I just read a thought-provoking essay on the history of Messianic Judaism and the current crisis of identity that has stalled so great a movement in God’s redemptive plan. In case anyone is wondering, Messianic Judaism has been in the doldrums for a decade and the passionately committed among us are praying for a breakout.
If reading that essay were not enough, the discussion that ensued from my poll on terminology yesterday also makes apparent the seriousness of the crisis. Who let the Jews out?
Maybe I should start by explaining, for those who don’t know what I am talking about and for those who do but want to know where I am coming from, what I mean about Messianic Judaism’s crisis. I will say something briefly about the history that has led us here (without stealing the thunder of the wonderful article that will soon be coming out in a publication I can’t name because I am a confidential adviser).
Messianic Judaism follows on a history of emergence of Jewish believers in Jesus seeking to reclaim their identity as Jews and as followers of Jesus at the same time. A simple summary of that history should note that in the 18th and 19th centuries, Christians of Jewish descent increased in numbers due to social issues in Europe and America. By the time of the Holocaust, the number of Jewish Christians was quite large, and I have heard estimates of 100,000 or more Jewish Christians killed among the 6,000,000 Jews.
In Europe and America the growing number of Jewish Christians were represented by missionary organizations to the Jews with quaint names. It is a fascinating history.
And out of that movement came some geniuses ahead of their time, none of them perfect and all short of what we would consider a Messianic Jewish agenda today. Men like Joseph Rabinowitz, Alfred Edersheim, Yechiel Lichtenstein, Yitzhak Lichtenstein, Paul Phillip Levertoff, and more come to mind.
The Christian missions to the Jews movement made an advance, in my opinion, when Hebrew Christians, as they were known, began to associate and come together for conferences. The idea of maintaining Jewish identity as followers of Jesus began to grow. At first this had little to do with Judaism. But it was a tremendous step forward.
In the 1970’s, some of these Hebrew Christians, especially under the influence of Martin Chernoff and Manny Brotman, developed Messianic Judaism in its incipient form. The advancement here was the idea of Jews actually practicing faith in Jesus in a Jewish way.
All of this historical summary is to make one big point: God, as I see it, was moving the hearts of Jews not only to follow Jesus as the long-promised Messiah, but also to identify as Jews and eventually to return to Judaism.
Increasingly, however, in the 1980’s and 1990’s, Messianic Judaism became a haven for non-Jews looking to find a restoration of a perceived early church or some alternative to a church that had grown soft on Biblical practice and strong on revivalist tradition.
In other words, something God had been doing amongst Jewish people became a predominantly Gentile movement.
We could stop here and ask a lot of questions:
–What are some good reasons for Gentiles to be involved in Messianic Judaism?
–What are some less than helpful reasons for Gentiles to be involved?
–How can Messianic Jewish synagogues encourage the right Gentiles to stay and the wrong ones to move on and form their own movements?
I certainly have opinions on those questions and have been asked by several to address them. I plan to, after a little more thought.
But the question driving this musing is in another direction: why aren’t Jews who follow Jesus turning up in Messianic synagogues in increasing numbers? As Monique commented in yesterday’s poll:
But what tends to be missing in those same congregations is a degree of authentic Jewish culture and loads of Jewish families.
I have opinions about this matter as well. Perhaps we can discuss this in the comments and I will throw in my thoughts as we discuss:
–Where have the Jews in Messianic Judaism gone?
–Where are Jews who have a commitment to Yeshua going?
–Why aren’t intermarried Jews and their children coming more?
–Does any of this relate to the general decline in religious practice in America?
–Does any of this reflect trends in the synagogue world?
–Does any of this reflect trends in the church world?
–Are there hopeful signs of a promising future for a Jewish Messianic Judaism?
All very good questions. I think that Messianic Judaism has the publicity and acceptance that it never had before.
In the history of Messianic Judaism, I think there has always been a large contigent of Gentiles drawn to the movement. I’ve heard the same complaints over the past 14 years in the movement. There is always a remnant of Jews in every congregation, but hardly ever the majority.
Interacting with other Jews while in college, most just went to the holiday services and didn’t want to be constrained by the other facits of Jewish life (eating kosher, etc). It was more a social club where our commonality was that we all knew some of the liturgy.
I find that most of the Jews that attend Messianic Synagogues are intermarried and find that Messianic Judaism offers something for both sides of the family. I think that this area will continue to be an area of growth for the movement.
I know a number of Jews who feel more comfortable in the mega-churches where they blend in. They enjoy the format of services and it is low committment.
I think that the general trend in churches, synagogues and religion in general in America is that there are less and less people involved. All denominations are hit with this and are struggling.
I see hopeful signs within MJ with the intermarrieds, emphasis and reality of community as well as real study and learning. The variety even within MJ allows people to find a congregation to their liking. The biggest challenge is being seen with raising the next generation as the generation that were not the founders and to whom the movement is just a part of daily life.
dkskems (or as I know you, Daniel):
Awesome stuff and I am proud to realize that your words are the words of one my own synagogue leaders. I first read your comment on my Blackberry (while driving) and didn’t know at first whom I was reading. When I saw it was you, my hopes for the future of our synagogue rose a few notches. I am glad to call you friend and fellow leader.
Thank you, Derek, SO MUCH, for having the guts to ask these questions.
I think another important question to ask is this: What impact does the absence of Jews in our congregations have on the next generation?
To contribute to your first two questions, we’ve seen greater numbers of young Jewish couples with small children (who are otherwise committed to the Messianic movement) leaving the movement for mainstream synagogues. NOT because they’re interested in being more observant or leaving Yeshua … but because they want their children to grow up with a strong Jewish identity surrounded by other Jews, and to receive a Jewish education from Jewish teachers. That’s simply unavailable in most Messianic synagogues.
We need to think less like synagogues and more like communal institutions if we’re interested in attracting Jews. While MJ congregations have focused primarily on text study and halachah (and expect weekly attendance from EVERYONE … just like a church), they’ve neglected the “fun” parts of Jewish life … especially the “fun” of being a young Jewish kid. E.g.: summer camp, matzo baking, purim spiels, fully funded trips to israel, going to museums/film screenings/community Hanukkah lightings. Most MJ congregations have also neglected the Jewish holidays that involve more “ethnic” remembrances, like Holocaust Remembrance Day and Israeli Independence Day. Remembering our people’s ongoing struggle for survival is just as important to young Jewish kids as are latkes and hiking Masada.
What is really missing at MJ synagogues (which tend to be located so far out in the sticks or suburbs that they’re “commuter synagogues” by default) is mid-week programming geared to people under 40 that’s less about text study and more about “lox and bagels,” … experiencing 21st century Jewish life (with just a little bit of Torah on the side … to whet your appetite for Saturday).
I think it’s sad that Jewish Christians would want to separate themselves from Gentile Christians. That’s just what God woudn’t want. …neither Jew nor Gentile….all one, the body of Christ, in the Church…etc. Division in the body isn’t good. But i have a Gentile friend that wants to be a Jew so she goes to a “Messianic congregation/synagogue”. She’s actually a Charismatic so I think she’s also looking for entertainment. I’m sure all this grieves the Holy Spirit.
It is a sad story, the one you tell about Messianic Jews leaving Messianic synagogues for Reform and Conservative ones in order to raise their children Jewish.
The far more common story is Messianic Jews leaving or never darkening the door of Messianic synagogues in favor of large church communities with numerous programs for kids and families and singles.
The bad news is that due to small size and an identity crisis, we are now asking our members to be part of something which cannot address some needs as well as better-established churches and synagogues.
The good news, though, is that for those visionary people willing to make something beautiful, being in a Messianic synagogue need not be missing out on something better. Synagogues which focus more on community (like the ideas you mention) and being involved in the Jewish community may be small, but we have something to offer no mainstream synagogue or church can: Jewish life integrated in Yeshua.
As we offer Jewish life integrated in Yeshua more and more (and set aside distractions), we can also be happy to see our people enjoying community with the larger Jewish and Christian communities where we are. We don’t have to compete. What we have to do instead is ADD VALUE.
When we learn this and implement it well, we will see more people and more Jews.
As one who was asked to resign from my local Reform Synagogue, after I finally plucked up the courage to confess that I am a Jew who believes that Yeshua is our promised Moshiach, I have mixed feelings about anyone who choses to attend in a mainstream synagogue. Of course I understand the reasons and I deeply empathise with anyone who struggles with this issue. On the other hand, it raises as many questions as it answers.
I have just returned from a lecture I gave at a local church here in Bournemouth UK. I was asked to talk about my Messianic Jewish faith. I was very apprehensive as I have pretty strong opinions on a number of subjects and did not wish to offend anyone. But nothing could have prepared me for the tears and deep questions asked by gentile believers, trapped in the Constantinian religion called Christianity. So many told that for the first time in their lives, it all started to make sense, it all ‘clicked together’.
To be blunt, I care much more about whether the Ruach HaKodesh is moving people than whether they are Jewish or not. I am proud to be a Jew and always call myself a Messianic Jew and not a Christian. But at the same time, I don’t get hung up on labels.
In an ideal world, we would be able to worship the way Yeshua did, in Israel with our fellow Jews. But this is not an ideal world. I teach my children about their rich Jewish heritage and they don’t need summer camp to know that they are Jewish. I live in the UK and we don’t have Messianic Summer camps. In fact, we have very few Messianic Groups, period.
Of course I miss the synagogue – a lot. The whole experience of being expelled what traumatic. But G-d has opened many new doors for me. I am now free to be who I am – a talmid of Yeshua, the greatest Jew who ever lived and my Moshiach. I can be open about my faith and share it with gentile believers. And their tears make it all worthwhile.
As an aside, I am currently reading David Sterns ‘Messianic Judaism’ and it is excellent. But I guess you all have a copy anyhow? LOL.
It was right that the above poster was asked to resign from his reform synagogue. Your beliefs contradicted a core belief held by non-Messianic Jews. If you didn’t believe in Jesus and made that a part of your religious stance you would not really have a place in church.
Much of the problem arises in the “one size fits all” mode of messianic Judaism. There are branches of Judaism for a reason: the 200 kinds of orthodox, conservative, reform. A reform Jew may not see the need for summer camp, while a conservative or reform Jew with stronger ties the community and daily practices may find it vital.
I tend to find that people who have grown up in a home where mainstream Judaism was a part of their lives find messianic synagogues lacking in authentic (ie. not Googled) culture. It’s like going to a synagogue run by BTs. Emphasis on the wrong syllable. A little stream of desperation. Superiority complexes instead of just enjoying the culture and beliefs.
