I love opinionated non-PC people. This blog is to vent my opinions on life, the universe and everything. Which is 42 which in gematria is "My Heart" (LBY) according to Rabbi Abulafia. The Divine Heart is the centre of everything.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Messianic Jewish Theology

In a past blog article I wrote about five kinds of Hebrew Catholics. Richard Harvey in 2009 published a book called "Mapping Messianic Jewish Theology" in which he listed eight kinds of Messianic Jews who have or are developing their own kind of Messianic Jewish theology.

They are:

1. Jewish Christianity [represented by Baruch Maoz]
2. Dispensational Hebrew Christianity [represented by Arnold Fruchtenbaum]
3. Israeli National and Restorationist [represented by Gershon Nerel]
4. New Testament Halakah [represented by Dan Juster and David Stern]
5. Traditional Judaism and the Messiah [represented by Michael Schiffman, John Fischer and David Friedman]
6. Postmissionary Messianic Judaism [represented by Mark Kinzer, Rich Nichol and Tsvi Sadan]
7. Rabbinic Halakah in the Light of the New Testament [represented by Joseph Shulam]
8. Messianic Rabbinic Orthodoxy [[represented by Elazar Brandt]

Most Hebrew Catholics would not have heard of most of these people except for possibly Mark Kinzer and David Stern. Baruch Maoz is an Israeli Christian pastor whose parents were Russian Jews that settled in America. Baruch was born in America in 1943 but moved with his family at age 10 to Israel. His famous book is called " Judaism is not Jewish: A friendly Critique of the Messianic Movement". He is a critic of any reliance by Messianic Jews on Rabbinic authority. He is thus an Evangelical Protestant pastor of Jewish background and israeli nationality.

Arnold Fruchtenbaum was an Ashkenazi Jew also born in 1943 in Russia and at the age of 4 his family moved to Germany and then in 1958 to America. He founded Ariel Ministries and is concerned with the evangelisation of Jews as the number one priority. Gershon Nerel is a Israeli who lives in the Messianic community Yad Hashmona in Israel and prefers the term Jewish believer in Yeshua. Dan Juster is an American Jew who was the first president of Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations and the founder of Tikkun Minstries. He now resides in Israel. David Stern is an American Jew now based in Jerusalem who produced the Messianic Jewish Bible and wrote the 'Messianic Jewish Manifesto'.

Michael Schiffman is an American Messianic Jewish Rabbi who wrote "Return of the remnant: The Rebirth of the Messianic Judaism". John Fischer is an American Messianic Rabbi born in Hungary in 1946. David Friedman was the former Academic Dean at the King of Kings college in Jerusalem. Like Mark kinzer Rabbi Rich Nichol is a leader in the UMJC today in America. Rabbi Tsvi Sadan is an Israeli Messianic Jew who publishes 'Kivun'. Joseph Shulam is a pioneer of Messianic Judaism in Israel and Elazar Brandt is an Israeli Messianic Jewish musician.

It is interesting that distinct forms of theology from a Messianic Jewish perspective are developing and we are looking forward to this development among Hebrew Catholics in the future. It is pleasing to note those developments in Messianic cirlces that are departing from merely parrotting Evangelical Protestant theology with a Jewish gloss. The turn towards liturgy, tradition and mysticism shows a positive move of the Holy Spirit among certain groups of Messianic Jews.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Hebrew Catholics in the Media

A recent article, by a journalist who writes for the 'St Louis Dispatch', on the Association of Hebrew Catholics and their upcoming conference was posted on the Huffington Post. As usual there are a group of people interested in misrepresenting the Hebrew Catholic movement. The journalist writes as if the AHC is a group just started in St Louis in the last four years. It also speaks about the conference as the first national one. However the AHC was founded over 30 years ago by Father Elias Friedman of Mt Carmel in Israel and holocaust survivor Andrew Sholl from Australia in 1979. In recent years there have been a number of Hebrew Catholic conferences at which people from all over the US have attended and also from outside the US. In fact I have attended two of these- one in New York in 2005 and one in Washington DC in 2008.

I find it rather offensive that certain Jewish representives are interfering in what the Jews who have chosen to be Catholics are doing. Certainly Catholics don't interfere with what Christian or Catholics converts to Judaism or Noahides are doing in Judaism. Actually it is none of their business. How dare liberal and secular Jews criticise and interfere with those who choose to identitfy as Catholic Jews or Hebrew Catholics. The Nazis identified them as Catholic Jews and like St Edith Stein they were sent to their death with all other Jews.

Those Orthodox Jews that go along with such secular and liberal opinions in regard to Hebrew Catholics are rather confused. On the one hand they believe that those Jews who have become Catholic or their parents or grandparents became Catholic are halakically Jewish and thus obliged to observe Torah and mitzvot. Then when some of them do start to do this they get upset. The orthodox Jewish theologian Michael Wyschogrod proposed to Cardinal Lustiger this very position that Jews who are Catholic should still observe Torah and mitzvot.

There also seems to be a total disconnect between what Catholics mean by proselytizing and evangelising. These Jewish representatives seem to see them as the same thing. Catholics understand proselytising as dishonest and aggressive methods of trying to convert people. All Catholics are called at all times and to all people to witness to their faith in loving and appropriate ways which is part of evangelising. There are certain liberal or modernist Catholics that are against evangelisation in any form but these people stand outside the teaching of the Catholic Church and are ignored by all orthodox Catholics.

As for the Association of Hebrew Catholics it does not see itself as an organisation that proselytises or indeed involved in any programme of active evangelisation to the Jewish community. That certain other Catholic Jews who may encourage active evangelisation of Jews speak together with the AHC at conferences does not mean that this is the policy or purpose of the AHC. There are many differences of opinion among Hebrew Catholics and the role of active or passive evangelisation is one such issue. All agree that proselytizing (using the Catholic understanding of that term)is not appropriate. I personally with some other Hebrew Catholics do not believe that active evangelisation directed at Jews as a group is appropriate at this stage of salvation history in the light of the centuries of Gentile Catholic persecution and the Shoah.

I might add that Hebrew Catholics actually believe in God, Moses and the giving of the Torah on Sinai unlike many liberal and secular Jews. Hebrew Catholics actually reach out to devout orthodox Catholics with a postive message about Judaism and Jews discouraging them from holding anti-semitic and anti -Israel attitudes. Most of the Jewish Christian dialogue groups are liberal Christians dialoguing with liberal Jews. Most of these people are getting old and I don't notice many of the young and devout Catholics getting involved in such dialogues. It is strange if we get to a point where Jews are asking Catholic authorities to persecute and restrict the rights of those Jews who have embraced the Catholic Faith. In fact it is already occuring in certain places. Shame on those Jews and those Catholics who support such a policy of discrimination.