For many years I have observed the anti-missionary groups that attack Messianic Jews and Christians who share their faith with the Jewish people. Years ago, the well-known Messianic Jewish apologist, revivalist, and cultural critic, Dr. Michael L. Brown, debated their leading figure. That anti-missionary was bested so badly that the word went out to not debate Dr. Brown. There are Rabbis and even some Orthodox ones, who have treated Messianic Jews fairly, honestly presenting who they are, what they believe, and why they disagree. We had good relations with conservative Rabbi Matthew Simon in the Washington D. C. area and the head of the Rabbinic Council in Washington, Rabbi Joshua Haberman. Rabbi Haberman even read my book Jewish Roots and asserted that we should be accepted in the Jewish community but that it would take another generation or two. I am used to the anti-missionary diatribe, and it is almost boilerplate, stereo-typing, and misrepresenting. One canard is that Messianic Judaism leads to assimilation and is a danger of destroying Jewish identity. Yet, the foundation of Messianic Judaism, in which I played a somewhat formative role, is a faith commitment that Jews who come to faith in Yeshua are called to identify and live as Jews, as part of their people. Messianic Jews are much more Jewish observant than the majority of Jews.
The article in the last Friday, Dec. 29, edition of the Jerusalem Post Magazine section, entitled, “Uncovering missionary efforts.” was the same boilerplate but more troubling. Why? It was the timing. Messianic Jewish congregation leaders in Israel have listed over 1000 Messianic Jews who are serving in the war, both in Gaza, in the north against Hezbollah, and in the West Bank. I am personal friends with some of these Messianic Jews. Their patriotism is stellar. In the midst of the war, the Jerusalem Post editor approved a boilerplate article full of misrepresentation of Messianic Jews, fostering mistrust and division. Where on earth was the editor’s mind or wisdom? Do they ever seek a Messianic Jewish response? They slandered good people by name!
The writer, Atara Beck, gives some credit to Christian Zionists who are supporting Israel in this dark time, but even then undercuts this credit by discrediting one such ministry that requires all that come to serve with them to sign a statement that they will not seek to share their faith with Jewish people in Israel while working with them. So much for the leading of the Holy Spirit in this ministry. However, even this ministry is slammed because its leader hopes that their acts of unconditional love will eventually lead to the Jewish people softening their hearts and embracing Yeshua. And this is so terrible? This is total hypocrisy from the writer. Why? Because Orthodox Jews, Evangelicals, and Messianic Jews all believe that one day all will embrace the true Messiah and Israel and the nations will be one under the rule of Israel’s true Messiah. Orthodox Jews believe that this is not Yeshua/Jesus but will be a yet-to-be-revealed person, but they believe all will convert to faith in the true Messiah and become Noachides. Messianic Jews and Christians believe that the true Messiah is Yeshua/Jesus. For Evangelicals and Messianic Jews to not believe that someday Israel will confess him would be to deny their own faith. Isn’t this obvious? Not to the anti-missionary who is blind to the contradiction. Even the Catholic Catechism, paragraph 674, puts out the faith statement that one day Israel will confess Him and that this will lead to his return. Yet, the Catholics have rejected an explicit missionary effort to the Jews. This does not mean that Catholics think that Jews coming to faith is wrong. Such Jewish believers are embraced, like the late Jewish Cardinal Lustiger of Paris who called himself a Messianic Jew.
The anti-missionary does not engage with the Messianic Jewish arguments and respond honestly after showing that he or she has understood it. They cannot present it objectively but have to resort to diatribe and propaganda. When they present their apologetic against faith in Yeshua it is a pile of distortions an misrepresentations as fully shown in Mike Brown’s masterpiece six volumes, Answering Jewish Objections.
Messianic Jews and Bible believing Christians have different views on approaching Jewish people, but all agree that Yeshua is the Messiah and by definition this means that Israel will eventually embrace him. However, other than that they have different views on practical engagement with Jewish people.
- Most believe in a legitimate witness of sharing faith with Jewish people as led by the Spirit with the hope the Spirit will enlighten and bring a change of heart and faith in Yeshua.
- Some believe in overt public witnessing and proclamation in streets and in media and some do not.
- A minority believe that only Jews should share their Yeshua faith with Jews since if Gentiles share it could lead to assimilation.
- A minority believe that the Jewish people have their own covenant status and acceptance with God if they are committed to God and that sharing faith should be avoided. If Jews come to faith, it should be by a supernatural act without a witness from another follower of Yeshua. This seems to be the case with the leaders of one of the ministry leaders described in the Jerusalem Post article.
Unlike the implication of the tone of the article, Messianic Jews are not stupid people who just bought into propaganda. That is what you would conclude from the article. On the contrary, many are intelligent and thinking people and a larger and larger number of Messianic Jewish scholars are doing great work. They have Ph. D’s from Duke, Cambridge, Emory, New York University, Tel Aviv, Hebrew University, Bar Ilan and other famous schools. For all, believing in Yeshua is by revelation of the Spirit and sometimes a response to real miracles. For many, they have responded to overwhelming evidence (see my book, The Biblical Worldview, An Apologetic)
We are grateful for those Jewish leaders who though they do not believe in Yeshua, engage with Messianic Jews with honesty and seek an objective engagement. A few have even written books arguing for mutual respect. (See Rabbi Cohn Sherbuck, Messianic Judaism.