The reason my family finds it hard to commit ourselves is because if a place is called a synagogue it needs to function, feel, and smell like one. A heart for God isn’t enough. Culture does matter. Especially if we’re going to do anything about the rampant intermarriage rate. One’s children might call themselves Jews but do they feel like Jews enough to marry another Jew and have a Jewish household? Those are two different things.
Amiel, it’s fantastic that you yourself have worked out your identity following a traumatic experience. I have also been betrayed by my people in painful ways, and feel pretty settled within my own Jewish skin.
But it’s not for myself that I’m involved in MJudaism. It’s for my children (who, coincidentally, I haven’t had yet).
I have not seen a single Jewish child who was raised primarily in the church (with no supplement of Jewish summer camp, Hebrew school, trip to Israel … or otherwise “fun” Jewish communal experience) emerge with an intact Jewish identity and go on to raise Jewish children and grandchildren.
On the contrary … Jewish kids raised in church (devoid of a Jewish communal experience) overwhelming grow up to reject their identity as Jews, marry non-Jews, and raise good little Gentile children who buy into the same Constantian faith that you object to. My brother, who missed out on most of the Jewish communal experiences that I enjoyed, is doing exactly that.
Telling your child that she is Jewish without offering a lived communal experience of Jewishness is not enough. It’s simply too difficult to explain to one’s classmates and peers who you are exactly … and it’s too difficult an identity and faith to maintain during adulthood in isolation.
For the sake of your children, why don’t you get together regularly with other Jewish believing families that you know? You don’t have to form a synagogue or formal institution. Something as simple as monthly Shabbat dinners or trips to the beach can do wonders to help your children form lasting bonds with other Jewish children who share their faith, and to give them a concrete sense that they are “not alone” and help them feel less like a religious freak show.
– coming from one who knows
no_tv … i like that: “authentic (ie. not Googled) culture”
I may just make you our quote of the day!
forgive my ignorance, but what is “BT”?
A couple of thoughts. I recently left a Messianic Synagogue in Tulsa, OK. Yes, there are surprisingly a lot of Messianic Jews/Gentiles in Oklahoma. One of the things that many of us former Sunday going Christians have noticed about the contemporary MJ movement is that much of the format is identical to the Sunday format. While some find that familiar and comforting; a number of us find it off-putting. The pew facing one man orientation of many MJ synagogues seems more Greco-Roman than it does Hebrew. Many of us have fled the elements of mid-eval paganism that has crept into the “Constantinian” church as amiel4messiah put it just to find ourselves right back in it in some synagogues. Mostly, I think, this is because the synagogues have been started and maintained by gentiles drawn to the Hebrew roots of their faith and Messiah who have little or no familiarity with a Jewish upbringing, culture, and communal setting.
I really like the sentiment of focusing Synagogue activity on Jewish culture and living as well as study. I think it is sorely lacking in the MJ movement (at least around here it is). The lack of “authentic” (for lack of a better word) Jewish attendees in many synagogues/communities have left the burden of community rapport and Torah teaching to gentiles who are struggling to meet the spiritual and civil needs of the people around them because they lack that Jewish upbringing. Many of us gentile followers of Yeshua and practitioners of Torah find it increasingly difficult to keep the communities together simply because the essence of Jewish culture and history is absent from the mix. I don’t know if this is the root of the problem, or not, but I feel that it has much to do with it. I am at a loss as to what can be done, however.
You said, “The reason my family finds it hard to commit ourselves is because if a place is called a synagogue it needs to function, feel, and smell like one. A heart for God isn’t enough. Culture does matter.”
It is not clear, but I assume you meant the reason you find it hard to commit your family to a Messianic synagogue (as opposed to what: a church? a mainstream synagogue?).
I think Monique has brought up a great point: how will you build something for your children by raising them solely in a community that either denies Yeshua (mainstream syangogue) or Jewish life (church)?
We need visionaries who will make Messianic Judaism work. Maybe you are one of those. If you are in Atlanta, come help me make mine an even more vibrant community.
I hope to hear from you again.
Thank you for the clarity and astuteness of your ideas. I should point out to readers that you and Joshua have a blog at http://yinonblog.blogspot.com/ where people can follow your insightful commentary and spot-on ideas.
I appreciate especially your encouragement to amiel4messiah to find Messianic Jewish community even if he cannot form a synagogue.
We really have a big job in Messianic Judaism and too few are working at it. Glad to have you and Joshua in the loop. Too bad Atlanta is not in your future, but then God will use your talents in a city that needs you even more.
Baal Tshuva: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baal_teshuva
I don’t think there is anything wrong with people who “discover they are Jewish” when they actually are or “come back to Judaism” after a long time away. It’s fantastic. But a whole congregation of the nervous, overcompensating, semi-arrogant, not-quite-fluent yet, energy is a bit much.
There needs to be balance
For humor: http://www.frumsatire.net/2009/03/08/judging-bts-by-their-body-maneuvers-during-shul/#more-1564
I understand your point and amiel4messiah’s, but I must point out it is less than helpful to refer to Christendom as the Constantinian church. Historically this is quite inaccurate and it belies the fact that churches are filled with grace and beauty. One could get the false impression from reading such language that churches are full of witches and warlocks reading Satanic books.
I do hope as you continue learning and growing in Jewish history and culture, that you will also grow in your appreciation for church history and culture. There is good and bad in all things human, I know. But if we focus on the bad and denounce all things, what are we to do if God decides to do the same for us? Will we come out fine if God’s mercy is as small as our own? As God overlooks much immaturity in us and rewards the good, so we should for others. May God look on us more mercifully than we look on others.
Thanks so much for your encouragement, Derek.
totally agree, no_tv. so what do you suggest that we do about it?
Dear Monique and Derek. Thank you for your constructive feedback. I agree with you entirely and, as much as possible, that is exactly what I try to do. Shabbat dinners are by far and away the best social opportunities!
Derek, it’s nearly midnight in the mother country and I have a business to run, so need to be at my desk by 8am again tomorrow. I would love to comment in more detail regarding your views on Christianity, but I’m afraid that I am dog tired and need some sleep. I promise to get back though…
Monique: May HaShem bless you with many wonderful children. I love mine more than life itself and could not imagine not being their ‘papi’.
PS. Monique, I forgot to mention that I am a member of an Australian Messianic Fellowship called the IMCF (International Messianic Community of Faith). It’s a long story, but it has become my spiritual home, even if I can’t go to shul as often as I would like LOL.
Kol Tuv to you all.
I agree. I didn’t mean to come across as judgemental of my heritage in Christianity, because I am definitely not. Most of my family still attends a Sunday church. My point was mainly to bring up the fact that many of us “messianic” Gentiles have no frame of reference to Jewish living and therfore just recreate a Sunday environment on Saturday, because we know nothing else. So, we become google Jews for lack of any other way to go. Without a significant Jewish population in the mid-west, what else can we do? I guess I’m seeking suggestions or insight from the MJ community..
Put in leadership people who are fully, calmly entrenched in Judiasm; life, worship, Hebrew, Torah, family life, etc.
Make Jewish family life the model and foundation for synagogue life. It needs to be decided if a synagogue is going to be more reform, conservative, or orthodox and then it needs to be understood and somewhat consistent. Ideally the members live in the same way in synagogue as they do as home; same standards. That’s not a messianic struggle though, that’s a mainstream issue as well.
Less talk about all of these issues and more talk about the parsha, family life, life cycle events, the proper way to make kugel, matchmaking…just normal things. Perhaps if we made less fuss about how this is a movement it will cease to be a movement and just be.
First and foremost though, I think Jews need to be on the board of the messianic synagogues. Rabbis need to be rabbis who understand wider Jewish life, Hebrew, and often go outside of the messianic world to stay current.
Maybe this will improve things. Honestly, I can’t imagine raising a child in the movement right now because it is a movement. What is lacking is a backbone of Jewish elders; men and women who have lived Jewish lives. They’re the heart of any religion and culture.
Where are all the elders? A community isn’t build on 20 and 30 year-olds! Where are the grandparents and great grandparents?
derek- to answer your question about 60% of our “Jewish living” takes place in the home through life cycle events, calendar events (crafts with the kids, learning of brochas, mitzvahs, foods, family events, etc), etc. When our eldest did go to day school she went to a liberal Jewish one.
Most Friday eves we have shabbat at home, every now and then we’ll go to someone else’s table (messianic or otherwise).
AM services vary- sometimes we go as a family to a messianic, reform, or modern orthodox service. Most of the time it looks like what happens in a more traditional Jewish home- husband goes, wife with small children stays home. If we lived within an eruv we’d probably all go but when it comes to packing up cars, diaper bags, etc., at the end of the day the hassle removes much of the shabbat peace, especially for mothers I’ve noticed. Unless that is the shul functions more like a church and offers child care.
We don’t go to church very often but if don’t mind going to an event if friends or extended family have something special going on. We don’t have anything against church, orthodoxy or anything in between.
What I’ve noticed is that the messianic synagogues I’ve been to seem to serve as places of Jewish exploration and intellectual discussion.
In my neck of the woods were lucky if we can find someone who’s been living a Jewish lifestyle for 10 years. So you see our dilemma, no_tv.
Talmidyeshua, it’d be helpful to know why you, as a non-Jew, feel drawn to a messianic congregation, especially given the apparent absence of Jews in your neck of the woods.
I don’t want to sound judgmental (but probably will anyway) but I’d venture to guess that your motivations for involvement in Messianic life are probably very different from the motivations of a Jewish family that follows Yeshua.
That’s not my way of calling your motivations wrong or alleging that your needs and the needs of a Jewish family can’t coexist in the same place. It just is what it is. And what it is is different.
Other than the unfortunate geography (which is a soapbox I’ll stand on some other time), could that be why your community isn’t attracting Jewish families? Because the congregation is ultimately serving the needs and motivations of people from your background, rather than the needs and motivations of prospective Jewish members?
I understand what you’re saying and no you don’t sound judgemental at all. You are right about my motivations being different than a Jewish family, because the of the simple fact that our backgrounds (and therefore our needs) are different.
My motivation for seeking out a Messianic life came from a desire to live a life that was pleasing to G-d. I came to realize that Torah had a lot to do with that and wasn’t as obselete as I was raised to believe. I see (and correct me if I’m wrong in saying this) that a Jewish person who follows Yeshua as sort of “supplementing” their already Jewish lifestyles with the understanding and trust that He is the Jewish Messiah. While, as a gentile Christian, trying to take on walking in the Torah that Yeshua walked in is a complete lifestyle change for most of us. A lifestyle that we know little to nothing about. It’s a strange place to find your self in. Your soul longs to be part of what you feel is the way a G-dly person/community lives, but you’re only community is a smattering of equally ignorant people like yourself. Sometimes it makes me laugh and I enjoy discovering and learning about Torah and Jewish living while following Yeshua with these people. Other times, it really makes my heart heavy with sorrow that so many of us are alone and struggling. At least the strangers in the Wilderness were wandering with the Hebrews learning the Torah together. That would be nice.
