Theological Supersessionism and the Doctrine of Messiah’s Deity

  

Council of NiceaThe relation between Supersessionism and belief in the Deity of Messiah is a somewhat conjectural and speculative domain in Messianic Jewish theology today, because many leading Messianic ministries and congegrations are adherents of the doctrine of Messiah’s Deity, and some of them are even more or less outspoken trinitarian.

 

In my view Messianic Jewish adherence to this doctrine is biblically erroneous and a theological symptom of a mistaken and concealed continuation of the “Hebrew Christian Church” in Messianic Judaism. In fact, it is a symptom of the fact that Messianic Judaism still suffers from theological colonization by the Christian Church. Messianic Jews are sometimes even more eager and willing to subscribe to the traditional doctrines of the Trinity and the Incarnation than their non-Jewish Christian colleagues, so as to raise no doubt or suspicion about their status as believers in Messiah Yeshua.

 

However, as appears from many magazine articles and Internet publications, this theological position is hardly ever questioned and sufficiently thought through. It is only “defended”, often in an exagerated and overdone manner. Over against this thoughtless defence, I would like to propose here the hypothesis that the doctrine of Yeshua’s Deity, established by the Council of Nicea, is the cornerstone of Supersessionism and an alien element in Messianic Jewish theology. By Supersessionism I understand the teaching that the later Christian Church was the divinely legitimated religious successor of Judaism and of the divine mission once entrusted to the Jewish people. There are a lot of things in Supersessionism that seem to be intimately connected with the Deity doctrine. To justify my hypothesis, I’ll sum up, below, a number of them on the systematic theological level. To avoid mistunderstanding: The points mentioned below do not, and are not intended to, disprove or refute the Deity doctrine. They only establish a systematic relation between this doctrine and Supersessionism. For a thorough biblical refutation of the Deity doctrine we refer to the excellent work of others, e.g. Buzzard’s & Hunting’s, in their well known book: The Doctrine of the Trinity: Christianity’s Self Inflicted Wound.[1]

 

If Yeshua is G-d, and consequently G-d contains more persons than one, there is a huge change from the concept of G-d as revealed in the Tanach and Jewish tradition to the concept of the Christian G-d, who is a Binity or a Trinity. This change is not simply a matter of progressive revelation. Progressive revelation in itself does not imply that basic concepts of the Torah are under revision for a “sensus plenior”, a deeper or even a changed meaning. Yet this is the case here, to an excessive degree. The revelation of G-d’s personal unity in the Tanach is viewed as defective and incomplete, and the central affirmation of Judaism, the Shema: “Hear, o Israel, HaShem is our G-d, HaShem is One!” — although it is not considered to be false — is considered as only a preparation-phase of the completed truth about G-d which supposedly is received in the Trinitarian doctrine of the Christian Church. By the doctrine of G-d as consisting in more than one persons the basic affirmation of Judaism in the Shema is not enriched or deepened in a “sensus plenior”, it is overthrown.

 

If Yeshua is G-d, the leaders of the Jewish people in their rejection of him did not only crucify and murder their Messiah, they committed the far more heinous crime of Deicide, and murdered their own G-d! This crime of Deicide was later, in the Middle Ages, attributed to the Jewish people and seen as the pinnacle of the failures of Judaism, and, theologically, as the end of the covenant relations between G-d and his chosen people. These relations were from then on, it is taught, transferred to the disciples of Yeshua, who constituted the emerging Christian Church. Thus, paradoxically, the horrible accusation of Deicide was levelled against the Jews by those who had fundamentally changed and overturned the meaning of the Shema Yisrael.

