‘No But’, ‘Yes But’, ‘Yes And’, and why to just go with what has always been ‘YES’?

by Menashe Dovid

Messianic Jewish Theological Institute (MJTI) Jerusalem: 2 Nahum Sokolov St/ Keren Hayesod St. Jerusalem

Messianic Jewish Theological Institute (MJTI) Jerusalem: Now not so secretly located on 2 Nahum Sokolov St/ Keren Hayesod St. Jerusalem which is more or less right next door to the OU centre.

In the cut and thrust world of converting Jews to what is after all just a re-packaging of Christianity, there is yet another endeavor to gain a legitimacy to ‘Messianic Judaism’ via a scholarly route. The scholarly route in this case provided for example by the Messianic Jewish Theological Institute (MJTI) through various blogs and websites to give ‘real’ academic qualifications. The scholarly route of course no doubt appealing to the Protestant work ethic of these Christians, woops, I mean ‘Messianic Jews’ who possibly pander to the belief that life is not worth living if you do not have a job. Of course to have a legitimate job, you have to have legitimate academic qualifications! Is that not right Mr. [Microsoft] Bill Gates et al[1]?

There are of course limitations as to what academic qualifications can achieve. Something glossed over by most ‘messianic Jewish’ groups is that a person’s status as a Jew according to Orthodox Halacha[2] and/ or becoming a Rabbi have never depended on having an academic degree. Orthodoxy quite happily stands on its own in terms of applying (to real communities) and validating the G-dly knowledge and wisdom of its people and/ or Rabbis, and has been doing so way before any University. This G-dly knowledge and wisdom we Jews call Torah, exists as a book within the Jewish people. Everyone knows what those “symbols on your hands” and “on your foreheads are”, just as they know what is to be written on the doorposts of their homes and how to make strings on the corners of their garments. There will always be Jews doing those things.  The book has meaning only within the context of our people, our experiences as a people, and the way that our people have unfolded and applied that which we have received. In common with both the Reformed Jewish movement et al and to a large extent within ‘messianic Judaism’ is the rejection in varying degrees (no pun intended) of this G-dly knowledge and wisdom because this G-dly knowledge and wisdom is ‘Rabbinic’ Judaism.

Neither for that matter has a non-Jew ever become Jewish[3] by just doing the practices of Judaism and certainly not whilst believing in Jesus[4]. At least this last point is one thing which the Orthodox, Reformed, Conservative, Liberal, Progressive and Re-constructionist Judaism movements are agreed on!

All that has been said above leads me to another prong in the efforts of the MJTI et al to gain legitimacy and acceptance from any of the movements of Judaism mentioned so far. Attempts for legitimacy now of course include the study of ‘Rabbinic’ Judaism. The inclusion of ‘Rabbinic’ Judaism would appear to be a new way of evangelism and may address the growing problem(?) of intermarriage in Messianic Judaism and how the Christian part of ‘the intermarriage equation’ deals with the Jewish in-laws. In a case where the Jewish in-laws are just academic at heart, the Christian part of ‘the intermarriage equation’ or even the other half of the equation may be able to use impressive academic terms[5] such as “an anticipatory or proleptic position”, “a post-supersessionist position” or a “post cryptosupersessionist position”, to help them in their evangelistic efforts with their Jewish in-laws . Yep I think you are onto a winner with this one MJTI!

However, where the Jewish in-laws are just too frum[6] to appreciate academic reasoning, it may be beneficial to ignore centuries of grimed in distrust or ridicule of the halachic rulings of the wider Jewish community. Instead, why not pander to the Jewish in-laws by convincing them, by your elevated observance, that the Torah is best interpreted in concert with the historical stream and transgenerational discussion of that people to whom it was given?

Alternatively, where the Jewish in-laws are neither academics or too frum but instead more business and/ or marketing orientated, it may be possible to use the “Yes and” approach.

The YES-AND option whereby the Yeshua believer genuinely respects, hears, and values what his Jewish significant other

Stuart Daurmann in the 'missionary scholar' action!