I probably sound like I’m feeling sorry for myself. I really love being Messianic. I love Yeshua. I love the Torah. And I love the life it has given me. There are two small Synagogues here; a Reform and one Conservative. But, I have only met about 3 people who are Messianic Jews from those congregations. I don’t know if I should try getting involved at one of those synagogues or stick with the one very Sunday-like Messianic Synagogue here, even though it really may not meet what I feel I need entirely? Right now I’ve just been meeting with a handful of people at my house for Erev Shabbat every week. I really feel that I should do more than that, though. I appreciate the responses and any and all input the community.
Thank you for your thoughts, I am actually going to return the favor, and blog about this (and your blog).
You raise a number of great points shared by many of us.
what I meant was … to the EXCLUSION of the needs and motivations of prospective Jewish members.
Somewhere in my utopian head I think it’s possible to do both … I just haven’t seen it done successfully anywhere.
no-tv: We want the Jewish mommas and poppas and bubbes and zaydies to stick around! They’re wonderful people who are a vital part of passing on Judaism to the next generation. Both of my Jewish grandparents died before I was old enough to see beyond the tip of my own nose, and I can’t resist adopting surrogates everywhere I go. Unfortunately, the MJ AKs don’t have the same patience we do with these shenanigans. And who blames them?
What should we do to reach out?
LOL, now we not only have BT’s, but also AK’s. I had to google alta kaka to check on some common spellings for “old person” in Yiddish. One site suggests the spelling alta caca.
Can’t wait to see what over TLA’s we come up with (two-letter acronyms).
Is it that they don’t have “patience for these shenanigans”? I think those seriously invested in Messianic Judaism need to go to them for answers. They hold the keys to instilling Judaism into the next generation.
The approach of the young generation isn’t working because the have no experience in cultural religious transfusions. Bubbes and Zaides know that life is lived in the details, in the heart and motivations behind actions. They need to be consulted.
Why non-Jewish people go to Messianic Jewish synagogues is because it serves needs to feel special and different, in my opinion. But Jewish families aren’t going to feel special or different, they’re going to experience Judaism in an everyday, holy (I realize the paradox) way.
Rebbetzin and Rabbi B, you both have a passion and determination about this. Consider visiting mainstream synagogues led by young ones but fueled and watched over by elders for examples. There’s no reason to reinvent the wheel. Go to where it’s already working, even when there are religious differences, and copy their model.
btw, i don’t think the holiness of the mundane is a paradox. isn’t that the point of jewish life?
Very interesting comments on this so far. For me the absence of true jewish life and culture is one of the main issues for me. Because my focus is on my children and on family as I believe is Hashem’s and many Messianic congregations completely leave out the communal family lifestyle (not glorified daycare ) that I desire to raise my children in.(as do christian churches) Also the culture of Judaism is based on Torah , no? yet I have seen Torah left out of many congregations. It seems that if all believers and synagogues used Torah as good doctrine(prov 4:2) there would be less division and it would draw more Jewish people as well as gentiles. Hashem’s Word needs to be our foundation and unfortunately we all have to admit throughout the believing community a sound biblical foundation is lacking. I also believe there is a fear of Judaism and taking on traditions of Judaism…yet I believe that believers (jew or non jew) were never meant to reject Judaism completely but to continue Judaism yet remove anything that did not agree with Torah. We should respect Orthodox Judaism in the sense that it kept the Jewish faith alive for so many centuries and not be afraid to continue many of it’s traditions.
“Why non-Jewish people go to Messianic Jewish synagogues is because it serves needs to feel special and different, in my opinion. But Jewish families aren’t going to feel special or different, they’re going to experience Judaism in an everyday, holy (I realize the paradox) way. ”
I (coming from a gentile) believe this is true for many gentiles but I believe the real reason for gentiles should be…simply wanting to live a lifestyle in Holiness as close to how Yeshua lived as possible…how are we to be His Talmidin if we do not act like He did?(this goes for Jews and nonjews) or if we have completely divorced ourselves from the Judaism that He created (Torah) and walked in. Another reason and NO less important is simply…
(Ruth 1:16-18 KJV) And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me. When she saw that she was stedfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her.
the steadfastness in not forsaking our Jewish brethren(believers specifically) should not waiver. If Yeshua is our shalom that broke down the middle wall having made us (echad) we should act like it and not have christianity for gentiles and Messianic Judaism for Jews but all walk in the WAY of the original followers, together as one. No need to feel special or different we do need to work on feeling like family. Unfortunately many times the special and different feeling I have seen is not a good special. We have failed in christianity to raise true talmidin of Yeshua, and if we focus on this and make congregations places of equipping the saints, places where family, modesty, and Torah are put first and taught, where we teach our children to be part of us not shuffle them off to keep them out of our hair…yes we need elders and those of us that are getting a little more elder ;-) need to train up the younger.
Thankfully all is not lost, Yeshua will come back and straighten us all out,
No-tv … that’s exactly what we’ve been doing. We make the rounds on friday nights and to morning minyanim … and are in dialogue with rabbis and rabbinical students about issues of welcoming, continuity, programming, etc … we’re also pretty active in larger jewish cultural life: supporting jewish nonprofits, attending film screenings and lectures, going to concerts, having friends over, etc.
Valley Beth Shalom in the San Fernando Valley is probably the best example we’ve seen of a synagogue led by a relatively young leader, but watched over by an elder. That has its complications, though, as well.
Joshua used to be a Reform school Hebrew teacher, and was “Mr. Hillel” at his undergrad school, so his connections run deep.
PS: Can we adopt you? Seriously, we’d love to pick your brain further.
The last question I posed was “Are there hopeful signs of a promising future for a Jewish Messianic Judaism?”
My quick answer in two parts:
(1) Yes, because with God such things are a no-fail proposition and I believe God is in this and
(2) Yes, again, because I see change happening–amongst Jews looking in on MJ, amongst MJ’s who are growing in Jewish life finally, and amongst Gentiles in the MJ movement who are getting hip to the program and loving it.
I’m not a naturally encouraging guy, but in this case I am encouraged. It is one of the reasons I am working for MJTI, a very hard job, but one of the institutions truly building a future for our children.
Very thought provoking.
As a Gentile heavily involved in Messianic ministry for years, most I run into have a heart for the Jewish people. People searching for an authentic first-century faith via Messianic Judaism need to let that go for various reasons.
A lot of Jews I know who attend churches are secure in their Jewish identity. They don’t see a biblical mandate to go to Jewish-oriented congregations.
Speaking of which, I’m not sure if you pull on the “return to Judaism” thread too much anything will be left. Is Judaism religion of the Jews? Is it Rabbinic Judaism? Defined by whom?
Just so readers will grasp where Geoff is coming from, he is involved in Christian missions to the Jews. This is yet another perspective to add to today’s conversation.
I used to think the way you do. I do not mean this in any way to be a put-down, but as I started learning Judaism, I found that one does not have to let anyone define Judaism for you. It is a big tent with lots of room.
I am glad you agree that those who think MJ is a restoration to a pure early church are off base.
These Jews in churches may feel somehow secure in their Jewish identity, but their confidence in that is misplaced. Jewishness must be transmitted to future generations and we talk about this same thing over and over. I would ask, after all this time and hearing us in MJ say that over and over, why does it still not persuade you? Do you think that Jews who leave the Jewish community will really sustain some psychological sense of Jewish identity for two generations? Three? Can you really maintain that argument?
The term “rabbinic Judaism” is a misnomer. There is no kind of Judaism which is independent of the rabbinic literature (I don’t think the Karaite movement is Judaism really either). How can you follow the commandments of Israel without traditions to fill in the gaps? Have you tried, Geoff?
I don’t want to make you feel unwelcome and I’m glad you commented. I want to see some progress in the dialogue, though. If I appear to be hard on you, forgive me. I think you are too intelligent not to see the truth in what we are saying.
Derek, excellent post as usual. Thank you for this. Even better discussion going in the comments, I’m reading with much interest.
I just saw Boaz Michael posted a video on Facebook where he mentions your post here, Derek. Sounds like you wrote an article for the Messiah Magazine? Very cool, looking forward to reading it.
Shalom to all of you; I know each is serving Messiah in different ways. Be blessed, all of you!
Why aren’t Jews who follow Jesus turning up in Messianic synagogues in increasing numbers?
Have not many of the Jews who follow Jesus been taught that TORAH observance is “putting yourself back under the law”?
Until the Ruach opens their eyes that the TORAH is for them today they will not see the benefit of a messianic synagogue.
Why do many gentiles want to be a part of a messianic synagogue?
I think many of them have embraced the TORAH as being relevent for them today. Since much of Jewish culture is built around TORAH observance, it is a natural destination for those who want to walk as Yeshua walked.
Earlier this week, I met in a gathering of about twenty MJ rabbis. Every rabbi was deeply concerned about the downward trend of the % of Jews in our movement. Our discussion focused on positive ways to enhance our identity as Jews.
Jewish identity is formed by a varying combination of a number of elements: a particular covenant with God, ethnic make-up, cultural background, and religious practice. That identity is both individual and communal.
An important question here is how to form and strengthen Jewish identity communally, and especially in our children. It would be wise to get some input from professionals who deal with identity formation.
But from my scattered reading in these subjects (esp. psychology and sociology), a given identity is formed by a complex of influences, practices, and material culture. Although there are huge overlaps among various communal identities, it is fair to say that identity is marked by difference, one group or individual being distinct from another in measurable ways.
If I’m right about identity formation, our congregations must make very clear distinctions of practice and culture between Jews and Gentiles. Otherwise, I can’t see how we can establish and deepen distinct Jewish identities long-term, especially across generations. And those distinctions should not be artificial inventions but reflective of existing Jewish norms.
Well said. And easier said than done, especially in the context of long-existing congregations where the patterns reflect otherwise, and the financial base of the community would be threatened if these changes were implemented.
I agree. Every woman or man, Jewish or not, is precious in God’s eyes, and should be treated as a treasure. And so the interpersonal issues involved in such a transition would be mountainous.
-Rabbi Carl – Thank you for your additions to the discussion.
-In bouncing off Derek’s response to geoffrobinson’s post, Derek touched on something that cannot simply be overlooked.
