20 July 2007

Is "Messianic Judaism" a Good Idea?

by Steven A. Kreloff

A Rare PyroManiacs Guest Post

A Note from Phil Johnson:

Almost two years ago, I posted some remarks raising the question of whether Christians who drop the vowel points during the writing of G-d's name are really showing reverence to H-m. I pointed out that the practice actually seems superstitious and contrary to what Jesus taught about what it means to take the name of God in vain. It strikes me as an unwarranted intrusion of Jewish tradition which (in a way) impinges on Christian liberty. It has the look and feel of subtle Galatianism to me.

Dan Phillips (long before we were blog-partners) tag-teamed off that post with a brilliant one of his own. It was one of Dan's early interactions with me which later led to his becoming a card-carrying PyroManiac.

Anyway, many of the people most incensed with me about that post were involved in (or on the periphery of) the movement known as "Messianic Judaism." So at the time (was it really that long ago?) I asked my best friend, Steve Kreloff to weigh in on the subject of contextualization in Jewish cultures and the dangers of over-doing it. Steve sent me the following guest-post, which I have been holding ever since.

I'm posting it today because in the wake of Frank's trilogy of Steve-Hays-style broadsides from yesterday, the torpor at the blog is almost palpable. So I asked Frank's permission before bumping his Flood-o'-arguments®. His reply: "Yeah, whatever. Who knew people with the gift of tongues had so little to say?"

So, ladies and gentlemen, please meet the man who has remained my best friend in the world for the past 35 years, Steve Kreloff. Steve is the polar opposite of me in almost every way conceivable, except that we share a common faith in Yeshua Ha' Mashiach and a common commitment to the truth of His Word. Steve is a Jewish believer, having come to saving faith while in college. He has pastored Lakeside Community Chapel in Clearwater, FL., since 1981. He can be heard weekly (soon to be daily) on radio or via podcasting, thanks to Verse by Verse Ministries.


number of years ago, when my son was young, we attended a baseball game. Not only was my son a baseball fan, but he was also an avid collector of baseball cards. When we arrived at the ballpark, though, I noticed that he seemed more interested in looking at the pictures of the players on his cards than in watching the ball players on the field. In my astonishment I asked him, "Why are you looking at the pictures, when the real living players are standing right in front of you?"

What my son did with baseball cards and players, many Jewish Christians today do with their faith. Embracing a concept known as Messianic Judaism, these Jewish believers emphasize Old Testament laws and practices (such as dietary laws, feasts, and Sabbath days) as the way to please God. Yet Paul referred to these kinds of observances as "shadows" pointing to the reality of Jesus Christ (Col. 2:16, 17). The Old Testament presented many shadowy pictures of the coming Messiah in the form of ritualistic laws and ceremonies. These shadows were never intended to be a permanent fixture of Christianity. Along with the rest of the Mosaic Law, these pictures were designed by God to be "our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come we are no longer under a tutor" (Galatians 3:24, 25). Just as it is foolish for a someone to be enthralled with pictures of ballplayers rather than the players themselves, so it is inappropriate for messianic believers to focus on outdated pictures about Messiah rather than the reality of His presence.

This attraction to Old Testament messianic pictures is not new. The early church faced similar problems with Jewish Christians who had a difficult time pulling away from the many practices associated with Old Testament Judaism. In response to their reluctance to let go of their old religious ties, the writer to the Hebrews devotes his entire letter to presenting Jesus Christ as superior to a wide range of pictorial symbols found in Judaism (such as the high priesthood, Moses, the Old Covenant, and animal sacrifices). Instead of encouraging these Hebrews to remain within their comfortable religious practices, the inspired penman pleads with them to abandon these customs in favor of loyalty to Jesus Christ.

Although the Bible clearly defines the dangers of mixing Old Testament rituals with New Testament truths about Jesus (creating a legalistic form of Christianity), many Jewish believers continue to be attracted to forms and style of worship found in Messianic Judaism (i.e. messianic synagogues). In light of the popularity of Messianic Judaism, Jewish Christians should be aware of the unbiblical nature of this movement and the dangers involved in associating with it.

A Theological Danger

The greatest menace posed by Messianic Judaism is that, by encouraging its followers to diligently observe Old Testament laws, it obscures the foundational truth of Christianity, which is justification by faith in Christ. Though many within this movement are born again and would affirm that their salvation is based upon Christ's substitutionary atonement, yet their emphasis upon Old Testament ceremonial laws gives the distinct impression that the observing of these laws are necessary for salvation.

Indeed, there are some within the messianic movement who teach that Jewish believers are obligated to observe all the Old Testament laws. They would in fact associate their salvation with keeping these laws. Yet, this was the very problem that Paul addressed in his letter to the Galatians. He sternly rebuked them for replacing the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith with a false gospel of salvation by law. He called their rejection of grace for law "a different gospel" (1:6) and a distortion of the gospel of Christ (1:7). For receiving such a perverted message he referred to them as "foolish and bewitched" (3:1). And those who preached such an erroneous message he called "accursed" (1:8, 9). He wrote, " . . . knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified"(Gal. 3:16).

Those within the messianic camp must consider the critical importance of affirming the doctrine of justification by faith alone in Christ. In keeping with the message of the New Testament, they should stop clinging to laws and practices that can never justify them before God.

A Ecclesiological Danger

One of the great truths of the New Testament is that the Body of Christ is made up of both Jews and Gentiles. It is an unbiblical concept to have a local church that is distinctively Jewish or Gentile (by necessity the early church in Jerusalem consisted of all Jews because the Gospel had not been presented to the Gentile world). Thus, the nature of messianic synagogues—with their unique Jewish distinctions—violates the very spirit of fellowship among believers of all backgrounds and cultures.

The Apostle Paul told the Ephesians that Christ has reconciled both Jews and Gentiles in one body through the cross (2:16). Through His death on the cross Jesus Christ abolished all the Old Testament ceremonial laws that made Jews distinct and separated them from Gentiles (2:15). As a result He has "made both groups (Jews and Gentiles) into one" by removing all spiritual distinctions between believers (2:14, 15). While maintaining ethnic and social differences, the Bible declares that "there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28). By encouraging messianic synagogues, Messianic Judaism promotes division in the Body of Christ that is contrary to the teachings of the New Testament.

Rather than establish a distinct Jewish assembly, local churches should bring together both Jews and Gentiles in membership. To remove Jewish believers from Bible-believing churches is to essentially rob the Church of the richness of fellowship God intends Jews and Gentiles in Christ to enjoy. All spiritual fellowship should be based upon our relationship with Christ—not our former religious backgrounds.

An Evangelistic Danger

Adherents to Messianic Judaism believe that those identified with messianic synagogues make better witnesses to Jewish people than Gentiles from a Bible believing local church. However, the Apostle Paul told the Romans that his goal in ministering to so many Gentiles (he was the Apostle to the Gentiles) was to provoke Jewish people to jealousy (Romans 11:14). In other words, he felt that the best way to arouse Jewish interest in the gospel was through Gentile Christians. When Jewish people observe Gentile believers having a relationship with the Jewish Messiah and loving their Jewish Bibles, they often are provoked to a jealousy that eventually leads them to Christ.

Ironically, most Jewish Christians (including those within messianic synagogues) were led to Christ by a Gentile Christian. Messianic synagogues do a great disservice to the Jewish community by encouraging local churches to delegate Jewish evangelism to them. The Great Commission commands all believers to make disciples from all nations and nationalities—and this includes Jewish people. By believing that messianic synagogues are uniquely equipped as the sole experts in Jewish evangelism, local churches are in danger of neglecting their biblical responsibility to witness to Jewish people.

Jewish believers in Christ offer so much to the Body of Christ. They are often zealous and passionate about their faith in Messiah. Their presence and involvement in local churches, along with their Gentile brethren, testify to the world of the transforming power of the gospel of Christ.

