Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Warning: The Modalist Heresy of Itzhak Shapira

Itzhak Shapira is a Messianic Rabbi who runs Ahavat Ammi Ministries and is the author of the book "The Kosher Pig", a book panned by the Orthodox Community in Judaism.

Recently the Answering-Islam Facebook page had issued a warning that Shapira does not teach the Trinity, but an ancient  heresy called Modalism.

Modalists deny the Trinity yet acknowledge Yeshua or Jesus as God. The problem is that the unity of the individual persons is taken to the extreme where Jesus is the same person as the Father or where they are merely different manifestations of God. On a side note although Oneness advocate Roger Perkins claimed he acknowledged that the Father and the Son as distinct persons, I am not sure what he means by that in light of his denial of the Trinity.

(However, I recently discovered that there are two types of Modalist, Synonymous and Successive. Successive means the Father, Son and Spirit exist at different points, whereas Synonymous means they exist at the same time but are not three distinct persons)

Back to Shapira, the "rabbi" had recently spent time in a video responding to Rabbi Yisroel Blumenthal on objections he raised with respect to the Trinity.

Although Shapira spends the majority of the video trying to demonstrate that YHWH or Ha Shem is a compound unity by quoting the Zohar, a Kabbalistic text, and quoting from the TANAKH.

However, 13 minutes roughly in the video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bu4EWiw9Os4), Shapira says the following:
"The Zohar explains that God is truly a compound unity, ok, and to argue that this is not is arguing against Judaism. That is why when a man approached Yeshua and asked him what is the greatest commandment, Yeshua replied in Mark 12:29 Shema Yisrael Adonai Eleheinu Adonai Echad. Christianity on the other hand misunderstood it's compound unity and understood that God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are all three different personas, well that is not true either. That is not the point in my book and that's not what I believe. I believe that God is a compound God, he is ONE and he is absolute, without beginning and end, but at the same time he can manifest himself in anyway he chooses for".

And it is ALL downhill from here.

As I have said before, The Trinity teaches that in the very being or essence of God, there exist Three Distinct persons, Not three beings in one being or three persons in one person (like Ahmed Deedat falsely claimed). There are not three seperate Gods, but one Eternal God which the TANAKH and the NT make very clear. This is clearly something denied by Shapira.

I myself on a side note want to represent accurately what Rabbinic literature says properly. I have even occasionally spoken with orthodox Jews such as Funkdude and Sefard not Sefardi on some issues and ask for their perspectives and both have advised against using Shapira, which judging by what I have heard I am glad I didn't.

Yisroel Blumenthal has noted here the following:(http://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2013/12/17/shapira-is-not-a-trinitarian/):
"Why did I assume that Shapira is a Trinitarian?

Simple; he claims to have been ordained by the IMACS which is a subsidiary of the MJAA. The statement of faith of the MJAA declares that the organization believes in the trinity. Furthermore; Shapira quotes extensively from Trinitarian books (such as “Can Three be One”) and from various Trinitarian Christians (such as Dr. Michael Brown). At no point does Shapira distance himself from the beliefs of those he quotes from."

Though I would disagree with Blumenthal that worship of Jesus is idolatry, that is not the topic of this article.

I find it a shame that Shapira is teaching the Modalist Heresy and I urge Shapira if he is reading what I write to abandon this heresy he is teaching, it is doing more harm to the Body of Christ than good.

Hope this article has been a help.

Answering Judaism.

Addendum, Here is the video about this subject and Michael L Brown: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ynqRrHryPYo

Addendum 2: Shapira is not a Modalist in the sense of Successive Modalist, he is actually a Synonymous Modalist, For more details, read here: http://answering-judaism.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/video-examination-of-itzhak-shapiras.html

15 comments:

  1. R. Shapira is defending an attack that states that the belief in Yeshua (Jesus) is a belief in 3 gods. The ancient Jewish understanding of the plurality of G-d, while not believing in three separate entities, is not Modalism at all. These questions and identifications of heresies, by Tertullian and others, came about because of a lack of Greco-Roman understanding of ancient Biblical ideas. R. Shapira is simply trying to clarify the matter. In this ancient mindset, Modalism is not possible.

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    1. I don't know Shapira's heart and I cannot assess what reason he is defending the attack, but nevertheless, it is a grave concern how he articulates his belief in light of what he said.

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  2. It is not clear to me that you understand modalism, since what you have quoted Rav Shapira as saying surely doesn't prove your point. A necessary component of modalist belief is that the Three Persons exist, but not together -- in other words, they existed consecutively. I have read Rav Shapira's works, have listened to his drash, and have personally interacted with him on several issues. I can therefore say that you are misrepresenting his position on this issue. Therefore, I must caution you against furthering this misrepresentation, as he is your brother in Yeshua. What you have done is give the anti-missionaries yet ANOTHER false reason to attack his work. Such thoughtless comments, therefore, are from hasatan and do NOT glorify our G-d. May I suggest something? He is very accessible through his website and Facebook. Why not follow what the Scriotures say and contact him privately? Perhaps then you can write a correction to your blog.

