ORIGINALLY POSTED 01 MAY, 2004
When today’s Christians think about the physical circumcision of males, they often do not know what do to. While on the one hand, it is properly acknowledged that Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) was circumcised, as were His Jewish Disciples, on the other hand it is frequently thought that physical circumcision—perhaps in any capacity—is not really that important any more. For myself, I remember the first day of the first course I took at Asbury Theological Seminary in 2005, Kingdom, Church, & World, and how the instructor showed the class a slide image of Michaelangelo’s statue of King David. He asked everyone what was wrong with this picture. Most people answered something along the lines of: “The statue is naked!” While a valid answer, it was not the one he wanted. He then told the class: “David was a Jew. This statue of David is uncircumcised.”
Today’s Messianic movement generally has a more favorable view of circumcision than its contemporary Christian counterparts. It is firmly acknowledged and defended that male Jewish Believers should not only be circumcised, but that as a part of their ethnic heritage and traditions, that they should hold the appropriate circumcision rites and customs for their male infants, and actively continue the practice for posterity. Concurrent with this, presumed medical benefits of circumcision are often encouraged for all males, as circumcision is a practice witnessed and rooted in the Scriptures. There is controversy in some quarters, though, as it concerns circumcision in relation to Messianic Passover seders, and circumcision for converts to Judaism. Some believe that the relationship of God’s people to circumcision has not changed at all with the arrival of the Messiah, and others think that circumcision, while being important, is not as important for the post-resurrection era as it once was.
What is an appropriate, Messianic perspective on the issue of circumcision? How do we give a proper hearing to how the subject matter is approached in the Torah, the Prophets, and the Apostolic Writings? Should circumcision be encouraged for all the males in our ranks? How do we avoid the scores of abuses that have been manifested in Biblical and religious history surrounding circumcision?Is_Circumcision_for_Everyone_TITB2
The views expressed and practices witnessed, regarding the place of God’s Torah in the life of contemporary Messianic Believers, are more likely to cause tension for far too many people—than facilitate any sense of spiritual fulfillment, much less relief. There is little doubting the fact that as a widely mixed group of people, from both Jewish and Christian backgrounds, that each man and woman within the Messianic community brings both positive and negative things into the assembly. When it comes to the issue of Torah observance, the spectrum of views and practices has been too often polarized between an Orthodox Jewish, hyper-traditional style—and some anti-traditional, quasi-Karaite style. Much of this has come about because there is an entire array of issues, which need some preliminary handling, and which has yet to receive it.
Torah In the Balance, Volume II is a book which recognizes that the Torah does regulate many physical actions to be performed by God’s people. Faith in the Lord is hardly just a series of abstract mental beliefs or doctrines; it is also something which is to be demonstrated in concrete works. But when we consider the importance of external works as a manifestation of our trust in Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus Christ), what is some of the variance seen in on-the-ground Messianic settings? How do people keep the seventh-day Sabbath/Shabbat, eat kosher, or sanctify the appointed times? What about our physical dress and appearance? What about issues like circumcision or water immersion (baptism)? What about various religious symbols like the cross or Star of David? Even when Messianic people have been theologically convinced that Moses’ Teaching remains valid instruction for God’s people today, there is going to be variance, and even internal disagreement, about how it is to be implemented for those living in the Twenty-First Century.
This publication has been long anticipated in addressing some of the finer-issues of Torah observance witnessed within the Messianic movement. It takes into consideration the theological and spiritual developments of the 2000s-2010s to be sure, but more importantly tries to present the necessary third way which must emerge for our Torah observance. This is crucial, as we steadily develop into a force of holiness and righteousness in the world, and strive to commit ourselves to further obedience.