One Torah for All Mankind
James Scott Trimm
"One Torah shall be to him that is homeborn,
and to the stranger that sojourns among you."
Many in so-called “Messianic Judaism” and other groups have been teaching “Two Torah” theology. This is a theology that lays out one path for Jews and another for Gentiles.
ORIGINS OF MESSIANIC JUDAISM
In order to understand why this theology is being taught, one must understand the origins of so-called Messianic Judaism vs. Nazarene Judaism.
Nazarene Judaism is a serious effort to restore the ancient sect of Nazarene Judaism, the original followers of Yeshua as the Messiah. By contrast so-called “Messianic Judaism” originated within Christianity as a Christian mission to bring Jews to “Jesus”.
For example the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America (MJAA) changed its name in 1975. It was originally called the Hebrew Christian Alliance of America (which had been its name for 60 years). The organization was created in 1915 as a Christian mission to the Jews, in an effort to convert Jews to Christianity and reach Jews with "Jesus" (this was not the Torah observant Yeshua, but the "Jesus" who came to "free you from the law".)
In 1976 A seminar was held at Fuller Theological Seminar in Pasadena California on how to reach the Jews with Jesus. Among the participants were David Stern. One of the ideas that grew out of this Seminar was the establishment of "Messianic Jewish Synagogues" which would be established around the country in an effort to create a culturally palatable form of Christianity for Jews.
Under the auspices of the MJAA, the International Association of Messianic Congregations and Synagogues (IAMCS) was quickly created.
The problem is that this quickly backfired on them. Scattered among the Gentiles are untold numbers of descendants of the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel who are discovering their identity and their kinship to the Jewish people. These Messianic Jewish synagogues were supposed to be filled with a huge influx of Jews wanting to learn about "Jesus" and instead they became flooded with Gentiles (or in many cases people form the Lost Tribes who had a Gentile identity) wanting to learn about Torah. Messianic Judaism quickly became like a box of Grape Nuts... there aren’t any Grapes, but an awful lot of nuts.
The problem was that this was all a Christian mission to the Jews, financed by major Christian denominations. If a bank loans you money to start a new business, they are not going to be very happy if that new business turns out to be another bank across the street. Now they were drawing Gentile Christians away from the very Gentile Christian Churches that were bank rolling the whole thing!
ONE FAITH TWO EXPRESSION THEOLOGY
The Messianic Jewish leaders responded by creating "One Faith, Two Expression" theology.
The Systematic theology of the "One Faith Two Expression" theology or "Two Torah" Theology is the theology of much of Messianic Judaism including the majority of the IAMCS and the UMJC.
Two Torah Theology maintains that the "Church" or "Body of Messiah" is made up of two groups who are united together in one body. The two Groups are Messianic Jews and Gentile Christians. Stern illustrates this theology on page 46 of his Messianic Jewish Manifesto with a circle graph. The graph shows the "Church" and "Jewish People" (Israel) as two overlapping circles. The area of the overlap is labeled "Messianic Jews". The chart also places some dots in the "Church" circle but outside the overlap with the "Jewish People" circle and labels this "Jews who are saved and freely choose to express their faith in a non-Jewish context."
Stern then writes:
"...the small circle represents the Jews and the large circle the Church, but now they overlap. The intersection of the two circles represents Messianic Jews. ...the remainder of the Church circle represents Gentile Christians."
(Messianic Jewish Manifesto p. 46)
Later in the same book Stern writes:
"The Messianic Jew has two non-neurotic roles to play in the Church. ...the issues raised in this book need to be brought to the attention of all in the Church, Gentile Christians as well as Messianic Jews. ... The second role he has to play is being insrumental in fostering Jewish evangelism, helping the Church..."
(ibid p. 71)
In his book Jewish Roots Daniel Juster has a similar illustration for this same theology. Juster first illustrates the Dispensationalist view with three circles which do not overlap at all which he labels "Jews" "Church of former Jews & Gentiles" and "Gentiles" (p. 35). He then gives his own correction of this view with an illustration of three circles, with each of the two outside circles overlapping with the circle in the middle. The two outer circles are ladled "Israel" and "Gentiles" while the middle circle is labeled "The Church". This results in two groups in "The Church" which Juster calls "Jewish followers of Yeshua" (i.e. Messianic Judaism" and "Gentile followers of Yeshua" (i.e. Gentile Christianity).
