Tag Archives: cryptosupersessionism

The Two-Thousand Year Old Christian Mistake

Ezekiel 36:26. You don’t need to turn to it, just listen. God says, now watch this promise. “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you.” verse 27. “And I will put my Spirit within you.” Now do you read any conditions there? What are the conditions for getting the Spirit? What are they? Is there an if there? Nope. God says I will do it. Now the credibility of God is at stake. If a Christian has to do something to get the Holy Spirit then in theory, there are some Christians who never do that something so they never get the Holy Spirit. Therefore the promise of God is invalidated in their behalf. No the credibility of God is at stake. And secondly the credibility of Jesus is at stake in John 14, verse 16.

-Pastor John MacArthur
“From Judaism to Jesus, Part 3: Have you Received the Holy Spirit?”
Commentary on Acts 19:1-7, Jan. 27, 1974
GTY.org

I know, I know. I promised no more MacArthur, but in this case, “Big Mac” actually did me a favor. He helped me (though I’m sure it was unintentional) figure out why “the Church” thinks the New Covenant is all about them and why the New Covenant is supposed to replace the Old. I’ve read the relevant scriptures many times, but could never figure out how Christians fit themselves (ourselves) into the New Covenant language. But let’s review a bit. I looked back on a series I wrote called “The Jesus Covenant” (no, there’s no such thing, but at one point, I had no clue how non-Jewish people could enter into any sort of relationship with God at all related to covenant, and I had to call the series something) and found the key scriptures recorded in The Jesus Covenant, Part 1: The Foundation.

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law (Heb. “Torah”) within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

Jeremiah 31:31-34 (ESV)

“Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Lord God, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.

Ezekiel 36:22-28 (ESV)

It actually helps if you read Jeremiah and Ezekiel cover-to-cover, rather than taking verses out of context in order to preserve the entire flow of thought of these prophets. You get a much more cohesive picture of what they’re actually saying. The exile

Notice in both of the above-quoted portions of scripture that God is specifically addressing “the House of Judah” and “the House of Israel.” Unless you subscribe to the Two-House theology and believe that any non-Jew who is at all attracted to Judaism and the Torah must be a hidden member of one of the “Lost Ten Tribes of Israel,” then you can plainly see that the verses in Jeremiah and Ezekiel referencing the New Covenant have absolutely nothing to do with the non-Jewish nations of the world, that is to say, most of humanity.

The New Covenant language applies only to the descendants of Judah and Israel in our modern world, the Jewish people.

Period.

You can see why it took me eleven or twelve separate blog posts in order to figure out where we Gentiles fit in. There’s no smoking gun, no signposts on the road to tell us, as there is with the Jewish people, where non-Jews fit in as far as God’s plan of redemption, restoration, and Messianic Kingdom world peace is concerned. You don’t have to read the whole series (though I wouldn’t mind if you did) to get the answer.

I basically spelled it out in The Jesus Covenant, Part 8: Abraham, Jews, and Christians and in The Jesus Covenant, Part 11: Building My Model. The only thing I couldn’t figure out is how in all of Church history, Christianity had misinterpreted these scriptures so badly, forcing a connection between the Church and the New Covenant which does not exist and which specifically bumps Israel out of the picture entirely.

Then, in editing my third and final review of John MacArthur’s “From Judaism to Jesus” lecture series, I saw the quote that spelled it all out. I posted it at the top but here it is again, with emphasis added:

Ezekiel 36:26. You don’t need to turn to it, just listen. God says, now watch this promise. “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you.” verse 27. “And I will put my Spirit within you.” Now do you read any conditions there? What are the conditions for getting the Spirit? What are they? Is there an if there? Nope. God says I will do it. Now the credibility of God is at stake. If a Christian has to do something to get the Holy Spirit then in theory, there are some Christians who never do that something so they never get the Holy Spirit. Therefore the promise of God is invalidated in their behalf. No the credibility of God is at stake. And secondly the credibility of Jesus is at stake in John 14, verse 16.