Derek mentioned, “These Jews in churches may feel somehow secure in their Jewish identity, but their confidence … is misplaced. Jewishness must be transmitted to future generations … Do you think that Jews who leave the Jewish community will really sustain some … sense of Jewish identity for two generations? Three? Can you really maintain that argument?”
Unfortunately, history has proved otherwise. Derek noted that there are estimates of as many as 100,000 Jewish Believers before the Holocaust. With the Holocaust aside (in terms of reckoning numbers), where are the descendants of those Believers today? No one in our movement is bragging that they are the great, great grandchild of Rabbi Isaac Lichtenstein. There is no “Levertoff dynasty” of Messianic Jewish leaders and thinkers. The descendents of these great “Messianic Jewish” giants are no where to be found. They are among the countless others who slipped into assimilated oblivion.
This is not so much an issue of non-Jewish participation as much as it is a call for Jewish continuity (although at hand the two are connected). If a messianic form of Judaism is to survive beyond one or more generations, it must be firmly rooted in Jewish soil.
Good post Derek. Lets keep some things in mind here, in the real word, “will your children be Jewish” does not have the weight it should possibly carry. Maybe this is generational and maybe not, but with Yeshua in the mix needs and wants vastly change beyond, “will your children be Jewish.”
After a bunch of years as a Rabbi in New York I began to ask Jewish people why they are not in Messianic congregations and prefer a church after thier embarcement of Yeshua? “What about your children” I would ask? These are people who know Judaism, been in thier synagogue community for 15 years, etc, etc, but it is not about exchanging one for the other but something they have never experienced before and seeing what went before as perhaps antithetical.
“Who let the Jews out?” Maybe we have. What they found in thier Yeshua-faith experience is not central in our communities most of the time, but it seems to me that is what is wanted by many. They have not put together being Jewish and following Yeshua, and they are working out after years of being “different” now they are one with gentiles, and liking it at that.
Yeah, it will hurt children in the long run no doubt, but most parents are not looking to learn more about being Jewish – they can go to synagogues for that who do better than we do anyway – but they want to learn about faith in Yeshua as Jews and that is what they want to teach thier kids.
This is a tricky path, but we must get the platform to teach and we still need how to figure that one out. I know where we are coming from, but I am also looking for the door that the Jews keeping walking out of.
Great point Adam!
one more lil o opinion,;-o
I understand, as much as possible I think as a gentile the desire to not allow Messianic Jews to disapear and assimilate but to keep a true remnant….yet I must say is this to be done at the expense of disunity and givng separate roles to gentiels and Jews? Can this be founded on biblical principles, I think not, Yeshua wanted us to be one, strangers in the midst of Judaism always practiced the same as the Jewish people, no they did not become Jewish physically but they did become part of Israel spiritually and followed the same instructions from their ABBA. I pray none will take offense at my comments. May I suggest that though Messianic Judaism was started so that Jewish believers would have a place to continue in their Jewish ways without assimilating, Hashem has a much greater plan and it is to return all of His people (Jew and Nonjew) to walk in His ways in preparation for His coming and to return His ecclesia to holiness, to purify and separate the wheat from the tares. The opinion that gentiles and Jews must have separate ways is a divisive opinion that needs to be removed from Messianic Judaism. I don’t believe we are to have 2 churches, one Jew one gentile or be 2 people but again that word echad.
blessings in Messiah,
Thanks for your voice and we are glad to hear it. I trust if you are a long-time reader at Messianic Jewish Musings, you know that I do not subscribe to some of the ideas you have suggested. I’m not saying that to squelch your voice, but to ask if you have wrestled with the arguments about Israel’s unique calling to Torah.
Messianic Judaism cannot be, though I think you are saying it should be, a Torah-restoration movement for the church. Neither Torah nor New Testament nor Jewish tradition teach Torah as a lifestyle required of non-Jews (that is my opinion, stated and argued many times on this blog–check the Gentiles category of you want to read).
Nonetheless, as we settle on policies that work for Jews and non-Jews in Messianic synagogues, we must consider love, peace, unity, and respect for all people. Of course with this I agree.
One area we believe in firmly in (by we, I mean the Hashivenu style or Jewish Messianic Judaism) is a binary ecclesiology: that Yeshua’s intention, and that of the apostles, was to establish distinct yet unified branches of his greater congregation: the Jewish mission and the Gentile mission. I believe there is intermixing between them, but I also believe in keeping them distinct. We are not asking the churches out there to become Jewish or Torah observant as we do not see this as their calling.
thank you for your response.
Actually I have not read any of your other blogs. Just saw this one and believe it is a very important subject. Of course Jewish believers being a minority in Messianic Judaism is something that needs to be addressed. I believe the same reasons that I stated in both my posts goes for Jews and gentiles in why they would not attend a Messianic congregation. No intention to offend but can you see how this belief of having separate rules is very divisive? Yes I have searched scriptures and prayed about the argument that Israel has a unigue calling to Torah, Thankfully Hashem’s Word won out and I clearly saw there is only one law for Hashem’s people, only one law for Israel and a stranger who joins themself to Israel becomes part of the commonwealth of Israel. Perhaps we humans think Messianic Judaism cannot be a Torah restoration movement for the church but is that what Hashem thinks? It is happening none the less so perhaps our constant trying to separate eachother into little groups and instead allowing the Ruach to work and form the ecclesia He desires would be a better option.
May you all be blessed and may you find the answers you seek to this need of bringing and keeping Jewish people in Messianic Judaism.
In other words, you have developed a theology of Torah and you have not dialogued with Jews about it? Doesn’t it seem like it would be a good idea to get a Jewish perspective, even if it is just for personal growth and does not change any of your views?
You said, “Thankfully Hashem’s Word won out.” Is that really true? How do you know? Do you mean that others such as myself might not have scriptural reasons for our beliefs? Have you considered them?
I am always ready to change my theology and it has evolved in many ways over the years. We can all learn something from each other.
Your comment makes me laugh(not in disrespect), not because it is really funny but because I have discussed this subject quite a bit with Jewish and non Jewish. I am a dialoguer so that is clearly not an issue. other perspectives are great and I would be glad to discuss, not sure this subject is the place, don’t want to take over your subject, but that is up to you. May I ask you the same, have you studied and discussed any of the opinions of those who believe in one law (Jew and nonJew), have you read any of the books, studies, papers?
As far as your questions go, true, yes I must believe it to be so. How do I know, …I am also a studier and lover of Hashem’s Word, a few scriptures that can be used as starting points to show that a ger is considered a covenant member deut 31:12, lev 17:11-13, num 19:10, num 15:26….can you explain to me where in reading the Brit Chadashah we get that there should be two different bodies of Messiah. Gal 3 is clear gentiles are blessed through the Abrahamic covenant, yet the Mosaic and Abrahamic can not be separated. Mosaic fulfills Abrahamic in all nations being blessed. there is only one Torah, we cannot make some laws necessary for gentiles and some for Jews. If we are now members of the commonwealth, grafted in and Torah is not done away with, Hashem Forbid. Then we follow the same Torah. If Paul in Eph 2 and 3 also makes it clear gentiles are fellow heirs and partakers of Messiah. Messiah is the Livng Word, the living Torah, how could we gentiles desire any other expression of faith but through Him and as He expressed Himself. Eph1, Romans 8,9 also speaks to these issues. I am to bear different fruit though I have the same root and am part of the same tree that you were also grafted back into?
So do others such as yourself have a scriptural basis for your beliefs? I believe it is more that we were all taught as believers that Torah is done away with, and those who are Jewish that Torah is only for Jews, so we at times percieve the scriptures through that lense and interpret them incorrectly. We all have as you have said changed our theology, evolved …..it is all about growing in Messiah. May I reccomend the book Restoration by Tim Hegg and also the It is Often Said series by FFOZ? They explain these subjects in detail and so much more eloquently than this chatty gal.
Oh vey… so many valuable contributions. What more can I add? Well, it struck me that the debate is being coined in rather black and white terms regarding Jew and non-Jew. I beg to differ. So, for the one millionth time in our long history… ‘who is a Jew’? Now, my intention is not to wade into controversial territory, such as ‘are the Khasars Jews’ etc. No, my question is a more straightforward one:
Halacha is only useful here up to a point. You see, I come across all sorts of Jewish people and not all are 100% Kosher to put it tongue in cheek. The other day for instance, I spoke at a church and a lovely lady came up to me and said ‘my father’s father was Jewish’ with a sparkle in her eyes. Was she Jewish? In my eyes absolutely. Why? Because she identified herself as one. She was hungry to learn about her rich Jewish heritage… I referred her to Michael Brown’s http://www.realmessiah.org website for further study and she also asked me for a long reading list.
How many generations do we have to go back? How much Jewish blood is required to make a clear delination between Jew and Gentile? I wish this was a simple subject. We must be careful not to do a reverse ‘Nuremberg Law’ principle here – Heidenrein rather than Judenrein. I know people who grew up as Christians but always identified with all things Jewish and voila, one day they discover a distant Jewish relative.
Who is a Jew? David Ben Gurion said ‘anyone Meshugganah enough to call him or herself one’. A bit of a flippant statement for sure and I’m drifting away from my main argument. My Reform Rabbi was a descendant of at least five generations of Rabbis, so he would have no identify issues. On the other hand, I know believers who only have a Jewish great-grandfather or great-great-grandmother. Some of these identify as Jews and others, with a Jewish father or mother want nothing to do with their Jewishness.
And whilst I instinctively shy away from too much ‘religion’ and am concerned that the Messianic movement (in certain sections) is trying to ape the Talmudic/Rabbinic system, that does not mean that I don’t think it’s important to stand up and be counted – as a Jew. That’s why I struggle so much with the church Derek. It has thrown out the Jewish baby with the Jewish bathwater. Our Moshiach happens to be Jewish and salvation is of the Jews. The best example I can give is one closer to home. I am British and I have travelled to the four corners of the world and seen many former British colonies. Singapore, Malta, Canada, Australia, Gibraltar, Barbados, Kenya, South Africa… these countries are about as diverse as it gets. And yet, even today, 60 years after the end of the British Empire, their association with the UK is clear for all to see: The red post boxes, driving on the left hand side of the road, their legal system, their parliamentary system, the English language, in many cases HM the Queen is still Head of State. That is the best physical example I can cite where the church has gone all wrong… the Commonwealth of Israel is Jewish and now welcomes Gentiles. But our heritage, our gift to the nations is awesome… the Messiah, the Scriptures, Shabbat (and the seven-day a week cycle), the Torah… I could go on and on. The further the church moved away from the Jewish people, the further she moved away from G-d (in my humble opinion).
Well, hope that I haven’t stirred things up too much, but it’s a subject I’m rather passionate about. Kol Tuv to all.
