Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Paul Within Judaism

Last weekend I attended the Paul Within Judaism seminar taught by Ryan Lambert of FFOZ.                     4/22/2018

Here are my notes

Rethinking Paul as a Jewish Teacher

Damascus Road was not a conversion; it was a calling (to preach to the Gentiles)

Paul needs to be restored to his Jewish roots. Paul is best understood as a JEW. Christianity’s traditional interpretations of Paul need to be challenged

Judaism needs to be challenged about their beliefs in Paul as well. He was Torah obervant before/after Damascus. He did not become a Christian. He was a Jew who received a calling to witness to Gentiles.

How did this rift occur?
Early in the 2nd century, Ignatius wrote against Judaisim.
In our day, John MacArthur, in his study Bible, holds that Jewish practices by early Christians were hard to break. “A mature Christian wouldn’t hang on to these things" (he said).

The New Perspective on Paul (20-30 years ago) was a step in the right direction; but wasn’t dramatic enough.
It had more to do with changes in our understanding of Judaism.

Did Paul see something wrong with Judaism? NO! Acts 28:17

“And it came to pass after three days that Paul called the leaders of the Jews together. So when they had come together, he said to them: “Men and brethren, though I have done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans”

Paul’s “so-called”, negative views on Torah, should NOT be universalized. Paul’s letters are highly situational. We must be very careful to know who he is speaking to. Is he speaking to non-Jews? (referred to as the uncircumcised group).

Paul’s view was that the Kingdom Age was happening NOW. This was a radical view. He was adamant that Gentile believers should not become Jews, which is what circumcision meant.

Key verse: I Corinthians 9:19-23

“For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.”

Not under Nomos. It’s true that Paul’s argument goes all over the place. Was Paul a liar for the Gospel?

FFOZ’s interpretation: Did Paul keep the Torah for its own sake? Did he do so out of a sense of covenantal fidelity? FFOZ says yes.

I Corinthians 7:17-20 This is a super important verse:

But as God has distributed to each one, as the Lord has called each one, so let him walk. And so I ordain in all the churches. Was anyone called while circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised. Was anyone called while uncircumcised? Let him not be circumcised. Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters. Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called.

There are (unfortunately) many Messianic Jews (today) who are anti-Torah and anti-Judaism, because of influence by the “church”.
The Torah has preserved the Jewish people.
A person’s Judaism should be evaluated because of their Torah observance, not because of Jewish culture.

Nanos’ interpretation is different and better

The verses have to do with Paul’s adaptability in Rhetoric, not Lifestyle. It had to do with how Paul would change his argument based on who he was talking to.

Acts 17: Paul at the Aeropagus/Mars Hill (Been there). He talked about “You have an altar to an unknown god; I’m here to tell you who that is." He didn’t change his lifestyle in front of them.

How does this thought relate to the incident at Antioch?
Like so many misinterpretations, our assumptions get in the way.

We are obsessed with the dietary laws and immediately think it has to do with WHAT THEY ARE EATING. It has nothing to do with food! (we make the same mistake with Acts 10 - mine). 

It has everything to do with the seating arrangement of the banquet. The new way of the Kingdom introduced a subversive seating arrangement. Gentiles and Jews can NOW sit anywhere they want. Gentiles are equals and there should be no differentiation. The Jerusalem crowd, led by James, came to visit. Peter, who had been sitting with the Gentiles, backed off because of the Jerusalem contingent. Paul got mad and told Peter to his face.


Romans 14 Needs rethinking. – Who is Weak and who is strong?
Current Replacement Theology (RT) thinking is that anyone who is obeying Torah is Weak. Such people are called Judaizers. As before, we focus on the food, but that is not what this is about.

MacCarthur says that it is hard for Jewish believers to let go of the old ways. This is a very unfortunate interpretation.

Romans 14:14 “Nothing is unclean in and of itself.” The ESV study bible says the dietary laws are no longer in force. The RT crowd believes that we who are not obeying God’s Word (i.e., Torah) should help those who are weak (i.e., following what the Bible says). We should encourage them to move beyond obeying the Bible and become more mature??? (sarcasm)

There is a huge disconnect here.

What are the alternatives? Mark KINZER and NANOS

Mark Kinzer (Messianic Rabbi in Ann Arbor, Michigan, (whom I have met))
The weak and the strong are believers who differ in their understanding of the intrinsic nature of Purity issues. According to Kinzer, the strong are those who can eat anything and the weak are those who do not eat somethings for purity reasons. For them, the food, in its essense, is *ontologically impure for everyone. The same is true for holy days. Purity is imputed, not intrinsic.  (*Ontology is the philosophical study of the nature of being, becoming, existence, or reality, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations.)

Mark D. NANOS
The weak are non-Messianic Jews: 2 central assumptions:
1. weak and strong are believers
2. strong are Messianic believing Gentiles

Romans 9 and 11 are about the Messianic and Non-Messianic Jews. As such, in Romans 9:3, for the sake of my “brothers”. In Romans 14, NANOS is saying the weak are those who have a temporary rejection of Yeshua. The strong are believers in Yeshua. Jews are us. Jews are our brothers.

Unity doesn’t require uniformity

1. That Paul belongs to Judaism is a paradigm shift.
2. The real bad guys are Jews who hate Judaism.

Paul should be thought of as a Teacher of Torah to the nations. 
Returning Paul to the space he never left.
Paul is not a Christian who practiced Christianity. He was a Messianic Jew who practiced Judaism.

