The Jewish concept of Messiah was not rich enough in associations for non-Jews to power a Gentile religion. The word was retained in translation, but it needed and received a new mythical content. Jesus gained universal significance as the hero of a salvation myth at the expense of losing his Jewishness. But the cosmic struggle envisaged by the myth needed to be embodied in the details of the story.
If the divine Christ defeated cosmic enemies, the human Jesus must have had to face human enemies. Of course, he did, in the shape of the Romans. Why did the mythicized version of his story not cast the Romans as his primary enemies? A precritical or fundamentalist Christian might reply that historically it was in fact the Jews who encompassed his death because his religious claims challenged theirs. We have seen good reason to disbelieve this explanation. Read more…
The fellows who say to you, “I expect more of the Jews,” don’t believe them. They expect less. What they’re really saying is, “Okay, we know you’re a bunch of ravenous bastards, and given half the chance you’d eat up half the world, let alone poor Palestine. We know all these things about you, and so we’re going to get you now. And how? Every time you make a move, we’re going to say, ‘But we expect more of Jews, Jews are supposed to behave better.’ ”
Jews are supposed to behave better? After all that has happened? I would have thought that it was the non-Jews whose behavior could stand a little improvement. Why are we the only people who belong to this wonderful exclusive moral club that’s behaving badly? -Philip Roth, The Counterlife, pages 178-179
Replacement Theology, or “Supersessionism”, is a nearly two thousand years old Christian view that G-d has replaced the Jewish people as His sole chosen people with the new people, more worthy people, people who submitted themselves to Jesus. The Church is the new people, the “Israel of G-d”, to quote Paul. Most Christians in the world, from across all of the tens of thousands of Christian denominations, readily agree with and approve of such an understanding. Some of their Protestant co-coreligionists, however, especially those in the Evangelical Dispensationalist circles and in the Messianic Movement (including the so called “Hebrew Roots”), proclaim their vehement rejection of the idea that Israel was replaced by the Christian Church. I will, however, demonstrate in this post that the Replacement Theology is inseparable from any version of Christianity, no matter how friendly to either Jewish people or to their faith, Judaism. In fact, I will demonstrate that it’s virtually impossible to be a worshiper of Jesus and not subscribe to at least some version of Christian Supersessionism.
And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. (Matthew 16:18)
“I will build my church”, proclaims the Gospel of Matthew in the name of Jesus, promising the eternality and the indestructibility of the “body of Christ”. The promises are only for those who steadfastly believe in Jesus and join with their fellow believers in worshiping Christ as god, proclaiming his message to the “lost”. Reading the New Testament it becomes readily apparent that its authors firmly held that the future belongs only to those who acknowledge Jesus as “lord”, those whom Jesus “bought with his own blood” (Acts 20:28). The future, whether one was born a Jew or Gentile, belongs to the “Ekklesia”. To join this “Ekklesia” one too must believe in Jesus as the savior of the world or be left out. As John 3:18 warns, “whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”
Which brings us to Israel. “Israel is still chosen”, proclaims an ardent Evangelical supporter of the modern Jewish nation. His fellow “messianic Jew” heartily agrees: “the Jewish people will never cease to exist and they have a bright future”. And both of them say that they reject Replacement Theology as “satanic” and both angrily chide their fellow “supersessionist” Christians as in error. And yet both of them still uphold Replacement Theology, all while denouncing the very idea! How so?
You see, dear reader, both of these supposed opponents of Supersessionism firmly believe that the Jewish people as a whole will not inherit the Kingdom of G-d unless they too become part of the “Body of Christ”. Unless Jews submit to Jesus and worship him as divine, unless Israel becomes part of the “Ekklesia”, they cannot fulfill their role in the world, since Christianity believes that everything is centered on Jesus. As Paul wrote in Colossians 3:11 “Christ is all and in all.” Unless the Jewish people become Christians (or “messianics”), unless they first become “messianic Jews” and get “saved”, they are “incomplete” and “spiritually dead”. Only when the “unbelieving” Jews finally repent of their obstinate rejection of Jesus and become spiritual brothers with Gentile Christians, when they bow their heads to Jesus (or Yeshua) in worship as to god, when they too join Jesus’ church (or ekklesia), only then they will truly be the “Israel of G-d”.
With this in mind, we can draw the following conclusion: according to all versions of Christianity, including those streams which insist on their rejection of Replacement Theology, the Jewish people, no matter how much they may love and seek to serve their G-d, will not please their G-d unless they become part of new Israel as Christianity imagines it will one day be. This Christian “Israel of G-d” is a new “born-again” type of people that views the New Testament as the “word of G-d”, reads Paul and worships Jesus. This “Israel” will supposedly include within its number not just Jews but like-minded Gentile Christians as well. Even for those Dispensationlists who insist that Church is never Israel, whatever the future “Jewish” Israel will turn one to be, it still must be very much a Christian one. Messianics, in turn, reject that Israel will embrace what they term “Gentile Christianity”, but still predict that Jews will become “saved” through Jesus, becoming part of the “body of Christ”. In their version of Israel, the so called “remnant Israel” will be one that embraces “Yeshua” and will be composed of only “completed Messianic Jews”.
