Torah, but they understand neither their own words nor the matters about which they make such emphatic pronouncements.

    I understand Pastor Randy’s aversion to Rabbinical Law…I read it, and shake my head at their nonsense, but search carefully for what fits with the Written Torah…because some of it is wise. Oh, but if you do not know your stuff, you can be led astray, bothered, even condemned in your mind by not doing all that so-called holy stuff. I can understand what Pastor Randy was getting at, but adding in and condemning Messianic Judaism, where Jews who love Yehoshua still practice the covenant they were born to, and Gentiles attempt to be disciples to Yehoshua by walking after Him is speaking a lie.

    Any Gentile who makes it to being a Messianic Believer is in search of what G-d really told Moses on how to perform and complete each of the commandments given, based on what Scripture says, based on what Yehoshua did, and what Yehoshua told his Disciples to teach us, along with what we can learn from History and Archaeology about 1st Century life.

    The Jews who become Messianic Believers get the massive load of guilt lifted from them that was added on by the Rabbinic Jews, and still keep whatever manner of Torah Observance they did before they found Yehoshua.

    It is true, though, that Messianic Believers are sick to death of the one-sided Greco-Roman interpretation of what is in the Scriptures, and we are all digging into the past from the Hebrew view of things to try and get at the truth. All the truth.

    No one person is immune to being swayed by wrong belief, but the main problem with that sermon is not what Pastor Randy said in his teaching, which I pretty much agreed with. His error is in comparing any currently existing group to being like the Judaizers were in the 1st Century Synagogues. I won’t judge about Seventh Day Adventists, or them being a cult…a cult is simply another name for a variant, although it is used as meaning a ‘dangerous variant’, and often follows a single personality. But calling Rabbinic Jews, Messianic Believers and SDA as equivalent is very offensive. They are not comparable except as variants of Judaism that are all extremely different from each other.

    Everything Pastor Randy said is within reason except that, and it appears that he is going to teach one by one through the commandments, which is great. I hope he tells them they are all changing to Saturday for Sabbath rest, even if they still meet on Sundays. It makes a world of difference to have a day devoted to quiet rest and family interaction. I hope he tells them to take down anything resembling Yehoshua on a cross, since it is an idol, and to keep all the rest of the big 10. I’d like him to explain the Feast Days, which are the appointed times of G-d, not man. For Gentiles, all the rest of the Torah is mostly about being separated to G-d, and Holy, although it is now seen as a Jewish style of separation. Most of Torah…the entire Old Testament…is about separating oneself to G-d.

    I hope even more that he explains that Messianic Belief encourages Gentiles to keep Torah even as is taught by Yehoshua and all the Apostles, including Paul, but that keeping all of the Torah is not required of Gentiles. I hope he also tells them that Messianic Gentiles, like myself, are not putting on anything Judaic, except Yehoshua, and that Messianic Believers of all stripes only say that Messianic Jews are still required to keep Torah, because they are covenant members.

    I hope he tells them that If Gentiles want to keep Torah in a Jewish way, they had better find a Messianic Rabbi, and convert as a proselyte, so they can be sure to do Jewish things Jewishly, and still have Yehoshua as their redeemer! I hope he tells them that most Messianic Gentles are putting on the observance of Torah as a gift of love to G-d because the Holy Spirit draws us to do so. We know we aren’t saved by keeping Torah. We are only saved in Yehoshua.

    Pastor Randy may feel that Rabbinical Jews and Seventh Day Adventists, and Messianic Jews are alike.

    We are not, and he needs to apologize for that error, and explain it to his church.

  61. @Onesimus: You gave a much more succinct answer on your own blog but I get the idea. It is more accurate to say that different interpretations of parts of the Bible can make it appear to support contradictory positions. It just depends on which tradition you subscribe to, which is part of the reason I wrote this particular blog post.

    @Chaya: Bummer. No, really, thanks. So much for my Hebrew. I rather liked the symbolism of that particular interpretation of ten men and Yeshua.

    @Questor: You listened to the sermon. I’m glad. The WordPress analytics say that as of midnight last night (my time) there were ten “clicks” on the link to the sermon in question. I hope that means ten people listened to it all the way through. If there are opinions different than mine, I want to know about them.

    I agree that the turning point was the mention of Rabbinic and Messianic Judaism as well as Seventh Day Adventists.

    Oops. Gotta run. Time to go to the gym.