Reference for this article came from: "Do We Need Messianic Synagogues? Biblical, Historic, And Pragmatic Issues" by Dr. William C. Varner (The Master's Seminary Journal-Spring 2003).

Steve Kreloff

82 comments:

Chris said...

That is the most concise, clear and Biblical thing I have read on the subject before. Thanks, Steve (and Phil).

Al said...

The greatest menace posed by Messianic Judaism is that, by encouraging its followers to diligently observe Old Testament laws, it obscures the foundational truth of Christianity, which is justification by faith in Christ.

I thought the foundation truth of OT Judaism was justification by faith alone? And if that is the case why would these believers put that doctrine in jeopardy?

Not that I have a dog in the fight…

Al sends

Al said...

Or the foundationAL truth...

Shane said...

I have a comment and a question.

When I was in seminary, we took a course on "world religions". At one point a messianic Jewish rabbi came in an conducted for us the passover ceremony.

Given the inherent "jewishness" of Christianity, I really appreciated the ceremony's rich symbolism. In some ways I think that we as Christian churches should be looking for more ways to integrate "Jewish" things, to help convey the gospel message and pass on the historicity of the faith.

This is not to invalidate what was said in this article about the source of our salvation or the purpose of such ceremonies. Their purpose would be first and foremost to edify and to educate, to commemorate and celebrate God in His ancient forms and in new forms. These would and should be to His honor, not to effect any special blessing or extra grace. Would this not be appropriate and indeed valuable to all churches?

Marty Winn said...

Before I moved to Virginia I was a member at Pastor Kreloff's church. This was my favorite illustration/story that he ever used.

Phil Johnson said...

Al: "I thought the foundation truth of OT Judaism was justification by faith alone? And if that is the case why would these believers put that doctrine in jeopardy?"

See the book of Hebrews, Galatians 1-4, and Colossians 2. As Kreloff pointed out, the law contained imagery and foreshadowings of Christ, but now that He has come and fulfilled that which the sacrifices and ceremonies only pictured, to emphasize those things betrays a lack of faith in the true Great High Priest and Once-for-All Atonement.

People in the OT were indeed justified by faith (Gen. 15; Romans 4; Galatians 3). But even in the OT, if someone regarded the law as a means of gaining merit with God, that reflected a lack of authentic faith.

That's even more true today when someone shows an undue obsession with the (already fulfilled and now abrogated) ceremonial and figurative aspects of the OT law--which is what much of Messianic Judaism is all about.

Steven, said...

Embarrassingly enough, I got attracted to this movement about two years after my conversion. I saw a speaker from Jews For Jesus re-enact the passover and I think it attracted me on a visible level the same way many can be attracted to liturgical churches.

I started listening to "messianic" music and the ideas really attracted me.

I finally visited a "messianic" church. What I witnessed God used to show me my error in the attraction to this movement.

The visual symbols were elevated to such a status, and yet the cross was minimal. Everyone was a gentile who thought they were Jews. The "preaching" was done by a half jewish woman. They verbally spoke about how glad they were that they were "messianic" and not like other churches. In talking with the members at a fellowship dinner, I found it odd that nearly all of them had come from various pentacostal and charismatic backgrounds.

The largest indictment was the absense of the Cross, the Gospel message itself.

I am not sure why, but I was so freaked out by the whole experience I got rid of my messianic CD's and reevaluated my unbiblical attraction to a visible faith verses a faith unseen.

At the end of the day all I can say is, "My God, Have mercy on me, a sinner"

steve said...

“I'm posting it today because in the wake of Frank's trilogy of Steve-Hays-style broadsides from yesterday.”

Well, I’m humbled and flattered. My fame (or should I say, “infamy”—but in the age of celebrity, it’s a distinction without a difference) has finally attained such iconic status that I have now achieved the ultimate eminence of seeing my name turned into a quasi-adjective, like Calvinist, Reaganomics, or “to Bork.”

I might as well retire to Tahiti since I have no more goal-posts to aim for. Time to dust off my straw hat and break out the Tequila!

Bryan R. Zaremsky said...

Does "by removing all spiritual distinctions between believers" mean that all Jews must become Gentiles because they now accept Jesus as their Messiah? Should men and women dress the same because of this oneness? I, for one see nothing wrong with a cultural expression of faith.

Another question, would (or could) some of the same accusations be brought forward against, say, a Korean-American church, since that church would have a cultural response that non-Koreans would not understand?

Just like other parts of the body, Messianic Judaism can tend towards legalism, but it is throwing the baby out with the bathwater to discount what God is doing amongst the Jewish people through Messianic Judaism. No works justify us before God, whether works or the Mosaic Law or works that are the sum of the Law, loving God and loving our neighbor. Therefore, as long as it is kept in the proper perspective, like any good work, I can see nothing wrong with worshiping and celebrating salvation in a Jewish context.

Unless there is now something actually sinful about the Law God gave Moses. As long as it is done, like any other good work, with full knowledge that this does not make one better or justified in any way with God, then how could it be bad?

Even So... said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Even So... said...

The Apostle Paul got it right, of course. We know that we aren’t becoming more “Christlike” by becoming a carpenter, don’t we?

We cannot bind the consciences of other people with our preferences. Some go as far as to claim that doing these things makes one more spiritual or a better Christian. Instead of growing in grace they are trapped in world of thinking they have found the “key” to Christianity or Christian living.

It isn’t true. Including or insisting on these things does not constitute a superior brand of Christianity or a more spiritual strand of Christianity. They can be a sign of wanting to keep your pride AND Christianity. They can inform your faith, and give you an appreciation and understanding of the meaning of some of the types and shadows leading to Christ, but we shouldn’t attach a higher level of spirituality to them.

Some movements have as their main focus keeping Christian things in a Jewish context. The focus may be on becoming like Christ, but becoming like Him in His Jewish-ness, more than His character or spirituality. They will say, “Jesus was a Jew”, to which I say, so what? Jesus was a man also. Are we all to become men? The Jews are special because God chose them as His vehicle, not because of something inherently good in them. Yes we are to honor God’s people, but God also chose Mary for special revelation as the “mother of God”. How many of these same believers would agree that it is okay to indulge in Mariolatry, as do some within the Catholic Church? Hopefully none. Again, the focus is wrong. Mary is to be honored because of her faithfulness, but not to be overdone so as to take the focus and glory from God.

We are to be conformed to the image of Christ not the lineage of Christ. The fruit the Holy Spirit produces is the timeless character of Jesus not the temporal culture of Jesus. We are to pursue spiritual holiness not cultural heritage.

Again, the Apostle Paul got it right. He placed the emphasis on the divinity of Jesus not the nationality of Jesus.
Paul doesn’t say Christ the Jew, the hope of Glory but Christ in you the hope of glory.

jbuck21 said...

"Therefore, as long as it is kept in the proper perspective, like any good work, I can see nothing wrong with worshiping and celebrating salvation in a Jewish context."

Excellent post.

The whole issue, as with EVERY OTHER CULTURAL ISSUE, is the heart of the individual. If the Jewish believer enjoys the celebration of Passover in commemoration of Christ and His death, all the while carrying with it the Jewish traditions, he is NO DIFFERENT than the Gentile believer putting up the proverbial Christmas wreath around Dec. 25th.

To the pure, all things are pure.

Let's leave them alone and look at the cultural beam in our own eyes.

jbuck21 said...

Even so: "We cannot bind the consciences of other people with our preferences."

So then why is Messianic Judaism a BAD idea?

To say that is to bind their consciences to yours.

Do you:
1. Celebrate Christmas?
2. Celebrate Easter?
3. Go to church on Sundays?
4. Have a midweek bible study?
5. Homeschool your kids?
6. Sing choruses and hymns?

These are cultural issues. We're gentiles...we like these things...they are OUR traditions!

