Four Questions On the Theme “Who Are We?”

In Jewish life the term “four questions” has a long pedigree. Ask anyone who has evern been to a seder.

Today I have four more questions which in turn all revolve around one central concern:
“With respect to the wider Jewish community, who should we Messianic Jews consider ourselves to be?”

  1. Should Jewish believers in Yeshua see ourselves as members of that faithful remnant drawn from out of Israel?
  2. Should we see ourselves to be the new Israel, as part of that new Israel which is the Church?
  3. Should we see ourselves to beĀ the prior Israel, viewing ourselves to be more “bibilical” and less “rabbinic” and therefore having a greater claim on authenticity and and on the love of God than that people Israel which has existed for millennia and which exists now, but which somehow departed from the truth when Yeshua came.
  4. Should we see ourselves to be part of the faithful Yeshua\believingĀ  remnant within the people Israel?

These are crucial questions, because the answer we choose, and the ones we reject, have substantial implications for how we live our lives and understand our calling.

Think about this for a day or so, and then I will be back with some reflections on these important questions.

 

 

About Stuart Dauermann

The blog of Rabbi Dr. Stuart Dauermann, teacher, mentor, radio talk show host, denizen of Los Angeles, and a visionary with a long career in Messianic Jewish activism. You can hear Rabbi Dauermann as he hosts Shalom Talk, a weekly radio show, and even listen online at ShalomTalk.com. Rabbi Dauermann spends time traveling nationally and internationally, and throughout the year is in Israel as a Scholar in Residence at the MJTI Jerusalem Center. He has plenty to say about Jewish-Christian relations, the need for shalom in the world, and the agenda of Messiah, the Son of David.
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2 Responses to Four Questions On the Theme “Who Are We?”

  1. Rabbi Dauermann,

    As I am seriously considering my own place as a “Christian” in light of the questions you pose, I would like to draw your attention to my comments on your July 6th post, “Judaism: The One and Only Non Non-Christian Religion.” What difference would it make to how you word the question if the broader Jewish community were to eventually see some forms of Christianity as “non non-Jewish”?

    I have two reasons for wrestling with this question myself. One is academic; the other deeply personal. On an academic level, New Testament and “early Christian” studies have reached a level today where it is almost mainstream to talk about Yeshua in the context of a wider first-century Jewish movement. This is causing quite a stir in seminaries, both in Biblical Studies and Theology, as it becomes clear to unsuspecting neophyte students that Constantinian/Anti-Semitic/Oppressive Christianity (the language depends on the school) developed most of its traditions on terms that many Christians can no longer keep as a part of their faith understandings and community practice. (Deconstructing the apparent Antisemitism in the texts of the Gospels and teachings of tradition is just one area where this is happening.) Similarly, Jewish Scholarship is increasingly embracing early Christianity as validly Jewish in the context of the multiple forms of Jewishness of the first and second centuries. (The most recent publication of Oxford Press’s “The Jewish Annotated New Testament, NRSV” and, particularly, the work of Boyarin are prime examples.)

    Secondly, and more on a personal level, I have chosen to remain and serve within the larger “Gentile Church” community, even though I find myself and my theology more in line with a more Hashivenu brand of theology and community. There are many reasons for this. For one, I was not born or raised in a Jewish family–so there is no ethnic or cultural connection; but, there are many reasons for having trouble identifying myself with many Christian communities, too. I personally find the lack of narrative and historically embedded practice of Christian Sacraments a challenge. I cannot depart with them, as I believe this is the only traditionally acceptable way of passing on our story from “generation to generation” in a way that still keeps of a united community. I.e., a non-Hebraic sacramental is historically and theologically challenging for me, but I find it, nevertheless necessary as one called to congregational leadership. But, more importantly, I was very influenced by the week I spent in class under you in 2005, where I became convinced that continuing this conversation from within the wider Christian community was deeply important.

    In other words, your questions seem to ask about your form of Messianic Judaism in relation to a wider “Israel”. Yet, I believe their is also an important question which underlies this line of questioning. Now that the Christian communities and academics have recognized, many sincerely repentantly, the Antisemitic and supersessionist reading of the Church as Israel, how then, might non-Jewish Christians rightly see themselves in relation to Israel–and I am specifically referring to the people carrying on the covenant of Abraham as explained in the Torah, not necessarily “Israel” in the modern, nation-state sense?

    (I know this is a very loaded question. If you would be willing, I would certainly invite you to post or share on my blog, as I would love to have others within my connected communities also get involved, in a peaceful and considerate way, in this discussion.)

    Shalom,
    Michael Anthony Howard

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