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Introduction to Messianic Judaism

Thank you Drs. Rudolph and Willitts!
Willitts and Rudolph have done a great Mitzvah for Messianic Judaism, providing a resource that supersedes a few ‘introductions’ of a previous era and reflecting the tremendous growth in theological capability in our movement of Jewish people to our Jewish Messiah. I see great value in I2MJ on a number of counts:

  1. While not perfect, and as was mentioned by Seth in the Rosh Pina Project, a ‘mixed bag’ it reflects the growing credibility and theological acumen of the Messianic movement (MJM).
  2. The ‘mixed bag’ further reflects where we are as a movement. We have yet to see many monographs demonstrating first-rate scholarship from our midst. However, we have a lot more than we did and we know more is on the way, giving the MJM a voice into the Jewish and Christian worlds.
  3. Published by a mainstream Christian publisher, it gives astute Christians a contemporary resource by which to understand the movement. Someday – Messianic authors will be found in the mainstream, and even Jewish press. Today, this is a step forward.
  4. Some of the published material is original research, adding to our body of knowledge of the MJM. Rudolph’s historical piece comes to mind.
  5. Because of the publisher and the reputation of some of the contributors, this book will be found in every theological training institution of any credibility. This will mean that students, pastors and scholars will use this as a key text to understand the MJM and so we should be glad that we have a word that is so much more advanced than anything we have had until now.
  6. A couple links that show how Messianic Jews are maturing theologically in the English speaking world: The Messianic Jewish Theological Symposium – http://www.messianicsymposium.eu (next in London, February 2014) and the Borough Park Symposium – http://www.boroughparksymposium.com.

A work like I2MJ is… a lot of WORK. And there is no money in it. My thanks go to Rudolph, Willitts, and all the contributors, each sterling in their own right.

Messianic Jewish Coalition Accuses the Church of Scotland of Promoting Christian Anti-Semitism

May 30, 2013 – The Church of Scotland (COS) has been involved in an international firestorm of controversy throughout the month of May because of what has been widely perceived as an anti-Israel and anti-Semitic report by its Church and Society Council entitled, “The inheritance of Abraham? A report on ‘the promised land’”. This report, which has now been overwhelmingly adopted by the General Assembly of the COS, asserts that Israel has no special Biblical right to the historic land of Israel despite the clear Biblical record and the voluminous prophecies contained in it concerning Israel’s return to the land in the latter days. Soon after the report’s initial release, the Church was forced by international and interfaith pressure to withdraw it for revision. However, the revised report that was accepted by the General Assembly included only cosmetic improvements, but did nothing to address its underlying errors and distortions, or to support the unjust recommendations with which it concludes.

The leaders of the International Messianic Jewish Alliance (IMJA), the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations (UMJC), the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America (MJAA), the International Alliance of Messianic Congregations and Synagogues (IAMCS) and the British Messianic Jewish Alliance (BMJA) are shocked and dismayed that another denomination that purports to believe the Scripture is God’s Word and to follow the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and believe in a Jewish Messiah and Savior for all could wander onto the well-worn path of Christian anti-Semitism. “The inheritance of Abraham?” sows anti-Semitic thinking into the very fabric of the denomination through the following flaws:

  1. It ignores the clear contextual teaching of Scripture in favor of a faulty, out-of- context, and biased theology. The Church of Scotland joins efforts by other denominations in recent years to oppose not only specific Israeli policies, but also the Jewish character of the state. But it goes beyond other recent statements in basing this opposition on its theological argument—repudiated in much of the Christian world today—that the ancient Jewish claim to being chosen or special in God’s sight is invalidated by the New Testament. “If Jesus is indeed the Yes to all God’s promises [2 Cor. 1:20] then for Christians the promise to Abraham about land is fulfilled through the impact of Jesus. . . .  To Christians in the 21st century, promises about the land of Israel shouldn’t be intended to be taken literally.” The target of this report, then, is not only specific Israeli policies, and not only the Jewish character of the State of Israel, but a foundational aspect of Jewish thought and identity over the ages.
  2. The report seeks to delegitimize Zionism and the modern state of Israel. The report embraces a caricature of the modern Zionist movement and the birth of the state of Israel as the product of colonialism. It cites without question Naim Ateek, head of Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center, who claims that “the sole ambition of Zionists, Christians and Jews alike, has been the acquisition of the land for the Jewish people.” Such a characterization ignores the millennia-old Jewish hope for a return to their ancient homeland; it ignores the presence of a Jewish population within the Jewish homeland throughout that period; and it ignores the actual historical context of Zionism, which drove Jews not to seek “the acquisition of land” but to seek a restored place of refuge for the Jewish people who were being pressured out of Europe well before the rise of Hitler. Far from being a product of imperialism, Zionism required the collapse of one imperial power, Turkey, and the withdrawal of another, Great Britain, for its hopes to be accomplished.
  3. The report claims to seek justice and reconciliation, but violates the most basic premises of justice. First, it reflects only a Palestinian and anti-Zionist narrative and accepts its allegations uncritically. As a result, the report claims that “reconciliation can only be possible if the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and the blockade of Gaza, are ended.” But it provides no context for the “occupation” and blockade, and no demand upon Palestinian leadership to recognize Israel or to renounce their support for rocket attacks and other terrorist acts against Israeli civilians. Second, the report supports a campaign of financial pressure, including boycotts, against Israel alone of all the nations of the world. It is tragic to see a Christian denomination advocate punishing the Jewish state with the same sort of action used against the Jewish people so unjustly in the last century.

Combining the argument that the Zionists seek only land with the denial of any special Jewish claim upon the land produces the outrageous, unjust, and yet undeniable, implication of this report: justice can only be achieved if Israel denies its very raison d’etre as a place of refuge and safety for the Jewish people.

In short, “The Inheritance of Abraham” remains an instrument not of peace and reconciliation but of religious arrogance and hypocrisy. It is ready to impose its interpretation of the Torah and Prophets as “Christians of the 21st century” should understand them upon the Jewish people. Based on its own skewed interpretation, the Church is unashamed to demand that Israel unilaterally place itself in a weaker position amidst its hostile neighbors and abandon its founding vision as a refuge for the Jewish people. The report claims a commitment to peace, but actually serves to undermine the possibility of peace by delegitimizing the Jewish State of Israel. The bias and arrogance evident within “The inheritance of Abraham” deprive the report, its concluding recommendations, and the Church of Scotland itself, of any genuine moral force.

 Representatives of the Messianic Jewish Coalition


John Fischer, President

Paul Wilbur, Executive Director

International Messianic Jewish Alliance


Kirk Gliebe, President

Russell Resnik, Executive Director

Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations


Paul Liberman, President

Joel Chernoff, General Secretary

Messianic Jewish Alliance of America


Jeffrey Forman, Chairman

International Alliance of Messianic Congregations and Synagogues


Mr. J. Mendelsohn Esq, President

Mr. D Nessim, Vice-President

British Messianic Jewish Alliance


Contact: Joel Chernoff, joelchernoff@mjaa.org, 610-304-2237
Russ Resnik, rebrez@umjc.org, 505-440-2265

Want to Be Jewish?

A few weeks ago a gentleman turned up at the door for our Erev Shabbat service. The first words out of his mouth were ‘I want to be a Jew.’
I wonder if I would be married to Deborah today if the first time I ran into her (25 March 1989) I had started with ‘I want to be your husband’. Yikes! Talk about getting off on the wrong foot!
Why do so many Gentiles want to be Jewish? Israel is meant to be a Light to the Nations, not to relegate the Nations to obliteration by making the Nations all Jewish, or all Israel. Israel’s very raison d’etre is linked to the fact that Hashem ‘so loved the world’ that He blessed Abraham that in him all the nations of the world should be blessed. Israel is a peculiar treasure of the L-rd but certainly not His only treasure. Egypt will one day be called ‘My people’ He says. His praise shall be declared in the Islands, Isaiah says. I would like to suggest to you that there is as much to rejoice in being a Gentile as there is in being a Jew.
The Shliach Shaul (Apostle Paul) reminds us that there is no distinction between male and female, slave and free, Jew and Gentile in our Messiah. Awesome! Along with our Conservative (Masorti) friends we can now amend the prayers that say ‘thank you that you have not made me a woman/slave/heathen’ to a more egalitarian form. While we all have clearly different roles in the world He has created, we also have a wonderful unity.
All the more not to insult G-d by saying ‘I want to be a Jew (or woman or man) when He has divinely ordained that we should be other than in His infinite Wisdom He has created us.
So please, please, do not come to my door and say ‘I wanna be a Jew’

Did Yeshua Intend to Start a New Religion?

If Yeshua (Jesus) intended to create a new religion, he went about it all wrong. He aroused the suspicion, and then the hostility, of the religious establishment. He picked an oddball assortment of disciples, deliberately allowed himself to fall into harm’s way, left no writings of his own (an essential if you ever want to start your own religion!), and after making a good start, generally resisted performing further signs and wonders that were convincing the crowds to follow him.

Yeshua’s key message was not revolutionary, but simply the cry of the prophets before him: “Make teshuvah [repent], for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!” (Matthew 4:17). His apparent aims were parochial “I have only come to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24). His followers generally had no idea of his Messianic claims, and when they did begin to figure things out, their subsequent actions proved they just didn’t quite ‘get’ it.

Nevertheless, it is indisputable: Out of Yeshua’s teachings and life, a new religion was born.

Christianity and Judaism are indeed different religions. Judaism the mother, Christianity a child. Is this what Yeshua intended? Did Yeshua intend to start Christianity? The witness of those who heard him teach, and of those who taught his teachings and concerning his significance to the world, is also conclusive.

No, Yeshua did not intend to start a new religion. Yeshua intended to bring people to God, the God of Israel. He intended to draw ‘all peoples’ to himself (John 12:32). John Lennon wistfully sang ‘Imagine’ there’s no religion. Was Yeshua all that more enamoured with it himself? What really matters is that we make teshuvah, turn to God, and lift HIM up.

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"When you awake in the morning, learn something to inspire you and mediate upon it, then plunge forward full of light with which to illuminate the darkness." -Rabbi Tzvi Freeman

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