Commenters have varying concerns including:
(1) Leaders of congregations who do not want to marginalize any person and who are concerned that making distinctions between Jewish and non-Jewish observance will cause harm.
(2) Messianic Jews who want to see a form of Messianic Judaism that is truly a Judaism and that follows Judaism’s norms for defining who may observe Torah in what manner.
(3) A whole lot of people in between who understand the givenness of Jewish identity, the precious obligation to maintain it, and also the legitimacy of the yearning of many non-Jews for a Jewish-patterned spirituality.
You might guess that I am neither (1) or (2). That might surprise or even seem scandalous to you.
No, I am not one who stirs up trouble for the adrenaline rush. Neither am I a purist looking for a Jews-only Messianic Judaism. No do I disdain forms of Christianity patterned on Jewish observance (what I was calling Judeo-Christian, a name which has been convincingly discredited by commenters as carrying too much rightwing political baggage in popular parlance).
Commenters have said: a Jewish-patterned Christian congregation that safeguards Jewish identity is impossible, there are no theologically sound reasons for non-Jews to keep the Sabbath, the name Judeo-Christian will sound like rightwing political talk, Jews who wish to renew Judaism in Yeshua should abandon both the term Messianic and Messianic Judaism, FFOZ and MJTI are not the ones leading MJ congregations and so the ideas of these two groups is not necessarily practical, making distinction between Jewish and non-Jewish Torah observance will fracture congregations and hurt people, the belonging of non-Jews to “spiritual Israel” is more important than you are making it, gentiles should not play dress-up or play-act Jewish observances, MJ could try not be a separate denomination but meld into mainstream Judaism with a post-congregational approach, and non-Jewish Torah observers should simply call themselves Messianic gentiles.
Wow, that is a long list, and I pared it down to the basics. I can’t respond to all of it without boring you, so here are a few perspectives.
To the purists for whom (2) above is the main issue, I disagree that there is no legitimate reason for some gentiles to desire a Jewish-patterned spirituality and for some to be part of MJ. Some will make comments like, “Gentiles play-acting Jewish rituals is silly.” If you, as Jews, do not understand the spiritual power of Jewish tradition, I will not try to explain it to you. I have a number of heavyweights on my side in this matter. A recent example is Shmuley Boteach, who leads non-Jews in a christless, semi-Jewish spirituality. Parts 6 and 7 will address these issues more fully.
To those who resonate with (1) above, for whom any attempt at distinction is either unbiblical or potentially dangerous in terms of marginalizing people, I disagree that God’s value on continuing Jewish identity can be ignored. The continuation of Jewish identity through the generations is a God-given reality. Ignoring the irrevocable election of Israel, the continued hand of God on the Jewish community, will not make it go away. Serving a God-honoring, people-respecting vision of unity with distinction is not an impossible line to walk. It’s just that few are trying.
I concede on the name Judeo-Christian as being unhelpful for Jewish-patterned Christian groups. You have convinced me. So we need to think of new names. I don’t concede that the name Messianic is proper for non-Jewish groups.