Stuart Daurmann the ‘missionary scholar’ in action!

reports about the value of his/her Jewish life, faith and experience. This involves saying a YES to all of that, AND going on to report how, in and through Yeshua, God is at work to deepen Jewish life experientially, while bringing the Jewish people and their tradition to their foreordained consummation.

Implicit in the above, apart from the obvious need to ‘win’ them Jewish in-laws, is the nauseating idea of an evangelical paradigm that the Yeshua believer is somehow superior! Winning them Jewish in-laws to Yeshua means they are not going to get thrown onto the eternal BBQ (as per Mark 16:16) because they have accepted the superior offer! Of course such black and white terms of the evangelical paradigm presented in the New Testament, Stuart Dauermann (MJTI) conveniently chooses to deny by saying that no such things are said in the apostolic writings which witness the efforts of the apostles to convert Jews to Yeshua. Moreover, to divert further, Stuart claims I have stolen and projected onto his paradigm. The bottom line, no matter how Messianic Jews try to ‘spin it’ in the present with various new tricks, Yeshua will never be Kosher just as no matter the number of times one scrubs a pig will ever make the pig Kosher either! The answer is YES Stuart and has always been without ands, buts and/ or degrees!

So what are they up to in general these Missionaries in Israel?

Here a mystery can be revealed which has been around for some time. The mystery concerns a general lack of information on various web sites of messianic organizations advertising their missionary work here in Israel. The general lack of information is typically balanced of course by a one way process which is a common feature of all missionary websites, namely a donations page.  The donations page of course allows you to provide a huge chunk of money and personal information about yourself for what appears to be just a casual guarantee that the missionaries are doing a good job in Israel by infiltrating Jewish communities and converting Jews. The general lack of information typically includes no relevant information or location of so called study centers or headquarters for the missionaries’ activities in Israel. A question then obviously arises that if a person wishes to visit one of these study centers or headquarters for the missionary activity in Israel, how one is supposed to know where they are? Or most importantly why would the missionaries NOT want just anybody to know?

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Yes I have actually met Stuart Daurmann!

The missionaries behind missionary work in Israel have developed unique strategies to avoid accountability on all sides of the divide between supporters and opposers of missionary activity. A favorite strategy is to claim that anti-missionary groups such as Yad L’Achim are only too keen to close down missionary activity by various ‘illegal means’ such as protesting, holding rallies and warning people of the spiritual dangers of missionaries in the local press. Here is another common thesis and a lie:

“As you may know, ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel do not, as a rule, seek employment. They expect the State (our taxes) to pay for their living expenses while they spend their days in Rabbinical studies. Messianic Jews have found that they seem to have an excess of leisure time spent in persecuting Israeli followers of Yeshua across the country.” Shira Sorko-Ram

The common thesis and the lie (repeated by the secular Israeli press BTW) is easily refuted, since the breadwinner of ultra-Orthodox Jewish families in Israel may be the Mother of a family who works full time whilst the husband studies full time, both the Father and the Mother work part time, some families who have inherited money, some who have extended family financial support, many who engage in business activities which support the family, some people who are retired and some Fathers who work. Given that the welfare benefits in Israel (unlike Europe for example) may be actually insufficient to support a family, those on benefits do survive which is a testimony to the strong community support of Torah communities here in Israel.

One may also ask what is so ignoble about undertaking Rabbinical studies? How hypocritical of missionaries who allow themselves their own abundance of leisure time to study and infiltrate Jewish communities to convert Jews whilst simultaneously taking money from supporters of their ministry. Who is to say that missionaries in Israel, who may have gained Israeli Citizenship by deception too, are not claiming welfare benefits too?

Moreover, money fleeced from the flocks with a love for Israel in Europe and the USA allows missionaries to ‘live it up’ in Israel whilst jetting off to other countries to promote their ministries on the basis that they represent ‘real’ Judaism/ ‘real Israel’, as their websites and Face book accounts show. Meanwhile the children of the missionaries (some of whom are not halachicly Jewish) take full advantage of free education in Israel, their spouses have the opportunity to take up work and/ or join in community projects and yet more missionising avenues are created!

