What is The Oasis?
It is a place where the Jewish and Christian world converge. It is (hopefully) a place where the dry and thirsty soul can find nourishment, encouragement, and strength. Hence the name, which is birthed from the scripture passage I have highlighted (Is.41:17-20). This passage is a vision which I believe God provided two decades ago and a good summary of what’s going on here on this site.
It is an attempt to recapture what was lost when the sect of Judaism known as the Way slowly and rather awkwardly split away and became (ultimately) something entirely other than Judaism, and even began to identify itself as distinct from that which it came from.
It is a collection of written and audio material that wrestles with this problem.
This is a safe zone for both Jews, Christians and others to wrestle with the Bible and with faith in an intellectually stimulating format, without fear of marginalization from their present community.
What do I believe?
I believe that there is only One True God, the God of Abraham, Isaac & Jacob. This is the God that the apostles worshiped, and the God of Jesus, who is God’s Anointed Messiah; His Son. Beyond that, let’s not go there at the moment. I would prefer that you simply engage with some of the material and then ask questions if you want to know more. You won’t find a “statement of faith” here. This is about learning, not declaring creedal formulas.
The apostles were Jewish men, following a Jewish Messiah, and their theology and worldview were entirely Jewish.
Oasis is a place where the perspective of the apostles is considered gold, and I mine the depths of scholarship and tradition to discover it, wherever it may be found, whether that is in Jewish or Christian commentaries, Talmud, apocryphal works from the period, my own study, or what have you.
I generally am conservative and rational in my approach to teaching and writing, meaning I like to keep my feet on the ground. I love a good mystical extrapolation, but when it comes to application and doctrine, I much prefer a solid, well-researched position over a “God showed me this” approach.
I support the PaRDeS method of interpretation, with a primary emphasis upon peshat and on drash. I am not as enamored with the sod level as some others, as I feel its indiscriminate use leads to too much theological “freewheeling”, and often results in a poorly-vetted and unsupported understanding, unless one is first firmly grounded in the peshat as a foundation for these explorations. So, for me, sod is a beautiful thing, once there is a mature understanding of the peshat. After all, as Rashi has demonstrated, one can spend a lifetime turning over the text and never quite exhaust the meaning of peshat. So, I find this a good guideline.
That being said, I do foray into the remez frequently in the pages of this blog.
Gematria? Not a fan. If you’re looking for that, please look elsewhere.
If you don’t know what any of that is (concerning PaRDes and Gematria), don’t worry about it. Just start reading. As you learn and explore on your own, you will seek and find the information you need exactly when you’re ready.
I also have a positive view of Christians. This may seem like an odd thing to say. If you are a Christian yourself, you may be asking yourself ‘Isn’t he a Christian too?’. Yes, in terms of my allegiance to Messiah Yeshua, I would and do identify as Christian in a mixed crowd, however, I don’t support some of the directions in which Christianity has gone, in a corporate sense, over the past centuries, and particularly in the recent past. I struggle with the tendency of Christianity to define itself through creeds and dogmas, and with what I perceive to be a regression into Gnosticism and antinomianism.
In my opinion, any expression of Christianity that fails to acknowledge the Jewish people as being in on-going covenant relationship with God, and also fails to recognize Judaism as a legitimate expression of biblical faith, is gravely deficient in its understanding.
But Christians? I love the Body of Messiah. Most people have literally no clue about the origins of the Church, how various doctrines developed, the rise of Evangelicalism and the roots of the Reformation. No clue at all. They are just believers in Messiah and doing their best to live decent, moral lives. They are part of the tikkun of the world, although they are unlikely to have any idea what that means, really. And the Church, for all it’s shortcomings, accomplishes great good in this world, by spreading the message of Jesus, of faith in HaShem, works of righteousness, and compassion for the welfare of humanity. Great good indeed. It should be celebrated for these things, and not just criticized for its failings.
Many of my closest friends are my brothers and sisters in the Church, and they have the Spirit of God indeed! Wonderful people. We are in fellowship with them. If this describes you, welcome! This sight is for you. I hope The Oasis stimulates deep and reflective analysis of your own walk with God and causes you to wrestle with ideas that you haven’t been faced with before in your Church experience. Blessings.
I have no official affiliation with any particular branch of either Christianity or Judaism. Truth can be found in many places. It is up to us to discern what to keep and what to toss.
Hope you enjoy hanging around. I’m thrilled you stopped by.