Israeli Messianic Leaders: The Church Needs Israel

Israel Today report:

Veteran Israeli Messianic leaders Jacob Damkani and Joseph Shulam got together for a little chat about the faith and restoration of Israel …

The underlying theme of the chat was how to deal with the notion that Israel and its Jewish population must “convert” to faith in Yeshua (Jesus) in order to complete the restoration process.

“Israel is not being reformed, it is being restored,” said Shulam, director of Netivyah Bible Instruction Ministry. “It began 105 years ago with the first pioneers, through whose strength and courage, and with God’s help, this land has become one of the most advanced nations in the world.”

Damkani, an outspoken street evangelist, continued, “And here we are doing the same work of the pioneers on the spiritual level. They laid the foundation for the restoration of Israel physically, and now there are pioneers in the body [of Messiah].”

Then came the more difficult question of how to return the Gospel to its proper, Jewish context.

“The Jewish people are rediscovering our relationship with Yeshua… [following] a bloody past with the Christian world,” explained Shulam. “You cannot restore something without first clearing out the garbage, both on the Jewish side and the Christian side.”

Damkani chimed in by noting that “we received things in a certain way from the Christian world, and we need to really undress Jesus [of his] blonde [hair and] blue eyes…and discovery him anew so our people can relate to him.”

Shulam pointed out that this process was not only beneficial for the Jews, but for the Christians, as well.

“Christians [around the world] are beginning to realize that they don’t need to import all the division and tradition and man-made institutions from the West, that they can [instead] go straight to the Word of God,” he said. “And all of this through a connection with the historical Yeshua and the historical people of God, the Jewish people, and the Land of Israel.”

Shulam insisted that Christians reconnecting with this biblical foundation “is a key to the restoration. …You cannot have a biblical Church without the Jews being part of it.”

Damkani wondered what it would take to teach the wider Christian world that “it cannot do without Israel, and Israel cannot do without the Church, either…”

Read full story at source here.

The Islamic context of Maimonides’ Unknowable God

I hope to review Maimonides’ Guide for the Perplexed soon for RPP, picking up on points which I think are often glossed over. For now I will give some initial thoughts on Maimonides and the Islamic context he was operating in. Marc Shapiro’s third chapter in The Limits of Orthodox Theology is a worthwhile read on this issue.

This is important to help Messianic Jews appreciate that our understanding of God’s oneness according to Paul is more Torah-true than the understanding of God’s oneness according to Maimonides, which is presented to us by anti-Messianic polemicists.

Language is no small thing, and we must note that Maimonides wrote in Arabic, with his work later translated into Hebrew. He was living amongst a Muslim majority in Spain that elevated Aristotlean principles and the mathematic logic of the Kalam school of Islam in order to explain God.

A cosmopolitan rabbi and physician of global renown, Maimonides was inspired by the  cultural zeitgeist of his day, and incorporated the assumptions of Averroes and other Islamic philosophers into his own thinking on Judaism.

As a result, he thought of God as the infinite being who could not be described or imagined in any way. This meant that God would have no physical form, and it was impossible for God to have any physical form. Not only that, but we could not conceive of God in human terms at all – not even using characteristics like “good” or “righteous”. If God is unknowable, and we associate these terms with what we know, then we do God a disservice by describing him in any way remotely understandable.

This meant that the Torah was a huge problem for Maimonides, as God is described as good, blameless, holy, jealous, and many other things besides. He can feel as well as think, and has a specific physical form that Moses is allowed to glimpse – but only his back. God is also seated on his throne in Isaiah’s vision, which we find later in the Tanakh.

Maimonides explained this by saying the Torah spoke in human language, in order for the Israelites to understand Him and move away from idolatry. But ultimately, the Torah if taken literally teaches heresy – because Maimonides considered it heresy to describe God using any characteristics.

Sometimes, opponents of Messianic Jews single us out for committing heresy by believing that God became a man. In reality, Maimonides’ Judaism treats anyone who takes the language of the Psalms and the Torah seriously when it describes God using characteristics as a heretic.

Maimonides himself concedes that the plain meaning of Torah is that God does seem to have characteristics, but this is just metaphoric language. If you actually believe the Torah when it says this, then you’re a heretic, according to Maimonides.

Messianic Jews often read the accusation online from our opponents, that we haven’t understood the plain meaning of the Torah. Yet Maimonides’ logic concedes that the plain meaning of the Torah would actually support our position that God has characteristics.

Unlike the public arguments of the anti-Messianics, however, Maimonides would say that the Torah is not to be taken literally, because to do so without proper understanding of God as The Unknowable God, would lead directly to heresy.

The accusation by anti-Messianics is that Messianic Jews have a Christianised understanding of the Torah to avoid its clear meaning.

Rather, it is the anti-Messianics that use Maimonides’ Islamised understanding of the Torah to avoid its clear meaning.

Maimonides: Is The Human Soul One or Three?

Originally posted on :

In this article, I hope to show how Maimonides understands the idea of a complex unity in metaphysical matters. I should make clear at the outset, I am keenly aware that Maimonides opposed the idea of the godhead being a complex unity.

Nevertheless, there is a fascinating argument in one of the Rambam’s most famous texts. His line of reasoning is really worth noting for Jews who believe in the Trinity.

Here, the Rambam effectively proves that we are not being stupid, or ignorant of metaphysics, when we make the argument for a complex unity in an essence that is so hard for us define.

I will now show you the text from Maimonides that I wish to discuss.

Here is the opening passage from the first chapter of Maimonides’ Eight Chapters on Ethics, the Shmoneh Parkim. This translation has been undertaken by Joseph I. Gorfinkle.

Know that the human…

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