Saturday, October 4, 2008

Having Your Jesus and Eating it Too


Tallis, tfillin, shabbos, Torah classes, sukkot, Jewish stars, Hebrew... must be Jewish. A newcomer to a Messianic congregation, upon seeing the Jewish symbols and paraphernalia, often concludes that this is the real deal, that this is authentic Judaism. When called out on the contradictions between Judaism and Christianity, Messianics will quickly point to the fact that they keep the mitzvot. Indignant at being called a Christian, they reply that they keep kosher, that they keep shabbat, light shabbos candles, etc.

The Messianic movement emerged 30-40 years ago, as sort of a half-way house for Jews into Evangelical Christianity. Frustrated at the low level of Jewish conversion to Christianity, fundamentalist Christians sought a way to make Christianity more palatable to Jews. Well-aware of the bloody history of Judeo-Christian relations and the deep distrust many Jews feel towards Christians, Evangelicals tried to find a way to make their Christianity feel less "Christian". The crucifix, long associated with persecution and oppression, had to go, as did " Jesus Christ", pastor, altar, Sunday morning mass and all of the goyish accoutrement often associated with church. In its place came Jewish stars, a newly Hebrew "Yeshua HaMoshiach", rabbis, and shabbos morning services. Dressing up their church- I mean synagogue- with Jewish symbols, the Hebrew-Christian movement set out to teach Jews of the "Jewish Jesus". No longer was he a WASP or a Catholic priest, but a good yiddishe bochur, a nice Jewish boy who went to shul, kept the Torah and was 100% kosher. Certainly no Jew could refuse such a messiah.

The result of this emerging Messianic movement was a Christianity that gave up none of its fundamental theology that set it apart from Judaism, but that used Jewish symbols and rituals. Messianics don't keep Christmas as they feel that it is a pagan holiday, yet they still believe in a virgin birth which they celebrate on Shavuot. The same goes for Easter; despite not celebrating what they see as pagan, they still believe that a demigod dying for their sins, and commemorate this event during Pesach. This was a win-win situation for Evangelical Christian: they didn't have to give up on any of their fundamental beliefs and were able to, at the same time, take part in Jewish rituals and observances. What resulted was a primitive form of Christianity that hid itself behind Jewish labels.

The first commandment that the nation of Israel heard directly from G-d's mouth at Sinai was "You shall have no other gods before Me". Only from this fundamental basis can all other commandments proceed. The essence of Judaism is that there is One G-d, One and Indivisible, and none besides Him. Without this, there is no Judaism.

A careful examination of Messianic groups reveals that they fail on this cardinal principle, making any claims of authentic Jewish expression irrelevant.

Jews for Jesus, an organization aiming at converting Jews to Christianity while at the same day observing the mitzvot, states the following as its central tenets: "We believe in one sovereign God, existing in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, perfect in holiness, infinite in wisdom, unbounded in power and measureless in love; that God is the source of all creation and that through the immediate exercise of His power all things came into being... We believe that Jesus the Messiah was eternally pre-existent and is co-equal with God the Father; that He took on Himself the nature of man through the virgin birth so that He possesses both divine and human natures." Whether or not they keep shabbat matters little. At heart, the theology of Jews for Jesus is identical to the theology of Baptists and Evangelical Christians.

Sid Roth's Messianic Vision's statements of faith reveal a theology more at place at a Baptist revival meeting, than in a synagogue or yeshiva. Same thing for the Chosen People Ministry, whose beliefs are at odds with Jewish beliefs. All Messianic organizations, while pretending to be authentically Jewish, are hostile to traditional and authentic Jewish theology. Simply wrapping a cross in a tallis does not make it Jewish. If something walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it is reasonable to assume that it is a duck. Messianic groups, while preaching adherence to the Torah, fail on the cardinal test of theology. In that realm, they are purely Christian groups, masquerading around with Jewish objects. One can dunk the New Testament in a mikveh and put a hechsher on it, but in the end, if it Jesus Christ to be Lord and Saviour, it ain't Jewish.

It is important to discuss Christian misuse of Jewish symbols. By keeping kosher, putting on tfillin and saying the Shmah all the while believing in Jesus, one does not endear themselves to G-d. Quite the opposite. G-d demands as a basis that we remember we should have no other gods before Him, and that besides Him there is no other. Anything else is spiritual adultery. Bowing before Jesus, praising him and calling him divine is adultery with HaShem. "I am the Lord, that is My name, and My glory will I not give to another. Neither My praise to graven images!" (Isaiah 42:8) G-d does not share His glory with anybody, certainly not Jesus. Keeping the mitzvot while worshipping idols only angers G-d. It can be compared to a wife who suspects that her husband is cheating on her and to placate her, he gives her jewelry, a car and other fancy gifts. Coming home with another woman's scent on his clothes, his diamond bracelets are meaningless. They only make the wife angrier at her husband's betrayal. Similarly, if someone lights shabbat candles in Jesus honour, G-d is infuriated at the desecration. It matters little if a person keep the entire 613 commandments scrupulously; he is cheating on the G-d of Israel who shares His with no one, and has no equal.

As Yom Kippur approaches, we must all do a cheshbon nefesh, a spiritual accounting and realize where we have come short. It is incumbent upon each and every person to do teshuva and to return to the One who created them. The first step is realizing who the Creator is and who He isn't - and He certainly is no man. "To whom shall you liken Me and make Me equal and compare Me that we may be alike?" (Isaiah 46:5) "I am the Lord your God, Who brought you out of Egypt. You shall acknowledge no god but Me, no savior except Me!" (Hosea 13:4)

To my readers, I wish you all a gmar chatima tovah.

7 comments:

Tabatha said...

It is with great relief that I today stumbled across your excellent blog. For the past few months I have been trying to alert my fellow Jews in the UK to the increasing threat posed by the Messianic movement. Alas, it seems that my message is falling on deaf ears.

Far too many Jews smile when they hear mention of 'jews4jesus', incorrectly believing that there is something 'jewish' about this group. Big mistake.

'jews4jesus' is the most deceitful of all the Messianic groups. It was founded by an ordained **Baptist** minister, Martin Meyer, who openly states his desire to 'help every last jew discover christ'.

Ambitious words. Note that this Messianic group is spending billions on a five year campaign entitled 'behold your god' which is in the USA, UK, Canada and Australia. An estimated 8000 Jews a year are now converting to Christianity via 'jews4jesus' - many of these Jews don't even realise that they are practising Christianity, so thoroughly does the group cloak its true nature in Jewish ritual and language.

I urge anyone who wishes to learn more about this spiritual threat to Judaism to log onto http://www.jewsforjudaism.org' where they will find excellent resources to help counter the lies of these Missionaries.

And if I may also take this opportunity to recommend reading 'The Missionary Position' at http://www.ajewwithaview.com

Apologies to the author of this blog for publicising my own site - I can only say that I am increasingly alarmed at the success of the Messianic movement and I believe we must all combine to get the FACTS across.

Messianic 'jews' = EVANGELICAL CHRISTIANS.

Tabatha said...

p.s. - I'm of course going to add a link to your blog on my site :)

Anonymous said...

If, as you say you have no animosity towards "Christians" then why do you call us spiritual terrorists who need to be eradicated? This sounds like the epitome of hostility.

It reminds me of Divrei Hayamim II 35:20 20. After all this, that Josiah had prepared the Temple, Neco, the king of Egypt, went up to wage war in Carchemish on the Euphrates, and Josiah went forth toward him.
21. And he sent messengers to him, saying, "What have I to do with you, king of Judah? Not against you yourself [do I go] today, but to my place of war, and God said to hasten me. Desist from the god who is with me, and he will not destroy you."
22. But Josiah did not turn his face away from him, but he disguised himself to wage war with him, and he did not hearken to the words of Neco from the mouth of God, and he came to wage war in the valley of Megiddo.
23. And the archers shot at King Josiah, and the king said to his servants, "Take me away, for I am sorely stricken!"
24. And his servants took him away from the chariot, and they put him into his second chariot and brought him to Jerusalem, and he died and was buried in the graves of his forefathers, and all of Judah and Jerusalem were mourning for Josiah.

