Commonwealth Theology

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Commonwealth Theology is a consolidation of mainstream Christian theologies that better conforms the relationship between the Church and today's Israel to the relationship prophesied in the Old Testament and confirmed by the writings of the Apostolic Age Church.[1] Commonwealth Theology derives its name from the Commonwealth of Israel (Eph. 2:12) which describes a commonwealth inhabited by "one new man".[2][3] This corporate body with its citizens is understood to represent both a present reality[4] achieved by Christ's atoning sacrifice and a yet-to-be-realized future united community of believers,[5][6] known as the Commonwealth of Israel,[7] who hail from the Jewish House (Judah) and from the House of Joseph, i.e., Ephraim (aka Jezreel, Samaria, Israel),[8] the Ten Lost Tribes "swallowed up" by the Nations/Gentiles (Hosea 8:7-9) – bringing the "rest of mankind" (Acts 15:17) with them into the United Kingdom of David.[9]

Similar to previous Two House theologies, Commonwealth Theology[10] looks to the Ezekiel 37 prophecy of the two sticks[11] made one as the ultimate fulfillment upon which God "will take the children of Israel from among the nations, wherever they have gone, and will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land; and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king over them all; they shall no longer be two nations, nor shall they ever be divided into two kingdoms again" (Ezek. 37:21-22 NKJV).

Distinction between Israel and the Church[edit]

Commonwealth Theology (CT) recognizes the strides that Dispensationalism has made against antisemitism by rejecting Supersessionism (Replacement Theology). However, advocates of CT distinguish their position on the Church and the Jews from both of these mainstream theologies with the phrase, "Distinction; No Separation."[12] The CT view is that Replacement Theology makes no distinction and no separation between the Church and the Jew based on Supersessionism's premise that the Church has subsumed the legacy of Old Testament Israel to become today, in totality, the "Israel of God" (Gal. 6:16) wherein at the cross the Jews were disinherited with all promises and covenants made to the Jews being forfeited as a result of the New Covenant inaugurated by Jesus. Since the "Jews rejected Jesus", Jesus, through the Church, has rejected the Jew.[13]

On the other hand, Dispensationalism makes a distinction between the Church and the Jew but separates the two with various apparatus: two New Covenants, two gospels,[14] two brides.[15] The notion that the Jews are a "this worldly" people and the Christians are an "other worldly" people is another form of separation that is antithetical from Commonwealth of Israel Theology which asserts that the Church and the Jew remain distinct as represented by the 12 gates bearing the names of the 12 Tribes of Israel (Rev. 21:12) and the foundations of the Holy City bearing the names of the 12 apostles of the Lamb (Rev. 21:14); One Holy City (Rev. 21:2), Two Branches yet One Olive Tree/Root (Rom. 11:16-24); Two Houses - yet One Prince (Isa. 9:6), One King David shall reign over them both (Ezek. 37). Commonwealth Theology acknowledges the difference between the "believers among the nations" (Gentiles) and the Jews in the same manner as Paul stated, "there is neither male nor female (Gal. 3:28);" insinuating they are not separate species, but they are still recognizably distinct.[16]

Commonwealth Theology vs. Messianic Judaism[edit]

Furthermore, proponents of Commonwealth Theology distinguish themselves from previous Messianic Two House theologies which have promoted genetic Identity Theology (the doctrine that traceable ancestry is required to show descent from the House of Israel) and "superior" Ephraimite (Lost Tribes) cultic practices (e.g., Mormonism, Armstrongism, British Israelism) that tend to be suspect[17] by mainline evangelicalism[18]. Commonwealth Theology avoids these controversies by taking the Scripture literally that the House of Israel was "swallowed up...among the nations"[19][20] so that the Lost Tribes of the Northern Kingdom and the Gentiles remain somewhat indistinguishable as a "mixed multitude"[21] (Exod. 12:38). Commonwealth Theology upholds the traditional Christian emphasis on faith (adoption by faith into the rights of inheritance[22]) while respecting those of traceable genetic descent. Nevertheless, the Bible prophesied the "New Covenant with the House of Israel and with the House of Judah" (Jer. 31:31), but also included the Gentiles: "I will also give you as a light to the Gentiles"[23] (Isa. 49:6). See also Rom. 15:8-9; Eph. 2:22.

