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Book Review of J.K. McKee’s “One Law for All,” Part 2

Much of this discussion has been focused around passages of the Torah detailing “one law” or “one statue” to be followed by the native Israelite and the sojourner (Exodus 12:48-49; Leviticus 24:22; Numbers 9:14; 15:15-16, 29-30). The majority of these passages actually pertain to specific legislation, where a uniform set of instruction needed to be followed. What these passages establish in a wider, theological and philosophical sense, has caused interpreters to draw a number of conclusions. Traditional Judaism widely interprets the “one law” passages as implying that the ger in Ancient Israel was only anticipated or expected to keep a minimum amount of Torah commandments, and this is followed by many of today’s Messianic Jews. Others in the broader Messianic community have held to the position that while the native Israelite and sojourner are not exactly the same, there are too many areas of equivalence, and that the sojourner was anticipated to keep the considerable bulk of the Torah’s commandments, which for many in ancient times would inevitably lead to circumcision and native status being granted.

-J.K. McKee
“Associated FAQs on the One Law Debate,” p. 130
One Law for All: From the Mosaic Texts to the Work of the Holy Spirit

This is the second part of my two-part review of McKee’s book (I published Part 1 yesterday). As I mentioned, his arguments regarding what he refers to as “Divine Invitation,” “Covenant Obligation,” and “Supernatural Compulsion” regarding how a non-Jewish disciples of the Jewish disciple should respond to the Torah mitzvot (at least within the community context of Messianic Judaism or Hebrew Roots) form the foundation of his book.

McKee advocates for the “Supernatural Compulsion” argument based on the New Covenant language found in Jeremiah 31 but, as I mentioned yesterday, since the Torah isn’t actually written on anyone’s heart yet and won’t be until the second advent, his stated motivation for a Gentile “keeping Torah” does not yet exist.

McKee dedicates about the first third of his book to explaining in great detail the passages in the Torah (listed above) related to “one law” and how the gerim or (Gentile) resident aliens among Israel were to be included and treated identically to the native Israelite in certain matters, usually related to ritual sacrifice. As McKee himself rightly states, all of the “one law” passages are conditional and do not describe a blanket commandment for Gentiles to simply enter ancient Israel and automatically be treated as a native in every single way.

I give “props” to McKee for his obviously detailed research and dedication to the topic of “one law” in ancient Israel but it almost doesn’t matter. Those passages cannot anachronistically be applied either to the Gentiles entering the Jewish worship stream of “the Way” in the first century C.E. or to we Gentile Christians, Messianic Gentiles, or Gentile One Law devotees today.

McKee even gives us the clue as to why:

…that the sojourner was anticipated to keep the considerable bulk of the Torah’s commandments, which for many in ancient times would inevitably lead to circumcision and native status being granted. (emph. mine)

I have long since asked and answered the question Whatever Happened to the Mixed Multitude and McKee has also just answered it. The commandments related to “one law” and the gerim (resident aliens) were originally created to deal with the “mixed multitude” of people (probably fellow slaves of various nationalities) who came with the Israelites out of Egypt. If they didn’t want to return to their own countries and desired to stay with Israel, what was to be done with them?

Eventual assimilation.

“You shall not detest an Edomite, for he is your brother; you shall not detest an Egyptian, because you were an alien in his land. The sons of the third generation who are born to them may enter the assembly of the Lord.”

Deuteronomy 23:7-8 (NASB)

ancient_jerusalemThis is why the “one law” passages in the Torah can never be used to justify Gentile “obligation” to Torah observance in the manner of the Jewish people among Christians in Messianic Judaism or Hebrew Roots today. They do not apply. This method of assimilation was designed to allow the resident alien, who would never be an Israelite, to enter a path so that their grandchildren would be admitted into the Israelite nation as a native. There was never an intention of a sustained multi-generational presence of Gentiles who remained Gentiles and yet were otherwise treated exactly like Israelites including in their observance of all of the mitzvot.

