Skip to comments.Messianic Jews: Just Plain Creepy? (rare Vanity from FrPR)
Posted on 04/12/2010 11:06:48 PM PDT by FrPR
Can you imagine if you had a friend who did not accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, but who went on and on about their Christian faith and Christianity?
What if "Christianity" was their core identity, deeply woven into every facet of their visible life, and one about which they spoke almost incessantly?
What if your friend had, in many circles, made himself a veritable spokesman for Christianity - and yet he avowedly did not accept Jesus?
I am indebted to Christian institutions for the love and education they gave me at a tender age, and have probably been to Church more times than many of my Christian friends. However, I have always been a Jew. By birth, by faith, by choice.
I may not be a very "good" Jew, but I am not a "recovering" Jew. I am not a proto-Buddhist "Jew-Boo," and I am certainly not a "messianic" Jew. I am an American and will defend your right to believe whatever you like and worship freely. I enjoyed Christian traditions and defend them in our schools. One of my oldest friends is a Moslem Iraqi. I think he's wrong about his faith, but I love him, and he me, and we've been watching each others' backs since we were little boys. Freedom of worship and a touch of cultural respect. That's that.
As far as respect goes: If I were ever to accept Jesus of Nazareth as my personal Lord and Savior I would surely never, ever disassociate myself from the legacy, the scholarship and martyrdom of the name: Christian. If I were ever to become a Christian, I would call myself a Christian.
But what indeed is in a name?
Jews are Jews. We may disagree about almost everything else, but on messianic matters, we are in almost complete agreement. His name is not Jesus from Nazareth. His name is not Shneerson from the Bronx. Nor is he or was he any of the many hundreds of 'messiahs' to work wonders and perform miracles in our last few thousand years on this planet. It may be heartbreaking for you to know, but we just don't believe.
Jews are the fragile, beautiful, brave, extraordinarily powerful guardians of monotheism.
I believe we are here because G-d wants us to be here. I have often wondered, with all of our problems, whether the Jews would simply die off some day.
But I never thought our name would be stolen from us.
I have been increasingly irritated with the invariable treatises on Jewishness with which 'messianic jews' pepper the dinner-tables, forums, and margins of my life, and the lives of others.
They expound at length about the Jews, and their Jewishness, and the Pentateuch, and scripture. Their extemporaneous sermons are usually garnished with a touch of Hebrew. And then, at the critical moment, all about "Yeshua," the Hebrew name for Jesus. Every time.
Perhaps, if you are a Christian, you are thinking: "so what? The man described herein is saved. What does it matter if he appropriates aspects of the ancient faith, the old covenant, and weaves them seamlessly into the present Truth?"
Well? What's in a name? What if your friend told you, as many "religious leaders" will, that the Christian scriptures are now to be taken with a grain of salt, that the Church and Bible are flawed and should be adapted, piecemeal, to the secular realities of our time. He might say "...Surely, my friend, the fact that Jesus "turned the other cheek" is the only ever-present lesson for humanity, and that is enough, whether or not he existed at all. The Nicene Creed and the like are simply remnants from a dark age of clerical oppression. Christian Values are the trans-generational legacy of the faith, as emphasized by Francis Bacon, Wm. Shakespeare et al., in their transcendent interpretation. Regardless of our minor disagreements, this, surely, is the only present truth of Christianity. And I say this, as a Christian."
Juliet was wrong. A name is a very powerful and important thing.
There are many other things that creep me out.
Many Jews, myself included, try not to take the Lord's name in vain. That means (in a tradition surely passed down for thousands of years) we NEVER say the real name (as close to it as we know) and we SURELY never write it. (This is because it will be deleted, or burned, or thrown in the trash at some point - it's disrespectful.) But with 'messianic jews' - always, always, they say, and repeat, the name. This is not kosher, and it's not Jewish.
Why do they do it?
Why must so many 'messianic jews' claim to be of the Jewish faith, then twist it, and distort it, and then AMPLIFY their views incessantly, as "Jews"?
