A Follow-Up on Messianic Judaism

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.


8 thoughts on “A Follow-Up on Messianic Judaism

  1. Messianic Jews *claim* still to be Jews? What on earth else would they be? Did Peter, James and John cease being Jews when they chose to follow Jesus?
    It is absolutely not true that Christianity has been an all-Gentile affair, as Byasee claims in this article. Since the early days of Christianity until the present day, and every moment in between, a remnant of Jews has always trusted in Jesus as Savior. They’ve just been assimilating into churches, intermarrying, and not making a big deal of their Jewishness.
    In today’s more inclusive culture, Jews are freer to keep their cultural heritage, and still have fellowship with other believers.
    Byasee’s article is written from a perspective outside of Messianic Judaism. If you’d like to read an article from the inside, I suggest “What is Messianic Judaism?” at http://www.shoreshdavid.org/pages.asp?pageid=7859
    The author is not named.
    If you are very interested in this subject, you might want to read the book I Have A Friend Who’s Jewish. Do You? online for free at http://www.prophecyrevealed.com/ Click on the link that says “Buy these books” and another link with “Read these books for free” will come up.
    Thank you for opening this discussion. I enjoy reading your thoughts.

    • Worship of Jesus is purely Christian.

      It is idolatry for any Jew to worship any human as ‘god’.

      Any Jew that adopts any other faith = an EX Jew, and Apostate.

      Just as a Christian that adopts another faith = an EX Christian.

  2. Kfraiser,

    I am very appreciative of the more kindly remarks that you stated about Messianic Jews. It is true, that many of the Messianic Jews have assimulated within the Christian Churches, but now more and more of them are returning to their natural roots and are beginning to worship in the same manner that the first and second century believers did. WE are leaving behind the romanized religion and returning to the Yahweh, FAther of our Messiah Yahshua. WE are no longer controlled by manmade traditions and doctrines, and we are free to worship Yahweh through Yahshua in Spirit and Truth.

  3. The Messianic movement was founded by southern Baptists, specifically Martin Meyer – an ordained BAPTIST Minister.

    There is no ‘messianic’ sect IN Judaism.

    Very few Messianics were ever Jews, either via birth or via conversion.

    In short: if Judaism says Messianics are not Jews, then they are not Jews, period.

    Messianics are very welcome to convert *to* Judaism. They choose not to, as they prefer to remain devout worshippers of Jesus.

    This is fine – but they must stop posing as ‘jews’. They are not Jews.

    There are Jews that become Christians, of course.
    They are then EX Jews.

  4. Jew with a View said, “If Judaism says Messianics are not Jews, then they are not Jews, period.”

    For centuries, Orthodox Judaism said that anyone with a Jewish mother, even if they converted to another religion (including Christianity), is Jewish, period.

    Reform Judaism says that anyone who was raised a Jew, whether or not they have Jewish parents, is Jewish, period.

    Orthodox and Conservative Judaism say a non-Jew who takes on the yoke of Torah is Jewish, period.

    Reform Judaism says that a non-Jew doesn’t have to take on Torah to be Jewish, period.

    The Israeli Law of Return says that anyone who has at least one Jewish grandparent, regardless of religion, is Jewish, period.

    Maybe it’s not so much a period, as a question mark.

    Though I agree that worship of Jesus is strictly Christian, I’d like to point something out, as a Christian. Followers of Jesus do not believe that they worship a man. We believe that Jesus is the embodiment of God, like the shekinah glory in the Temple. We believe that God took on the form of a man when He walked with Abraham, when He wrestled with Jacob, when He spoke with Moses face-to-face, and when He was born in Bethlehem to a maiden named Mary. I understand that mainstream Judaism doesn’t see it that way. That’s, of course, the fundamental difference between the faiths.

    Three types of people call themselves Messianic:

    1.Jews who become Christians. Their DNA and family don’t float away into space when they choose to follow Jesus. They may or may not continue (or begin) to practice traditions of Judaism. Some refer to this group as “Hebrew Christians” to acknowledge that they are Jews by birth, but Christians by faith. Often they are labeled as non-Jews. Most Jews who become Christians don’t appreciate being told that their heritage and family are no longer a part of who they are, at the same time that atheists who call themselves Jews are not questioned.

    2. Gentile Christians who choose to follow the entire Bible, not just the New Testament, and also choose to follow traditions of Judaism, on which Christianity is based. They may believe that they are part of spiritual Israel, and refer to themselves as Jews, because that’s how they think of themselves. (I don’t refer to them as Jews.)