Do you see it? Do you see where MacArthur, and presumably all the denominations of anything calling themselves “Christian” in any way anywhere made their mistake? Israel

All of the New Covenant language expressed in Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Ezekiel 36:22-28 is specifically addressed to the House of Judah and the House of Israel. Further, when you take into account the larger context of these verses, you must realize that the prophets are talking about the Messianic Age, when Messiah comes (returns) as King and inaugurates the Messianic Era, when the Spirit will be poured out on all flesh in such a way that the least of all human beings will still “know God” in a greater way than John the Baptist (read Jeremiah 31, Ezekiel 36, Joel 2:28-29, 32 and Luke 22:14-23 for context). Do you really think we have that today as Christians?

Since we don’t yet have a new heart and a new Spirit in us (I’m not saying that believers don’t have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, but that’s only the “first fruits,” just the very leading edge of what these prophets are talking about) so that we are all functionally prophets, and since we (Gentiles) aren’t of the House of Judah or the House of Israel, then the New Covenant language can’t be talking about the rise of “the Church” beginning with Acts 2 and progressing across the rest of the New Testament and into the last nearly two-thousand years of “Church history!” The very best we can say, as I mentioned above, is that the giving of the Spirit to the Jewish apostles in Acts 2 and the giving of the Spirit to Gentiles, starting with the Roman God-Fearer Cornelius and his household in Acts 10, are a sort of “first fruits” of the New Covenant promise that is yet to come!

This will definitely not make any traditional Christian at all happy. It might make some Christians angry and defiant. Some Christians, hopefully those who investigate and realize that the Bible doesn’t actually read the way they’ve been taught, might feel a sense of loss and even depression that “the Church” isn’t the center of the universe and our guarantee that all Gentile believers are the best thing God created since sliced bread and peanut butter.

But we really have no reason to be depressed or experience loss. It’s not as if God doesn’t love all the world. It’s not like this invalidates John 3:16. God still “so loves the world,” that is to say, all the people in it, not just the Jewish people. He has a plan for us, it’s just not the plan that “the Church” believes in. This hidden but massive error is the very foundation of supersessionism and anti-Semitism at the root of all expressions of Christianity everywhere on earth. We don’t see it or feel it because it’s buried so deep in our theology. It is the heart of what Rabbi Dr. Stuart Dauermann has called cryptosupersessionism.

Christianity is completely unconscious of its presence and yet it colors everything we in the Church say, do, think, and feel about Christianity and what we believe being a Christian means. I know a lot of Christians including a lot of Hebrew Roots Christians will be upset about what I’m writing, saying I’m doing something terrible, elevating Israel above the Church, creating inequities and all that, but it’s not like we don’t have an exceptionally vital role to play in God’s plan.

RestorationI don’t want to repeat myself, since I’ve written at length a number of times before about the plan God has for the people of the nations who are called by His Name. For examples see Provoking Zealousness, How Will Christians Perfect the World?, The Consequences of Gentile Identity in Messiah, and my recent blog post Don’t Argue. This is why First Fruits of Zion (FFOZ) President and Founder Boaz Michael in his Tent Builders presentation (see his book Tent of David for the details of his plan to correct the Church’s faulty vision) says that:

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

We’ve all been taught to believe what John MacArthur believes about the New Covenant. The Christian Church in all its incarnations is guilty throughout its existence of the most heinous act of eisegesis in the history of the Bible and Biblical studies. We’ve chronically and grossly misinterpreted the Old Testament and New Testament text (and even those titles are a tremendous misrepresentation of contents and purpose) in such a way that it forces the anti-Jewish, anti-Judaism, anti-Torah presuppositions, agendas, and biases of the Church into and onto the text.

This is the error of “the Church”. This is where, for all the good Christianity has done, the Church has gone wrong since almost the beginning. This is the problem that the Reformation failed to address. This is why Gentiles are in the Messianic movement, not to move in on Jewish worship and identity space, but to right a two-thousand year old wrong. May Heaven grant strength and endurance for those of us who are delivering this message that some ears may hear and understand and not reject and disdain.

A brother will betray his brother to death, and a father will betray his son, and children will rise up against fathers and kill them, and you will be hated by everyone for the sake of my name. But the one who keeps waiting until the time of the end will be saved.

Matthew 10:21-22 (DHE Gospels)

This is why I’m here. This is why I write. To deliver a message that the Church doesn’t want to hear. To point to the scriptures that Christianity doesn’t want to understand. Check those scriptures for yourself leaving your eisegesis and your assumptions at the door. Do you see what I see? If you do, why are you here and what do you need to do now?