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    1. Suzanne, I can appreciate your comments and I am pleased. It's not my intention to misrepresent Shapira. I am also grateful for the reclarification on Modalism, since some time ago I listened to a debate that James White and Roger Perkins on this issue.

      I do have to say however that it is disturbing that he said what he said regarding what he called "3 Personas" and instead did. I would be happy to dialogue with him on Paltalk and discuss these issues if he is able to.

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    2. Ignore the instead did part. What I mean to say was it is disturbing that he said what he said regarding what he called "3 Personas" and instead said he refers to them as manifestations. But again I agree, one should not misrepresent a persons position. I am 100% on the money on that point.

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    3. As I wrote, he is very accessable through his website and through Facebook. You have concerns about his teaching, so Yeshua's teaching on this matter is clear: approach your brother in private to discuss this. He is aware of your concerns, so a message from you would not be a surprise to him. Grace and shalom to you.

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  3. Itzhac is extremely well versed in Tanakh and loves Yeshua. Why nit pick him? No one can claim to be able to completely comprehend the enormity and complexity of our Creator. Grow in Yeshua and become the person He intended you to become.

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  4. Itzhac Shapira is extremely well studied in Tanakh Talmud and the New Testament. Can anyone claim to comprehend the enormity and complexity of G-d? I don't think so. Itzhac loves Yeshua. He found the one that all scripture points to, and he is sharing Him with others. Why nit pick? Grow in Yeshua and become who He intended you to be from the beginning.

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  5. Itzhac is extremely well versed in Tanakh and loves Yeshua. Why nit pick him? No one can claim to be able to completely comprehend the enormity and complexity of our Creator. Grow in Yeshua and become the person He intended you to become.

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    1. And this is a defence of his heretical teaching, why?

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    2. In theology 101, the doctrine of God is called "theology proper." If you think doctrine about God is a matter of indifference and not important, why don't you go join the Mormons? I'm sure they could fill your very receptive head with their garbage and you could join their "Amen" tabernacle choir. Michael, are you really this brain dead? Here is my prayer for you, "God, save me from stupid people." I don't know what you have been smoking but it must be some very good stuff!

      You really do need need about 3 truck loads filled with tough love.

      btw, God will send "strong delusion" upon those that do not love the truth! you are a ripe candidate!

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  7. Before we declare anathema, may we consider this perspective: Yeshua said he only does what he sees the Father doing and only says what he hears the Father saying. It could be reasonably argued that those strong ‘alignments’ disputes one of the elements of distinct person - see below (which itself is a logic test, not a Scriptural test). It could argued that the entire exercise is a logic exercise of describing in logical terms what God chose not to explain.

    Clearly, something was going on in the Spiritual realm when Yeshua walked with us as a man, that defies our comprehension and ability to describe it in absolutes, that somehow the Word could became flesh and dwell among us. Being OCD, Western trained (in Greek and Roman logic) thinkers, we seem to have to explain the unexplainable in terms that we then use to measure each other. Again, a logic exercise rather than a Scriptural exercise.

    Personally, I see the Father, I see the Son, and I see the Holy Spirit at all one time; yet I fully believe there is only One God. I can't explain it, but that for me is OK.

    Where we get into quicksand, IMHO, is when we go beyond Scripture to try to construct from logic answers to questions that God did not choose to reveal.

    I believe the discipleship path we are all called to begins with only saying what the Scripture says about Yeshua or about any doctrine. That path should be leading, ultimately, to a reality where the disciple too only says what the Father says and only does what the Father is doing. In fact, I hope that my distinctiveness decreases and His reality increases in my life.

    note
    “The distinctions between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are of a personal nature. To each is ascribed deity, and each has distinct operations and offices. The Trinity of God is the tri-personal existence of God as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. When calling each of the three members of the Godhead a person, we are meaning exactly the same thing as when we call three people each a person. For each of three human beings has a unity and specific peculiarly his own; while each of the Godhead shares with each other member the same essence or unity of personality. This undivided essence of the divine nature belongs alike to each member of the Godhead. Each possesses all the substance and attributes of the Deity. The plurality of the Godhead is not a plurality of essence, but a plurality of personal distinctions.” http://trinitycollege.edu/assets/files/ECBragg/TheologyR.pdf


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  8. Not only does Shapira reject the Trinity, he also affirms the heretical Kabbalistic mystical doctrine of the Ein Sof. That is 10 emanations of God.

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