Why I am Passionate about PMJ

Well, we have had a heated debate here about Mark Kinzer’s Post-Missionary Messianic Judaism. I have made some strong statements. Others have made some strong statements. I think I have learned some things from my elders (Dr. Brown, Rich) about scholarly dialogue. Of course, in the beginning it wasn’t all that much about scholarly dialogue — I was simply denouncing a paper which I thought misrepresented Dr. Kinzer and which I thought was too preachy.

I have learned that it is far more important to address the substantive issues than to denounce rhetoric.

Still, one of my critics and friends has made the remark that I seem to be emotionally vested in Post-Missionary Messianic Judaism (PMJ). Well, I am. I thought I might share a few reasons why.

First, I have made the journey from various anti-Torah theologies that see the Bible as a divided book to a holistic Biblical theology of Torah and election and redemption and grace. Even in my early days as a believer at Georgia Tech (I grew up non-religious in a non-Jewish home) I struggled with what I was learning at church. First they told me the Bible was the Word of God, which took me a while to swallow, and then, after I swallowed it, they practically emasculated the Old Testament.

I was not the only one who had trouble understanding the typical anti-Torah theologies (

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10 Responses to Why I am Passionate about PMJ

  1. While I’m putting together my own statement for the blog here (at Derek’s invitation), let me remind Derek and the other readers that Yeshua told us we could judge the tree by its fruit, and I know of no PMJ congregation — Derek’s included — that is successfully winning Jewish people to the Lord in any substantial numbers, whereas there are congregations in Israel today (just to give one example) that are decidedly NOT PMJ and are flourishing because of the exalation of Yeshua, life in the Spirit, and the fearless proclamation of the Messiah.

    Despite my time constraints, I disagree so passionately — for MANY biblical and spiritual reasons — with the approach of PMJ that I will continue to sound the alarm and bring the warning. This is the wrong direction, and time will prove it out. For any readers who have not yet read my paper on this, it is now available on our Jewish outreach website (www.realmessiah.org, under Articles).

    God willing, I’ll post something more substantial on this very soon. For the moment, however, I say again: Stop sign! Warning! The PMJ approach is a decided step backwards, not forwards.

  2. Dr. Brown:

    Your comment is a bit of a judgment, isn’t it? You are saying that Tikvat David (the cong. I lead) is not flourishing or reaching Jewish people in large numbers as opposed to the Israeli congregations you are thinking of, which are.

    I guess you say that because you asked me how many people come to Tikvat David and how many are Jewish.

    Well, most of the congregations in Israel are smaller than Tivat David. I guess “flourish” is subjective.

    I know of a flourishing PMJ congregation in the U.S. with more members and attenders than almost any congregation in Israel. I also know that 75-80% of the members at this PMJ congregation are Jews. I hesitate to mention this congregation on the public blog lest I bring embarrassment or make some mistake.

    Meanwhile, Tikvat David is only six years old; it was started by an incompetent leader (me) who has only in the last two years begun to figure out what MJ should mean.

    By the way, in the first four years of our congregation we operated with more of a missionary model. In fact, for a brief time I had two staff members attempting street outreach. It had the same lack of effect that street outreach had when I worked for a Jewish mission.

    My point, anecdotally, is that Missionary Messianic Judaism is not a formula for success and neither is PMJ. It matters what is right.

    Meanwhile, I think Tikvat David is flourishing in a humble sort of way. I reject your assertion to the contrary. And it just so happens that we exalt Yeshua and the Spirit too at Tikvat David. We even boldly proclaim the good news of Yeshua. I don’t know why you thought otherwise.

    Derek

  3. Derek,

    I was basing my statement on a number of conversations with leaders in the MJ movement, all of whom provided the same information to me.

    As for congregational size, bear in mind that many of the Israeli congregations are largely Jewish (in some cases, almost entirely), whereas the vast majority of those attending MJ congregations in the States are not Jewish.

    As for the “flourishing PMJ congregation in the U.S. with more members and attenders than almost any congregation in Israel,” please share that info with me via email, since you feel it’s not best to share that info publicly. My key question, of course, would be in terms of Jewish people coming into a vibrant relationship with the Lord as opposed to total numbers of Jews attending, since many of them could have been saved previously.

    Please also let me know what you mean by “exalt the Spirit” in your congregation when you get a moment.

