Month 5:30, RC Preparation Day, Year:Day 5940:147 AM|
2Exodus 3/40, Yovel - Year 50/50
Gregorian Calendar: Thursday 1 September 2016
The Third House
Awakening the Messianic Humanist
Continued from Part 1
Awakening a Literary Appreciation of the Human Spirit
A literary memoir by A.N.Pirozhkova of her husband, At His Side: The Last Years of Isaac Babel (1996), the famous pre-war Soviet Jewish writer murdered by Stalin's secret police, which came into my hands on my last birthday, has rekindled in me a renewed interest in humanism. I devoured the book avidly, as much impressed by Antonina Nikolaevna Pirozhkova's elegance and dignified style of writing as by that of her late husband who was possessed of a marvelous sense of humour, generosity and enjoyment of everyday life. I also recognised some of my own humour and cheekiness.
The Communist Snare
Though both Babel and Pirozhkova were communists, a philosophy that I loathe, they were not Stalinists, and I needed to remind myself in the beginning that much in communism was lifted from Christianity and simply denuded of the Divine. Socialism is in any case a contradiction, possessing both warmth and coldness. It was Winston Churchill who said that if you weren't a socialist by the time you were in your 20's, you had no heart; and if you were still a socialist by the time you were middle aged, you had no brains. The voracious child that is communism is a terrible contradiction, possessing both the highest and the lowest ideals simultaneously. And it is those high ideals that snare so many inexperienced and gullible people with good hearts.
The Third House
I belong to that political creed best described as 'social conservativism' which I don't propose to elaborate on here - you can read my educational, social and political writings if you want to know about that or you can follow the writings of Peter Hitchens whose political belief I mostly identify with. My purpose today is to remind Christians and Messianics that you cannot be a whole or complete believer unless you simultaneously live in what I call the 'Third House', the humanistic side which turns dry theology and legalism into something alive and tastey, and tempers religious zeal into considerate sensitivity toward other people not neceassrily of your own belief. It rounds believers off and makes them interesting and desirable to be with and come to know.
The Rounded, Balanced Believer
As I explained 5 years ago in my article, Christian Humanism: Is It Biblical?, I believe that a rounded and balanced believer is a combination of three things:
- 1. He is an evangelical, passionately sharing the story of the death, atonement and resurrecion of the Master Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ), like a born-again Baptist committed to evangelism - living and sharing the basic Besorah (Gospel) in all its simplicity;
- 2. He is a messianic, teaching the living the Torah lifestyle; and
- 3. He is a humanist, having compassion for all men and women, loving them simply for themselves as creations of Elohim (God).
I am currently reading Arthur Koestler again, a man who had much in common with Isaac Babel on the political spectrum - both were Jewish Marxists though Babel was Ukrainian-Russian and Koestler Hungarian. My previous interest, as an aspirant Astronomer (I eventually became a Biochemist), was in his historical-scientific writings. His book, The Sleepwalkers: The History of Man's Changing Vision of the Universe (1959) had a profound impact on me - but now I want to know more of the literary and social Koestler. His book, Scum of the Earth (2006), has me currently in its grip. Both Koestler and Babel were brilliant writers.
Yah'shua Before Torah
In order to illustrate what I mean by this 'third house' I need to tread on a few theological toes. I am a messianic - I believe in obeying the Torah and that includes the festivals. I am also an evangelical - I believe in the Besorah (Gospel) of Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) and that means the beginning and end of everything for me is the Person of Yah'shua (Jesus). The Torah without Yah'shua (Jesus) is stony dead, Yah'shua (Jesus) without Torah is lawlessness, and Yah'shua (Jesus) and Torah without humanism is deadly pie-in-the-sky religiosity. Torah is mere commentary in comparison to the reality of who Yah'shua (Jesus) is as a living Being.
The Illustration of Christmas and Easter
Now to my illustration. Every Christmas and Easter, the real born-again evangelicals, those who are not much taken by all the pagan paraphenalia that unfortunately mark these observations and which connect them to both false religion and secularism, are wholly focussed on Yah'shua (Jesus) - His birth and resurrection, respectively. There is a wonderful hymnody surrounding these two seasons.
