The Center for
Messianic Learning 

Unapologetically Pro-Torah
Unashamedly Pro-Israel
Irrevocably Zionist
ב״ה
“… out of Tziyon will go forth Torah, the word of ADONAI from Yerushalayim.”
(Isaiah 2:3)
Jew and Gentile (Synagogue and Church), one in Messiah. (Ephesians 2:14)
“For He is our peace, Who made both one, and broke down the middle wall of partition, …”
 

If your life is not in jeopardy for what you believe, you’re probably on the wrong side!

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Please Note: Nothing on this website should be taken as anti-Church. I am not anti-anything or anyone. I am only pro-Torah and pro-Truth. Sometimes the Truth upsets our long-held beliefs. Why isn’t my theology consistent throughout this website?

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Developing a
Systematic Messianic Theology

“The purpose of careful theological formulations is not to put barriers in the way of people who are seeking salvation, but to define clearly the truths upon which genuine [Biblical] faith rests, so that people will not be misled by false doctrines.” [Robert M. Bowman, Jr. Why You Should Believe in the Trinity: An Answer to Jehovah's Witnesses. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1989, p. 18.]
 

After you have read this page, it is recommended that
you begin your study of the science of theology HERE.

The Need for a
Messianic Jewish
Systematic Theology

Christian theology tends to underplay or misrepresent Jewish phenomena. Jewish theology ignores the New Testament. Since any genuine reconciliation of the church and the Jewish people must conform to biblical truth, what is needed before any program of action can be designed is a thought framework that can do justice to both the Messianic and the Jewish elements of any theological topic. The name for such a thought framework is a Messianic Jewish systematic theology.[1]

As far as I have been able to determine after studying the issue for twenty years, within Messianic Judaism (or the “Torah Pursuant Messianic Restoration Movement” for lack of better term, since those within the movement have numerous names by which they refer to themselves), little attention has been paid thus far to the development of a systematic theology. This is due, I believe, to two primary reasons:

  1. Messianic Judaism’s higher priority is to establish itself as a legitimate sect within greater Judaism
  2. Jewish theology is extremely difficult to “codify”[2]

Historically, Judaism (in general) is much more concerned with how one behaves rather than with what one believes.[3] In Jewish thought, if you are in general consensus with Rambam’s Thirteen Principles, what you believe about HaShem is pretty much between you and Him. It must be admitted by any serious student of theology, that “systematic theology” is the primary reason that there are currently over 43,000 distinct Christian denominations (plus numerous pseudo-Christian cults) worldwide,[4] while there are only six or so major Jewish “denominations“ (Orthodox, Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, Messianic, and Humanist). People obviously have many different opinions as to what comprises “Christian theology.”

The modern Messianic Jewish Movement marks its beginning at approximately the same time as the Israeli Six-Day War in 1967. At the very time that Jerusalem was being liberated from Gentile domination for the first time since being overrun by the Romans in 70 CE, there arose almost simultaneously three centers of Messianic Jewish awareness: one in Florida; one in Ohio; one in the San Francisco Bay area. Since those early years the movement has been essentially preoccupied with defining itself and its relationship to both main-stream Judaism and Evangelical Christianity, as it is actually the child of each, but is a theological orphan accepted by neither. To mainstream Judaism, the Messianic Movement is seen primarily as a new “sect” of Christianity whose goals are to evangelize and proselytize unwary Jews to Christianity. To Evangelical Christianity, the Messianic Movement is seen primarily as an attempt to “Judaize” unwary Christians and place them back under the “yoke of the Law.”

Neither of those opinions could be further from the truth. Those within the Movement generally describe themselves as Jewish and non-Jewish followers of the Jewish Messiah Yeshua who have united for the common purpose of breaking down the barriers which have so long divided the Body of Messiah. The Jewish members of the movement desire only to retain their precious heritage and traditions while embracing their Messiah; the non-Jewish members desire to claim their status as full members of the Commonwealth of Israel and the family of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Ya'akov into which they have been “grafted” and adopted by faith in Israel’s Messiah. (Rom. 11:17-24)

The ominous task of developing an “umbrella” Systematic Messianic Theology (if one is even desired — or even possible) has necessarily been postponed due to the pressing need for the Movement to firmly and clearly identify and define itself, and to gain a measure of acceptance from both the wider Jewish and Christian communities. The task is also significantly hampered by numerous seemingly insurmountable factors, not the least of which is the need to “blend” all that is true in traditional Judaism with all that is true in evangelical Christianity, while at the same time discarding all that is “chaff” within both traditions. The fact that those in the Messianic Movement come from virtually all of the Jewish traditions and Christian denominations makes the task even more difficult, because of all of the “denominational baggage” and “sacred cows” that come from each of these numerous traditions. Jews can’t agree with other Jews about the major truths of Judaism, and Christians can’t agree with other Christians about the major truths of Christianity; how much more difficult it is to get Jews and Christians to agree with each other about the major truths of the true Biblical faith!

