Developing a Messianic Theology

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Developing a Systematic Messianic Theology
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Developing a
Systematic Messianic Theology

“The purpose of careful theological formulations is not to put barriers in the way of people who are seeking salvation, but to define clearly the truths upon which genuine [Biblical] faith rests, so that people will not be misled by false doctrines.”[1]

After you have read this page, it is recommended that
you begin your study of the science of theology HERE.

Within the “Torah Observant Messianic Restoration Movement” (for lack of better term, since those within the movement have numerous names by which they refer to themselves), little attention has been paid thus far to the development of a systematic theology. This is due, I believe, not to a lack of desire but rather to issues of priority and practicality.[2]

The modern Messianic Movement marks its beginning at approximately the same time as the Israeli Six-Day War in 1967. At the very time that Jerusalem was being liberated from Gentile domination for the first time since being overrun by the Romans in 70 CE, there arose almost simultaneously three centers of Messianic Jewish awareness: one in Florida; one in Ohio; one in the San Francisco Bay area. Since those early years the movement has been essentially preoccupied with defining itself and its relationship to both main-stream Judaism and Evangelical Christianity, as it is actually the child of each, but is a theological orphan accepted by neither. To mainstream Judaism, the Messianic Movement is seen primarily as a new “sect” of Christianity whose goals are to evangelize and proselytize unwary Jews to Christianity. To Evangelical Christianity, the Messianic Movement is seen primarily as an attempt to “Judaize” unwary Christians and place them back under the “yoke of the Law.”

Neither of those opinions could be further from the truth. Those within the Movement generally describe themselves as Jewish and non-Jewish followers of the Jewish Messiah Yeshua who have united for the common purpose of breaking down the barriers which have so long divided the Body of Messiah. The Jewish members of the movement desire only to retain their precious heritage and traditions while embracing their Messiah; the non-Jewish members desire to claim their status as full members of the Commonwealth of Israel and the family of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Ya'akov into which they have been “grafted” and adopted by faith in Israel’s Messiah.

The ominous task of developing an “umbrella” Systematic Messianic Theology has necessarily been postponed due to the pressing need for the Movement to firmly and clearly identify and define itself, and to gain a measure of acceptance from both the wider Jewish and Christian communities. The task is also significantly hampered by numerous seemingly insurmountable factors, not the least of which is the need to “blend” all that is true in traditional Judaism with all that is true in evangelical Christianity, while at the same time discarding all that is “chaff” within both traditions. The fact that those in the Messianic Movement come from virtually all of the Jewish traditions and Christian denominations makes the task even more difficult, because of all of the “denominational baggage” and “sacred cows” that come from each of these numerous traditions. Jews can’t agree with other Jews about the major truths of Judaism, and Christians can’t agree with other Christians about the major truths of Christianity; how much more difficult it is to get Jews and Christians to agree with each other about the major truths of the true Biblical faith!

This fact is complicated ever further by the extreme “fringe” elements of the Movement that claim that they are the only “true” Messianic Judaism, but which are in actuality a whole new class of cult that has arisen with the “Messianic Awakening” and which teach abhorrent doctrines and outright heresies that have absolutely no basis in either Jewish or Christian tradition or in Scripture. Among these new cults I specifically identify the so-called “Two House/Two Stick Movement” (which is nothing but a re-emergence and re-stating of the Anglo-Israel heresy taught by the Armstrongs) and the so-called “Sacred Namers” (who flagrantly violate Torah’s prohibition of misusing the Sacred Name and claim that in order to be “saved” one must adopt their particular spelling and pronunciation of the Names of HaShem and Yeshua HaMashiach). There are certainly other fringe elements, but these are the two most prominent at the time of this writing.

