CLASSIC REPOST: Reverse Galatianism

Back in September of 2008 I wrote about “Reverse Galatianism.” I think it is an important way of expressing ourselves to Christians who misunderstand what Messianic Judaism is about. As you will see at the beginning of this re-post, I was having a few discussions with people online at the time. I had a Christian missionary to Jews asking why Messianic Jews simply did not come back to the churches. I had a Christian leader saying Messianic Judaism is racial segregation and we should all be one-size-fits-all (he probably thinks we should dress his way and listen to his idea of worship music too). I was in debates with non-Jews of the One Law persuasion who didn’t understand Galatianism, much less Reverse Galatianism.

The most important part of the post is the third section, under the heading “Reverse Galatianism.”

Introduction
Several things have made me think about this topic in recent weeks. I had an email exchange with a theologian who expressed the idea that Jews who come to faith in Yeshua should join in with existing churches so that there will be unity in the Congregation of Messiah. In other words, he believes the New Testament writers would oppose the idea of Messianic synagogues.

Similarly, Amy Downey at mysterysolvedwithmessiahjesus.wordpress.com posted a question:

What is the “best” place for a Jewish believer to attend for worship of Messiah Jesus? A doctrinally sound Messianic congregation or a doctrinally sound church?

The only response was from a Christian pastor whose answer was no, Jews separating into Messianic Congregations is not the ideal, but may be necessary due to lack of understanding in the church. He made an argument I often hear, “I believe all the churches are wrong for their segregation based on color, creed, or culture.” Messianic Judaism, in other words, is simply racial segregation at work.

I responded with a few arguments and the debate got hot very quickly, with Chris saying, “it seems like your newly found yarmulke has slid over your eyes.”

Whoa! It’s hard to see with this yarmulke over my eyes . . . 🙂

Galatianism
This is the error which Paul fought against in Asia Minor. Some Jews, whether Messianic Jews or traditional Jews we cannot really say (see Mark Nanos, The Irony of Galatians, for a case that they were traditional Jews). Galatianism is the false belief that non-Jews must become Jews and take on the yoke of Torah in order to be in Messiah or to grow in Messiah.

I am sad to say that the book of Galatians has made little impact on many in the Hebrew Roots and broader Messianic movement. Many would say just what the opponents of Paul in Galatians were saying: that non-Jews must follow Torah to obey Messiah. How do these interpreters get around the message of Galatians? They say that Paul was only arguing against converting to Judaism and not against Gentiles taking on Torah observance. They say that circumcision is required for Christian children but that it must not be understood as a sign of conversion. They say either that Torah observance is required or that it is a matter of spiritual growth with the mature moving out of Gentile ways and into the Torah over time.

Reverse Galatianism
Galatianism bothers me. It is one of the reasons the church world looks at “Messianic Judaism,” speaking in the broader sense of the term, and thinks we are ridiculous. It seems we cannot understand the simplest of New Testament teachings.

But if Galatianism bothers me, reverse Galatianism grieves me (and I’d rather be bothered than grieved). Reverse Galatianism is the false belief that Jews must become as non-Jews in order to be in Messiah or in order to grow in Messiah.

That’s right, there is an opposite error to Galatians. But you ask, “Why didn’t Paul address this issue?” My answer would be two-fold:

1. It wasn’t a problem in Paul’s time. No one was telling Jews to quit keeping Sabbath and to stop worshipping at the Temple daily.

2. The ongoing responsibility of Jewish people to God’s covenant with Israel was assumed. Paul would be appalled (pun?) to see the lack of respect for Jewish identity and covenantal responsibility in the church world today.

Let me explain a little more what Reverse Galatianism is and how it affects opinions in the modern church world:

–Why do those Messianic Jews need to be separate? Why don’t they simply join us?

–Why do I, a Jewish believer in Jesus, need to consider a Messianic Congregation when I’ve got this big, happy mega-church with so many more programs and people to meet?

–The New Testament mission called for unity of Jew and Gentile, one new man, and so we must be one new man (and that new man is Gentile, by the way).

–Jewish identity has no more meaning than any other ethnic identity. It is pre-Christian and should be given up for the cause of unity. (Meanwhile, I attend a church whose culture is closest to my own and would hate to see my whitebread church start using Hip-Hop worship or my black church using Southern Gospel or so on and so forth — but I still speak with authority about this shedding pre-Christian ethnic identity thing).

