Tuesday, April 23, 2013

What’s Wrong With Natsari Judaism III

What’s Wrong With Natsari Judaism III
Rabbi Yehudah ben Shomeyr

The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. – I Peter 5:1-5

As long as an elder is not being abusive with the power of his authority over those under him, they are to be honored and obeyed. This also implies elders should be servants, so as to give us the proper example to go by.

The words “being lords” is translated in other versions as, “exercising lordship” and it comes from the Greek word “Katakurieuo” meaning to exercise dominion, to overcome and it implies a dictatorship.

Two major problems I see here in Natsari Judaism is:
1.    Leaders abusing their power and authority and has become a dictator over the people and is not a good example of a shepherd to be followed and emulated.
2.    Laity not properly submitting to Leaders who do NOT “lord” over people and yet ironically submit to the ones who DO “lord” over the people as a dictator and or cult leader.

1.    Regarding Leaders:

I’m not calling for a witch hunt, but am simply giving one general guidelines to go by in order to flesh out such corrupt dictatorial leaders (Rom. 16:17-18).

“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Yeshua Messiah, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.”

Above all else, the very first thing you should go by is if your spirit and or gut feels uneasy about a religious or ministerial leader and or minister.  TRUST YOUR GUT AND SPIRIT!!!

A Leader should be weighed by the Scriptures.  For example, I Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:6-9 gives us a good list to go by regarding qualifications of a religious leader. Things such as marital fidelity, humility, has an all-around good reputation publically and privately, is not greedy or hungry for money or power, has a good and stable family life, doesn’t speak out of both sides of his mouth, not a substance abuser, not a “know-it-all”, and not a new converts. The last mentioned is also reiterated in I Timothy 5:22. 

Galatians 5:22 and Ephesians 5:9 gives us the fruit of the Spirit in which to weight a religious leader. Do they display the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, meekness, faithfulness, and self-control.

I Corinthians 12:28-31 and Ephesians 4:11-12 gives us the five -fold ministry which a leader should be operating in one or more of these offices/gifts of Apostle, Prophet, Pastor, Teacher and Evangelist. If they fit these Scriptural criteria, they should be respected and submitted to.

The following are general and not absolute guidelines, nor are they an exhaustive list of red flags to watch for among Natsari leaders.  Also, please note that they are not given in any particular order.

·       If they have a Criminal Record. This is NOT a solid or soul indicator because “His arm is not too short to save (Isa. 59:1).” Because people can change. Messiah’s salvation after all saved a thief on the cross (Luke 23).
·       If they are on the sexual offenders list. Again, this is NOT a solid or soul indicator, but a stronger indicator than a simple criminal record because on the rare occasion some are falsely accused and again Messiah changed the demoniac (Mark 5, Luke 8) and sexual crime has been demonized by the majority of modern society.
·       If they go by many aliases without acknowledging or denying that they go by other names.
·       If they have multiple names, titles, profiles and ministries spanning multiple religions and or denominations and sects with in a given religion.
·       If they have current affiliations with other religious groups and or secret societies.
·       If they attempt to break away from the sect they are in, begin their own sect and drastically change theology, doctrine and or traditions and reveal new, secret, mystical knowledge and or revelation.
·       If they are not forth coming about their credentials, testimony or past and or experiences.
·       If they are caught contradicting or changing their credentials, testimony or past and or experiences.
·       If they do not or cannot produce the credentials they claim they have.
·       If they are not transparent and are extremely secretive about their life or themselves.
·       If they have a one dimensional personality.
·       If they are extremely egocentric.
·       If they attempt to draw more attention to themselves more so that God, Messiah or the Scriptures.
·       If they proclaim some sort of supreme authority, rule, or knowledge over something.
·       If they claim to personify or be a reincarnation of or a fulfilment of some Biblical or religious personage.
·       If they demand absolute authoritarianism without meaningful accountability.
·       If they encourage you to pull away from other believers or teachers and belittles them.
·       If they have no tolerance for questions or critical inquiry.
·       If they express unreasonable fear of the outside world in regards to persecution, conspiracy theories, apocalypse, etc.
·       If you run into a former follower and they share a pattern of stories of abuse and reveal warning signs you have seen but choose to ignore.
·       If they make you feel you are never good enough or will never measure up.
·       If they constantly talk to you in such a way that elevates themselves and diminishes you.
·       If they habitually wield or abuse their authority and or position which has nothing to do with or contradicts Torah and tends to attempt to micro-manage others’ lives.
·       If they use exclusivity as a tool for motivation and allegiance.
·       If they plagiarize; often claiming quotes and teachings of others as their own.
·       If they act as if they are above social, personal, religious, tradition, customary or halachic boundaries and excuses himself from breaking them.
·       If they are prone to extreme mood changes and decision changes (James 1:8).
·       If they are constantly being caught in contradictions or outright lies.
·       Failure to admit if they are ever wrong of they were even caught in a lie or mistake.
·       If they always attempt to justify or spiritualize a lie, mistake, bad behaviour, wrong action or contradiction.
·       When they fail to answer simple and direct yes or no questions directly, especially those dealing with integrity and or morality and instead dance around the issue or try and give a spiritual, mystical or ambiguous answer. Or tries to change the subject all together. 
·       If they have familial, flirtatious and otherwise inappropriate (sexual) relations with others that is not their spouse or immediate family members.
·       If they tell you that you must confess your sins to them or go through them in order to get to God, absolution, deliverance and or healing.
·       If they employ unusual, non-biblical or biblically out of context, cruel, humiliating, inhumane and or violent physical and or mental punishment to those who disobey them or break group rules.
·       If they do not provide one choices and instead gives demands or ultimatums.
·       If they attempt to isolate their sect or group from family, friends, others and or the world in communal religious living.

