Redefining Christian Engagement with the Jewish People
Published: November 1, 2005
In recent years, a new form of Messianic Judaism has emerged that has the potential to serve as a bridge between Jews and Christians. Giving voice to this movement, Mark Kinzer makes a case for nonsupersessionist Christianity. He argues that the election of Israel is irrevocable, that Messianic Jews should honor the covenantal obligations of Israel, and that rabbinic Judaism should be viewed as a movement employed by God to preserve the distinctive calling of the Jewish people.
Though this book will be of interest to Jewish readers, it is written primarily for Christians who recognize the need for a constructive relationship to the Jewish people that neither denies the role of Jesus the Messiah nor diminishes the importance of God's covenant with the Jews.
This important book is a breakthrough study for all who care about Jewish-Christian relationships. Mark Kinzer makes a convincing case for seeing those relationships in a state of schism that desperately needs to be healed. He also offers refreshing clarity for those of us who have not been able to decide until now how to approach the supersessionist issue.
Richard J. Mouw, Fuller Theological Seminary
Mark Kinzer has written an important book. He is surely correct that God intends the church to be a church of Jews and Gentiles, that there are in fact many Jews who believe that Jesus is Messiah, and that within the predominantly Gentile church they are unlikely to continue as observant Jews. Congregations of 'Messianic' Jews would seem to be an obvious solution, and such synagogues are up, running, and connected. All of which poses an enormous ecumenical question: What form is communion between these congregations and those who now think of themselves as 'the churches' to take?
Robert W. Jenson, Center of Theological Inquiry
Mark Kinzer's sophisticated discussion is engaging for a Jewish reader 'listening in on the conversation,' even if written first to challenge Christians to reconsider the foundational Jewishness of their own identity. I learned much about the movement's origins and the effort to reconceptualize its identity in Jewish ways. The exegetical discussions are well made, explaining the New Testament mandate to which Kinzer appeals. In the twenty-first century, can a movement born out of Christianity become a kind of Judaism? And I wonder, is what Kinzer endorses here really postmissionary? Mark Kinzer's bold rethinking of his particular Messianic Judaism's agenda certainly suggests the possibility, if not yet the reality.
Mark D. Nanos, author of The Mystery of Romans and The Irony of Galatians
Mark Kinzer gives us this powerful book in the fullness of time. It probably could not have been written before now, nor can we do without it any longer. The church needs this book to know how to be the church of the God of Israel. Messianic Judaism needs this book to know how to be a Judaism. And Christians and Jews can no longer 'dialogue' as if Messianic Judaism did not exist. In a brilliant, thorough, and compelling way Kinzer boldly interrupts the conversation of contemporary theology with the voice of Messianic Judaism. We are left with no option but to engage it. There is no turning back.
Douglas Harink, author of Paul among the Postliberals
[This book] is one of the more sophisticated and ambitious theological treatments to come out of the Messianic movement, as well as being well-focused and clearly written, and takes the discussion beyond the usual concerns. In some regards it offers some excellent and much-needed treatments of the Jewishness of the gospel, all the while pushing some very necessary and often neglected questions to the front burner of the theological agenda. . . . Postmissionary Messianic Judaism is required reading for leaders in the Messianic movement.
Rich Robinson, Mishkan
Reviews, Reactions & Respona
Mark Kinzer . . . has written a good and important book, and a provocative one as well. . . . No one who finishes the book will doubt that Kinzer's proposal raises issues of lasting importance not only about the significance of Messianic Judaism, but about the nature of the church's identity and its relation to the Jewish people. . . . Kinzer makes his case with care and thoughtfulness. In my opinion, Kinzer convincingly shows that a conception of the church as bilateral communion of Gentile disciples and observant Jewish believers is directly supported by significant New Testament passages and is broadly consistent with most of the rest of the New Testament. . . . Kinzer's proposal is an important one that deserves to be taken seriously by everyone concerned with thinking about the nature of a 'postsupersessionist' ecclesiology.
R. Kendall Soulen, Pro Ecclesia
The author is to be commended for a careful analysis of New Testament texts in which he argues for plausible conclusions rather than proofs. His footnotes indicate a reliance on contemporary, reliable authors. . . . Kinzer has given us a bold, clear step for overcoming a first century division that need not have occurred.