–The Torah is obsolete and I wish Messianic Jews would realize that none of that matters now. (What? Those verses about the Torah remaining until heaven and earth disappear? Well, those are unclear and I prefer to interpret them in light of the much clearer passages that say Torah is obsolete.)

–It’s not healthy for Messianic Jews to separate. It keeps the Congregation of Messiah divided. But the dividing wall of separation is abolished (Eph. 2). We should all come together.

Reverse Galatianism is the error of thinking that while Gentiles must not be forced to become Jews, still it is for the best if Jews in Messiah become Gentiles.

One reply to our call for strong Jewish identity and the need for Messianic Jewish congregations, is to say, “But Jews can remain Jews and worship with everyone else in a one-size-fits-all church.”

I understand that many well-meaning people who love Israel and the Jewish people feel this way. It is the best and kindest rebuttal to Messianic Judaism I have heard. The problem is, this is the response of people who do not know what it means to be Jewish or to live Torah. You often cannot understand another community if you have not lived in their shoes.

Take as an analogy the black community in America. Many black Christians choose to worship in churches targeted to their community. Those who believe Messianic Jews should assimilate into normal church life might be inclined to think the same way about black Christians. But I would ask them, “Have you experienced life as an African-American? Do you know what it is to walk in their shoes? Do you honestly believe that your Anglo church is going to address the needs of this community?”

With Messianic Jews the issues run on another plane. Not only do Jewish people have ethnic issues, history, and pressures to face, but there is also the matter of covenantal obligation to the Torah. And the Torah is not something meant to be kept in isolation. Torah is a community affair. That is precisely what many of our critics do not understand. Torah and Jewish life are meant to be lived together and mutually reinforced. How would that happen in a church setting where no one fasts on Yom Kippur and where Saturday is sometimes a work day for fixing up the church grounds and where ham is on the Wednesday night dinner menu?

So, please do weigh in on this issue. Can you see the need for Messianic Jews to band together? Can Messianic Judaism be in unity with churches without giving up its distinctiveness

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23 Responses to CLASSIC REPOST: Reverse Galatianism

  1. Sharon says:

    Wow! What a great, well-written, thought-provoking article!

    My father is a Jew but left the faith as an adult. All my dad’s family, however, are very devout Jews. I was not raised with any Jewish or Torah instruction.

    Since getting saved as a teenager, whenever I have attended a Messianic congregation, I have attended a church at the same time. My Christian friends have always been supportive to me of observing the Jewish holidays, etc. However, my Messianic friends have often given me a hard time about belonging to a church, Christian holidays, and so forth.

    I don’t think in Scripture there is a hard and fast rule about whether a Jewish believer should be in Gentile church or Messianic congregation. Like everything else that isn’t specifically delineated in Scripture, G-d may tell one Jew to be in a church, another to be in the Messianic fellowship, and still another to be in both. I think this is something that falls under the category of working out one’s own salvation with fear and trembling.

    What do you think? Also, what would you say to someone like me who has only one Jewish parent and was not raised with any kind of Torah observance?

    • Tim Harris says:

