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The Biblical Canon, Church Tradition, and Messianics

by Geert ter Horst

new-testament-orientationA basic problem in the domain of biblical studies is the question of (how to establish) the Canon of Scripture. This problem is particularly important for Messianics when it comes to the Canon of the Apostolic Writings (commonly, but erroneously, called the New Testament). This importance is related to the fact that Messianics reject many of the traditional teachings of the Christian Church and yet accept the Canon of the New Testament as it is recognized by the tradition of this Church.

From the assumption that the Messianic theological position as to the remaining relevance of the Torah is correct it necessarily follows that the Church already began to deviate from the teachings of our Lord and the Apostles during the second century, and thus at a time when the formal recognition of the New Testament was still in its initial stages. For it is in the second century that we see the emergence of Replacement Theology, together with the development of christological doctrines that finally would lead to the dogmas of the Deity of Yeshua and the Trinity. [1]

The historical time-frame of the recognition of the New Testament Canon roughly coincides with the historical time-frame of the development of Replacement Theology and the great christological conflicts. However, there is evidence for the proposition that the history of the formation of the Canon is more complicated than often admitted, and that it extended to the times of the Protestant Reformation and the Council of Trent. One of the factors that led to its ultimate fixation were Luther’s and Erasmus’ reopening of the debate. This evoked a Catholic reaction at the Council of Trent. The position of this Council seems to have been helpful in ending the debate, even among the followers of the Reformers.

Regardless the exact reconstruction of this history, it is problematic to simply accept the NT Canon without granting any authority to the tradition of the Church, since it is clearly impossible for anyone of us today to determine which collection of books or letters of the times of the Apostles we should recognize as being part of Holy Scripture — had this collection not been handed down to us through the generations by the authority, the constant teaching, and the liturgical tradition of the Church.

This problem can be stated as follows: If the position of the Church on the relevance of the Torah and the nature of G’d led the believers completely astray by the developments that culminated in the doctrines of the Deity of Yeshua and the Trinity, how can we be sure that the Church did not lead us astray by adopting and using in her liturgy the collection of Scriptures that we call the New Testament?

From the Catholic point of view it is considered a basic theological error to isolate the genesis and reception of the NT Canon from the developing early Christian tradition. According to this viewpoint it is a fundamental metho-dological problem of all non-Catholic NT studies that they first isolate the NT from its functional context in Christian tradition and the living community of the Church, and subsequently find things in it which conflict with this tradition and the authority of the Church.

The Catholic response to these findings is to ascribe these conflicts with Church teaching to this initial error of isolating the Scriptures from the tradition and authority of the Church. If divine revelation is only partly contained in Scripture and if Scripture is an organic part of the developing Jewish nation and the later Christian Church, how can one separate Scripture from the tradition and teaching of the Church and subject the Holy Books to the insights of individual scholars, while ignoring the primal fact that these scholars themselves have received the Scriptures from the Church? Defenders of Catholicism always stress that the sola Scriptura teaching of the Protestant Reformers is not found in the Bible itself.

The Messianic position seems even more difficult to defend than the position of the Reformers. For the Reformers accepted the decisions of the Ecumenical Councils until about the fifth century, when the question of the Canon of the NT was practically settled or at least no longer debated. The Messianic position, however, is that the Church during the first centuries of her existence got throughly corrupted in such basic teachings as the nature of G’d and the relevance of the Torah, while at the same time developing a correct intuition in solving the problem of the NT Canon.

The question is thus: How it can be made reasonably credible that the Church stumbled into error after error in her teachings about the ontological status of Yeshua, the nature of G’d, and the normative status of the Torah, and yet preserved a right intuition on the issue which books of the Apostolic times should be recognized as inspired and canonical in addition to the Hebrew Bible?

[1] Regrettably, many Messianics accept the Church doctrines of the Deity of Yeshua and the Trinity. But the basic problem pointed out here remains the same for them, since they don’t accept Replacement Theology.