 

If Yeshua is G-d, and G-d has become man in Yeshua, then the fundamental distinction between Creator and creature, as it is generally upheld by traditional Christianiy, is obliterated in the very person that is to be the Mediator between G-d and man. Yeshua is viewed both as the true image of G-d, by his manhood, and as G-d himself. He is two natures in one divine Person. Therefore, when people meet and see the Person Yeshua according to this conception, they literally meet and see G-d, although “veiled in flesh”. In other words, if G-d is incarnated in the realm of creation — in the man Yeshua — then one can as well say that that part of creation is deified. G-d is identified here with a visible being. However, if G-d Himself exists as a visible being, then the elementary lesson of the Torah, expressed in Deut. 4:15-20, that nothing that we can see or touch here on earth or in the heavens above is divine — in other words that no creature at all is G-d — is denied. According to the dominant interpretation of the Incarnation, favoured by the Catholic streams in Christianity, this means, inter alia, that the important Torah prohibition of image worship should be considered cancelled. For what reason can there be for still upholding the prohibition that we should not make or worship a graven image or likeness of G-d, if G-d himself chooses to become a visible creature? In this way the Torah is reinterpreted in such a way that it is really overruled. If this can happen once, it can happen more often. Thus the possibility for the abolishment some of the commandments of the Torah — in fact the category of the ritual commandments — seems to be grounded in the ecclesiastical exaltation of Yeshua to the realm of Deity. Indeed, one can say, the genius of Catholicism has found “a beautiful way” of setting aside the word of G-d in favour of human tradition, under the guise of piety and devotion (cf. Mk. 7:9).

 

If Yeshua is G-d, then Miryam, Yeshua’s mother, is the mother of G-d. Protestants often shy away from affirming this and prefer to say that Miryam is “the mother of our Lord”, but on an official and theological level they have to admit it, since they accept the Council of Ephesus, that produced this pagan formula. There is simply no way to escape it, since it is an immediate implication of the Deity doctrine. Apart from the fact that “mother of G-d” is a completely unbiblical category, the idea behind it is to introduce a new level of mediation. If we need a mediator with G-d, and that mediator, being a G-dman, is himself G-d, we cannot really identify with him as our mediator, for in this case the mediator himself, being G-d, is to be mediated to us. Moreover, according to the classical doctrine of the Incarnation Yeshua as a G-dman has no real human personality but only an (abstract) human nature (whatever that means!). The person that unifies the two natures is a divine Person. So we need other mediators to approach that divine Person, and the real mediation is thus relegated to the Virgin mother (and the saints). In this way the declaration of Yeshua’s Deity becomes the cornerstone of a whole new system of worship and devotion, that is seen, in supersessionist theology, as more complete and richer in nature than the worship system of Judaism.

 

Perhaps the most disquieting point: If Yeshua is G-d, then Yeshua is the most important Person of the “Holy Trinity”, in a sense even more important than G-d the Father. By the Deity doctrine G-d the Father is inevitably relegated to a background position, because as G-d Yeshua can do all things by himself! Although it is emphatically stated in theological theory (of course!) that G-d the Father and G-d the Son always operate in perfect harmony, the elevation of Yeshua to a position of ontological and essential equality with the Father — which is in flagrant contradiction with e.g. John 14:28 — is of highly symbolic importance, for it means that the G-d of Israel (the Father) is replaced in a sense by Yeshua as the “G-d of the Church”. And although this will never be admitted officially, Yeshua’s exaltation by the (Catholic) Church to the level of Deity brings him in a rival position with G-d the Father, a position that symbolically mirrors the rival position of the Church with Israel.

These points clearly show a systematic connection between the Deity doctrine and theological Supersessionism. For the reasons mentioned one would expect of Jewish Messianic theologians a spirit of reluctance and of investigation, whether this doctrine can really be upheld on a Scriptural basis, not a spirit of thoughtless or even fanatical adherence.

