The Varieties of Talmidi Belief
In any religious community – be it Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, etc – the fact that these communities are made up of human beings with free will and free thought, will mean that eventually variances will develop from the mainstream, regardless of what that mainstream is.
Variety and difference is good. It is only the suppression and intolerance of differences which causes conflict. However, sometimes differences arise which put a dissenting group outside of that religion. For example, you cannot remain a Muslim if you profess a belief in many gods; and you cannot remain a Buddhist if you reject reincarnation.
Talmidi beliefs in which there is absolutely no compromise would be: that YHVH has no physical form; that YHVH is indivisible; that Yeshua` was a fully human prophet; that YHVH alone is our Saviour, not a messiah; that we do not accept the authority of the Talmud; and that we do not accept the teachings of Paul of Tarsus. These things are not debatable. If one does not accept these beliefs, then one cannot call oneself a Talmidi – a Follower of the Way of YHVH.
In about 49 CE, the Council of the Elders of the Follower community met in Jerusalem, to decide whether Paul’s Christian teaching was an acceptable difference of belief (Acts 15). In Acts, all turns out well for Paul, but we believe that in reality (based on Paul’s barely concealed anger in Galatians), that it was decided that Christian belief and teaching was not an acceptable variance, and Paul’s Christians were no longer allowed to call themselves members of the community of the Way.
One variance which was accepted by the Council were the teachings of the Hellenicists (Acts 6). We believe they were given permission to form their own school or group.
If ever a Council of Elders were to be reconstituted, then they would be an appropriate forum to decide on what is an acceptable difference, and what is not.
Until such a Council is reconstituted, below is a current list of acceptable differences within Talmidi philosophy and religion (to see a list of unacceptable differences, see here):
- Resurrection: Some Followers accept the doctrine of resurrection (that after we die, we remain in a state of unknowing non-awareness, until the Last Day, when we are raised to life for final judgement before God). However, some Followers (e.g. Yeshuinists, Massorites, Liberal Talmidis) reject the idea of resurrection altogether.
- The Afterlife: While we are not currently aware of any Followers who don’t believe in the Afterlife, it is nevertheless not an essential to Talmidi belief, and if anyone did not believe in heaven, it would not automatically set them outside of Talmidaism. Israelite religion only slowly evolved a belief in heaven and the afterlife.
- Ritual: Some Followers like a lot of ritual (e.g. Massorites), while some do not at all (Yeshuinists). One’s level of ritual observance is a personal choice. This would cover things such as differences in the format of services, ministerial robes, format and language of prayer, design of synagogues, how detailed one wishes to be with kashrut etc.
- Origin of Torah: Most Followers accept that the Torah went through a long process of evolution and editing, yet part of it may have been directly written by Moses. If certain Followers were to believe that the whole of Torah was given verbatim, directly from God, that belief in itself would not set them outside of the community.
- Folk Religion: This would cover such things as a belief in the existence of angels and a belief in miracles. They are not an officially taught part of the religion, but certain things can be popular with ordinary people. These beliefs are acceptable as long as they do not detract from the primacy, centrality and One-ness of YHVH.
Differences will arise, that is unavoidable. But we all hope that as Followers of the Way we can live with and accept those differences, and not behave in the disgraceful way that some religions behave towards their dissenters. Such infighting and persecution offends the holiness of YHVH, whose reputation our way of life is supposed to reflect.