Richard L. Schebera, Dialogue & Alliance
Postmissionary Messianic Judaism provides a compelling perspective for healing the age-old Jewish-Christian schism. . . . Mark Kinzer's bold and brilliant book is primarily about ecclesiology, a post-Supersessionist 'Biblical Ecclesiology in Solidarity with Israel.' The book is well-written and tightly argued. . . . We owe Mark Kinzer a debt of gratitude for placing the issues in the centre of the table with such clarity, candour, grace, and hope.
Elmer M. Colyer, Scottish Journal of Theology
A groundbreaking and significant book. While it will be condemned as heretical in some circles, others will welcome it as an important and programmatic statement for the future direction of the Messianic movement. As a Messianic Jewish theologian, Mark Kinzer now joins the ranks of David Stern, Daniel Juster, and earlier Hebrew Christians such as Jacob Jocz, Joesph Rabinowitz, and Paul Levertoff. Each in their time helped to shape the aims and aspirations of Jewish believers in Jesus, articulating their views in the context of Church and Synagogue. Like them, he will be seen as both seminal and controversial. It will only be in the light of further discussion, reflection, and practical implementation that his contribution will be fully assessed. . . . The book raises many important issues about the assumptions, method, sources, and content of a theology of Messianic Judaism, and to take it seriously the reader must engage with the book at several levels, and with a finely sharpened pencil. There is much of value in the book, and it should be required reading for all who have an interest in Jewish evangelism and Jewish believers in Jesus. . . . [Kinzer] has done the Messianic and missionary movements, and those concerned with Jesus and his people, a service, by identifying key questions and showing one way in which they might be addressed.
Richard Harvey, Mishkan
In this book Mark Kinzer, as professor and ordained rabbi, argues the case for post-missionary messianic Judaism. By this theologically innovative term, he is describing a movement consisting of Jews who have accepted Jesus as the messiah and yet wish to remain within the tradition of Judaism and follow basic Jewish practice. He seeks to demonstrate how this movement can speak to both Christian and Jewish communities in order to bridge the gap between the two traditions that historically has generated needless pain and suspicion.
Daniel Garner, Reviews in Religion & Theology
Kinzer’s thesis is clearly, forcefully and convincingly presented. As I have understood him, Kinzer advocates a re-reading of the Bible, a rethinking of the Gospel, a re-examination of history, and especially a re-conceptualization of the ekklesia, calling for a “postmissionary form of Messianic Judaism” in which “the church’s own identity—and not just the identity of Messianic Jews—is at stake….” Kinzer begins by recognizing that “All Messianic Jews believe that Yeshua of Nazareth is Israel’s Messiah, and that faith in Yeshua establishes rather than undermines their Jewish identity”. ” […] Kinzer wants to move the discussion forward. He suggests, that a postmissionary form of Messianic Judaism should focus “on the specific and unique relationship between Yeshua (and his ekklesia), the Jewish people, and the Jewish way of life”. […] Kinzer is calling for a “bilateral ecclesiology in solidarity with Israel that affirms Israel’s covenant, Torah, and religious tradition” and simultaneously demonstrates to the Gentile followers of Yeshua that in their essence they have been in-grafted into Israel, they are a “multinational extension of Israel whose Messiah is Yeshua”.
Charles Van Engen, Hashivenu Theological Forum
Alasdair MacIntyre's statement, 'Christians need badly to listen to Jews,' remains as true today as it was when he wrote it nearly 20 years ago. The first thing that needs to be said about Mark Kinzer’s Postmissionary Messianic Judaism: Redefining Christian Engagement with the Jewish People, is that it ought to be read broadly and carefully. Written by a son of Abraham according to the flesh, a believer in Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah of Israel, and an adherent of the Apostles' Creed, this book is the fruit of long and deep study of Scripture and contemporary theology, as well as broad ecumenical and pastoral experience, by a weighty and thoughtful scholar. Kinzer writes lucidly and engagingly and takes great care to lay out his argument clearly, repeatedly re-tracing the steps he has taken, and pointing out the next section of the trail he intends to follow.
John Yocum, Nova et Vetera