This fact is complicated ever further by the extreme “fringe” elements of the Movement that claim that they are the only “true” Messianic Judaism, but which are in actuality a whole new class of cult that has arisen with the “Messianic Awakening” and which teach abhorrent doctrines and outright heresies that have absolutely no basis in either Jewish or Christian tradition or in Scripture. Among these new cults I specifically identify the so-called “Two House/Two Stick Movement” (which is nothing but a re-emergence and re-stating of the Anglo-Israel heresy taught by the Armstrongs) and the so-called “Sacred Namers” (who flagrantly violate Torah’s prohibition of misusing the Sacred Name and claim that in order to be “saved” one must adopt their particular spelling and pronunciation of the Names of HaShem and Yeshua HaMashiach). There are certainly other fringe elements, but these are the two most prominent of which I am aware at the time of this writing (2019).

One of the preliminary tasks in the development of a Messianic theology is to identify the major divisions of that theology. In classical Protestant Systematic Theology there are eleven major divisions of study which include:

Classical Jewish “systematic” theology (such as it is) is comprised of only six major themes or topics: (hyperlinks are to a series of lessons on “What Jews Believe: a Brief Introduction to Jewish Theology” at chabad.org).

After trying for several years to develop a working Messianic theology within the traditional framework in which I was trained, I have finally discovered that it is quite impractical to do so, for a very obvious reason that has only recently occurred to me.

 Christian theology is based on a totally Western (“Greek”) way of looking at the universe. In order to be true to its Biblical origin, a working Messianic theology must be based on an Eastern (“Hebrew”) way of looking at ha'olam (the approximate Hebrew equivalent of “universe”).

Additionally, one of the major tenets of classic Christian theology is that “Israel” and “the Church” are two eternally separate entities. There is therefore no suitable division of traditional Christian theology in which to deal with the fact that “the called-out” holy community actually consists of all — both “Jew” and “non-Jew” — who have ever come into a covenant relationship with the Most High.

For want of a better place from which to start, I have initially identified the following framework for the theology which I will attempt to develop: (Some articles overlap into multiple categories.) Click on the section title to go to that section.

• Survey: what the Torah[5] has to say about topics which cover multiple categories.

• About Torah: what the entire Torah, including the Tanakh and the Apostolic Writings, has to say about itself.

• About HaShem: what the Torah has to say about the Person and Nature of the God of the Torah; specifically what it says about “Abba, the Father.”

• About Messiah: what the Torah has to say about the Person and Nature of “haBen, the Son of God.”

• About Ruach HaKodesh: what the Torah has to say about the Person and Nature of the “Spirit of God.”

• About Spirit Beings: what the Torah has to say about angels, demons, seraphim, cherubim, and other spirit beings other than HaShem.

• About Humanity: what the Torah has to say about the human race as a whole.

• About Sin & Redemption what the Torah has to say about the source, nature, and consequences of sin; what the Torah has to say about the remedy of sin and the “calling“ of “the Elect.”

• About Moadim (Holy Days): what the Torah has to say about HaShem’s appointed times and seasons.

• About the Holy Community: what the Torah has to say about the nature of the Holy Community and how to live within it.

• About Israel: what the Torah has to say about the Commonwealth of Israel, its land, and its people.

• About Goyim (Gentiles): what the Torah has to say about the non-Jewish people of the world and their relationship to HaShem and the Commonwealth of Israel.

• About the Future: what the Torah has to say about future events.

• About Other Matters: what the Torah has to say about issues that do not fall neatly into any other category.

So far, I have developed a number of articles in an attempt to develop a comprehensive and systematic Messianic theology. I do not realistically expect this task to be completed by either myself or anyone else before Messiah returns in glory. (But there are a few of us who are sure going to try!)

