In response to Mistaken Identity
I responded to the blog below and thought it was worth repeating.
Of course, there is still one huge problem. Jews still think that we believe Torah doesn’t matter. So, how are you going to fix that? http://skipmoen.com/2011/10/23/a-case-of-mistaken-identity-2/comment-page-1/#comment-29267
I believe that some answers above sometimes reiterate the problem rather than provide suggestions for solutions. While all the opinions are good, they do not really address the problem. In reading them, I see many terms being used that assume universal understanding. This is a very good example of the problem.
It seems to me that what Skip is saying, then asking, is that for 2,000 years there has been misunderstandings and animosity between Jews and Christians because early on, first Gentiles and then Jews, began hostile and reactionary self-definitions as “not” the other rather than seeking common ground in creating a community that was congruent with G_d’s view of Israel as a mixed community. The problem began after the destruction of the Temple, and the two revolts, and the removal of all Jews from Jerusalem. Instead of Torah, Gentile believers began to use other factors, such as Greek philosophy and existing paganism and Gnosticism to reinterpret the halachah of Yeshua and Sha’ul and even Torah itself to bolster their “anti Jewish” ideologies, as well as to establish their political security in the world.
Words and phrases began to take on colloquial meaning and carried the bias of that particular community. Many of those meanings as they do today, and as I see above, are not about believers and unbelievers, truth and falsehood, but rather about who was “right and wrong”. While today it encompasses much more, back then it usually meant Gentiles right, Jews wrong. No distinction was made between believer and unbeliever, only a religious distinction based on race.
Ironically, to ignore Jews is to ignore Yeshua, and eliminates the very basis of the word “Christ-ian”. Consequently, because of the Gentile actions, and also to a certain extent, the Jewish believers’ actions, the Rabbis began to define themselves as distinct from “the synagogue of the Christ followers” first because of the trouble they was causing the established Jewish community and then because they rightfully saw the emerging Gentile beliefs as idolatrous. The Gentile believers are the reason this happens. Their orthodox and heterodox definitions strayed further and further from the truth, causing the Rabbis to follow their lead in defining “good versus evil” rather than “truth versus falsehood”.
No longer were the groups attempting to find commonality as Sh’aul had constantly stressed, but rather the focus was the distinction of the “other”. As I read the above, I saw the same pattern. We, as Christians, define ourselves as not Jews. Even Messianic believers, as we see them are “Messianic Jews”. Additionally, we see non-believing Jews (like we can really know that) as “the Jews”, repeating a phrase that is really entrenched in the problem, not the solution (Gal. 3:28). How does G_d view the world; as Jews and Christians, no, there is Israel, and not Israel, so why do we make distinctions? How is it we have the authority to make changes?
So, the question to answer is, how do we, as Gentile and Jewish believers, (not Christians and Messianic Jews), create the amalgamated community “in Christ” that is the intention of the Gospel?
How do we avoid the traps of a theology that idolatrously “replaces” the one that G_d intends and that we STILL do not have, and continue to perpetuate through our defense of our “doctrines” artificial and false categories and divisions that we ALL unconsciously fall into (cultural bias) or bad habits? How do we define terms? Do they mesh with how Yeshua and Sh’aul used those terms or do they carry anachronistic concepts that have no place in the Hebrew worldview?
I would suggest that the only way to do that is to find a group of people who are committed to creating this type of community, begin to live out the stuff we learn from Torah about it, make it a daily walk, and then and only then, reach out to others who are missing such a huge part of the community “in Christ”. If we are not in a mixed community on some level, locally or online, and we are not pursuing Torah learning in view of how Yeshua and the Apostles viewed things, then we are not even on the first page and we are just continuing the aberrant trajectory of the last two millennia. Taking the first step would be a big improvement. I could be wrong, but as I see it, this is what is needed.