With the passage of time, the gerim were assimilated culturally and religiously. Doeg the Edomite, for instance, was a worshiper of YHWH by the time of Saul (I Sam. 21:8), as was Uriah the Hittite in the reign of David (II Sam. 11:11). Hence, the ger, in contrast to the nokhri, was required in many cases to conform to the ritual practices of the native Israelite. Thus, gerim were subject to laws dealing with ritual purification (Num. 19:2–10), incest (Lev. 18:26) and some of the food taboos (Lev. 17:10–16; but cf. Deut. 14:21). They were expected to observe the Sabbath (Ex. 20:10; Deut. 5:14), participate in the religious festivals (Deut. 16:11, 14), and fast on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16:29). They were permitted to offer up burnt offerings (Lev. 17:8; 22:18; Num. 15:14ff.) and, if circumcised, even to sacrifice the paschal lamb (Ex. 12:48–49; Num. 9:14). Indeed, they, no less than the Israelites, were expected to be loyal to YHWH (Lev. 20:2; cf. Ezek. 14:5–8).

-from “Strangers and Gentiles”
Jewish Virtual Library

If you click on the link I provided just above, you can read a more detailed treatment of the subject from a Jewish point of view, but as we can see in the above-quoted paragraph, there is a long history of gerim entering Israel as resident aliens and as they married and had children, eventually their descendants were assimilated into Israel and their Gentile past was forgotten.

In order for any “one law” portions of the Torah to apply to Gentiles today relative to their (our) status among Jewish believers and our duty to the Torah mitzvot, there would have had to have been a sustained presence of Gentiles among Israel who continued, generation by generation, to remain Gentiles and yet to observe the commandments in the manner of the Israelites…

…and that population never existed. It’s as if McKee wasted the first third of his book making an argument that in the end doesn’t matter.

The later part of the book has a section called The Torah Will Go Forth from Zion and specifically analyzes the impact of Micah 4:1-3 and Isaiah 2:2-4 on the Messianic and One Law communities today. McKee does well in his description of these nearly identical portions of scripture up to a point. Then he tries to force Ephesians 2:11-12 and 3:6 into the picture.

Let’s have a look. I’ll use the NASB translation:

Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands—remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

…to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel…

Ephesians 2:11-12, 3:6

Now here’s part of McKee’s commentary (pp. 112-13)

Later questions posed in the Apostolic Scriptures, such as whether or not the nations of the Earth are somehow made a part of Israel’s polity by acknowledging the Messiah…

IsraelThis does and doesn’t seem to say that the rest of the nations of the Earth somehow “become” part of Israel, as if national Israel expands to encompass those nations, eliminating their former identities (America, Canada, Japan, China, and so on) and simply all becoming “planetary Israel” if you will.

McKee spends a great deal of time in this part of his book, which supposedly addresses Micah 4:1-3 and Isaiah 2:2-4, on the effort of including the nations as part of Israel rather than vassal nations serving Israel and her King in the coming Messianic Age, and his most outrageous statement is this:

…but it forms the thrust of what it truly means for born again Believers to truly make up the “one new humanity” (Ephesians 2:15, NRSV/CJB) that the Lord wants to see emerge. Nowhere in the Bible do we ever see the implication that the community of Israel is to remain an exclusively Jewish entity… (emph. mine)

-p. 122

I thought I was done having to tolerate the Christ at the Checkpoint anti-Israel diatribes for this year. This is the worst possible example of anti-Semitic, anti-Jewish Israel in Christian rhetoric. It’s doubtful McKee meant to come off that way. He sometimes tries to bend over backward to establish mutual respect of Christianity and Judaism. But the implications of his statement are both startling and dismaying. It’s like finding the spirit of Haman in the Church. Even the Koran claims that Israel belongs to the Jews.

And just so you don’t think I’m exaggerating, here’s a quote from the Christ at the Checkpoint Conference About Us page:

Any exclusive claim to land of the Bible in the name of God is not in line with the teaching of Scripture.

Do you see the parallels between the two statements?

McKee seems to be invoking the Wesleyan philosophy of “mutual submissiveness” and any theology that makes one party in the Messianic Ekklesia somehow superior to or even different (though equal) from another violates this principle. The idea is that Jews and Gentiles in Messiah are mutually dependent upon each other.