One Faith Two Expression Theology teaches that Messianic Judaism and Gentile Christianity are simply two culturally different expressions of the one true faith. This theology maintains that only Messianic Jews are obligated to observe the Mosaic Torah while Gentile Christians are not obligated to observe Torah. Stern asks:
"...observance of the Torah, as it applies to Jews, is not a condition for the salvation of a Gentile. ...can faith in God and his Messiah transcend Jewish culture? Can a Gentile become a Christian without also becoming a Jew?"
(JNT Commentary p. 273)
Now in truth "observance of the Torah" is not a "condition for the salvation" for anyone, however Stern's point seems to be to pose the question of whether Gentiles should observe Torah. Stern answers the question later in his commentary:
"...Gentiles do not have to become Jews in order to believe in Jesus... This point, irrelevant for Jews and therefore not part of the Gospel as it was presented to them, is essential for Gentiles; because it removes a major barrier, namely, the requirement, in addition to trusting God and the Good News, that Gentiles should leave one culture and join another... because when a Gentile allows himself to be circumcised, he obligates himself to obey the entire Torah..."
(JNT Commentary pp. 526-527)
One Faith Two Expression theology teaches that when Gentile Christians observe Sunday as their weekly day of worship, celebrate Christmas and Easter and eat pork chops that's culturally appropriate for them and when Messianic Jews observe the Sabbath, keep Biblical Jewish festivals and eat kosher that’s culturally appropriate for us. Stern writes:
"Gentile believers are free to observe or not to observe rules about dining and Jewish holidays..."
(JNT Commentary p. 610)
Regarding Sunday worship Juster writes:
"...Sabbath is a day of crucial significance to Jewish identity. The principle of weekly rest, worship and renewal is one of universal significance. In this sense, the Sabbath principle is a spiritual and humanitarian guide for all peoples. Christians are free to incorporate this principle on Sunday or other days. The seventh day Sabbath for Israel is a special central sign of thr Covenant between Israel and God."
(Jewish Roots p. 195)
The First Fruits of Zion book Take Hold says:
"There is nothing wrong with worshiping on Sunday. There is nothing biblically wrong with going to a place of worship on a Sunday and becoming as much involved as one desires.... It [the Sabbath] can be honored fully, even if one worships on Sunday or any other day of the week.... we suggest you inform your friends...that you do not have a problem with worshiping on a Sunday just as long as they do not insist that it be called 'the Sabbath.'"
(Take Hold by Ariel and D'vorah Berkowitz pp. 239-240)
And Stern writes:
"There are today all kinds of sects and denominations that likewise create false guilt by non scriptural teaching-- for example... that observing one one day rather than another as a day of worship is a sin..."
(JNT Commentary p. 280)
One Faith Two Expression theology even teaches that there is nothing wrong with Gentile Christians celebrating Christmas, Easter and other pagan holidays. Stern writes:
"I do not believe these verses (Gal. 4:8-10) prohibit the celebration of Christmas, Good Friday, Easter and other events of the Christian calendars followed by various Christian denominations. ... those who wish to celebrate, may; and those who prefer not to, may not-- all so long as whatever is done honors the Lord and builds up the Messianic Community."
(JNT Commentary. 558)
This is the live and let live theology of much of Messianic Judaism. They maintain that Messianic Jews and Gentile Christians are united together as one big "Church" or "Body of Messiah" together, They maintain that These two groups are simply culturally different expressions of the one true faith. They maintain that it is culturally appropriate for Messianic Jews to observe Saturday as the weekly day of worship, keep biblical Jewish holidays and eat kosher. On the other hand Gentiles are free to incorporate the Sabbath principle into a weekly Sunday worship, celebrate Christmas, Easter and other pagan holidays, eat unkosher foods etc. because they need not leave their gentile culture to join the Jewish "culture" of Torah observance.
When a Gentile comes into Messianic Judaism they soon learn their participation is limited to the perimeter. In the MJAA they are not allowed full membership. They are not ordained as Rabbis and in many cases not permitted to serve as officers. Certain Messianic groups only count "Jewish" members, and some Messianic Congegational unions require member congregations to have a minimum number of Jewish members. There is no mechanism or procedure to allow a Gentile’s full participation in the institutions of Messianic Judaism because there is no conversion process.
Historically in Judaism there has always been a conversion process. After a Gentile has gone through this process they are members of the House of Judah, no different than their natural born counterparts, with all the same privileges and responsibilities. Messianic Judaism, however, does not see the need for conversion. The Gentile Christians are already their brothers, fellow heirs in the body of Messiah via one faith two expression theology. They have no need therefore to convert to Judaism... even if they desire a conversion.