Christians should not try to convert Jews to Christianity if it is “Law/Torah free”

Jewish believers should keep the Torah and believe in the Yeshua as the living Torah.
Jews who know their Bible, know that the Messiah would never ask them to go against the Torah.

Kinzer’s quote:
“If Paul practiced Judaism (and he did), the Jewish “NO” to Jesus has been a Yes to God.” 

Judaism has not been replaced by Christianity. The Apostolic movement in the future kingdom age, where nations go up to Jerusalem to learn Torah, proves that. If we are going to do that then (study Torah), then we should do it now.

Replacement Theology is in error. It’s a theology that considers Grace better than Torah and Christianity better than Judaism.
This influences how we study the Bible. Any viewpoint that denigrates the Torah is Replacement Theology.

Conclusions:
1. Messianic Judaism is not a missionary enterprise. It is not Christianity with Jewish flavoring. It is not a half-way point between the two. Messianic Judaism is for ALL Nations, because Torah is for ALL Nations.

Isaiah 2:3
Many people shall come and say,
“Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
To the house of the God of Jacob;
He will teach us His ways,
And we shall walk in His paths.”
For out of Zion shall go forth the Torah,
And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.



Monday, March 12, 2018

Prague Rendezvous - a sneak preview


I've been absent from this blog far too long. I started my first book here (Wittenberg Encounter - available on Amazon Kindle in ebook and paperback) some nine years ago and I'm going to put some of the second here starting now. The second one is called Prague Rendezvous, Book 2 in the Intriguing Love series. I'm almost done with it and I hope to publish it soon. In order for you to make sense of the second one, you need to read the first one! So I greatly encourage you to buy the first one - not so I can get money from it, but because I think the message is important. I plan five novels in this series. You can learn more about that at www.intriguingLove.blogspot.com

Back home in Wittenberg

May 22, 1522
Wittenberg, Germany  

Across the Saxony countryside, evening was diffusing its shadows. The sun’s parting show was coloring the clouds with lavender and purples, but Freyda was distracted more by the approaching black of the night. Where was the wagon bearing her children? She sat down and decided to keep busy by tending to supper. Thinking ahead, she had a pot of stew cooking on the stove and some fresh bread that just came out of the oven. She was stirring the stew when she heard something outside. She quickly went to the crown glass window and was overjoyed to see, through a partly clear corner, the wagon turning onto their property.

Out the door she went, filled with thankfulness and relief. She could see that they were smiling as much as she and were no doubt very glad to be home. The wagon stopped and Heinrich helped Sarah down to the open arms of their mother.

“Oh, I’m so glad to see you!” said Freyda, as she hugged them both.

Sarah said, “We’re so glad to see you too! It was a long ride.”

Heinrich said, “It’s good to be home…. Love you Mom. I’ll take care of the horse, as well as myself, and I’ll be right in.”

“Alright. Sarah and I will take your things into the house. Supper’s ready, so come right in as soon as you can.”

“Will do.”

After securing the horse and wagon, Heinrich cleaned up for the evening and came in. He was glad to experience the familiar smells of home and then to take his seat at the table. Heinrich said a prayer and they all enjoyed the home-cooked meal.

Midway through it, Freyda asked, “How did the trip go?”

Heinrich summarized the time, “It was a good, safe trip – we made it to Juterbog in time to get two rooms at an inn and were able to get Rebekah onto a coach this morning.  The three of us talked about a lot of things in the wagon – including one important thing I need to tell you about.” He waited a few seconds. “I asked Rebekah to marry me.”

Freyda leaned back in her chair with a deep, pondering look on her face. Sarah didn’t feel she should say anything, so she waited to hear what her Mother would say. “I see. I thought something like this could happen. We probably should have talked about this before you left. What did she say?”

“Last night, in her and Sarah’s room, she said ‘yes’. 

Saturday, November 4, 2017

It's heads again! The Paradigm

Imagine flipping a coin 40 times and having it come up heads every time; while the odds for that happening are exceedingly high, one might wonder if something outside of yourself is controlling that. I once taught a class called Parallels in the Bible where it was pretty clear that the Biblical God had his hand in the design and outcomes.  I just read a book that basically combines both of these ideas; it is easily one of the most amazing books that I have ever read. It combines these two phenomena by paralleling the lives and events of a 40-year period in Israel’s history** with the events in America over the last 40 years and a finale at the end that puts you smack dab in today’s current events with a peak at the future. It does this in an uncanny, remarkable, too specific and detailed to be blind luck way that leaves you speechless. ** By Israel I mean the northern kingdom called Israel that formed after King Solomon was King (Judah was the southern kingdom).

The book is called The Paradigm and it is written by Jonathan Cahn. Two plus years ago I raved about Jonathan Cahn’s book called The Harbinger. Jonathan refers to that book in Paradigm and they are clearly related. The Harbinger is like a footnote in the Paradigm since they both share the same context and dilemma: America, like ancient Israel, is facing judgment. By the way, I continue to read Jonathan’s book called The Book of Mysteries, for it is like a devotional, in that it has 365 readings, but it is unlike a devotional in that it isn’t syrupy and conventional. But, I digress.


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The source of the material is right there in the Bible. Cahn’s genius and inspiration is his observation in seeing the parallels in our world. One might wonder if something or someone outside of ourselves is controlling these two spheres! Indeed, there is: The Biblical God called Yahweh, Yeshua, and Holy Spirit. I highly recommend that you read this book. I bought my copy at Hobby Lobby, one of the few stores left where you can buy good books.