The Messianics and Their Birth and Resurrection Narratives
Every Pesach (Passover)...or maybe Yom Teruah (Trumpets)...or maybe Sukkot (Tabernacles) (depending what you believe), messianics remember the birth of Messiah...to different degrees, and every Yom haBikkurim (Firstfruits), they remember the resurrection of Messiah...to different degrees. It depends what kind of 'messianic' you are.
Between Life and Knowledge
Here's the problem. Authentic, spiritually regenerated Christians, observing pagan times and seasons, tend to be far more Christ-focussed at Christmas and Easter than Messianics are Messiah-focussed at Passover/Trumpets/Tabernacles and Firstfruits, and it's reflected in their story-telling and worship habits. There is a qualitative difference...broadly-speaking. And not just at these seasons. When I was in America this last summer, surrounded by, and immersed in, the Southern Baptist culture with its passion for soul-winning, I became aware of something that my soul missed desperately in a large part of the Messianic community: that all-consuming fire and passion for Messiah and the desire to win souls for Him. He dominated everything, as is right. My experience of Messianism has been that this passion for the Saviour tends to get diluted by an overly pre-occupation with Torah. When you boil it all down you're left with a stark difference between chayim-life and daat-knowledge. And we are absolutely not saved by knowledge (the Gnostic heresy), even if we absolutely need to obtain the knowledge to understand the intellectual basis of that chayim (life) as well as the Torah lifestyle believers are enjoined to live.
Evangelical First, Then Messianic
Though I am am absolutely not given the choice by Yahweh, but given a choice between being a regenerated Baptist or a Torah-obsessed Messianic I would have to be a Baptist. Life comes from the Besorah (Gospel), as outlined so brilliantly in the Apostles' Creed, not from the Torah. Everything begins and ends with the Person and Passion of Yah'shua (Jesus), not a right compilation of Torah. That's why I am first of all Evangelical and then Messianic because Torah without Messiah is dead letter:
The Davar is Not Exclusively the Torah
"[Elohim (God)] has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant - not of the letter but of the Ruach (Spirit); for the letter kills, but the Ruach (Spirit) gives chayim (life)" (2 Cor.3:6, NIV).
That's what I mean what I say I am a Messianic Evangelical - the 'messianic' being that species of Evangelical that I am...a commandment-keeping, Torah-obedient Evangelical. I am not an Evangelical Messianic - I have not added Messiah to Torah! And though that may sound like playing with words, what I am really saying is that Yah'shua (Jesus) is the Davar (Word) and not just the Torah: thus I cannot accept the messianic version of John 1:1 which reads:
Possession Not Profession
"Beresheeth (in the beginning) was the Torah, and the Torah was with YHWH, and the Torah was YHWH" (RSTNE, 2nd edition).
I would even go so far as to say that this translation of the opening of John's Gospel is blasphemous and idolatrous, effectively making the Scriptures into Elohim (God). And yet looking at many messiancs you'd think they worship the Torah like the Jews they imitate. I cannot, along with the RSTNE and some other messianic translations like it, depersonalise the Messiah and say thet "the Torah became flesh and thus the Torah is the true eternal word" . This is an occultic kabbalistic notion which some cults in Evangelical Christianity imitate in a related way when they use Scripture as a kind of magical charm to ward off the devil, as the ancient Israelites once did with the Ark of the Covenant in their wars against the Philistines...with disasterous consequences. I speak of the 'name it and claim it' crowd, for example. Reciting words or a prayer to be saved comes under the same category. It is not our profession of emunah (faith) that saves us but our possession of emunah (faith) that leads to the profession that saves us.
The Dimensions of Davar
There is a terrible idolatry in messianic circles that we repudiate which is the worship of the expression of Elohim (God) in the form of the Torah in much the same way that the heathen worship the creation or creatures made by the Creator instead of the Creation Himself. Let us be clear - the Davar (Hebrew), Miltha (Aramaic), Logos (Greek) or "Word" is infinitely more than the Torah or the Scriptures. This is a huge word that no man knows the bounds of - it is both substance and manifestation, word and instance, and so much more.
