Ecumenism —part 3: Adonai Ekhad

My heart overflows with passion and love for many groups within the body of Christ Jesus / Yeshua HaMeshiach.

Attempting to fulfill The Word

Thus far I have communed with two congregations, both of which reflecting in a different way what The Angel revealed to me as the True Faith. I have communed with the Catholic Church, while independently maintaining a kosher diet and celebrating the Biblical holy days as celebrated by the Jews. I have also communed with Natzarim Yahshua Family Fellowship, a Torah observant Messianic community who follows the Biblical Laws, keeps a kosher diet, and celebrates the Moedim; a congregation in which I was present at the founding of, though I was never a leader within the congregation. While a part of Natzarim Yahshua, I continued to attend Catholic mass. Since age 13, I have been a Hebrew Catholic, following the Written Tradition (Tanakh and Brit HaDasha) and the Oral Tradition (The Jewish and Catholic teachings on how to live out the Tanakh and Brit HaDasha), as The Angel instructed me to do.

By attending the Catholic Church, when combined with Rabbinic Judaism, I was able to live out the Oral Tradition, but sadly Catholicism abrogated / removed from, and Rabbinic Judaism  needlessly built upon / added to, the Written Tradition, which they were not supposed to do. By attending Natzarim Yahshua Family Fellowship, I was able to live out the fullness of the Written Tradition, and experience some nouveau (newly arrived or developed) Oral Traditions, but they lacked some of the authenticity of the Oral Traditions that have been around thousands of years, some going all the way back to how Moses / Moshe taught the Hebrews how to fulfill the Written Tradition. It was refreshing and wonderful to be part of a group that fulfilled the Torah, but there is a benefit to fulfilling it in a tried and true way that has been passed down throughout the ages from parents to children. That is something Natzarim Yahshua lacked, and was even at time vehemently opposed to—they were throwing out the baby with the bathwater. The Angel told me there was a Written and Oral Tradition.

The Written and Oral Traditions

Of course the Written Tradition, when properly maintained and not redacted or interpolluted, is inerrant. However, even when properly passed down, it only remains inerrant in practice when understood correctly. If a person or group of people misunderstand it, it can be twisted to seem to mean all sorts of things which it does not actually mean, and therefore within practice, the people will be following it in error, and thusly not actually following it. For Jews and Messianics this is obvious when they look at Christians; for Christians this is obvious when they look at Jews’ rejection of Jesus. This is why Oral Tradition is important, it can help us to not misinterpret the written tradition, and help show us how it may be fulfilled; however as we know, the Oral Tradition can become corrupted over time, as it has with the Christians’ abrogation of the law, and Rabbinic Judaism’s overcomplicating of the law; and the most obvious of them all being the major ways in which both of those Oral Traditions disagree with each other.

How do you reconcile the two Oral Traditions?

The Oral Tradition, because it can more easily be corrupted, and is itself not laws or commandments, but an explaining / elucidation of what the Written Commandments mean and suggested ways one may possibly fulfill them; the Oral Tradition must always come second to the Written Tradition, and cannot overwrite or abrogate the Written Tradition. The Oral Tradition is subordinate to, and elucidates the Written Tradition, just as the Talmud (Oral Tradition) elucidates the Torah (Written Tradition). So anytime an Oral Tradition abrogates or blatantly violates the Written Tradition, I throw out that particular Oral Tradition as an interpollution. When that happens, I do not throw out all of the Oral Tradition, as some do, as that is throwing out the baby with the bathwater. I take the Written Tradition at face value, double checking it with multiple translations and diving into what the Hebrew means, as well as see how the Oral Tradition explains it; I then try my best to fulfill it.

