In my last post on Messianic Judaism, I mentioned an article by Jason Byasee, of Leadership Education at Duke Divinity. He was kind enough to email me and mention an article he wrote on Messianic Judaism a few years ago for the Christian Century. In it he notices the problem I posed the other day, but that’s not what the article is about. He writes about the struggles of those who call themselves Messianic Jews and the tumultuous relationships they have with both other Jewish groups and (other?) Christian groups. It’s very interesting and well worth a read if you want to know more:
Jarvis, Leighton and Winner all recognize that for Jews the Christian appropriation of Jewish faith is a source of anguish. It reminds them of centuries of persecution and forced conversions. Jews often regard a Jew’s conversion to Christianity as a “posthumous victory for Hitler.”
Yet for Messianic Jews, these arguments beg the question. Messianic Jews claim still to be Jews. The ones I spoke with at Avodat and elsewhere spoke of their obligation to marry other Jews and raise their children as Jews. They pointed out that while other Jews may not recognize the validity of Messianics Jews’ Jewishness, such division is not unusual: some of the various branches of Judaism in the U.S. don’t recognize each other’s Jewishness either. Messianic Jews say their relationships with other Jews, even other rabbis, are much better than the statements of Jewish spokespersons and watchdog groups would suggest.