Perhaps many are too insecure to call themselves - plainly and proudly - CHRISTIANS.
Perhaps they do not wish to be fully associated with Christians. Perhaps they are trying to pull some sort of "spiritual rank" on others. If they are, why do they often do, say, and write, such un-Jewish things? Whenever I hear one of them say the name, I wince. And for a moment, I think of the devil and his clever disguises.
And once again I get all creeped out.
People are the funniest thing ever invented.
Be kind. Try not to be too hard on them.
If you attend a Korean Christian church on Sunday morning, you will see beautiful Korean ladies in their hanbok, serving kimchi at their potlucks and praying to 예수 (pronounced Yesu) or 예수 그리스도 (Yesu Ku-ri-su-to). Non-Chrstian Koreans don't tell Christians how to dress or what to eat during their church services!
If you attend a Kenyan Christian church, you will likely see ladies dressed in traditional Kenyan dresses and turbans. You will hear songs of praise in Swaihili or one of the other languages of Kenya. I'm sure the fellowship meal afterward will have a Kenyan flavor as well. You don't hear non-Christian Kenyans tell the Christians, "You can't wear the traditional tribal clothes to your services. You can't preach your sermons in Swahili", etc.
Even in the Arab world, Christians all over the Arab world pray to Allah, and visit their church wearing their keffiyahs, etc.
Yet it seems to me that Jewish Christians are systematically denied the same right that all other Christians the world over are granted: the right to express their religion in the context of their own culture. And it's doubly pathetic since the same Torah is in the Christian bible (arranged in slightly different order) as it is in the Jewish one.
I just don’t understand. I thought messianic Jews WERE Jews. They just keep the laws of Moses and believe in Jesus. Not to be flippant, but it reminds me of Ned Flanders “keeping Kosher”. I just don’t get why this is “creepy”. Even Muslims revere Jesus as the “breath of God”.
Are all things equal?
Jesus is the Christ; while on earth, He was also a Jew. He even told the disciples to bring the good news to the lost sheep of Israel first. He didn’t tell the Jews to stop being Jews; thus, they simply are Messianic Jews. I’m a Messianic Gentile, Christian for short. Messiah, the Christ, Immanuel, in Jesus’ case, all describe Him. Universally, we are all simply Believers.
Exactly! Jesus explicity said he came for the Jews. He said there is “another flock” referring to Gentiles. But the Jews were always first on his mind.
I know three Jewish people from New York City, two Conservative, one Reformed, that converted to Christianity.
Who are you to tell them they can’t believe in Yeshua as the Messiah?
We are all different so if people want to be Christians but celebrate Judaism too, that is OK, but Jews, myself included, despise being lied to in an attempt to convert us. There is such a thing among the Messianic Jews. They pretend they are having a Jewish holiday, try to attract Jews, and then they bring up the theology of the Christian religion as sort of a surprise or trick. And attempt to convert. Not cool.
Is it ok with you if I be a messianic gentile?
I have to ask, why not just say “no thanks”. I do that with Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons. And liberals.
This is a very interesting post.
On FR, Catholics attack protestants, protestants attack Mormons. Everyone attacks everyone else’s religion. Since Tiger got caught, there has been a lot of ignorance directed at Buddhists.
I understand your frustration. We had a former Lutheran over at Thanksgiving. He had converted to a “Jews for Jesus” kind of thing and insisted on blowing a shofar before dinner.
It seemed shallow and foolish to me, but I realized that, for now, he had found joy and wanted to share it with us.
One person’s religion is another person’s cult.
“Do not do to others that which you despise”. -Hillel
“Do for others what you would want them to do for you”- Jesus
The two religions aren’t so far apart. That’s why we have the term, Judeo-Christian.
Heh...has been, even.
I think we all despise the “bait-and-switch,” whether it’s sales, philosophy, or religion. But what you consider the B&S may be a genuine attempt to demonstrate exactly what the narratives and elements of the blessed past foreshadow.