Two House Theology[edit]

Objection to Two House recognition[edit]

Some among the Messianic community, like TorahResource, have initially distanced themselves from the two house aspect of Commonwealth Theology (see video: The Two House Theory.[24] In response proponents have asserted there is a fundamental misunderstanding on the nature of Ephraim and Edom--"the rest of mankind." Advocates of CT observe Jews and Messianic Jews are reticent to allow Gentiles to be identified with Ephraim, (aka. the Lost Tribes/House of Israel). Although they do allow gentile believers in Yeshua to identify outwardly as Jews regarding feast days, dress, diet, Torah, etc. Messianic Jews tend to include the rest of the 10 tribes making them all Jews; whereas, in fact, these Ten Tribes of Israel were swallowed up among the Nations[25] (Hosea 8:7-9), were given a writ of divorce (Jer. 3:8) and were Lo-Ami – no longer His beloved "for you are not My people, and I will not be your God" – Hosea 1:9. Whereas according to Ephesians Ch. 2, in Christ Jesus, those who were afar off have been made nigh by the blood of the everlasting covenant (Eph. 2:13, 17; Heb. 13:20).

Two House Theology (THT) and the notion that the Church is the reconstituted House of Israel are both challenged by John J. Parsons in his article "Two House Theology: Are Christians the 'Lost Tribes' of Israel?"[26] Parsons articulates his understanding of the two-house system as well as the intuitive conclusion of Commonwealth Theology: that by faith the Gentile Church has been adopted/grafted in as the bona fide House of Israel. After questioning the relevance of considering the two houses of Israel the article concludes by questioning whether a Christian's identification with ethnic Israel could enhance a believer's "daily walk of faith." Without considering the impact of CT and THT on present-day relations between Christians and Jews, Parsons concedes the following potential benefits: "Identifying with Israel and her destiny"; a "sense of belonging and inheritance"; and, a "deeper appreciation for God's sovereign plans for the nation of Israel."

Significance of the Two Houses of Israel[edit]

Image.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assyrian_captivity#/media/File:Deportation_of_Jews_by_Assyrians.svg
Deportation of the Northern Kingdom of Israel by the Assyrian Empire: Assyrian captivity

CT theologians point out that the New Covenant of Jeremiah 31:31 is a direct response to the Breach of Jeroboam and the resulting desolation of the land brought about by the sins of both houses of the divided kingdom.[27]

The Commonwealth of Israel, mentioned in Ephesians Ch. 2, is composed of those near and those far, which, according to Commonwealth Theology, alludes to the House of Judah and the House of Israel, respectively. The "near" "far" connection is substantiated by the fact that this same language was used in the Book of Daniel clearly associating "near" with Judah and "far" with those driven (scattered), that is, "Israel": "O Lord, righteousness belongs to You, but to us shame of face, as it is this day—to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those near and those far off in all the countries to which You have driven them, because of the unfaithfulness which they have committed against You" (Dan. 9:7). (See "Assyrian captivity"). The House of Israel remained scattered at the time Second Kings was written – "there was none left but the tribe of Judah alone...So Israel was carried away from their own land to Assyria, as it is to this day (Cir. 550 BC.)” (2 Kings 17:18-23) – and the Northern Tribes were scattered at the time of the writing of Daniel.[28]

The diaspora (see "Origins and development of the term") of the House of Israel among the nations (Gentiles) resulted in the partial fulfillment of Hosea's prophecy: "For I will no longer have mercy on the house of Israel, but I will utterly take them away." “Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered." "Then the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together..." (Hos. 1:6,10,11). Commonwealth Theology addresses the mystery of how the Northern Kingdom (Ephraim) could be scattered, "lost," "mixed with the peoples,"[29] "not a people,"[30] and yet could re-assume their identity and be reunited with Judah. Whereas, mainline Christians theologies assess the Bible's many references to the two houses either as trivial information or else suppose the Northern Kingdom had already reassembled before the time of Christ. At issue is the relationship between the Church and the Jews as a result of Christ's first coming, and a fuller understand of the gathering at Christ's second coming.