Amiel, you are so post-modern, such a deconstructionist! (Smile). Your arguments would apply to any ethnic group that has experienced intermarriage and assimilation — and therefore no one could unambiguously claim to belong to any such group.
Of course the issues are complex. So are most issues in life. But complexity does not negate the determination of “who is a Jew.” It just makes it impossible to settle on a blog!! (Big smile.)
However, although ethnicity and culture are certainly issues, the primary issue is covenant. Jews are a covenant people. If we don’t start with the assumption that the members of that covenant ARE identifiable, large chunks of God’s Word, and especially his promises and the mitzvot, don’t apply to anyone. Oy!!
Of course, I failed to mention that the United States too was once blessed to have a King as Head of State. But I see no red post boxes, you drive on the wrong side of the road, you don’t play cricket, I cannot for the life of me understand your governmental system and Americans tell me we speak a funny language LOL. But you make great Bourbon and Barbara Streisand is one of yours (and it helps that she’s a nice Jewish girl), so all is not lost :-)
What a wonderful post. I was moved by it, I am encouraged reading it. Thanks for writing that.
Here’s a fascinating article on this very dilemma from a Jewish NON-Messianic perspective:
All things considered, I am seriously beginning to think that what we are really looking for (Messianic synagogues with solid Jewish majorities and with only some gerim) will not happen on the Evangelical shores of America, but will only be possible when ALL of us who are Jews will make aliyah to Israel.
Until then, all attempts to maintain a separate believing Jewish community will be met with theologically misused cries of “re-building walls”. Unless we stop paying attention to those who have their own agendas and only welcome those Gentiles who come to us without “One-Law”, “Two-House” or “anti-church” theologies (which seems the bulk of non-Jews who attend our congregations) .
I believe that if the society once again turns on Jews (Messianic or not, as happened often in history), this VERY recent Gentile attraction to all things Jewish will wane and only those gerim (or converts) who are truly committed to our peoplehood and love our nation and are willing to joint it without forcing themselves on it will stick around.
Nice post Gene-
However, even in Israel this is a problem. Many of the MJ congregations are dealing with the same dilemmas of being outnumbered by non-Jews.
Well said Gene and thanks for the article, which I will read tomorrow. And thank you for your kind words Judah Gabriel – they were well received in the mother country :-)
And Carl… your comments are taken in good humour. But you skirted the issue brother… I wish it were so simple. Gene is onto something though and I believe that he is right – G-d forbid, we that will suffer persecution again as Jews (but our history teaches us that we will) – however it will certainly flush out all those ‘wannabe’s’.
Carl, why don’t you have a go. I would love to hear how you would attempt to untie this Gordian knot of ‘who is a Jew’ in our congregations. Conversion perhaps? Ah… now there’s a controversial subject. As a matter of interest, Dr Ruth Fleisher who heads the UK’s Torah-Observant Messianic Congregations has just launched a conversion course.
I don’t have any confidence in my ability to untie the “Gordian knot.” The MJRC, which as Derek mentions, has been doing a modest number of conversions, is also working on identity issues. I have much more confidence in 20-25 members and associates working hard on such issues over a period of years, than I do in my own abilities.
I believe that a revised statement on “who is a Jew” will be on the website (ourrabbis.org) fairly soon. It is consistent with the Reconstructionist and Reform definitions, which are broader than the Conservative and Orthodox definitions.
Carl is on the MJRC (ourrabbis.org) and conversions have been ongoing and some are in process now.
In fact, my family is in process for conversion as we speak.
Conversion is a reality in Jewish Messianic Judaism in the U.S. already.
I’m open to being adopted! Haha, in all seriousness perhaps my family will visit the congregation you mentioned. We’re located in southern California.
I’m not surprised this became a conversion conversation! The conversation converted to conversion. Say that 5 times fast.
I’m not sure why that pains me just a bit. I do believe every Judaism needs a conversion process but believe even more that this is the least of Messianic Judaism’s worries. It just goes to show what I believe to be true: Currently, Messianic Judaism is more for Gentiles than Jews. The people an organization attracts speaks to how the organization is functioning.
Hashem gave us many paradoxes. A married man and woman are one flesh yet they are distinct and have distinct roles. We’re struggled with this just as much as we have with Jew and non-Jew.
I believe that when conversion in Messianic Judaism serves to unite an intermarried family in Yeshua Judaism more often than it does to convert people with no specific ties to living Jewishly you’ll/we’ll be on the right track.
Thank you for this post, Derek. We’re having a nice family discussion. The only thing missing is food.
Shul shmul. I have a better idea. We’ll have you and your family over for Shabbos dinner! (Unless you’re shomer shabbos … in which case, we can meet up for coffee on a week night.) I’m dead serious. Msg us on our blog and we’ll make it happen!
Thanks Monique. I just added and emailed you through Facebook (we know each other through friends).
Why aren’t Jews who follow Jesus turning up in Messianic synagogues in increasing numbers?
Have not many of the Jews who follow Jesus been taught that TORAH observance is “putting yourself back under the law”?
Until the Ruach opens their eyes that the TORAH is for them today they will not see the benefit of a messianic synagogue.”
destinpoint: I am a Jewish believer who is proud of my Jewish heritage. I strive to follow certain Jewish Old Scripture customs (including avoiding pork, shellfish, etc…), even though I know I can’t (nor can anyone) follow Old Scripture law perfectly to the letter. Some I don’t even try to follow. Some, in fact, I’m not even aware of! I do think it is good and proper for all Jews (mainstream or messianic, regarless), however, to observe feasts and customs such as Passover, Hannukah, or any other Old Scripture commemorative feasts and rituals that they wish to (with the exception of certain things like stoning and animal sacrifices, of course!). No, these things in and of themselves may not be required for salvation, but neither are Christmas and Easter celebrations practiced by Gentile Christians. But there is nothing wrong (in fact it is quite proper) to observe certain Biblical rituals, be they New Testament or Old Scripture.
If on one side the problem is hanging on to Jewish identity long-term, the other side has a much bigger problem imho.
They have a gospel problem. You have Anonymous Christian teaching openly preached within the UMJC without censure. There is a Messianic leader near me, who will go nameless, who I’ve had a run in with. He couldn’t tell me if people needed to believe in Jesus to go to heaven.
Every group is prone to a particular type of error. Derek, I think lack of a clear gospel, lack of evangelical zeal, and emphasizing Jewish identity to the detriment of Messianic (i.e. Christian) identity and connections to the worldwide church.
If some are unhealthily trying to recreate the 1st century church, there are some which are looking more to unregenerate rabbis than to their Gentile forerunners in the faith. While I’m not saying nothing should be learned from the rabbis, it seems a bit odd that a couple thousand years of reflection on theological issues should be ignored from the Christian side. Although that critique goes equally to Gentile Christians.
There are so many problems with your reply from my POV. First, you assume that God only works through “regenerate” people. This is not a biblical anthropology. It is a poorly thought out evangelical approach which few evangelical theologians would agree with (except for the Reformed branches).
Second, you assume that the movement I represent has a problem being faithful to Yeshua and proclaiming him as Messiah. You would be wrong about that. Yeshua is our center and we dearly want our friends to all know his peace and love. If there are some examples of MJ de-emphasizing Yeshua, it is not in the Hashivenu, MJTI sector of Judaism I run in.
Third, who said we do not learn from and teach Christian theology? I don’t think you have been reading me very much and not the Hashivenu-MJTI scholars either. We are not at odds with church history and theology, though we are critical of elements in them (but we are also critical in our approach to Jewish tradition).
Geoff, we need to get into real issues. I am saying the Christian missions to the Jews encourage a low view of Jewish identity and that is based on accumulated evidence. Your critique of Jewish Messianic Judaism is based on very little as far as I can tell. Maybe you should visit the Hashivenu style Messianic synagogue in your area. And I hope you will read a lot more here on Messianic Jewish Musings, where I believe it is demonstrated again and again that Yeshua is the center.
I am a theological reviewer for FFOZ and a personal friend of Boaz and Daniel, though I do not share their views on Torah as a divine invitation for Gentiles. I have had much interaction with One Law positions and continue to do so as another FFOZ reviewer comes from that POV.
Where do I get the idea of a binary ecclesiology? Well, I think you would enjoy reading Post-Missionary Messianic Judaism by Mark Kinzer. Short answer: the book of Acts provides the context from which to read the epistles and Acts has a Jewish and Gentile mission, separate and yet unified. Further, Paul is careful, especially in Romans and Ephesians to distinguish Israel and the nations.
Where do I get the idea that some elements of Torah are between Israel and God? From my reading of Torah (and the Jewish reading agrees with me). Sabbath is between Israel and God (Exod. 31:13), treif can be sold to Gentiles (Deut. 14:21), and circumcision is only for Israel, among others. This is also a theme in much current writing about Paul in the New Perspective on Paul thinkers.
I do not agree with Tim Hegg’s Calvinist-One Law theology. I find both Calvinism and One Law to be misreadings of the texts.
I have read Tim Hegg’s article on said mark kinzer writing. Does not sound as if it is one I would desire reading. Though I recall Tim Hegg did say he had some valid points. I am glad you have such interaction and friends. These issues should not divide us as a movement. Calvinism, well that as you know is a whole other can of worms. For now I will say shabbat shalom.
May your shabbat be a blessing,
And you can’t think for yourself? Some guy named Tim says Mark Kinzer’s ideas are scandalous … and you swallow his conclusions without question? When did it become popular for believers to think like lemmings? It’s a bit like labeling Galileo a heretic before looking through his telescope.
And you can’t think for yourself? Some guy named Tim says Mark Kinzer’s ideas are scandalous … and you swallow his conclusions without question? When did it become popular for believers to think like lemmings? It’s a bit like labeling Galileo a heretic before looking through his telescope.
I have attempted to be very careful of my words and not offend anyone. Only trying to have a discussion between believers, since when is it Kosher to start calling eachother names? funny you are calling the person who is thinking totally different than the rest of you a lemming? Does not quite make since. I did not say anything bad about Kinzer, nor did I say Tim Hegg said his writings were scandolous, I said only that I had read an article about the writing Derek was referring to and it did not sound like something I was interested in. Please I ask that you not put words in my mouth especially in regards to another.
May you all have a Blessed Shabbat,
I’m sorry to come down hard on you (or resort to name calling … seriously, big apology for that) but I’m familiar with Tim Hegg’s take on Kinzer … and I think he’s mostly threatened that Mark’s conclusions undermine his life’s work. He acknowledges as much in his opening statements, but doesn’t allow that reality to mediate his critique. For that reason, I don’t think that reading his review of the book is sufficient to give a fair shake to Kinzer’s message. I’d encourage you to do so. I don’t agree with everything Kinzer says, but the conclusions he reaches in this book have SO MUCH to do with the discussion that’s going on here that it’s hard to participate meaningfully without at least some first-hand familiarity with his ideas.
