Creed or no creed?
The world of Israelite religion has always had an aversion to any firm statement of belief that has been written for all time in stone. For all the varieties of Judaism, there have never been any official creeds (although Maimonides made a general statement of thirteen principles of faith, and Karaite Jews have a declaration of faith).
If someone wants to know in a few short statements, how you differ from other groups – what makes you distinctive – then out of necessity you have to make a list of what you consider to be non-negotiable in what you believe.
Consider this: when you are involved in politics in a democratic society, it goes without saying that you will put out some kind of statement which outlines where you stand on various issues. Then you have to tell your members, “If you want to join our party, you must sign up to – and be prepared to defend – these policies.”
In the days when it was very difficult to leave a religion (because of family and societal pressures), forcing belief upon people was a very big issue; if you could not leave your religion to join a group which shared your views, inevitably you would be expected to uphold beliefs and values that your conscience was opposed to.
Nowadays, those pressures no longer exist for people who live in democratic, pluralistic societies. For this reason, we think it is fair – and honest – to have a core statement which outlines the essential features of one’s religion.
After all , in the world of politics, in the Conservative party (UK) or Republican party (USA), it would be unacceptable for a fully paid-up member to begin advocating state-control over all aspects of the economy. Such a person has the complete and total freedom to leave the party, and go and join the Communists.
So it should also be with religion. Those who disagree with the group they currently belong to, should be free to leave, and join a group with whom they have much more in common.
Having a core statement of beliefs and principles, can be beneficial to all parties:
*anyone who wishes to join, is informed beforehand of what the group stands for;
*any individual is fully aware of the boundaries of that group’s set of beliefs.
The existing traditions of the Way are quite diverse. However, there are some essential core points that are common to all Talmidi groups:
- that we worship, serve and pray to YHVH alone
- that YHVH is one, without form or incarnation
- that YHVH chose Israel to be an eternal witness to His holiness and power
- that the relationship between YHVH and Israel is by means of a Covenant
- that YHVH alone is our Saviour and Redeemer, and we do not give honour or glory to anyone else
- that we consider the Hebrew Bible alone as our written source of authority
- that our way of life is based on the one outlined in the Torah and the Prophets
- that we do not consider the Oral Law to have been given by YHVH, but that it is a collection of human decisions and traditions
- that we consider Yeshua` of Nazareth to have been a Jewish prophet
- that he was fully human; neither divine, nor the Son of God, nor the messiah
- that Ya`aqov the Pious (‘James the Just’) was the first leader of the community of Yeshua`’s followers, not Shim`on Keyfa (Simon Peter)
- that we do not accept the authority of the teachings of Paul of Tarsus
- that we reject Kabbalah and any belief in reincarnation
These are the main, basic tenets to which all Followers of the Way adhere to.
Please navigate through the articles under ‘The essentials of Talmidi belief’ to see in more detail what Followers of the Way teach and believe.