Some Gentiles make these things SUPER spiritual as well, almost as though if you don't homeschool your kids, sing without instruments, or celebrate Christmas, you can't possibly be saved.
So are these traditions a bad idea?

NO!

Neither are the Messianic Jewish traditions (and in fact, when the heart is right, they're probably better - God instituted Passover. He had NOTHING to do w/ Christmas.)

When was the last time a Messianic Jew told you to keep the passover or not to pick up sticks on Saturday?

So we need to have the heart of Paul toward them as well as toward all tertiary issues of tradition in all cultures where Biblical commands are not breached.

DeeDee said...

Maybe I am making this too simple, or maybe I'm just to simple myself, but it seems to me that since "God" is a translated word from Hebrew to English, the Hebrew grammar rules don't apply--English grammar rules apply. It's an entirely different language. It isn't disrespectful in English to have vowels in your words..even your reverent words.
If I was trying to stick vowels into the actual Hebrew word, I can see why there might be a little concern. In Japanese the word for God is Kamisama. Why would they expect the Japanese to change their language to fit the Hebrew language? Can you imagine? K-m-s-m-.
It seems that they are imposing their language onto every other culture. Just because the Jewish language doesn't use vowels, why do they expect every other language to be written like theirs?
Am I missing something deeper here?
~D~

Lance Roberts said...

Homeschooling and singing aren't cultural, and not tradition, they're biblical mandated. Our worldview defines our culture, not vice-versa.

bloggernaut said...

My apologies for getting on a tangent, but HOMESCHOOLING IS BIBLICALLY MANDATED???!!!

Seeing to the education of one's own children is a biblical imperative; how that comes about is up to one's judgment, whether by homeschooling or otherwise.

OK, back to Messianic Judaism...

*Letitia*

jbuck21 said...

Lance:"Homeschooling and singing aren't cultural, and not tradition, they're biblical mandated. Our worldview defines our culture, not vice-versa. "

Thanks for illustrating my point beautifully!!

Al said...

But even in the OT, if someone regarded the law as a means of gaining merit with God, that reflected a lack of authentic faith.

Phil, that I can agree with 100%. I really don't know enough about the movement to understand it fully.

Interesting side note... We are contemplating meeting in a Messianic Synagogue (rent issues with our current worship place). When talking with the Rabbi he seemed to indicate that they keep the feasts as tradition and not in a meritorious manner. When I heard that, I wondered what would happen if someone in their congregation stopped observing the ceremonial/dietary laws.

Being a covenantal Presbyterian I am interested in seeing how they view the covenant and how that influences life in the body.

By the way, thanks for the guest post Pastor Kreloff it was very enlightening.

al sends

jbuck21 said...

al sends: "Being a covenantal Presbyterian I am interested in seeing how they view the covenant and how that influences life in the body."

Al, I'd refer you to MacArthur's first message from this year's Shepherd's Conference.

DJP said...

Deedee—it's worse than absurd. "God" without the vowels is not only NOT respectful in English, it becomes a well-known abbreviation for a swearword.

jbuck21 said...

Pastor Kreloff (and Phil by extention),

I was a bit concerned when I read your post, and I'd like to interact on this with you.

First, your comment

"they should stop clinging to laws and practices that can never justify them before God."

concerned me a bit - who is the 'they'? All Messianic Jews? Certainly you didn't mean all. So who?

We as Calvinists are *constantly* trying to make clear that sometimes people who claim to be Calvinists are crazy and misguided. I'm sure the same is true in the Messianic community, and we ought to be more gracious than to categorically denounce a movement because some of its adherents are misguided.

Second your comment

"To remove Jewish believers from Bible-believing churches is to essentially rob the Church of the richness of fellowship God intends Jews and Gentiles in Christ to enjoy."

was also a bit concerning.

While I agree with the idea of a unified, culturally diverse body, I'd rather have heard this argument applied to the WHOLE of Christianity, rather than in a specifically Jewish context. It seems a bit dishonest to push this on Jews and not on, say, Koreans, Chinese, Armenians, etc.

Third, your comment

"Messianic synagogues do a great disservice to the Jewish community by encouraging local churches to delegate Jewish evangelism to them."

is also a bit concerning. Who is at fault here? Is it the Messianic synagogue, or is it the local church that relinquishes its responsibility to evangelize the Jewish community? Perhaps I'm uneducated on the Messianic position, but I've not heard many Messianic Jews say to me, "Hey, stay out of the Jewish community. This is our turf." In fact, those I've known have encouraged me to share my faith with Jews. Who has said different and where? (This may truly be my ignorance)

Thanks, and I hope to have some good interaction with someone on this.

Jon

jbuck21 said...

deedee -

Yes...G-d is silly. Different languages = different rules.

Sewing said...

Shalom and thank you to Pastor Steve for this. Raised as an atheist by my ethnically Jewish mother, I received a decent Jewish cultural education as a child, but never entered a synagogue, nor became bar mitzvah. I had no reason to believe in God, yet he began calling me in my late teens—calling me to faith through and in Jesus Christ, his only Son. The biggest stumbling block for years were questions of authenticity: (a) did I really believe in this God who seemed to be drawing me to Him; and (b) if I were to "become" anything, shouldn't it be a Jew and not a Christian (since I saw them as two different religions)?

Anyhow, growing up in a household where we did not observe Torah (including not keeping kosher)—much less even believe that there is a God and his name is YHWH—I never felt the least compulsion to live according to the Law. After I heard the words preached from Romans 11:23-24 that saved me, however, and was redeemed in the blood of Christ, I began to wonder if, as a Jewish believer in God, I should observe the Law. Thankfully, much reading and thinking on this topic, and meditating on Romans and Galatians disabused me of this idea. The Law—the entire sacrifical system and all the mitzvot attendant to it—was a prefiguring of the ultimate sacrifice and the only perfect, all-encompassing atonement, the sacrifice of the Paschal Lamb, Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I thank in particular Phil for posting on this topic just a couple of weeks ago, and Pastor Steve today for reinforcing it.

As for observing the Jewish holidays...well. As a child, my secular Jewish Sunday school held two seders (Passover meals) every year, and for several years in a row, my family attended both. The Passover tradition is deeply engrained in me (although as secular humanists, we celebrated Moses as a national liberator, rather than as a prophet chosen by God to carry out God's work). I thank the Lord for teaching me to remember the deliverance of my ancestors from Egypt. But he was teaching me something much more important through those seders. He was preparing me to receive the communion meal. In place of the matzoh and wine we ate and drank, I now eat bread and drink...well, grape juice in our church...in rememberance of Jesus Christ. And in place of the lamb we ate at each passover meal—the lambs who were sacrificed as a substitution for all firstborn sons—we worship in the presence of the ultimate Passover Lamb, who was sacrificed as a substitution for us. And not only do we commemorate Passover at Easter and indeed every time we take communion, but on those days we also mark Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the day of the great sacrifice for the collective sins of God's body of believers.

I'm very happy whenever I discover Gentile Christians who are trying to learn about the Jewish roots of Christianity. But it should be with a healthy respect for all that earliest Jewish Christians strove so diligently to carve out—a new understanding of Judaism, inspired by the Holy Spirit, and premised on the fulfillment of God's Law and promises in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Almost every aspect of Christian faith, life, and worship is already infused with Jewish tradition, even if it's been ignored, neglected, or downplayed over the millennia. Indeed, it's to our shame as Christians that the religion's Jewishness has been actively deemphasized so many times through history. But it's all there to be rediscovered and celebrated—there's no need to create something different than what Paul, the Pharisee who studied under Gamaliel, set out the theology of 2000 years ago.

wolf said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sewing said...

Wolf: Should that not be a reply to one of the previous posts on charismata?

Phil Johnson said...

Wolf:

You're off topic. Please re-post it in an appropriate thread.

