The Problem With Ecumenics, Pt. 1

For more than half a century, MJMI has been actively involved in the sharing of the Messiah Yeshua with Jewish people all over the world. This is and always has been MJMI’s primary mission. It is because of the very existence of MJMI and organizations like MJMI that so-called “Jewish evangelism” became a “problem” within Judaism, and therefore, problematic for those seeking ecumenical peace with non-Messianic Jews, especially the Catholic Church.

Seeking Theological Peace

Fifty years ago, shortly after MJMI was founded, the Catholic Church made a declaration presenting a new theological framework for relationship between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people; and this past December, they released a statement prepared by the Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, reiterating and commemorating that doctrine. At heart, it is very pro-Jewish, seeking to continue reparations to the Jewish people for wrongs done throughout Catholic history, and affirming the chosenness of Israel and God’s continuing love for her. Unfortunately, while grappling with the Word of God in order to render a theology that is palatable to traditionally religious Jews, the document (and its underlying doctrine) actually alienates a very special minority among the Jewish people—namely, Messianic Jews. In addition, the document is hopelessly schizophrenic on two incredibly vital topics: the authority of Scripture, and salvation.

The Commission begins by speaking accurately about the Word of God, and how “for Jews this Word can be learned through the Torah.” According to the Commission, however, “Judaism and the Christian faith as seen in the New Testament are two ways by which God’s people can make the Sacred Scriptures of Israel their own. The Scriptures which Christians call the Old Testament is open therefore to both ways” (emphasis mine). In other words, the teachings of Judaism are set in contrast to the New Testament, granting Jewish tradition and Judaism equal standing with the New Testament Scriptures. Both ways (Judaism and the New Testament) are valid means by which to “open” and learn the Word of God. So says the Commission.

Equally Valid Perspectives?

Despite their correct assertion that “there are not two paths to salvation,” the Commission errs by championing the idea that there are “two new ways of reading Scripture, namely the Christological exegesis of the Christians and the rabbinical exegesis… of Judaism.” This flawed concept is unfortunately foundational to the Catholic Church’s efforts at Jewish-Catholic relations. The authors go on to say, “Christians can and must admit ‘that the Jewish reading of the Bible is a possible one… a reading analogous to the Christian reading which developed [at the time of the second Temple] in parallel fashion’…. Consequently, both are irreducible’” (emphasis mine).

While this statement appears on some level to be attempting to restore the Jewishness of the Scriptures—which is laudable—that is ultimately not what the authors are attempting to convey here. The fact is that the Jewishness of the Scriptures is inherent to the Word of God—it is not supplied by the external influences of Judaism and Jewish tradition. And yet, what the Commission is asserting is that since Rabbinical Judaism and early Christianity arose at the same time, the way Rabbinical Judaism understands the Scriptures may be just as valid as how believers understand and apply the New Testament Scriptures. This reduces the authority of the New Testament Scriptures to nothing, and falsely elevates a competing theological framework of man-made Rabbinical Judaism to the level of Scriptural authority. May it never be!

This entire line of thinking, however, is easily defeated by a single word from the Master Yeshua. Speaking to the Jews, He said, “Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me” (John 5:45-46). Any theological framework is false if it does not conclude that Yeshua is the Messiah; and, ironically, is falsely interpreting Moses—that is, the Torah.

Proclaiming Yeshua—The Only Way

The efforts of MJMI are not aimed at making ecumenical peace, or creating a theology that attempts to fuse Scriptural truth with non-Messianic Judaism. Without the aid or assistance of Jewish tradition or Catholic intervention, the Scriptures (including the Torah) clearly teach Jews how to be Messianic Jews in a way that makes no compromises to Jewish identity (on the contrary, it bolsters it), though it certainly threatens religious Judaism, just as Yeshua and Paul did in their day.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *