Something strange is happening in London.
Specifically, in areas where Jews live.
Take last week. 15 year old Natasha heard a knock at the door and, through the spy hole, saw three Orthodox Jews on her doorstep. Feeling perfectly safe, she opened the door to them straight away.
Greeting her with warm smiles, they explained they were from the 'Beth Shalom' synagogue. Natasha didn't know of it but hey, there are plenty of synagogues in London. They were in the neighbourhood doing 'outreach' work. And they were keen to learn how they could engage Jewish teenagers and make synagogue more 'relevant'. Might she spare them ten minutes of her time?
Knowing her mother was due home shortly, Natasha invited her fellow Jews in and made some tea. And indeed, for almost forty minutes, they enjoyed a lively conversation about Judaism, life in north west London, and sundry other topics. The men spoke Hebrew. They quoted from the Torah. They were great company.
And then one of these oh so Orthodox Jews asked Natasha what she thought about Hell.
Now religious she might not be, but Natasha knew that in Judaism there IS no 'hell'.
Baffled, she asked 'Chaim' to elaborate.
Leaning forward with a look of great concern on his face, Chaim asked if Natasha worried about her parents. After all, surely she didn't want them to spend eternity in 'hell'? Chaim went on to explain that this was just what would happen - if Natasha's family failed to 'find Christ'.
So Natasha now found herself, bizarrely, with three Orthodox Jews who were preaching Christianity! Flummoxed, she asked which 'movement' within Judaism her guests represented.
'Messianic', came the beaming response, A 'new and liberating form of judaism in which jews can remain Jewish AND still know Jesus.'
And while this did not enlighten Natasha, her mother knew EXACTLY what it meant when she arrived home ten minutes later and threw 'Chaim' and his friends out.
You see, these 'orthodox jews' were not Jews at all. They were Christian missionaries. Or, as they prefer to be known, 'messianic jews'.
You're in good company.
So here's the key point to bear in mind: there is no 'messianic' sect WITHIN Judaism. None. Never has been. Indeed, the idea makes no sense - Judaism is inherently 'messianic' because Jews await the Jewish messiah.
The simple fact is that 'messianic jews' are about as 'jewish' as a bacon roll.
The Messianic movement has been around for decades. Many of us are familiar with 'jews4jesus', with its smiling, attractive young adherents handing out their leaflets on street corners and sometimes outside schools. Interestingly, the founder of 'jews4jesus' is Martin Meyer - an ordained BAPTIST minister.
Now, do we really think that a Baptist can found a 'new' branch of Judaism?
The idea is laughable.
Or at least it would be, if so many people weren't being duped by Messianics into thinking they were embracing an authentic form of Judaism. The Messianics in the USA are currently spending BILLIONS on a massive conversion drive - aimed at both Jews AND non Jews. There are Messianic preachers and representatives on many college campuses, and they are not reticent about sharing their views. But the fact remains:
Messianics are Christians.
They preach Christianity.
They practise Christianity.
They aim to convert others to Christianity.
And lest anyone out there still be in any doubt, here's what Martin Meyer, founder of 'jewsforjesus' says:
Abridged from: "Holy Terror" by Flo Conway and Jim Seigelman
In a document entitled "What Evangelical Christians Should Know About MESSIANIC 'JEWS'; A Confidential Report: Not to be Distributed to Non-Christians," Meyer reveals his goal:
‘We define ourselves as evangelical fundamentalists and we seek the cooperation of individuals and Christian bodies meeting this description…We believe in affiliation with a local church and being accountable to the church for service and discipline. We will uphold the local church wherever we can.
‘We consider ourselves an arm of the local church. We are primarily evangelists and we are always mindful that we should not usurp the authority of the local pastor. As we win and disciple (convert) Jewish people, we urge them to take their place in a local evangelical church or establish a congregation and call their own minister. Our duty is to aid the church at large and we work as an arm of that body to gather in the Lost Sheep of the House of Israel.’
And now they're here in the UK.
Natasha was lucky. The approach made to her was clumsy and ultimately, doomed to fail. But numerous young Jewish students away from home for the first time have been lured into Christianity without even realising it.
Take Josh. He was away at University, in his first year, studying Politics. When a fellow student, Rachel, befriended him, he was delighted. He knew, of course, that she was Jewish - well, after all, she was wearing a Star Of David!
After a few weeks, Rachel invited Josh to go with her to 'synagogue'. Not the one that most Jewish students at that particular University preferred but another, 'more friendly' synagogue. Josh said yes, and didn't give it another thought.
And on the following Friday night, he was impressed by the warm reception he got at this 'temple'. Everyone was smiling. Welcoming. The synagogue LOOKED like every other synagogue he'd ever attended. The 'Rabbi' was charismatic, and gave an interesting and humorous service. The kiddush was lovely. Josh went home feeling great.
And so when, a few weeks later, Rachel and some of the other members of the temple suggested to Josh that he take a look at a wonderful 'Hebrew scripture', he shrugged and figured, 'Where's the harm?'.