      Sharon,
      I would like to attempt to answer your question but I want to make sure I understand you right. You said that your Christian friends have always been supportive of you observing the Jewish Holidays. Does this include Shabbat? When you say that your Christian friends were supportive of you observing the Jewish holidays were you going to a Synagogue every Shabbat and then going to a Church on Sunday or were you alternating between going to a Messianic Congregation one week, then taking Sunday off from going to Church and then the next weekend you would go to a Church but take off a week from going to a Synagogue?
      I used to go to a Church because there is no Messianic Synagogue where I live (the closest one is 70 miles away). When I first started to go to the Messianic Synagogue at first I would alternate with going to Church on Sundays and going to the Synagogue on Shabbat. Eventually I stopped going to the Church and made a full time commitment to go to the Synagogue. When I talked to one of the Pastors at my church about my decision to go to a Synagogue instead of the Church he thought I was crazy. His response was, why would you want to do that? He told me that what he thought I should do was celebrate the holidays (Passover, Yom Kippur, Shavout, etc) at the synagogue but not go there any other time. There is a major problem with this. When we read in Exodus 31: 12-17 (Specifically verse 17) we find out that the Sabbath is an everlasting covenant between G-d and the Israelites. G-d commands the Israelites (aka the Jews, aka the descendents of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) that they are to observe the Sabbath as a covenant forever. When we rest on the Sabbath we are being obedient to G-d. This is pleasing to G-d just like it is anytime we do something that he tells us to do something. If we look in Exodus chapter 12 (specifically verses 14-20) we find out that Passover is an everlasting covenant just like Shabbat and Yom Kippur and the other holidays. The problem with the Pastor who told me that I should only go to the Holidays and not go to Shabbat every week but go to Church instead is that it is only obeying part of what G-d instructs us to do. We don’t want to do part of what the Bible says we should do and think we are doing a good job and pat ourselves on the back. We want to be obedient in all areas of our life. I am not sure if the Pastor who told me this realized this when he told me I should go to the holidays but then go to the Church all the other times. That is why I was asking for some clarification about what you had written. There is a big difference between a Gentile who says they will support a Jew who wants to observe Shabbat in addition to the Holidays and make a Synagogue their primary place of worship and a Gentile who will say they will support a Jew who wants to observe the Holidays but not do anything else and go a Church the rest of the time.
      As to your question about is there a verse in the Bible that talks about a rule where a Jewish believer in Yeshua should worship. I wouldn’t say that there isn’t a specific verse that I know of that tells Jewish believers in Yeshua where to worship. I haven’t done a lot of research on that part I will say though. I would ask you this. How many people do you know that go to 2 separate churches? I don’t know of many people who do this. You really have to pick and choose one place to go and make a commitment to it. Why do I say this? If you are like most people and you work 5 days a week that only leaves you 2 days off on the weekend that you can do whatever you want. If you go to a Synagogue on Shabbat then what do you do on Sunday? Remember Shabbat is a day of rest so you are not going to do any work on it. If you try to go to a Church on Sunday also you are committing yourself to doing something 7 days out of the week. What are the chances that you are really going to go to a Synagogue every week on Shabbat then spend Sunday morning at a Church. I don’t know of anyone who does this. The only people I know who go to 2 different places to worship go to one Church on Sunday morning, then they drive to another Church after the service at the first Church is over and then they go to the service at the second Church. I would ask you are you really going to go to both a Synagogue on Shabbat and then a Church next day on a weekly basis for the rest of your life. I did it temporarily when I first started going to the Messianic Synagogue that I am going to but it leaves you with only a half a day on Sunday of doing whatever you want. If you raise a family one day (not sure if you have kids) are you really going to do this every week? That is the problem with trying to live like a Jew and a Gentile at the same time. G-d hasn’t called us all (Jews and Gentiles) to do the same exact thing 100% of the time. Sometimes he has called us to do the same thing (for example faith in the Messiah). Granted at least 95% or more of the instructions in the Bible are the same, some are different. That is the way G-d made it and when we are obedient to G-d he is glorified.
      The other reason I would tell you to pick a Synagogue is where are you going to tithe? The Church I used to go to has about 1000 people going to it. I understand not every Church is like this but the Synagogue I go to has about 40 people going to it. It is not easy when you have a small number of people in a congregation to get funding to keep the place running. When I left the Church the Church did fine. If somebody leaves a small congregation the financial effect is much greater. The effect on the youth group is also felt. Also what are you going to tell your kids one day when they ask why do we go to a Church and a Synagogue. It’s inevitable that thi will come up. It’s awesome that the Church has so many people and hopefully it will keep growing but think about what the Pastor said to me when he told me to go to Church and then just go to the Holidays at a Synagogue. If every Jew just decided to go to a Church and then went to a Synagogue on the Holidays how would that work out? Somebody has to pay for the building. If the Jews just went to Churches and didn’t tithe to a Synagogue on a regular basis a lot of the Jewish Holidays being celebrated may not happen (I would say there is a very high chance a lot of them wouldn’t happen). Does this make sense?
      It is nothing against a Church at all. I am extremely grateful for the Church I used to go to but being obedient to G-d sometimes means you have to make choices. I had a friend who once asked me “Does the Bible say thou shalt not play video games.” I am sure you can guess what the conversation was about. I was trying to convince him to make time everyday to read the Bible. He didn’t seem to think it was that important. His attitude was, oh that’s not going to help me, the Bible works for some people but not for everybody. I would be careful before coming out and asking does the Bible really say that I can’t do this or I have to do that. At the end of the day we want to ask ourselves how we can be obedient to G-d. I am not saying at all that going to a Church is being disobedient to G-d but nobody is called to live like a Jew and a Gentile at the same time. Hope this makes sense and I am interested to hear what you have to say about it. I am sure you can guess I could talk a lot more about this as it a topic not everybody agrees on.
      Tim