An example of building upon or adding to, and when fencing laws cross the line: regarding not boiling a kid in its mother’s milk, the Oral Tradition says, “In order to prevent breaking this commandment, we should not eat dairy with any meat besides fish; and dairy and meat should never touch the same plates, utensils, etc.” Because unless you raised the animal and made the cheese or milked the cow yourself, you can never 100% know for a fact that it isn’t its mother’s milk, I agree that it is best to not combine dairy products with the meat of dairy producing animals in the same meal. That is an acceptable fencing law. However, to not allow the mixing of dairy and poultry is absurd and illogical. Birds don’t have milk glands, they don’t produce milk, so it is impossible to boil a bird in its mother’s milk. Though if one wanted to not baste poultry in eggs, I would understand that as a logical interpretation; yet the Oral Tradition allows that. Also it is impractical to have two things of everything, one just for dairy and the other just for meat. The Oral Tradition of Shishim should apply here, as long as the possible amount of dairy contamination doesn’t make up more than 1/60th of the meat, it should be considered dairy-free; yet the Oral Tradition says the rule of Shishim doesn’t apply when it comes to the mixing of meat and dairy. This seems both inconsistent and impractical, something which goes against how Psalm 119 and 1st John 5:3 describes the laws, “For this is the love of God, that we should keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.” As long as the meat isn’t purposely visibly mixed with the cheese in any way, it should be fine; anything more stringent would make the commandments burdensome, and therefore be adding to the Torah, something which you are not supposed to do.

A person can of course choose to make things more strict on themselves if they want to; but they should not be allowed to make Torah more burdensome on others than it really is. Also people have free will, you cannot control if they choose to sin (go against Torah), you can only follow it to the best of your ability, and try to teach others to want to do the same. Following the Torah / Law, is a desire which must originate within each of our hearts; if someone is forced to follow Torah, and it does not come from their heart, then it does no good for them spiritually, for in forcing them to follow it, you create enmity between them and the Father—you cause your brother to stumble.

Therefore, the way to distinguish between authentic Oral Tradition, and interpollutions, is if it abrogates the Written Tradition, that particular Oral Tradition is in error; and if it overly complicates the Written Tradition to the point that it becomes illogical or incredibly hard to fulfill, that particular Oral Tradition is in error. You are to remove the errant Oral Traditions, and keep the helpful Oral Traditions, as those will help you to fulfill the Commandments.

Now if one does that to both the Rabbinic Jewish and Catholic Oral Traditions, they should be able to come to a more accurate and truthful, and indeed helpful, Oral Tradition: one which does not abrogate the Written Tradition, nor add to it, but indeed helps one to live out the Written Tradition and fulfill the Torah.

But what about when the two Oral Traditions radically differ in their interpretation of Scripture?

I am a Hebrew Catholic, and even putting the issue of accepting Yeshua as the Messiah aside, that term alone likely brings to mind one of the biggest disagreements in scriptural interpretation (Oral Tradition) between Rabbinic Judaism and Christianity, that being the differing views regarding the nature of the Divine, and whether or not it is of a triune nature. Rabbinic Judaism of course believes that Adonai is one (Unitarian monotheism). Catholicism believes that He is triune, a Trinity, one God made of three Divine Persons (Trinitarian monotheism). How does one reconcile that difference in Oral Tradition interpretation of the Written Tradition?

This is an important issue and point of debate amongst Messianic congregations. They try to find and throw out the false teachings of man (errant Oral Tradition), and get back to the true Torah and what it truly says—this is a good and worthy goal. However, when it comes to the above issue of the nature of the Divine, that is not always an easy thing to determine based on the written scripture. Within the Messianic congregation that I have been involved with, Natzarim Yahshua, there was the same debate that most Messianic congregations have: there are some members who believe in the Trinity (Trinitarian), others who would fall under the category of Arianism (Unitarian Christianity), and yet others semi-Arianism (Binitarian).

Arianism being the belief that the Son is subordinate to the Father, and the Holy Spirit (if they believe it exists as its own person) is subordinate to the Son. Believing that the Father is the only Divine Person of God. Thus Arianism is either a Unitarian belief; or a belief in a tiered Trinity in which each Divine Person is subordinate.

Semi-Arianism being the belief that the Father and the Son are equal, but the Holy Spirit (if they believe it exists as its own person) is subordinate. Thus a Binitarian belief that God consists of two Divine Persons, the Father and the Son; or possibly a tiered Trinitarian belief with the Father and the Son as equal Divine Persons with the Holy Spirit subordinate to them.

Then there are those who do not believe that the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh) is its own person. They often believe that the Holy Spirit is the Love (Ahavah) or Will (Retzón) shared between the Father and the Son. Those who believe that often falling under the category of either Unitarian Arianism or semi-Arian Binitarianism.