If you want to repost and didn't keep a copy, e-mail me: (phil at spurgeon dot org), and I'll send you the text of your comment.

SolaMeanie said...

A few years ago, when witnessing to a Jewish anti-missionary, I used the hyphen G-d in emails back and forth not because I attached any undue false reverence to it, but rather because it seemed to be such a big stumbling block to her. She was so convinced I was taking God's name in vain that she couldn't get past it. I could have stuck to my guns and ignored it, but at the time I thought it better to bypass that issue so I could move on to larger issues.

Perhaps I was wrong.

centuri0n said...

This post represents a bizarre turn of events. Steve Kreloff looks like a professor of mine from college, one Rick Simpson. Doc Simpson was a poet, a jazz sax player, and (I kid thee not) a Giants fan. Doc Simpson, however, was a Mormon.

And when I say "looks like", judge for yourself.

Holy Mackerel.

Al said...

JBuck - Why? Would Pastor MacArthur give me help in understanding Messianic Judiasm? Or would this be help for my poor understanding of Baptist theology :-)

al sends

Even So... said...

jbuck:
So then why is Messianic Judaism a BAD idea?

My concern is about Gentiles entering into "Messianic Judaism" rather than those who were born or raised Jewish...

Even So... said...

My question to them would be "why?"...

David said...

Peter has said it best about paul's words.

"…and account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to understand, which those who are untaught and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures." 2Peter 3:15,16 NKJV twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures." 2Peter 3:15,16 NKJV

Plus why did paul keep Torah? Every bit??

What you are saying is Pauls words are better than our Master Yeshua words? My Rabbi is Yeshuas.

The New American Standard Bible translates the Yeshuas words: “Do not think that I came to abolish the Torah or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Torah, until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and so teaches others, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Shalom

jsb said...

"As Kreloff pointed out, the law contained imagery and foreshadowings of Christ, but now that He has come and fulfilled that which the sacrifices and ceremonies only pictured, to emphasize those things betrays a lack of faith in the true Great High Priest and Once-for-All Atonement."

This is precisely why I have a problem with sacrifices of atonement being offered in a temple in a "Mellennial Kingdom." Not looking to start a hockey brawl over in the corner, but it does seem to me relevant to mention that the Dispensational schema implicitly encourages this sort of reverence for types and shadows.

DJP said...

Your rabbi is "Yeshua"? I'm in America. Where are you? Who's "Yeshua"? You have a source for that? Do you mean "Jesus"? But you refer to "Paul." Is that the apostle Paul? But the same translations that call him "Paul" call his (and my) Lord "Jesus." Now, if you're trying to get all deeper-than-anyone-else, I still don't get where "Yeshua" comes from. The Testament is in Greek, and it never refers to a "Yeshua." Is that what you guess Jesus' name is in some other language than the Testament was written in? Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't; what do you gain by going past the translations of our culture to a name that isn't the name the Testament gives? I mean, if you imagine something's wrong with "Jesus," then you're stuck with "Iesous," and we'll call Paul "Paulos" — unless you're just going to make it up. Or do you think there's something magical about Hebrew? Then wow, nobody is going to recognize any Biblical name — Yitzhaq, Sh'lomoh, Yesha`yahu... yikes.

And in that case, shouldn't you change your name to "Dawid"?

At least mine gets to stay the same.

Man, it can really be hard work trying to be cooler than everyone else.

DJP said...

Yeah, JSB, it makes a lot better sense to say that the meticulous and painful details of Ezekiel 40-48 mean nothing, or whatever, or... or "Jesus." Now, there's a view with NO problems, right?

(NOTE for you keeping score at home: you'll note I didn't advocate any particular view.)

SolaMeanie said...

David,

I think it's obvious from the New Testament why Paul kept certain elements of the Law. It was to give their Jewish opponents no grounds for accusations at a time when the church was under heavy fire from them.

Paul makes it plain in Scripture that Christians are not under the Law. Check out the example when he rebuked Peter for hypocrisy. Look at the big battle over circumcision in Acts, which Paul and Barnabas won hands down.

Brad Leber said...

Go Giants!

jsb said...

Thanks for only swinging once with that hockey stick, Dan. My only point relevant to this topic is that it seems to me difficult to castigate Messianic Jews for reverencing types and shadows (thus betraying a "lack of faith" in the Once-for-All Atonement) while at the same time teaching a return to OT style atonement in the future. Isn't there an inherent tension there?

David said...

Salvation is to the Jew first then to the Goyim. The Rabbi Yeshua is Jewish. King of the Jews! Blessed be the name of Adonai!

The Septuagint is a Greek translation (by Jewish scribes) of the Hebrew Scriptures, and it dates from the third to second century BCE. This name Iesous is identical to the name used in the Septuagint as a transliteration of Joshua (Hebrew: יהשוע Yehoshua), which means "the Lord saves" and Jeshua (Hebrew: ישוע Yeshua), the masculine form of the word yeshu'ah (ישועה), "salvation." This is consistent with the Gospel account of his naming: "...you are to name him Salvation (or The-Lord-Saves) because he will save his people from their sins." (Matthew 1:21).

I see that people are anti-Semites in the ‘idea’ that Jesus name is Yeshua. People start waving their flags. But the truth is not in them. You can see their fruit. The truth is not always an easy thing to hear.

You can’t remove Torah from Yeshua (John 1:1) They are one and the same.
The Shema.

David said...

"We should not keep the Torah in order to merit salvation.
The Torah is inadequate for that.
We should keep Torah because we are saved."
I John 5:2-5

David said...

It will indeed be well for the church to ponder what we left from 100 to 325 AD under Constantine. We have brought in many pagan practices and holidays, and sanctified them with Christianity. But did God sanction this? And in the end will He require adjustments on our part? Have we departed from the clear Plumbline of His Word? Are we like the leaning Tower of Pisa? Do our formulations need Reformation and restructuring and shoring up? Do we need a Hezekiah and a Josiah to arise and destroy our idolatries and departures? Does the spiritual temple of the church need cleansing of filth (2 Corinthians 7:1)? Do we need to reinaugurate Passover as did they, and the other Feasts of the Lord that Constantine replaced from paganism? Are we willing to truly examine what we believe and in the light of the total Plumbline of God's Word from Genesis to Revelation?

Shalom in Yeshua's name.

bloggernaut said...

david and djp - Hold up. The skirmish over what language to use for Jesus is irrelevant.

This topic is just like the one about the EC. Are we generalizing about Messianic Judaism as a whole, or are we commenting about a segment within?

It is important that we do not characterize Messianic Jews as anti-Gentile law-pushing bigots, just as we are not anti-Semitic libertine bigots.

To the Jewish believer: the law never did save anyone (I hope I'm only stating the obvious); the law was sent to teach about YHWH who does the saving. Following the law was and always will be an exercise of remembrance for God's providence to the descendents of Abraham. Remembering is (short of salvation) everything. If you are observant and it enriches your faith, then good for you. If you think more of your observance than what God has intended, then what does Jesus' death and resurrection really mean?

To the Gentile believer: we would do well to remember God's laws the way Jewish believers do to give us the full context of God's providence.

Lance - even Jesus attended yeshiva. (at least, that's what I think syagogue school is called--sorry if this is the wrong term)

*Letitia*

bloggernaut said...

david - so you don't like Christmas being on the same day as a once pagan holiday. How does that necessarily take away from celebrating Christ's birth?

I don't like the word "Easter," or Easter eggs, or the Easter Bunny, but that doesn't take away from me celebrating the Ressurection of Jesus.

Why would God have to sanction these celebrations? He didn't sanction the Bat Mitzvah, but many Jewish girls get one anyway.

David said...

There is no record, either in Scripture or in history, of the early followers of Yeshua celebrating the birth of the Messiah. The only 'holidays' that they celebrated were the ones listed in Leviticus 23 — the Lord's festivals you can see the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Acts to see that they are Jewish.

