Saturday, 5 September 2009

of Messianic Jews

A Caveat: I know I am going to step on some toes with this one, and if yours happen to be those toes, I ask your forgiveness. I just know of no other way to say what's on my heart concerning this. Peace.

In two different conversations recently the topic of Messianic Jews came up again. Something has long since bothered me about Messianic Jews, and another reading in Acts 15 once again brought up this concern.

Acts 15 describes some believers who belonged to the "party of the Pharisees." They were essentially Messianic Jews. They were believers but they also practised Jewish religious rituals. Like the Messianic Jews, they saw no problem in combining faith in Christ with the Jewish religion. But was that OK?

As we read further in that chapter, we see that the problem was taken to the apostles in Jerusalem for them to decide on. Peter said, "Why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?" (Acts 15:10) Peter then says further, "Therefore it is my judgement that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality and from what has been strangled, and from blood (Acts 15: 19-20)."

It seems pretty clear that the idea of mixing religious rituals from other religions with Christianity should not be. Messianic Jews may be Christians, but if so, there seems to be some confusion mixed in with it. Mormons have done the same thing in that they have blended certain Christian truths with the rituals of other religions. The outcome is quite possibly bordering on a whole new and non-Christian religion, even though many of them do call themselves Christian. I like how the Amplified Bible puts it: "All who depend on the Law [who are seeking to be justified by obedience to the Law of rituals] are under a curse and doomed to disappointment and destruction." (Galatians 3:10)

Many an institutional church today has the same problem; they routinely teach this strange blend of Christianity with Jewish religious ritual. For example, tithing and other Jewish laws are still taught from the pulpit. Why? Unlike other nations, there is this bizarre fascination with Israel, that is, the physical Israel. In the process there is also an adoption of many Jewish religious rituals. I have actually heard it suggested by one person that such religious adoptions are a form of witchcraft (ouch). I know that sounds harsh, but could it be true? Is the blending of different religions essentially a form of witchcraft?

Paul writes further, "You observe [particular] days and months and seasons and years! I am alarmed [about you], lest I have labored among and over you to no purpose and in vain" (Galatians 4: 10-11; Amplified).

Please understand, I have nothing against people from any race or nation or creed (including Israel); God helping me, I do strive to love them all equally, just as God loves us all equally. I really do. All I am wondering is, why do we have to add all this other stuff to the Gospel? Why does the Gospel need so much baggage?

We are no longer under the Law (that is, the Jewish religious law). Many who seem to promote the law in their form of Christianity seem to have also quoted Jesus' words in Matthew 5:17-20 in error. They quote Him as saying, "not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law" (vs.18) and in so quoting that Scripture, they find justification for the continued use of the Jewish Law. But they need to read further before coming to that conclusion. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law. He said that the Law would not pass away UNTIL all is accomplished. When was all accomplished? On the cross when Jesus said, "it is finished" (John 19:30). After that, it was all accomplished. After that, the age of grace took over. After that, there was no longer any reason to practice Jewish religious rituals, like elements of the Law. As a matter of fact, to still actually practice those Jewish religious rituals as a Christian is actually going against Scripture and against the decision that Peter and the other apostles came to at the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15).

So what about these Messianic Jews? God loves them and so do I. The interesting thing, though, is that they're not all Jews; many are Gentiles. Theologically speaking, they are certainly not orthodox Christians. They are a sect, and as I said earlier, may actually be bordering on a whole new religion unto themselves. The whole thing is not unlike what a missionary friend of mine to Haiti once told me. In Haiti he encountered a strange mix of Roman Catholicism with Voodoo, which also created a whole new religion unto itself.

Is Christ not enough? That seems to be the question for Messianic Jews, and that seems to be the question for many of us who might not identify ourselves as Messianic Jews. Do we still feel that we must follow Jewish (or other) religious rituals alongside our Christian faith? Again, is Christ not enough? Hmm, I wonder.

Anyway, that's the way I see it. Peace.

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