  2. Carl Kinbar says:

    “It’s not healthy for Messianic Jews to separate.”

    I assume this means “to meet separately.” But, if that is the case, why aren’t ALL separate congregations divisive? Or should all congregations gather ONLY on the basis of common faith.

    But let’s not kid ourselves: virtually no one ever joins a congregation simply on the basis of common faith. They have their reasons (even if they say they are led by God): one is Charismatic, one is not; one is emergent and one is traditional; one has a great children’s program and attracts families, and one does not and may attract singles or an older group; one speaks Korean, one does not. Even a purist who wants to join only on the basis of a common faith has to choose among purist churches that differ from one another and are divided from one another!

    So, taking ONLY the issue of meeting separately, how are Messianic Jewish congregations more divisive than others?

    Even apart from the MJ issue, the idea of churches based only on a common faith is really awful. It lacks the creativity and diversity that is so evident in everything God has ever made or done.

    Bringing the MJ issue back in, MJ congregations are necessary for all the reasons you mention, Derek, and also to express God’s creative choice in fashioning Jews as a distinct covenant people.

  3. Derek Leman says:

    Sharon:

    There definitely are exceptions and it is good not to judge people who make choices that differ from our own. But . . .

    If most Jewish followers of Jesus decide that their place is in a church (which actually is what has happened and Messianic Judaism has not attracted many Jewish believers since the beginning), consider the consequences:
    …The children of the Jewish believer will not identify as Jewish
    …Faith in Jesus becomes the destroyer of Jewish identity
    …The church environment will not support Jewish identity except in rare cases where a church truly understands

    Sharon, if you were the exception and not the rule, I might be able to agree more. But 90% of Jewish believers make the same choice you have made. Almost none make the effort to have Jewish fellowship in Yeshua. And it is an effort.

    Meanwhile, our tiny little Messianic synagogues suffer for lack of Jewish people while churches who do not understand Jewish issues benefit from the support of those who could be building a future for Jewish faith.

    Derek Leman

    • Sharon Lurie says:

      Dear Derek,

      Would you please clarify something you said in your reply to me? You said 90% of Jews make the same choice I make. Do you mean that most Jewish believers attend both a church and a Messianic congregation simultaneously? Thank you.

      • Derek Leman says:

        Maybe I misunderstood you, but I meant 90% of Jewish believers in Yeshua choose not to give their support, attendance, and passion to Messianic Jewish congregations, but instead to churches. And if the churched Jews started coming into MJ congregations, think of what we could do. Churches are not building a future for Jewish faith in Jesus.

        • Sharon Lurie says:

          I think you did misunderstand me. The times when I was part of Messianic congregations, I also attended a regular Sunday church, and benefitted greatly from both perspectives. I have attended two Messianic congregations in my life, and most of them have more Gentiles than Jews. It would almost seem that many Jewish believers are more attracted to a church while many Gentile believers are becoming more and more attracted to Messianic congregations.

          I am curious to know some other reasons you think Jewish believers might be more inclined to go to a church than a Messianic congregation. As I said earlier, I have only attended two Messianic congregations in my life, so I can’t speak for all of them. What I noticed in the two I attended was a huge emphasis on Jewish evangelism, Yeshua’s fulfillment of Messianic prophecies, and eschatology (the end times). I heard very little in teaching along the lines of what the churches would call “Christian living” or “discipleship”, such as how to forgive those who have hurt us, how to endure when going through personal trials, how to live in community and love our enemies, family dynamics, how to know G-d’s Voice, etc. I have heard people make comments like, “Well, that’s great that about the Antichrist, the rebuilding of the Temple, and how Yeshua is revealed in the feasts, but how does that help me with getting along with my wife, dealing with a rebellious teenager, and trying to love a co-worker who makes life very difficult for me?”