  62. I’m back to finish responding to your comment, Questor.

    Yes, Pastor has a lot of good things to say and he spends a great deal of time researching the topics on which he preaches. I can’t fault him for that.

    I also can’t fault him for his integrity and sincerity. He is unerringly consistent in this viewpoint on scripture and doctrine and will not yield if he thinks something is an erroneous teaching. He is passionate about truth and leading the congregation into “rightly dividing the Word,” to use a Christian aphorism.

    I already know his thoughts on a Saturday Shabbat, but I’ve already shot my mouth off too much about his sermons and beliefs, so I’ll give it a rest.

    Since his sermons are posted each week, there’s nothing stopping you from listening to the rest of the series. It probably wouldn’t hurt to get some more context by listening to multiple sermons, if you’d care to. I especially appreciate the history he brings into his lectures and he really does examine an issue from multiple angles.

    Given the number of “clicks” I’ve seen on the link to the sermon in question, I hope others are listening as well and are willing to share their thoughts as you have, Questor.

  63. James, I haven’t finished reading the comments, but before I run out of time….
    As PL pointed out, you have likely made an impact – perhaps on individuals – so much so that the pastor feels he needs to address it from the pulpit. My suggestion is rather than taking as a slap in the face, take it as an ‘atta boy’ from HaShem.

    I don’t think you need to pursue a conversation about this with Pastor Randy, just keep on loving the people around you and living out your faith – sprinkling tidbits of truth as things come up. Remember, it has taken 2,000 years from the ‘church’ to stray this far from the truth of Torah. Give HaShem the permission to work with the seeds you are planting. And keep planting.

    In Pastor Randy’s defense I need to share an experience I had last year. As you might recall, I made the decision last year to leave a church I’d been a member of for over 5 years and join myself to a Messianic congregation. However, I love the people in the church and the pastors, so I still attend Wed and Sunday bible study.

    So last year, one of the elders of the church attended a Hayesod study in my home. He shared with me that he really hoped they would one day allow this study. But he also told me that they are afraid of me. (Now THAT was a shock!) He explained that they were afraid that all they’d built over the last 25 years would come tumbling down if people got hold of this insight. And to be fair to them, they are good pastors and are afraid people would be led astray.

    So…I pray for them daily – for the spirit of truth and courage. And to imitate the little fish Dory, I ‘just keep planting, just keep planting’.

  64. I was very impressed with Pastor Randy’s knowledge of Covenant. When does a person ever hear the ANE Suzerain Treaty mentioned in a pastor’s message? I never have in all my years in the church. Understanding the Blood Covenant and the meaning of its ancient practice ought to be foundational teaching for believers, but it’s really not.

    Also, I liked that he brought out the more common problem in the church of antinomianism. People tend to pit law and grace against each other, which is a misunderstanding. “The law is not the gospel, but the gospel is not lawless.”

    And in all fairness (sorry, James), if the Rabbis had not added many things to the Torah, Yeshua would not have had to rebuke leaders in His day for “teaching for commandments the doctrines of men.” Mt. 23:4 (HCSB) says, “They tie up heavy loads that are hard to carry and put them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves aren’t willing to lift a finger to move them.” Don’t turn on a light on Shabbat because you’re kindling a fire. Don’t press an elevator button for the same reason (just wait until a Gentile does it for you). Kindling a fire in ancient Israel was work. Pressing a button is not. Extremes. There is some great wisdom to be found in the Talmud, but there are also some great abominations in it. The reader must be discerning, just as with any man’s teaching, leader or not. (Ducking now.)

    What I don’t agree with is that the Torah has been completed . Yeshua said, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished” (Mt. 5:17-18, NASB). I would argue that fulfill does not mean end in the context of the very verse itself. The Torah is the foundation of the entire Word of God. Yes, it is the schoolmaster that points us to the Messiah. Why? Because the Lord desires to write it on the hearts of His people. (Does that motivate us to ask which parts of it are for non-Israelites? I think it should.) The example I would offer is this. When a child is young the parent teaches them child not to cross the road in oncoming traffic. When the child matures it no longer has to be taught to them because it has become ingrained in them. The teaching of the parent hasn’t been abolished. It has been fulfilled in the child who matured to the point of it being ingrained in the inner “man.”

