Boaz Michael, head of First Fruits of Zion, made a public statement last week.
The statement appeared to paint many good Messianic folks as supersessionist enemies of Israel.
Here is the entire quote again:
Excellent. I’ve read a lot in this area lately (I’m in the process of reading through, “Future Israel: Why Christian Anti-Judaism Must Be Challenged.”) Your going in the right direction with this–please continue to develop your thoughts on this.
Supresessionism is really a DNA level problem within Christianity–it is going to take some very bold leaders to address it and fix it. Supresessionism is really a DNA level problem with One Law and Two House thinkers–it is going to take some bold leaders to address it and fix it.
The greater grievance is that of the One Law and Two House message–because it gives the impression of support for Israel and the Jewish people when in reality, the sad reality, it is another attempt to diminish it. The worst kind of friend is the one who you really think is your friend and over time turns out to be your enemy. [emphasis mine]
I wrote Boaz Michael on Messianics to draw attention to Boaz’ statements.
And when I wrote that, lots of people got angry. That post now has just under 100 comments, with the follow-up post having just under 90. That’s almost 200 comments of pissy piss piss.
Stirring the pot wasn’t my intent. In reality, I just wanted clarity. Clarity is good. “Clarity over agreement”, as one fine Jew is fond of saying. Does one of our leaders really believe [ugly thing X]? I wanted to know. I wanted clarity. For myself and my community.
I had a phone conversation with Boaz Michael. Twice. For a good hour or two. And several emails. I wish I could report, “Boaz and FFOZ really do not believe this!”, but the reality isn’t so rosy. See below.
Through the phone conversations and comments and emails, Boaz and I have established some clarity about where FFOZ really stands.
Behold, the Boaz Michael-Approved® “here’s what FFOZ really believes”:
- FFOZ doesn't believe all gentiles who keep Torah are supersessionist.
- FFOZ doesn't believe One Law and Two House communities are enemies of Israel.
- FFOZ believes One Law and Two House communities are demonstrating supersessionism and harming Israel when they define observance outside of traditional Jewish interpretation.
That’s what Boaz Michael and FFOZ really believe.
Now, what you’re about to read below is Judah playing umpire.
That is, I’m gonna calls ‘em like I sees ‘em.
The following is not Boaz Michael-Approved®. If you don’t like reality, you might want to stop reading now, and go shopping or something.
Is what Boaz Michael and FFOZ believe any different than what I had speculated? After all, I twice asked,
Fine blog reader, am I misinterpreting Boaz’s statements?
And boy, you fine blog readers sure thought so.
One person told me I wasn’t controlling my animalistic soul. Another told me I was unwilling to believe any interpretation of Boaz’s words other than my own. Yet another told me I was deliberately choosing blog traffic over Yeshua’s commandments.
So, did I misinterpret? Was I practicing Teh Evilz?
Umm. Let’s see here.
I was wrong about one thing.
The one thing I was wrong about was that I implied that FFOZ thinks all gentiles who keep Torah are supersessionists.
My bad. They don’t. (Praise God.)
FFOZ encourages gentiles to keep the Torah, Boaz tells me. Even the so-called “Jewish identity markers”, such as fringes, wrapping tefillin, etc. so long as they’re doing it according to Jewish traditional halakha. (That last part is important, see below.)
I believe him. I was wrong.
Ok. What else?
I was right about two things.
1. I said, “Man, it sounds like Boaz is saying we’re supersessionists. Man, that sucks.”
That’s basically accurate. He believes that we are are supersessionists because we keep Torah outside of Jewish tradition.
2. I said, “Man, it sounds like Boaz is saying we’re enemies of Israel. Man, that sucks.”
That’s basically accurate. More precisely, he believes we’re harming Israel by one of the things we do. When I spoke to him on the phone, he did use the term enemy, but when I asked permission to post that on the blog for clarity, he said we’re harming Israel. A meaningless distinction? Perhaps, but hey, read it. (Weep?)
For what it’s worth, I talked to a few other FFOZers who were quite open about it, saying plainly that yeah, they look at us as enemies of Israel.
The Bottom Line
A lot of commenters were saying I totally misinterpreted Boaz Michael. Said I was doing this just to pick a fight, get blog traffic, failing to harness my animal soul, unwilling to listen to reason and logic, and instead was influenced by my already-made-up mind.
You know what I think? I think all that talk was worth doodly-squat.
If that describes you, here, have a washcloth. I think there’s some egg your face. Bottom line is Boaz meant the things he said.
Where are you goin’?
Well, I love Boaz Michael. I love First Fruits of Zion. They’ve done much good for the Messianic movement. Much good for the Lord. More than I’ve done, or will ever do. God bless ‘em.
They’re in error. Actually, worse. They’ve deluded themselves when it comes to regular folk in the Messianic movement. And they don’t see it. They have been so busy building the religion of Messianic Judaism, a noble goal perhaps, but they’ve moved away from the sheep a bit, lost a few here and there. They pay more mind now to what the big religious organizations have to say about the sheep.
They’ve enlightened themselves with theologies and intellectualism, but neglected the regular people. Forgot why regular people keep God’s commandments in the first place. They’ve aligned themselves with big religious organizations in order to do the religion building thing better, but in the meantime lost track of, you know, the people.
It should be obvious by now that I can no longer recommend FFOZ materials to my congregation, or to my community, or to the greater Messianic communities. Seeing what they think of Messianic folk like myself, I can’t, in good conscience, stump for them.
I don’t think FFOZ people are ugly. They’re smart. They’re engaged with scholarship and tradition. Informed of the latest doctrines, connoisseurs of the best things of God, trail-blazers in God’s revelation! They’ve just lost touch with the base, their core, the regular folks of the Messianic movement who are trying their best to live a holy life by the commandments. It is the reason so many have left. It is the reason for their decline.
I wish FFOZ the best. I don’t wish them any harm. I wish them, pray them, restorative change.
Until that change comes to fruition, adieu, First Fruits.