By insisting that the future of the Jewish people can only be found in some Christian or “messianic” (that is with Jesus at its core) version of Israel and not as the Jewish people themselves have always held it to be, Christians of all stripes replace the Israel of the Jewish people with another “Israel”, one centered squarely on Jesus and him alone. In other words, all Christians subscribe to a version of Replacement Theology because they simply cannot imagine a glorious future for a Jewish nation that rejects Jesus. Yes, worshipers of Jesus cannot fathom any future Israel that continues to view their precious “savior” as a false messiah, false god and an idol! And that’s why all Christians replace and believe in another, very different Israel – their own.
Last week we published an article, which focused on defending our Jewish children and students against Christian proselytizers. With tens of millions of Christian dollars financing missionaries to convert Jews, we cannot sit by idly, or imagine our children are exempt from their tactics. We reacted to the intolerable absence of education in our Jewish schools, urging parents, and teachers to immediately commence classes that examine religions like Christianity, and teach our children the falsehoods contained in these man-made religions. As our Rabbis have taught, we do not cower from any area in life. We approach any and all matters with a fearless zeal to first learn what the truth is, and then apply it in action. Moses taught the people, “When you come into the land that G-d your G-d gives you, do not learn to do as the abominations of those nations.” (Deut., 18:9) Read more…
Below is the recent response from my long-time messianic friend (ethnic Jew, involved in the MJ movement, intermarried, with his non-Jewish children married to Gentile Christian pastors and heavily involved in Evangelical ministries) to being challenged to think about his ongoing sin of idolatry of Jesus-worship. This is the same friend who told me over our dinner-meeting late last year (which he mentions below): “I don’t care what the Bible says, Jesus revealed himself to me.” The theme of his response is that all true believers know that Jesus is true because they feel his presence, and not because he can be proven or shown from the Jewish scriptures (or even from the New Testament) to be either god, messiah or both. To my Christian, ethnically Jewish friend his god Jesus can only be felt and experienced on a personal basis, supernaturally – the proof of Jesus comes from “inner knowing”. He says that since I left Jesus, I must have never known him and “Yeshua never came into” me. According to my messianic friend, it’s futile to look to the Hebrew Bible for evidence of Jesus within its pages (and indeed, my friend refused to do so), for to do so would constitute intellectual “fleshly” attempts to experience what could only be felt in one’s soul. How can one be proved that something they believe is actually false, when one can “feel” Jesus and “see” what he has “done” for his worshipers? True believers in Jesus need no proof that he is god and that he’s real, and not even the Bible can persuade them otherwise. Read more…
We live in strange days, folks. Various “messianic” Christian groups, from Bible-belt “Hebrew Roots” to the so called “mainstream messianics” (composed of ethnically-Jewish converts to Evangelical Christianity), now offer their fellow Christians a chance to become “Messianic Jews” through conversion, without compromising their Christian conscience. This means that no changes to the core Christian beliefs that Jews find idolatrous and foreign to Judaism (such as Trinity and deity of Jesus) are required. The chief prerequisite for a “convert” is a “calling” to be part of the Jewish people.
Here are five reasons why all such “conversions” are an oxymoron, nonsensical, deceptive and an utterly futile waste of time:
Dear Daily Minyan readers, I have not posted in quite a bit, chiefly because I was very busy with life and work lately. I will attempt to resume regularly scheduled posts. In the meantime, here are some thoughts that have accumulated.
1. I have started preparations to make aliyah (immigrate) to Israel within a year, G-d willing. Lots of details still need to be worked out. I have also started studying Hebrew in earnest; thankfully, learning a new language is something I have quite a bit of experience with, so I know what it takes to get there – a lot of work. My kids are still very young (and we have one more on the way), so I am also thinking that this would be an opportune time to bring my family to the Land. I do have quite a bit of family already living in Israel, both close and more distant, as well as many family friends, and have visited them in the past a number of times. That said, as someone who had already immigrated from one country to another, I am fully aware of the great difficulties that come with uprooting oneself and starting from scratch. I left USSR for the United States, the land of freedom and prosperity, so then we knew that we would be upgrading our material well-being. Coming to Israel, however, I fully expect our material well-being to be downgraded. However, growing up in the former Soviet Union, I know what it’s like to live with less, much less, so I have no problem with that. More importantly, I know that the spiritual benefits of living in Eretz Yisrael with my family can’t be matched by living anywhere else. P.S. If you are one of my readers who lives in Israel, you are welcome to send me an email about my plans.
2. I have recently contemplated on what’s going on in the messianic blogosphere as of late. Virtually no ethnically Jewish messianics are actively involved online, except a few old folks commenting on blogs written by Gentile messianics. I have also come to realize the following, 1) the number of the halachically Jewish messianics is rapidly dwindling; their population, especially leadership, is aging and is not technically savvy. The older Jewish messianics have not replaced themselves due to wholesale assimilation and intermarriage – they are the last in their families to be Jewish, 2) many if not most of the younger “Jewish messianics”, almost all of the current younger leadership, are not Jewish halachically, since many of them were born to Gentile mothers, 3) the “messianic movement”, in its many expressions, has already become just another Christian “Hebrew roots” denomination. In line with that, it also appears that “mainstream” messianics (e.g. Mark Kinzer) are now taking steps to grow closer to the Catholic Church and mainline Protestant churches, seeking unity and reconciliation with their “brothers in messiah”.