I actually agree with that part of it as far as it goes and as was stated by Rabbi David Rudolph in the first chapter of his (and Joel Willitts’) book Introduction to Messianic Judaism: Its Ecclesial Context and Biblical Foundations, but equality does not mean uniformity. I think McKee is forgetting that Jesus is coming back as a King! As his subjects, we will serve the King of Israel, he won’t be as submissive to us as we are to him. Also remember:

For thus says the LORD, “Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob, And shout among the chief of the nations; Proclaim, give praise and say, ‘O LORD, save Your people, The remnant of Israel.’ (emph. mine)

Jeremiah 31:7 (NASB)

If Israel is the “chief” or the “head of the nations,” that means two things: 1). Israel is the leader of all the nations and the other nations of the Earth are subservient to Israel, and 2). There are other nations besides Israel in the Messianic Kingdom.

politeiaEven a quick reading of Micah 4:1-3 and Isaiah 2:2-4 lets us recognize language such as “the peoples” and “many nations” in contrast to national Israel. If we all become “Israel” and “every knee shall bow” (Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:10), then there can be no other nations, only Israel with a citizenry that is multi-ethnic containing the remnant population of the entire world all as Israelis. Too many Messianic prophesies, including those cited by McKee, specifically mention Israel and the nations.

All this hinges on a single word in ancient Greek: Politeia (πολιτεία). However, I refuse to create an entire theology based on one word that’s used once in only one of Paul’s letters.

McKee’s logic is typical of the one law argument:

  1. Politeia means “citizen”
  2. Gentile believers are citizens of Israel
  3. As citizens of Israel, Gentiles must obey the same national laws as the Jews, that is, the Torah

That’s probably too simple, but you get the idea. Except that the meaning of being separated from citizenship into (or the commonwealth of) Israel is assumed. Verse 13 states, ” But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” At least in English, being “brought near” is not the same as “being made identical to.”

Also, Ephesians 3:6 speaks of Gentiles as “fellow heirs and fellow members of the body,” but “body” is not the same thing as “nation”. What body?

…so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

Romans 12:5 (NASB)

Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.

1 Corinthians 12:27 (NASB)

Put together, what does it all mean? I believe it means we Gentiles, though our faith in Messiah and his atoning sacrifice for humanity on the cross, have been brought into the blessings of the promise of the New Covenant, which includes the forgiveness of sins, reconciliation before God, justification, receiving the Holy Spirit, and heirs of the resurrection and a life in the Messianic Kingdom.

If I have to define my citizenship, I’d have to say that it’s in the promise of what is yet to come in the Kingdom of Messiah, and this Kingdom encompasses the entire planet which will be made up of Israel as the head of all the nations, and then all of the vassal nations that serve Israel and her King.

In that light, I can either choose to let “politeia” be a sticking point or I can factor it in to the larger Biblical panorama and let the overarching plan of God for Israel’s redemption and through her, the redemption of the world tell its own story.

Conclusion

There’s a lot more I could say (I took very detailed notes when reading McKee’s book) but the bottom line is whether or not McKee convincingly made his point that the “one law” passages of the Bible can be applied to modern Christianity as viewed through the New Covenant lens, resulting in a fused or near-fused national identity of Jews and non-Jews as a “Torah-observant Israel”.

As I mentioned, McKee did not convince me that the “one law” passages of the Torah are in any way relevant to modern believers because they were applied in a historical and cultural context that no longer exists. Therefore, “one law” cannot be factored directly into the New Covenant promises and the inclusiveness of the nations in the blessings of those promises.

While I find McKee’s application of “one law” as a “supernatural compulsion” compelling, especially given my own attraction to Jewish studies and practice, I can’t accept that the Messianic Age has already arrived, which is what would have to occur for that “compulsion” to be a result of the “Torah written on the heart.” The best I can give him here is that it is quite possible we will all be living more jewishly in the age to come, but I don’t believe that drive can be seen in the majority of Christians today.

That said, even McKee admits that Christians in the Church today are obedient to eighty or ninety percent of the Torah commandments that can be obeyed today, so perhaps the “compulsion” to obey God’s Torah is more evident than I imagine. Add to that Gentiles like me who seem naturally attracted to Jewish practices and the study of Messianic Judaism as the proper lens for viewing the Bible, and I could even say that a sort of “one law” viewpoint is one way we see evidence of the approach of the Kingdom of Heaven and the Holy Spirit preparing us for the promises of what is yet to come (not, as you can imagine, that I am advocating for “one law” as the best possible application).