          It seems to me that both churches and Messianic congregations frequently fall into the trap of losing balance. They get in a rut about a certain issue or doctrine and teach that one thing to the exclusion of every other topic, and harping on one thing, even if that thing in and of itself is a good thing, will not help anyone to grow spiritually.

          Thank you so much!

  4. Derek Leman says:

    Sharon:

    You also asked what I recommend to a person whose father is Jewish and who had little or no upbringing in Judaism. I commend the website http://ourrabbis.org and the article under “Standards” on “Jewish Status.”

    See it here: http://ourrabbis.org/main/halakhah-mainmenu-26/jewish-status-mainmenu-29

    Derek Leman

  5. James says:

    Derek, this is sort of related to the topic at hand and I’ve had this question on my mind for a bit.

    In the book “As a Driven Leaf”, Steinberg depicts two different “Messianic” communities with separate (but barely overlapping) theologies: A Jewish-only group in which the members are identical in Torah-observance to their non-Messianic brothers and sister except for having come to faith in Jesus as the Messiah, and a Gentile-only group in which members have a theology that supports being “free of the law” and one in which the Torah (for the most part) doesn’t apply to them.

    This seems to fit pretty well with the traditional MJ interpretation of Galatians (and for that matter how “Bilateral Ecclesiology” would be applied to Jews and Gentiles in MJ) but do you know if Steinberg just invented how he illustrated Messianic Jews vs. Christians in his book or if he had access to some hard research on which to base this part of his writing? If the latter, where would this research and data (not suppositions or guesswork) be found?

    I agree (and I’m sure you already know this) that it is insane to expect a Jewish person to give up being Jewish and to become a total goy in order to worship the Jewish Messiah, who was prophesied by Jewish prophets in Jewish texts for untold centuries.

  6. Alif Hogue says:

    I understand where you are coming from, from a jewish perspective, but as much as the point can be made, if there is a reason to “come together” than it should be to better empathize with both communities. Growing up in a black jewish family with a christian mother as a minister, I clearly saw the divide in terms of philosophies in faith, both in the “black church” where most of it was ethnically based worship, and even in my fathers jewish community where bc of our skin color and jews/gentiles lack of understanding of the true identity of a jew. Getting older, and inevitably understanding the bible from a theoretical, spiritual and historic perspective I realized the practices of the black church and church in general (not the beliefs) were almost laughable, but I never felt that the way of the jew and jewish living should be completely seclusive as many non mjews do.

  7. Donna Levin says:

    I am a Jewish believer who used to attend a church, but is very thankful to be in a Messianic congregation now. Sharon, I was raised very secular by two Jewish parents so I can relate to your background. When I became a believer, I mistakenly thought “I’m no longer a Jew, but am a Christian now”. Eventually I found my way to a church even though that was really hard for me to do. The thought of attending church didn’t exactly thrill me, but I had to do something in order to learn and grow. I had never heard of Messianic Judaism then. For years I stopped considering myself to be Jewish at all and was annoyed if someone considered me a Jew (oy vey). However, I didn’t really fit in with the church world. I used to cringe inside when someone told me I was a “completed Jew”. Ugh–even then that expression made me sick.

    Eventually, Adonai awakened my “Jewish DNA” and I’m so grateful He did. At first, I sort of straddled both worlds, but Adonai led me out of the church and into a synagogue. Funny, my gentile husband never went to church with me, but he just joined my synagogue. Now that’s unity! I didn’t grow up with Shabbat, but now it’s the highlight of my life. I am more fulfilled being a Jewish believer than I ever was in a church. For the first time in my life, I finally feel like I am a part of the Jewish people in a meaningful and spiritual way. Interestingly, I have started to pray that Jewish believers would come out of the churches and return to living Jewish lives.

    I have a few comments on your post. If the Torah is obsolete, why do preachers teach from the Hebrew Bible at all? Why don’t they just start with Matthew and ignore the rest? Why read, meditate or teach on something that is obsolete? Is the Bible the Living Word or is only the New Covenant alive?