One of the preliminary tasks in the development of a Messianic theology is to identify the major divisions of that theology. In classical Protestant Systematic Theology there are eleven major divisions of study which include:

• Prolegomena: overview, summary statements, and methodology employed

• Bibliology: the theology of the Bible

• Theology Proper: the theology of God

• Christology: the theology of Christ

• Pneumatology: the theology of the Holy Spirit

• Angelology: the theology of angels and demons

• Anthropology: the theology of mankind

• Hamartiology: the theology of sin

• Soteriology: the theology of salvation

• Ecclesiology: the theology of the Church

• Eschatology: the theology of Future Things

After trying for several years to develop a working Messianic theology within the yraditional framework in which I was trained, I have finally discovered that it is quite impractical to do so, for a very obvious reason that has only recently occurred to me. Christian theology is based on a totally Western (“Greek”) way of looking at the universe. In order to be true to its Biblical origin, a working Messianic theology must be based on an Eastern (“Hebrew”) way of looking at ha'olam (the approximate Hebrew equivalent of “universe”). Additionally, one of the major tenets of classic Christian theology is that “Israel” and “the Church” are two eternally separate entities. There is therefore no suitable division of traditional Christian theology in which to deal with the fact that “the called-out” holy community actually consists of all — both “Jew” and “non-Jew” — who have ever come into a covenant relationship with the Most High.

For want of a better place from which to start, I have initially identified the following framework for the theology which I will attempt to develop: (Some articles overlap into multiple categories.) Click on the section title to go to that section.

• Survey: what the Torah[3] has to say about topics which cover multiple categories.

• About Torah: what the entire Torah, including the Tanakh and the Apostolic Writings, has to say about itself.

• About HaShem: what the Torah has to say about the Person and Nature of the God of the Torah; specifically what it says about “Abba, the Father.”

• About Messiah: what the Torah has to say about the Person and Nature of “haBen, the Son of God.”

• About Ruach HaKodesh: what the Torah has to say about the Person and Nature of the “Spirit of God.”

• About Spirit Beings: what the Torah has to say about angels, demons, seraphim, cherubim, and other spirit beings other than HaShem.

• About Humanity: what the Torah has to say about the human race as a whole.

• About Sin: what the Torah has to say about the source, nature, and consequences of sin.

• About Salvation: what the Torah has to say about the remedy of sin and the “calling“ of “the Elect.”

• About Holy Days: what the Torah has to say about HaShem’s appointed times and seasons.

• About the Holy Community: what the Torah has to say about the nature of the Holy Community and how to live within it.

• About Israel: what the Torah has to say about the Commonwealth of Israel, its land, and its people.

• About Gentiles: what the Torah has to say about the non-Jewish people of the world and their relationship to HaShem and the Commonwealth of Israel.

• About the Future: what the Torah has to say about future events.

• About Other Matters: what the Torah has to say about issues that do not fall neatly into any other category.

So far, I have developed a number of articles in an attempt to develop a comprehensive and systematic Messianic theology. I do not realistically expect this task to be completed by either myself or anyone else before Messiah returns in glory. (But there are a few of us who are sure going to try!)


After you have read this page, it is recommended that
you begin your study of the science of theology
HERE.

An Introduction to the Science of Theology

Session 1. First Things First

Why should Believers need to study Bible doctrines?

Session 2. Principles of Bible Interpretation

Correct interpretation of the Scriptures requires use of the correct “tools.”

Session 3. Counterfeit Religion and the Last Days

Yeshua said there’d be days like this!

Session 4. Getting Down to Basics

The bare essentials of Biblical faith

Session 5: The Absolute Essentials of Messianic Doctrine

What are the five “absolutes” — those things which one must positively believe to be “saved”?

Session 6: A Brief Summary of Biblical Doctrine

A short, concise summary of each of the major “divisions” of our Messianic Systematic Theology

_______________

 1. Robert M. Bowman, Jr. Why You Should Believe in the Trinity: An Answer to Jehovah's Witnesses. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1989, p. 18. [RETURN]

 2. It may well turn out that the effort to develop an effective Systematic Messianic Theology is an exercise in futility, since the entire concept of Systematic Theology follows a Greek, not a Hebrew, mindset. [RETURN]

 3. Here I am using the word “Torah” in its broad sense to include both the entire Hebrew Scriptures and the Apostolic Writings, or the entirety of the so-called “Protestant Canon.” [RETURN]

Page Revised on Sunday, 28 August 2016

Page last updated on Monday, 29 August 2016 11:17 AM
(Updates are generally minor formatting or editorial changes.
Major content changes after May 3, 2015 are identified as "Revisions”)