Of course J4J and CPM are believers in so called traditional "Christian" doctrines. What was wrong with "Christian" doctrines was its insistence in the belief that G-d had rejected the Jews, so that they were the new chosen people.

It was we who needed to go back to our Jewish roots and this is what you are witnessing.

Romans 11:11."In that case, I say, isn't it that they have stumbled with the result that they have permanently fallen away?" Heaven forbid! Quite the contrary, it is by means of their stumbling that the deliverance has come to the Gentiles, in order to provoke them to jealousy. 12.Moreover, if their stumbling is bringing riches to the world - that is, if Isra'el's being placed temporarily in a condition less favored than that of the Gentiles is bringing riches to the latter - how much greater riches will Isra'el in its fullness bring them! 13.However, to those of you who are Gentiles I say this: since I myself am an emissary sent to the Gentiles, I make known the importance of my work.14.in the hope that somehow I may provoke some of my own people to jealousy and save some of them!15.For if their casting Yeshua aside means reconciliation for the world, what will their accepting him mean? It will be life from the dead! 16.Now if the hallah offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole loaf. And if the root is holy, so are the branches. 17.But if some of the branches were broken off, and you - a wild olive - were grafted in among them and have become equal sharers in the rich root of the olive tree, 18.then don't boast as if you were better than the branches! However, if you do boast, remember that you are not supporting the root, the root is supporting you. 19.So you will say, "Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in." 20.True, but so what? They were broken off because of their lack of trust. However, you keep your place only because of your trust. So don't be arrogant; on the contrary, be terrified! 21.For if God did not spare the natural branches, he certainly won't spare you! 22.So take a good look at God's kindness and his severity: on the one hand, severity toward those who fell off; but, on the other hand, God's kindness toward you - provided you maintain yourself in that kindness! Otherwise, you too will be cut off!
23.Moreover, the others, if they do not persist in their lack of trust, will be grafted in; because God is able to graft them back in. 24.For if you were cut out of what is by nature a wild olive tree and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these natural branches be grafted back into their own olive tree! 25.For, brothers, I want you to understand this truth which God formerly concealed but has now revealed, so that you won't imagine you know more than you actually do. It is that stoniness, to a degree, has come upon Isra'el, until the Gentile world enters in its fullness 26.and that it is in this way that all Isra'el will be saved. As the Tanakh says, "Out of Tziyon will come the Redeemer; he will turn away ungodliness from Ya'akov 27.and this will be my covenant with them, . . . when I take away their sins." 28.With respect to the Good News they are hated for your sake. But with respect to being chosen they are loved for the Patriarchs' sake 29.for God's free gifts and his calling are irrevocable. 30.Just as you yourselves were disobedient to God before but have received mercy now because of Isra'el's disobedience;
31.so also Isra'el has been disobedient now, so that by your showing them the same mercy that God has shown you, they too may now receive God's mercy. 32.For God has shut up all mankind together in disobedience, in order that he might show mercy to all. 33.O the depth of the riches and the wisdom and knowledge of God! How inscrutable are his judgments! How unsearchable are his ways!

The Brit Chadasha is totally Jewish. Even most Jews who don't believe in Y'shua acknowledge that.

Also the Midrash says that a Jew who believes in Y'shua as Mashiach is Jewish.

Finally, Messianic Jews are fighting and dying alongside their Jewish brothers in Yisrael.

You will find no greater khaverim than Messianics and evangelicals!

Bar Kochba said...

Anonymous, my gripe is not against non-proselytizing Christians. I am firmly opposed to any Christian who specifically targets Jews and tries to get them to change their faith.

"The Brit Chadasha is totally Jewish. Even most Jews who don't believe in Y'shua acknowledge that.