Pope Francis and the Apostasy of the Christian Church

by Geert ter Horst

anti-pope-francisThe Roman Catholic Church throughout her history has always vehemently opposed to give the Sacrament of Holy Communion to those living in irregular sexual relationships. The position of the Church was that those living in cohabitation, adultery, or any other sexual relation outside traditional marriage were unfit to receive Communion, because they were in a state of mortal sin and in danger of losing their eternal salvation, according to the warning of the Apostle Paul in his First Epistle to the Corinthians:

I Corinthians 6:9-10
Know ye not that unrighteous shall not inherit the Kingdom of G’d? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the Kingdom of G’d.

Holy Communion was considered to be only for those in the ‘state of grace’ according to Catholic theological terminology — or, in evangelical terminology, in the ‘state of being saved’. To be in the state of grace requires that one has confessed and sincerely repented the mortal sins one has committed, and has acted upon this repentance by leaving all situations of continuously ‘living in sin’.

This sacramental discipline was based on the notion that, ultimately, the Church is only composed of those are saved, i.e. the truly faithful. Only the saved, ultimately, are part of the mystical Body of Christ. This community of the saved is liturgically expressed in Holy Communion, because in receiving the Eucharist the Body of Christ is actualized in this temporal life and in and through it the faithful are bodily and spiritually united with the Lord Jesus Christ.

After the Second Vatican Council there has been a growing minority in the Church of liberals and modernists abandoning this traditional moral position. For some decades, this minority has grown vocal and demanding, and important Church leaders, including Cardinals have joined it. And in our days of the pontificate of Francis even the Pope seeks to support it. Sacramental discipline, which was already considerably weakened after Vatican II, is now in danger of being completely thrown out of the window.

Under the guise of proclaiming “mercy” and “compassion” — reiterating the general Christian invitation that the Lord is welcoming everyone — Pope Francis’ pontificate has become a concerted effort of theological liberals to change the moral basics of Catholicism and to bring it in line with the demands of the modern world. For this is really what theological liberalism or modernism is all about: adapting the Church to the modern secular sensibilities of liberty and equality.

What is happening in Catholicism since Vatican II, and now seems to culminate in the effort to abandon traditional sexual ethics, is nothing less than the introduction of the principles of the French Revolution in the Church.

As Torah minded believers we should be attentive of this phenomenon as a new manifestation of the spirit of lawlessness (i.e. Torahlessness), as a radicalization of Replacement Theology.

The Replacement Theology that was introduced in the early days of the Church can be viewed as an effort to synthesize the biblical and Jewish heritage of the Church with the surrounding culture of Greco-Roman Antiquity. Such a synthesis was only possible by giving up the culture and rites of the Torah. The Catholic Church was the result of this synthesis. For this reason Catholicism can be viewed as a secularization of the Jewish religion. In order to have universal impact, and to be acceptable to all people, it was deemed necessary for the message of the Gospel to shake off its Jewish particularisms. Thus the Church supposedly would be enabled to gain cultural influence and to effectively evangelize the masses of the Roman Empire without the obstacles of Jewish cultural forms.

What is happening nowadays is a radicalization of this Replacement Theology by an effort to synthesize the historical Catholic heritage of the Church with the surrounding culture of Naturalism and Secular Humanism. Such a synthesis is only possible by giving up traditional Christian sexual morality.

What will be the result of this proposed new synthesis? In any case not Catholicism or Christianity as we know it. If the agenda of the modernists is accepted by the Church, the result will be a rupture in the continuity of Church’s teaching and practice as big as when the Church rejected Torah observance and introduced Replacement Theology.

By adopting the umbrella of Secular Humanism and an attitude of inclusiveness the Church will become more thoroughly de-judaized then ever before. Not only Jewish rites and ritual laws but also Jewish ethics will be declared obsolete. This amounts to a nearly complete rejection of the Hebrew Bible, the so-called ‘Old Testament’. But this also implies the rejection of many and fundamental parts of New Testament teaching.

This modernist revolution is so fundamental that it could never succeed under the existing premises of Catholic doctrine. That’s why it is introduced by the Pope and his circle of liberal theologians as just a matter of pastoral care and compassion. It is presented to the faithful as if the practice of the Church could change without changing the doctrine. Once the practice is changed, however, in the name of mercy, traditional moral doctrine, while being preserved in name, will become completely obsolete and fossilized.

