Helsinki Consultation Statement
on Jewish and Christian Tradition
The fifth Helsinki Consultation on Jewish Continuity in the Body of Messiah met June 21-25, 2014, hosted by the Centre for Israel Studies at the Christelijke Hogeschool, Ede, Holland. Jewish scholars from Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, belonging to Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant and Messianic traditions, met to deepen their fellowship in faith and reflect on their calling and role as Jewish believers in Jesus within Israel and the Church.
The subject of this year’s consultation was ‘Authority, Freedom, and Tradition in the life of Jewish Disciples of Yeshua.’ Building on discussions from previous meetings, participants presented papers (available at the Helsinki Consultation website helsinkiconsultation.squarespace.com) focusing on the role of Jewish and Christian tradition in the living out of the Torah in the light of faith in Yeshua (Jesus). As Jewish believers in Yeshua we are challenged to define our relationship to the two traditions we have inherited, which are often seen as mutually exclusive. We addressed different aspects of this complex and multi-faceted subject, and have produced the following joint statement.
As Jewish disciples of Yeshua we inherit and respect both Jewish and Christian traditions. Jewish tradition, rooted in the Torah and developed through the centuries, guides the life of our people Israel and remains a vital source of our identity. Christian tradition, rooted in Christ and unfolding over time, shapes the life of the body of Christ and is therefore an indispensable source for our shared faith and life in Messiah.
Tragically, Jewish denial of the legitimacy of Jewish belief in Yeshua as Messiah and Christian denial of the reality of his ongoing relationship with the Jewish people have been central in the development of these two traditions. We recognize the need to challenge these core denials.
Although the Messiahship of Yeshua is not recognized in Rabbinic tradition, we believe that the Spirit of Yeshua is at work within it. Conversely, Christian tradition, founded on Yeshua’s teaching and redemptive work, has often propagated a distorted understanding of Christ by failing to acknowledge his Jewish identity and his ongoing relationship with the Jewish people and their tradition. As heirs of both traditions, our faith in Yeshua and our commitment to our people summon us to receive each tradition with filial deference and with the critical freedom of mature sons and daughters.
As Jews who believe in Yeshua, we represent a spectrum in our concrete expression of the Jewish and Christian traditions we have inherited. Each of us embodies in some way fidelity to the core practices of these traditions, such as Shabbat and the Lord’s Supper. We experience an increasingly harmonious and natural integration of these two traditions as we search for an authentic way of being Jewish disciples of Yeshua. At the same time, the tensions that exist between Jewish and Christian traditions pulsate within us. As diverse as our practices might be (and diversity is a mark of both traditions), these practices express our shared commitment to honor the Lord Yeshua and identify as members of the Jewish people.
Therefore, we undertake to bear witness to and transmit a life of faithfulness to Torah and Messiah in which Jewish and Christian tradition are not opposed but rather mutually enriching. We believe this witness has significance for the entire people of God, both Israel and the Church. We aim to foster and embody a living community in which, even as both traditions are respected and upheld, the historical division between them is challenged and transcended.
The Consultation founders, Dr. Mark Kinzer, President Emeritus of Messianic Jewish Theological Institute (USA), and Fr. Antoine Levy, OP, Professor at the School of Theology, University of Eastern Finland, expressed thanks to Dr. Michael Mulder, Director of the Centrum voor Israel Study Centre at the Christelijke Hogeschool, Ede, who hosted the event. Next year’s consultation is planned for 28th June – 1st July 2015.
Mark Kinzer, Consultation co-founder, said ‘In these days the members of the Consultation received great encouragement from our Dutch hosts and conference attendees, who displayed their devotion to the reality which animates us – God’s love for the Jewish people and the Body of Messiah, itself a communion of Jews and Gentiles.’
Antoine Levy, the other co-founder, observed ‘The most amazing thing is the understanding and the support that the Helsinki Consultation gets from ‘normal’ Christian believers. Our initiative is received the way it is meant to be received – not as a hidden form of proselytism towards Jews, not as a selfish withdrawal from the duty of universal communion within the Body of the Messiah, but as an attempt to recover something essential of the pristine truth and beauty of this Body.’
The Conference was reported in two Dutch daily newspapers, the Reformatorisch Dagblad (24 June 2014) and Nederlands Dagblad (24 June 2014). The day conference at the Christelijke Hogeschool had a full program of plenary addresses and seminars, with videos available of the presentations.
For more information contact: helsinkiconsultation.squarespace.com
Dr. Mark Kinzer:
Congregation Zera Avraham
P.O. Box 2025
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48106
Antoine Lévy O.P.: +358 (0)50 304 2778
Ritarikatu 3 B A 4
- Boris Balter, Orthodox (Moscow), Researcher in Physics at the Russian Academy of Sciences
- Jacques Doukhan, Seventh Day Adventist (USA), professor of Hebrew and Old Testament Exegesis, Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary
- Dr. Richard Harvey, Messianic (London), Associate Lecturer, All Nations Christian College, author of ‘Mapping Messianic Jewish Theology’
- Dr. Mark Kinzer, Messianic (Ann Arbor, USA), President-Emeritus of Messianic Jewish Theological Institute, author of ‘Postmissionary Messianic Judaism’
- Fr. Antoine Levy, OP, Catholic (Helsinki), Professor at the School of Theology, University of Eastern Finland
- Lisa Loden, Messianic (Israel), Head of Leadership Development at the Nazareth Evangelical Theological Seminary
- Fr. David Neuhaus, SJ, Catholic (Jerusalem), Patriarchal Vicar General for Hebrew speaking Catholics in Israel
- Svetlana Panich, Orthodox (Moscow) Literary critic and translator
- Rabbi Vladimir Pikman, Messianic (Berlin), Vice-President of the International Messianic Jewish Alliance, Executive Director of ‘Beit Sar Shalom’ ministry