    One final question(and please do not take it in a condescending way, since all of us are on a journey of sorts, including me): You state that you have only figured out what MJ is in the last two years. Could it be that many of your current posts reflect just another step on your journey and that, say, five years from now, you could no longer embrace PMJ?

    May God’s smile be on your services this weekend.

    Dr. Brown

  4. Derek, and Dr. Brown,

    I have great respect for both of you, as you both know from personal experience with me. However, in this case, I must take exception to Dr. Brown’s well-intentioned, passionate, but puzzling conclusions which he appears to base on his personal experience and observations.

    It intrigues me that Scripture clearly states that in eschatological times, the following will be true of the Jewish people: Ezek. 37:21 . . . I will take the people of Israel from the nations among which they have gone, and will gather them from all sides, and bring them to their own land; (the Jewish people will be regathered to the Land–therefore we should support Aliyah and engage in it whenever possible); 22 and I will make them one nation in the land, upon the mountains of Israel; (therefore we should pursue Jewish unity and not make divisions between ourselves and “unsaved Jews”); and one king shall be king over them all (this is of course, Hashem Himself, apparently through the person of Messiah–see later here); and they shall be no longer two nations, and no longer divided into two kingdoms. (Jewish unity again); 23 They shall not defile themselves any more with their idols and their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions; but I will save them from all the backslidings in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God. (They shall be spiritually renewed–therefore we should pursue Jewish spiritual renewal); 24 “My servant David shall be king over them; and they shall all have one shepherd. (Therefore we should proclaim Yeshua the Son of David to our people, anticipating the day when He shall be manifestly our King) They shall follow my ordinances and be careful to observe my statutes. (therefore we should promote and practice Torah observance. It is strange hermeutics to imagine that Ezekiel is speaking here of anything other than Jewish covenant faithfulness. And of course there are many other supportive passages, for those with eyes to see). 25 They shall dwell in the land where your fathers dwelt that I gave to my servant Jacob; they and their children and their children’s children shall dwell there for ever (repeating the emphasis of unity, Aliyah, etc.) ; and David my servant shall be their prince for ever. (Again, the Messiah) 26 I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; and I will bless them and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. 27 My dwelling place shall be with them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 28 Then the nations will know that I the LORD sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary is in the midst of them for evermore.” (This kind of Messianic Judaism is the kind of Judaism which ultimately will bring honor to Hashem.

    Dr. Brown, probably the chief reason I embrace the kind of Post Missionary Messianic Judaism I do is because it makes better sense out of Scripture–the whole counsel of God. You are free to disagree, but please, don’t make egregious assumptions about people’s motives. For me, it is a matter of Scripture.

    And if you want anecdotal evidence, know this: I have seen more Jews come to Yeshua faith in my fifteen years at my Post Missionary Messianic Jewish congregation than in 17 years with a prominent Jewish mission. But again, the reason I do what I do is that I believe it is the pathway of obedience. My vision for Messianic Judaism involves honoring the past and serving the future, in Yeshua’s Name. in the power of the Spirit, and in covenant solidarity with the descendants of Jacob.

    If this be something about which you must warn others, so be it. I know you have deep reverence for God and for Scripture, Dr. Brown. But I would gently challenge you to become more aware of how much your cultural presuppositions and ecclesiastical context are conditioning your conclusions.

    One further very ironic point. Critics of Post Missionary Messianic Judaism fault people like myself for seeking to form congregations which are almost entirely Jewish. Outside my congregation, the sigbboard reads, “A congregation of Jews and Intermarrieds that honors Yeshua.” We are criticized by some in the mission culture and some others for thus contradicting the unity of the Body of Messiah. Then, as in your letter, we are criticized by the same people for having congregations with to many Gentiles. So we are wrong for seeking to have a Jewish demographic majority and base, and likewise criticized if our demographic base has too many Gentiles. This is a pincer movement that, in my worst moments seems, Machievellian.

    I leave it to our detrators to pick which position they will criticize us for, but from now on, no fair choosing both!

    As for me and my friends, we choose our understanding of Scripture, and of God’s will for Israel and the nations.

    Shalom.