It will be clear to Messianics and to traditional Christians that what is happening here is nothing less than open apostasy from the faith. The pastoral terminology is just a smokescreen. What is called ‘mercy’ by Pope Francis and other Catholic modernists is just what traditional theology rejects as ‘cheap grace’. It is a ‘mercy’ that doesn’t require repentance in the sense of turning away from the state of sin. It is a lawless mercy which permits the sinner to continue in sin and yet be in ‘full communion’ with the Church and presumably with Christ.

The principle of lawlessness, that was introduced in the early history of the Church, nowadays seems to be on its way to a complete victory. If this analysis is correct, then we are witnessing an important preparatory phase for the coming of him who is called by St. Paul the “man of sin” and the “lawless (Torahless) one” (II Thess. 2:3, 8), the Anti-Christ or Anti-Messiah.

The coming of this Torahless person is connected to the “falling away” — the massive apostasy from the Christian faith — and other events that will precede the Second Coming of Christ:

II Thessalonians 2:3
Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day [i.e. the day of the Second Coming of Christ] shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition […].

Why are these developments within the Roman Catholic Church important for us as Torah observant Messianics who deny many Catholic doctrines and precriptions? Because the Catholic Church is the historical heart and centre of Western culture, its unifying factor and its traditional moral compass. The apostasy and possible collapse of this Church is an alarming sign of the moral collapse and desintegration of our entire culture.

While it is true that the Catholic Church has been an important factor in the persecution of the Jews and a fierce opponent of Torah observance by Christians, this doesn’t mean that we should simply rejoice in her downfall. For we can be sure that when the Church is removed from the scene, or should choose to side with the forces of secularism, we’ll have to face a future of persecution. The Church will not be replaced by a more friendly power but to all probabilty by the naked aggression of an openly Anti-Christian Secularism.

The Catholic Church has known many Popes and other high prelates who were examples of wicknedness and lawlessness instead of examples of Christ and shepherds of his flock. But whatever these persons said and did, they never questioned or attacked the dogmatic and moral fundamentals of the Church.

After Vatican II all this has changed. The present crisis is mainly a consequence of the tidal waves of modernist theology that entered the Church during and after this Council. Pope Paul VI complained that the smoke of Satan had entered the Church. John Paul II tried to consolidate the situation and to limit the damage. This line of consolidation was continued under Benedict XVI. Under Francis, however, we face again the full seducing force of modernism at work. His pontificate might well initiate the final apostasy of the Christian Church.

Liturgy and the Sense of the Sacred

by Geert ter Horst

Traditional Synagogue Service

Traditional Synagogue Service

Every great religion is much focused on the distinction between the sacred and the secular. It is the basic religious distinction. This distinction is particularly relevant in public worship, by which it is made visible and tangible. There are sacred times and secular times, sacred places and buildings, and secular ones. But modern Christianity has very much destroyed the sense of the sacred because of its anti-ritual bias and its liturgical amateurism. Protestantism in particular has almost lost all real liturgical spirit, or fallen into the modernist error of confusing liturgy with art and performance. Even Catholicism, in its post Vatican II fashion, has fallen prey to this. The modern Mass betrays a mindset which is more concentrated on the community than G’d. Liturgy, however, is theocentric. It is about such things as “facing east” when praying, about following the rubrics, not the personal whims of the minister or the momentary wishes of the congregation. Only traditionalist Catholics and traditional Jews have real liturgies today.

Liturgy is about a consistent line of behaviour in all things which happen in the church or synagogue, for instance about not deviating from the calendrical structure and giving the proper weight and emphasis to each particular occasion. First and foremost it is about a theocentric spirit, which is to be cultivated by such things as the minister facing the Altar or the Holy Ark instead of the congregation, by acts of bowing and kneeling and really making the building a sanctuary. The modern cult of spontaneity and informality is deeply at odds with all this. This ‘spontaneity’ is secular and fed by the idea that we should follow our passions and emotions. This leads to arbitrary acts and an embarrassing informal way of behaviour which is very much the contrary of the aristocratic spirit which permeates traditional liturgy. The modern standard of informality is infected with the ideology of equality and betrays a lack of respect and revence.

