To the Jew First

Anyone interested in the relationship between Jew and Gentile in the Kingdom of God will be interested in this book. Authors include Walter Kaiser, Darrell Bock, Mitch Glaser, David Turner, and Craig Blaising. Most of the authors are from a modified, or progressive dispensational perspective, with one covenantalist (Richard Pratt) more than holding his own, and also one regular dispenstionalist. Walter Kaiser, Jr. wrote the forward, which makes this helpful point: “A church cut off from Israel is a church that merely floats in the air with no past, no grounding, and no promises on which to build her present or her future” (p. 7). Indeed. Of course, one could say that such a sentiment accords better with covenantal thinking than with dispensational thinking, since the classic view of dispensationalism (which is not really the perspective of this book) does precisely what Kaiser wants us to avoid, whereas the covenantal position argues that Jew and Gentile are one in Christ. By the way, a progressive dispensationalist position still argues for a national Israel being important. However, they will not call such a people a parallel salvific reality. There is only one olive tree for progressives. So, they are half-way between classic dispensationalists and covenantal thinking (my impression is that they are somewhat closer to covenantal thinking than to dispensational thinking).  

The book is a good reminder that certain formulations of supersessionism are not helpful (Pratt deals with this in an extremely helpful way, discarding dispensationalism and the more rigid forms of supersessionism, in order to advocate what he calls the “unity theology” (p. 173). He notes that many dispensationalists mistake the Reformed position for a raw supersessionist position that advocates no place for Jews in the people of God at all. This mistake is sometimes understandable, given the rhetoric of Reformed people against the dispensationalist position (see pp. 172-173). The unity theology position that Pratt advocates is that Jew and Gentile can again become one in Christ. There is no salvation outside of Christ. However, Jew and Gentile both belong in the people of God when they are in Christ. There is one olive tree in Romans 11.   

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24 Comments

  1. Joshua said,

    May 29, 2008 at 7:39 am

    Lane,

    It appears that you deleted my comments which linked to a book that eexamines Jesus in the Talmud. If was deleted by a spam filter, disregard. If not, could you explain the deletion? Thanks

  2. May 29, 2008 at 10:04 am

    Are you A-Mill or Post-Mill Lane? And depending on your answer how does it change or not change how you understand this question?

  3. greenbaggins said,

    May 29, 2008 at 10:34 am

    Joshua, I am not sure about your comments. I have not seen any recently in the spam filter or the moderator queue from you, but I could have accidentally deleted one. I would not have deleted one on purpose from you. So, I think it was an accident (my spam filter seems quite arbitrary at times). :-(

    Benjamin, I am Amil myself. I don’t see it as affecting the argument except insofar as I am more agnostic about what will happen with regard to the Jews near the Second Coming. I feel hopeful that many Jews will come to their Messiah, but I do not feel that Scripture’s authority depends on that.

  4. May 29, 2008 at 10:55 am

    “Walter Kaiser, Jr. wrote the forward ….”

    “Foreword,” not “forward.”

    A word before.

    (Kaiser is a gem.)

  5. May 29, 2008 at 11:26 am

    Thanks Lane.

  6. its.reed said,

    May 29, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    Ref. #1:

    Joshua:

    I deleted your comment. You linked to a site maintained by David Duke. Given Mr. Duke’s provocative nature, I determined that such a link was not appropriate for this blog.

    Reed (moderator)

  7. greenbaggins said,

    May 29, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    Thanks, Reed.

  8. Joshua said,

    May 29, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    Reed,

    Duke published an article from Publishers Weekly, and added some sound words. Though indeed provocative, his words were sound. Here is the link from PW.

  9. its.reed said,

    May 29, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    Ref. 8:

    No disrespect Joshua, but someone like David Duke is not someone worth referencing – inn any manner.

  10. Tom Albrecht said,

    May 30, 2008 at 8:42 am

    Lane,

    Does anyone in the book address the phenomenon known as Messianic Judaism?

  11. greenbaggins said,

    May 30, 2008 at 9:37 am

    Not obviously, Tom. Almost all the articles are about evangelism to Jews, not about those who already believe that Jesus is their Messiah.

  12. David R. said,

    May 30, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    Mitch Glaser, one of the authors, is the director of Chosen People Ministries, a para-church organization that plants Messianic congregations.

  13. rfwhite said,

    May 30, 2008 at 4:31 pm

    David R., do you know if Glaser still argues for Jewish Christian congregations separate from Gentile Christian congregations, as he did back in the mid 1990s?

  14. David R. said,

    May 30, 2008 at 5:26 pm

    Dr. White, I’m fairly sure that his views on this have not changed. While I doubt he would say that Jewish Christians MUST join Messianic congregations, he does have a page on the organization website briefly explaining Messianic congregations and essentially arguing for them. Here is an excerpt:

    “By enlisting as many of the features of the synagogue as are consistent with the Messiah’s teaching, Messianic congregations provide a familiar environment for Jewish believers and seekers, many of whom are intimidated, confused, or simply uncomfortable among the trappings of Christian churches.

    “Messianic Jewish families often turn to Messianic congregations because they help children understand what it means to be a Jewish believer in the Messiah, and help kids feel linked to a faith community larger than their immediate family. It would be easy for Jewish children to become disconnected from their Jewish heritage in a Christian church.”