There’s going to be an extra meditation today. I need to inject some balance into the messages I’ve been writing lately about the Church. In spite of all I just said, there is also much good in the Church. You’ll see.

Advertisements

Nanos, Paul, and the Consequences of Jewish Identity in Messiah

PaulFor we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since God is one; and he will justify the circumcised on the ground of faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

Romans 3:28-31

The discovery of the Shema Israel as central to Paul’s theology was a profound moment for me, and has shaped my reading of him ever since. If I was writing a theology of Paul, it would be the center around which all other topics turned. Here we see it employed clearly and in a pivotal point in his argument in Romans for why non-Jewish believers in Christ must remain non-Jews and not become proselytes, and by the implication of his logic, why Jews remain Jews after faith in Christ: “since [if indeed] God is one.” Paul’s language here, and throughout Romans and Galatians, calls to mind the central prayer of Judaism, repeated twice daily, and the last words a pious Jew hopes to pass his or her lips, which begins: “Hear [shema] Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is one.”

-Mark D. Nanos
“A Torah Observant Paul?: What Difference Could it Make for Christian/Jewish Relations Today?” (pg 45)
May 9, 2005 (PDF Version Sent – Endnote Formatted)
marknanos.com

Since I completed my final summary of the classic Mark Nanos book The Mystery of Romans: The Jewish Context of Paul’s Letters, I’ve been wondering how Nanos’ research into and perspectives on Paul have progressed. After all, the “Romans” book was published in 1996, almost two decades ago. What’s Nanos been up to since then?

The paper I’m quoting from gives a compressed answer, though it is still almost nine years old. I find the same voice and the same perspectives in the “Torah Observant Paul” paper as I do in “Romans,” with just a hint of additional development. The paper, as a whole, addresses the more “troublesome” passages in Paul’s epistles as they appear to conflict with the life of a Torah-observant Jew in the late Second Temple period. Nanos points out the overwhelming body of Christian scholarship that paints Paul as a traitor to his own people and the “inventor” of Christianity, and seeks to refactor the Biblical record by deliberately viewing Paul as a devout Jew with a life-long devotion to Hashem, the Temple, the Torah, and Judaism.

I’m not going to review the entirety of this lengthy paper right now. I’m focusing only on a small portion of it so I can extend the Nanos commentary on Paul’s letter to the Romans, gleaning additional insights and sparkling bits of wisdom as they are scattered ahead of me on my path of faith.

In the “Romans” book, Nanos also mentions the Shema as the central element required in understanding the Jewish apostle’s message to the non-Jewish believers in Rome. Built on his commentary on Romans and Galatians, Nanos, in addressing Jewish and Gentile identity in Messiah, believes Paul is not only discouraging Gentiles from converting to Judaism as a means of justification before God, he’s forbidding its as contrary to prophesy and to the “oneness” testified to by the Shema.

Likewise, somewhere halfway between Paul’s time and our own Rashi wrote, to explain the repetition of the Name (Hashem, the Name, a rabbinic circumlocution for YHWH/Lord) in the Shema:

“The Lord who is our God now, but not (yet) the God of the (other) nations, is destined to be the One Lord, as it is said, ‘For then will I give to the peoples a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one consent’ (Zeph 3:9). And (likewise) it is said, ‘And the Lord shall be king over all the earth; on that day shall the Lord be One and His name One’ (Zech 14:9).”

Paul’s argument is that the God who now righteouses (sic) Israel is the same God who now righteouses (sic) non-Israelites who turn to Israel’s God in Jesus Christ as the Lord of all the Nations too. He is the one whom both the members of Israel and of the other nations within the Christ-groups choose—like the special one that someone falls in love with like no other, thereafter the only one for themselves. For Paul, if non-Jews in-Christ become Jewish proselytes, and thereby Israelites, they do not bear witness to the arrival of the day when representatives from all of the nations turn from idols to the worship of the One God, but simply to the truth that in the present age Israel represents the righteous ones of God, members of which they become by proselyte conversion. That identity transformation for non-Jews is available apart from the confession of faith in Jesus Christ in most other Jewish groups of the time, which provide for proselyte conversion to join the family of Abraham, of God, within the present age, and await with Israel the hope of the age of reconciliation of the nations, when the wolf (such as is Rome) will lie down with the lamb (Israel), without devouring her.