The body of Messiah was mercilessly persecuted by the sword until the beginning of the reign of Constantine in 312. In order to accommodate the large influx of Gentiles, the church began to adopt many pagan rituals. It attempted to call these rituals holy and focus them on the Lord. It took the pagan ritual celebrated on December 25th (the birthday of Mithra), and called it the birthday of the Messiah. It wasn't too hard. Satan had already set up Mithra as a reasonable counterfeit. For the most part, only the name was changed.

The word says:

"You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I have commanded you" (Deuteronomy 4:2/see also 12:32; Proverbs 30:6). When He says, "that you may keep the commandments", it means that, if we change them, we cannot keep them because they are no longer the commandments of God. Yet, the true commandments of God we can keep: "For this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach" (Deuteronomy 30:11).

grab hold of the Word, and let go of tradition, is a bold step of faith. To do so, we must be sure we heard from the Lord. Then, once we hear, we must act upon it: "Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do, and does not do it, to him it is sin" (James 4:17)

Shalom

Bryan said...

Jesus is an English translation of the Greek word. Yeshua would be the Hebrew translation. Nothing more nothing less. Can't see what is either cool or wrong about using it.

The fact is that many bad things have happened to Jews in the name of Jesus and right away it is hard to come to them and tell them that Jesus loves them when people like my grandmother have recollections from childhood of the "Christian" children calling her a Jesus killer because she was Jewish. Putting it all in a Jewish context is nothing more than showing that the same God that a Jew knows from whatever their Jewish background is (whether from knowledge of Torah or just knowing the Holidays) is the same God who sent his Son, and that He is the Messiah that they have heard about, and is the only one that could be the Messiah.

What many Gentiles do not understand is that Jews are taught from a very young age, that Jesus is fine for others but not for Jews. That is their thing and we have our own thing. Jews are taught they are the chosen people so why would they need saving?

Messianic Judaism contextualizes this for them so that they can come to accept it. While most of you have no problem and are wonderfully glad that Paul came with a wonderful gift to understand the heart and the mind of the Gentile.

In Acts 17 Paul contextualized the beliefs and concepts of the people in Athens, and because of it many wanted to hear more. Understanding your audience is something that many Gentiles do not do when speak to Jews about Jesus. Messianics do not wish for the churches to stop reaching out to the Jews, but maybe come and get some tips and come to a better understanding. Certainly the rate of success amongst the Jewish people is not something for the church to be proud of.

As for the using of G-d instead of God. Even to the Jew it has little to no meaning. Go ask an Orthodox Jew, or look at their websites, they will use one when it fits and another when it fits. It is a tradition and those that make more of it then it is just need to grow in maturity. That being said, I use it quite often cause I like it, not because it makes me cool, but because I recall it from my youth and it does help me in my reverence for God and His name. If it is silly to you, that is fine, however I see nothing sinful in me using it when I feel it appropriate.

Another thing to consider is that Messianic Judaism has been around since about the late 1960's, maybe early 70's. It is a very young movement. It has a great deal of room for growth in maturity. In the years I have been involved I have seen a great deal of growth, and while we keep to certain Holy Days and traditions, I have not had it taught to me that this is something that is necessary for salvation ever. Not at any congregation that I have attended (which is a few), now any that I have visited (which is a few), nor at any conference that I have attended. Most church doctrine is not measured in decades, and I am sure that during the first hundred years or so, there was much to learn and grow to become mature believers and leaders. Messianic leaders are becoming more mature. Have Messianic Jews made mistakes? Sure, if there is any church out there that has not, please let me know. It must be an empty place.

Personally I see way more freedom in the Messianic Congregations that I have been involved with than I had experienced prior in my time at churches. Churches, in my experience,do not handle differences very well for the most part, but at a Messianic congregation there is a great deal of differences. Some have head coverings and the prayer shawl, others do not. Some eat strictly kosher, other just eat what is called Biblically kosher, meaning avoiding the animals that are prohibited, others do neither and eat whatever they feel lead to, and they are not thrown out, or prayed for or anything like that. Each of us is following God in how He leads and we accept the others, for we know our salvation is not on whether we where a prayer shawl or not, but whether we put our faith in the Messiah, Jesus.

We might discuss different things and customs and certainly try to ensure that we are not making the practices more than what they are. They are wonderful symbols of our heritage and of our faith and of our salvation in Jesus. They may be a shadow, but as the Switchfoot song "The Shadow Proves the Sunshine" goes; "Shine on me,
Let my shadows prove the sunshine". That is part of the heart of a Messianic Jew.

We do not wish or think everyone else should be just like us, we do not doubt the salvation of other Christians, but an article like this certainly makes me sad to think that because I choose to celebrate the Sabbath, and on the seventh day, that there is something wrong with me or bad about my faith. I would encourage each of you to open your hearts and let God speak to them about something like this. Maybe it is just faith and faith alone and if that Messianic Jew wishes to celebrate, then God bless him, for he too has freedom in Christ to do so.

In the post, Steve Kreloff mentions the concept of unity, yet when I read the first verse of James I see he is writing to "the twelve tribes in the Dispersion". Seems to me while there is a unity, there are still some differences, otherwise he could have just written to believers. Certainly there are differences between man and woman, yet even with those differences we can still be unified. A man's retreat is not a bad idea because it is against unity of the body is it?

Anyway, I could go on forever, since this is a subject that is near and dear to me. Being a minority in a minority I wish that even though others Jews violently reject me, that I would not be rejected by brothers in Christ.

Peace to all (or if I wish to be "cool" I could say shalom, but I won't).

DJP said...

Again, for those keeping score at home, while there's been some repetition and diversion, only one of the following questions have as yet been directly answered:

Your rabbi is "Yeshua"? I'm in America. Where are you? Who's "Yeshua"? You have a source for that? Do you mean "Jesus"? But you refer to "Paul." Is that the apostle Paul? But the same translations that call him "Paul" call his (and my) Lord "Jesus." Now, if you're trying to get all deeper-than-anyone-else, I still don't get where "Yeshua" comes from. The Testament is in Greek, and it never refers to a "Yeshua." Is that what you guess Jesus' name is in some other language than the Testament was written in? Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't; what do you gain by going past the translations of our culture to a name that isn't the name the Testament gives? I mean, if you imagine something's wrong with "Jesus," then you're stuck with "Iesous," and we'll call Paul "Paulos" — unless you're just going to make it up. Or do you think there's something magical about Hebrew? Then wow, nobody is going to recognize any Biblical name — Yitzhaq, Sh'lomoh, Yesha`yahu... yikes.

And in that case, shouldn't you change your name to "Dawid"?

GeneMBridges said...

The body of Messiah was mercilessly persecuted by the sword until the beginning of the reign of Constantine in 312. In order to accommodate the large influx of Gentiles, the church began to adopt many pagan rituals. It attempted to call these rituals holy and focus them on the Lord. It took the pagan ritual celebrated on December 25th (the birthday of Mithra), and called it the birthday of the Messiah. It wasn't too hard. Satan had already set up Mithra as a reasonable counterfeit. For the most part, only the name was changed.

Wow, that's the sort of argumentation I see coming from atheists when they mutter the "Christianity borrowed from Mithraism" thesis, aka, the "pagan copy cat thesis."

I might add the church was "accommodating a large influx of Gentiles" well prior to AD 312. The split between synagogue and church was occurring in the first century.

I would also remind you that the Jerusalem Church fell into heresy after it moved away from Jerusalem and into Pella. What was left was not recognizable as Christian over time.

It also seems to me that you're dangerously close to advocating a version of Christianity mixed with elements of Ebionism. It was precisely this sort of thing that Paul warned Timothy about.