    All come together? Yeah, that would be great. Now how about starting within the church itself?

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  9. Berakyah says:

    Donna,

    Gentile christians early on, abandoned the Tanakh completely.

    “They(Nazarenes/Messianic Jews) use not only the New Testament but the Old Testament as well, as the Jews do…They disagree with Jews because they have come to faith in Christ; but since they are still fettered by the Torah – circumcision, the Sabbath, and the rest of it – they are not in accord with the Christians.
    —St. Epiphanius of Salamis, Panarion 29.7.2(4) (b. circa ca. 310ad)

    Somewhere between 100 and 300 the gentile Christians dropped the Tanakh, but eventually picked it back up at some point thereafter; when they must have decided that they needed it.

    • Derek Leman says:

      Berakyah, I think you are referring to the Marcionite heresy in the early history of the Church. Tertullian, who was very influential, opposed Marcion. So there were some Christians who rejected all of the Bible except Paul and Luke (the Marcionites) and the mainstream never rejected the Old Testament/Tanakh, but followed Tertullian. Just wikipedia “Marcionite heresy” and you should be able to get the relevant information.

      Derek Leman

      • “mainstream never rejected the Old Testament/Tanakh, but followed Tertullian”

        Yep, the same Tertullian who wrote Adversus Judaeos
        (Against the Jews)
        , where he argues that Christians replaced Jews as the “People of G-d”, The Torah and all of the Jewish observances are the things of the past and replaced by Christian observances.

        So, it seems that while Tertullian indeed “kept the Old Testament” in his Bible, in his extreme anti-Jewish redefinition of it he might as well had discarded in the same way that Marcion did.

  10. Rob Sylvia says:

    I wanted to ask about the gentile believer who visits a Messianic Congregation and then starts to try to tell every believer he meets that he is now Jewish. My son has an old friend who constantly attacks non-messianic congregations for not observing Torah. He doesn’t just choose a Jewish dietary observance, he pushes it. He doesn’t go to fellowship on Sabbath, he says Sunday worship is pagan. It’s frustrating because he tends to argue that Paul’s writing don’t seem to apply.
    His mother and step dad visited this congregation and then he did and now everything he talks about is Holy Days, Diet, Shabbat, Obediance, Observance…and the weird thing is he rarely talks about grace, liberty, freedom, mercy,…
    When he talks with my sons, they come away confused and thinking maybe we need to go to church on the Sabbath, maybe we too need to not cut our beards.
    That seems like Modern Galtianism. This is now the 3rd person in a year that’s seems to think He must become Jewish to somehow please G-d. “Don’t you want to please G-d?”…”Well, he lays it out clearly in the OT” is the argument. It is even to the point that at my son’s wedding they had to have (remember he’s not Jewish) special menu items for him and his girlfriend…yet he slipped when they were out having a beer and ate non kosher food and was brought under condemnation when she called him on the carpet about it.
    I need help figuring out how to help bring balance to the situation. In the end there is always conflict and judgmental-ism to the point no one who knew him before wants to be around him anymore

    • Derek Leman says:

      I feel for you, Rob. You notice in the post I said, “I was in debates with non-Jews of the One Law persuasion who didn’t understand Galatianism, much less Reverse Galatianism.”

      Your son and his “teacher” do not understand Galatianism, obviously. They believe another gospel, as Paul said. The best way to help a confused zealot is to avoid arguing, wait, and be there when he is ultimately disappointed in his teacher. It will likely happen because these false teachers inevitably have flaws that make them crash and burn. Those who so emphasize outward changes that make themselves feel superior and everyone else inferior tend to fail.

      Derek Leman

  11. rey says:

    I find ABSOLUTELY NO EVIDENCE that anyone in Galatia was teaching that Gentiles have to become Jews or live as Jews to be saved. The whole controversy seems to be simply that a few Gentiles wanted to get circumcised and Paul had a cow, saying “NOOOOOO! If you get circumcised CHRIST CAN PROFIT YOU NOTHING” only to change his mind two verses later and say “In Christ, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision matters.” Galatians is contradiction incarnate. Paul says both that Christ cannot save a circumcised man and that circumcision/noncircumcision means nothing! Anyone who thinks Galatians is scripture is sorely mislead, whether they be Christians or Messianic Jews. In Galatians Paul is condemning exactly what Messianic Judaism is…but Paul was a nut.