Nanos, pp 46-7

Mark NanosFor Nanos as well as for Paul, it was not a matter of Gentiles having the option to convert to Judaism within Yeshua-faith, it was strictly forbidden, for prophesy tells of both Jews and Gentiles worshiping alongside each other, Israel expressing devotion to Hashem beside all the other nations (i.e. non-Jewish people) of the Earth, acknowledging that God is One and His Name is One. Even if a Gentile converted, not for the purpose of justification (for only faith justifies) but for some other reason (the desire to take on the full beauty of the Torah, an intermarriage of a Gentile with a Jew), it contradicts God’s Word and intent for both Jewish and non-Jewish humanity.

Once again I testify to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the entire law.

Galatians 5:3

Many seek to phrase the issue of proselyte conversion for non-Jewish Christ-believers from Paul’s point of view thus: Paul sought to communicate that one did not “have to” become a Jew in order to become a Christian, or if a Christian, in order to be a good one, or some such thing. Paul in Galatians, especially 5:2-6, makes it plain that a non-Jewish Christ-believer “cannot” become a proselyte.

-Nanos, pg 30

Cannot? Why not? Or have I already tipped my hand?

However that may be, let each of you lead the life that the Lord has assigned, to which God called you. This is my rule in all the churches. Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing; but obeying the commandments of God is everything. Let each of you remain in the condition in which you were called.

1 Corinthians 7:17-20

The point Paul drives home is that regardless of which state one was in when called, their present state requires attending to obedience to God’s commandments—even guarding the interests of these commandments rather than the interests of identity as Jew or non-Jew. The noun (in Greek) can be translated as “keep,” or “obey,” and carries the sense of “guard” or “watch over.” There is no shadow of concern with works-righteousness, but rather, with failure to behave appropriate to the state of Christ-believingness…

Paul’s language here brings up a point that corresponds to several points in the previous discussion of Gal 5:3. In Paul’s propositional arrangement, a Jew — such as he was — remained in-Christ a Jew, and thus obligated to observe Torah. However, a non-Jew in-Christ remained a non-Jew, and thus not obligated to observe Torah on the same terms as a Jew, since not a Torah-person. Nevertheless, a non-Jew was now obligated to turn from slavery to sin to slavery to righteousness, which was defined in terms that embody an essentially Torah-observant life (cf. Rom 6:14-23; 13:8-14; Gal 5:6-6:10), the lifestyle incumbent upon a so-called righteous non-Jew (something of an oxymoron).

Nanos, pp 32-3

The ProphetNanos not only emphasizes that Paul forbids a Gentile in Yeshua faith from converting to Judaism as a contradiction to the prophets, but he sees the co-participation of righteous Jews and Gentiles in Messiah expressed relative to identity issues, with Jews who came to Christ as Jews remaining Jewish with continuing Jewish obligations to Torah observance, and Gentiles who came to Christ as Gentiles not assuming a Jewish obligation to Torah but nevertheless, requiring a behavioral as well as “heart change” relative to lifestyle (probably as defined, at least in part, by the Acts 15 letter to the Gentile believers).

All this certainly reiterates my own opinion that Gentiles coming to faith within the ancient (or modern) Jewish religious stream of “the Way” (or its modern expression, Christianity, including within the such groups as Hebrew Roots and Messianic Judaism and their variations) that we (Gentiles) are not obligated to the Torah of Moses, at least not in the manner of observant Jews (Messianic or otherwise).

Many ancient prophesies cite how the nations (i.e. non-Jewish people) in Messianic days will take hold of the tzitzit of a Jewish man (Zechariah 8:23) and go up to the Mountain of the God of Jacob (Isaiah 2:3) to worship, because the House of God, the Temple, is a House of prayer for all people (Isaiah 56:7). In Nanos’ opinion, how did Paul see this, since he was living out the first fruits of those prophesies?

At issue is not that most other Jewish groups would likely disagree with Paul’s proposition that such reconciliation will occur when that day arrives, so that members of other nations do not then join Israel to join with her in worship of the One Creator God of all humankind. Some may believe that day will be accompanied by the conversion of the nations, in the sense of proselyte conversion to Israel; others might await the destruction of those of the other nations as foremost in their hopes. These expectations and others can be gleaned from the Scriptures and other writings of Paul’s time.

