Referenced Messianic Jewish Review Blog

The official blog of the Referenced Messianic Jewish Review. The Referenced Messianic Jewish Review studies the history, composition and theology of the Messianic Jewish movement.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

What is Messianic Judaism?

Many people who are exploring their faith or the faith of others, encounter congregations or organizations calling themsleves "Messianic Jews." So, that brings us to the question...what is Messianic Judaism? Most web-sites on Messianic Judaism state that the foundation of their movement was with Jesus, in the original church, approximately 2000 years ago. The claim is interesting, but false. In truth, Messianic Judaism is about 150 years old, originating in England. It was created by Christians in England with a two-fold purpose: First, to evangelize the Jewish people to Christianity and second, to make Jews who became Christians more comfortable coming to church. This led to a "Judaicizing" of Christian practices and beliefs, such as referring to Jesus as "Yeshua", the apostles as "Talmidim", and the New Testament as the "Brit Chadashah." This also included the practice of Jewish holidays, but within a Christian worldview. For instance, the Passover seder is focused on Jesus and the various customs are explained in terms reflecting beliefs in Jesus. Since the Passover seder and its customs (e.g. four cups of wine, three matzos, etc.) is essentially from the Mishnah and Talmud, Rabbinical writings in which none of the rabbis who wrote about the Passover seder believed in Jesus, this hijacking of Jewish belief into a Christian worldview is made even more bizarre. Messianic "Judaism" presents its faith with a mixture of Jewish tradition and Christian theology, sprinkled over with false claims regarding Judaism and the Jewish Bible, in fairly slick packaging. Keep in mind that the original Messianic "Jewish" prayerbook was a Hebrew translation of the Anglican (Church of England) prayerbook!

At present, the Messianic "Jewish" movement is well-funded and supported by many Christian denominations. The following Christian denominations count Messianic congregations among their membership: Southern Baptist Convention, Assemblies of God, Lutheran Church-Missiouri Synod, International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, Church of the Nazarene, Seventh-Day Adventist, Presbyterian Church of America, Calvary Chapel, Conservative Baptist Association, Presbyterian Church USA, and the Anglican Church (arguably the Anglican Church is the start point of the Messianic Jewish movement). Often, the leaders of the Messianic Jewish congregations and organizations are ordained Christian ministers. For instance, the current president of Jews for Jesus, David Brickner, is an ordained Baptist minister. Many of the leaders of the Messianic Jewish movement have never actually been Jewish. As an example, Dan Juster of Tikkun Ministries has never been Jewish; he is a Presbyterian. It is no accident that these denominations have found their way into Messianic "Judaism"; their goal is to evangelize the Jews to Christianity, and Messianic "Judaism" allows them to do so in a manner that allows the individual to believe they are practicing authentic Judaism, when in truth they are not.

To those Jews that have joined the world of Messianic "Judaism", it is important to recognize that you are practicing a form of evangelical Christianity. Ask yourself this, Can Christianity create a form of Judaism? Would all of the aformentioned Christian denominations really spend their money and give their support for a true Jewish movement? As reasonable people, we know the answer is "no." And with equal importance, you should recognize that the door is always open to come back to real Judaism. Your Jewish home is waiting for you. The table is set, your seat is still here...the only thing missing is you.