The Idolatry of Scripture-Worship
How easy it is to fall for this idolatry of Scripture-worship. A lot of Evangelicals do it too. Do you think Catholics worshipping statues of the Virgin Mary is any worse? No, the Davar (Word) or Logos in the Greek translation, is far, far bigger than the Torah, important though that is. It is the difference between ruach (spirit) and letter. Scripture is vitally important to the believer but as letter it pales into deep shadow in comparison to the chayim (life) lived and experienced as substance in Messiah Yah'shua (Jesus).
Legalists vs. Heathens
So which is the greater evil, do you think? The puritannical ultra-messianic legalist who exalts the Torah as Elohim (God), observes the moedim (appointments) at the correct times and in the correct ways, but who diminishes Messiah...or the Evangelical who celebrates Christmas and Easter, with all their pagan trappings (Christmas trees, yule logs, easter eggs and bunnies, etc.) but who is filled with the substance that is Messiah's simcha (joy) and chayim (life) at these times? Whom do you suppose Yahweh will respect and honour the most?
True-Namers and KJV-Onlyers
I repeat, I am not justifying pagan observance, which is a form of idolatry, but neither can I endorse dead letter, even if what that dead letter represents, and is an written expression of, is pure and qadosh (holy, set-apart). I choose chayim (life) (Tree of Life) over daat/gnosis (knowledge) any day because without chayim (life) you are dead in your knowledge (Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil), no matter how much head knowledge of the emet (truth) you may have. I have met the Oxford theologians in person who were filled with Hoover dams of knowledge but they were spiritually dead. I hear the dabates of aggressive, anti-human ultra-messianic true-namers condemning Christians to hell, and of fanatical King James-Onlyers who say you are unsaved if you don't accept their beautiful though flawed 17th century English translation and all I experience is the spirit of death. I am violently repelled by them because they stifle the chayim (life) which I know in Christ.
Condemnation and Death
And that is where the 'Third House' of Wisdom or Humanism comes in because I have noticed a disturbing, if not actually a demonic, tendency on the part of some messianics to condemn many Evangelical Christians observing pagan customs as being unsaved even when they are manifesting chayim (life), simcha (joy) and ahavah (love) which are the fruits of genuine salvation, because they're not using the 'true names' or because they are observing false traditions. They are dead and blind. They lack true humanity, let alone humility. They lack the Third House in their lives. They have ceased being truly human. They are dead men walking and they prove it by their venomous and hateful words toward those who have genuine Messiah chayim (life) in spite of their ignorance and false customs.
A Christian From Mississippi Who Met the Her Heavenly Valentine
When I was in Mississippi I met a Baptist lady of extraordinarily deep faith who had had numerous spiritual encounters with Yah'shua (Jesus) that were undeniably genuine. And yet she followed after all the Protestant-adopted Romish traditions. She had experienced authentic miracles. One of these was something that happened on Valentines Day, an obnoxious pagan festival that orthodox Christians have bought into. She was desperately lonely, her husband had died after a long illness, and she was crying out to Elohim (God) in prayer. Yah'shua (Jesus) appeared to her in vision and handed His heart to her, saying, 'I am your Valentine'. She experienced an overwhelming sense of ahavah (love) and shalom (peace) and ever since then has known that she has never been alone, that Yah'shua (Jesus) is with her always.
The True Intent
I can see the faces of many messianics enraged at such a testimony. They would, in their blindness, conceit and hard-heartedness, conclude that this was a false vision, along with the transformation that took place in this woman's life, because He said, 'I am your Valentine'. Yah'shua (Jesus) is about chayim (life), not dead Torah factoids. He knew what she thought of and meant by the word 'Valentine' and it had nothing to do with the ancient pagan Roman Lupercalia - to her, at that moment in time, and it simply meant a marriage companion to love her. The intent was, is and always will be, more important than the wording.