_________________

[1] Buzzard, A.F. & Ch. F. Hunting, The Doctrine of the Trinity: Christianity’s Self-Inflicted Wound, International Scholars Publications — Lanham · New York · Oxford 1998. Other important works are: Broughton, J.H. & P.J. Southgate, The Trinity: True or False?, “The Dawn” Book Supply — Nottingham GB 2002 (1995) (This book is available at: http://www.biblelight.org/trin/trinind.htm);  Graeser, M.H. & J.H. Lynn & J.W. Schoenheit, One God & One Lord: Reconsidering the Cornerstone of the Christian Faith, Christian Education Services — Indianapolis (Indiana) 2003. Recommended websites: http://www.biblicalunitarian.com/  ;  http://www.kingdomready.org/topics/god.php ;  http://focusonthekingdom.org/index.html

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18 Responses to “Theological Supersessionism and the Doctrine of Messiah’s Deity”


  1. 1 danieltrevino January 6, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    As twisted and imperialistic as the different councils were they erred in the side of caution in regards the nature of the Meshiach.(not that I fully agree with your views)please read http://messianicjudaismquest.com/the-nature-of-yeshua-a-response-to-the-question-of-whether-g-d-can-be-man/

    The reason I say this is because they had a limited understanding of scripture without the Jewish interpretation of the Tanak to assist them in deciphering the Apostolic Writings.

    On a different note (please do not take offense at this comment).
    How is the Unitarian position Torah observant? From what I see in their websites, it looks just like any other off-shoot protestant denomination.

  2. 2 messianic613 January 6, 2009 at 11:01 pm

    To Daniel Trevino

    The strange thing is, as you have noticed, that there are Messianics — Messianic Jews as well as Torah observant Gentile believers — who are Trinitarians, and there are Biblical Unitarians who are not Torah observant at all and even despise a Torah observant lifestyle. In my view both groups are both right and wrong.

    Messianics are right when they emphasize Torah, and Protestant Unitarians are right when they emphasize that HaShem is One. Messianic Jews are wrong, however, when they think that their acceptance of Yeshua as Messiah implies their acceptance of him as defined by the Church, as G’d, as HaShem Himself. Yeshua is not, and never claimed to be, HaShem. Torah observant Gentile Christians are wrong when they think that they can combine Torah and traditional Christian Trinitarianism. This is utterly impossible, for Trinitarian doctrine overthrows the Torah.

    Protestant Unitarians are wrong when they think that they can combine the biblical doctrine of HaShem’s Oneness, based on the text of the Shema (Dt. 6:4), with traditional Christian Supersessionist theology that teaches the abrogation of the Torah. When Supersessionism is right, then there is no real basis for Biblical Unitarianism. For if the Torah was really abrogated as a consequence of Yeshua’s coming — and Israel was replaced by the Church — then why should the confession of the Shema not be superseded by the confession of the Trinity? If such a basic structure of our religion as the Torah can be abrogated, or can undergo substantial change, then of course the doctrine of the One G’d can undergo substantial change as well.

    All this points to the fact that, biblically, Unitarian doctrine and the enduring significance of the Torah necessarily belong together. Sadly, very few persons seem to realize this.

    As to your website article referred to by the link, I must that it is very vague to me, and that I find it a strange move to see you have recourse to kabbalistic thought in defending the possibility of Messiah’s Deity. To me the real roots of kabbalistic philosophy are in Gnosticism and the occult, and therefore it is completely beyond the realm of scriptural thought. Especially Messianic believers should stay away from it. Perhaps I may refer here to a few pointed remarks on Kabbalism made by J.K. McKee. Although McKee is a Trinitarian — for the wrong scriptural reasons in my view — he firmly rejects the Kabbalah, and this time for the right scriptural reasons: http://www.tnnonline.net/faq/K.pdf

    There is also an important section on the Kabbalah and Jewish Mysticism in his article: “The Effect of Mysticism and Gnosticism on the Messianic Moverment” at: http://www.tnnonline.net/theonews/messianic-issues/mysticism-gnosticism/Effect_of_Mysticism_and_Gnosticism_on_the_Messianic_Movement.pdf

  3. 3 Joel Usina January 14, 2009 at 3:56 am

    Messianic613,

    What would you say is at stake, practically speaking, for a Torah observant Trinitarian?

  4. 4 messianic613 January 18, 2009 at 6:02 am

    The answer to this question depends on how broad or how narrow one takes the word “practically”.