Liturgy is not without emotion and passion, but its emotions are evoked and cultivated by reverence for G’d and all things sacred. It is based on making clear distinctions: between the sacred and the secular, and between degrees of sacredness, in a hierarchical order, and on upholding these distinctions in our solemn celebrations. It is essential for Messianics in Torah communities to maintain in their liturgy and worship this sense of hierarchical order, because this is the way we are related to G’d. The basic framework of Scripture is about the hierarchical order between G’d and creation, between the angelic world and the material creation, between the celestial bodies in the firmament and the things here in this earthy world, between men and women, parents and children, between kings, priests, levites and other ministers and lay people, &c, &c. This scriptural framework should be mirrored in the solemnities of messianic liturgies, as indeed it was from times immemorial mirrorred in traditional Jewish and Christian liturgies. Any intelligent person will know what liturgy is about by visiting just once a traditional, tridentine mass or an orthodox synagogue service.

For Evangelicals and Messianics the idea of liturgical worship is often associated with stiffness, constraint, and dulness. This may often be due to their Protestant background. Because of its abrogation of the Mass, Protestantism historically has practically lost the art of celebration. In fact neither the traditional Catholic Mass nor the traditional Synagogue Service fit this characterization of stiffness. Proper liturgical worship is characterized by aristocratic elegance and fluency. In contradistinction to Protestant and Evangelical worship it draws no attention to the person of the minister but only to his function. Perhaps a quote from C.S. Lewis’ A Preface to Paradise Lost (ch. III) is appropriate here:

To recover [the old idea of solemnity] you must think of a court ball, or a coronation, or a victory march, as these things appear to people who enjoy them; in an age when every one puts on his oldest clothes to be happy in, you must re-awake the simpler state of mind in which people put on gold and scarlet to be happy in. Above all, you must be rid of the hideous idea, fruit of a wide-spread inferiority complex, that pomp, on the proper occasions, has any connexion with vanity or self-conceit. A celebrant approaching the altar, a princess led out by a king to dance a minuet, a general officer on a ceremonial parade, a major-domo preceding the boar’s head at a Christmas feast–all these wear unusual clothes and move with calculated dignity. This does not mean that they are vain, but that they are obedient; they are obeying the hoc age which presides over every solemnity. The modern habit of doing ceremonial things unceremoniously is no proof of humility; rather it proves the offender’s inability to forget himself in the rite, and his readiness to spoil for every one else the proper pleasure of ritual.

The sense of the sacred and of reverence for G-d can only be maintained and cultivated in a traditional liturgical culture. Tradition and liturgy elevate us to a higher order, the aristocratic order of the Kingdom of G-d. The liturgy thus explicitly and ceremonially reflects our true created being and eternal destiny.

A Scriptural Deduction of the Seven Noachide Laws

by Geert ter Horst

noahide-lawsIn Genesis chapter IX we see that G-d gives several commandments and instructions to Noach and his descendants. The conspicuous examples are the prohibition of “shedding blood” (murder) and eating “flesh with the life thereof”, (often interpreted as the consumption of blood).

Rabbinic Judaism teaches that these commandments and instructions can be summarized in seven rules, called the Seven Noachide Laws. These are considered to be the basic laws for all mankind, in particular the non-Jews. The deduction of these laws and their detailed implications from the scriptural text is viewed as a process guided by the Oral Torah. Acceptance of the Noachide Laws thus logically entails the acceptance of rabbinic authority. As explained by Clorfene and Rogalsky in: The Path of the Righteous Gentile,

The hurdle that must be cleared in preparing for observing the Seven Noachide Commandments is the acceptance of the idea that mankind’s way to the Father is through the Rabbis. Rebellion against the sanctity of rabbinic authority and tradition has been with us since those first days in the Wilderness of Sinai when the followers of Korah led a revolt against absolute rabbinic authority, as we learn in the Torah […] [1]

