What follows is the formal chronicle of events that led to our understanding that the "New Testament" is not as reliable a document as we have been told.
We realise that many people have experienced some presence of God in a church-like setting. We did. In fact, I have led worship that met on Sundays in times past and have experience the same presence that you are likely to be thinking about. I would not deny that experience. What we have done, in our attempting to validate and reconcile some issues with the "New Testament", we were amazed at what we learned. I can only recommend, that if you are one who believes in the inspiration of the "New Testament", that you get yourself an education.
None of this is written to offend you, but rather to explain why we have the disclaimer notices in various places on this site. We chose to leave online certain things that we could no longer teach as authentic, or fact, in the hope that it would minister to or speak to someone for whom God is dealing in a similar manner.
Please note: At no time during this inquiry or study did we admit arguments coming from so-called "anti-missionary" sites or other sources. EVERYTHING we have herein assembled was done completely independently of any Jewish or other "anti-missionary" sources. This statement can not be over-emphasised.
Chronology of how we arrived at the place that we could no longer defend the "New Testament"
Begin the Journey Here: The Torah is for Today
I led worship at a Christian congregation located in Covington, Kentucky, just across the Ohio river from Cincinnati.
Due to an irreconcilable dispute with the pastor, it was determined that I should leave that church and start another one, and this was done with the with the blessing of the pastor. Certain members from that congregation then joined our home church.
At the same time, we started spending time with a Messianic Jewish teacher who invited us to Israel, and we went in 1997. This trip was very life-changing, because this Jewish teacher had been telling us that much of the Sunday-church doctrine concerning Torah was not correct. The wonder if it was that in Israel, we saw the Torah acted out before our eyes, and it was heavenly. I asked myself, "why can't we do this?" (We = Christians, and this = keep Shabbat) What God was doing was showing us that the Torah really had never "expired" or gone away.
At this point, I became intensely interested in the Hebrew language. Being a worship leader and musician, it naturally led to the compositions which you find on this site. One thing I noticed was that the glory or "anointing" was much higher on the Hebrew than on music in English.
One day you come to the realisation that Jesus / Yeshua should have an Hebraic identity. Because you passionately want to serve him, you begin to learn more about identity. At this point, we had become fully Messianic, embracing the Torah's instructions to keep the Shabbat, the Moedim, and of course, Kosher.
Then, as we are more and more things Hebraically, we became more and more cognisant of the Church's anti-semitism.
One of the things that our Jewish friend had taught us was about the weekly Torah Portion (parasha). Therefore, each week, as we began focusing on Torah, then the anti-Semitic, anti-Hebraic, anti-Torah characteristics of Christianity in general become increasingly baffling and mysterious. You don’t see it before you start affirming Torah and admitting the possibility that personal righteousness and Torah can be (and is) connected. What I mean is, that a legitimate expression of your service to God can include Torah observance. The beauty of the written Torah becomes each day magnified. For example, for Shabbat you have, “because in 6 days Hashem made the heavens and the earth”. (Exodus 20.11) It is not some arbitrary law, but it has a majestic quality to it. Another one you get early in this process is that in Leviticus. 23, it does not say “Jewish festivals” but rather, “MY appointed times”. Also, somehow or another you just get the revelation that certain animals are not meant to be food. And, it heightens your spiritual walk by avoiding them. It becomes an act of adoration to God to do it. And we become elevated in a manner we have never experienced before.
If we have experienced glory in keeping of mitzvot, then there is a growing question, “how does a Jewish Messiah disavow Judaism?” In effect, the New Testament epistles, most notably the book of Hebrews, declares,
that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away. Hebrews 8.13
We basically ceased reading these epistles at this point, and substituted all Tenach. We also grew in our observance of Torah. Not for the reason of legalism, but in the same sense that a man might open the door for his wife or fiancé for a reason of honouring her and out of love. The difference is between a man saying, in disgust, “I have to get a bouquet for my wife because today is our anniversary” or, rather, rushing to the florist to pick out the prettiest bouquet of her favourite flowers for the joy of bringing light to her eyes on their special day.
So, the obvious question becomes, "Why is christianity anti-semitic in so many respects, if it is based on Jewish?"
Basically, what we began to see here was that SINCE the "New Testament" was based on the Hebrew Tenach, AND the Torah was valid for today, then it follows that Jesus/Yeshua would have been doing and observing all these things that we were now experiencing, but with undoubtably greater richness.
We felt that, obviously these blessed experiences were meant to be part of what he was telling and his ministry on earth. The question became, how did this get lost?
A lot of time passes during this phase, from 1997 through 2006. We continued in steady, unswerving belief in the "New Testament", hoping that its conflicts with the Hebrew Bible were caused by interpretational or translation problems.
Next, we composed this essay. In Consequence of Culture
The purpose of this essay was to clarify and bring into focus the problem we had been seeing for over a decade.
You should read this essay because it works like a bridge from one country to another. In any border town, there is inevitably a mixture between the cultures of the neighbouring countries. But, as you get farther into the center of the country you see more of its individuality, its distinct nature. This essay will take you like a bridge from the Christian-colored view of the Torah to a Torah-centered view.
At this point, you must read the essay and decide if you agree with its three points near the end. I will probably need to go back and update the last section of the essay, because it is likely too friendly to the "New Testament" texts. That notwithstanding, if you can read that essay, and you are already Messianic and love Hashem's Torah, then continue in this chronicle. If you do not agree with the essay, or that Torah is relevant for today, then what remains of this chronicle will probably not make any sense to you.
Looking back, at this point we also began to see the gap between the Hebraic road we were on and the Messianic community around us. The chasm became in greater and greater focus. In order to influence them and make arguments to bring us to where we were going, the research into the church father period was undertaken in order to build and distribute arguments (information) that would take Messianics farther in Torah than they had ventured to go so far.
Another thing that took place at this time, after we wrote the essay, was that we first identified the question of "Virtual Righteousness", aka Righteousness apart from Torah (We are definitely not speaking here of only Notzrim / Christians, but this is a critical foundation of Messianics, as well. What we learned was that, oddly enough, even though Messianics around us proclaim the Torah, the unswervingly adhere to this righteousness “apart from Torah”. It is like saying Torah is our standard, but we are not bound by it. This became the defining difference between shma and any other “Messianic” ministry, in so far as we were loathe to call ourselves by that moniker.)
We commenced to research early Church history, i.e. the Ante-Nicene period to investigate where and how something based on Torah could become against Torah.
Messianics are out here saying that “it is Torah, but it is not Torah”. And we were saying that it is eternal. How could it become such a vogue belief that it is not Torah and we wanted to understand how this happened.
Stay tuned.. more to come. This page is scheduled to be completed by 7-25-2008
Questions? Don't hesitate to contact us, especially while the page is not yet finished.