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Part 2: Thoughts on Jews converting to Christianity

March 14, 2014

Click here for Part 1

What does it mean to be a “completed Jew”?

dudebro-jesus

Most Messianic Jews and Gentile Christians believe that without Jesus an “unbelieving” Jew’s relationship with his or her G-d is severely crippled. Many believe, following the statement supposedly made by Jesus in the gospel of Matthew (11:27) concerning those who didn’t believe in him, that Jews don’t or even can’t know G-d (the Father) at all, until they become Christians. When Jews are asked to accept Jesus, Christians and Messianic Jews mean something quite specific. To become a follower of Jesus a Jew must be willing to embrace that man as his god, lord and savior. He must also be willing to take on the most important task that Jesus assigned to his followers – to “preach the gospel”. To most believers in Jesus this means to spread the faith in Jesus as the savior of mankind to every human being on the planet. A Jewish follower of Jesus must be prepared to share his new-found beliefs with his Jewish family members, neighbors, friends or just passersby on the streets (in case of Jews for Jesus). Most Jews, even secular ones, find worshiping a man as god either abhorrent or delusional. A Jewish believer’s task is to assuage their natural repulsion toward Christianity’s beliefs and its historic treatment of Jews by assuring them that their embrace of Jesus is not only “100% kosher”, it is the absolute fulfillment of all the Jewish longings thousands of years in the making.

Yes, you will join “Body of Messiah” (a.k.a. the Church) along side the two billion Christians (your new “brothers and sisters”), but you can still be “Jewish”!  Why not put aside your Jewish stubbornness? Have the best of both worlds! After all, everyone knows that Jesus was a Jew. First Christians – all Jews! In fact, you will be even more Jewish than all other Jews and all the learned rabbis – you will become a “fulfilled Jew”. This is because you will have done “the most important things any person could do” – believe in Jesus. Simply accept and worship him, be saved by his precious blood. Don’t worry what your Jewish family and friends will think – they are blind! Always remember that from now on, you are to love Jesus more than all of them put together (Matthew 10:37).

Hell

Most Christians would say that Jesus is a gentleman and will not force himself upon you if you want nothing to do with him. They will caution, however, that while embracing Jesus is wholly voluntary, keep in mind that according to the New Testament this man is the “only way to salvation”, your ticket to haven, a guarantee of avoiding eternity of burning in hell. Why risk eternity in hell, why forfeit your personal salvation just so that you can be accepted by other Jews? Don’t worry about losing them – you will gain a heavenly family through Jesus. Being rejected by your own people may not be easy, but this is a price that you as a Jewish believer will need to pay. As the New Testament tells us, “carnal” Jews persecuted and killed all the prophets and especially our lord Jesus, too – do you expect to be treated better? So what if they reject you for embracing Jesus and this new faith – you will be accepted by millions upon millions of your new Christian “brothers and sisters” in the Church! Should you doubt and hesitate, however, you have been warned that while Jesus was meek and mild, kind and loving during his “first coming”, during his reappearance he will return as an angry judge and will cast you into the lake of fire with other unbelievers. “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:31)

It’s true that a small number of Messianic Jews have evolved beyond such simple arguments and are quite liberal in their theology. Most of the rank and file, however, still very much subscribe to classic Evangelical understanding of the New Testament. They know that in the Christian scriptures, being a believer in Jesus is not at all optional and that G-d’s wrath is promised to those who didn’t submit to Jesus. But nearly all Messianic Jews are uncomfortable with the thought of their sweet and loving bubbie and zadie ending up being tortured in hell forever and ever merely for rejecting Jesus. When asked about this, most would say that only G-d can judge man’s ultimate destiny (which is, of course, quite true). They would rather not entertain the idea of Jews ending up eternally lost without Jesus, even though this idea is clearly described in the New Testament. Some Jewish-born Christians, contrary to the teachings found in the gospels and the Book of Acts, even believe that all (all good?) Jews would still be saved by Jesus regardless of their faith in him. Such folks are usually considered by other believers as bordering on heretical.

Looking in the rear-view mirror

I can relate to all of this. I too once considered my Jewish people as “lost” and “hell-bound” simply for ignoring the message of the New Testament or refusing to bow to its human-divine savior. How incredibly naive and arrogant it was of me. When I transitioned from Evangelicalism to “Messianic Judaism” I tried to immerse myself in all things Jewish. However, for all my non-stop reading, studying and writing about Judaism, my understanding of Torah and Judaism remained only skin-deep. Later, I understood the reason why this was so. My view of Judaism and even my own people has been for years completely colored by the caricature presented to me in the New Testament. But then I realized that I was not the only one affected. This distorted perception of reality afflicts all of the Jewish Christians/Messianic Jews that I’ve come to know over the years, no matter how many Jewish theologians they read or rabbis they quote. Paul’s statement in 2 Corinthians 3:14 that it is the Jews who have a veil on their eyes whenever they read the “Old Testament” brings an especial sense of irony.

Jews who have embraced Christianity are very sincere in their beliefs. They truly wish to live a life according to the dictates of the New Testament (as they interpret it). I certainly tried. Many Messianic Jews sacrificed everything for their worship of Jesus – their careers (in pursuit of ministries to promote their faith in Jesus and serve him), their marriages (most are married to Gentile Christians), their children (most would either not be considered halachically Jewish or will receive virtually no Jewish education) and their relationships with other Jews (by being cut off from a Jewish community). However, these things are not all they lost nor are they most important to a Jew. Having committed an act of idolatry by directing their worship to a mortal man whom the nations worship, Messianic Jews also sacrificed something far more valuable – their relationship with the G-d of their forefathers. They had the most sincere of intentions, but being raised ignorant of Judaism and Torah they fell for the deception that used their own heritage as a hook to lure them in. As Jews, our job is to love them and seek to bring them back into the Jewish fold, back to their heritage, back to Torah and back to their G-d.

Click here for Part 1

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Macher permalink
    March 15, 2014 12:05 pm

    That would be certain circles not Messianic Judaism as a whole. And the challenge is how Messianic Judaism portrays Messiah.

  2. March 15, 2014 8:27 pm

    Macher, I think I covered a wide range of MJ beliefs. “Messianic Judaism” (as opposed to various Hebrew Roots groups) is not as diverse as some might imagine. There are, of course, individual Messianics who have come to add on their own beliefs or practices, i.e. things which few others Messianics share. But a few isolated folks do not define the majority.

    What specifically do you mean by the “challenge”?

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