The Two Houses and the marriage covenant[edit]

Commonwealth theologians propose Paul's reference to the institution of marriage as representing Christ and the Church (Eph. 5:32) points to Old Testament allusions to God's divorce and remarriage to Israel. For instance, the New Covenant passage in Jeremiah 31 specifically states, "though I [God] was a husband to them".[31] In the third chapter of One in Messiah, Dr. Douglas Hamp points to other verses that speak of God's divorce and provision for a future reunification; as well as mentioning the Old Testament stipulation that prohibited returning to a former spouse after unfaithfulness. “Then her former husband [Yahweh] who divorced her [Israel] must not take her [Israel] back to be his wife after she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before Yahweh.” (Deut. 24:4a). Hamp suggests that Yeshua's death and resurrection resolved the legal dilemma so that a new marriage covenant could be established between the same parties. Dr. Hamp also maintains there is a difference between the Law of the Marriage Covenant and God's instructions (the Law - Torah) that was also given at Mount Sinai.[32]

Law and Grace[edit]

Commonwealth Theology does not view Law and Grace to be mutually exclusive "dispensations" of God's work among mankind.[33] CT asserts the word "Law" (Torah) in the Old Testament means "God's instructions," which continue to be good and beneficial (Rom. 7:12; 1 Tim. 1:8). Commonwealth theologians reject the interpretation that the Law has been done away with and view such a doctrine as a dangerous and slippery slope that has led western societies to distance themselves from the Ten Commandments[34] and propelled the Church toward the anomie of the evangelical left.

Observance of the Law[edit]

Despite their opposition to lawlessness, promoters of Commonwealth Theology hold differing opinions on how, and to what extent, the Old Testament laws are to be observed. This ambiguity stems from the fact that the movement includes both Torah observant Messianic style members (such as The Way Congregation) and evangelical Christian affiliates (such as One Body Life). Nevertheless, these divergences are negotiated among these groups by recognizing the New Testament's dual mandate regarding keeping "the Law."[35] (documented as follows by CT proponents Dr. Hamp and C. Steinle)[36]:

On the one hand: Speaking against those who choose to observe the Law is discouraged by Jesus' directive: "Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:19). On the other hand: Romans Ch. 14 discourages judging how Christ's servants keep the law: "Who are you to judge another’s servant?...One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks...Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God." (Excerpts Rom. 14:4-22a)

Traditional (modern) Christians within CT adjudge that the Law was fulfilled in Christ—the Law of Christ—and that it is holy and undefiled. Furthermore, the Law was given as our schoolmaster to bring us to Messiah (Gal. 3:24). Something that brings one to the Messiah cannot be onerous or unsanctified. Commonwealth Theology teaches grace to those from among the nations (Gentiles) and to the Jewish brethren and affirms the followers of Messiah who are pleasing to Him who have the “commandments of God” but “have the testimony of Jesus” (Rev. 12:17); who “sing the Song of Moses, the servant of God and the Song of the Lamb” (Rev. 15:3).[37]

The Breach of Jeroboam[edit]

Based on the biblical and historical record of the Northern Kingdom being swallowed up by the nations (see above), CT tends to treat the House of Israel and the Gentile Church somewhat homogeneously. This "mixed multitude" then becomes an archetype of rebellion from authority traceable back to Jeroboam's revolt against the Davidic rule of the House of Judah. This "Breach of Jeroboam" is seen by some[38] to be at the root of the Law vs. Grace dichotomy that has recently surfaced in Western Christian thought.[39]

Previous Commonwealth of Israel type organizations[edit]

Below is a brief summary of individuals and organizations that have previously come to the conclusion that non-Jews might form part of the Ten Tribes:[40]

Yair Davidiy founded Britam and authored The Tribes.[41] He is one of the first to link non-Jews and the Lost Tribes in modern times and has made extensive research. Rabbi Avraham Feld founded Kol HaTor, with his partner OvadYah Avrahami of South Africa, and recognizes that the Ten Tribes are widely populated by Europeans among others. Feld and Avrahami (of Judah) helped to found, along with Stephen Spykerman (of Ephraim) and others, the Commonwealth of Israel reconciliation[42] effort. Feld and Avrahami have said they believe Ephraim’s reconciliation to Judah will occur according to existing halacha, i.e. by conversion to Judaism.