David Stern, the translator of the Complete Jewish Bible, suggests the following topics for a Messianic systematic theology:[6]

  1. Theology Proper
  2. Sin, Atonement, Faith Works
    1. Man in the image of God
    2. Sin
    3. Repentance, Atonement, Forgiveness
    4. Man’s Moral Duty
    5. Faith and Works
  3. The People of God: Covenants, Corporateness, Primise and the Gospel
    1. Covenants
      1. All Five Covenants Remain in Force Today
      2. Messianic Jews (Hebrews 7-8) — Has the “Old” Covenant Been Abolished by the “New”
    2. Corporate Aspects of the Gospel
    3. Yeshua is Identified with the People of Israel
    4. God Will Fulfill His Promises to the Jewish People
      1. The New Testament Proves It
      2. The Tanakh Proves It
      3. Refutation of Arguments that God is Finished with the Jews (2 Cor 1:20; Matt 5:17)
    5. The Promise of the Land
    6. The Promise of the Kingdom
    7. Conclusion
  4. Eschatology
    1. The Messiah
    2. Reward and Punishment
    3. End-Time Prophecy
  5. Inspiration and Authority of Scripture
    1. What Constitutes God’s Word?
    2. The Jewishness of the New Testament
    3. Antisemitism in the New Testament

While I probably will not follow Stern’s outline directly, I will strive to address all of the concerns he raises.

FINALLY, a Disclaimer: As you read through the pages of this website, you will find inconsistencies in my theological position. I have been studying the Scriptures for over 60 years, and every time I open my Bible to study (with very rare exception), HaShem shows me something new. When He shows me something new, I have to adjust my understanding of theology to incorporate what he has just shown me, and it is physically impossible for me to go back, find, and edit everything that needs to be changed to conform to my new understanding. I just have to catch them as I happen accross them. Additionally, the first version of this website was launched in 1995, and some of the original pages still exist in this version, and my theology has changed a lot in those 24 years. (I’m writing this in September 2019.)


After you have read this page, it is recommended that
you begin your study of the science of theology
HERE.

____________

   1. David H. Stern. Messianic Jewish Manifesto. Clarksville, MD: Jewish New Testament Publications, 1988, p. 85. [RETURN]

   2. “There is no established formulation of principles of faith that are recognized by all branches of Judaism. Central authority in Judaism is not vested in any one person or group — although the Sanhedrin, the supreme Jewish religious court, would fulfill this role if it is re-established - but rather in Judaism's sacred writings, laws, and traditions.” (“Jewish principles of faith,” en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_principles_of_faith, accessed August 9, 2019)

Moses Maimonides (Moses Ben Maimon, also called Rambam) was born March 30, 1135, in Córdoba, Spain and died in Egypt December 13, 1204. He was a Jewish philosopher, jurist, and physician, the foremost intellectual figure of medieval Judaism. His first major work, begun at age 23 and completed 10 years later, was a commentary on the Mishna, the collected Jewish oral laws. His Thirteen Principles of Faith were written in his introduction to the tenth chapter of Talmud Samhedrin. These have been modified for Messianic believers in Thirteen Messianic Principles of Faith.

It may well turn out that the effort to develop an effective Systematic Messianic Theology is an exercise in futility, since the entire concept of Systematic Theology follows a Greek, not a Hebrew, mindset. This video poses some very interesting discussion points in this regard. [RETURN]

  3. “Why are there no orderly attempts in the Talmud to expound the beliefs of Judaism? In a certain sense, the question is anachronistic. We raise the question, I think, more because Islam and Christianity are characterized by repeated attempts to expound their theologies systematically, than because such an approach to theology is intrinsic to monotheistic faith.” (Menachem Kellner, “The Emergence of Jewish Dogma.” myjewishlearning.com/ article/the-emergence-of-jewish-dogma/, accessed 7 August 2019.) [RETURN]

  4. The Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary estimated 34,000 denominations in 2000, rising to an estimated 43,000 in 2012. These numbers have exploded from 1,600 in the year 1900. (These statistics are no longer on their website as of September 12, 2019.) [RETURN]

  5. Here I am using the word “Torah” in its broad sense to include both the entire Hebrew Scriptures and the Apostolic Writings, or the entirety of the so-called “Protestant Canon.” [RETURN]

  6. Stern, op.cit., pp. 93-195. [RETURN]

Page last revised on Sunday, 29 March 2020

Page last updated on Tuesday, 09 February 2021 07:50 AM
(Updates are generally minor formatting or editorial changes.
Major content changes are identified as "Revisions”)