A great opportunity arises whenever we hear this question: You’re Messianic--so what do you believe? The first answer that comes to mind is that I believe in the whole Word of God, that it is all relevant today and that we should honor it all to the best of our understanding. Most people will answer something along the lines of, "Yes, I do, too!
We may begin to compare notes and confirm our agreement that the God of Israel is the One Who created the heavens and the earth, and that He provided His Word and teachings to us through the Bible which we accept as His inspired Word. We have mutual understanding that the first human beings fell to sin in the garden, separating us from our Creator in many ways. We find we agree that He sent His son, our Messiah, through the line of Judah of the tribes of Israel by a virgin birth to redeem those who honor and accept Him through His obedient, sinless life, His atoning death and resurrection after three days. We declare our joy that we anticipate He is coming again to put all things right.
The first five books of what Christians call the Bible IS the Torah, in the most specific sense. The remaining books of what has been called the "Old Testament "complete the whole of the Torah, the Prophets and the Writings.
Yet there is quite a difference in the way we walk out our understanding. In America, and around the world, there are hundreds of variations on living out the Word of God in our lives.
Definitions of Doctrine
- A principle or body of principles presented for acceptance or belief, as by a religious, political, scientific, or philosophic group; dogma.
- A rule or principle of law, especially when established by precedent.
- A statement of official government policy, especially in foreign affairs and military strategy.
- Archaic Something taught; a teaching. [Middle English, from Old French, from Latin doctr na, from doctor, teacher; see doctor.
Synonyms: doctrine, dogma, tenet
These nouns denote a principle taught, advanced, or accepted, as by a group of philosophers: the legal doctrine of due process; church dogma; experimentation, one of the tenets of the physical sciences.
Though the word “doctrine” refers specifically to teaching it isn’t always understood as such. This word is found in the Scriptures as a translation for six words in Hebrew and Greek, as will be listed later. As is indicated in this dictionary definition, many think of doctrine as being a “church” related or a legal word, and something they may vaguely recognize as being part of the foundation of their particular church body in addition to the Word. Those who are more academically minded may have searched out the basic doctrines and tenets of their faith, as defined by their denomination. For those who are looking for a more detailed explanation of what we believe, it is often this kind of comparison they are seeking.
There is no singular body that exists that can provide a definitive "Messianic doctrine" comparable to something like Luther’s Book of Concord, the Presbyterian Book of Order or "The Westminster Confession," or Roman Catholic Doctrine that accords equal authority to the church and the Word. We can only say that we honor the Whole Word of God. For us, defining what we believe—and do-- does literally mean that we go back to the Word and allow Scripture to define Scripture, and then walk that out to the best of our understanding and opportunity to do so.
The Scriptures themselves ARE our doctrine. The halachah, the way we walk it out, is very similar all around, but particular interpretations are subject to local leadership.