Harry Rozenberg has recently launched LostTribes.education and Stat Academy[43] with basketball great Amar'e Stoudemire. Their primary emphasis is reaching many of the lesser known people groups who have maintained for generations a tradition of descending from the Lost Tribes, or maintain practices that show such a connection, and who want to be reconciled with Israel. Their solution is to help such groups to “become Israel” right where they are.

Another approach is taken by Hanoch Young who goes out and meets with existing Ephraimite groups in America. He is the co-founder of United 2 Restore. Gidon Ariel and Bob O'dell founded Root Source[44] to bring online relationship between Christians and Jews around the Tanakh, as the root source of our shared faiths. Yeshiva for the Nations, founded by Donna Jollay and Tuly Weisz, and Ten from the Nations, founded by Rivkah Adler, are other examples.

One hybrid approach is being taken by Rabbi David Katz and is detailed in his book, The World of the Ger.[45] He believes that non-Jews will begin to come alongside Israel as a sojourner (ger). While still requiring the non-Jew to renounce a belief in Yeshua as Messiah, this approach does not require full Torah adherence. More stories of Jews and non-Jews meeting through Torah study can be found in Rivkah Adler’s book, Ten from the Nations.[46]

The theological approach to peace[edit]

Commonwealth Theology endeavors to build upon previous reconciliation efforts by offering a complete and systematic theology that more accurately portrays the relationship between Christ's Ecclesia (Congregation) and the saints of old (Congregation in the wilderness).[47] Development and codification of the CT system has heretofore been represented by: Douglas Krieger's initial work, Commonwealth Theology; the website, commonwealththeology.com[48]; a non-profit organization engaged in the production of a Commonwealth of Israel reference Bible[49]; and most recently, the Denver Declaration[50] - a formal statement of the essential assertions of Commonwealth Theology.

