August 2nd, 2008 by Ron S.
Years ago when I first began to take a look at Messianic Judaism I was under the impression that they were Jewish yet believed that Jesus of Nazareth was indeed the Jewish Messiah. But I soon discovered that this was not the case. In fact modern Messianic Judaism – to use a Scriptural description – is really more like a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”.
I’m sure many people have heard about “Jews for Jesus”. And perhaps just as I did originally, many may perceive them to be just what their catchy group name suggests, Jews that believe in Jesus as the Jewish Messiah. Some may even perceive them to be a branch of Judaism that is simply reclaiming the faith that Jesus, his Apostles, and Paul all practiced in the 1st Century. But nothing could be further from the truth.
In reality groups like “Jews for Jesus” and most other “Messianic Jewish” groups are really mainstream Christian organizations that have been created with the sole purpose of converting Jewish people to Christian beliefs. Now I have no problem with anyone going out and proselytizing others to their religion. But the covert methods used by these missionary groups is unethical and is what makes them “a wolf in sheep’s clothing”.
“Such congregations are designed to appear Jewish, but they are actually fundamentalist Christian churches which use traditional Jewish symbols to lure the most vulnerable of our Jewish people into their ranks.”
“Leaders of these groups are often ordained Christian ministers who are specifically trained in techniques for converting vulnerable Jews. Members of these groups deceptively use Jewish symbols (such as Stars of David) and language so as to appear Jewish, their goal is to take Jews away from Judaism and to bring them into the Christian Church. Jews for Jesus actually considers itself an arm of the evangelical church. On the local level, much of the “Hebrew-Christian” movement is organized in the form of churches which call themselves “Messianic Synagogues” or housed as separate ministries and congregations in larger churches. These groups use Jewish trappings such as yarmulkes, talesim, Torahs, Jewish music and Hebrew to hide their Christian nature from potential converts.”
And the biggest deception of the Messianic community has historically been the hiding of THE central dividing point between Christianity and Judaism – The Trinity / Divinity of Jesus. This is pointed out by Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz of Jews for Judaism in his article entitled “Messianic Truth in Advertising”. In it he says (emphasis mine):
“It is misleading for them to claim that the only difference between “messianic Jews” and other Jews, is their belief that Jesus is the Messiah. This was highlighted by Myers’ recent quote in the Jerusalem Post comparing messianic Jews to messianic Chabadniks. In fact, “Messianic Jews” intentionally avoid mentioning a fundamental difference. In addition to believing Jesus is the Messiah, they believe he is God in the flesh and part of a Trinity. Beliefs considered idolatrous by all denominations of Judaism.”
“As early as 1980, Jews for Jesus founder Moshe Rosen in his book “Sharing the New Life with a Jew,” advised messianic missionaries to avoid mentioning their belief in the deity of Jesus because it makes witnessing to Jews extremely difficult. Additionally, attempts by the messianic movement to prove their theology from biblical and rabbinic sources are based on misquotations and mistranslations.”
“Even before Christianity, Jews rejected these anti-Jewish non-monotheistic beliefs. We also realize they were introduced into Christianity due to the influence of pagan cult gods like Osiris and Dionysus.”
“Obviously there are other differences. “Messianic Jews” accept the Greek New Testament as divinely inspired scripture and they believe that all Jews who don’t believe in Jesus face eternal damnation in hell. However, historically it is their idolatrous beliefs that have ultimately placed “Jews who believe in Jesus” outside the pale of Judaism.”
This is further demonstrated to be the case by a rare, TRUE Jewish believer in Jesus as the Messiah – as the real human Messiah, NOT God in the Flesh – whom I discovered while doing some web searches one day. His name is Rabbi Louis Baruch Vos Levitz and he runs an independent Synagogue in Woburn, MA along with a web site called http://www.shomeryisrael.org/. On his site Rabbi Louis presents an excellent article entitled “Why Messianic Judaism is Not Judaism”. Here he further describes the issue in the following way:
“I believe the real issue is that the Messianic Movement has failed or desists to make, a clear unambiguous declaration to the Jewish community of what they really believe about the Messiah. Their public statement and proclamation focuses on the fact that they believe that the Messiah has come and will return, and so does a large number of Orthodox Chassidim, and that I do not have an issue with. However, what the Messianic Movement believes about the Messiah is not the same for Chabbad, or us. The Messianic community purposefully omits to make a public declaration of their principal belief, that the Messiah is ABSOLUTELY God. This is the dividing point – where their theology parts with Lubavitch Chassidim, our congregation, and authentic, ancient Jewish belief and practice. There never has been a monolithic Jewish understanding of the person of the Messiah, but one thing is for certain, the Messiah is the anointed of God and not God himself. This omission by the Messianics is far more revealing than we think; it actually defines who they are, Hebrew Protestants. This omission, I believe, is the greater offence.”
Rabbi Louis goes on to point out that belief in Jesus as the Messiah has never been the main stumbling block for Jews. There have been many Jews who have believed certain men were the Jewish Messiah. In fact many members of the Jewish ultra-orthodox Chabad Lubavitch believe that their great Rebbe (Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson – who died in 1994) is the Messiah and will return from the dead to bring about the “Olam Ha-Ba” (the Messianic Age).
However it is making the Messiah literally be God that causes the remotely knowledgeable Jew to rightly turn away. Rabbi Louis reminds us of this with:
“What does offend and has created a division between Yeshua and the rest of the Jewish world, is the deification of this Jewish man and the superimposition of gentile traditions upon his faith and person.”
So the one litmus test that appears to define the difference between Judaism and Christianity is the deification of the Messiah vs. the Messiah as a real human being. You just can’t be Jewish and believe that the Messiah is/was God in the flesh. If you do, then you’re theologically Christian whether you’re ethnically Jewish or follow Torah and practice traditional Jewish customs.