Monday, 8 July 2019
The Danger of Jewish Roots Movements
Yes, you read that right. The title of this article is surprising. Isn't the Messianic Jewish Movement a Jewish roots movement? Did I not write a book entitled Jewish Roots? Yes. Then why the title? It is because some Jewish roots movements are spreading mistaken theology. These teachings are creating unnecessary dissension among believers in Yeshua. Many church leaders have distanced themselves from Messianic Judaism because they think we too ascribe to these misguided teachings. Just recently we heard of a pastor of a large church in Midwest USA who wants no connection with Messianic Jews due to offense from wrong Jewish roots teachings which influenced members of his church. However, there are also right Jewish roots teachers and teachings. So let's begin with a summary of the right teaching.
Over a hundred years ago, a new stream of theology sought to understand the New Testament from its original Jewish context. This stream was contrary to the majority of liberal university New Testament scholarship which saw the New Testament as a Greek cultural development that countered the Hebrew Bible. After the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, understanding the New Testament through a first century Jewish context increased greatly. Saunders' groundbreaking book Paul and Palestinian Judaism started the movement called the New Perspective on Paul. The quest for an accurate understanding through the Jewish context is common today. A small sample of this fine scholarship includes Davies' Paul and Rabbinic Judaism and Skarsaune's In the Shadow of the Temple, along with commentaries by Craig Keener and Darrel Bock.
Many in this scholarly Jewish roots movement have embraced the destiny of Israel as part of their theology. They connect to the Jewish people and the meaning of the Biblical feasts without suggesting any legalistic requirements. They recognize that Messianic Jews are still called to live and identify with their people, and also that Gentiles who believe in the Messiah are not responsible to take up patterns of Jewish life. They clearly understand the apostolic directives of the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15, as well as Paul's warnings in Galatians. These Jewish roots teachers, books, and conferences are enormously helpful to us.
This excerpt was taken from my article.