Rachel explained that the scripture was called the 'Brit Chadasha'.
She gave Josh some photocopied pages from it and he glanced through them. They were fairly interesting. Prettily written. He found himself impressed with the emphasis on kindness and love that appeared throughout the pages. Josh had never been very into religion - sure, he was Jewish, but he wasn't 'observant'.
But Rachel was keen to discuss the scriptures and Josh soon found he was enjoying their chats. By the time the name 'Yeshua' came up, Josh wasn't even bothered. He liked this new form of 'messianic' Judaism that he'd been introduced to.
The problem? 'Brit Chadasha' is Hebrew for NEW TESTAMENT.
Josh had been studying the Christian bible without even knowing it. He was not now a 'messianic' Jew. He was now well on the way to being a practising CHRISTIAN.
The above are merely two examples of how Messianics work. So successful has the movement been in America, that a Rabbi there has created a group SPECIFICALLY to counter the lies and MISinformation spread by the Messianics. To find that group: http://www.jewsforjudaism.com/
But WHY are the Messianics getting such great results?
Firstly, there are some Christians who, fair enough, are interested in Judaism; they know that Jesus lived and died a practising Jew, and they wish to have some kind of 'connection' to the faith of their messiah.
So when the Messianics tell them that they CAN be Jewish, by being a 'messianic jew', it sounds like the perfect solution! This way, they get to celebrate the Jewish holidays etc yet they can still worship Christ!
Here's the thing, though: these people are not 'jewish'. A person is ONLY Jewish if:
- their mother is Jewish
- they convert to Judaism
Judaism is a tribal religion; when someone converts, they are 'adopted' by the Jewish people. And it doesn't matter if a person follows the Jewish religion to the letter - without that formal conversion process, they are not 'Jewish'.
An analogy: I might wake up tomorrow and decide I'd rather like to be a Navajo Indian. I might even learn all about their traditions and beliefs and then claim to BE a Navajo Indian! But that doesn't mean I AM one!
Around 99% of Messianics fall into this group - Christians wanting an involvement with Judaism. What they end up with is Christianity - wrapped up in a few Jewish traditions and Hebrew words.
But the Messianics will quickly counter these facts. And they'll do so by noting that they have 'plenty' members who were born to Jewish mothers, making them Jewish.
The first thing to know: only around 1% of Messianics were born Jewish.
The second: EVEN if they were born Jewish, by embracing a religion other than Judaism - in this case, Christianity - they are an apostate in the Jewish world.
But no - Messianics apparently know better! They will INSIST that these people are 'still jewish'. And many people believe them.
Messianics will tell you:
- a Jew can remain Jewish AND worship Christ
THIS IS BLATANTLY FALSE
Jesus plays no role in Judaism. He wasn't the Jewish messiah. Quite apart from which, it is FORBIDDEN for Jews to WORSHIP any human, to worship anyone or anything apart from G-d. So even if someone is born Jewish, the minute they start worshipping Jesus, they have removed themselves from the Jewish community and are now an 'apostate'. And if they're practising Christianity, then they are a Christian.
Think about it. If a Christian converts to Islam, would we insist that they are a 'Christian for Muhammed?'
If a Hindu converts to Christianity, would we describe them as a 'Hindu for Jesus'?
Yet Messianics will tell you over and over and over again, that EVEN when a Jew practises Christianity, they are somehow still 'jewish'. They are just a 'jew who has found jesus'.
Clearly, it's nonsensical.
Another of the Messianics' favourite claims is that:
A person can be BOTH Jewish and Christian; they can be 'racially' or 'ethnically' Jewish, and religiously Christian.
Judaism is a RELIGION. Jews are not a 'race' - if we were, how could anyone convert to or from Judaism, both of which happen?
And to burst another myth: Jews are NOT an 'ethnic' group. We can't be - there are Jews from ALL ethnic backgrounds. White Jews. Black Jews. Indian Jews. Chinese Jews. Is anyone seriously going to suggest that a black Ethopian Jew, and a blond, blue-eyed Swedish Jew share the same 'ethnic' group?
Judaism is a religion. It is profoundly different to Christianity. A 'jew who worships jesus' is the equivalent of 'a christian who denies christ'.
In other words: a theological contradiction.
Finally: some Messianics go by different names. So just to make it clear:
'fulfilled jew' = CHRISTIAN
'completed jew' = CHRISTIAN
'restored jew' = CHRISTIAN
'hebrew christian' = CHRISTIAN
'christian jew' = CHRISTIAN
'Jewish' = JEWISH
And for anyone out there who is unsure about whether they are involved in real Judaism or with Messianics, here's the way to tell:
Jesus is never mentioned in Judaism. You could go to every synagogue on planet earth: you will never, ever hear his name.
So, if you should hear a 'rabbi' waxing lyrical about 'yeshua' then you'll know. You may love the people, you may love the theology they are offering you. It's your right, of course, to stay.
Just don't try and claim it's Judaism.