    If one takes “practically” in the narrow sense of being directly related to the performance of the mitzvoth, then I can do no better than give a quote from Buzzard’s and Hunting’s The Doctrine of the Trinity (pp. 308-309): “When Christianity adopted a G-dhead of more than one person, it unwittingly flirted with idolatry. It embarked on a course of lawlessness by embracing “another G-d” besides the only true G-d, the Father. Christianity thus broke the first commandment and has continued on the same troubled path, unaware of the source of its intractable problems”. What is at stake is thus the very serious transgression of idolatry, of worshiping another G-d. A further consequence of this doctrine is its inherent tendency to accept image worship as legitimate, for if G-d can be a man, then the important argument of Deut. 4:15-21 against image worship seems to be overruled. Image worship is a transgression of the second commandment. And, as stated in the article, the concept of a Messiah who is G-d himself, forces us to accept the idolatrous and blasphemous category: “Mother of G-d” for his virgin mother, a title that inevitably must lead to a religious worship of her.

    If one takes “practically” in a broader sense, a lot of other things too are at stake for a Torah observant Trinitarian. One of the most important is that a man who is G-d can not be a true example for us to follow in our life here on earth. G-d cannot be tempted, G-d cannot die, G-d is above all human weakness by His omniscience and omnipotence. If Yeshua was imnipotent G-d, then his temptation, his human weakness and his death were nothing but mere appearance and empty show. In other words, a man who is G-d can never be a real man. The categories of G-d and man are mutually exclusive in one and the same being.

    The human greatness of Messiah is not that he couldn’t sin, but that he could and yet never did. He was tempted, like Adam was, but, unlike Adam, he did not fall. Messiah is a real man, as is so beautifully stated by Hebrews 2:17-18: “…in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to G-d, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted”.

  5. 5 Christian for Moses January 18, 2009 at 10:48 am

    One thing that I also encountered in my quest that led me to the views that I hold now, was the fact that it seemed pointless to laud Yeshua for being without sin for if he were G’d he could not sin anyways. Now I cant say I have really studied the dogma of the dual nature so maybe Im not completely understanding what it conveys but on the surface it seems an impossibility, and more important, something that is not found in Scripture.

    And I think you are totally right in pointing out the difficulty with him being our example, although one could say, that Hashem also orders us to be holy like He is holy. Still the NT does frequently point out that he was like us, yet without sin, and continually bestows praise on his achievements.

    Question: Would you go as far as to say that present day Trinitarians are engaging in Idolatry by adhering to the doctrine?

    Blessings,

    Daniel

  6. 6 messianic613 January 18, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    The traditional Christian dogma of the dual nature of Messiah is a complicated theological doctrine in which a lot of philosophical distinctions are involved. A very important — and I think biblically a devastating — consequence of this doctrine is that Messiah has no human personhood. The doctrine states that Messiah has two natures, the divine and the human, which are united in one person. The personhood of Messiah is thus the unifying point of the two natures.

    This unifying point can only be the divine person of the Word, which according to the Deity doctrine exists from eternity. For if Messiah is G-d, then he pre-existed from eternity as a divine person. This divine person thus constitutes the unifying point of the two natures. Classical theological doctrine says here that the human nature of Messiah is ‘assumed’ by the pre-existing divine person. We should think the union of the two natures as a hypostatic (i.e. personal) union, in which the personhood of the human nature is ‘supplied’ by the divine person. This human nature thus exists in Messiah without proper human personhood. Instead, the divine person becomes the personal bearer the human nature.

    The Messiah of classical christological doctrine thus has no human personhood. From this it follows that Messiah is no real human being, for to be a human being includes having a human personhood. Messiah is conceived of as lacking the personhood of his human nature. This nature is said to be an-hypostatic (i.e. impersonal). Although this result is felt by many theologians as dissatisfying, yet within the framework of the Deity doctrine there is no other possibility. For if one should choose to say that Messiah has a human personhood, one ends up with two natures in two persons, and thus one loses the unifying point of the natures. In other words, one ends up with two completely separate beings, which is of course unacceptable for all involved in the christological discussion

    To me, the denial of a human personhood in Messiah equates the denial that “Yeshua the Messiah is come in the flesh” (1 Jn. 4:2-3). By the expression “is come in the flesh” John wanted to say that the word was realized as a human person in the midst of us (cf. 1 Jn. 1:1-3).

