Review: Come, Let Us Reason Together by Baruch Maoz

Baruch writes as a Jew who loves Jesus and is concerned about the Messianic Judaism movement. He doesn’t critique this movement from the outside and not from his own preference. He writes,

Surely, all who fear God and believe that Jesus is the Savior of the world agree that everything done in the service of the gospel should be grounded in God’s word (Lev. 11:44; 19; 20:2, 26) and directed at his glory (1 Cor. 10:31). The motive, the logic, the mode, and the goal of all we do should be the product of God’s commanded will. Human reason, human needs, and human preferences should all be subservient to the divine “thus says the Lord” which commands our obedience and governs our every act. In matters of faith and obedience, nothing but God’s word can bring light.

We are not free to do whatever we deem useful or effective in the service of God (1 Sam. 13:8–14; 15:2–3, 9, 13–23). We are not smart enough to identify what is useful or effective in ultimate terms, and “ultimate” is all that really matters. (p. 27 see also pp. 123, 134, 160, 163, 164, 185)

What is so amazing is the relevance to our modern and much broader discussion of race and worship within the church. His points carry over to our discussions on racial solidarity between majorities and minorities cultures in the church. Says Maoz,

Ethnicities, doctrinal issues that do not reflect on the glory of Christ, cultures, and human interests must not be allowed to define congregations. To transgress this standard is to promote a man-centered gospel that places human interests on the throne where God in Christ should be sitting. It is to forsake the biblical focus that should characterize all who seek to serve God. (p. 159)

and

Seeking the comfort zone, we avoid the tensions that a multicultural, multinational, multilingual, multi-layered church would posit. (p. 168)

In relationship to worship forms, he argues we must root everything we do in Scripture. We should contextualizes the delivery but preach the one and only gospel. Within the Messianic Judaism movement he shows how there’s inconsistencies about how the gospel is preached. He mines the New Testament, in particular Paul’s epistles, to argue against having separate “Jewish” congregations and extra-biblical forms within the worship service. He makes a crucial distinction between celebrating national identity and rejecting customs infused with “religious obligation” (p. 69 see pp. 83, 118). This last point is a major argument in the book. He demonstrates that many leaders do see keeping the law as a “religious obligation” (pp. 197-99).

The Mosaic ritual, the sacrifices, the feasts, the specific form of the Sabbath duties, and the dress code requirements are no longer binding. Some of these remain part of our national culture. But we may not live as if they are still binding. It is our glad and happy duty to demonstrate by our lives, our worship, and our communal behavior that Messiah has come. (p. 104)

I would dare say most of us have little to no interaction with Jews—that should change. We should be more intentional about seeking them out  to share the good news of Jesus with. But, as I said, Come, Let Us Reason Together is still relevant for ongoing discussions about racial issues within the church.

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Mathew B. Sims is the author of A Household Gospel: Fulfilling the Great Commission in Our Homes and a contributor in Make, Mature, Multiply (GCD Books). He completed over forty hours of seminary work at Geneva Reformed Seminary. He also works as the managing editor at Gospel-Centered Discipleship and the project manager for the Journal of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Mathew offers freelance editing and book formatting services. He is a member at Downtown Presbyterian Church in Greenville, SC.