None of us are perfect, besides being perfectly flawed and thus always have things to work on personally, but if a religious leader you know or are involved with exhibits 5 or more of the things listed above, you are likely involved with a conman and or cult leader. Make like Lot, run and don’t look back and do not submit!

2.    Regarding Laity:

Ultimately we should all do our best to walk in the footsteps of Yeshua our Messiah by walking and following in the Torah.

“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Yeshua Messiah, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.”

And Proverbs 6:19b says that God hates, he that sows discord among brethren.

What will characterize such “red flag believers” are such things as extremism, judgementalism, rebellion, anger, and negativity. The following again is not an absolute or exhaustive list on things to watch for and disassociate yourself from in others who claim to be believers in the Messianic and or Natsari movement. Again, given in no particular order.

·       If they disagree with the cardinal absolutes of the virgin birth, death, burial, resurrection and divinity of Messiah as well as the inerrancy of the Scripture.
·       Refusal to open mindedly and objectively evaluate their own beliefs.
·       Refusal to open mindedly and objectively look at information that may challenge their own beliefs.
·       Majoring on the minors and minoring on the majors (Matt. 23:24). For example asking asinine questions like:  “Why do you or do you not wear a kippah or Star of David?” Or, why do you say Yeshua instead of Yahshuah, or HaShem instead of Yahweh?” etc.
·       Cannot agree to disagree agreeably in love.
·       Refuse to fellowship with other Messianic or Natsari groups outside their own or who believe slightly differently than they do.
·       Openly criticizes other believers or ministries by name instead of simply disagreeing with them or instead of exposing falsehoods they may teach or proclaim.
·       Focusing on or wanting to study Rabbinical, Kabbalistic or other religious literature more than the Tanak (Old Testament) or Brit Chadasha (New Testament).
·       Focuses more on Jewish/Hebraic custom and traditions more so than Torah.
·       Accusing other ministries and believers of being “Too Christian” or “Too Jewish.”
·       Promotes their sect or ministry or leaders thereof more so than Faith, Torah and Yeshua.
·       Focuses more on division than unity (Prov. 6:16, 19).
·       If they resemble their sect or leader more than Yeshua Himself.
·       Easily and often offended (Ps. 119:165).
·       Extremely angry, negative and critical of Christianity from which they likely came.
·       Looks to purposely oppose or stand out from and are overly critical of the majority in order to simply justify their own rebellious attitude and ways.
·       If they attempt to integrate Islam or another religion into the Faith.
·       If they believe circumcision or any other adherence to Jewish tradition is essential for salvation.
·       If they confuse culture, custom and tradition with Torah commandments.
·       If they are involved with “red flag” ministries, congregations or leaders within the Messianic and or Natsari movement.
·       If they tend to be a lone or rogue believer and associates with virtually no one and has a “Me and God, Us and Them” mentality.
·       If they make conspiracy theories and eschatology more of a focus of their faith than Torah and Messiah.
·       If they believe that they alone and no one else has the correct interpretation of any given passage of Scripture.
·       Has a bad habit and or history of “congregation hopping,” in other words does not stay settled within a congregation or ministry for very long.
·       Demands and or are over eager to take on a leadership role or position.
·       If they feel they are not being moved to the front of the class fast enough by a leader.
·       Treats other believers (especially Gentiles) as inferior and or second class citizens.
·       Believes they are right and everyone else is wrong and that they are somehow better than other believers. In other words, prideful.
·       If they bear the opposite of the Fruit of the Spirit.
·       If they have a martyr complex or play the victim and blame everyone else for their troubles but themselves.

Such believers we should love and pray for, yet not associate or fellowship with lest their ways rub off on us, as the Proverbs warns. And we should not try and change such a believer unless the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) clearly makes them open to listen to reason and be lovingly corrected and urges us to reach out to them. Otherwise…

Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you. – Matt. 7:6

Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit. – Prov. 26:4-5

Let us take the words of Sheliach Kefa (Apostle Peter) seriously as Leader and Laity and lead by example and humbly submit to those who properly lead by example.