    Stuart

  5. Dr. Dauerman,

    Thanks so much for taking the time to respond at length. Just last night, I read your paper in the Hashivenu forum where you raised some of these very issues, and I was about to email you but did not have your current e-address. So, thanks for writing so respectfully, despite our differences and despite your concerns with what you believe are the shortcomings of my approach.

    Allow me a few responses to your points, with one immediate correction: The vast majority of my conclusions are based on my study of Scripture over the last thirty-five years (along with related studies). Where my experiences confirm those conclusions, I offer those as well. In my LCJE paper, I primarily pointed to scripture; in some of my recent posts, I have made reference to anecdotal evidence as well.

    Now, to your key points. You quote Ezek 36 at length here, as you do in your Hashivneu paper, pointing to our people

  6. (Part one of my response to Stuart Dauerman)

    Dr. Dauerman,

    Thanks so much for taking the time to respond at length. Just last night, I read your paper in the Hashivenu forum where you raised some of these very issues, and I was about to email you but did not have your current e-address. So, thanks for writing so respectfully, despite our differences and despite your concerns with what you believe are the shortcomings of my approach.

    Allow me a few responses to your points, with one immediate correction: The vast majority of my conclusions are based on my study of Scripture over the last thirty-five years (along with related studies). Where my experiences confirm those conclusions, I offer those as well. In my LCJE paper, I primarily pointed to scripture; in some of my recent posts, I have made reference to anecdotal evidence as well.

    Now, to your key points. You quote Ezek 36 at length here, as you do in your Hashivneu paper, pointing to our people

  7. (Part two of my response to Stuart Dauerman)

    Now, I don

  8. Dear Derek and Dr. Dauerman,

    It is now 2:30 AM and I have once again picked up Dr. Kinzer’s PMJ, asking myself once more if I have, indeed, read him rightly. Probably, I have come under the most attack for allegedly judging motives, something addressed in the posts immediately above.

    Well, what are we to make of Dr. Kinzer’s statement on p. 307 that, “Full healing of the schism will occur only when the wider Jewish community accepts the Jewish ekklesia as a legitimate participant in Jewish communal life”? And, according to Dr. Kinzer, this will be the result of “the restored Jewish ekklesia will take its stand as part of the Jewish people” (p. 304).

    How then can I be accused of judging motives — specifically, claiming that it is a goal (or, hope) of PMJ for Torah-observant, MJ’s to be accepted as legitimate by the wider Jewish community — when this is stated expliclity in the pages of PMJ?

    The warnings on the final pages of my paper ring all the more true after re-reading the last chapter of PMJ. I pray that you will step back and consider them before the Lord — whom I know you both love deeply.

    MLB

  9. Ralph says:

    Derek,

    Is it not reasonable that one can be a critic of PMJ (or should it be PMMJ) and yet not be put into the category of being a torah rejecting, anti-jewish prayer, bait and switch, supersessionist? Is it not possible that someone can maintain that his fellow Jews are us and not them and yet hold a conviction that Rabbinical Judaism, although full of depth and wisdom, is not sufficient in itself to bring it adherents into the salvation that Peter expressed in Acts 4:8-12 (when addressing his fellow Jews that Yeshua is the only name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved)?

    Your post makes it sound like that before the term PMJ was invented, that everyone was a car salesman with no integrity to live a life related to Torah, but only out to sell a car. I first heard and embraced teachings against supersessionism in the early 80’s, over 20 years before PMJ was coined. I heard and embraced teachings about grace that empowers one to be able walk out the righteousness of Torah, the importance of communal life, Yeshua’s identification with Israel and the fidelity of God’s gifts and calling to Israel back then as well. And all of this was taught in a community committed to the mandate that they must go out and proclaim the gospel to the Jew First and also to the nations. A community that held a strong conviction that Jews needed to believe in Yeshua for salvation just like Gentiles did.

    I agree as stated by another on this post that the Ezekial passage sees a revived Israel with Jewish people living out the life of Torah, but as I have asked in other forums, “What do we mean by Torah faithfulness? Do we mean total adherence to Rabbinical Law? Is it possible that the righteousness of Torah that is found in Yeshua may express itself differently and apart from and at times in opposition to Rabbinical interpretation?

    ralph

  10. Rich says:

    I have not been able to read this blog since Friday but want to continue the conversation. As I read through the past posts, the substantial issues that are raised include the following, which I will list out and then expand upon in this and subsequent posts, blog owner permitting. I

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