The apology is much appreciated thank you, I realize this is a very sensitive subject. Perhaps at some point I will read Kinzer’s work. Yet I am very positive that his views can not change my mind on Torah submission for gentiles. Torah is my Heartbeat as I believe it should be because Yeshua is the living Torah and is my heart.
I wanted to make a correction from earlier I believe I attributed Restoration toTim Hegg and it is Daniel Lancaster’s book.
May you all be blessed,
I want to respond to your last comment at some point.
But something crossed my mind today. In the first century, by my understanding, Jewish believers did their normal Jewish worship within the Jewish community on the Sabbath. Then they worshipped within the Christian community (Jews+Gentiles, percentages of each varying depending where you were).
Once Jewish believers were kicked out of the synagogue you have a problem of how to maintain the Jewish side.
So if you have some Jewish believers content within Christian churches, that makes sense. They should be. And you have some who want to maintain Jewish identity through connections.
While we can’t recreate the 1st century, might the correct answer be both? Jewish believers belonging to some form of Messianic congregation plus a Gentile-Jewish church?
And I think that may correct the deficiencies each side sees. On your side’s concern of maintaining Jewish identity. And with mine of maintaining Christian identity and unity with the greater body of believers.
Just thinking at this point, but I think I’m on the right track.
I am learning a lot from many of the comments made here over the last few days. However, I am perplexed at the deference paid to a pagan Christianity. Let me explain:
Yes, Shabbat was given to the Jewish people as a sign forever. Scripture is pretty clear on that. However, the seventh day was blessed long before Sinai. Yeshua eluded (in my opinion) to the universality of Shabbat when he explained that ‘Shabbat was made for man and not man for Shabbat’. Once all the Jews had been kicked out of leadership positions by about the second century and the emperor Constantine cemented an already corrupt gentile religious system, his quest to eliminate everything Jewish became an obsession. And so Sunday became the ‘Christian’ day of worship. The Jewish holy days, rich in meaning regarding HaShem’s plan of salvation, were replaced with empty pagan holidays such as Christmas and Easter.
Surely, any assembly of authentic believers, filled with the Ruach HaKodesh, would want to meet on Shabbat? And surely, any gentile believer with a heart for His Jewish Moshiach, would want to at least learn more about what Yom Kippur, Rosh HaShanah, Sukkot, Pesach and Shavuot is all about? I mean, for goodness sake, salvation is of the Jew, no? Gentile believers, who recognise Yeshua as their Lord, are allowed to unite with the Jewish people in the “National Life of Israel”. We Jewish believers in Yeshua are to take the Torah to the nations, who will eventually ‘go up to Yerushalayim and celebrate Sukkot in the future’.
I’m not bringing this up to challenge a debate on which laws of Torah should be observed by Jews. I mean, about 1/3 of the 613 Mitzvot’s can only be observed in Israel, so most of us don’t keep them all anyway. No, the purpose is to explore why gentile Christians have such a hard time accepting, that they have joined the ‘National Life of Israel’ and that means, by default, a Jewish theoloogy, a Jewish history, a Jewish worldview. Of course we are all equal – Jews and Gentiles and of course gentiles need not be circumcised etc. However, any assembly of authentic believers, whether 5% Jewish or 85% Jewish could not possibly meet on any other day but Shabbat and I would struggle to comprehend how anyone would want ham sandwiches at a social, gentile or not. And as for Christmas trees… don’t get me started.
I have no problem with my Christian brother and sisters in the Lord and we have an open dialogue. And I have learnt much from gentile believers… John Wesley, Bishop Tom Wright, John Stott, Philip Yancey and many, many more who grace my bookshelves. But can we please not lose sight of the face that we should worship together as Jewish and Gentile believers in our Jewish Moshiach and can we please not forget that we all worship the G-d of Avraham, Yitzak and Yaakov?
One closing thought. A friend of mine is applying for British Citizenship. He will have to attend classes on British History, the English language, our traditions, holidays, monarchy etc. etc. Of course is is not a born native and of course he will continue to cherish his beloved Indonesia… it’s food, language, culture and history. But by becoming a British Citizen, he is expected to ‘fit in’ and not try and covert the UK to become like his native country. It’s a poor example, I know. But I can’t think of a better example of what ‘the National Life os Israel’ is supposed to mean, if it is so mean anything.
Shabbat Shalom to you all :-)
By the way… sorry for the spelling mistakes. I have just re-read my post and noticed at least 9 – ouch! I must slow down when typing about a subject I am passionate about :-)
As I prepare to head out to synagogue, I hear you saying, “However, the seventh day was blessed long before Sinai.”
This point comes up often. It is the kind of argument I find weak and lacking that bolsters a lot of hasty theologies.
We do not decide what to believe based on quick prooftexts. There are reasons for this. Deeper examination often reveals the picture is not so simple.
God did not command or teach Shabbat until Exodus 16. He himself ceased on the 7th day, but where is there any teaching before Ex 16? The word Shabbat is the word for ceasing or rest. The Israelites knew what it was because they knew what the word meant. But no one kept Shabbat before Exodus 16 and the command was given to Israel, not to all creation as people frequently argue.
In fact, the point of Shabbat being foreshadowed in creation is much like Gen 1:14 and the festivals being foreshadowed in the cycles of sun and moon. It is not that these are creation ordinances. It is better than that: God put signs of his love for Israel and his Torah covenant with Israel into the creation.
It does not follow from this that these commands are universal. That would contradict the clear teaching of Torah, in my opinion.
Shalom Derek. Thank you for your reply, which I really appreciate and I would love to learn more about your particular point of view on this subject.
By the way, I am not a closet Seventh Day Adventist. I am a Messianic Jew, affiliated with a worldwide Messianic Assembly, based in Australia.
I could not possibly disagree with you, as a Jew myself, that Shabbat is HaShem’s gift to the Jewish people. And my intention was not to make the keeping of Shabbat a salvation issue for gentiles (I don’t see the keeping of it for myself as a salvation issue either, but that’s another subject for another day). My point is this:
As gentile believers joined the National Life of Israel, they worshipped together on Shabbat. It was only towards the end of the second century, that an anti-Jewish bias began to take hold and Constantine’s institution of Sunday was a deliberate political act, to ‘replace’ the Jewish people.
We have many gentile believers in our assembly, who do their weekly shopping after Shabbat services. Our Rebbe does not reprimand them or make it an attendance issue. However, we worship together on Shabbat, as Jews and Gentiles in Moshiach.
I had no intention of opening a debate on which laws of Torah should be kept by gentiles (there are certainly more than seven, but it’s a complicated issue). And, as much as I admire the work of FFOZ, I do not subscribe to Tim’s theological viewpoint, though I have learnt much from him and the other authors on the subject.
I simply wanted to draw attention to the fact, that the Commonwealth of Israel is our spiritual home (for Jews and Gentiles). It’s not the Commonwealth of the Baptist Convention. And this spiritual home ought to have a natural Jewish bias.
Shalom Aleichem brother.
I take Yeshua’s words “Shabbat was made for man …” as relevant to the subject of pikuach nefesh. At the time he made the statement, he had chosen to heal a man with a non-life threatening illness on Shabbat … an act that was arguably prohibited (only life saving “work” is permitted on Shabbat). I’ve never seen in the discussion he has in that passage an inkling of the idea that Shabbat observance is mandatory for Gentiles. He’s simply making the point that piety shouldn’t be carried to the point of idiocy … if someone is suffering on Shabbos and you have the power to help that person, by all means do good on Shabbat!
Shalom Monique. I don’t remember ever saying that Shabbat observance was mandatory for gentiles. I don’t believe that either.
But pray what does it mean when gentiles join the Commonwealth of Israel, as equal brothers and sisters in Messiah Yeshua? How can we separate them? How can it not be on Shabbat?
The festivals are HaShem’s gift to our people (as is Shabbat of course). But are you honestly suggesting an approach of ‘we have our festivals and you have your Christmas and let’s all be happy (and separated)?’
We are to take Torah to the nations. The Jewish people will ALWAYS have a unique relationship to Torah and many mitzvots are only mandatory on Jews. But there are plenty of mitzvots which are also binding on gentiles… not stealing comes to mind or honouring ones father and mother.
There is a huge opportunity out there. I have met so many non Jewish believers who crave a deeper knowledge of Torah and long to be tought. Do I teach them to keep Shabbat? No, I don’t – but I do (gently) point out the wisdom of Shabbat and the beauty of one day of rest on the day HaShem sets aside for His people.
Monique, I so wish you could participate in one of our Yeshiva’s on the Gold Coast in Australia. Some wear Kippah’s… some don’t… some keep Shabbat and some don’t. But we all meet, as brothers and sisters in Messiah with the Rebbe and Rebbetzin to learn from the (Jewish) scriptures. It would be unthinkable to eat a ham sandwich and all are invited to join in celebrating the festivals, to learn about G-d’s plan of salvation.
I will close with one particularly relevant story, which appeared in the London Independent newspaper yesterday. A family had a celebration dinner at Quaglino’s (one of London’s top 5* restaurants). The mother died a violent death and all other four family members were taken to hospital with food poisoning. They were eating Oysters!
Hearing you on all fronts, Amiel. It’s clear that non-Jews have a strong interest in learning about Torah and the “Jewish roots” of their faith. That’s all well and good, and it makes me really really happy to see that non-Jews actually want to LEARN from Jews … which is completely counter to thousands of years of history.
The issue is that, sociologically, we’re paying the price for accommodating this interest within the four walls of our synagogues, rather than going out to the churches to help non-Jews incorporate this new knowledge into their pre-existing church life. (Is it any wonder why we alienate church leaders when we absorb their non-Jewish members into our synagogues through transferred growth?)
The result is that Messianic synagogues, which were formed to provide a spiritual home to Jews who follow Yeshua … are no longer accomplishing the exact thing they set out to do. Instead, they have turned into spiritual homes for non-Jews who are interested in Jewish things.
Let’s think about the from the perspective of a different people group: Native Americans. Let’s say my friend Joe, a Native American, wants to get together with his fellow tribesmen and organize a powwow (for lack of a better reference). Joe and his friends organize the event, invite other tribes from the area to attend, prepare gallons of food, and work up their children’s expectations for a terrific gathering of other Native Americans. Now let’s say that the day for the powwow comes along, and it turns out that about 75 Native Americans are able to attend. Now Joe also extended an invitation to of his friends, an anthropology professor, thinking his friend would bring along a handful of upperclassmen Anthropology majors to observe the event. Rather than exercising discretion, this professor invites four of his Anthropology 101 classes to attend the powwow. So here we have a powwow, with 75 Native Americans, and 300 wet-behind-the-ears Caucasian students gawking on the sidelines. Is this a powwow anymore? No, it’s a show. Put on for the pleasure and interest of the anthropology students.