    • Derek Leman says:

      Rey, I’m having fun trying to guess from the 12 comments you left yesterday what position you are coming from. Are you a Noahide, by chance? Hey, based on your last name (I’m not revealing it to readers, but as the blog owner I can see your last name), I’d more than guess you are Jewish. So I guess I’m surprised that you have such an interest in the New Testament while rejecting Jesus and Paul. What in the New Testament interests you? Meanwhile, when you say something like “I find no evidence that anyone in Galatia was teaching that Gentiles have to become Jews,” I question your ability to read serious literature at all. Perhaps you didn’t think very hard about this comment. perhaps you’ve read Galatians approximately one time. I’ll try to be charitable in my assessment of your reading ability. Do give us the Rey’s Cliff Notes version of the following: (1) Who are the influencers in Galatia? (2) What is the false gospel Paul is arguing against? (3) What does justification by faith mean for Paul in Galatians?

      Derek Leman

  12. rey says:

    “I am sad to say that the book of Galatians has made little impact on many in the Hebrew Roots and broader Messianic movement….they say that circumcision is required for Christian children but that it must not be understood as a sign of conversion.”

    And I agree. When the circumcision party and the no-circumcision party butted heads in the 1st century, rather than one side winning and the other losing, there should have been a compromise. Rather than “circumcision is nothing” the answer should have been: We wont make adult gentiles get circumcised, but they must make the commitment that they will circumcise any infant males born to them in the future. And any uncircumcised gentile who will not make this commitment, or who breaks it, will be excommunicated.

    • Derek Leman says:

      Rey, now you really have me wondering what your position is (folks, this is one of 12 comments Rey left for me yesterday). I have heard this position from One Law Hebrew Roots adherents. You disagree with Paul’s theology of gentile inclusion in the people of God. In your mind, gentiles should come in as pseudo-Jews? Paul’s opinion perhaps is based on the decision of the Jerusalem Council (was Galatians written before or after?), where James referred to Amos 9:12 and the phrase “all the gentiles who are called by my name.” James detects in this passage (and there are many others besides) that God calls gentiles as gentiles, not gentiles to become Gerim (converts). Would you, Rey, really say that God only wants to bring Jews and converts into his kingdom?

      Derek Leman

  13. rey says:

    “But if Galatianism bothers me, reverse Galatianism grieves me (and I’d rather be bothered than grieved). Reverse Galatianism is the false belief that Jews must become as non-Jews in order to be in Messiah or in order to grow in Messiah. That’s right, there is an opposite error to Galatians. But you ask, ‘Why didn’t Paul address this issue?’ My answer would be two-fold:”

    And your answer would be doubly-wrong. Paul didn’t address this error because to him it was not an error. It was precisely what he wanted. Paul was arguing that Jews must leave their Jewishness to be saved. What else can he mean by “I PAUL TESTIFY TO EVERY MAN THAT IS CIRCUMCISED THAT CHRIST CAN PROFIT YOU NOTHING”? He means, if you live as a Jew or display any Jewish culture, you cannot be saved.

    • Derek Leman says:

      Rey, as I mentioned in response to one of your other 12 comments you left for me yesterday, Pauline scholarship has moved on from unhelpful assertions like the one you make here. I suggested in my earlier response to you (I will paste part of it below in case some readers did not see it) that your Pauline education perhaps came from a decade or several ago? As for the verse you quote, consider how it fits with the interpretation I have suggested: (1) Galatians is written to gentiles, (2) Paul says to gentiles that circumcision will profit them nothing, (3) the point is that forced circumcision of gentiles in order to make them kosher to God is a heresy.

      Here is an excerpt from my earlier response to you about Paul: The paradigm shift to reading Paul as a Jew began, perhaps, with an essay by Krister Stendahl, “The Apostle Paul and the Introspective Conscience of the West,” in 1963 (Harvard Theological Review, 56). From there, the watershed really started flowing with E.P. Sanders, Paul and Palestinian Judaism, 1977.

      Derek Leman

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