a simple framework for our belief and practice
There is a supreme and eternal Creator who has created the heavens and the earth, and all that is in them (see Genesis 1:1-2:3; Romans 1:19-20). Our Creator revealed himself, not only impersonally through his creation, but also personally to and through individual human beings for the purpose of establishing and maintaining a relationship with humanity (see Genesis 12:7; 26:24; 35:1; Exodus 3:2; 16:10; Deuteronomy 29:29; Judges 6:12; 1 Samuel 3:21; 1 Kings 3:5; Matthew 1:20; Luke 2:26; 1 Corinthians 2:10; 1 Peter 1:10-12; 2 Peter 1:21; 2 Timothy 3:16; Hebrew 1:1-2).
The Scriptures or Tanakh (Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings, including the Apostolic Writings) are the medium by which our Creator chooses to communicate these revelations to successive generations. Therefore, we hold that these writings (often called the Holy Bible) are set apart and true, and were without error when they were originally written. *Copies and translations of these writings are human attempts to reproduce, and to convey the meaning of, the originals. Through this process, and time, meaning is lost and scribal errors are made. However, we believe that the one who originally desired to communicate these truths to his creation has preserved these texts supernaturally, in spite of human hands, so that each generation may continue to know him, and his will, without compromise.
The Torah (or the first five books) is at the core of these writings, and contains the foundational revelation of our Creator, his will for creation, and the promise and plan by which he chooses to restore his creation from its fallen state. The Prophets and the Writings manifest and elaborate on this unfolding plan, while also clarifying our Creator’s will for his people until it is completely fulfilled. The Prophets and the Writings, including the Apostolic Writings, will never contradict or nullify what has already been established in the Torah (Deuteronomy 4:2, 12:32; Matthew 5:17). *There are various other writings (Christian commentaries, rabbinic texts, and numerous pseudepigraphical and apocryphal works) which are held to different levels of authority by individuals and groups. However, the Tanakh, as described above, has been accepted consistently by those of similar faith and practice for hundreds, if not, thousands of years. These other writings are, at best, to be seen as commentaries and can be useful in that manner, but should not be held to the same standard as the Tanakh. (see Matthew 15:1-9)
The Tanakh, including the Apostolic Writings, presents our Creator as the only true Elohim (G-d), and also as a loving Father, a faithful Husband, a righteous Judge, a might Warrior, a watchful Shepherd, and a gracious and merciful King. He is personal, approachable, and yet, incomprehensible and holy (separate from his creation). In addition to these attributes and many others, he has revealed a name by which he is to be remembered (Ex. 3:15). Although we may not know how to pronounce it with confidence (some more common pronunciations are Yahweh, Yehovah, Yahuah, etc.), we do know how it is spelled in the original Hebrew (yod-hey-vav-hey). This name is to be known and understood, as it is more than a mere label; it is a revelation of our Creator’s person and character. It is not to be treated lightly, but is to be held in the highest regard in word and deed (Exodus 20:7). We are responsible for what has been revealed (Deuteronomy 29:29).
The Tanakh presents our Creator’s plan of restored relationship through a series of promises, covenants (agreements), the Mishkan (tabernacle & later temple), the priests, various offerings, and ultimately culminating in the promised Son of Adam, Seed of Abraham, One like Moses, Son of David, and Son of Elohim. This One is an Anointed (Messiah) King, Prophet, Priest, Warrior, and Judge. It is our belief that Yeshua of Nazareth is the only one who can fulfill all of the prophecies which are given regarding this One. Yeshua (short for Yehoshua, or yod-hey-vav-hey saves) is described as “the image” of Elohim (2 Corinthians 4:4; Colossians 1:15) and “the radiance” of Elohim’s glory and “the exact representation” of Elohim’s nature (Hebrews 1:3). He is the Living Torah and model for our beliefs and practices (John 1:1; Hebrews 12:2). From birth to death to resurrection, Yeshua submitted himself to this plan in order to bring about our reconciliation with the Father both now and forever (Philippians 2:5-11).
The Tanakh, specifically the Torah, presents our Creator’s standard by which humanity is to live before its Creator and with each other. This standard was first revealed to his chosen people (Israel) who were the descendants of a chosen man (Abraham). Israel was chosen to demonstrate this standard to the whole world so that everyone may come to know their Creator, his promise, and the hope of creation’s restoration. This standard (his commandments and other instructions) tells us when and how to worship, what is acceptable for food, how to interact with each other as well as with the rest of his creation, and many other instructions for what is, and is not, acceptable.
With his promised plan of restoration comes the provision of being able to discern and choose what is right and what is wrong. He promises a new Spirit and a new heart, which means we are no longer enslaved to sin (i.e. acting contrary to his Torah) or its condemnation. Instead, we are his people and servants of doing what is right, which is our life. (see Deuteronomy 30:11-19, 32:47; Ezekiel 11:17-20, 36:24-28; Jeremiah 31:31-34; Luke 22:15-20; Romans 6:1-23, 8:1; 2 Corinthians 3:4-6; 5:17; Ephesians 2:8-10)
The Torah was given in the context of community; therefore, each individual fellowship of believers builds a culture based on these aforementioned beliefs. The culture seeks to uphold these understandings as a group, and encourages each other in the context of these beliefs. Protection (guarding) is also a function of this culture. We seek to live out these understandings in a nurturing and safe environment without fear of harm to our faith or our families. Furthermore, each individual family has the privilege and responsibility to understand and apply these aforementioned beliefs in the way that makes the most sense to them within their own family. We believe that the family unit as described in the Tanakh is patriarchal; therefore, the father should be the guide for his family in terms of life, and these beliefs and practices.
Many beliefs and practices of both Christianity and Judaism are not found in the pages of the Tanakh, but are the result of both genuine, and false, efforts to live out faith in the Creator as it is understood by a particular group or individual. Not all of these beliefs or practices are contrary to the Torah; however, some do contradict the instructions which have been revealed (Matthew 15:1-9). For example, most of Christian theology has declared that the commandments of the Torah, or at least some of the commandments, have been nullified and are no longer applicable due to the death, burial, and resurrection of Yeshua. Additionally, the theology of modern Judaism rejects the possibility of Yeshua being Messiah. Both of these beliefs are problematic because they obstruct one’s relationship to their Creator according to the Tanakh (see Matthew 5:17-20, and 7:21-23 in reference to the Christian perspective; and Deuteronomy 18:15, Matthew 17:5, and John 14:6 in reference to the perspective of Judaism). These are just two broad, overarching beliefs that, in turn, lead to many other false beliefs and practices within these two religious systems.