A Demonstration of a Lack of Grace
Does that mean I am suddenly endorsing 'St.Valentines Day'? Of course not! It is a vile, pagan perversion of a festival that has fastened itself onto Christendom and darkened it, and should be rejected unapologetically once it is recognised for what it actually is. But in the meantime, you cannot dismiss or condemn those Christians who follow pagan customs by using Torah as a cudgel to make them submit to you and your understanding of the emet (truth). That is not loving, that is not the Derech Mashiach or Way of Messiah which is full of compasion and grace, not pride and hate. And that's the point. Those glassy-eyed individuals who would outrightly condemn that lady I met because she said her Jesus called Himself her 'Valentine' demonstrate that love is far, far from their hearts. They are in darkness, like the ancient Pharisees. They are dead. They don't really know Elohim (God) or how He works, even though they consider their knowledge to be superior.
Do You Live in the Third House?
This is extremely important because the way you deal with such testimonies will reveal to what degree you live in the Third House of Wisdom, Compassion and Humanity, if at all. You can never be a part of the Remnant with such an arrogant and pitiless attitude. Yahweh-Elohim is not at all like such people. They forget how much grace has been shown to them in the days of their ignorance and arrogance. If they want to grow in grace they need to make teshuvah (repent) and let the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) truly work on their hearts, to make them more compassionate and long-suffering.
The True Heart of Elohim
This is, once again, not an endorsement of pagan customs, Yah forbid! Those who have read my teachings about such matters should know better than to ever accuse me of that anyway. What this is, is an important revelation about the character and heart of Elohim (God). There are times and seasons for rejecting pagan ways and following Yahweh's moedim (appointments) and if you want to know what Yahweh's priorities are for pagan converts, read the verdict of the first Council of Jerusalem which issues the first steps toward Torah-obedience that these newly regenerated ex-pagans were to implement without delay. The first and most important thing - Heavenly Priority - is that you meet the resurerected Messiah and receive Eternal Chayim (Life)! Torah does even enter the picture at this stage. But you know - or ought to know - all of this.
Are You 'Purityrannical'?
What is is to be truly human? It is to be alive in Messiah, doctrinal errors notwithstanding. To be pure is tov (good) but to be puritanical is to be dead...or perhaps a better word would be PURI-TYRANNICAL. They are the Stalinists and Maoists against the Anarchists and the humanist communists like Babel and Koestler. They may not be believers but they have, by and large, got the Third House right and should not only not be despised for it but be admired and imitated too.
Across All Denominational Boundaries
I can deal with humanists like Babel and Koestler better than I can the purityrannical Messianics and some Orthodox Christians who share similar traits. This disease cuts across all denominational boundaries. It is the tyranny born out of pride and a lack of humanity.
This does not mean that I am lax on Torah or that I compromise the mitzvot (commandments) - rather it is more important to get our priorities right...to get everything in the right order. It is to get ones priorities right because, truth-told, we are all of us Torah-disobedient - Evangelicals and Messianics alike - to one degree or another. And don't forget all the teachings of Yah'shua (Jesus) are also Torah now.
Divine Life Above All
I have become more and more conscious these last months of the supreme importance of chayim (divine life) over everything else, just as ahavah (love) is more important than emunah (faith) and tiqveh (hope). They are not without each other but neither are they co-equal. We have to put the more important things first, even within Torah, for you will remember Yah'shua (Jesus) prioritised mercy over the littler things like paying tithes.
Your humanism - your love for people - is your true barometer for Torah-obedience. Elohim (God) must be put first, people second, and all the rest third. Can you see the divine tavnith (pattern) this? Who do these Three Houses actually represent?
But that's a subject all on its own... Think on it and see.
- 1. Torah-obedience (the Father Yahweh);
- 2. The Besorah/Gospel (the Son Yah'shua/Jesus); and
- 3. Wisdom/Compassion (the Ruach haQodesh/Holy Spirit).
 Restoration Scriptures True Name Edition (RSTNE), Second Edition, Footnote #1 to Yochanan/John 1:1, (Your Arms to Israel Publishing, North Miami Beach, Florida: 2005), p.880