Post-Missionary Outreach to the Jewish People #2 – Think Again

I mentioned in my last post that “I gravitate toward ideas that just might change the world, or at least a small part of it. That’s one reason why the vision statement of Messianic Judaism Media is ‘Changing the world through changing minds about Messianic Judaism.'”

At a stage of life when many my age are retiring to play shuffleboard or Gin, delighted to find a great breakfast special available at an unbeatable price not far from home, I feel like I’m just getting started.  To me life matters, and most of all, God and the things that concern Him matter, and because of this, ideas matter, because ideas can change the world in a way that pleases God.   And like the Shema says, and Yeshua agrees,  Priority One is to love the LORD our God with all our heart, soul, and strength.

A few days ago I found a fellow traveler in what some might term an unlikely place, the New York Times, in a brilliant and daring article by Neil Gabler, “The Elusive Big Idea.” (see http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/14/opinion/sunday/the-elusive-big-idea.html?pagewanted=all). Gabler is a senior fellow at the Annenberg Norman Lear Center at the University of Southern California, which for some people would make him a Leftie, and therefore beneath consideration as a thinker.  That just goes to demonstrate how unprepared people are to think new thoughts in a society where increasingly all truth must be reducible to a Tweet.

That, by the way,  is where Gabler takes us in his article.  Here’s a quote worth thinking about:

If our ideas seem smaller nowadays, it’s not because we are dumber than our forebears but because we just don’t care as much about ideas as they did. In effect, we are living in an increasingly post-idea world — a world in which big, thought-provoking ideas that can’t instantly be monetized are of so little intrinsic value that fewer people are generating them and fewer outlets are disseminating them, the Internet notwithstanding. Bold ideas are almost passé.

Many people will protest, pointing to the inventiveness of say, Apple, as evidence that thinking is alive and well, thank you. To these, Gabler says this:

There is a vast difference between profit-making inventions and intellectually challenging thoughts. Entrepreneurs have plenty of ideas, and some, like Steven P. Jobs of Apple, have come up with some brilliant ideas in the “inventional” sense of the word.

Still, while these ideas may change the way we live, they rarely transform the way we think. They are material, not ideational. It is thinkers who are in short supply, and the situation probably isn’t going to change anytime soon.

Nearly fifty years of hobnobbing with practitioners and theorists of outreach to the Jews, while receiving a top notch academic education in the field have proven to me beyond doubt that just about all representatives of the misionary subculture and Messianic subculture(s) stand naked in the shadow of Gabler’s indictment.  The gospel has been turned into a profit-making tool, and no one is thinking or doing anything really new. Instead, entrenched power brokers defend old paradigms and act quickly to discredit new ones, or sleeping shepherds murmur peace, peace, where there is no peace.

In this field of endeavor, the best that the best can do is repackage the product instead of rethinking the project.

When I speak of rethinking the project, I am not saying that we should reconsider telling my people about Yeshua.  Those who accuse me of such either willingly or unwittingly misrepresent the case.  However, I do insist that the product needs to be reexamined like a counterfeit Gucci bag you thought you were getting for a steal, when in fact, it was you who was being robbed.  We need to restore Yeshua to his true identity as the champion of the Jewish people who brings to fruition God’s promises to them, bringing Jews to deepest covenant fidelity. I have no interest in a gospel for the Jews that cares about eternal life and not at all about Jewish life. This is as bogus as a fifty dollar Rolex purchased from a sweaty Ratso in a trenchoat on some grimy street corner near Times Square.

Nowadays, most charged with sharing the good news with the Jewish people are like someone with a 51 card deck thinking that his game of Solitaire will at last work out if he only reshuffles the cards one more time.

My friends, and those of you who would not call yourselves that: we need a new deck of cards.  In fact, we have to reinvent the game.

I cannot sleep well in a religious world that prefers pundits to thinkers, and defending the party line to even contemplating revolution.