From this perspective it is impossible to obey the Noachide Laws without obeying their rabbinic interpretation. Obedience to G-d is defined as obedience to the Rabbis. The authors of The Path of the Righteous Gentile are aware of the fact that this creates a particular difficulty for non-Jews:

When G-d gave the Torah to the Jewish people on Mount Sinai, the people all accepted the Written Torah willingly, but G-d had to lift the mountain over their heads and threaten to drop it on them to persuade them to accept the Oral Torah, that is, the rabbinic interpretation of the Hebrew Scriptures. If the Jews had difficulty in accepting the Oral Torah as no less divine than the Scriptures themselves, how much more difficult must it be for the non-Jews. But accept the Rabbis they must, for the source of understanding the Seven Noachide Commandments is found in the Talmud and the later rabbinic teachings, and nowhere else. [2]

It doesn’t need much argument to demonstrate that the approach outlined by Clorfene & Rogalsky is unacceptable for Messianic Jews and their Gentile co-religionists. Messianics cannot uncritically and axiomatically believe in rabbinic authority without damaging their obedience to Yeshua and his Apostles. This is abundantly clear from the fact that Judaism views obervance of the Noachide Laws as the Gentile’s way of earning a place in the World to Come.

By observing G-d’s commandments, a person becomes connected with G-d’s infinite will and wisdom and therby elicits a godly light which shines onto his or her soul. This godly light is eternal, and in it the soul earns eternal reward. By observing the Seven Noachide Commandments, a Gentile fulfils of his creation and receives a share in the World to Come, the blessed spiritual world of the righteous. [3]

For Messianics it is non-negotiable that the way to the Father is essentially through Yeshua and that all other mediatorship can only be of value if it is subservient to and directed to the mediatorship of Yeshua. Messianics cannot but reject the idea that a place in the World to Come can be merited by the observance of the Noachide Laws. And however high a view Messianics may have of Jewish tradition and rabbinic authority, it is simply not possible for them that to affirm that the Oral Torah “has the same inviolability as the Holy Scriptures themselves for the Written Torah and the Oral Torah are two halves of one thing”. [4]

At this point, rabbinic theology goes off-track. By stating that Jews inherit a place in the World to Come by observing the 613 commandment of the Torah and Gentiles by observing the Seven Noachide Laws, this theology betrays its lack of insight in the depth of the problem caused by the entrance of sin. It simply doesn’t see the necessity of a renewal of human nature by being born again by water and the Holy Spirit, prior to any requirement of observance. [5]

From a messianic perspective the Naochide Laws are not meant to provide a way for the Gentile nations to enter the World to Come. They are regulations imposed on mankind for upholding a basic framework of justice in this world. They are thus bound to the order of this world and will remain relevant as long as this world will exist.

The number of these commandments is never given in Scripture, but the rabbinic arrangement of Seven Laws can be easily be detected by considering the context and practical implications of the explicit instructions given in Gen. 9:1-7. The following is an attempt to deduce the Seven Laws from these scriptural instructions.

If the Creator G-d reveals himself and gives laws and instructions, it is obvious that a person should not blaspheme this G-d or turn to other gods, particularly so after the terrible judgment of the flood. So the prohibitions of blasphemy and idolatry are reasonably included in the concept of the one true G-d revealing himself as Creator, Sovereign and Lawgiver.

Normal sexual relations are presupposed by the instruction to be fruitful and multiply (Gen. 9:1), which is of course to be interpreted in its historical context of the situation after the flood. We should have in mind here that the corruption of marriage was one of the reasons why the flood came, according to Gen. ch. VI, and thus it should be taken for granted that Noach and his family knew that they had to keep the purity of marriage intact by abstaining from sexual promiscuity.

That a system of law enforcement should be set up is implied by the injunction that the blood of man and beast will be required by G-d, through the hand of man (Gen. 9:5-6). This requirement implies setting up a system of human government.