Also,you're conflating an example in Scripture with a command. There are no commands in the New Testament to celebrate any particular Jewish festivals. On the contrary, we're told precisely that they are not obligatory. What days we celebrate are up to us. Sola Scriptura does not obligate us to any particular set of holidays. We can celebrate Easter and not Passover, Christmas and not Hanukkah if we so choose. Nobody today is worshiping a pagan god by celebrating Christmas.

One can certainly celebrate them as a cultural tribute or a remembrance of history, but that's skirting dangerously close to ancestor worship. History has proven, as is the case with Messianic Judaism today, that this sort of idea often seems more amenable to Gentiles than to Jews. We wind up with Gentile Christians taking on Jewish customs, and the Messianic synagogues have a tendency to perpetuate the division between Jew and Gentile as a result, with the ultimate twist being that the Gentiles are adopting Jewish traditions and taking on the yoke of signs and shadows. We are one body, and one church, not two peoples, not two bodies, not two churches.

David said...

djp, it’s to bad that you don’t seem to understand that our lord’s name is ‘Yeshua’ that is the name that his mother called him, his friends called him, and the 12 disciples called him. It is the name that is above all names. Yes, it is Hebrew and it is not magical. It seems that Greek is o.k. but Hebrew is not? Humm? It’s not as thought “Yeshua” is a hard name to say.

So we need to ask what is really the problem here?

If I had a friend that was from a country that did not speak English and I want to honor him, I think one way I could do that is to learn how to say his name.

The Peshitta Aramaic New Testament is not “Greek” and we have his name in the text as Yeshua as well. Think out side the little box that you placed YHVH in. Oh, sorry that’s Hebrew to! Maybe I should have said Jehovah?

Remember that all will bow down to a Jew someday!

This Jew is to cool for your Shul!

Shalom

jbuck21 said...

al: "JBuck - Why? Would Pastor MacArthur give me help in understanding Messianic Judiasm? Or would this be help for my poor understanding of Baptist theology :-)"

Both, I'd imagine... :)

Even so:"My question would be why?"

My answer would be why not...these are all traditions. We have traditions (Xmas, Easter, hymns, etc.) which are extra-Biblical. They have Biblical tradtions. So as long as noone is claiming 'traditions=salvation' we should allow for the freedom to worship in whatever way one's conscience allows. Jew OR Gentile.

And praise the Lord for believing Jews!!

"What will their restoration be, but life from the dead?" - PAUL.

jbuck21 said...

David,

Thanks for bearing with Gentiles - we as a church universal need to remember Paul's words to the Romans, and not be arrogant toward the root.

Rita Martinez said...

People a little something OT(Off Topic)
Jesus Said:
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." John 13:34-35
When I read this, I can only think of how we are ruining the chance for unbelieviers to find the Truth because we are not being the good example of "Loving brothers and Sisters in Christ" which we are called for.
It is so sad for me to see how brothers and sisters in Christ quarrel with each other over such small things, how they use sarcasm to "rebuke" one another, and how we are the ones dividing ourselves because "my church is better than yours", or "my church is holier than yours", or "my belief is the right one".
Sure there are differences among each other, whether or not I should wear skirts only, or a prayer shawl for that matter, or whether I should write/say Yeshua or not, but unless our view on certain things compromise ourselves as Christians I don't see why we have to divide ourselves and quarrel with each other.

So please when and if you have a question/comment concerning someone else's comment do it in a loving manner, without the sarcasm or attitude. Although one may not be replying with an attitude sometimes the way one writes things can be confused over the internet.

I say this because i've been seeing it happening a lot in so many different Christian blogs.

I know this has nothing to do with the topic I just thought it might be important to say/write it.

God bless you all!
In Christ,
Rita M.

Charles Sebold said...

The body of Messiah was mercilessly persecuted by the sword until the beginning of the reign of Constantine in 312. In order to accommodate the large influx of Gentiles, the church began to adopt many pagan rituals. It attempted to call these rituals holy and focus them on the Lord. It took the pagan ritual celebrated on December 25th (the birthday of Mithra), and called it the birthday of the Messiah. It wasn't too hard. Satan had already set up Mithra as a reasonable counterfeit. For the most part, only the name was changed.

I think all that's left is for somebody to quote Alexander Hislop, and we'll have the trifecta.

Gene Bridges: I'd be interested in the information you have on the Jerusalem church and its move to Pella.

Charles Sebold said...

Gene Bridges: I'd be interested in the information you have on the Jerusalem church and its move to Pella.

Sorry, Eusebius mentions it. Totally missed that. Nevermind.

Rhology said...

I love you guys for not shying away from the tough topics. This post, however, is disappointing and not well-reasoned.

Grace and peace,
ALAN

Bryan said...

Excellent point Rita, one that I so often try to make. We can agree to disagree about many different things if we can agree on where our salvation comes from.

This or that may or may not be dangerous and like brothers and sisters in Messiah we can discuss it and then let God work in our hearts and direct us toward what His Word is saying and where His Spirit is leading.

Thank you Rita for making that point very eloquently.

Praise God.

Daryl said...

"Remember that all will bow down to a Jew someday!"

That comment sums up the whole problem I think. The comment itself is technically true but read in the context of the whole comment is completely untrue. That is, while it is true and important that Jesus was a Jew, it is more important that he is God. Let's not lose sight of that.

The attitude in that quote is exactly the kind of thing Paul was trying to avoid and exactly the kind of division Pastor Kreloff is trying to warn us against.

Is not "Remember that all will bow down to God some day" far truer and a far wiser thing to say?

Sewing said...

That comment made me uncomfortable, too. I thank God for all my fellow Jewish believers in Christ, who like me are sons of Abraham by both the flesh and the Spirit.

Jews have suffered at the hands of a church that has historically cast itself in exclusively gentile terms, in direct contravention of Paul's clear admonition in Romans 11:17-22. The solution, though, is not to swing the other way and replace gentile arrogance with Judeocentric arrogance—such as Paul struggled against elswhere in Romans and in Galatians—but to forge a new body of believers in Christ, a single body, both Jewish and Gentile; children of both Isaac and Ishmael, as well as Ham and Japheth; Caucasian, African, and Asian; male and female. A single church that celebrates and is nourished by its Jewish roots (Romans 11:16-18), but into which Jewish believers have returned, with new life breathed in by God through the Gospel and not the Law, in fulfillment of his promises through Ezekiel (37:1-6) and Paul (Romans 11:23-24).

By the way, I struggled for nearly 20 years with the question of authenticity: was it right for me as a Jew to "convert" to Christianity? The saving words which I heard from Romans 11 and Ezekiel 37 were preached in a conservative, predominantly (99.9%) Gentile (but multi-ethnic) church—by a pastor who nevertheless understood intimately the struggles Jews have with the Christian faith because of the misapplication of the Gospel through history. We as a body of believers celebrate a largely Gentile mode of faith, but our pastor preaches on the whole Bible, both Old and New Testaments, and through the counsel of the Holy Spirit, honours the Lord, the God of my ancestors, every time he preaches.

Plus he pronounces "hasidic" ("chasidic") and "Yahweh" (as opposed to "Jehovah") correctly, so gets bonus points for that....

Michael Bugg said...

I have to, with all respect, disagree strongly with this article. It is written with all due Christian grace, but however unintentionally, it presents just another "We have freedom in Christ to be Gentile, but not to be Jewish" argument. Nor does it really show an awareness that Messianism has answers to all of the author's objections from the Scriptures.

I've written a full rebuttal on my own blog, The B'rit Chadasha Pages, at the behest of one of my readers, which I hope that the author and other readers here will be interested in.

God bless, and Shalom!

italianreformer said...

Michael Bugg hmmmmm.... you do realize that the writer of the article is Jewish right?

Tom said...

Not to mention the fact that many followers of "messianic judaism" are gentiles.