To the Christian, Judaism is not an enemy - it is the foundation of everything we believe. Everything from Genesis to Malachi points to Messiah.
Some may do it in a sneaky way, but some have a genuine love and joy in their heart that they want to share.
You lost me as a reader when you used the word “creepy” in the title.
Hey that’s worthy of DU or the kos kids.
Why not trot over there and ask them?
I have always wondered; for Jews who believe in a coming messiah how would you recognize him if he were to show up on your doorstep tomorrow?
Um...those Jewish holidays are in their Bible, too! Who are you to tell them they can't celebrate them?!
I used to work with a guy with the last name of Fuller. I got angry with him one day because of purely a work issue. He said, "it's because I'm Jewish, isn't it!" It was interesting because he had always claimed to be an atheist. I had no idea that he was "Jewish" Orthodox or otherwise. All I knew was that he finally admitted he had never balanced a check book.
I won't even try to find an Orthodox Jew criticizing Christians on FR. I don't know most people's religion on here anymore than Fuller's."
I do know that it is the nature of religion to be convinced that you are right and everyone else is wrong. I suspect that even pious Orthodox Jews do too.
ping for later
I scanned through the comments, and only saw one (the one that referred to Korean Christians) that started to get to what I see as the issue with Messianic Jews.
I’ve spoken with quite a few Messianic Jews. I’ve never heard one renounce faith in Jesus of Nazareth or renounce the title, “Christian.”
Rather, Messianic Jews recognize (correctly, I would argue), that Jesus fulfilled over 300 specific prophesies, and essentially fulfilled and lived out the entire Scripture in His life and work. The Scriptures are filled with references of the coming the Messiah. And Messianic Jews believe that they are following Judaism as God intended Judaism to be.
As one example from Jesus Himself, in John 5:46 Jesus said, “If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me.”
I’ve got a book in my library titled, “The Tabernacle of Moses,” by Kevin Conner. It relates in detail the Tabernacle to Christ.
Another example would be the Passover. John the Baptist called Jesus in John 1:29 “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” Here in the Passover is a Jewish ritual that Jesus specifically commands all future generations of Christians to perform. I once attended a Jewish Passover Seder service, in which all the elements and activities were explained in light of Jesus’ fulfillment.
Jesus said in John 3:14, “And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up.” When the Jews looked at the serpent, they lived; so also, when believers look at Jesus in His work on the cross, they likewise live.
Going back even further, Jesus said of Abraham in John 8:56: “Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.”
Jesus said in Matthew 5:17, “I did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it.”
There’s just so many examples.
So Messianic Jews continue to live out the various specifically Jewish rituals and feasts believing that they provide teaching and insight about Jesus and their Christian faith.
I agree with them. I’ve sought to learn more about biblical Jewish practices so I can learn more about my Christian faith.
You clearly know and affirm the concept of “the Judeo-Christian worldview.” Knowledgeable Jews and Christians alike should see how much magnificent treasure is stored up in what Christians call “the Old Testament.”
I wear a Star of David whenever I leave the house. It is sterling, and the idea is that it is formed from the nails (of a cross).
I don’t merely wear it as a Christian symbol, but as a Jewish one. Basically, it comes down to this: if anyone wants to attack a Jew, I want him to attack me as well. I stand with the Jews, and with Israel - and defend both (and call upon my government to do the same) even to my own hurt.
Psalm 122:6 (”Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: May those who love you be secure”) is a passionate verse for Christians such as myself as well as Jews. I think the reason for that is also part of the reason why Jewish Christians still proudly bear the title “Jew.”
I forgot to mention something about the name of G-D (I use your usage out of respect).
I happen to have a Hebrew Bible. One thing I note is that IT doesn’t omit letters. Nor do I see any commandments to omit letters for the name/s of God in any of the actual Books we both regard as the Bible.
I just wanted to challenge you with that. Are you really not a real Jew if you don’t do something that Moses and the prophets very likely themselves also didn’t do?
I don’t mean to offend, but I think that’s a valid point.
