Thursday, October 02, 2008

Why does Stephen Sizer misrepresent Zhava Glaser?

[Quotes from Stephen Sizer are in blue. Quotes from other sources are in red.]
In Zion’s Christian Soldiers? (IVP: 2007) at p. 118, in a section headed “The case for rebuilding the temple”, Stephen Sizer writes the following:
Orthodox Jews believe that a temple is necessary for them to offer sacrifices once again to make atonement for their sin. This is why religious Jews pray three times every day that ‘the Temple be rebuilt speedily in our days’. They claim the Torah, or the Law of Moses, ‘obligates the Jewish nation to rebuild the Temple whenever it becomes possible to do so (Ex. 25:8)'.
Some Messianic Jews (that is, Jewish believers in Jesus) are also sympathetic to the idea that a temple is necessary for Jews to atone for their sins. Visit the Jews for Jesus website and you can read an article by Zhava Glaser, where she asks rhetorically,
Though some rabbis might minimize the revealed system of worship and its requirements, can the individual Jew neglect what God says? Can there be a ‘proper’ Judaism without a priesthood, an altar, a sacrifice and a place on earth where God meets the individual?
The answer to Glaser is obviously ‘no. This is also the reason why some Christian Zionist organizations celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem each year…
(emphasis mine)
So Sizer is using the Glaser article to generalise about “some” Messianic Jews. (Rev Sizer makes similar claims about "Messianic Judaism" in this radio interview, at about 18:35. Personally, I have never yet met a Messianic Jew who believes a temple is needed for Jews to atone for their sins.)
In his book, Sizer makes it sound as if Glaser is in agreement with Orthodox Jews who pray for the temple to be rebuilt. This is a serious matter, since Sizer later (rightly) says that "to advocate the rebuilding of the temple is heresy" (p. 130).
The Zhava Glaser article from which Sizer quotes is available at http://www.jewsforjesus.org/publications/issues/8_3/rituals
The material quoted by Sizer comes from the penultimate paragraph. Immediately after the words Sizer quotes, Glaser writes this:
Isn't it ironic that it takes the New Testament to tell of the new altar, the everlasting sacrifice and the new high priest through whom gentiles as well as Jews are made holy?
When Messiah came as high priest of the good things that are already here he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made…He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption." (Hebrew 9:11,12)
(emphasis mine)
Zhava Glaser makes it crystal clear that a temple is not necessary for Jews to atone for their sins. But who would ever know this from Rev Sizer's characterization of her argument?
Why does Stephen Sizer misrepresent Zhava Glaser in this way?
Why did his publishers not pick up on this?
Have none of the numerous influential Christian leaders who endorse Sizer's book picked up on it either?

6 comments:

Stephen Sizer said...

James,

Thank you for raising the question. My book Zion's Christian Soldiers was heavily edited to meet the word count limit. I will add the second quote from Zhava in the next edition to show that she does affirm what Hebrews teaches. However... my main point is that rhetorically her question demands the answer 'no'. Classical dispensationalists do believe the Temple is necessary because the Jews have a separate covenant with God. 'Some' Messianic believers do believe the Temple will/must be rebuilt. Moishe Rosen, who founded Jews for Jesus is one. He writes, "...at some point in these stressful days, the ancient Jewish Temple will be rebuilt on the holy Temple Mount in Jerusalem... Prophecy foretells the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple and the reinstitution of the sacrifices prescribed in the law of Moses. In a vision of the future Temple, Ezekiel received this word... Some way, somehow, the Temple will be rebuilt, in spite of the fact that two Arab shrines now stand on the only site on earth where this Temple may stand." (Overture to Armageddon p. 114). David Brickner, the present director of JFJ also believes this (Future Hope, p. 18). I have therefore not misrepresented Zhava's view.

beralehashablool said...

I'm afraid I don't get Mr Sizer's logic here.

If I'm not mistaken, his argument is something like this:
There are Messianic Jews who believe the Temple will be rebuilt; Zhava has said something in her article that when taken out of context can seem to be leading up to saying the Temple must be rebuilt; so it's okay to quote her out of context and use this to support his statement that some Messianic Jews believe the Temple must be rebuilt, even though she does not say that.