    Now the question: Are Trinitarians, or those who hold to the Deity doctrine engaged in idolatry? Strictly and formally I would say that they are. The biblical definition of idolatry is divine worship of a being other than the one true G-d. If it is a biblical truth that Messiah and G-d are two distinct beings and that by implication Messiah is not G-d, then of course it is idolatry to worship Messiah as if he is G-d.

    This answer is unnuanced, however, for it suggests that Trinitarians are pagans and no real Christians at all, and it neglects other aspects of the traditional Christian doctrine and practice that are equally important. First, all Christians really believe that there is only one G-d, and they affirm that this G-d is the Father of the Lord Yeshua the Messiah. So they know the one G-d, and they have no desire to worship another. Although trinitarian doctrine has been a confusing influence in Christianity, yet it cannot be said that Christians don’t worship the one true G-d. Second, many Christians in their prayer life follow the biblical practice of praying to the Father “through Jesus Christ our Lord”, and thus practically give more emphasis to the human, mediating function of Messiah than to his being G-d. Third, many Christians have a genuine love for the human Yeshua and would even object to the intricate theological implication of the Deity doctrine that says that Messiah has no human personhood. Fourth, the average Christian depends on his teachers in these matters and is unable to decide for himself. So there is an excuse of ignorance here. Fifth, and last — but not least — many Christians are serious followers of Yeshua and are obeying him as their Master and Saviour in their way of life to their best abilities. Following Yeshua by deeds is better than confessing the correct doctrine about his person.

    All these aspects taken together, my sentence would be that Trinitarians worship the one true G-d, although in a somewhat defective manner. Although their worship has an idolatrous aspect or tinge in the divine worship of Messiah, it should not be equated with outright idolatry.

  7. 7 Joel Usina January 18, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    Shalom again. I am intrigued by these comments [and others of similar content] and truly want to take in what is shared; so I thank you for your responses. I have two questions that are simply posed to see what your thoughts are on them.

    Before that I do want to confess that I believe Yeshua to be God. I was raised in a culture that believed this and I supposed I’ve never have faced a situation where I needed to “really” consider this belief. I would appreciate empathy and further consideration.

    In talking to a gal one time about Yeshua’s divinity [which at the time I was more interested in proving myself right rather than really dialoguing about it] I posed to her these questions:

    [1.] If Yeshua is not God incarnate than how can he claim to have been the “Good Shepherd,” which is undoubtedly an allusion to Ezekiel 34.

    [2.] If Yeshua is not God than how can he, as Messiah, inherit the eternal throne of David – as a man?

    Again, I ask these to see what your response would be. I am interested in hearing them for consideration. My inquiries are simply that – inquiries. I appreciate your time and thoughts.

    Joel.

  8. 8 Messianic613 January 19, 2009 at 10:04 am

    As to [1], Messiah is G-d’s representative agent, and he officiates in many functions that are ascribed to G-d. G-d is our Saviour and Messiah is our Saviour; G-d forgives sins and Messiah forgives sins; G-d is our Shepherd and Messiah is our Shepherd. In each of these functions Messiah acts not independently — as a second divine person — but as the obedient representative of his G-d and Father. For an examination of the concept of agency, view: http://www.biblicalunitarian.com/modules.php?name=News&file=print&sid=145

    As to [2], Messiah in his glorified state can inherit the everlasting throne of David. He is David’s legitimate heir and, because of his elevation to G-d’s right hand, Messiah is also David’s lord. For a further examination, based on the exegesis of Ps. 110:1, view: http://focusonthekingdom.org/articles/BD86.htm

  9. 9 Christian for Moses January 19, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    Today while reading the dialogue between the late Isaac Levinsohn and his father, I also encountered the argument that is often posed in support of the deity of Yeshua:

    In Isaiah 43:11 it says:

    I, I am the L’rd, and besides me there is no savior

    So the argument goes, if Hashem(A) is the only saviour(C), then how can Yeshua(B) be our saviour(C)? A=C and B=C, then by transitivity, A=B.