Another thing I’ve always wondered about. We don’t just have the title “G-D.” G-D gave us His personal covenant name (also known as the Tetragrammaton).
Anyway, I’ve always wondered: if G-D didn’t want us to call on His name, why did He give it to us in the first place?
What does it even mean to “call upon the name of the Lord” (Genesis 4:26) if we make it so we CAN’T call upon the name of the Lord?
I hope you understand my confusion on that point. When I don’t want children calling me by my first name, I introduce myself as “Mr. Eden.” Why would G-D give us His name, and then demand we don’t call upon Him by name?
Why did G-D tell Moses to tell the Jews in Egypt that name? Why was it okay for the prophets to record G-D’s name/s, but not us when we write down those very same verses?
On this subject, and the fact that Messianic Jews don’t always follow “Jewish custom,” the same thing applied to the twelve apostles. They were all Jews, and in many ways they continued to live and worship as Jews. But in some ways they changed: they worshiped on Sunday, rather than on the Sabbath, for example.
To sum up in a few words, I would argue that the Messianic Jews are following in the tradition and pattern established by the first Jewish Christians in adhering to some traditions, but not to others.
I thank God for those Messianic Jews in the first century. James, John, Peter, Paul, Mary.... They turned the world “upside down”. :)
I would argue that the test of true religion is whether it’s actually TRUE.
Christians believe Jesus is God the Son, and believe in the Tri-une Godhead. Muslims argue it is blasphemy to even think God has a Son, and God must be strictly unitary.
When we look at the Eastern religions, the very idea of a personal God is done away with altogether.
Clearly, only one of these views can possibly be correct - or TRUE.
On most issues, I don’t take the view that it is somehow wrong to believe I’m right, and others are wrong. 2 + 2 = 4. And if you don’t believe that, you’re wrong. Period.
If you think it’s okay to feed your baby arsenic, I think it’s okay to call the police and report that you’re killing your child.
If you think it’s okay to stand naked in the street during rush hour traffic, don’t ask me to go on a walk with you.
Religion is the most important thing in my life. And I’d kind of like my religion to be true, which is to say, to represent the world and God as it and He actually is.
Finally, I also believe that Christianity happens to be true, and every belief that opposes it is false. That “attitude” is quite biblical (see 2 Corinthians 10:3-5; see John 14:6).
Since I believe that Christianity is true, and Jesus really IS the way, the truth, and the life, and that no man comes to the Father except by Him, I TELL people. And I do so out of love, not out of intolerance. If I don’t tell my friend about Jesus, and he goes to hell, what kind of friend was I?
If someone has cancer, and needs chemo, I don’t want to tell them that it’s perfectly okay if they smoke extra cigarettes instead. If I want that person to live, I tell him about the need for chemo. And for Christ.
If you are a Christian, and you read your Bible, and you believe what you say you believe is really true, you’re going to proselytize every single chance you get.
Now, you might agree with every word I said. And you just meant, “I’m not going to point a gun at somebody and say, “Believe like I do, or I’ll pull the trigger.” And of course, I readily agree with that. And if someone doesn’t want to hear my Christian testimony, I’m not going to just shout louder; I’ll respect that person’s wishes.
When a discussion about religion becomes bitter or hateful, I think it is time to quit having that discussion. People harden their hearts and their opinions in anger. That’s not fertile ground.
On the downside, most sane people would probably agree to disagree if an argument got real hot and angry and they were face to face or even talking on the phone. But on the internet, people seem to think that they MUST HAVE the last word on the last post, and it just goes on and on.
You talk all about your "tolerance" and then set it to the torch by making fun of another faith tradition because it doesn't conform to your ideals. And, worse, your complaint is that some Christians have discovered what was banned to them by the Roman Emperor, the Talmud and the Mishnah, the festivals and Shabbot.
Grow up. Get a life.