I would recommend a book by Baruch Maoz, Judaism is not Jewish: A friendly critique of the Messianic Movement.

David said...

Did you know Yeshua practiced "Judaism" that's why they called him "The Rabi". But the goyim don't understand that. They hate jewish ways, they will eat pig to make thier Jewish brothers to fall into sin knowing that the jewish way of thinking it is a sin for the jews to eat pig's! wwjd??/ eat pig!! did he die on the cross so the goyim can eat as much swine as they like? Hummm good! why do the goyim not follow the Master Rabbi Yeshua? But, only the words of Rabbi Shaul (Paul)? Why do thay talk about love but HATE the Jews?

Daryl said...

Ease up David. Paul & Jesus in no way contradict each other. Offering ham to a Christian Jew is hardly tempting them to sin. Remember Peter's vision before he went to see Cornelius?

Clearly you've convinced yourself that we all hate Jews without bothering to consider the facts...

David said...
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David said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David said...

Did You Know Jesus Is a Jew?

Have you ever felt like there was something missing in Christianity? There's a new (well its sort of old really) wave happening to some Christians--they're finding out the roots of their faith are in Judaism. That's right--there's a Jew in you! How can this be? Oh Vay!! You say?

Jesus (whose Hebrew name is Yeshua-which means salvation) is the Jewish Messiah and Scripture tells us that He makes His home in us when we put our faith in Him. So what's missing in your walk with the Messiah? The pure and rich root of the olive tree--Israel, the Hebrew roots of Christianity!

Remember someday you to will bow to a Jew!!
Now, Is that Cool!?! I think so.

Shalom.

P.S. Peter's dream is not about food, it's about people (goyim) you see a Jew can't eat food with a person that is unclean! (a non-jew) so if you are a follower of Yeshua, G-d has made you clean! Praise Yah!

Sewing said...

David:

The author of the post is a Jew. I am a Jew, too. I would daresay the goyim who run this blog or comment on it are all well aware of Jesus' Jewishness and the Jewishness of all his talmidim.

I wouldn't have been saved if I hadn't heard the Gentile senior pastor at my church preach in a way that made me as a Jew feel welcome among a community of Gentiles, by clearly emphasizing in the sermon that saved me that Gentiles are wild branches grafted in, nourished solely by the Jewish roots of the cultivated olive tree of the Lord's chosen people. For the first time in my life that day, I realized that Christianity is my religion as a Jew—that it's not even a question of converting, but completing my Jewishness by affirming Jesus as Son of God and Messiah. It was a Gentile whom God used to point that out to me.

No one on this blog has demonstrated to me any dislike, mistrust, misunderstanding, or misrepresentation of Jews or their rightful place in the Christian church—the universal church of Jews and Gentiles who affirm Jesus Christ, Y'shua haMashiach, as their Lord and Saviour.

Daryl said...

David,

Can't say as I've ever felt there was something missing from Christianity...but if there was I wouldn't be keeping the Old Testament ceremonial law. That's where you seem to have come off the tracks. Yes, Peter's dream was about people, but it was also about anything the old law made unclean.

There is not a different standard of sin from Jew to Gentile. While there are culturally Jewish differences, Paul seems pretty clear in Galatians and other places, those difference do not include an allegiance to the old law.
Paul is plain the if you think you must keep the kosher laws (as a Jew) then you must also keep the whole law and have then trampled on Christ and made his sacrifice of no benefit to yourself.
If, on the other hand, following those practices is a way of keeping in touch with your Jewishness and are not considered mandatory to either yourself or anyone else, then more power to you.

Only remember this, they do nothing to improve your standing with God and they certainly don't make you a more authentic Christian just because Jesus happened to be a Jew too.

They are no more or less cultural than baseball and apple pie, but are on exactly the same level.
If that is your view, more power to you. If the former is your view, (and that attitude certainly comes through in your comments) then why call yourself a Christian? Why not just call yourself a Jew?

Michael Bugg said...

To italianreformer:

Yes, I was aware that the author of the piece is Jewish by birth. Should that have changed my response any?

To Tom:

Yes, and many are also Jews. Your point?

To Sewing:

I'm glad you found Messiah, and I don't disparage your right to Hellenize if that is where you find your fulfillment. But it was never the teaching of the Apostles that Jewish believers should cease to live as Jews or cease keeping the Torah, nor did they envision a Christianity completely sundered from the synagogue.

To Daryl:

I answered your points in my article. Acts 21 is pretty clear that the Apostles did expect Jewish believers to keep the Torah. That Christendom insists on reading a writing of Paul (Galatians) in a manner that directly contradicts the life of Paul is something of a mystery.

Messianism has developed answers to all of the standard Christian arguments against it. It would be nice if my Sunday brethren would take the time to read our arguments and explain where exactly you find fault with them instead of simply assuming that we've never cracked open Galatians.

Shalom, and God bless!

David said...

I think the goyim that run this site is playing us? and is dividing The body of Yeshua with stuff like this! see how condescending he is!

djp said,

Your rabbi is "Yeshua"? I'm in America. Where are you? Who's "Yeshua"? You have a source for that? Do you mean "Jesus"? But you refer to "Paul." Is that the apostle Paul? But the same translations that call him "Paul" call his (and my) Lord "Jesus." Now, if you're trying to get all deeper-than-anyone-else, I still don't get where "Yeshua" comes from. The Testament is in Greek, and it never refers to a "Yeshua." Is that what you guess Jesus' name is in some other language than the Testament was written in? Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't; what do you gain by going past the translations of our culture to a name that isn't the name the Testament gives? I mean, if you imagine something's wrong with "Jesus," then you're stuck with "Iesous," and we'll call Paul "Paulos" — unless you're just going to make it up. Or do you think there's something magical about Hebrew? Then wow, nobody is going to recognize any Biblical name — Yitzhaq, Sh'lomoh, Yesha`yahu... yikes.

And in that case, shouldn't you change your name to "Dawid"?

djp statement; Anti-Semitism thought-out! This is something Hilter would have said to German Christians. Just take out the word America out and replace it with Germany.

djp is a very wild olive branch!

Daryl said...

David...(& liked minded folk)

Your accusations are so ridiculous as to beyond belief. Who is advocating this division you're claiming? Sounds to me like those who are pushing so hard for a Jewish branch of Christianity and a separate "goyim" (a word you use with the same tone as the n-word) branch...

Remember if you ever knew it, the olive tree is not Jewishness, it is Jesus. And you & I were not grafted in due to any Jewish privilege but by the mercy of God alone.

Your accusations of Anti-Semitism and comparisons to Hitler are making it more and more clear to me that you (David) may not even be a Christian at all and so have no part in this conversation.

Daryl said...

Michael Bugg,

by the way, I read your article and frankly it does read as though you've never read or never understood Galatians. Insisting that Christians of any stripe, Jew or Gentile or any other category you wish to come up with, MUST observe the OT ceremonial laws flies so directly in the face of everything Paul wrote that is sounds like another gospel completely.
Again, if this obervance is strictly voluntary and because you like to do it, more power to you, otherwise...

David said...

It seem that people can't read very well, and are very much like sheep. It must be that cheep grace that the chruch is peddling. where the cost of beinning a christian is cool. so sad!!

Yeshua, forgive the goyim for there hate to the jews.
and theere jugemental hatefull words

Michael Bugg said...

Daryl,

"by the way, I read your article and frankly it does read as though you've never read or never understood Galatians."

Since you don't actually give an argument from Galatians, your statement amounts to mere opinion without a basis. You are welcome to engage me on Galatians here, on my blog, or privately via email. But please lose the condescending assumption that one who disagrees with your interpretation is therefore ignorant of the subject by default.

"Insisting that Christians of any stripe, Jew or Gentile or any other category you wish to come up with, MUST observe the OT ceremonial laws flies so directly in the face of everything Paul wrote that is sounds like another gospel completely."