Advocates of Commonwealth Theology hope to engage Christians and Jews by making appeal to the synthesis between the sacred texts revered by both faiths. Noted in the Mission Statement of the Commonwealth of Israel Foundation: "The supernatural concept of “Divine Deliverance”  – of “Messiah,” the “Deliverer,” “Savior” – is embedded in Hebraic and Christian Scriptures and is espoused by both Jewish and Christian theologies."[51]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Krieger, Douglas (2018). Commonwealth Theology. Sacramento: Tribnet Publications. ISBN 978-1977951649.
  2. ^ "Bible Gateway passage: Ephesians 2:15 - New King James Version". Bible Gateway. Retrieved 2019-10-10.
  3. ^ πολιτείας (politeias)
  4. ^ "Bible Gateway passage: Ephesians 2:13 - New King James Version". Bible Gateway. Retrieved 2019-10-10.
  5. ^ "Bible Gateway passage: Ezekiel 37:21-22 - New King James Version". Bible Gateway. Retrieved 2019-10-10.
  6. ^ "Bible Gateway passage: Hosea 1:11 - New King James Version". Bible Gateway. Retrieved 2019-10-10.
  7. ^ "Bible Gateway passage: Ephesians 2:12 - New King James Version".
  8. ^ Restoration : Old Testament, Jewish, and Christian perspectives. Scott, James M., 1955-. Leiden: Brill. 2001. p. 505. ISBN 9004115803. OCLC 48123457.CS1 maint: others (link)
  9. ^ Moses' prophetic blessing accorded the tribe of Ephraim (representative of all the northern ten tribes) a blessing upon the head of Joseph wherein "on the crown of the head of him who was separate from his brothers. his glory is like a firstborn bull, and his horns like the horns of the wild ox; together with them he shall push the peoples to the ends of the earth; they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh" (Deut. 33:16-17) - indicative of Ephraim's world-wide expansion among the Nations/Gentiles - assimilated, only "that He (Yeshua) would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad" (John 11:52).
  10. ^ "Commonwealth Theology – Yes Distinction. No Separation".
  11. ^ prophecy of the two sticks
  12. ^ Krieger, Doug. "WHAT IS MEANT BY "YES DISTINCTION" – "NO SEPARATION"? – Commonwealth Theology". Retrieved 2019-07-26.
  13. ^ Vlach, Michael J. (Michael Joseph), 1966- (2010). Has the church replaced Israel? : a theological evaluation. Nashville, Tenn.: B & H Academic. p. 13. ISBN 9780805449723. OCLC 535493643.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  14. ^ "Is Dispensationalism Indispensable?". Christian Research Institute. Retrieved 2019-07-26.
  15. ^ "Israel is the bride of the Father and the Church is the bride of Christ". The Puritan Board. Retrieved 2019-07-26.
  16. ^ "DENVER DECLARATION". Retrieved 2019-07-26.
  17. ^ Wallace. "Anglo-Israelism; British-Israelism; Pre-millennialism Utterly Refuted!".
  18. ^ Manzon. "The Ephraimite or Two-House Doctrine".
  19. ^ "Bible Gateway passage: Hosea 8:8 - New King James Version". Bible Gateway. Retrieved 2019-07-26.
  20. ^ Israel's captivity (deportations lasted for 33 years) commenced upon their northern outposts along the Euphrates River (the furthermost extensions of both the Davidic and Solomonic Kingdoms of United Israel) cir. 745 BC until the fall of Israel's Capital (Samaria) cir. 720 BC until the defeat of the armies of the future king of Assyria, King Sennacherib, cir,. 712 BC (although Sennacherib's father, Sargon II (722-705 BC) shared with his son administrative duties, was 2 Chronicles 32; 2 Kings 18:13-19:37; Isa. 36:1-37:38 with King Pul or Tiglath-Pileser III who reigned from 745-727 BC (2 Kings 15:19, 29).
  21. ^ THE COMMONWEALTH OF ISRAEL–WHO’S INCLUDED? By Doug Krieger | July 7, 2018: http://commonwealththeology.com/the-commonwealth-of-israel-whos-included
  22. ^ Sonnenberg. "Our Inheritance in Christ – Eph. 1:11-17".
  23. ^ Krieger. "ARE BELIEVING JEWS THE ENTIRE "ISRAEL OF GOD"?".
  24. ^ Messiah Matters by TorahResource (2014-11-11), TR Water Cooler #2: The Two House Theory - TorahResource, retrieved 2019-07-26
  25. ^ Denver Declaration, Section 8 – Distinction Between Judah and Scattered Israel: http://commonwealththeology.com/the-denver-declaration
  26. ^ Parsons. "Two House Theology".
  27. ^ "THE BREACH OF JEROBOAM". endtimepilgrim.org. Retrieved 2019-07-26.