The Messianic's used to be all about preparing some sort of covert trap for Jews to convert them. This has since mostly passed from the scene and now, yes it is very much a group of Ned Flanders "playing" at Jewishness and some even digging in with both hands. And I will give you, there is a bit of creepy factor when these people meet real Jews not because of their acting superior, but because they are excessively differential. Where this goes for them, nobody knows.. but they are not a threat to Normative Judaism. Except perhaps their websites are better in some cases.
Mostly, these groups are functioning as a bridge to bring Jewish traditions into the more mainstream Christian denominations, especially the Baptist and Assemblies of God denominations.
Personally, my sisters were eaten whole by the Christian cult groups that were existing in the 70's on campuses because my folks believed in letting us "make up our own minds." And, we avoided (The younger children) these sibs because we didn't want to be made into pod people. And this split had persisted until very recently when the younger of us have returned to normative Jewish congregations and they have begun practicing Messianic Judaism.
Personally, I thing they are coming our way rather than thinking there is any chance that this affectation will change the underlying issue that for Jews the obligation and bond with God is direct and needs no intermediary. No need to graft the shoot onto its own root, it came from there already.
The Joo-Boo phenomena has been a rich source of new insight for Jews. I definitely lived there for many years except I didn't really do the Jew thing then.. it wasn't until I found myself always talking about God as part of understanding the Buddhist teachings that I found myself on the path to really really loving the study of Torah. I feel Buddhists are the ultimate agnostics, and I also feel that they are kidding themselves about Karma, their explanation for the visible presence of the hand of God in ordering the events of the world. But, at least they admin that some force seems to keep weighing in and balancing the scales, thats a start.
My real concern is that of all of the people of faith that I ever met, many Jews are the most afraid to believe, to cast their lives into God's hands. Its like any other skill, one that takes some practice.
Let the Messianic's to their fun.
It is reasonable to note that, no they aren't Jews. But, the name isn't fooling anyone I know because they are pretty clear where they leave the fold. And our good Jewish holidays and customs are good for their souls just the same.
And were you tricked? Can someone being nice to you but proclaiming Christian faith be any different from all of the other Christians who thought they would take a stab at this? I mean really. Jews have had no end of "opportunities" to see and understand what evangelists are peddling. If it was easy to turn a Jew, then all of the coercive tactics used through out the ages wouldn't have been tried.
Still, obviously, when presented with a plate of treif, the Jew respectfully declines. When presented with an uncomfortable situation, a Jew leaves. If you want to stay and address their entreaty directly, you share why you can never accept what they are selling because all Jews stand at the foot of Mt. Sinai and make their own commitment to God which they will not forswear for any promise of earthly or heavenly delight. Its a promise to God. If you can't keep that, what can you keep?
The Christians of Spain, having insisted that Jews convert to Christianity on penalty of expulsion and homelessness, found that they couldn't believe a Jew would actually convert for real. The work of the Inquisition was to root out the false converts, because the thought of Jews who couldn't keep their oath to God made any other oath they made suspect. This was a time of horror and bad choices.
You are lucky to live when no one is threatening your life because you are a Jew. Still, each Jew has a life long struggle of temptation to accept false gods and idols. If you are secure in your faith, you are more of a threat to these people than they will ever be to you.
I don’t get what is creepy? In a world of real and tangible evil, various forms of religious practices are interesting, not “creepy”.
Anyway, Ive always wondered: if G-D didnt want us to call on His name, why did He give it to us in the first place?
I think someone wrote about this in this thread already, but Jews don't burn the name of God but instead bury any texts containing the sacred names of God. The G-d thing is an affectation that says that even the word God is a sacred name and thus must be avoided, lest it need to be disposed of at some point. But where do electronic words go? mmmm.. anyway. Its a respect thing. And there isn't as much respect in this world as their might be. So, those who use G-d are welcome to it.. as long as they don't wet their pants if I don't.
I would say the same about Catholics. I have had to explain my faith endlessly. People throw around anti Catholic lies like footballs. I have never seen an anti Protestant post. I certainly wouldn't dedicate time to slandering another faith, only defending my own against lies and distortions. Even the cashier at Publix today, told me I was in the wrong church because it was Catholic. She doesn't know a thing about me, except that my child's uniform was from a Catholic school. Now THAT is bizarre. Even J. Witnesses aren't silly enough to think that they can evangelize by criticizing others religions.