    3.Gentiles who play dress up in tallitot and kippot. They don’t like Christianity, claim to keep Torah, and embrace the idea of Jesus as Messiah. Their mission seems to be to cause division wherever they go. These are the guys we have to watch out for. They don’t seem to be either Christians or Jews. I’ve talked with some who are very clear that they rely on deception to try to convert Jews to Christianity and Christians to Judaism.

    With the exception of that last group, Messianics don’t mean any harm when they refer to themselves as Jews, but they can cause harm by not being clear about their meaning. The question of who is a Jew is disputed within Judaism, so they pick the definition that suits them—the same way Conservative or Reform Jews do.

    The Messianic Movement began with Jesus, and the thousands of Jews who chose to follow him as Messiah. It morphed into what we now call Christianity, because Jesus and the apostles taught that we have freedom to worship in many ways.

    Whether we consider Messianics to be a sect of Christianity or of Judaism, or something else, we can choose to embrace the commonalities of our faiths, and give each other mutual respect without trying to change one another. Or we can argue. No human has all the answers, so I say we might as well get along.

  5. The phrase, “Son of man,” is used throughout the book of Ezekiel. In Ezekiel 1:26, the one on the throne has the appearance ( mareh ) of a man. Most of the inhabitants of the earth don’t accept Jesus as their king. I’m not a Jew, but I follow the King of the Jews. He’s also the King of Kings. Just because he became a man doesn’t mean he is only a man, or that we’re worshipping a man.

  6. I am a messianic Jew..when i came to know Yeshua/Jesus as my personal friend and Messiah..i didnt get a gentile mother and become a gentile.

    Shalom, Yes, I happen to be a Jew, born and became Bar Mitzvah too. That was when I was given a copy of our Jewish Scriptures, and they led me to the truth, both from the Hebrew and the English too.
    that mention Channukah- an ancient story but a modern battle

    1. I speak to this and to another who writes from South Africa and is determined to stop ‘Messianic Jews’ and the very concept of them.

    2.It is time to stand up for truth, thanks. Why take the closest thing we have had to a prophet with a message from God, or a Jewish Priest in the last 2000 years…the legend of the burning oil, in all these years and tag it to Christianity?

    Interesting from another, the one I consider a dear teacher from South Africa.
    I have been through many turns, ups and downs as of late and may well die this week Thursday. I wish to hear from you with some little help.
    I have been out of touch with you for over a year. And your zeal fascinates me. Like Rabbi Saul who became the Christians leading writer as renamed Paul, spoken of in the goyim’s book of Acts, who killed and helped kill the ‘messianic Jews’ not like you who says Christians are fine to believe in their Messiah, as long as they dont claim to still be Jewish if came from Jewish decent.
    How does a Jew become not born to a Jewish mother?
    How does a Jew that believes Rabbi Schneerson was the Messiah become a non Jew for believing wrongly? Rabbi Schneerson was not born in Bethlehem from eternity Micah 5 verses 1 and 2.
    He was not born a son given, almighty God, wonderful in counsel (yet he was a great counselor), the prince of peace. Isaiah 9 verses 5 & 6.
    He was not the one that was to be exaulted after he first was marred more than any man, and would shut the mouths of kings and be rejected by his own people and die as a lamb for their sins. Isaiah 52 last paragraph and chapter 53(although he was very favored as he sent out his followers to get other Jewish to leave their beliefs and their parents food as not kosher enough so they would refuse to eat with them even a passover seder).
    He didnt claim to be a prophet or a priest…Why take the closest thing we have had to a prophet with a message from God, or a Jewish Priest with our blood atonement sacrifice Leviticus 17 verse 11 as stated “For it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.” in the last 2000 and disregard all this for something from the lost temple, meaning Hashem failed or we as many rabbis declare, our sins had the temple destroyed.
    Jonah our cherished prophet, was called to be a bringer of truth to the gentiles. Was he wrong to do this?
    We may disagree, because the Messiah is my best friend, you pride yourself in honesty and to print even that which you disagree with as long as they dont have web reference to ‘missionaries’ regardless of their references and statements.
    In highest regards, David

    Comment by David Alan Ben Israel | February 23, 2010 | Reply

    3.I am sorry about your divorce from your wife, and sorry that i did leave out the reference under Rabbi Schneerson..the one to be exalted …Isaiah 52 the last paragraph and chapter 53. (put in in this article)
    I wish you every happiness and for me pray
    please and send what you may
    thanks again David fromt he USA.

    p.s. How will we know our Messiah? the only footnote in my Jewish Scriptures from the Harkavay Edition is under Zechariah 12 verses 9 & 10 “When we shall see him whom we have pierced, we will mourn as a mother mourns for her only lost child.”
    the footnote amazingly states, this is talking about Israel….how can Israel have pierced Israel and mourn for Israel when they see Israel, like a mother mourns for her only lost son?

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