I hope you’re beginning to see the problem.
Now imagine than approximately 200 of the white students are so fascinated by what they see at the powwow that they make it a practice of attending future powwows. About 150 of them become just-familiar-enough with Native customs that they begin trying to participate in very particular things like the drum circle, sweat lodge, and ritual dances. The white people co-opt Native American customs, misuse their sacred objects, and glamorize Native tradition. Pretty soon, you’ve got so-called “powwows” full of white people in native costume outnumbering the actual Native Americans. Is it any wonder that these events become less and less popular with actual Native Americans?
To add insult to injury, when the demographics have been TOTALLY overwhelmed, the former-white-spectators-turned-participants begin insisting on their entitlement to leadership positions within the Native community. They get upset when Native Americans tell them that they can’t adopt Native names and titles, put their children through Native lifecycle ceremonies, or have a Native American funeral.
So what do they do? They break off and form their own “Native American” groups and associations. Some of the white people are audacious enough to claim that they are the “real” Native Americans …
If it’s so offensive to think about it from the perspective of Native Americans, then what’s the problem with this reaction in our own community?
To answer your question, I don’t think the only alternative is to say “you keep Christmas and leave us well alone.” I think what we need to do as Jews is to go into non-Jewish space and encourage non-Jews to learn about and explore their “Jewish roots” where they have been planted – in the church. That form of engagement would allow existing church leaders to address this new sense of spiritual hunger among their congregants in a constructive way … and would help us maintain the spiritual, cultural, and ethnic integrity of our own communities.
“There are so many problems with your reply from my POV. First, you assume that God only works through “regenerate” people. This is not a biblical anthropology. It is a poorly thought out evangelical approach which few evangelical theologians would agree with (except for the Reformed branches).”
Well, I agree with Reformed anthropology. These rabbis are/were spiritually dead. Not spiritually in a coma. Not spiritually sick. Spiritually dead. That is not to say that everything they believe is wrong. But you must realize you are taking spiritual advice from an unregenerate heart.
Saying God can work through X is almost axiomatic. Yes, that’s true. God works through all means. That doesn’t make it a good idea to view unregenerate rabbis as spiritual authorities.
“Second, you assume that the movement I represent has a problem being faithful to Yeshua and proclaiming him as Messiah. You would be wrong about that. Yeshua is our center and we dearly want our friends to all know his peace and love. If there are some examples of MJ de-emphasizing Yeshua, it is not in the Hashivenu, MJTI sector of Judaism I run in.”
I didn’t say that. I said that those who emphasize maintaining Jewish identity are prone to this error. Doesn’t mean all commit this error. I don’t want to name names in order to see if it does happen in your circles. At least not in a public forum.
“Third, who said we do not learn from and teach Christian theology? I don’t think you have been reading me very much and not the Hashivenu-MJTI scholars either. We are not at odds with church history and theology, though we are critical of elements in them (but we are also critical in our approach to Jewish tradition).”
Correction noted. I would say most Christians of all stripes ignore their forerunners in the faith.
“Geoff, we need to get into real issues. I am saying the Christian missions to the Jews encourage a low view of Jewish identity and that is based on accumulated evidence. Your critique of Jewish Messianic Judaism is based on very little as far as I can tell. Maybe you should visit the Hashivenu style Messianic synagogue in your area. And I hope you will read a lot more here on Messianic Jewish Musings, where I believe it is demonstrated again and again that Yeshua is the center.”
I’ll keep my ears open and try to distinguish between different streams within the Messianic community.
Shalom again Monique and thank you for your reply. I appreciate you taking the time, as I understand where you are coming from a little better now.
I like what David Stern says about our movement: Established in 31 CE, give or take a few years. I passionately believe that there are authentic, spirit-filled believers (first fruits) in pretty much every Christian Church. But their true home is the Commonwealth of Israel Monique. And to be blunt, not in a church which meets on Sunday, serves ham sandwiches at church socials, believes in Replacement Theology, keeps Christmas or Easter and spends a fortune on trying to convert our people to an alien religion.
Yeshua said that his sheep would hear His voice. And I believe that those authentic sheep, which hear His voice, naturally gravitate towards Ab’ba’s House.
You have touched on something really important regarding the practicalities of non-Jews trying to take over. I think that is a very valid argument and I share your fear that our people are being squeezed out. However, sending them back to church cannot be the answer. Personally, I don’t have a problem with a gentile congregational leader (I would struggle to call him or her a Rabbi), as long as this individual recognises that he has been grafted in as a wild olive into the Commonwealth of Israel. If he or she has the Ruach HaKodesh, then the rest should slot into place.
You see, when I look at Benny Hinn or Jim Hagee or the Copelands on the G-d Channel, I can only shake my head. I could I possibly send anyone back to that carneval that parades itself as the Ecclesia, to use a Greek term for a change. HaShem says ‘come out of her my people’ and I meet so many in my Messianic walk who are hungry for truth, hungry to learn about their Jewish Messiah and their Jewish roots.
Ach, I wish there was more time and space. I feel that we have much in common and really do appreciate where you are coming from. I wish this was not such a complex issue, which is also emotionally charged. Sending authentic gentile belivers is not the answer (in my opinion), but letting them take over is also completely wrong. There must be a better way.
Maybe it’s a generational thing, but I see the Hinns and Hagees of the world diminishing in influence. They’re aging Boomers and hippies, and their view of the world is colored by the geopolitical climates their theology took shape within (Cold War, good versus evil, etc). Their circles of influence (Republican-elected politicians) are also quickly contracting.
People my age (of all persuasions and stripes) tend to give them short shrift … in favor of emerging leaders who are decidedly more post-modern in their approach, and who are rapidly reevaluating the assumptions that undergird American evangelicalism … calling for a humbler kind of Christian who reflects Jesus’ teachings through a lifestyle of charity and good works (for lack of a better word, “tikkun olam”). Some Christian tikkun efforts may be misguided, but none of us are blameless, are we?
I’m actually quite hopeful about the future of the “church” and it really doesn’t bother me that Gentiles gather to worship on Sundays, eat pork, or long ago adapted pagan holidays to a “Christian” calendar.
As I said before, there’s a lot of space for growth and rediscovery of the Jewish “meanings” of things … but that can be done within the Gentile church under pre-existing leadership. There are a number of pastors we know in SoCal who are bringing Jewish and Hebrew learning into their churches, and people are just eating it up … it’s reenergizing their faith, and undoing the theological foundations of Christian anti-semitism.
I don’t see the purpose of Messianic Judaism to be the undoing or the undermining of the church through Gentile Christian attrition.
Our purpose, in my view, is much humbler: to provide a spiritual home for Jews who follow Yeshua, to educate their children in the faith of the Jewish people and the legacy of our Messiah, and to organize Jewish believers in Yeshua to engage in tikkun olam. (Mostly because we don’t have anywhere else to go.)
That’s all. And that’s exactly what we’re failing to do.
What is your impression of the place of the gentile church within Israel’s larger Messianic age? Let me know if that question is not clear and I will be happy to expand it.
I am the in between – I am 46 – I think like your genertaion but age wise I am two years in to being a Boomer. It stinks being a middle child, let me tell you!
What you said is perfect – feel the same way about the boomers, could also add more, but your take is just wonderful.
Amiel, I think the real disagreement between us boils down to this. With respect to the church, where you see baby, I see bathwater.
Adam, I am not sure that I understand your question.
Monique, I like what you said – it’s a nice way of putting it.
Also, I appreciate your comments regarding Hinn et al. I must confess, that I am only slowly begining to appreciate the quiet revolution which is going on within US evangelicalism. Europe is so secular by comparison to the US and it’s very tempting for us to tar everyone with the same brush. When I (occasionally) look at the G-d Channel, I shake my head in disbelief, but then, that’s not representative of the wider evangelical world.
The Reform synagogue that I was a member of, had a very successful conversion programme. One member once commented that (on that particular Shabbat), over 70% of the members on the binah were converts. Prior to Acts 15, that’s the only model we knew. But I am really struggling with the prospect that the post Acts 15 model means segregation.
So much went wrong with the church. Of course, alongside a dark and pagan religion, much good has flourished. I too enjoy C S Lewis and Tolkien (a Roman Catholic incidentally). I have been inspired by Oswald Chambers, Corrie Ten Boom (what a woman), Watchman Nee, Bonhoeffer, Yancey and Manning (a bit of an eclectic collection, I admit). But because the church threw out everything Jewish and called the shots, we ended up where we are today – with two religious systems which marched in opposite directions.
Along comes Messianic Judaism and with it a historic opportunity to put right what went wrong for the past 2,000 years. It won’t be easy and our debate shows some of the faultlines and tensions. However, I believe that it is possible and I have been so encouraged by the model that my own Messianic Community (the IMCF – International Messianic Community of Faith) is pioneering. It really is possible to fellowship on Shabbat with Jews and Gentiles, without losing ones Jewish identity. Maybe, it’s more challenging in Messianic Synagogues, but then we don’t have that as our groups around the world are much smaller.
When I got kicked out of the Synagogue for believing in Yeshua, I was accused of being ‘Jews for Jesus’. It was told that I am no longer a Jew, but a Christian. And when news got out in our local Christian community about what had happened, they wanted to claim me as one of their own – to worship with them on Sunday, celebrate Christmas and eat pork. It dawned on me that my journey as a Jewish follower of Moshiach would never be an easy one!
Thanks for sharing and thanks for listening :-)
And yes Adam, look forward to understanding your question a bit better :-)
My question has to do with how you see the legitamacy of the church today regardless of what might have went wrong.
There re folks who see the institution of the church as wrong from the get go based on its foundations of supersecessionism and there are those who see the church within G-d working in text and history, allowing for the emerginig of he church as part of haShem’s permissable will you can say.
How you see that might be helpful to understand your views. I also see the church as the houses of the nations that host the gentile remnants of the world and Messianic communties as the congregations of Israel’s remnant. We are dealing with two different issues; gentiles in Messianic communities and church gentiles.
My view is there is no such thing as a Law-free, or Torah free gospel, so everybody follows Torah. Torah has both universal commands for all mankind and particular commands for Israel. Let’s not take away Torah’s commnads to the Jewish people nor put particular commands on the gentiles when they already have been given the universal commands of G-d to follow.