    Seventh Day Adventists used to be thought of as a cult, but there have been some changes in SDA. I understand that it split into two schools of thought. Now they may be considered borderline. Dr. Walter Martin labels them as a cult at one point and later says, “It is perfectly possible to be a Seventh-Day Adventist and be a true follower of Jesus Christ, despite heterodox concepts.” Yet before his death, he expressed they could fall into this classification again. So it’s murky. Can there be true believers in the SDA? Probably. Does that make the religion acceptable? Nope. Same with Catholicism, which is steeped with paganism, but that’s another subject.

    It’s obvious why a Messianic would not want to be coupled with SDAs. It’s quite a stretch to associate them as all being in the same “basket.”

    Bottom line: It’s probably not realistic in the vast majority of cases to expect an Evangelical Baptist pastor to agree with Messianic theology. Pastor Randy seems like a very knowledgeable pastor who loves God and His Word. He just has a different lens than we have.

    Respectfully, I certainly have no negative comments to make about Pastor Randy and don’t consider him as “teaching lies.” (What an insulting remark!) He is teaching what he understands to be truth based on Scripture. That’s all any of us do. We all see through a glass darkly. When in the future time we see clearly, I think we’ll all find we’ve all misunderstood a great many things. Wonder if that’s one of the reasons God will “wipe away all tears” from our eyes?

  65. @Ro: Thanks for the feedback. I don’t think Randy is overly concerned about my affect on the rest of the congregation. He keeps a close eye on the teaching staff and what’s being said to the congregation, I suppose to avoid anyone teaching doctrine contrary to what is officially supported by the church. I’ve only encountered one or two people I thought would seriously consider looking at the Bible, particularly the New Covenant, from a Messianic viewpoint. I suspect the vast majority of people attending this church think in very similar ways about theology and doctrine. I seriously doubt I could change anyone’s mind, particularly if the reaction of people to me at Sunday school is any indication.

    @Linda: Hopefully I never have the impression that I thought Randy was “teaching lies”. I certainly never intended to communicate anything like that. I do believe we have different points of view on how to interpret the Bible, but that’s not incredibly uncommon, both at the level of he laity and at the pastoral/scholarly level. Major New Testament scholars disagree with each other all of the time, but no one says anyone is “teaching lies”. It’s a natural consequence of scholarly investigation into the scriptures and different schools of thought arising. There have always been disagreements within Christianity (and for that matter Judaism or any religious group) about the Bible and how to “operationalize” it.

    But while Judaism is able to tolerate a certain amount of “dynamic tension” in terms of disagreement, my experience with Christian churches is that they really need to have total agreement within its walls in order to promote unity and any “minor” disagreements should be disregarded. I believe one person commented in this blog to that effect.

    I agree that, as you (and Paul) said, we all are looking at the Bible through a glass darkly and the reflection is unclear. We will see clearly in the Messianic Age, and I long for that day.

  66. Ro, your image of Dory didn’t render correctly in the comments. I tried to fix it but then it disappeared. Looking at the supported HTML code for comments, the “img” tag isn’t one of them. Sorry. I liked it, though.

  67. No worries, James. I suspected it might not, but hoped to lighten what is a heavy blog. I definitely feel your frustration, which comes out of love and respect for the people around you. Hang in there. When Messiah comes, we’ll all know the truth, and all be slapping our heads when we realize how wrong we were! LOL

  68. James, you didn’t say it. But it was said.

    Christianity (Western Greek thought) is very creedal. Thus its emphasis is on “right belief,” whereas Eastern thought, Hebraic thought, is action oriented with its emphasis on “right deeds.” Much of the Western church (if not all) thinks if you believe the right things (creeds), you are saved. The Jew would probably be more similar to the Nike slogan when it comes to truth: “Just do it.” Both value truth. But a Jew (who hasn’t been “churchized”) would never think you could reduce God to a definition.

    I’ve heard it said that Jewish Rabbis can have very heated debates and still walk away as friends when it’s over. Us Westerners haven’t learned how to do that. I wish we could. With all their passion, if they can, why can’t we?

  69. Why can’t we? I think it comes down to cultural values. In religious Judaism, disagreement isn’t random or disorganized. Yeshiva partners or Chavrusa are selected by the teaching Rabbi and paired together. Arguments aren’t a matter of getting heated over someone not agreeing with you, it’s a matter of putting information into a crucible. You will never know how much you know about what you believe until you have to defend it. As I’ve mentioned before, Judaism tends to tolerate a certain amount of dynamic tension in it’s belief system so things don’t always “line up” all of the time.