The interesing prohibition of eating the limb of a living animal may seem a bit peculiar at first, but it follows from the prohibition of consuming blood in Gen. 9:4 and the later Torah legislation for Israel, which permits the stranger to eat that which has died of itself (Dt. 14:21). That which has died of itself inevitably contains blood. This verse thus implies that the non-Israelite may consume blood — although this concession is perhaps limited to this particular case of eating an animal which has died of itself. [6] Because of this permission it is inferred that the prohibition of Gen. 9:4 cannot be a general prohibition of blood but is literally only about “flesh with the life thereof”, i.e. the limb of a living animal.

Finally, the prohibition of theft and robbery is logically contained in Gen 9:2, where the creatures are given into man’s power. This is not a permission for a power struggle of all against all in order to grasp as many possessions as is possible for each individual or family, for this would result in endless bloodshed. It would defy any peaceful system of government to permit man to simply take what is perceived to be already in another man’s possession. So the prohibition of theft is derived from man’s dominion of the lower earthly creatures in combination with the general idea of maintaining a system of law and justice.

The Seven Commandments of B’nei Noach are covered by this analysis. They are divided into six prohibitions and one positive commandment. The positive commandment of establishing a government is a kind of meta-commandment intended to make it possible to enforce and maintain the six prohibitions, which are: (1) blasphemy, (2) idolatry, (3) sexual promiscuity, (4) murder, (5) theft and robbery, (6) eating the limb of a living animal.

As to religious worship, blood sacrifice is permitted under the Noachide Covenant, but it is not strictly required. It is not possible to deduce its obligation, neither exegetically, nor by implication. While the prohibitions of blasphemy and idolatry are direct implications of the true G-d revealing Himself, a positive commandment of sacrificial worship cannot be derived in this manner.

It seems, however, that the majority opinion is that after the introduction of the Torah of Sinai, by which Israel was constituted the priestly nation, the Noachides are no longer permitted to sacrifice. The sacrificial service was now transferred to Israel on behalf of them. For the very reason of Israel’s election is to be a Priestly Kingdom on behalf of all mankind.

[1] Clorfene & Rogalsky, p. 4. [Chaim Clorfene & Yakov Rogalsky, The Path of the Righteous Gentile. An Introduction to the Seven Laws of the Children of Noah, Targum Press — Southfield, Mich., Jerusalem 1987]

[2] Ibid, p. 5.

[3] Ibid, p. 4.

[4] Ibid, p. 128, n. 6.

[5] Cf. John 3:5.

[6] If this interpretation is correct, the interesting conclusion is that the prohibition against the consumption of blood in Acts ch. XV is not a repetition of a Noachide commandment but the imposition of the later Torah prohibition — and perhaps the requirement of Shechitah — of the Sinai Covenant on Gentile believers.

Why G-d Permits Evil

by Geert ter Horst

Michael the Archangel Casting Satan out of Heaven (Apoc. ch. XII)

Michael the Archangel Casting Satan out of Heaven (Apoc. ch. XII)

The fact that G-d permits evil to develop and grow is at first sight confusing and unconvincing. Why would an almighty G-d, who is the source of all goodness, permit evil? That’s the tempting question which often arises and which causes some even to doubt G-d’s existence. Why does G-d permit evil to exist at all? Why did He not destroy Satan in his first act of rebellion and prevent creation from being polluted by sin?

The position that if G-d didn’t want evil or Satan around, He could easily destroy them — or even prevent evil from coming into existence — fails to recognize the full responsibility of creatures. If a creature chooses evil, then G-d, according to the gist of the biblical story, wants to confront the creature with the full consequences of his choice, both individually as well as collectively and historically. It is as if G-d says: “Do what you want to do, follow your own way, and face the consequences”. The Jewish-Christian sense of history is that it gradually shows us all the possible ways man can err and make choices against G-d. All the wrong paths of ideological and moral destruction are explored and gradually becoming clear. And this makes deep sense. For if G-d had destroyed Satan in his first act of rebellion, or had prevented Adam & Eve from sinning, would such an act have fully revealed G-d’s wisdom and supremacy? Would the “debate” about the moral possibility of following one’s own ways, against G-d, which was opened by the rebellion of Satan, have been silenced effectively? No, because the full consequences of sin would not have been clearly revealed.