These One Faith Two Expression teachers maintain that the Jew and the Gentile take divergent paths and they have different responsibilities and duties. Since they also allow not vehicle for a Gentile to convert to Judaism, they create a non-biblical two class system. In the Messianic synagogue, Jewish culture is practiced to some degree. The Gentile can visit the Messianic synagogue but its not really there for him. As a result Gentiles on whom Elohim has impressed the importance of Torah and Judaism finds himself in limbo. While the Messianic Jews see him as a ‘brother in Messiah’ he is held at arms length because of his race. It seems as though the Messianic Jewish ‘denomination’ is a racist ‘Jews only’ club.
Through One Faith Two Expression (Two Torah) theology Messianic Judaism avoids competing with the Gentile Christian denominations which fund it, thus allowing it to continue to be accepted by them as a Christian mission to the Jews.
NOACHIDE COVENANT THEOLOGY
Some who espouse “Two Torah” theology have sought to justify the position by attempting to read the theology into the Rabbinic concept of the Noachide Covenant and the Seven laws of Noach.
In ancient times Pharisaic Judaism was very evangelical seeking converts all over the world as Yeshua said of the Pharisees of his time, they would “compass the sea and land in order to make one proselyte" (Matt. 23:15)
Today, however, Rabbinic Judaism is not evangelical at all. Much of this has been in reaction to many hundreds of years of anti-semitism.
As an outgrowth of Rabbinic Judaism’s retreat from evangelism to non-Jews, there has come a theology of a non-Jewish “B’nai Noach” (sons of Noah) faith based on the seven laws of Noah.
In ancient times the Noachide covenant and the seven laws of Noah were not regarded as an end in themselves, but as a stepping stone toward Judaism. While a Gentile was learning Torah in preparation for a conversion to Judaism, the seven laws of Noah and the Noachide covenant gave them a minimum standard of righteousness while they learned. (A Gentile had to learn the Torah before he could commit to observing Torah and convert to Judaism).
In creating an actual B’nai Noah movement as an “end game” modern Rabbinic authorities have even gone so far as to say that a B’nai Noah Gentile must actually intentionally violate the Sabbath because they teach that it violates the Noachide Covenant for a B’nai Noah to observe the Sabbath. (The Sabbath is not one of the seven laws of Noah). In fact the modern Rabbinic B’nai Noah theology teaches that Gentiles do not need to keep the Sabbath, Biblical Feasts or eat Kosher (in fact some authorities actually prohibit Gentiles from doing those things.
There is no way to fit the modern Rabbinic Noachide teaching with the Messianic “Two Torah” theology unless “Two Torah” teachers teach Gentiles not to keep the Sabbath, Biblical Feasts or eat Kosher.
The truth is that Two Torah theology immediately contradicts the Torah:
"One Torah shall be to him that is homeborn, and to the stranger that sojourns among you."
According to the Torah, Jews and Gentiles must follow the ONE Torah.
Some have pointed to the decision of Acts 15 as teaching a different path for Gentiles. In reality Acts 15 only tells us that Gentiles should keep certain minimum standards of righteousness while attending synagogue and learning the Torah. In Acts 15 we read of the Gentiles in question that it was presupposed that they would be going to a synagogue on Sabbath and being taught the Torah of Moses (Acts 15:21).
Yeshua did not teach one law for Gentiles and another for Jews. Yeshua commissioned his Talmidim as follows:
Go you therefore, and teach all the Goyim,
and immerse them in the name of the Father,
and the Son, and the Ruach HaKodesh.
and teach them to observe all that I have commanded you,
and here I am with you all the days, to the end of the world.
Water immersion is a ritual which is tied to and follows circumcision in a conversion to Judaism. Yehsua was instructing his Jewish Talmidim (disciples) to make converts of the goyim and to teach the goyim to observe all that Yeshua had commanded his Jewish talmidim to observe (all 613 commandments of the Torah).
Yochanan writes to us concerning Messiah:
He who says, I am in him, ought to conduct himself
according to his conduct.
Messiah was a Torah observant Jew, and our conduct should be the same, if we are in him.
Scattered among the Gentiles are untold numbers of descendants of the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel who are discovering their identity and their kinship to the Jewish people.
At the WNAE we are laying the scriptural historical framework which will facilitate their return to Torah and their reunion with the House of Judah as they discover their identity and their kinship to the Jewish people. We are teaching One Torah for all mankind.
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