I agree with you, Torah is for all mankind.
Shalom Adam. Thank you for your clarification. It’s a good question and I will try and do justice to it:
How do I see the legitimacy of the church, regardless of what went wrong? Well, as I said in an earlier post, I believe that there are authentic, spirit-filled believers right across the spectrum of churches, from Mormons, Roman Catholics, Christadelphians, Anglican/Episcopalian, Assemblies of G-d… our Moshiach has His sheep all over the place.
However, I care very little about the ‘institution’ of church if that makes sense? To me, Mashiach has an invisible body of believers, which are scattered all over the place. Therefore, I am not too concerned about creeds, statements of beliefs or what role the church should play in society.
Power, money and control are the three toxic components and they are alive and well in both synagogue and church. G-d is not desperately trying to save the whole world in this age, He is primarilly concerned with His First Fruits. Either we have the Ruach HaKodesh, or we don’t and our fruits will show us.
And yes, I share your view on Torah Adam. While I am well aware that not all of Torah is for gentiles (the keeping of the festivals or circumcision are two obvious examples), there is plenty of Torah which also applies to gentiles. This is NOT a salvation issue, but one of mitzvots, an outworking of our gratitute for what Yeshua did for us.
My spiritual home, the IMCF is very losely organised and we do not insist in believers signing up to statement of beliefs (other than that Yeshua is Moshiach). Most of us meet in the homes of believers – some have a Jewish majority, some don’t. You may wish to have a look at: http://www.biblicalresearchinstitute.com.au
I hope that I have answered your question Adam?
JerusalemCouncil.org is hoping to establish an halichically ordained institution of Jewish education, conversion, smicha, justice, association, and more that will help solidify the Messianic “movement” into a solid foundation of credibility and accountability. It is the goal of TJC that credible Jewish conversion will offered to sincere, willing gentiles who desire to take upon themselves the responsibility of the Covenant, and in teaching Torah to the nations. By offering legitimate, halachic, Torah-based conversion to gentiles, the dwindling ranks of Jews in Messianic Judaism could turn a sliding mass-exit around into a screeching halt and reversal; while also providing a real home for those who are looking to (partial/unbelieving) orthodox Judaism for their identity. Instead, as Jewish brothers in Messiah, we should take up our G-d given responsibility as guardians of the Covenant, and instead of turning our backs on sincere Gentile seekers who desire Torah and mitzvot, and thus by such turning away we build a permanent wall of separation or force them to go to the unbelieving orthodox – we instead welcome them with open arms. It’s time for us to reclaim not only our heritage, but our authority, right, and responsibility as Jewish believers to offer conversion. This is the only thing that will save this movement.
As I read through my post and many of the ones following them I did come to realize that perhaps in my Zeal for Torah my comments did not come out as gentle and loving as I desired. Please forgive me if I sounded harsh or offensive. On hearing Boaz Michael call much of our gentile actions a “spiritual holocaust” I wept, I repented and I grieved.There are so many good points here and this is not an easy subject.I have seen what he is referring to and what Monigue referred to with her native American story. ie… the misuse of sacred items and making up of our own congregations. I have seen gentiles tell Jews how to run their synagogues and cause division,and hurt so many people. This is an abomination. Yet I do believe that the Native Americans would welcome nonNative participants (especially since many of us Americans have quite a bit of Native American in us.) Yet my Rabbi says often…we (gentiles) are to be paretakers not takeroverers. lol. As far as gentiles starting their own Messianic congregations, well I believe this stems from the difficulty of this whole issue and the pains of it. The gentiles have felt persecuted and as if they do not belong anywhere…may I suggest that perhaps this is so they could come to an ever so slight understanding of the trying life of the Jewish people and their persecutions. Some will respond with humility, grief and repentance others unfortunately will have anger and pain that the do not know how to overcome. I do agree with Amiel in much of what he says, and also with Monique regarding teaching the Christian church, yet I truly believe they should drop Christmas and Easter and not make up any unBiblical holidays…thus the Biblical feasts are a Blessed option….as they learn they would begin to look more and more like a Messianic congregation, yet without Jews in their midst they could begin to take on some of these misues again. so again a problem develops.I do believe I agree very much with FFOZ’s divine invitation…I do believe that the ideal for a believers growth and walk would be to walk in Torah. There has always been the sojourner amongst the Jewish people and for this sojourner there was one law. I have read the Jerusalem council website and I do say I tend to agree with them in much(perhaps not all) that they are saying, that a conversion would be good for SOME gentiles. I realize that it is contoversial however but thus is the story of my life. I know that most of the gentile people at the congregation I attend have no desire to keep Torah…this is actually hard for me to understand as Jew or gentile I believe the desire to keep Hashem’s Laws is a desire to walk perfect and blameless before Him, the desire to please Him and to only have His will manifest in your life. This is my heart my love for Torah and Judaism, I believe it is the same love and desire that hashivenu has to bring the Judaism to Messianic Judaism. This a believe is Hashem’s heart. The only difference is… I am a gentile. As it says in Micah many nations will be taught His ways and His paths…His Torah, we are just getting a headstart. In the mean time how do you draw Jewish people to Messianic synagogues….? How do we make sure gentiles humbly respect their Jewish brothers and sisters in Messianic Judaism and also feel welcome without causing division?
(1 Corinthians 15:31 ESV) I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day!
Love God Love our brother, if this is truly our foundation then our actions should show it no matter the difficulties. We also must remember that Hashem did not create multiple races but the Human race…this does not negate the chosenness of the Jewish people or the covennant He made with them.. but it does say..that we need to be very careful we are not putting eachother in boxes He did not create.
Blessings in Messiah,
Having been raised a Southern Baptist, I never even knew MJs existed! I became involved with a wonderful girl, Patti, who was raised Presbyterian, but who had gravitated toward Judaism. She had me learn to celebrate Shabbat, and cleaned up my dietary practices quite a bit! In recent years, I have learned to embrace the tenets of Unitarian Universalism, and was surprised to learn that the benediction at my local congregation ends with the very unique “Amen, Blessed Be and Shalom”, and the service concludes with the entire congregation joining hands and singing Shalom Havayreem.
Tragically, on 13JAN2010, she went into full arrest and died, despite my best CPR efforts. While the police chaplain was there, I shared that she had leaned towards Judaism, and he very tenderly intoned the “Baruch Ata Adonai Elohenu, Melech Ha-Olam Dayan Ha-Emet. Baruch Dayan Emet.” While her family was determined she have a Christian memorial service, prior to all that, I was able to see her, again offer her death prayer, say her kaddish, and intone her favorite Shalom Haverim. At the military base where I work, an acquaintance is from an MJ shul in Idaho. I called there, and spoke with the MJ rabbi, who tenderly prayed with me and comforted me with words form the scriptures, this non-MJ who he never heard of. I may still be a UU, but we UUs are frequently hyphenated! I could be best described as a result, as being a UU with MJ leanings, or a UU-MJ! May the blessings of Yeshua be with you all!
As an aside, if you love beautiful music, if you do as I just did and go to the chabad.org site and listen to the Shalom Aleichem rendition, you will, just as I have, be truly blessed!
Thank you for a beautiful story about your eternal love affair with your wife. May her memory be for a blessing and may you be in one another’s arms again at the right time.
It IS a blessing, and yes, I am in another’s arms right now, and it IS the right time. I still cannot believe how much I am blessed. There are SO many people out there who will never know how much they can be blessed. Yes, there is the pain, but that’s the risk you take when you dare to love someone. There is the pain, but there is the love and the intense pleasure you derive from loving someone… G-d has truly blessed us with the ability to love…
Hello. Thank you for you post. I am very interested in your story as Jewish believers in Jesus. I am a Christian. I study theology, philosophy of religion, and the ethics of inter-religious relations. From my own studies and experience, I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for ya’ll to find a community that accommodate both your faith and your Jewish identity. Given the tragic history of Christian anti-Semitism, a good portion of contemporary Judaism partly defines itself by rejection of the Messiahship of Jesus. This makes it understandable that they would exclude Hebrew Christians from their religious communities. On the other hand, even if we reject Paul’s supersessionism, he is pretty clear that what we now call halakha is not necessary to the identity of a Christian *as* a Christian, and thus churches you might attend don’t prioritize or place central value on keeping various Jewish traditions and practices. I’ve encountered Messianic believers of various kinds in college and on blogs, and quite honestly, my impression has been mixed. On the one hand, I’ve read some Messianic commentary on various social and theological issues, and found them sincere, well-argued, and cogent. On the other hand, I’ve been told various ‘theories’ that are clearly questionable on historical, Biblical, and philosophical grounds. I’ve also witnessed – both in writing and at conferences – self-proclaimed Messianic Jews claim some special authority for their various opinions based solely on the fact that they are Jewish. These contrasting experiences has led me to suspend judgment until I learn more Messianic Judaism. I am moved by the sincerity and the struggle all of you express here. If any of you are willing to dialog with a fellow follower of Jesus, and help me to learn about and understand Messianic Judaism, I would be very grateful. I promise you: I reject ‘replacement theology.’ On the other hand, Paul seems to clearly hold that our identity in Jesus transcends our ethnic belonging or performance of particular traditions. In my own theological understanding, I’m trying to figure out how to respect Jewish identity while remaining true to what the scriptures seem to teach on related questions. For example, one brother above refers to Christianity as ‘Constantinian religion.’ I’ll honestly confess: this bothers me. I reject Constantinian Christianity as a form of idolatry. The defining features of this idolatry is 1) coercion (pogroms, Inquisitions, colonialisms), i.e. wielding the secular sword to enforce particular faith commitments; 2) nationalism, i.e. associating God’s kingdom and the theological and moral truths of Jesus with one particular country, region, or people (think of ‘manifest destiny,’ or Catholic doctrine that restricts the ‘true’ church to Vatican bureaucracy, etc.). So you see why I am sincerely interested in your perspective. To repent of Constantinian Christianity in fact involves embracing diversity, while at the same time embracing and *living* Jesus and his truth which transcends and unifies this diversity as properly Christian (“The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.” Acts 11:26). To my mind, Jewish identity bears a historical and eschatological significance that is important to recognize and respect. But with respect to the ultimate meaning of human identity in the economy of God, it seems to neither detract or add anything. Perhaps my understanding of all this is mistaken. Let me ask: as a gentile follower of Jesus, how ought I interact with Jewish followers of Jesus. In light of Paul’s teachings, what difference does Jew/Gentile distinction make for the Christian as a Christian (or *follower of Jesus* as a *follower of Jesus*)? I really do want to understand. Thank you for reading my long post.