Messianic?
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Is a Congregation Messianic?

 

Just because a congregation calls itself Messianic or considers itself to be Messianic and the leader is ethnically Jewish doesn't automatically mean the congregation is actually Messianic.

  • Jews for Jesus is not a denomination or a Messianic organization! Their goal is to convince Jews to accept Jesus--period. If the person does, they don't care whether the person becomes Messianic, Protestant, Roman Catholic, Orthodox Christian, or some other religion or denomination that believes in Jesus.
     
  • The most common type of "Messianic" (the quotes meaning "not really Messianic") group is a "Messianic wannabe" group. This is a small Bible-study-type group of gentiles and a few people of Jewish ancestry who usually were raised secular or gentile. They have a vague general interest in things Jewish and a general favorable attitude towards Israel. They sing a handful of Jewish songs and maybe learn a few words of Hebrew. These generally do not consider themselves a "congregation" and usually do not have a formal name or a formal structure.

    Don't confuse a "Messianic wannabe" group with a Hebrew Roots group. The difference is that the Messianic wannabe group considers itself to be Messianic. A Hebrew Roots group considers itself to be a study group or a social group of Christians interested in learning more about Jews, Judaism and the Jewish roots of Christianity.
     
  • Somewhat less common than "Messianic wannabes" are Hebrew Christian congregations. These are Christian congregations with a significant portion of ethnic Jews. They may occasionally recite a traditional Jewish prayer, etc., but their theology is standard Protestantism.

    Until about 10 years ago, the terms Messianic and Hebrew Christian were often used interchangeably, so established Hebrew Christian congregations may think of themselves as Messianic although they are not.

     
  • I have heard that there are a handful of congregations that are "pseudo-Messianic", i.e., some Protestant church sets up a "Jewish outreach ministry" and decides to use Jewish religious symbols and terminology to make Jews feel more comfortable. The ministry claims it is "Messianic" but it really is a Protestant ministry with a deliberate facade. Both mainstream Protestantism and real Messianics consider that to be deception and inexcusable.

    So what is the difference between Hebrew Christian and pseudo-Messianic? Hebrew Christian congregations openly disclose that they are affiliated with a Protestant denomination or hold to Protestant theology although they may not be affiliated with a particular denomination. They routinely use common Christian religious symbols such as crosses. Pseudo-Messianic groups try to look and sound as Jewish as possible and only disclose their true affiliation if asked.
     

If a congregation does not recite the Shema, it is not Messianic--period!

    That by itself would make it not Messianic. The Shema is as central to Judaism as John 3:16 is to Christianity and the Five Pillars of Islam are to Islam.
     

Following are typical practices of Messianic Jewish congregations. If a congregation does not do most of these, it really is not Messianic.

  • If the congregation teaches things like, "Christ is the end of the Law," it is not Messianic even if the leader thinks it is.
      
  • If the congregation does not advocate observing the biblical feasts described in Leviticus 23, it is not Messianic.
      
  • If the congregation does not recite typical Jewish prayers and sing typical Jewish religious songs such as Mah Tovu, V'Sham'ru, Michamocha, the Amidah, Adon Olam, and Kaddish, it is not Messianic.
      
  • If the congregation does not recite standard Jewish blessings such as the Kiddush and Motzi and the Aaronic Benediction, it is not Messianic.
      
  • If the congregation only uses English it is not Messianic.
     
  • If the congregation rarely refers to the various "New Testament" persons by their Hebrew names, e.g., Yeshua, Miriam, Yaakov, Rav Shaul, Shimon Kefa, Yochanan HaMachbil, it is not Messianic.
     
  • If the congregation hardly ever pronounces the names of leading "Old Testament" figures in Hebrew, e.g., Av-rah-ham, Dah-veed, Moe-shay, Yitz-chak, it is not Messianic.
      
  • If the congregational leader never tells Jewish jokes from the bema (pulpit), it is not Messianic.
     
  • If the leaders never use Yiddish words such as kvetch, kvell, shlemiel, shpiel and shul, it is not Messianic.
     
  • If most of the members don't know what hammentaschen, sufganiyot and charoset are, it is not Messianic.
      
  • If most of the members can't tell you the story of Esther from memory, it is not Messianic.
     
  • If most members don't know who Mordecai and Vashti were it is not Messianic.
     
  • If most of the members don't know what Purim is, it is not Messianic.
      
  • If most of the members can't tell you the story of Chanukah, it is not Messianic.
     
  • If most of the members can't tell you the story of Ruth, it is not Messianic.
      
  • If the congregation teaches that it is not necessary to make a genuine and continuing effort to try to follow the moral code of the "Law", because, "Christ freed us from the Law," it is not Messianic.
      
  • If the congregation teaches that, "Jesus 'fulfiilled' the Law, therefore, we don't have to," it is not Messianic. The Greek word often translated "fulfilled" most commonly meant, "to make whole that which is not yet complete", e.g., to fill a glass that is half-full.

    G-d's moral commandments are instruction from a loving Father to His children on how to live prosperously, not a contest that ends when the first person "fulfills" the requirements.
     
  • If the congregation routinely does not refer to G-d by His various Hebrew names, e.g., Adonai (Lord), HaShem (literally, "the Name", referring to the letters YHVH), Eloheynu (Our G-d)., it is not Messianic.
     
  • Religious Jews do not write or pronounce the name of G-d. Since "god" is actually a term that describes a type of being, rather than a proper name, Jews will say, "God" in English or "El" in Hebrew. However, in writing, religious Jews use "G-d" or "L-rd". If a congregation routinely writes "God" and "Lord" it is not Messianic.
     
  • If a congregation routinely refers to "the Old Testament" and "the New Testament" instead of the Tanakh (an acronym) and the B'rit Chadasha ("New Covenant" per Jerimaiah 31:31), it is not Messianic.
     
  • If the congregational leader can't read biblical Hebrew fairly well, the congregation is not Messianic.
     
  • If members of the congregation regularly use terms like Jehovah or Yahweh, the congregation is not Messianic.
      
  • If most of the members don't know how many Jews died in the Holocaust, the congregation is not Messianic.
     
  • If the only people who know what Yom HaShoah is are a few Jewish members, the congregation is not Messianic.
     
  • If most of the members don't know what the Ten Days of Awe are, the congregation is not Messianic.
     
  • If most of the members don't know what Tisha B'Av is, the congregation is not Messianic.
      
  • If the congregation does not do any special activities for Yom HaShoah, it is not Messianic.
     
  • If most of the members don't know what Kaddish is, the congregation is not Messianic.
      
  • If the congregation does not do bar and bat mitzvahs, it is not Messianic.
     
  • If most of the members don't know what a parasha and an alliyah are, the congregation is not Messianic.
     
  • If most members don't know there are two types of "making alliyah", the congregation is not Messianic.
     
  • If most members can't tell you for each type where you would be when you make alliyah, the congregation is not Messianic.
     
  • If most members don't know both of the Sabbath greetings common in the United States, the congregation is not Messianic.
     
  • If most of the members don't know that most synagogues have an ark or they don't know  where the ark is, the congregation is not Messianic.
     
  • If the congregation (not individual members) celebrates Christmas, Easter, Lent, etc, it is not Messianic.

    Because Messianics often have members of their immediate family who are Christians, Messianics often participate in those activities although they are not considered Messianic holidays.

Again, no Messianic congregation does all these things, but genuinely Messianic congregations do most of them.

 

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