But even those who hope for reconciliation with the nations and expect them to remain not-Israel would not agree with Paul that this moment had arrived in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, or even just begun to arrive and be witnessed in the life of the communities of believers in that proposition—unless sharing Paul’s faith in Christ. In their groups the distinction and membership that follows from it remains between Gentiles, however welcome as friends and guests, and Jews or Israelites, a category that includes (albeit with some variety among groups) proselytes, those who have turned from idolatry to worship the One God and have completed the rite of conversion signaling that they have joined the people of that God in full membership, so that they are no longer regarded as mere guests.

-Nanos, pg 47

Nanos continues with this point:

I do not agree with the view of many interpreters of Paul—Jewish as well as Christian—that Paul taught the dissolution of differences, that there were no longer Jews and Gentiles in Christ, but a kind of new, third race, as some have phrased it. I grant that he does sometimes write that there is neither this nor that. But it cannot be so. There remain fundamental biological differences between women and men, for example, and the male penis has either been circumcised or remains in its foreskinned state. Recognition of this reality is witnessed in his arguments, including about just this matter, and in his continued employment of this distinction to address and explain the composition of the world from an Israelite-based conceptualization of reality: he does not address anyone as “Christian,” but as Jew or non-Jew, circumcised or foreskinned, and within those categories, as having faith in/of Jesus Christ (Messiah), or not.

-Nanos, pg 48

Reading of the Torah at Beth ImmanuelEqual co-participation in the Messiah did not include obliteration of identity. Jews remained Jews and Gentiles remained Gentiles, with one primary indicator of distinction being relationship with Torah obligation. This did not, in Nanos’ opinion, inherently create class differentiations between Jews and Gentiles. Salvation, justification, intimacy, accessibility to God were all equally within the apprehension of Jewish and non-Jewish Yeshua-believers, but none of this required Jews to abandon Judaism and become Gentiles, nor Gentiles to convert to Judaism (or conversely not convert) and take on the Jewish obligatory observance of the Torah mitzvot.

In fact doing so, in Paul’s opinion (according to Nanos) would be an affront to God and a violation of the ancient prophesies of the Tanakh (Old Testament).

Today’s commentary is a mere subset of the Nanos paper and I hope you click the link to read the full contents of what he wrote. For me, this information is an affirmation of the original intent of God for both the Jewish people and the nations of the world, that He desires all to be reconciled before Him, and that the flow of prophesy from the earliest books of the Bible through the apostolic writings, proceed in a comprehensive, consistent, and additive manner, painting a unified portrait of the people of God moving forward through history, rather than a cosmic “bait-and-switch” whereby God attracts Israel to Himself, and then in the final act of his drama, summarily abandons his bride for a more “youthful” partner, as traditional Christian doctrine demands.

Nanos applies his research to the last part of his paper, suggesting what Christians and Jews can and should take away from this information and how it facilitates modern Christian/Jewish dialogue. Perhaps I’ll address this important issue at some future time. However, I do want to mention one important point:

In a slightly different direction, Michael Wyschogrod suggests that Christians should change the church policy that holds Jews to be no longer Jews upon becoming Christians, so that after baptism they cannot observe Torah, or if they do, that it cannot be respected as an act of faith, so that the difference between Jews and non-Jews in church is erased in the direction of Gentile-only identity. This posture infers that the election of Israel is superseded by that of the church and that the covenant with the Jewish people is regarded to be over. In other words, not urging Jews in Christ to remain Jews betrays disrespect for the place of empirical Israel.

-Nanos, pg 55

Even in churches that generally support the Jewish people and Israel, in expecting the “Jewish Christians” within their own walls to not have a continued obligation to the Torah is, in and of itself, “cryptosupersessionism” (a term I attribute to Rabbi Dr. Stuart Dauermann), which is a tragic consequence of nearly twenty centuries of anti-Jewish theology in the Church.

The irony of all this is that, from Nanos’ perspective (and mine), it may well be discovered that it is the duty of the Church to encourage its Jewish members, who have abandoned Jewish practice and assimilated within Gentile Christianity, to re-engage Judaism and Torah observance as an act of “Christian” faith.