    But the problem with this is that in Ch. 45 of Isaiah Hashem raises up Cyrus, whom He calls His messiah, through whom Hashem will subdue nations and perform the saving act of ending the Babylonian exile. So while Hashem is the initiator and ultimate savior, yet Cyrus is the person through whom Hashem’s saving acts are performed and one could also call a person through whom this is worked a savior.

    As for Yeshua’s high appeal, there were “other charismatic prophets besides Jesus [who] felt that they had a very intimate relationship with G’d, and we should not overemphasize Jesus’ view of himself in this regard”[1], and think that this is pointing to deity.

    To Joel, I commend you willingness to think about this issue instead of closing yourself for other possibilities than the ones you were taught.

    Blessings,

    Daniel

    ————————————-

    [1] E.P. Sanders, The Historical Figure of Jesus (London: Penguin books, 1993) p.239

  10. 10 danieltrevino January 20, 2009 at 7:30 pm

    How is the Biblical Unitarian view different than Jehovah’s witnesses?

    I understand the desire to interpret the scriptures correctly but the conclusions being made are leading you to a form of Ebonism, compared to mainstream Judaism.

    To be “Torah observant” and believe in a glorified human Meshiach is similar to some of the groups that existed in the first couple of centuries. The only difference is the gentile factor and the refusal of noachide theology.

    How can you justify these views as Messianic? My community is being driven out by the trinitarian Messianics, not because we deny these views but because we practice Traditional Judaism. The treat is not the acceptence of different perspectives but acceptance of Classical Judaism which allows freedom of conviction but standard Jewish practice. Standard Jewish practice is what most Messianics even the “Torah observant” ones despise.

  11. 11 messianic613 January 21, 2009 at 3:42 am

    Daniel Trevino:
    How is the Biblical Unitarian view different than Jehovah’s witnesses?

    Messianic613:
    In JWs’s theology Messiah is according to his essential nature an angelic being that preexisted his earthly life as a human being. JWs think Messiah is the same person as the Archangel Michael. We of Messianic613 reject both the real preexistence of Messiah and the idea that Messiah is an angel. Messiah has only one nature and that nature is human.

    Daniel Trevino:
    I understand the desire to interpret the scriptures correctly but the conclusions being made are leading you to a form of Ebonism, compared to mainstream Judaism.

    Messianic613:
    Mainstream Judaism rejects the messianic claims of Yeshua, but mainstream Judaism also strongly rejects the proposition that Messiah can be G-d. We differ with mainstream Judaism on the question who is the Messiah, but we agree with it that Messiah is not G-d.

    Daniel Trevino:
    To be “Torah observant” and believe in a glorified human Meshiach is similar to some of the groups that existed in the first couple of centuries. The only difference is the gentile factor and the refusal of noachide theology.

    Messianic613:
    To be Torah observant and believe in a glorified Messiah is similar, if not equal, to the faith and practice of the Apostles and the communities founded by them. These communities were composed of Jews and Gentiles.

    Rabbinic noachide theology had not yet developed in the first century. It was developed relatively late, in the time of the Gemorah. The Mishnah shows no noachide theology.

    Daniel Trevino:
    How can you justify these views as Messianic? My community is being driven out by the trinitarian Messianics, not because we deny these views but because we practice Traditional Judaism. The treat is not the acceptence of different perspectives but acceptance of Classical Judaism which allows freedom of conviction but standard Jewish practice. Standard Jewish practice is what most Messianics even the “Torah observant” ones despise.

    Messianic613:
    How should a view that is based on the Scriptures and confesses faith in Messiah Yeshua to be of the highest importance not be messianic?

