Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Emergent plus Messianic ... III

Along the theme of how Emergent and Messianic are complementary, perhaps sharing a little bit of my background will shed light on where I'm coming from. A slighly more detailed autobiography can be found here. That will also answer the question of how I ended up leaning towards Emergent. The following will only explain the emphesis on Messianic.

I was born in Thailand of missionary parents (with WEC, an interdenominal "faith" mission), which I feel has contributed to my having an open mind about things. I've spent most of my life in Thailand, got married there, but for the last year or two, we've been in N. Ireland.

"Baruch" is my writing name. It incompases my actual initials (B. Ch.). However, I'm a goy (gentile) from my mother's womb (as far as I know). I don't believe it's necessary for me to look and sound Jewish to benifit from understanding Jewish roots, but I did think the name "Baruch" sounded nice, and have been using it ever since. It may seem rather ironic, though, that as a Gentile, I've had more input from Orthodox Rabbinical sources than from Messianic Judaism. I still haven't worshipped at a Messianic synagogue, but I've been plenty of times to Orthodox ones.

Apart from wandering into a Conservative Synagogue a number of times in So. Cal., a bit of contact with Jews for Jesus, and attending a Messianic conference hosted by Manny Brotman, (all back about 1976), my adventures into Judaism (Messianic and otherwise) began about 1991. Spending about a year in S. England, with time on my hands (some would say "too much time"), I decided to write a fictionalised account of the Apostle Paul (or The Emissary, Rabbi Shaul, as I later renamed him). After a while, it became obvious that I needed to do research on my character and the times he lived in. Besides bits on the Greco-Roman world, etc, I began looking at books on rabbinical literature, such a the Encyclopedia Judaica. I also bought a copy of Everyman's Talmud, the Soncino Chumash, and an ancient prayer book, among others. I did my daily Bible reading from the Soncino Chumash, which was a good experience. I also taught myself bit of Hebrew, and I can understand most Hebrew words a rabbi throws into a typical English sermon. When I arrived back in Thailand, I was surprised to find there is a large Jewish community there, and so I began attending the synagogues from time to time. I did more research in their small library, reading at various tractates of the Talmud. The rabbi there is a Lubbavitcher, a warm friendly individual. I think he must have thought I was going to apply for the possition of Shavos Goy! One of the high points was dancing around the bema holding the big sefer torah scroll during the feast of Simcha Torah.

I feel that one of my spiritual gifts is in teaching, especially in the area of Biblical foundations for faith, which I see as horribly lacking in the church as a whole. In what I studied of rabbinical Judaism, I readily saw a lot of what I feel is foundational to a New Covenant faith. A foundation in the Old Covenant is vital to understanding the new. Likewise, understanding the Gospels and Acts, the life and teaching of Yeshua and the early Apostles, are vital to truly understanding the Pauline epistles. In other words, a solid understanding of repentance, faith and baptisms etc. are vital to truly understanding the Pauline concepts of imputed righteousness and being seated in the heavenlies.

It was only after this that I started reading books by people like Daniel Juster and David Stern and others, and found that my opinions are shared by many in the Messianic movement. I believe that Messianic Judaism is making a profoundly important contribution to the Christian world in providing the means to receive the Biblical foundations so badly needed.

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