Last week, I pointed you fine blog readers to the post A Warning To Those Who Follow Yeshua. This post explained how following Judaism and Yeshua can cause problems in the faith of believers.
The post has now garnered enough attention that the sea of 100+ comments has shifted into a debate about Judaism’s role in a believer’s life.
Since most people cannot rightly navigate a sea of 100+ comments, allow me to summarize the arguments:
Judah’s summary of the arguments:
- The original post and premise:
I have witnessed countless people, being studious in Torah and truly loving Hashem, nonetheless deny Yeshua because he is the ultimate obstacle for a “true” Judaic theology. We must be on guard against this.
The comments soon shifted, however, to a debate about whether Judaism’s traditions and rulings should apply to the life of a follower of Yeshua.
- Yes, Judaism’s rulings should bind Yeshua’s Jewish disciples:
You can't keep Torah without the traditions and rulings of Judaism. Anything less is silly, self-defined Torah observance, where everyone is right in their own eyes. Furthermore, Messianic Judaism is not an authentic Judaism if we don’t keep the traditions, which can lead to people abandoning Yeshua for authentic Judaism.
- No, Judaism’s ruling should not apply to Yeshua’s disciples:
Some of Judaism’s traditions actually nullify God's commandments. Still others cause a heavy burden. Look at the fruit: a significant number of Messianics who embraced Judaism's traditions and rulings ended up denying Messiah.
For the record, I fall in the latter camp, though I caution my side to avoid getting into anti-Judaism arguments, which can and has led to anti-semitism; hatred of Judaism often leads to hatred of Jews.
My argument isn’t an anti-Judaism one, but rather, one that puts all tradition – both Jewish and Christian – into its proper place: firmly below Scripture itself, and not elevated to a place of requirement for faithful living.
One last note: this has long been a contentious issue among Messianics. Jewish Christian Dr. Michael Brown wrote a landmark paper on this way back in 1988 (that’s a quarter of a century ago!) dealing with this very issue, touching on both sides. In that paper, Dr. Brown argues that we should not keep the traditions, but also that our congregations ought not be called a Judaism, and our leaders not rabbis. He essentially argues for a Jewish Christianity, a position held by many “Messianic” pioneers of the 20th century, rather than a Messianic Judaism.