It was thus necessary for the creatures to be confronted with all the evil and impossible consequences of their wrong choices. By making all these consequences clear on the theatre of world history, G-d will be fully justified in the end, in establising that all deviations from his instructions naturally end in disaster.

“Facing East”

by Geert ter Horst

Keriat Torah While

Keriat Torah While “Facing East”

Many aspects of the liturgy are simply about applying basic biblical principles of Torah obedience and worship. “Facing East”[1] as it is called — and which is often regarded by Messianics as just an orthodox Jewish tradition — is one of these basic liturgical principles of Scripture. In the times of the Tabernacle and the Temple the people naturally turned their faces toward the Holy Place while worshipping. The whole architecture of the Sanctuary is so deviced that the attention of all present is drawn to the same direction. In the Dedication Prayer of King Salomon the recurring refrain is “if they pray toward this place”, or: “pray toward their land, and toward the city which thou hast chosen, and toward the House which I have built for thy Name” (II Chr. 6:26, 38). If the prophet Daniel obeyed this principle when praying alone (Dan. 6:10), how much more should it be obeyed in common liturgical prayer and worship. It is thus merely a matter of Torah-based logic that the interior of a Synagogue and the manner of performing the service should mirror this model.

This is in harmony with the function of congregational leaders in the Apostolic Scriptures to reflect the position of Messiah. The Chazzan or any worship leader in a messianic context represents and symbolizes the Lord Yeshua as leading his Assembly in the worship of the Father, in the heavenly Temple. These basic theological facts should be mirrored in the liturgy.


[1] “Facing East” is the terminus technicus for facing the Aron HaKodesh, which normally is oriented towards Jerusalem. From the perspective of the diaspora communities in Western Europe this is East- or South-East-ward. The Temple itself was facing the West, not the East. So worshippers standing in the Temple court were facing the West, directed toward the inner Sanctuary. Worshippers in Jerusalem and elsewhere were facing the Temple (whatever direction this was).

Traditional Jews and Christians in Danger of Becoming Second-Class Citizens in the US (and Europe)

by Geert ter Horst

8958_0-41927200-1435854123_image18-bpfbtAfter the historical Obergefell vs. Hodges decision of the US Supreme Court one thing is abundantly clear: The tide has turned for the public status of Christianity and Judaism in the US. A new powerful tool has been created that will not be left unused by the Obama administration to pursue its diabolical agenda of destroying the Judeo-Christian foundations of Western civilization.

The long-term consequences of this decision seem ominous enough. Jews and Christians upholding traditional biblical values about marriage and sexual morality will face public vilification, and their organizations loss of government’s grants and religious tax exemptions.

The LBGT movement has given enough signs that it is of a neo-fascist totalitarian mindset, determined to destroy the rights of traditional religious minorities in the name of ‘respect’ for their perverted lifestyle.

My prediction is that within this generation Orthodox Jews will have to leave America and that traditional Christianity will face serious persecution. If things really go wrong they’ll become economic and social outlaws and be treated like racists, no longer tolerated in any ‘decent’ setting or company.

The often heard opinion that the constitutional liberties and protections for these groups will stay, independent of the general mindset of the majority of the population isn’t plausible. These liberties can only exist in the context of a democratic culture dominated by the Judeo-Christian heritage. When this heritage loses its dominance, the days of tolerance will be gone.

A curious coincidence is that while the LBGT activists and the US Supreme Court were busy to catastrophically redefine marriage the official leader of Western Christianity, the Pope, looked away from waging the cultural battle and was finishing and promoting his Encyclical on climate change. One wonders whether the combat against against air polution is more important now for Church leaders than the spiritual warfare “against the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that worketh in the children of disobedience”? Whatever may be the reason for this dereliction of duty, the Pope has missed an excellent occasion to give a dire warning to the destroyers of Catholicism and biblical morality.

This reminds us of the fact that an important aspect of the LBGT victories is that the traditional leaders of Christianity — such as the Pope and the Bishop of Canterbury — seem to have almost completely lost their courage and stamina. They fear public opinion more than the verdict of Heaven and have become politically correct weazels.  This doesn’t bode well.