Then apparently you think that Paul and James were preaching another Gospel, per Acts 21. Moreover, by inserting the "must" (implying that I or any other Messianic considers this a matter of salvation) you demonstrate that you have not even made a bare effort to understand Messianic theology before deigning to criticize it.

To repeat and clarify: We believe that the Feasts and other commandments of the Torah which the Church long ago abandoned are not a curse, but are a marvelous blessing which we gave up only to our loss. We keep the Feasts and Commandments, not for salvation, but because our Savior did, and while we would that you share this blessing with us, we respect your right to turn it down.

Where exactly is the "must" in that?

Daryl said...

Michael,

I apologize for the attitude I've presented in previous comments. I was confused as to your view-point as you seemed at times to be taking the side of David whose racist-like attitude to Gentiles and his insistence that not keeping the ceremonial laws constituted sin to the Jewish Christian turned me off rather abruptly.

I've re-read your article. What stands between us I suppose, is the apparent divide that I see appearing between Jewish and non-Jewish believers. For myself I see the dangers Kreloff talks about in a different light than you do perhaps simply because of our human tendency to discover what we might "do" in order to secure our salvation. While I understand that observing feasts can serve as a reminder to us, keeping other ceremonial laws (kosher etc) cxan quickly become a stumbling block (witness the prohibition on alcohol in some quarters)

Again, forgive my condescending attitude, I was only answering David in the spirit of his comments and failed to differentiate you and he.

Michael Bugg said...

Daryl,

I appreciate and gladly accept your apology. Something that I'd like everyone here to keep in mind is that the Messianic/Hebrew Roots movement is by no means monolithic. We did not evolve out of a single congregation like, for example, the Presbyterians and Lutherans--and notice how much difference in teaching and emphasis one can find there! Rather, we developed as many different congregations which spontaneously sprung up (evidence, I believe, of a move of the Spirit); consequently, many of our doctrines, emphases, and attitudes vary greatly between different congregations--let alone individuals--and continue to be the subjects of much healthy debate among us today.

Now regarding your concern that the ceremonial laws may lead to a stumbling block, let me point out that your example, prohibition on alcohol, did not spring up in the "ceremony laden" Jewish community, but rather in the Christian community that rejects the ceremonial commandments of the Torah! Therefore, you actually undermine your own argument there.

The fact is that the prohibition on alcohol came out of an overemphasis and misinterpretation of certain commands and teachings in the NT: generally the command for sobriety and the teaching that we are the Temples of the Spirit. Does that mean that keeping these teachings poses a threat to the Body?

Of course not! The abuse of a teaching does not repudiate the teaching itself.

For kosher, while I believe that it is a command that brings blessing for those who keep it with the right heart (I kept it for a year before God revealed to me the point of doing so), it's also a command that is at the very bottom of my list of things to exhort someone about. The most I do is to point out that that the NT does not say that the command has been done away with, and then leave it to the Spirit and the hearer's conscience to take it from there. You'll note that in that same article, I point out that the Torah itself does not make kosher a requirement for Gentile followers of the One True God. I do believe that Jews should keep kosher, but that is as much as anything else because I do not desire to see the Jewish people destroyed by assimilation.

I hope that clears things up between us somewhat. If you ever have any other questions, I would be happy to answer them for you; just drop me a note.

Your brother in Yeshua ("Salvation"),
Mike

Derek Leman said...

I am a Messianic Jewish leader in Atlanta. I am late to this post and perhaps no one will read my comment.

I want to be brief and the theological issues brought up here demand too many words.

Let me simply say that Pastor Kreloff has misjudged the Messianic Jewish movement. No doubt there are segments within it that are theologically ignorant. Yet this post is unfair to the movement as a whole.

Pastor Kreloff also has some very specific interpretations of Paul's view of the law and that of Hebrews. He has not demonstrated by exegetical logic that he is correct.

The discussion of the continuing role of the law for a Jewish believer is far more complex than Pastor Kreloff or Mr. Johnson have indicated. I imagine they are aware that many views exist within Christendom.

Derek Leman
derek4messiah.wordpress.com

dawn said...

I am in awe to the words of David. I agree with him completely and admire his ability to continue to converse with the blind and the deaf. To christians everywhere, ask your Creator and Savior to give you eyes that see and ears that hear and a heart that understands and He will open a door of blessing to you that you will not be able to contain. I tell you this out of love and because I am like a wine skin ready to bust. Peace

dawn said...

Why did the Jews have sacrificial lambs for the forgiveness of sins? Was it so they didn't have to keep the Torah anymore? No, it was for when they tried to keep it but failed because they were human. That is why Yeshua was sacrificed, so that we could have forgiveness when we are unable to keep the Torah, but we are still to try. It is the gap between the Commands and our abilities that our Savior fills.

mode ani l'fanecha said...

wow dawn! you made such a great point there... now i might be too late for this but, about the feasts... if gentiles dont have to obsereve them then why in zechariah 14 does it say that in When the lord comes and reigns 'the survivors from all the nations that have attacked jerusalem will go up yr after yr. to worship the king, the Lord almighty, and to celebrate the feast of tabernacles.' and if any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to celebrate the feast of tabernacles they will have no reign. now explain that to me... you do believe that zechariah is a prophetic book, yeah? so then, why would God have us do it in the begining, then not do it, to do it again? now what about in isaiah? this is clearly a major prophetic book in the bible... so what does the Lord say about the sabbath? hmm... read chapter 66:23.. and these are the words of Adonai himself. and about eating kosher, the lord speaks about that too! in isaiah 66:17 "those who consecrate themselves and purify themselves to go into the gardens, following the one in the midst of those who eat the flesh of swine and rats and other abominable things- they will meet there end together," declares the Lord.' he is clearly speaking about when he returns... so if he doesnt mind if we dont keep kosher now then why would he do such a thing in the future? remember, the lord does not change... he is the same yesterday today and tomorrow. i makes me so sad to know that there are people out there who speak against things that they really dont know about. by the way, When Yeshua comes back to take his bride with him, we are going to be in the new Jerusalem. i believe that God could have clearly made it another name, or simple a place with no need for a name, but he chose for it to be jerusalem. wow. :) i am not trying to speaking down to anyone... so if my words offended anyone in anyway, i pray that God forgive me and you forgive me aswell... God knows my heart and knows that this wasnt meant for harm or for any sarcasm. blessings... mel

Jonathan50 said...

After reading this Pyromanics opinion column, I am again unsettled! Since my discovery of the Messianic way of life back in November 2006, I had found this lifestyle to be more complete and satisfying than being a "plain Christian." A couple of months ago, I attended my local Jewish synagogue, where one of the members told me that "Christians aren't obligated to follow the commandments of Torah." I was surprised to hear this, since our Master had actually asked all people from all generations to follow his commandments, including those pertaining to His major festivals and observances, not just the 10 Commandments. In the Pyromanics column, I perceive that the author is echoing the same feelings, as expressed by the synagogue member. It reminds me of the history lesson I had learned about Roman Emperor Constantine, who I believe had a major abhorrence towards the Jewish people. Through his power, we have both the Catholic Church, and the present structure of Christianity worldwide. Wasn't he the famous ruler who imposed a "Sundays-only" day of worship, and put to death anyone found guilty of worshipping on any other day of the week, including Saturdays, the original worship day for Christians? Besides the abolition of Passover and the Festival of Booths as holy days to be observed within the Christian Church -- days commanded to all of us by our Master -- are we beginning to experience a similar, but more peaceful abolition among today's Christian and Messianic believers? As one person has told me: "Man will change God's laws to suit his tastes, but God is the same, yesterday, now, and forever." And may it be so!

Chibi said...

Wow...you are so anti-semitic!!! Pretty sad when we serve a Jewish Messiah and a Hebrew God.

Phillip said...
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