Well written . . .
However . . .
there must be more critically urgent things to be annoyed about.
Mostly, it seems to me . . . humans, as Lincoln said, decide whether to be happy, or not . . . and what to be annoyed about, or not.
Trickery is not particularly admirable . . . particularly outrageous trickery in the name of religion.
On the other hand . . . sounds like any such invitations would be suspect from the outset.
So where would the surprise be, really?
However, I suspect some might be willing to offer attack training! LOL.
I have always wondered; for Jews who believe in a coming messiah how would you recognize him if he were to show up on your doorstep tomorrow?
I hope to read an answer hereon.
Catholics also view Jesus as a fulfillment of the prophets. We also have many traditions that some Christians criticize, because they don’t have the same religious history. There are also some who think that when God said, “don’t put your traditions before me”, He meant don’t have traditions.
Tell, is ok. Insist, that is not ok.
I noticed that you talk about the Muslims faith in the unity of God but miss entirely that the Jews have proclaimed this for thousands of years before the first Mohammedan crawled the earth.
Ultimately, I think your statement that there is a single "truth" other than God is naive. For, the promise of Christianity, the promise of individual immortality is in some lines of thought a prescription for condemning oneself to everlasting "hell" being forever divided from returning from whence we came.
One could even say, the fires of hell are little more than the love of God attempting to coax the reluctant soul to let go of its attachment to its bodily life and the sins and errors that create fear of that return.
Ultimately, if the goal isn't the same, then the path to that goal is not going to be the same. Then what do you have when you argue, these are the only directions to that destination? What point can be made when the person you are advising says,"Who would want to go there?"
What comes after this life, is a question that is truly opaque to the living, but the actions of people of faith among the living are not. Christian and Jewish values have often come together in a free society such as America to promote individual freedom and responsibility as well as freedom of conscience.
In the business of giving advice, the first and foremost rule is don't give a piece of advice that isn't wanted. It doesn't do any good and it blocks the road to giving that piece of advice when that person is ready to accept it later. When you want to share your faith, and the good it can do for another person, remember that they have to be ready to accept your advice or you are simply browbeating the poor sob. If they are, you might help someone find a new start when the foolishness of their life has become too much to bear. That is when sharing is a gift, and not an offense.
You have laid this out nicely - great post.
Because all of the geneologic records have been lost, there is no way for modern Jews to know (or prove) from what tribe they are from - so there is no way to validate the geneology of Messiah "when" He does come.
UNLESS He has already come, before the records were destroyed - we can prove the geneology of Jesus of Nazareth on His mother's side as well as His Step-Father's side, because He lived at a time before the records were lost forever.
He said, “...I will say I never KNEW you...” Here it is, folks. Here is one right here.
One question: I know many, many people who call themselves Jews who do not believe in God at all. Others do, but do not keep the Sabbath, endorse abortion, promiscuity, homosexuality, and all manners of perversion and wickedness as if it were the divinely sanctioned. So I’m left to wonder: what do you say makes someone Jewish? Is a denial of Christ more important than keeping God’s law? More important than the descendency from Abraham?
Frankly, if I were Jewish, I think I’d find Mormon claims far more creepy and outrageous!!
Every Messianic Jew that I have ever met has been a remarkable individual. Not only not creepy, but amazingly beautiful of soul and spirit.
Why is it that a Jew can proclaim that he does not believe in God, yet still be considered a Jew, while a Jew who professes belief in Jesus being the Messiah is rejected from being considered Jewish?
My sister-in-law is a Messianic Jew, as are her daughters. They are about as un-creepy a set of people as you would find.
To add even more "pathetic" to it, the early Christians converted people to Judaism as part of their missionary work. I believe it was starting with Paul when that practice was generally dropped, but there is clearly nothing Biblically incompatible with being both Jewish and Christian.
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