    As to your saying that your group practices traditional Judaism, I don’t completely understand what you mean by this. Do you mean that you accept the entire Oral Torah and thus the entire halachah of orthodox Judaism? That seems to be a position that is hardly possible for believers in Yeshua, because it is part of orthodox halachah that any person who confesses Yeshua as Messiah is an apostate and is in all practical aspects excluded from Judaism. So I expect that you don’t accept at least this part of Jewish halachah.

    We hold a high view of traditional Jewish observance, and we do not despise traditional halachah. We also have a high view of the Mishnah and the Talmud. But, as stated in our Doctrinal Position, we regard Scripture to be our ultimate standard and supreme authority in all things. Generally we follow traditional Jewish observance where it doesn’t conflict with Scripture.

    Standard Jewish practice is certainly not despised by Ministries such as FFOZ and TorahResource (which are trinitarian), with the proviso, though, that when and where this standard practice conflicts with the Scriptures it should not be followed.

  12. 12 Christian for Moses January 21, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    Hi Daniel T,

    I think you are referring to Ebionism, which differs greatly from what is put forth here. As Oskar Skarsaune in chapter 14 of his last volume has pointed out:
    1. Ebionites held a very low of the NT, in effect using only Matthew and discarding the rest, especially Paul whom they regarded an apostate of the Torah.
    2. Ebionites believed that Yeshua was adopted Messiah at his baptism, while I think Geert believes at his conception in the womb of Mary.
    3. Ebionites did not believe in the virginal conception while Geert clearly does.
    4. Ebionites believed both Jewish believers as well as non-Jewish believers should keep the Torah, in imitation of Jesus, in order to be justified and saved. Which I dont think Geert believes, at least not the last part “in order to be justified and saved”.

    In the footsteps of Geert’s comment, I would also posit that to say that you accept ‘Classical’ Judaism is not possible as that would mean rejection of Yeshua, which is very fundamental, and not just a point of view you hold, and they dont. Besides that there isnt a single ‘Classical’ Rabbi who will let you have your Trinitarian beliefs and put it under the category of freedom of conviction. As it is the antithesis to Judaism, which is monotheistic to the core.

    Could you explain what makes you trust the Sages z”l to the extent that you practice halacha as codified by them, but doubt their understanding of the nature of G’d?

    Blessings,

    Daniel

  13. 13 danieltrevino January 21, 2009 at 9:06 pm

    Your absolute statements regarding halachic definitions need to be addressed first. If you study Judaism and the Sages from a Jewish point of view, Halacha as codified by them is only one element of the Jewish paradym. Other philosophical issues must be addresses. For example G-d is only described by Jewish sources or ever defined like Greco-Roman Theology, this might bring light to some of the statements in the NT that seem contradictory to modern readers.

    At the same time if you are trying to do outreach amoung people from different backgrounds are you going to be an inquisitor about their beliefs on the nature of the Meshiach? Or would you focus on practicing Judaism and deal with theological differences later?

    We have taken the second approach as we seek to create a real Jewish experience. If you suddenly become super halachic or Torah only in your perpective then of course rejection of Yeshua takes place. Like many ex-FFOZ people who are now Orthodox. Different points of view have been historically the norm from the Kabbalists perspective to the rationalist. As we draw from different Jewish sources, we get a picture of what the early believers had to deal with.

    You use the words “have your Trinitarian beliefs” when I have never said that I held to that view. The way the Church fathers codified the revelation of Meshiach and the references to the Ruach Ha Kodesh, could be as much of a distortion as was the other doctrines created by the institutional church. Regarding categories, we face tention between different systems all the time, but creating boxes where ideas must fit, is what has brought much persecution toward dissenting views. I am sure that both of your perspectives are not taken lightly by other believers. Freedom of conviction and inquiry are the pillars of our community as well as a standard practice of normative Judaism.

