It’s almost impossible to deal wtih Messianic Judaism systematically, as in a congregation of thirty MJ’s, you’re going to find at least 30 different sets of doctrinal stances, and Christoligocal heresies.
So, I’m very often going to cover the very same ground, to address the various sets of beliefs.
Yesterday, I covered the historical slide from Jews for Jesus to the Messianic jew, to the messianic Jew, to Messianic judaism, to messianic Judaism. notice the shifting of the uppercase letters – it’s deliberate.
There are certain key elements to how this happens…
- New vocabulary – You come into a Messiianic synagoue, and people are tossing around words that a Gentile hasn’t heard before. “Tallis”, “Tefillin”, “Shabbos”, “Shema”, “Kippah”, “torah”, “Yeshua”, “Brit Chadeshah”, “Haftorah”, etc. It’s dizzying. And even for the Jew (over 90% of the participants of Messianic synagogues are Gentile), there’s terms they haven’t heard before.
- The Messianic movement ona whole, prefers Sephardi terminology. So a Jew coming in has to get used to “Shabbat Shalom”, instead of the Yiddish “gut shabbes!”. So, even for many Jews, its got the same effect. You have new terminology to get used to.
- New stuff… it’s true that few converts to Christianity from Judaism are FFB (frum from birth). They’re used to and familiar with a yarmulke, but many have rarely if ever put on tefillin. It’s dazzling. There’s a push for lighting Shabbos candles, saying the brakhas (blessings), putting mezuzas on the doorway (excuse me – mezuzot)… Messianic Judaism becomes fun for people, because you buy a tallis, menorah, chanukiah, kipah, and stuff like that. If you’re not familiar with Orthodox Judaism or with Chassidic Judaism, then it gets fun because now you can do this stuff wothout having to do this stuff.
- And hey, there’s a Jewish bible, because now you’re using words like Yeshua instead of Jesus, and it just doesn’t work to be reading from a King James because it doesn’t have all the Jewish forms of the names, and people are always interrupting you, “Sha’ul, not Paul!” “Kefa, not Peter!” “Ya’akov, not James!” So you have to buy a special bible (This should set off the first warning bell *DING* Possible danger)
- And every service you’re saying the Shema, or singing it. “Shema Istael, Adonai Elohaynu, Adonai Echad…. Barukh Shem Kevod, Malchuso, L’olam Vayed”. And by repetition, it begins to get into your head. “one God, one God…”
- You start thinking of this Yeshua as Yeshua Hamoshiakh instead of Jesus Christ. A mental division takes place. (*DING* Warning sign – is this a different Jesus?) You start to prefer this Yeshua over Jesus. This Yeshua is so much more Jewish! (*DING* Heresy approaching)
- you can’t read your other bibles anymore. You just can’t stomach the differentness anymore. Why, they’re missing all the Jewish stuff! It must be a deliberate plot from antisemitic Christians to remove the Jewishness of the gospels! you share this suspicion with other Messianics in the synagogue, and find they all agree – and more, they tell you it IS a deliberate conspiracy to remove the Jewishness of Jesus from the Bible! (note – this is usually only about seven months in.)
- You begin to suspect that the Torah is mandatory. When the antisemites removed the Jewsihness of the New testament by giving Gentile names to all the jews in the bible, they also must have downplayed all the cool Tallis stuff too! The Bible obviously has been deliberately mistranslated (*DING* DANGER – Cult Awareness – you’re starting to show they’ve successfully reprogrammed you) to show that we don’t have to keep the Torah anymore.
- If the Bible has been mistranslated, what else did they leave out? Other books, perhaps? By this time (eight or nine months in) you’re convinced that salvation is saved by grace through faith… but now that you’re saved, torah observance is REQUIRED. And all those old testament verses about the Torah are STILL IN EFFECT!!! (*DING* you are now firmly in heresy zone. A year ago, you’d have denied this could happen… but guess what? It did.)
- Almost a year as a Messianic Jew, and you’ve come to the conclusion that anyone who is not keeping the torah is not maintaining their salvation, and is in danger of losing their salvation. (*DING* You’re a heretic now, advocating salvation by works)
- Wow…l fifteen months in the Judaism thing, Messianic style! Secretly you’ve come to the conclusion that one must keep the Torah or they are destined for Hell. You begin telling friends and family about the Holy Torah, and why they have to eat kosher.
- Eighteen months in, you’ve been reading a lot of Jewish writings, including the Talmud, and you’re getting the uncomfortable feeling that the Christian view of the Trinity is unBiblical. You begin sectretly believing that anyone who is a Trinitarian is going to Hell. Why are’nt they keeping the feasts, and the law? Antisemitism, it must be.
- Two years in, you’ve denied Jesus Christ. He’s not the Yeshua Hamoshiakh you believe in (*DING* CULT TERRITORY!!! You have accepted a different Jesus!).
- You’re starting to disagree with some of the people in the synagogue over Yeshua. The Shema says God is one, and you’re having trouble reconciling that with Yeshua, who must then be a man… and we all worship the Shema, right???
- The name Jesus must be pagan, you begin to think… in Spanish, its Heysus, right? So it must mean “Yay, Zeus!!!” (the cult mentality has completely changed your thinking)
- Three years in, you’re becoming convinced that Judaism is correct. You begin calling Orthodox and Chassidic synagogues, trying to find a home (for Jews) and trying to convert (for Gentiles)
The timeline is not to the day, and certainly I left out a lot, but the last two or three steps is common for about a third of those who join – because they were never saved to begin with. Others merely stay where they’re at because they lack the courage to act on their convictions (about a third) and the last third are actual saved, misled people.
Again, much of this seems to be confined to the Torah Observance groups. But we’ll be exploring this in more detail as we go along.