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.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Coming Home, Part 1: Julius Ciss

Messianic organizations enjoy putting up stories about people who left Judaism to join their movement and worship Jesus. However, there are also many stories about Jews who joined the Messianic movement AND returned to true Judaism. So, what is the experience of someone who was born Jewish, left Judaism and became very active in the Messianic movement but returned home to Judaism?

Julius Ciss, the Director of Jews for Judaism in Toronto, had exactly this experience. F0llow the link to learn more about his journey back home to Judaism.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Isaiah 53 (WWUD?)

Uri Yosef is a man who is not afraid of details. When he reviews Biblical texts, his thorough analysis is amazingly in-depth. If you want a full understanding of the text, Uri Yosef's writings are priceless. Or, as I hinted at in the title, you need to find out "What Would Uri Do?"
Uri Yosef has written a fantastically detailed analysis of the Jewish understanding of Isaiah 53, including a close examination of the Hebrew text. If you really want to know what Judaism believes about Isaiah 53 and why we hold those beliefs, click on the link below:

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Jewish Ave Verum

One of the relatively frequent issues that are asked of me is about the practices of Messianic "Jewish" congregations. For instance, one of the congregants of Congregation Beth Chofesh Messianic Ministries invited me to their services, saying that when I see the service that I will see that they do things just like at my synagogue. Similarly, an attendee of Bat Zion Messianic Congregation said that their service certainly looks Jewish, such as their singing of Hebrew songs and wearing of kippahs. So this begs the question, "If these congregations do Jewish rituals and/or practices, aren't they Jewish?"

Often an analogy is helpful in understanding an issue, so allow me to give one involving my past. When I was a teenager, I attended public schools. One of the classes I took was Chorus. My teacher must have like my singing (for what reason I have no idea), because she recruited me to join a special Madrigal chorus that she organized. She taught the Madrigal chorus to sing a number of songs. However, traditional Madrigal music is from the Church. As such, she taught us to sing Ave Verum, a traditional Catholic church song. So here I was, a nice Jewish boy, singing a Catholic hymn! And to make it odder, the majority of the Madrigal chorus members were Jewish! Although we were all singing a Catholic song, essentially doing a Catholic practice, this did not change our religion. We were still Jewish, or Protestant, or Catholic, or whatever religion we were before we sang the song. Simply by engaging in a Catholic ritual did not make us Catholics, nor did it make the room we sang in a Catholic church. Similarly, engaging in Jewish ritual does not make the Messianic movement Jewish.

Going back to our start point, Messianic "Judaism" is not Judaism. It was created by the Church of England in the mid-1800's as a way of making Jews more comfortable in church and of bringing more Jews to Christianity. In fact, the movement's original name was Hebrew Christianity. "Messianic Judaism" did not become the popular name until the 1960's and 70's. The entire reason for engaging in Jewish practice is to put Jewish "clothes" on Christian beliefs. The Messianic movement can engage in any Jewish practice it wants but that does not change the fact that they are Christian congregations, just like my singing of a Catholic hymn did not change me from being a Jew.

In the cases of the aforementioned congregations, Beth Chofesh is part of the Assemblies of God movement (Pentecostal church) and Bat Zion is run by a graduate of Christ For the Nations Institute. Neither of them are Jewish. They (and all Messianic groups) hold Christian theological views such as believing in the Trinity while Judaism believes in a One, Non-Divisible G-d. They believe that Jesus was a god while Judaism holds to the Biblical view that G-d is not a man. They believe that the only way to atonement is by accepting Jesus while Judaism follows the Biblical view that there are multiple ways to atonement. The Messianic belief system is entirely Christian, not Jewish. No amount of Jewish practice or ritual can change this.

Ultimately, the Jewish practice of Messianic "Judaism" is a cover for Christian theology and does not make the movement any more Jewish than the mother churches and pastors that created these congregations.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The Messianic Industry

On a number of previous posts, I reviewed some of the financing of the Messianic movement in its efforts to convert Jews to Christianity. I recently decided to try to find out how much money Jews for Jesus has spent in the past decade in its evangelism of the Jews. The numbers were shocking. Through two Christian organizations, Ministry Watch and the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, I was able to find the Jews for Jesus finances from 2000-2004 and 200-2009. In those eight years, Jews for Jesus' expenditures were over $132 million! That is about $10 per Jew for every single living Jew in the world!

Let us not kid ourselves here. The Messianic movement is not large enough to come up with $132 million from its own flock, much less to come up with the money for all of the other Messianic organizations in the world. This is a product of more mainstream Christians (since Messianic "Judaism" was a Church of England creation, originally called Hebrew Christianity) spending lavishly to convert Jews to Christians. The amount of money and effort spent on trying to get Jews to leave Judaism is truly disturbing.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Do You Really Want To Help?

I find it beautiful when people give of themselves to help the needy. I think it is beautiful when that help crosses religious lines. There are groups like Mazon, a Jewish anti-hunger organization, which donates hundreds of thousands of dollars to Christian soup kitchens and food banks. There are no strings attached; just the sincere desire to aid in the fight against hunger. Similarly, there are amazing Christian organizations that donate to help the needy in Israel, without any expectations or demands

Then, there are the "other organizations." The organizations who give charity not out of love, but as a method to open the vulnerable to conversion. Hillel Fendel of Arutz Sheva writes about a Tel Aviv Messianic center that helps the needy....just so they can gain new converts, particularly in the Russian Jewish community. As many of you who follow my blog know, the Russian Jewish community is often targetted by missionaries due to their lack of affluence, difficulty with language differences and lack of Jewish educations.

Guilty As Charged!

Messianic missionary Eddie Beckford has been convicted of assaulting a counter-missionary and attempted to run over other counter-missionaries in Israel. I previously posted the video on this where it was shown that he was clearly the aggressor. After initially claiming innocence, he later admitted guilt to the charges.