    This might be a contradiction to you, but I feel that Messianic leaders are more contradictory, for their teachings are more antithetical to Judaism. Not only by not teaching strict monotheism, but by doubting and flat out denying the validity of traditional Jewish view points.

  14. 14 messianic613 January 22, 2009 at 11:21 am

    In the first place, “freedom of conviction” is not a biblical concept at all, except in minor matters. And even in these we should always try to find the truth. A “conviction” has no value in itself but only in so far as it reflects the truth. But, far more important, if “freedom of conviction” leads to compromising with the most fundamental scriptural truth of all, the truth of the Shema Yisrael, then there is no end of compromising. The doctrine of the Deity of Messiah is a root error of traditional Christianity. It falsifies the truth of the One G-d, it falsifies the truth about the person of Messiah and the Gospel preached by him, it falsifies the biblical concept of Messiah’s atonement — a divine person cannot be our mediator or die for us — and it falsifies the truths of Messiah’s resurrection and glorification and of his intercession for us as our heavenly High Priest. Some of the more blatant errors following from the Deity doctrine have been adressed in the article above.

    What is at stake in the Deity doctrine and its trinitarian consequences is not “different systems” of thought but a basically false religious doctrine. Once we have grasped the truth of the Shema we may — of course! — never compromise it. It is so very fundamental that, if necessary, we have to die for it. It is the rallying cry of Israel’s faith throughout all ages that G-d is One. It belongs to the cornerstone of our faith that He is a single ‘Who’, a single Person — “I am HaShem and there is none else” (Jes. 45:5) — and that there is none besides Him. There is no truth, and no experience, that is more authentically Jewish than that.

  15. 15 Francois Aerts May 7, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    When HaShem revealed Himself to Mosheh, HaShem said to Mosheh : “Ehyeh asher Ehyeh – I AM who I AM”.
    When Yeshua was about to get Himself arrested, He was asked the question if He was Yeshua, and He answered the mob : “Ehyeh – I AM”, and they staggered backwards and fell on the ground (thus Yeshua did NOT say : “Ehyeh Yeshua”, but He revealed his Divine nature.).
    When Pontius Pilate met Yeshua (as described in “Gesta Pilati”), his legs became heavy, he was unable to move his feet, and his entire body was trembling, he was hardly able to utter normal speech.

    There exist many other accounts of Yeshua’s life which demonstrate the extraordinary nature of Yeshua.It is my personal coviction that He revealed His Divine nature (“Ehyeh”) when realising the final stage of His Mission.

  16. 17 Francois Aerts May 7, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    I’d like to add yet another item I forgot to mention in my inital message: the Transfiguration of Yeshua.
    How can that event be explained by Messianic Jews if they claim that the nature of Yeshua is only human, and not Divine ? Why is He uplifted, and shining brighter than the sun ?
    How is it possible that Elijah and Mosheh also appear during that event, because they were both dead in the flesh ?
    I find it beliefworthy that Heaven and Earth met each other at that time, and that Yeshua indeed demonstrated once more that He is the Son of HaShem, One and united in Divine Substance, and Trinitarian in Personality, together with the Holy Spirit.

    • 18 messianic613 May 8, 2009 at 5:55 am

      To François Aerts

      The answer to your second question may be found in II Peter 16-18, where the Apostle Peter reflects on what happened at Yeshua’s Transfiguration. He says (1:17): “For he [= Messiah] received from G-d the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased”.

      The essence of the answer is in the italicized phrase: “he received from G-d the Father honour and glory”. Messiah had his honour and glory not of himself, but he received them from G-d the Father. This proves that Messiah is not G-d, but a creature. If he were G-d he wouldn’t receive his glory from another person.

      The same can be seen in other texts, e.g. in Matthew 28:18, where Yeshua says: “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Perhaps the plainest instance is Philippians 2:9: “Wherefore G-d also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name…”. G-d has exalted the Messiah to the supreme position as lord over all. A being that is exalted by G-d — and given a high position by G-d — is dependent upon G-d and thus cannot be G-d himself.

      Shalom,
      Messianic613


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