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Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Messianic Jews and Eating Kosher

A friend recently asked me a question concerning Messianic Jews and the necessity of eating kosher:
My nephew is a hard core Messianic Torah observer.   I've been able to refute just about everything he throws out there on Facebook but I can never really do well with all foods being clean.  I know that some Bibles state that Jesus made all foods clean in Mark, but some don't so I'm not sure if thats added.   He also has an answer for Peter's vision which I posted below as a meme.   I know that Jesus fulfilled the law but I'm not sure how to prove it in this case.  Any help would be appreciated.
The attached graphic says "Peter's vision in Acts 10 had nothing to do with eating what Scripture has always called an abomination. The vision had to do with MEN and Peter provides that interpretation in verse 28."

My Response:

When he interprets verse 28 that way, he's missing a point. He doesn't understand the different kinds of law and how they apply. From the Jewish point of view, for purposes of ritual, Gentiles are considered animals. For instance, in the orthodox rabbinic understanding, a Jew who marries a Gentile is considered to have married an animal for purposes of ritual and tracing descent.

This is the key passage from the linked webpage: "It is because in this legal dimension (marriage) they are both in the same category. In every other dimension, particularly in the arena of interpersonal dynamics, gentiles are compatible with Jews.  However, in the area of marriage, Jews and gentiles (or animals) can never be married as recognized by Jewish law."

Baptism is two things at once: it is both sonship in Christ and marriage to Christ. So, baptism establishes EXACTLY the relationships that the Talmudic Jews say CANNOT be established between a Jew and a Gentile. Baptism creates sonship and it creates a marriage bond between a Gentile and a Jew (Jesus). This is why Peter can interpret the vision as permitting baptism.

But notice that Peter doesn't understand this SECOND meaning of the vision until he encounters Cornelius. His first understanding is that he's allowed to eat formerly unclean foods. BOTH understandings are simultaneously true.

Just as the only thing preventing marriage between a Gentile and Jew is Mosaic ritual law, so the only thing that prevents anyone from eating "unclean" food is ritual purity as outlined by the Mosaic laws. Acts 10 helps us understand what Romans tells us: we are no longer under the Mosaic ritual law - we are under the law of Christ. I have an MP3 on how the law applies here.

As for a specific evidence that the laws of kashurt were suspended, consider Peter as he moves through Acts and into Galatians. At the beginning of Acts 10, Peter was still following the law of kashrut, because he even says it, "Lord, you know I let nothing unclean pass my lips." Then he has the vision in which God tells him that kashrut no longer applies. When Peter meets Cornelius in Acts 10, he suddenly realizes that what applies to food must also be true of the sacraments - a Gentile CAN marry and be a true son of a Jew.  So, Peter declares Cornelius eligible for baptism, even though Cornelius is a Gentile.

Now, fast forward to Acts 15. Both Peter and Paul testify to the baptisms they have been doing. The council not only agrees that Gentile baptism is acceptable, it also makes a point of describing the food that is to be avoided: "You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things."

Notice it ignores most of the Mosaic laws on kashrut (clean and unclean foods). For the few foods that it does list, it does not command that these foods be avoided, it just recommends that they be avoided (you would do well). And two apostles are sent along with the text to make sure that the Jews who are following Christ can authenticate, by an oral tradition, the correct understanding of the written Scripture which comprises the message.

Now, fast forward again to Galatians. Why did Paul rebuke Peter? Because Peter had suddenly stopped eating with the Gentiles. Paul - a Pharisee - is not only reminding Peter that he should eat with the Gentiles, he is also thereby stating that the food which Gentiles eat is acceptable food.  All Gentile foods are clean.
Galatians 2: 12 Before some men who had been sent by James arrived there, Peter had been eating with the Gentile believers. But after these men arrived, he drew back and would not eat with the Gentiles, because he was afraid of those who were in favor of circumcising them. 13 The other Jewish believers also started acting like cowards along with Peter; and even Barnabas was swept along by their cowardly action. 14 When I saw that they were not walking a straight path in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you have been living like a Gentile, not like a Jew. How, then, can you try to force Gentiles to live like Jews? 15 Indeed, we are Jews by birth and not “Gentile sinners,” as they are called. 16 Yet we know that a person is put right with God only through faith in Jesus Christ, never by doing what the Law requires. We, too, have believed in Christ Jesus in order to be put right with God through our faith in Christ, and not by doing what the Law requires. For no one is put right with God by doing what the Law requires.
When speaking of what the Law requires, Paul is specifically speaking of the Mosaic laws, laws which include the laws of kashrut. So, Paul is specifically telling us that the law of kashrut no longer applies. The Mosaic law is now a dead letter. Paul talks about the Law being of no force precisely in the context of Peter taking meals with Gentiles.

The Messianic Jews are wrong to follow the laws of kashrut. There is no longer a difference between clean and unclean foods. All foods are clean.

Rod Dreher: Crunched In The Head

Many Catholics today are getting upset about Rod Dreher's insistence that he can't return to the Catholic Church because it is too touchy-feely. He'll stick with the Orthodox church because it "teaches the hard lessons."

Yes, it is hard to read the sentence above without snorting.
Now I hate the sugary sweet sermons and spinelessness of American Catholics as much as the next guy, but let's get serious.

The Orthodox Church accepts divorce and contraception.

If Rod Dreher was REALLY looking for doctrinal rigor, he wouldn't be Eastern Orthodox.

Now, I'm quite certain he is being honest when he says he can't bring himself to return to the Catholic Church. But I'm also sure that the problem isn't the treacle that American Catholic priests commonly mistake for preaching. God bless his little heart, as they say in Texas, but Rod didn't get where he is today by disagreeing with the mainstream media. His incoherent essay just proves that point again.

Distributism Doesn't Work

Distributists like to say that if we all just reverted to the views of a couple of men who knew little to nothing about economics, the world would be better off.

It's been tried.
It has failed.

Unless someone can find an equally large scale experiment in which thousands of businesses built on the small, work-at-home model actually succeeded, there isn't much more to discuss.

Most people are not psychologically prepared or equipped to run their own business. Just as running a major corporation takes a certain kind of personality, so does running a small business. Not everyone has the right personality. It is foolish to think even a majority of people do. Distributism doesn't work.