Dimensions (2.1) — Messianic Judaism & LDS Culture Juxtaposed

This entry is part 4 of 8 in the series Dimensions
Introduction to some key lessons we have learned about the gospel of Jesus Christ from the Messianic Jews.

Note: whereas the current, primary theme of the blog has more to do with learning truth than in presenting truth, there is no intent to present a balanced view. Shocked? Let me explain. The things that I know, I don’t need to learn. Since this is a record of the things I am learning — to the first order — it is implicit that it is not a record of things I am not learning. If, for example, I learn interesting new things from the Messianic Jewish community and these new things do not displace or alter what I have already learned in the LDS community, why would I attempt to balance those new things against things I already know? The result may be perceived to be an unfair representation of things LDS. But, I am not attempting to represent the LDS. Sorry, that is above my pay scale. I am attempting to represent the things I am learning.

Note: this sequence of posts focuses on specific perceptions of characteristics of these cultures as a means to further explore the concept of dimensions. These should not be extrapolated into some kind of simplistic stereotype. These may be useful in helping identify personal biases. The hope is that there is sufficient content to exemplify and enable application of the concept to other applicable conflicts. These certainly don’t represent all, or even the most important examples.

During the last year, Joy and I have been regularly praying to understand our iniquities and unbeliefs. When we use those words, we include those unrighteous things we do that we do not recognize, primarily because they are part of our personal blend of national, family, and religious cultures and so native to us as to be imperceptible (the fish in water metaphor). Tempered by my experience with culture shock while on a mission in Taiwan and reverse culture shock when returning home (as an aside, this is where I learned first hand what it really meant to be an American), it was fairly easy for the Spirit to inspire me to reach out to a local Messianic Jewish synagogue for a soul expanding experience.

It is 40 years now since I was baptized into the LDS church. During that time, I have attended virtually every meeting available to me. The shock of becoming a member was was fairly light. The shock of becoming a true Christian is a different story, which story will unfold over time (in part because it is not yet complete). Joy “grew up in the church” and has avoided both shocks until recently. If you haven’t read Fork in the Road, now would be a good time.

I know that the Jews do understand the things of the prophets, and there is none other people that understand the things which were spoken unto the Jews like unto them, save it be that they are taught after the manner of the things of the Jews.
(2 Nephi 25:5)

We have regularly attended the Old Testament Hebrew and the Torah classes at the synagogue for about four months now. Additionally, we occasionally attend a variety of Shabbot (Friday evening and Saturday morning) services and festivals. Through these experiences, it has become more obvious that our personal religious culture and practice stand in contradiction to scripture. We presume, therefore, that it also separates us from Christ. Based on these experiences, we are making adjustments.

For now, it seems that the key lessons are incorporated within the following topics; I will attempt to address all, but not necessarily in this order:

  • Worship
    • Weekly Meetings
    • Prayer (Siddurs)
    • Music & Dance
    • Praising God
    • Blessing God
  • Scripture
    • Use
    • Hebrew / Greek (English Translations)
    • Torah Observance
    • Celebrations & Festivals
    • Covenants / Ordinances
      • Adoption
  • Cultural Habits & Traditions
    • Fellowship
    • Clothing
    • Diet
  • Organization(?)

Prior to showing examples of dimensions that influence our (mis)understanding of scripture and therefore our understanding of God — lest you think that we believe this is some kind of panacea that resolves all issues — let us look at a counterexample.  Some conflicts in doctrine are not resolved by simply understanding the independence of dimensions that are currently conflated.

Counterexample — Obedience to the Torah (the law of Moses)

Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
(Matthew 5:17–18)

Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets. I am not come to destroy but to fulfil;
For verily I say unto you, one jot nor one tittle hath not passed away from the law, but in me it hath all been fulfilled.
(3 Nephi 12:17–18)

All” is a really pesky word. Christ’s statement in 3 Nephi might leave us to believe that everything in the law (Torah) has been fulfilled. But, we know it hasn’t. For example:

That then the Lord thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the Lord thy God hath scattered thee.
If any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the Lord thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee:
And the Lord thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers.
(Deuteronomy 30:3–5)

If you are thinking to claim that this covenant of the Father has now been fulfilled (at least in part), that misses the point. At the time Christ is speaking in 3 Nephi, this covenant was not fulfilled. So, “all” may not mean “ALL.” Read differently, since heaven and earth have not yet passed, the law — that is “ALL” of the law (i.e., every jot and tittle of the law), including those parts that have been fulfilled — is still mandatory. See the dilemma? The knee jerk reaction would be to recite this scripture:

As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.
(Acts 21:25)

So, is our plan to remain gentiles, then?

This is only a most cursory look into this topic. Thus far in our study, we have been unable to decompose this into multiple dimensions, and thereby resolve the conflict, unless we choose to have a different understanding of the law, one for the Jews and another for the gentiles. Thus, the current purpose of presenting this as a counterexample is fulfilled. This topic will be expanded on at a latter time. For now, we return to the primary theme.

Continuing

What follows are several observations/examples juxtaposing the Messianic Jewish and LDS cultures and their respective practices. Please remember that the intent is to elaborate upon the concept of “Dimensions.” While there are exceptions, to the largest degree, these differences reflect little more than different groups choosing to amplify different dimensions of the gospel. As demonstrated in Faith and Works, generally, there is no inherent conflict. Implicitly, the group that attenuates a dimension loses something of potential value.

Series Navigation<< Dimensions (1.2) — Life is Complex, so is GodDimensions (2.1.1) — Messianic Judaism & LDS Culture Juxtaposed: Praise >>

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