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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.

11 comments:

Steve Dalton said...

This Messianic Jew thing is something that should not be allowed in the Catholic Church. I'm assuming that that your friend is Catholic, and his nephew is a guy who got caught up in the Catholic version of the so-called Hebrew Roots movement, like the Assoc. Of Hebrew Catholics. I'm against this Hebrew Roots stuff for the following reasons.

One, the HRM focuses on externals, rather than the internal. Holy days, the sabbath, kosher, circumcision, are outward displays of piety. Paul says, it's what's inside a person that counts, not what's on the outside. (Rom 2:29)

Two, it confuses religious identities. All of the forementioned items are hallmarks of Jewish identity, not the Catholic faith. If someone wishes to practice the Catholic faith, he should be keeping Catholic holy days and other forms of Catholic piety, not those of another religion.

Three, the Jewish cult is Anti-Christian, so why would any sincere, knowing Christian want to incorporate anything from it into his faith? That sect totally denigrates Christ, his Mother, the Apostles and all Christians. Two of their major holy days, Purim and Hanukkah, have always been known for their stirring up of Anti-Christian feelings among Jews. So, I ask again, why bother with this stuff?

Four, we have been freed from the Mosaic law since the first church council. It was declared null and void. Christ also denounced the rabbinical distortions of the Pharisees who were the founders of the religion we now call Judaism. So we are freed from two burdens we can't bare.

I do hope this young man dump the Judaizing nonsense soon. We need Catholic who practice real Catholicism, not a hybrid of it with some other faith.

Jordanes551 said...

"This Messianic Jew thing is something that should not be allowed in the Catholic Church. I'm assuming that that your friend is Catholic, and his nephew is a guy who got caught up in the Catholic version of the so-called Hebrew Roots movement, like the Assoc. Of Hebrew Catholics."

That assumption is unfounded. He is involved in Messianic Judaism, which is a Judaising form of evangelical Protestantism. The Association of Hebrew Catholics, however, are orthodox Catholics, and thus they do not believe that anyone, Jews or Gentiles, is obliged to abstain from unclean food. The members of the AHC call themselves "Catholics" -- only Protestant Jews call themselves "Messianic."

Jordanes551 said...

"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."

Actually no -- the whole point of the page to which you linked was to explain that neither Judaism nor Jewish law regard Gentiles as animals, but rather the marriage of Jews and Gentiles was likened to bestiality in order to teach that such marriages are invalid in Jewish law. It's not that Gentiles are considered to be animals for purposes of ritual and tracing descent (or for any purposes at all), but that the marriages of Jews and Gentiles have no more validity than if a human (including Gentile humans) purported to marry a beast.

This does not affect the remainder of your explanation, which is obviously correct -- and anyway that may have been your point after all, just expressed infelicitously.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

A marriage between a Jew and a Gentile is not only considered invalid according to Jewish law. Jews consider such a marriage to be invalid according to biology and nature as well.

The parentage of the Gentile spouse in regards to any child conceived by such a union is considered not to have taken place. So a Jewish woman who conceives by her Gentile spouse is considered to have conceived parthenogenetically.

That is, just as a woman cannot conceive by an animal, so a woman is considered to be unable to have conceived by a non-Jew.

The non-Jew is considered to be non-human for purposes even of conception, much less of tracing descent. I know of no other philosophical system that makes this argument. Therefore, I consider the argument made on that webpage to be exceedingly weak, if not completely non-existent.

Steve Dalton said...

Jordanus, orthodox Catholics do not Judaize, period. The AHC people may say you don't have to keep kosher, but a look at the AHC website shows they sponsor Passover seders, keep Jewish holy days, have special, secretive prayer groups called havurahs,is enough proof to me that AHC is a Judaizing organization.

Your attempt to distant AHC from Protestant "Messianic Judaism" is disingenuous. Both movements, regardless on what they call themselves, (Catholic or Messianic)are Judaizing groups. Considering Protestantism was heavily influenced by Judaism in it's founding years, Judaizing groups belong in the Protestant Churches. The Catholic Church has rejected Judaizing since the 1st century. If these so-called "Catholic Jews" want to act like Jews, they should go back to the synagogue. All Jews who came into the Church in the last 2000 years forsook any display of of their old faith, and became honest Catholics. They understood that Judaism was a dead religion, incompatible with Christianity.

BTW, I suppose you're going to mention Cdl. Burke approved of AHC, so that makes it peachy keen. Sorry, but that won't impress me one bit. The Church's teaching on Judaizing is quite clear. Cdl. Burke, like many of our prelates, ignored clear teaching on what the church has taught on something. Look at Dolan. He ignores the church's teaching on homosexuality, and allows an openly queer parish to exist in his diocese. And lets not forget his dinner with Obama.

MDL said...

This is a question to Steve Kellmeyer. You quote Acts 15 as listing several foods to be avoided, along with illicit sexual relations, then say that avoiding these foods are only recommendations, not commands. Does that mean that avoiding illicit sexual relations was only being recommended here also?

Steve Kellmeyer said...

MDL, read Acts 15 carefully. You will note that the authors of Scripture sent along not one but TWO apostles to explain EXACTLY what they meant by the Scripture they had just written.

