Friday, June 25, 2010

Helsinki Conference on Jewish Believers in Jesus

Just in case you haven't seen it already, from MJTI, Derek Leman, Yinon, and others:
Jewish believers in Yeshua (Jesus) from England, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Russia, and the United States met in Helsinki, Finland, on June 14-15, 2010. As scholars belonging to Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, and Messianic communities, they began a conversation on Jewish continuity in the Body of Jesus the Messiah. They issued the following statement...
After reading the statement: what do you think? Do these men and women speak for you as well--would you sign your name to this statement? How can you be involved in helping facilitate further unity among Jewish believers in the body of Messiah worldwide?


Dan Benzvi said...


I was trying to comment on Derek's blog but could not get in.

Derek wrote: "They do believe that as Jews, not having surrendered their identities either through joining Christian denominations or in forming Messianic Jewish synagogues, there is a "distinctive" calling for Jewish believers in Jesus in terms of lifestyle.
They did not say that observance of Torah and tradition was exactly what they meant by this "distinctive" calling. I can only hope that this is the trajectory they are considering."

So, since it is clear (at least from Kinzer's point of view that Jews remain Jews by "observing those traditional jewish practices that identify the Jewish people as distinct community," it follows that those believers who join Israel in the singular ekklesia must likewise retain their cultural particularities that would define their own nationality and origin.

I wonder if the the conference attendies were considering the ramification in terms of the division they are creating between a gentile believer who converts to Judaism, and a gentile believer who does not convert. in my opinion it creates two classes of believers, and therefore there is no escape from creating a bilateral ecclesiology.

Gene Shlomovich said...

"division they are creating between a gentile believer who converts to Judaism, and a gentile believer who does not convert. in my opinion it creates two classes of believers"

Dan - not classes, but TYPES. When you say classes it sounds like the old communist class warfare - pitting one type of person against another, rich and poor, landowners against workers. It doesn't need to be viewed that way - G-d created variety, he created them male and female, and he created "them" Jew and Gentile. Now, a Gentile SHOULDN'T convert or seek to become Jewish, they should feel compelled to take on the whole Torah. But if they join the Jewish people via a valid conversion, only then will they be required to take on the whole Torah of Moses (and suffer the consequences of being disobedient to it if they fail to live as Jews should).

Gene Shlomovich said...

"they should feel compelled"

I meant "they should NOT feel compelled"

Yahnatan Lasko said...


Thanks for your comment. Like Gene, I see no reason why distinction must equal division. I do my best to demonstrate this in my own personal practice...but that's highly subjective, of course.


Dab benzvi said...


What I am asking is, should Gentile believers who do not seek to become proselytes retain their Gentile culture by which their national identity is known? Did not Paul command to the Gentile believers in Ephssus that they "walk no longer just as the gentiles also walk (Eph. 4:17). Read Eph. 4:17-24. The old pattern which they are to forsake has nothin to do with ethnicity, but may have anything to do with many things inherent in the culture which they were raised. The new "culture" which is theirs in Messiah is chracterized by "righteousness" and "holiness of the truth." I don't think that this "righteousness" and "holiness of the truth" can be defined as becoming Jewish, do you?

Dan Benzvi said...

One more thing Yahnatan,

Since you teach the Gentile who do not seek to become a proselyte that he is not bound to the Torah as the Jews do, he then comes to srvices next Shabbat carrying a plate full of hem sandwiches. You get all alarmed, ( forgetting thet it was you who taught him he does not have to abide by Torah) and you tell him that is better for him to go to a christian Church since over there even though you are one bodey, there are different government and rules (again forgetting that paul says there is no differentce between a Jew and a Greek).

Now, you tell me how in this case distinction does not equal division? and how can you accomplish this without a bilateral ecclesiolgy arrangement?

Yahnatan Lasko said...

Dan Benzvi,

Paul doesn't refer to culture in Eph 4. As for the "righteousness" and "holiness of the truth" Paul speaks of in Eph. 4:17-24--I think it's silly to stop there and play guessing games about what Paul means when he goes on to explain more in vv. 25-32. I notice that Paul doesn't mention ham sandwiches, but he does mention things like being truthful, not speaking unwholesomely, not stealing, being kind and compassionate.

As for the ham sandwich scenario--the "Yahnatan" in your story is not me--I wouldn't act as you've described.

Gene Shlomovich said...

"You get all alarmed"

That's funny Dan. Just like Yahnatan, I wouldn't get alarmed at that either. However, if that person was handing out ham sandwiches to the Jews in my congregation, I would politely explain to the Gentile visitor the inappropriateness of what he/she's doing (tempting Jews to sin, but not that him/herself is sinning in enjoying what's rightfully his/her to enjoy).

It would be much the same as correcting a man who came dressed as a woman. It would be good and proper for a woman to dress that way and is certainly not a sin for her, but for a man - it's sin.

Dan Benzvi said...

So let me understand you Gene. If a Gentile in your congregation eats a hem sandwich at Oneg, it is OK with you as long as he does not offer it to a Jew?

Dan Benzvi said...


"Paul doesn't refer to culture in Eph 4."

That is exactly my point. But Kinzer maintains that the ekklesia is presented by the apostles as a transnational entity. He writes in his book on page 152: "The leadership of the Yeshua movement determined at an early stage that the ekklesia as an eschatological extension of Israel was to be an essentially TRANSNATINAL reality in which the CULTURAL particularities of different regions and ethnicities would be expressed with the broad framework of Israel's messianic faith..."

Now, you tell me....Is Kinzer trying to pull the wool over the other participants in the conference?