Am I missing something?

James said...

I don't get Rev Sizer's logic either.

"My book Zion's Christian Soldiers was heavily edited to meet the word count limit."

Rev Sizer's PhD thesis and earlier book, "Christian Zionism: Roadmap to Armageddon", must have been heavily edited too.

In "Christian Zionism: Roadmap to Armageddon?", at page 181, Rev Sizer writes the following:

"Messianic dispensationalists [insist] that the reintroduction of Temple sacrifices will be an essential and authentic aspect of future aspect of future Jewish worship. Zhava Glaser... describes how over the past 1,900 years the liturgy used in the synagogue has kept the memory of the temple alive in Jewish hearts and prayers. Therefore, she insists, 'when God insituted the sacrificial system, it was instituted for all time': "What flour is to bread, the sacrificial system is to the religion revealed in the Jewish scriptuers. It is not a garnish. It is not a flavouring. It is the very substance out of which of the Jewish religion was constructed. WE can forever design our own substitutes, but they cannot satisfy our own yearnings the way God's own provision can. Though some rabbis might minimize the revealed system of worship and its requirements, can the individual Jew neglect what God says? Can there be a ‘proper’ Judaism without a priesthood, an altar, a sacrifice and a place on earth where God meets the individual?' Glaser reflects the position of classic dispensationalists who hold that the temple will be rebuilt because the Jews gave a separate covenant relationship with God apart from the church. SHE, THEREFORE, DOES NOT APPEAR TO SEE THE HIGH PRIESTHOOD OF JESUS AS IN ANY SENSE NECESSARILY REPLACING OR SUPERSEDING THE JEWISH SACRIFICIAL SYSTEM, BUT APPARENTLY PERPETUATING IT DURING THE MILLENIUM." (Capitals mine.)

This is effectively a duplication of Rev Sizer's argument at page 215 of his PhD thesis (where Rev Sizer also misspelt Mrs Glaser's first name and referred to her as "he").

In both cases, Rev Sizer omitted Glaser's very next words:

"Isn't it ironic that it takes the New Testament to tell of the NEW altar, the EVERLASTING sacrifice and the NEW high priest through whom gentiles AS WELL AS JEWS are made holy? When Messiah came as high priest of the good things that are already here he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made…He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption." (Hebrew 9:11,12)" (capitals mine)

Zhava's article nowhere mentions the millenium. It is not advocating support for rebuilding a temple; it is outlining the ongoing importance of the concept of sacrifice within Judaism as reflected in the synagogue liturgy. Her concluding sentences (which Rev Sizer omits) make it clear that she sees Jesus' new and everlasting sacrifice as being for both Jews and Gentiles. The burden rests on Rev Sizer to cite source material, in context, which shows Zhava Glaser (not David Brickner and not Moishe Rosen) as advocating the rebuilding of the temple as a means for Jews to atone for their sins.

Chris Skinner said...

FYI

Classical dispensationalism does teach that sacrifices will operate in the temple in the millenium. However this is not due to the need for salvation, but as a memorial in much the same way that we do The Lord's Supper in churches today.

Thomas Ice has written an article on this at the Pre-Tribulation Research Centre:
http://www.pre-trib.org/article-view.php?id=320

James said...

Thanks Chris!

Anonymous said...

Taking away the theological issues, - taking someone's words out of context and publishing them to prove a point - is bad scholarship and irresponsible. And as your are publishing a book and using other people's comments to prove your case, it is especially damning.

Stephen Sizer is obviously picking out what he wants to build a case but in doing so he compromises and fails to understand the whole, only the picture he wants. Again bad research and scholarship. And a very narrow focus. You can not justify that by being "heavily edited to meet the word count limit" Honesty and truth require much more responsibility, especially if you propose to be a expert and are asking to be believed.

Scholarship and "experts" are not what it used to be, and sadly, more and more they need to be examined more far more closely.

Craig, Edinburgh