    By contrast, Christian learning involves discussion but rarely (in an ideal situation) disagreement. Disagreement is equated with disunity and disrespect for authority (of course, I’m speaking in generalities). The goal is that someone in the church, probably the pastoral staff and the board of directors/elders, have agreed upon a specific theology and doctrinal position which is then “truth” for that church or denomination (I’m over simplifying). While no reasonable Pastor expect that everyone is going to agree with him on every single detail, the idea is that most people will agree with most of the details of said-theology/doctrine.

    Like I said, these boil down to cultural characteristics that have arisen in Christianity and Judaism over many centuries such that they have become “truths” all their own.

    That’s my opinion anyway.

  70. 1. chaya1957 said:

    This is the anti-intellectualism that comes from Neo-Pentecostalism, as if it is more spiritual to be ignorant.

    So far you’ve tried to identify me as a “neo-Calvinist” now you make inferences of “Neo-Pentecostalism” – so many labels thrown in the vain hope that something will stick.

    It is no “more spiritual to be ignorant” than it is more spiritual to be intellectual, or more spiritual to be a Hebrew scholar. The God I believe is far greater than any human intellect or scholarship and He is more than capable of giving understanding to the non-intellectual and the non-scholarly.

    Genuine spirituality comes from being filled with the Spirit, being led by the Spirit, and walking in the Spirit.

    No I don’t believe every thought that comes into my head is divine revelation. I’ve never claimed that or inferred it. But I know my understanding is better now than when I “studied scripture” through the work of others. I know a lot less now but understand a lot more.

    You ask, “Don’t you think if you put ten sincere people in a room with ten bibles each seeking to hear from heaven, they won’t have ten different interpretations”

    In answer to your question: NO I do not think that 10 different people sincerely seeking the truth will come up with ten different interpretations. Your question starts with an assumption of confusion resulting from such a situation. The inference I get from that question is that God is incapable of revealing truth to those who sincerely seek it. Or maybe He’s just unwilling to do so and would get pleasure out of the confusion of those “ten different interpretations”.

    I’m not sure what the comment about “walking in the prophetic” was doing in a reply to me – I’ve never made such a claim.

    As for your assertion that Christians have murdered millions over the past 2000 years – you are clearly using the term “Christian” with a political/cultural definition that has nothing to do with its original (BIBLICAL) definition relating to followers of Jesus.

  71. @Onesimus: The comment about walking in the prophetic was due to another poster who attacked @James and claimed she was, “walking in the prophetic,” as if that phrase should make us bow down to her.

    I am not fishing for your doctrinal position, just that certain thoughtstyles can be traced to a point of origin, and certainly influence those outside of specific parameters.

    I certainly believe God can reveal himself to us, but it seems most of the time we aren’t listening, and sieve that purity through our own dirty and indoctrinated filters.

    As to the 10 people with 10 bibles – it might be an interesting experiment, if it could be carried out in a manner where the participants are a random sample and not influenced by the researcher. Of course one could then claim that only those who espouse x viewpoint are hearing from God, while y viewpoint is seen as less than inspired and z is heretical.

    I believe there is great value in understanding the original languages and related knowledge. One time I had this interesting conversation with a lady who played the, “God told me,” card. I patiently explained to her that according to the Hebrew, her conclusion was impossible. Her answer: “That’s okay, God told me.”

    Just a recent example here, where @James interpreted that the man who is a Jew mentioned in Zech was Yeshua. I’ve heard others make the same claim. But it is not possible if one looks to the Hebrew, as aforementioned, there is a plural, “you,” used twice in the verse. If the verse were referring to Yeshua, it would have to be singular. A typical English speaker might not know that while English has one word for, “you,” Hebrew has 4: masculine single, feminine single, masculine plural and feminine plural.

    I’ve heard the, “they weren’t ‘real,’ Christians,” narrative frequently in regard to Christians who have slaughtered, persecuted and generally not been nice people over the past 2,000 years. So, do you believe that Luther and Calvin were true Christians? What about Augustine and the various church fathers? Were you aware that Barth, Neimoller and Bonhoeffer were antisemites? Do you get that for 2,000 years, with only a few notable exceptions, to , “follow Christ,” meant to hate Jews? You might want to read a good book about historic antisemitism that will open your eyes.

  72. chaya1957 said: So, do you believe that Luther and Calvin were true Christians? What about Augustine and the various church fathers? Were you aware that Barth, Neimoller and Bonhoeffer were antisemites?”
    _____________

    Augustine’s legacy has been one of the most damaging things to affect the church and lingers today, He was an inspiration to both Luther and Calvin and he was in fact the source of most of the doctrines attributed to Calvin.