It’s time to think while we still have a memory of what that might feel like.

And in case you haven’t guessed, what I am up to at this time in my life is reinventing the game, I want a new deck.

How about you?

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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8 Responses to Post-Missionary Outreach to the Jewish People #2 – Think Again

  1. Joshua says:

    Well put Rabbi Dauerman. The messianic movement is in dire need of new ideas and paradigm shifting. One might call such a revolution for Jewish followers of Messiah Yeshua. We need to challenge and be challenged to think widely and in new ways. Thank you for voicing that challenge through this and previous blog posts. I believe if we heed the call to think afresh about our calling in Yeshua and about the way we advocate on his behalf to the world,indeed we will change not only our communities but the entire world will shift. 12 dedicated apostles faced an empire and ridicule to spread the news of Yeshua. They changed the world forever. So can we.

  2. Pingback: Post-Missionary Outreach to the Jewish People #2 | The Messianic … - christianfamiliesnetwork.com - christian families network

  3. Derek Leman says:

    Rabbi Dauermann, thank you for more enduring images and catchy talking points about this important big idea: Yeshua from within Jewish life, not a strange savior pushed into the message from outside. The idea that ideas matter only if they make a profit is too true. But I was reading Orson Scott Card yesterday on writing science fiction (from one of his older books from 1990). He pointed out that in earlier days, sci-fi had a small but committed audience and almost never made the mainstream. This point helped me. We can let the prophets-for-profit do what they do. But there are always committed, thinking, spiritual people looking for substance. That is the audience we should care about most. And perhaps we pray that more of the unthinking masses will wake up.

  4. Alan Levy says:

    Dear HaRav, HaGaon HaTzaddik HaNewYorker HaCaliforniaTransplant Dauerman:

    You write: “And in case you haven’t guessed, what I am up to at this time in my life is reinventing the game, I want a new deck.”

    The way I have come to see it is that Messianic Judaism, in spite of its protestations to the contrary, and multifarious efforts all over the world, will NEVER be able to be “insider prophets” to the Jewish community, as opposed to “outsider missionaries”, as long as the message to other Jews is “Unless you do “this, that or the other” the way we believe things to be, then you will spend Eternity in Hell”.

    So far as I know (knowledge perhaps incomplete), the last Jewish group who had that kind of theology were the authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Any “Jewish” group who says categorically and exclusively, “Our way is the only one that leads to TRUE Judaism” is bound, in this pluralistic age, for the dustbin of Jewish history.

    Even the Chabadnicks are not trying to make all the Yidin “Chassidishe”…they just want them to become more “observant” in any way at all….something is better than nothing in their view.

    I know this runs head-long into the historic way of interpreting the message of Yeshua in an exclusivist way (how could one read many passages otherwise?), but so be it.

    Perhaps the “new deck of cards” you are looking for has to be a whole new understanding of “exclusivist” claims in the New Covenant Scripture. Once again, MJs will NEVER become “prophetic insiders” as long as they are unbendingly committed to an “our way or the highway” theology vis-a-vis other Jews.

    Also, the idea that the “messiah” only came to help those Jews who somehow “accept” him, while the rest (the VAST majority over the past 2K years) will perish in unending fire, is a sure guarantee that the whole MJ movement will be but a tiny blip (spoken of disparagingly) in Jewish history books a hundred years from now.

    Where in Jewish tradition is it said that Messiah will come to help only a tiny fraction of all Jews?

    Has a “new deck of cards” occurred anywhere in the MJ world?
    Seems to me, even Reb Kinzer’s “respect for Jewish religion” (so to speak) falls short. One can “respect” Taoism, for instance, while still considering it to be a Way people should NOT follow.

    Reb, tell us what the “new deck of cards” should look like for you….in case one of us wants to buy them for you as a birthday present?
    Be well,
    Alan

  5. Scott says:

    Thanks for your clear presentation of the problem, Stuart.

    New deck? I’m all in.

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