And remember, even McKee says he can’t really answer when or how Christians will turn toward the Torah of Moses and the ways of God or even what that will exactly look like.

McKee’s comparison of Micah 4:1-3 and Isaiah 2:2-4 to sections of Ephesians 2 and 3 somehow establishing a worldwide citizenship in national Israel made up of a multi-cultural population just doesn’t play. In order to make it work, his protestations aside, he has to diminish God’s promises to Jews as the exclusive citizenry and possessors of Israel.

J.K. McKee
J.K. McKee
Photo Credit: Congregation Netzar Torah Yeshua

McKee’s book is an interesting but ultimately disjointed “patchwork quilt” of Evangelical and Wesleyan Christianity and Jewish practice that just doesn’t fit together (and that said, I did enjoy reading it). In denigrating certain parties within Messianic Judaism, he also reduces Jewish influence on their own  sovereignty and history, both past and future. The idea that Israel was never meant to be the sole property of the Jewish people in perpetuity completely violates God’s promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In imposing “mutual submissiveness” as a cardinal value in Gentile/Jewish Messianic community, he misses that Kings and Kingdoms are not “mutually submissive” but in fact, Kings rule subjects and we are his subjects.

I admire McKee’s apparent effort in his scholarly investigation into the topic and his willingness to challenge the established norms typically associated with One Law practitioners. I also, as I’ve said before, appreciate his high view of the Church and his respect for traditional Christians and the history of the saints, but his even-tempered viewpoint in these areas does not successfully make all the mismatched moving parts in this theory and theology work together.

A final note. Please understand that this doesn’t mean I don’t like McKee (I don’t even know him) or that I am saying Gentiles shouldn’t appreciate or even perform some practices that are typically considered Jewish (observing a form of Sabbath, dietary restrictions, building a sukkah). There are a variety of reasons for doing so (such as being intermarried). I’m just saying, as a reviewer, that I do not believe McKee made a sufficiently convincing case based on his research, interpretation, and presentation. Your mileage may vary.

Addendum: Pete Rambo just published Part 2 of his review of McKee’s book.

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Book Review of J.K McKee’s “One Law for All,” Part 1

When I write a book review, I normally start at the beginning of the book and move through to the end. I don’t know why. I guess I’m just kind of linear that way. But J.K. McKee’s book One Law for All: From the Mosaic Texts to the Work of the Holy Spirit was organized in such a way that I decided to start in the middle and work my way out from there.

A little background. McKee in the center of his work, is comparing what has been called “Divine Invitation” (which is an unfortunate label for reasons I’ll address later in this review) with “Covenant Obligation”. These are difficult issues to discuss with a general audience since they require a great deal of specialized knowledge and tend to apply to only very small subgroups within both Christianity and Judaism, specifically movements called Hebrew Roots and Messianic Judaism.

The question, within those particular contexts, is whether non-Jewish believers in Jesus as the Jewish Messiah, are allowed to observe some, most, or even all of the commandments in the Five Books of Moses, also known as the Pentateuch in Christianity and the Torah in Judaism, or if Christians are actually under a covenant obligation to observe all of these commandments exactly or at least more or less like religious Jewish people?

I should say that even addressing what this sort of observance looks like, regardless of it being voluntary or mandatory, is highly variable. How the mitzvot (commandments) are to be observed aren’t always agreed upon even between different branches of Judaism. And particularly in Hebrew Roots, there’s a tendency to believe one can disregard any Jewish authority or opinion regarding how one is to perform a mitzvah and choose your own method based on whatever reason you want as long as you deem it “Biblical.”

In the introduction to the book (p. x), McKee states:

It can be definitely said that a ministry like Outreach Israel and TNN Online adheres to a One Law position, after a fashion.

Here’s where things start to get interesting. Unless otherwise stated, all emphasis in a quote from the “One Law” book belong to McKee.

A question that I have been asked by more than a few people is which option they are to choose: Is the Torah a Divine Invitation to non-Jewish Believers, or is it a Covenant Obligation upon non-Jewish believers? Is the Torah mandatory for Jews to follow, and an option for non-Jews to follow? Or is the Torah something mandatory for all of God’s people to follow?

