Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tent of David, part 3

Tent of David by Boaz Michael: pages 60, 61, 64-66, 71, 73, 79-80, 85
"The idea that the church needs to change is not new. The Protestant Reformation was based on the idea that the church needed to change; it was originally a movement of Catholics who sought to reform their own Catholic religion.
During our ministry through First Fruits of Zion (a publishing ministry), we have identified four essential errors which have kept Christians from fully understanding the Scriptures, understanding their role and place in salvation history, and accomplishing the mission which God gave them. First the Christian church has forgotten that Jesus was and is a practicing Jew. Second, Christians have forgotten the centrality of Israel in God’s plan to redeem the world and her continued covenant status as God’s chosen people. Third, Christianity has an extremely low view of the Torah itself and the commandments God gave to the Jewish people. Fourth, the Christian gospel message, having replaced the broad and majestic vision if the kingdom of heaven with a knowledge-based individualistic salvation, has been emptied of its power.
These four errors have corresponding truths. Jesus os Jewish; Israel is central; the Torah remains valid and applicable to Jewish and Gentile believers in differing ways; the kingdom of heaven is coming. Acceptance and application of these truths differentiate Messianic believers from mainstream Christians, 
The blind spot of Yeshua’s Jewishness is the church’s great lacuna. More than any other single factor, this hole in Christian theology is responsible for so many of Christianity’s mistakes and failures throughout history.
The world of Biblical interpretation is therefore in a state of confusion and conflict.
An understanding of Yeshua’s Jewishness and the Jewish context in which he lived has the potential to help resolve that conflict and illuminate the Gospels and Epistles so that their meaning can finally be understood.
The church must see itself as part of a commonwealth working together with Israel, not as a replacement for Israel; this realization starts with the fact that her messiah Yeshua is a Jew and a proud member of the children of Israel. 
.. it is clear that at some point, an entrenched, powerful segment of the established church leadership began to discourage Jewish practices, synagogue attendance, and maintaining a connection with the Jewish community. Yet it is evident that even in the fourth century, Asian Christians still calculated Easter (called Paskha) with reference to the Jewish Passover; the Council of Nicea finally ruled that a different method was to be used in 325 CE.
Throughout the Torah, the Prophets, the Writings, and the New Testament, Israel’s unique role and calling is affirmed repeatedly, in plain language that anyone can understand. To remove Israel from her proper place as God’s covenant people is to make the Bible incomprehensible. [e.g., Psalm 147:19-20; I Chronicles 16:12-18; Psalm 135:4; I Samuel 7:23-24]
Evangelical Protestantism... has cultivated a “salvation culture” in which the decision a person makes to accept Yeshua is the defining aspect of the Christian life. Anything outside that decision is often thought to be relatively unimportant and of little lasting consequence - except, of course, for the vital task of evangelism (convincing others to make the same decision).
The Torah, on the other hand, takes for granted the initial decision of the individual, as a member of God’s people, to accept the sovereignty of God. It is primarily concerned with what happens after that and what the life of God’s people is supposed to look like. The restoration of this aspect of Christian living to the Evangelical church would be an incredible boon to the Christian faith.
The root problem (the abandonment of Torah) is the church’s failure to recognize its role and calling to repair the world along with Israel through obedience to the commandments of God.
I tried for many years to argue with the church as to the importance of good works, tikkun olam (repair of the world), and the beauty of the Torah, only to be objected as “legalistic.”
Torah is an attractive, beautiful, biblical solution to many of the ills suffered by churches struggling with shallowness and superficiality.
Here is what Regent College professor John Stackhouse says about this [watered down] ‘gospel message’:
“Over and over, students have betrayed an understanding of salvation that amounted to a sort of spiritual individualism that is little better than Gnosticism. In fact, we could make an important start simply by teaching that salvation is not about Christians going to heaven. Salvation is about God redeeming the whole earth... Salvation is about heading for the New Jerusalem, not heaven; a garden city on earth, not the very abode of God and certainly not a bunch of pink clouds.”
A key word in Stackhouses’s assessment of Evangelicalism is the word “Gnosticism.” Gnostics taught a lot of things, but their basic philosophy of salvation was that one was saved by having the right knowledge.
This error has found its way directly into the heart of the Christian message.
More next time...

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