  15. David R. said,

    May 30, 2008 at 5:35 pm

    Also this: “Messianic congregations also emphasize the celebration of the Jewish festivals, which often become an event for members of the wider Jewish community who do not know Messiah. These outreaches allow Jewish believers to talk with their fellow Jews and answer their questions about how a person can believe in Messiah Jesus and still be Jewish. Connection with Jewish life through their Messianic congregations often eases such concerns.”

  16. rfwhite said,

    May 30, 2008 at 8:30 pm

    Thanks, David. The reason I ask is that, back in the mid 90s, I remember being in a meeting with Glaser and Palmer Robertson (among others). Robertson really took Glaser to task for his views, which, at least as Glaser articulated them at that time, Robertson (rightly in my view) took as a compromise of gospel truth. I also recall thinking how odd it was that Glaser was associated at that time with a Reformed seminary. All this was around the time, I believe, when Roberston was writing his book, The Israel of God: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow (P & R, 2000).

  17. Ruben said,

    June 2, 2008 at 9:04 am

    “Ramakrishna congregations provide a familiar environment for Hindu believers and seekers, many of whom are intimidated, confused, or simply uncomfortable among the trappings of Christian churches.

    “Hindu families often turn to Ramakrishna congregations because they help children understand what it means to be a Hindu believer in Jesus, and help kids feel linked to a faith community larger than their immediate family. It would be easy for Hindu children to become disconnected from their Hindu heritage in a Christian church.”

    Where is the disanalogy?

  18. Tom Albrecht said,

    June 2, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    RE: #17

    Ruben,

    I think the messianic types would say that the analogy breaks down insofar as Judaism, not Hinduism, gave rise to Christianity. Therefore, there is a relationship between Judaism and Christianity in spite of the fact that modern Judaism bears little resemblance to the Judaism of Jesus, Peter and Paul.

    The problem today is the excessive enthusiasm that some followers of Messianic Judaism have for all things Jewish. There is an almost cult-like attitude that a Judaistic faith is Christ is superior to a “gentile” faith. Many also are quite vehement in their belief that ethnic Jews who convert to faith in Christ (they would not call it “Christianity”) ought to still follow the old covenant cultic laws. And so the question becomes, are Messianic Jews seeking converts to the religion of the Bible or the cultural religion that many of them seem to espouse?

    I can certainly understand why Palmer Robertson would oppose this sort of belief system if that is what Glaser espouses.

  19. Tom Albrecht said,

    June 2, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    Sorry. Not sure how that smiley got in there.

  20. Ruben said,

    June 2, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    Tom, thanks for your thoughts. On my view the attempt to eliminate the disanalogy overlooks the fact that even at the time of Christ “judaism” was no longer the religion of the OT: and things haven’t exactly gotten better since then. I thought Hebrews was pretty clear in the call to go “outside the camp”.

  21. Andrew said,

    June 2, 2008 at 5:53 pm

    Would the main point of disanalogy not be that being being Jewish is a matter of national identity as well or instead of a religious thing.

    So it is not like being a ‘Hindu Christian’ or ‘Muslim Christian’, more like ‘American christian’ or ‘British Christian’. Of course Jewish culture is hugely religious, so it is perhaps more challenging.

  22. Ruben said,

    June 2, 2008 at 6:32 pm

    Andrew, that does seem to be the problem. Of course someone can be Paraguayan and be a Christian. And so there is no contradiction in being an Israeli Christian. But “Jewish Christian” sounds to me like a contradiction in terms: no man can serve two masters. This is also why I loathe the modifier “Judeo-Christian”.

  23. David R. said,

    June 3, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    DR. White, that is very interesting – I didn’t know that there had been interaction between Glaser and Robertson. I would agree with Robertson on this 100% although it has taken me quite a few years to come around. As a new Jewish Christian nearly 20 years ago, I was quickly swept into the whole Messianic/indigenous Jewish outreach mentality, and for years I would have argued vehemently in favor of Messianic congregations for the reasons stated in the quotes I cited above. It has only been since a rather dramatic “conversion” to the Reformed faith several years ago that I have come to see things very differently.

  24. JPC said,

    June 25, 2009 at 10:03 pm

    Reed,
    Comment #9

    Please tell how you determine one to be “not worth referencing”?

    Didn’t Paul reference pagans (Acts 17:28, 26:14; 1 Corinthians 15:33; Titus 1:12,) who are described as:

    “godless, estranged, sinners, who are at enmity with God (Rom 4:8-10), slaves to sin (Rom 6:17), unable to please God (Rom 8:4-8), sons of disobedience who live in the lusts of their flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and mind, who are by nature children of wrath (Eph 2:1-3), wayward (Isa 53; Rom 3:12), willfully blind (Eph 4:18; 1 Cor 2:14 ), ungrateful (Rom 1:21), condemned ( Rom 3:19) men who with corrupt hearts (Jer 17:9; Mark 7:21-23; Matt 7:16-18; 15:18-20) are Hostile to God (Rom 8:7).

    Or does a man who is associated by the world with the label of “racism” trump Paul association terms?


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