-McKee, p. 83

First Fruits of Zion (FFOZ) Founder and President Boaz Michael coined the phrase “Divine Invitation” some years ago in explaining how FFOZ had shifted its theological stance from supporting a single standard of observance for both Jewish and Gentile Messianic believers to a viewpoint that advocated Jewish distinctiveness and the understanding that certain of the mitzvot are exclusively reserved for the Jewish people. He never intended it to become a theology all its own but unfortunately, the label stuck. The idea is better expressed as Gentiles in Messiah indeed being obligated, but to a certain subset of the Torah commandments (see Toby Janicki’s article “The Gentile Believer’s Obligation to the Torah of Moses” in the Winter 2012 issue of Messiah Journal for a detailed discussion on this matter) as opposed to a single, uniform application of the mitzvot for all human beings.

McKee’s commentary seems to assume that a Gentile is obligated to exactly zero Torah commandments or all of them, with no variability based on covenant role, identity, nationality, gender, geolocation, and so on.

McKee opposes the position of “divine invitation” which I expected, stating that it is bound to be confusing to non-Jewish Messianics relative to which parts of the invitation to accept, which parts to turn down, and just how one accepts the various invitations (do Gentiles have to perform an accepted mitzvah in exactly the same way as a Jewish person?). At one point in his criticism of this “theology,” he seems to attack Jewish Torah observance as well, replacing it with a more “Christian” concept of “Jewish identity”:

More importantly, though, if there is anything seriously being overlooked about the unique distinctiveness of Jewish people, it is that “salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:22), with Yeshua the Messiah Himself being the quintessential Jew. This is far more significant than Torah-keeping being what apparently makes the Jewish people distinct.

-ibid, p.85

Just a few paragraphs later however, he surprises me by saying something I more or less agree with.

For Messianic Believers today, our family has always emphasized the need to love people into this — rather than issue condemning and mean-spirited words. Much of the “pagan” rhetoric that one sees in fringe parts of the Messianic world has significantly impeded progress for the Kingdom of God, and is a major blight that is not spoken against enough. Yet at the same time, if Divine Invitation presents Shabbat, the appointed times, or kosher eating as entirely optional, what is keeping someone from turning it down?

-p. 86

one law bookThe only parts I didn’t agree with were McKee’s identifying the “pagan rhetoric” against the Christian Church as originating in the “Messianic world”. I organize Messianic Judaism and Hebrew Roots (One Law is a subset group within larger Hebrew Roots) as two separate movements with only a superficial overlap, usually at the level of the non-Jewish believer who is attracted to Judaism to some degree. I don’t typically hear Messianic Jews or Gentiles denigrate Christianity and find the “pagan rhetoric” confined to certain circles within Hebrew Roots (although, to be fair, as McKee said, they are “fringe parts” of the movement or even “fringe individuals”).

The other part I question is if something is considered an option, then there’s nothing preventing a person from saying, “No, I don’t feel led to do that.” That’s what optional means. You don’t have to. McKee’s commentary about Christians and Torah observance becomes confusing and even mysterious just a few pages later.

But before that, in addressing Covenant Obligation, McKee says:

If Believers are “obligated” to “keep Torah,” then this can quite easily lead to a few people thinking that their Torah-keeping will earn them their salvation, and can manifest itself in rather rigid and legalistic assemblies forming.

-ibid

Born again Believers are not required to keep God’s Torah as though it were some kind of debt or obligation (cf. Galatians 5:3); on the contrary, we are told, “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law” (Romans 13:8).

-p. 87

On the one hand, I was pleasantly surprised to see a supposed One Law proponent recognize some difficult truths about the movement, but on the other hand, he had to denigrate all Torah observance, even for Jewish believers, by saying loving one’s neighbor fulfills (abrogates, demolishes, deletes) the law. McKee seems to miss the nuances Paul is injecting into Romans 13 and how they connect back to what Jesus calls “the Two Greatest Commandments” (Matt. 22:35-40; Mark 12:28-31; Luke 10:25-28 citing Deut. 6:4-5 and Lev. 19:18).