    As for the other names you mention – they are familiar but I wouldn’t have a clue what they believed or taught and have no desire to familiarise myself with them.

    There have been a lot of church celebrities throughout history who definitely weren’t followers of Jesus, and there are a lot of church celebrities today who are making a living from being “bible teachers” whose teaching is far from biblical. But as long as people choose to follow them they will “prosper” but at what cost (to themselves and their followers).

    As for the murderers you mention and your statement “I’ve heard the, “they weren’t ‘real,’ Christians,” narrative frequently in regard to Christians who have slaughtered, persecuted and generally not been nice people over the past 2,000 years.”

    If you can still label them as “Christians” then it is clear you have little idea of what a genuine Christian, a true follower of Jesus is.

  73. Adding to what I said here:

    If you can still label them as “Christians” then it is clear you have little idea of what a genuine Christian, a true follower of Jesus is.

    Maybe this example indicates that you would be better informed through turning to scripture for your understanding of what a Christian is instead of relying on cultural definitions and examples.

    Hey wait – isn’t that exactly what I’ve been suggesting all along regarding the way to gain understanding of God and His purposes? But why do that and have our preconceptions, attitudes and favoured traditions challenged?

  74. Chaya1957 said

    You might want to read a good book about historic antisemitism that will open your eyes.

    My eyes have been well and truly opened for years, and I’ve read several books about the anti-Semitism that has infected the church throughout history.

    It should not be forgotten that the early Jewish followers of Jesus were the first to face persecution: from other Jews, those who didn’t recognise Jesus.

    I’ve made my views about the non-biblical path of the church very clear in my repeated appeal that people turn to scripture for themselves instead of relying on theological texts (commentaries, study bibles etc) to interpret scripture for them. But for some reason people seem to prefer following a path that they themselves recognise has led to serious error, such as the anti-Semitism mentioned above.

    But replacing non-biblical “Christian” teaching with Jewish teaching that doesn’t recognise Jesus is definitely not a valid alternative.

  75. @Linda Simmons

    I said it. I spoke about the lie. Please take your outrage over Pastor Randy being called a liar off of James’ back.

    I can understand what Pastor Randy was getting at, but adding in and condemning Messianic Judaism, where Jews who love Yehoshua still practice the covenant they were born to, and Gentiles attempt to be disciples to Yehoshua by walking after Him is speaking a lie.

    This was the finishing comment Pastor Randy made about comparing Rabbinical Jews, and Messianic Jews to Seventh Day Adventists, a known cult. It is a lie.

    Comparing Rabbinic Judaism to Messianic Judaism is comparing two crucially different variants of Judaism. Rabbinic Jews think that Torah Observant Messianic Jews are idolaters, and not Jews at all anymore, just as Rabbinic Jews think all Believers in Messiah Yehoshua are idolaters. Rabbinic Jews would, and have preferred to die rather than be classed officially with any Believer in Yehoshua, whether Christian, Notsri, or Messianic. Rabbinic Jews think that Yehoshua is a different G-d than YHVH, rather than a portion of YHVH’s essence, (what might be called the Shekinah or the Angel of the Presence) placed temporarily into a tabernacle of human flesh.

    Some Rabbinic Jews may admit that Yehoshua was once a Jew, but most think Yehoshua was a Blasphemer; and think that Paul started a whole new religion with Yehoshua at its center called Christianity. Either way, they see no reason to revisit the matter, as they are temporarily spiritually blinded by YHVH.

    Lumping both Judaic sects into one statement to credulous Christians who would not think to doubt what their Pastor told them, that Rabbinic Judaism and Messianic Judaism are even alike except for Torah Observance, much less like the Seventh Day Adventists, while adding that Seventh Day Adventists are a cult, ,is a lie.

    Seventh Day Adventists may be a cult…I do not know, and won’t judge them. Rabbinic Judaism is not a cult, nor is Messianic Judaism.

    Everyone who was at that sermon will think, however, that they are, and never think to question the information. They need to be told by Pastor Randy that a severe error was made in comparing either variant of Judaism to SDA, or to a cult of any kind.

    I absolve Pastor Randy of deliberately lying when he made his comparison, even though he probably believes just what he said in a general kind of way, because all three sects he mentioned are not Baptists, and are therefore wrong for him, and his flock. However, the comparison is false, and is a un-truth, and is therefore a lie.