The question is how the missionaries can have the nerve to leach off the success of the people of the Jewish State? The Jewish state is the culmination of the struggle of the Jewish people across millennia that have refused assimilation and other religions, including Christianity before Christianity ever evolved to produce a messianic Judaism about 150 years ago.

The answer as to why missionaries can have the nerve to leach off the success of the people of the Jewish State is that for missionaries the ends justify the means. They give themselves the passport to lie for the sake of converting Jews by misrepresenting, abusing Judaism and re-packaging it as the real deal to secularized Jews in Israel. Yet they plead innocence, plead persecution even, say they have never been caught for doing missionary work and say it is really only a matter of arguing to Jews; ‘Who is the real Messiah?”. Like as if the Jews are to somehow develop collective amnesia and forget the numerous disputations, blood libels, inquisitions and holocausts they can answer ‘Who is the real Messiah?” correctly?!

The question from the Jewish perspective is based on the thousands of years of persecution at the hands of Christians: How many times Mr. Christian Missionary do we have to tell you that we believe in One G-d who is absolutely one unlike you who believe in a compound or plurality unity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). Do you think we Jews are so dumb to think that your statement that “we don’t teach replacement theology” jives with what is said plainly in your own New Testament? At least the Roman Catholic Church is more honest in this respect! No at the most please be Christians in your own Christian countries and leave the Jewish state for the Jews, this is all we ask.

Then again there is nothing new under the sun:

Can there be a greater stumbling block than [Christianity]? All the prophets spoke of Moshiach as the redeemer of Israel and their savior, who would gather their dispersed ones and strengthen their [observance of] the mitzvos. In contrast [the founder of Christianity] caused the Jews to be slain by the sword, their remnants to be scattered and humiliated, the Torah to be altered, and the majority of the world to err and serve a god other than the L-rd.” (Expurgated[7] by medieval Christian censors from the Mishneh Torah of Rambam, Chapter 11)

 _____________

[1] et al, is Latin for ‘and others’ by the way.

[2] The definition of a Halachic Jew according to Orthodoxy is that a person’s mother and their mother’s mother are Jewish or that a person has undergone a recognized Orthodox conversion to Judaism. In either case Jews are Jews and nothing will stop them from ceasing to be Jews, regardless of their level of observance within Orthodoxy or any other ‘ism’ of their choice. According to Orthodoxy a conversion to Reformed, Liberal, Re-constructionist and Conservative movements is not recognized as a valid conversion and so in terms of Orthodoxy a non-Jewish converter to non-Orthodox Judaism is not Jewish.

[3] To become Jewish one needs a Halachic Orthodox conversion.

[4] It should be noted that according to Orthodoxy, for a Jew to practice Christianity or a variant of it such as Messianic Judaism, that Jewish person is placing themselves in a situation of potential spiritual excision or to be cut off from the world to come for practicing idolatry. A non-Jew according to some opinions with respect to Christianity, similarly has the potential to be cut off from the world to come BUT according to other opinions not. Whilst a doubt may hang over the non-Jews fate with respect to their belief and practice of Christianity, the case is absolutely clear for the Jew……potential spiritual excision or to be cut off from the world to come. In the present as long as a Jew practices idolatry by believing in Christianity, it is as if the Jew is no longer a Jew and may indeed be in a worse situation as the non-Jew who practices and believes in Christianity. Repentance for the Jew from belief and practice of Christianity is vital if they are to avoid being cut off from the world to come.

[5] ‘Jewish Believers in Yeshua and Halachic Torah Observance: Living Today for Israel’s Tomorrow”, Posted on November 11, 2011 by Stuart Dauermann

[6] The Yiddish adjective frum (Yiddish: פֿרום; [frum | frim]), from the German fromm, meaning “devout” or “pious”, is a Yiddish word meaning committed to be observant of the 613 commandments, or Jewish commandments, specifically of Orthodox Judaism. This appellative is used in reference to Orthodox Jews.

[7] To remove matter thought to be objectionable or unsuitable from a book or account.

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