But that can’t possibly be what McKee’s saying because of the major theme of the book, which is to advocate for Torah observance for Gentiles. I find this author to be a sometimes confusing blend of One Law and Wesleyan perspectives (McKee states that he had a Wesleyan upbringing to which he apparently still adheres) and as I was reading through the rest of this section, I started to think of him as a “One Law Wesleyan.”

McKee continued to defend the Church and to criticize One Law adherents for throwing Christianity under the bus, so to speak:

I have constantly asked various individuals who are “One Law” why they criticize elements of today’s Church who follow well over ninety-percent of the Torah that can be followed today, and why they treat our Christian brothers and sisters as some kind of perpetual “enemy.”

-p. 88

This is one of McKee’s confusing messages. He defends the Church as it is and states they are already observing most of the mitzvot, and yet he is pushing (apparently) for greater “jewishly” Torah observance by (One Law) Christians.

Further…

Our ministry has never advocated that today’s evangelical Christianity is some kind of illegitimate impostor religion, more in touch with accomplishing the objectives of the Adversary than in achieving the mission of God. We have advocated that the Church has flaws to be certain, but that it is the responsibility of Messianic Believers to build on a positive legacy of faithful Christian men and women who have preceded us in the faith…

p. 93

The last paragraph I quoted was startling to me because it reminded me of what Boaz Michael wrote in his book Tent of David: Healing the Vision of the Messianic Gentile:

The church is good but the church needs to change.

Tent of DavidI’ve written a number of different commentaries on his book including this one, and acknowledge that what Boaz produced challenged me personally to set aside my discomfort about going back to church and to “take the plunge,” which was nearly two years ago. Boaz was instrumental in getting me to see what is good in the Church, which is the same message McKee is delivering.

I applaud McKee for maintaining a high view of Christianity and the faithful men and women in the Church, which he acknowledges is practically unknown within One Law communities, but if he does not advocate for One Law anymore than “divine invitation,” and he apparently does not identify with mainstream Christian assembly (although he protects and defends Christians), what else is there that could be considered “One Law”?

As it turns out, McKee’s third viable option is:

Obeying the Lord is neither an optional invitation nor a mandated obligation, it is a supernatural compulsion enacted by the perfecting activity of the Holy Spirit on the human soul.

p.91

I’m disappointed. I expected a much stronger approach to his application of One Law. But this is like just redressing the One Law argument in spiritual rather than covenantal language. The Holy Spirit (supposedly) compels the individual to desire to observe the 613 commandments or something like them, give or take your opinion on the halachah established by the various Rabbinic sages in the numerous streams of Judaism across thousands of years of history.

Actually, I know where he’s getting this:

“Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

Jeremiah 31:31-34 (NASB)

Unfortunately, McKee has a couple of problems. The first is that the New Covenant was made exclusively with the House of Judah and the House of Israel and does not presuppose any other nations or people groups at all (least of all he and me). Yes, there is a New Covenant application for Gentiles which I summarized here, but up to this point in the book, while McKee mentions various aspects of the New Covenant, he jumps from Jeremiah 31 straight to the Last Supper (Matt. 26:17-30; Mark 14:12-26; Luke 22:7-39; and John 13:1-17:26) without making the connection explicit. I know how it works (and it took me months of study to figure it out) but chances are many of McKee’s readers don’t (or they don’t understand it correctly).

The other major problem is that the New Covenant hasn’t been fully enacted yet. It’s not here. Jesus inaugurated it with his life, death, and resurrection, but until his return, we are only living in what you might consider the leading edge of the Messianic Age. What that means is until the resurrection and until Messiah returns to us here on Earth and ascends the Throne of David in Holy Jerusalem, we are still living in Old (Sinai) Covenant times!

So we don’t have the Torah supernaturally written on our hearts yet and thus, neither Jews and certainly not Gentiles have the Holy Spirit granted ability to naturally obey God and never sin, which is what the New Covenant is all about…the forgiveness of all sins and the ability to never sin again and obey God’s law (as it applies to each individual and each people group).

