Several months ago, prominent bilateral ecclesiology blogger Derek Leman wrote how he had to “draw a boundary” in his congregation by essentially booting 2 Torah-keeping non-Jews from his congregation.
Why the boot?
Derek’s explanation was that 2 men were dressed frum (piously Jewish), thus erasing Jew/gentile boundaries. Derek didn’t like that. And Derek didn’t like that these gentiles considered themselves part of Israel. But mostly that they dressed like Jews.
And thus, our 2 unnamed men were no longer welcomed at Derek’s synagogue. As Derek wrote,
These visitors yesterday would not have earned a boundary-keeping talk from the nervous rabbi (me) if it had not been for their crossing a boundary of identity. The person I talked to crossed two:
(1) He wears tzit-tzit in public with no kippah…
(2) He is a non-Jew who dresses as a frum Jew...
Ah, those 2 deadly sins: wearing fringes but no kippa, and gentiles dressing frum! Heaven forbid!
Now, a frum-dressed person usually indicates kippa, tallit, a tefillin-binding, phylactery-sticking, payot-curlin’ observant Jew with siddur in hand.
Bo Barbie knows frum:
So…these 2 men that were essentially booted from Derek’s bilateral ecclesiology synagogue -- I have some news about them.
I met one of them last night.
One of these utterly frum gentlemen visited our Messianic congregation last night…and…I couldn’t believe my eyes!
Imagine a old, observant man walking into a room, chanting blessings reserved for racial descendants of Jacob! Uttering thanks to God he wasn’t created a gentile! Dressed like the chief rabbinate: a big black Orthdox Jewish hat, black overcoat, payot, the whole bit!
Now, erase that from your imagination. It didn’t happen.
The man wore a t-shirt. I think he may have worn fringes to remind himself of God’s commandments. That was all. Seriously, the guy was wearing jeans, a t-shirt, and fringes. (I’m not even sure about the fringes, I don’t distinctly remember them! He certainly was not flaunting them.)
I talked to him about Derek Leman. He has no hard feelings. The man was kind and gracious. Good fruit evident in him just from our short time talking.
He told me with solemn sincerity that he and his friend were not dressed frum, as Derek described, but were wearing tees and jeans, just as he was standing there in front of me. No black hats, no payot, no kippah, no phylacteries, no tefillin.
I’m left with some difficult questions. Did my friend Derek Leman lie outright? Did he exaggerate the situation to better promote his theology by demonizing the opposition? I wouldn’t think so, I would think Derek has higher personal standards than that.
The ongoing attempts to exclude Messianics outside of the bilateral ecclesiology niche makes me wonder. That Derek wants to redefine “Messianic” to exclude folks like this man worries me – maybe in his zeal to exclude the “unwanted” Messianic types, Derek exaggerated the facts? I don’t know how else to explain the discrepancy between this man’s earnest story and Derek’s story-with-a-theology-zinger blog post.
(Ain’t drama in the Messianic blogosphere childish and ridiculous? Yet I felt obligated to set the record straight in this matter.)
We now return you to drama-free posts. Messianic drama queens and Frum Barbies need not apply.