Also the Midrash says that a Jew who believes in Y'shua as Mashiach is Jewish."

That is completely false. If you would read my posts, I have explained some of the deep and irreconcilable differences between Christianity and Judaism. They are two completely different faiths and cannot be mixed.

Anonymous said...

Bar Kochba, in my readings of your blogs I must humbly say that you totally mischaracterize Y'shua, his disciples, Messianics and Evangelicals.

I will go over a few at a time.

1)In Luke 19:27, Jesus commanded that his disciples bring his Jewish enemies before him and slaughter them before him, a role that the Church was all to happy to play throughout history. Similarly, Jesus cursed the cities that did not believe in him (Matt.11:20-24).

Totally false. This was a parable.

Luke 11:11.While they were listening to this, Yeshua went on to tell a parable, because he was near Yerushalayim, and the people supposed that the Kingdom of God was about to appear at any moment...25.They said to him, `Sir, he already has ten manim!'26.But the master answered, `I tell you, everyone who has something will be given more; but from anyone who has nothing, even what he does have will be taken away.27.However, as for these enemies of mine who did not want me to be their king, bring them here and execute them in my presence!'"

Y'shua never told his disciples to execute anyone.

Luke 23:47.While he was still speaking, a crowd of people arrived, with the man called Y'hudah (one of the Twelve!) leading them. He came up to Yeshua to kiss him,48.but Yeshua said to him, "Y'hudah, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?"49.When his followers saw what was going to happen, they said, "Lord, should we use our swords?"50.One of them struck at the slave of the cohen hagadol and cut off his right ear.
51.But Yeshua answered, "Just let me do this," and, touching the man's ear, he healed him.

So much about killing his enemies.There is an old saying, "Text without a text is a pretext."

"Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place." (Mark 13:30)

Who is THIS GENERATION? TEXT Luke 13:1-31 4."Tell us, when will these things happen? And what sign will show when all these things are about to be accomplished?"...28. "Now let the fig tree teach you its lesson: when its branches begin to sprout and leaves appear, you know that summer is approaching. 29.In the same way, when you see all these things happening, you are to know that the time is near, right at the door. 30.Yes! I tell you that this people will certainly not pass away before all these things happen.

Those that would see the signs, that generation would see his return.

"Truly, I say to you, there are some standing among you here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in the Kingdom." (Matt. 16:28, 24:38)

Fulfilled; Matthew 17:1-8;1.Six days later, Yeshua took Kefa, Ya`akov and his brother Yochanan and led them up a high mountain privately. 2.As they watched, he began to change form -- his face shone like the sun, and his clothing became as white as light.

If your prepared for an open and honest discussion I'm willing too.

mtgeo878 said...

Sorry, in last post I meant to say, "Text without a context is a pretext."

I'm anonymous.

David said...

Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echad.

I think there is a lot of confusion about the definitions of Jew and Christian.
If we define Christians by many of the "official" churches and extra-Biblical doctrines, then Christianity is indeed hostile to Jews.
And if we define Jews by opposition to the Messiahship of Jesus, then indeed one cannot believe in Jesus and be Jewish.

But are followers of Yeshua as Messiah Christian? If one reads the Christian Bible, one will discover that many "Christian" doctrines have been made up recently. And that Jesus did NOT preach the founding of a new religion...

And if one defines Judaism as having begun during the Exile in Babylon, then opposition to Jesus being the Messiah is NOT the defining characteristic of being Jewish.

Remember, when Jesus was asked what the most important commandment was, he responded with the Shema.
That is something that most Christians conveniently forget.

Regarding the notion that Christians are polytheistic: do you believe that Adonai and Ruach are two separate gods? No? Is Ruach not divine? How can this be?
Jesus is not a demi-god in Christian theology. And remember what he called himself - bar nasha (ben adam).

Please, I do not mean this as an assault on your faith in Adonai.
I consider myself a humble servant of the Most High, and I am committed to following Him alone.

Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echad.