And yet he says:

A position of Supernatural Compulsion does advocate that a Torah obedient walk of faith is expected of all God’s people but it is to be found as an individual grows in holiness and spiritual maturity…

-McKee, ibid

While “expected” and “obligated” sound really similar to me, I like that, at least, McKee is acknowledging not everyone is going to adopt the various mitzvot at the same rate or to the same degree. It’s a matter of spiritual growth and maturity. Interestingly enough, I’ve heard many stories of secular Jews who became “religious” and this is more or less how they approach the vast body of mitzvot, taking a mitzvah at a time and growing into it.

But for a Christian, there are additional roadblocks, such as a lifetime of being taught that the law is dead.

ChurchMcKee said in his book that he advocates for a gentle, educational approach rather than going into a church and beating Christians over the head with a Torah scroll. In some sense, this is reminiscent of my own Tent of David experience. It’s sort of like evangelizing the church by encouraging them to consider a more Messianic perspective on the Bible, but where I desire to educate about how the New Covenant works and thus alter Christian perceptions on the primacy of national Israel and the Jewish people in the age to come, McKee is hoping to encourage more “Torah observant” behavior in normalized Christianity.

This is still refreshing because a lot of One Law people I’ve encountered in person and online hate the Church, call it “Babylon,” “pagan,” and “apostate,” and encourage Christians to abandon the Church. His attitudes about the Church are very similar to mine.

But here’s one more surprise I didn’t see coming:

Does a ministry like Outreach Israel and TNN Online think the Torah is for everyone? Yes. Does this include things like Shabbat, the appointed times, and kosher? Yes. But such an affirmative also needs to be tempered with another question: Are these aspects of God’s Torah for everyone right now in the 2010s? This is something that only God, in His plans for an individual’s or a family’s life, especially evangelical Christians, knows for sure — and I cannot fully answer.

-p.93

As I am reading McKee, I think he’s saying that believing non-Jews can and should observe the mitzvot in a more or less “Jewish” manner and to the same degree as Jewish believers (and Jewish unbelievers), but that such standards cannot be imposed from the outside by human agency. Even if one worships with other One Law advocates, that community has no right to direct a person or a family to observe this or that mitzvah. Such a directive will only come from the Holy Spirit and only in the way God’s plan is designed for the individual or family and through the process of spiritual growth and maturity.

I’m a little uncomfortable saying that Christians who don’t have a One Law or even a Messianic Gentile perspective are spiritually immature. I happen to know some people at the church I attend who are models of spiritual maturity and who I admire greatly. Just associating with such people is an honor. From a Jewish perspective, they could be referred to as tzaddikim (“righteous ones”). A Christian would say “saints”.

In the first century C.E. before the destruction of the Temple and the exile of the Jewish people from Israel, Paul’s Gentile disciples in Syrian Antioch and the various communities he established in the diaspora probably behaved in a distinctively Jewish manner, much more so than Christians would consider “normal” today, even acknowledging the “Jewish roots of the faith.” In those days there was no such thing as “the Church” or “Christianity,” there was only the Jewish movement of “the Way,” the “Ekklesia of Messiah” which included Jewish and Gentile members.

I suspect that after the resurrection and in the reign of King Messiah, we will have something similar, not a Church and then a Judaism but rather an Ekklesia with two distinct populations: Israel or the Jewish people, and the people of the nations who are called by His Name. This isn’t exactly what McKee is advocating because he believes Jesus-worshiping Jews and Gentiles are all citizens of Israel, but it’s kind of similar.

What McKee may be shooting all around but not quite hitting is the fact that the New Covenant age has yet to arrive (although we’re currently experiencing a foretaste of the promises yet to come) and that the Torah will only be written on our hearts in the future. While some non-Jews will acquire an apprehension of the centrality of the Jewish people in God’s redemptive plan prior to that time, many others, and probably most Christians, won’t.

white-pigeon-kotelI think the reason McKee can’t answer the question about when or how Gentile Christians will be drawn to naturally obey God is because it’s not going to happen until after we are resurrected and perfected in Messiah by the power of the Holy Spirit and in accordance to God’s New Covenant promises.

With the center of McKee’s book laid as a foundation, I’ll use it to build my review of the first and last parts of his text in part 2 of my “meditation” on One Law for All.

Addendum: My partner in this endeavor, Pete Rambo, just published Part 1 of his own review of McKee’s book.