Forward: “Evangelicals Are Falling In Love With Passover — Is There Anything Wrong With That?”  With some followup thoughts from Morning Meditations.

There are good reasons and bad reasons for Gentiles engaging in Passover.  One of the worst reasons is a “fetishization” of Judaism, thinking that if a believer collects to themselves the ancient charms and incantations of Judaism it will somehow give them a higher level of Spiritual power and blessing that they feel lacking.  It’s a sufficiency problem theologically, and a “one weird trick” species of Gnosticism.

James adds the following:

There are times when I get a little tired of churches seeing “types and shadows” of Christ in every little detail of the Tanakh (what Christians call the “Old Testament”), as if Passover and many other sacred events had no intrinsic meaning to Israel in and of themselves.

To God, what is the difference between the symbol and the thing being symbolized? Since both the symbol and the thing being symbolized have the same ontological relationship to the Lord, an outcropping of his Being, it makes just as much sense, to say that Gospel doctrines reflect the Torah lifestyle–and both reflect the person of Yeshua.  Do the dimensions and decorations of the Tabernacle symbolize truths about the universe, or does the universe naturally conform to the Lord’s preferred dimensions and decoration of the throne room of God?


Parshah Noach: A Methuselah Sonnet (Gen 6:9 – 11:32)

This was a sonnet poem I composed a few years back on the theme of Methuselah and the flood. Enjoy.

This too-old skin drinks in the deluged sun
Adonai casts on this blighted shadow.
End, harsh mercy, what futile blood begun
Nine-hundred three score and nine years ago.
Earth now cleansed from our craft, our carnival;
Aborted genius, no wisdom imbued.
Contradict malice in sardonic call,
Its hubris’ tantrum, Eve’s nursery eschewed.
Evil, from good, we’ve for Adam derived
With intemperance, misstep and attack,
And now sins’ flood I’ve reluctant imbibed
This flesh drowned, this essence’s Eden intact.
And now in soaked disease I peacefully wrestle
Seeing shalom’s seed off in distant vessel.

“Wine, Rituals, Symbols, and Worship” over at Rappahannock Mag

My latest Rappahannock Magazine article is available in print throughout the Fredericksburg/Stafford/Spotsy area and is available for reading online here, at their revamped and much improved website.

Yet again, my thanks goes out to Peter Willis and the staff over at Rap Mag. If you like what you read, you can show your appreciation by writing to them and patronizing their sponsors–or for that matter, becoming one yourself.

Getting Sidetracked on God’s Triunity–Part 2: What Would Rav Kook say to Joseph Smith?

Surrender DorothyThis is Part 2 in a series on the Triunity of God in a Messianic Jewish context.  For Part 1, click here

As I mentioned previously, the origin of this series was in a recent chavurah lesson I organized on the triunity of the Godhead in a Messianic Jewish context.  During the research for that lesson, I went down several detours in my research in materials I read which I thought would be good discussion for this blog.  

Triunity and Trinity is a minefield, and it becomes even more of one when discussing it (discussing Him!) in a Messianic Jewish milieu.  The Jewish Body of Messiah has a special onus to avoid all appearance of evil in regard to idolatry and avodah zarah, be it because of our witness to the Jewish people, our need to maintain integrity in our Jewish identity, or just our desire to please God by obeying the mitzvot.  But doing so is harder than it may seem, for both Christian and Jew, even under the best of circumstances. As Rav Kook wrote in his essay “The Pangs of Cleansing”

One must always cleanse one’s thoughts about God to make sure they are free of the dross of deceptive fantasies, of groundless fear, of evil inclinations, of wants and deficiencies . . . All the divine names, whether in Hebrew or in any other language, give us only a tiny and dull spark of the hidden light to which the soul aspires when it utters the word “God.”  Every definition of God brings about heresy, every definition is spiritual idolatry;  even attributing to Him intellect and will, even the term divine, the term God, suffers from the limitations of definition.  Except for the keen awareness that all these are but sparkling flashes of what cannot be defined–these, too, would engender heresy. (Emphasis added)

You and I are “idolaters” not just because we’re Messianic Jews or believers in Yeshua, but because we are thinking, reading, and writing about God as we speak.  All believing Jews are minim in this sense, along with the majority of humanity who are not atheists–of whom Kook becomes complimentary later in the essay.  Of course this is not a full, literal truth of the matter, but Rav Kook’s words serve to show the pitfalls of making even guarded, conservative inquiry about the Godhead. Continue reading

My $0.02: The Infamous Incident at Antioch

Rabbi Derek Leman has an interesting post up on Mark Nanos’ take on the Antioch Incident.

My $0.02 on this subject: I think we should take seriously the statement that Peter was “fearing the party of the circumcision” after receiving news from James’ men. It may be that Peter received news of a credible, substantial threat to the safety of his table fellowship. It would certainly comport with the hostility and martyrdom Yeshua believer’s were suffering during that time. It’s easy for modern believers to forget or underestimate just how dangerous the situation was back then.

Peter would then have to decide whether or not he wanted to endanger the lives, not just of his fellow Jews, but also his Gentile guests whom he may have considered as “innocent bystanders” he didn’t want hurt. Paul saw things differently. He had more exposure to gentile believers and knew they were just as willing and capable to ensure hardship for Yeshua. He also had an intimate knowledge of anti-Yeshua zealots and knew how important it was to not back down to them.  

A thought experiment: Suppose a messianic synagogue hosts a public seder one Passover and, as a sign of goodwill, several prominent Muslims and mainstream Jews in the community agree to be guests. A week before the Seder, a terrorist threat is phoned into the synagogue demanding claiming reprisal if the seder goes through. What do you do as Rabbi? Do you cancel the event or disinvite the guests to avoid potential bloodshed, or do you take a stand against troublemakers? There’s reasons for either decision, just like Peter and Paul both had their reasons for the stances they took.

Of course, there’s not much historical clarity in the context of the Paul’s Galatians epistle and the so-called Antioch incident, so I’m open to different views on the issue.