    I said it was a lie because it is a lie. I said it deliberately in the hope that Pastor Randy would read the comment, and realize how false was the comment that was made, and inform his congregation of his ‘miss-statement’.

    I’m just calling a spade a spade…no more.

  76. Questor, I wasn’t putting it “on James’ back” to begin with. I knew he didn’t say it. And I hope Pastor Randy doesn’t see it, quite frankly, because it certainly won’t make him think any better of Messianics to receive disrespect. I don’t have to agree with him on everything to show him respect. I’m sure we could find many things we agree upon as well as issues where we disagree. Yeshua said in Luke 6:31, “Treat other people as you would like them to treat you.” (CJB) Everyone appreciates being treated respectfully.

  77. I’m not sure, “O”, whether your appeal to a scriptural definition of what a Christian ought to be is being confused in your mind with the definition of what Christians actually have been in practice. It’s tempting to want to deny that one or another historical so-and-so (or an entire group) was not genuinely Christian because their behavior or their teaching (or both) fell far short of the apostolic ideal. Regrettably, it doesn’t work on a practical level, because these people have undeniable credentials within Christian organizations. If you deny that they are Christians, then you effectively deny that Christianity exists, and therefore large segments of humanity throughout history have no religious identity, despite how the rest of humanity labels them and that it is how they labeled themselves. The only solution is to call them bad Christians or mistaken Christians or ignorant Christians or Christians by some other adjective that qualifies them as not conforming to whatever is your sense of the apostolic ideal.

    Alternatively one may cast off the term “Christian” and invent another that may be applied to the apostolic ideal for non-Jewish disciples of Rav Yeshua as the Jewish Messiah ben-Yosef. After all, the term “christianos” only appears three times in the entire apostolic corpus, and only as a pejorative label used by non-believers. But even if a suitable term can be identified and made popularly recognized and accepted as a valid distinct religious category, then a lot of history must be re-written after trying to analyze who fits into which category.

    Judaism has its own adjectives for Jews who fall short of Jewish ideals. Jewish messianists face a similar problem nowadays because Hebrew-Christians adopted and co-opted the term “Messianic” from Hebrew usage and from the new paradigm of “Messianic Judaism”, even though they did not adopt the “Judaism” that was essential to the definition of the paradigm. Hence we have “Messianic” congregations and fellowships, which may even include some ethnic Jews who do not actually practice Judaism, that are not practicing or teaching “Messianic Judaism”. They include some Jews who are nominally “Messianic”, but these cannot properly be called “Messianic Jews”. But just try to convince them of that! To them it doesn’t seem to matter if their Jewishness is limited to nominal cultural features and that they have assimilated Christian doctrines, perspectives, and behaviors. It doesn’t seem to matter that they offend their Jewish brethren who do practice Judaism (including genuine Jewish messianists), and that they fail to emulate Rav Yeshua’s Pharisaic perspective on the place of diligent Torah observance in the kingdom of heaven. Therefore observant messianists hesitate to use the “MJ” label because it has been devalued from the meaning of the paradigm that spawned it.

    On another note: Teaching that acknowledges Rav Yeshua in some fashion is not thereby automatically superior to Jewish teaching that does not acknowledge him, nor are the teachers who do so. Alternatively, a teaching may be godly and accurate and true to HaShem’s ways without explicitly acknowledging Rav Yeshua, just as Torah and the writings of the Prophets of Israel were for centuries before his era and continue to be up to the present time and beyond. Since Jewish teachings since his era also tend to reflect the Tenakh, they tend to have similar validity, though of course each must be evaluated for its own merits. This may be compared with a somewhat more general proposition that “all truth is G-d’s truth”. Hence, what is not valid is your insistence on using the explicit acknowledgement of Rav Yeshua or denial thereof as an epistemological principle.

  78. @Linda Simmons: You’ve repeatedly acted as a “respecter of persons” as your principles are blatantly applied to favor your bias. A policy for posting was, to you, indication in itself that someone is something like argumentative. Never mind the Bible also has policies for people.

    Now, you want to point to the Bible and respect because Pastor Randy is someone you want respected. Never mind what you are arguing against in the very process is people pointing out that traditional and Messianic Jews should not be purposely disrespected from the pulpit.

  79. OK everyone. Time to cool off. I think this blog post has gone as far as it’s going to go. I’ll close the comments here so we can all move along to other topics.

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