This is not a new debate, for the Goths of old debated whether the True Faith was Unitarianism as taught by Bishop Arius of Alexandria, or Binitarianism as taught by the semi-Arians, or Trinitarianism as taught by the Roman Catholic Church. The Goths debated this for centuries. So this is not a new topic, and is one which has been debated since the early days of Christianity. Therefore anyone who is trying to cast aside the teachings of man, and find out what the Bible truly teaches regarding this, should not be surprised to see this debate pop up; especially amongst Goths.

In the Shema it states, “YHVH Eloheinu Adonai ekhad.” Which in English is, “The Lord our God is one.” Ekhad is a word which Messianics interpret as meaning, “One, but made of several parts, like saying, ‘One family.’ ” This is of course different than how Rabbinic Judaism interprets it, which is, “God is one.” As in, “There is only one God made up of only one part.” Or, “Our Mighty Ones (Eloheinu, gods, or pantheon) is (consists of) one (One god).” That last translation could be interpreted either how Rabbinic Judaism interpretates it, as strict monotheism, or as Christians interpret it, as either a triune God, or if they don’t believe the Holy Spirit is a Divine Person, a biune God.

The mystery of the plural singular

In the Torah, in the original Hebrew, the word, “El” means, “god” or, “Mighty one” in the singular, and the words, “Elohim” and, “Eloheinu” means, “gods” or, “Mighty ones.” Yet, often when describing the Judeo-Christian God, YHVH, the Bible uses “Elohim” and “Eloheinu” the plural forms of the word. Rabbinic Judaism explains this as being because He is so mighty, so all-powerful, that His greatness is referred to in the plural, because he is greater than all other things; and therefore it makes sense that He can be referred to in a singular plural. Christians, on the other hand, interpret the use of those singular plurals as meaning He is a single God in multiple Divine Persons.

“Our Mighty Ones (gods, pantheon) consists of one god.” Such an interesting declaration of faith. Either telling the surrounding pagan nations that the Hebrews only worship one god, YHVH, and him alone; or possibly pointing to YHVH being both one God and at the same time being made up of multiple Divine Persons or parts. Both of those concepts would have been striking to the pagan cultures around them, it would have truly set them apart, made the followers of YHVH, kodesh.

But whose Oral Tradition’s elucidation of Elohim is correct: Rabbinic Judaism, Trinitarian Christianity, or some form of Arianism or semi-Arianism? The text of the Tanakh and the Brit HaDasha is ambiguous enough that any of those could be interpreted from it, and that is why those debates have been going on for thousands of years. Rabbinic Judaism considers it settled, He is one God consisting of only one part. Mainstream Christianity considers it settled, He is one God consisting of three parts. But a small number of early Christian sects who have all died out, as well as several relatively new Christian sects, disagree.

What if some in the group disagree on the nature of the Divine?

It is therefore understandable that within an assembly of people who are attempting to follow, to the best of their ability, both the Hebrew faith as today practiced by the Jews, as well as believing Yeshua is the Messiah, as Christians proclaim, that this debate regarding the nature of the Divine, and whether God is Unitarian, Binitarian, or Trinitarian, would arise; and this would even moreso be the case amongst Goths, who have a long history of debating this very question.

My advise is unlike the decisions made in the 4th century by the Roman Catholic Church, who chose to remove people with opposing understandings of scripture from their assemblies. I do not feel that is a good way to make those who disagree come to understand your interpretation of scripture, and bring them into believing what you believe. Instead my advice would be to let those who disagree on this matter remain within your assembly. If you strongly believe that scripture points at the Divine Nature being a particular way, point that out to each person, show them the Bible passages which back up your view, be a Berean as in Acts 17, “They received the word with all readiness of mind and searched the scriptures daily whether those things were so.” And hopefully eventually they will come to see things as you do, and believe.

The Trinity is a hard concept to grasp, almost inhumanly hard, one needs to think fourth dimensionally in order to understand how three persons could exist as one being, it boggles the mind. So don’t be too hard on those who cannot fathom it, or fails to work out how it works. As Saint James The Just says in Acts 15, I paraphrase: we must not exclude people for not coming in with an already full understanding of things; for they shall learn the rest as they attend the shabbats. we all start our path as ignorant as little children, and we learn over time, as others teach us.

I leave you with a scripture to ponder:

Hear O Israel, whom I have called. I am the first, and am I the last…Come near to me and hear this: From the beginning I spoke not in secret; At the time things happen, I am there: Now YHVH elohim (The Lord God) has sent me, and his Ruach (Spirit).

Isaiah 48: 12;16

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