  28. ^ Israel's captivity (deportations lasted for 33 years) commenced upon their northern outposts along the Euphrates River (the furthermost extensions of both the Davidic and Solomonic Kingdoms of United Israel) cir. 745 BC until the fall of Israel's Capital (Samaria) cir. 720 BC until the defeat of the armies of the future king of Assyria, King Sennacherib, cir,. 712 BC (although Sennacherib's father, Sargon II (722-705 BC) shared with his son administrative duties, was 2 Chronicles 32; 2 Kings 18:13-19:37; Isa. 36:1-37:38 with King Pul or Tiglath-Pileser III who reigned from 745-727 BC (2 Kings 15:19, 29).
  29. ^ "Bible Gateway passage: Hosea 7:8 - New King James Version". Bible Gateway. Retrieved 2019-10-10.
  30. ^ "Bible Gateway passage: Isaiah 7:8 - New International Version". Bible Gateway. Retrieved 2019-10-10.
  31. ^ "Bible Gateway passage: Jeremiah 31:32 - New King James Version". Bible Gateway. Retrieved 2019-07-27.
  32. ^ Krieger, Douglas (2019). One in Messiah. Phoenix: Commonwealth of Israel Foundation. pp. 59–68. ISBN 978-1073399703. The only way the wife (Northern Kingdom Israel) could be released of her fate of having been put away [shlichah  וְשִׁלְּחָ֖הּ] and divorced [kritut  כְּרִיתֻת֙] by Yahweh was for Yahweh (her husband) to die which would annul and dissolve original marriage contract. Paul understood that when, using the law to explain, he reminded the Jews (who knew the law) that the law only has jurisdiction over a person until their death. When the person dies, any judgments, contracts, or obligations are then dissolved: "Or do you not know, brethren (for I speak to those who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives?" (Rom. 7:1). Paul then explains how a woman is covenanted to her husband only as long as he lives. When he dies, she is free to remarry at will. "For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband" (Rom. 7:2). Continuing with Deuteronomy 24:1-4 in mind, Paul explains how the wife is freed from the “law of the husband” (the marriage contract), which had kept her out of the covenant relationship with her former husband. It should be noted, that Paul is only speaking of the cancelling of the divorce status; he is not suggesting that the entire “Torah” (Laws given at Sinai) are repealed. (“Yahweh” and “Israel” have been inserted below in brackets to make the relationships clearer). So then if, while her husband [Yahweh] lives, she [Israel] marries another man [Ba’al etc.], she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man. (Rom. 7:3)
  33. ^ Krieger, Douglas (2018-01-18). Commonwealth Theology. pp. 123–156. ISBN 1977951643.
  34. ^ Carter, Stephen L., 1954- (1994). The culture of disbelief : how American law and politics trivialize religious devotion (1st Anchor books ed.). New York: Anchor Books. ISBN 0385474989. OCLC 30356884.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  35. ^ https://www.commonwealthofisrael.org/p/blog-page_81.html, DEVELOPMENTAL ASSERTIONS AND INTERPRETATIONS, paragraph 3.
  36. ^ Hamp, Dr. Douglas. "Who really came to Destroy the Law? Is The Torah Good?". YouTube.
  37. ^ https://www.commonwealthofisrael.org/p/denver.html The Denver Declaration, Section 11 - The Synthesis of Law and Grace.
  38. ^ "THE BREACH OF JEROBOAM". endtimepilgrim.org. Retrieved 2019-07-28.
  39. ^ Krieger, Doug. "Law vs. Grace – Commonwealth Theology". Retrieved 2019-07-28.
  40. ^ Krieger, Douglas (2019). One in Messiah. pp. 346–347. ISBN 978-1-07-339970-3.
  41. ^ Davidiy, Yair. (2012). The tribes : the Israelite origins of Western peoples (4th ed.). Jerusalem: Russell-Davis Publishers. ISBN 9789659025534. OCLC 827860373.
  42. ^ "Home". Commonwealth of Israel. Retrieved 2019-07-29.
  43. ^ "Stat Academy | The Lost Tribes of Israel". Retrieved 2019-07-29.
  44. ^ Ariel, Gidon. "Home". Root Source. Retrieved 2019-07-29.
  45. ^ Clorfene, Katz. The World of the Ger. ISBN 1530655684.
  46. ^ Ten from the nations : Torah awakening among non-Jews. Adler, Rivkah Lambert. Jerusalem, Israel: Geula Watch Press. 2017. ISBN 9780999378908. OCLC 1028054405.CS1 maint: others (link)
  47. ^ Krieger. "What Is Commonwealth Theology?".
  48. ^ "Commonwealth Theology – Yes Distinction. No Separation". Retrieved 2019-10-11.
  49. ^ "Commonwealth of Israel Foundation". Retrieved 2019-10-11.
  50. ^ Krieger, Doug. "THE "DENVER DECLARATION" – ILLUSTRATED VERSION – Commonwealth Theology". Retrieved 2019-10-11.
  51. ^ "MISSION". Retrieved 2019-10-11.