In short, the written Scriptures are INSUFFICIENT for full understanding. They have to be read in the light of Tradition - and that includes this set of verses. In fact, this verse set we KNOW without a shadow of a doubt required that oral tradition, because the guys who WROTE it required it.

So, in order to understand what was recommended and what was ordered for all time, we have to look at the ancient Christian tradition. When we do, we find NO ancient Christian community that followed kashrut, while we find EVERY community was careful to avoid sexual immorality.

When they failed to be sexually moral, they were called out. But no one was called out for failing to keep kashrut. Instead, Peter was attacked for failing to BREAK kashrut in Galatians.

Jordanes551 said...

"A marriage between a Jew and a Gentile is not only considered invalid according to Jewish law. Jews consider such a marriage to be invalid according to biology and nature as well."

You are completely wrong about that. Judaism does not teach that Gentile humans are not human. As I said, the whole point of the webpage to which you linked was to explain that.

"The parentage of the Gentile spouse in regards to any child conceived by such a union is considered not to have taken place."

Yes, children of an Israelite man and a Gentile woman are in Jewish law non-Israelites -- NOT half-human and half-beast.

"So a Jewish woman who conceives by her Gentile spouse is considered to have conceived parthenogenetically."

No, rather, because her marriage to a Gentile is invalid in Jewish law, that means her children are legally regarded as belonging to the tribe of her father. Jewish law does not recognise miracles, including parthenogenesis.

"Therefore, I consider the argument made on that webpage to be exceedingly weak, if not completely non-existent."

Then you should not have cited it to back up your erroneous statement, since it proves the opposite of what you say.

Jordanes551 said...

"Orthodox Catholics do not Judaize, period."

True. This is how we know that your accusations against the AHC are basless.

"The AHC people may say you don't have to keep kosher,"

Yes, they do. Even more, they don't observe kashrut either.

"but a look at the AHC website shows they sponsor Passover seders,"

True, but then there is nothing wrong with such educational social gatherings.

"keep Jewish holy days,"

As do all Catholics, such as Pascha and Pentecost.

"have special, secretive prayer groups called havurahs,"

The plural of Havurah is Havurot. "Havurah" is the name of the AHC newsletter, and "Havurot" refers to past issues of the newsletter. There is nothing at their website about "special, secretive prayer groups." That seems to be an unfounded conclusion to which you leaped.

is enough proof to me that AHC is a Judaizing organization."

"Your attempt to distant AHC from Protestant 'Messianic Judaism' is disingenuous."

And your attempt to smear them as Judaisers, when you obviously don't know anything about them except many of them are Jewish converts to the Catholic Faith, is tendentious and uncharitable.

"Considering Protestantism was heavily influenced by Judaism in it's founding years,"

You've made that claim before, and it's still as wrong now as it was the other times you've said it.

I would encourage you to educate yourself regarding the AHC. You also should abandon the anti-Semitic conspiracy theory of Church history to which you adhere. There simply is no historical evidence to back up your belief that virtually every single Christian heresy was intentionally created by The Jews in an attempt to destroy the Church. History records plenty of Jewish hostility to Christianity and Christian hostility to Judaism, but history can justify any kind of demonising of the Jews.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

Jordanes, I am quoting directly from The Essential Talmud, by Adin Steinsaltz, p. 136 "any child born of the union is regarded as having been born parthenogenetically..."

If you don't like it, you should take it up with him.

When I was doing MA work in Steubenville, we had to read an essay by a Jewish scholar on the Levitical priesthood. The scholar quoted a Scripture passage which said that the Jews had begun worshiping idols, and then used THAT SAME PASSAGE to assert that it proved that Jews had never worshiped idols.

I recall it not only because every grad student in the class was looking at each other with a WTF expression, but also because the instructor, Scott Hahn, said, "Yes, I don't get it either. The passage he quotes says exactly the opposite of what he asserts the passage says."

Jewish scholars do this sometimes. Their arguments become circular.

Thus, they can attack Hitler for saying Judaism is biological while simultaneously asserting that you are only Jewish if your mother was Jewish, and IF your mother was Jewish, then you are a Jew; even if you are an atheist, you are still a Jew - I've had multiple Jewish scholars tell me that.

So, I have read the webpage, I have linked to the webpage. People can read it for themselves and draw their own conclusions. I have drawn mine.

Steve Dalton said...

Jordanus, every statement you have made has been disingenuous.I'm not going to bother to refute every one of your so-called rebuttals because frankly, it would be a waste of time. So, I'll only deal with one of them.

You say my claim "that Protestantism was heavily influenced by Judaism in it's early years" is false and an Anti-Semitic conspiracy theory. Golly, that would have been a surprise to Rabbi Louis I. Newman who said in his "Jewish Influence On Christian Reform Movements" that's what happened in Protestant history. William Thomas Walsh, a Catholic historian, shows that Jewish influence also played a big role in early Protestantism in his book Phillip II. "The Plot Against The Church" by a group of anonymous priests using the pen name 'Maurice Pinay' also give plenty of well documented proof that Jews have not only given moral, financial, and sometimes direct leadership to Protestantism, but, as Rabbi Newman also shows, to other destructive sects in Church history, such as the Cathars. So, if I believe that Jews have conspired against the Catholic Church down through the ages, the writings of the Jews, and reliable Catholic historians don't exactly contradict my beliefs.