I just read a blog post from those pyro-whatever-they-call-themselves guys that was guest-written by a Jewish believer named Steven A. Kreloff in which he critiqued/criticized Messianic Judaism. I suggest reading it for yourself, but I just want to comment on it briefly. The main thrust of the argument was that Messianic Jews are somehow in danger of what Paul warned against in Galatians and Hebrews. Going back to the law and making Christ of no use, yada, yada, yada. But he said something that struck me as strange, he said:
The Apostle Paul told the Ephesians that Christ has reconciled both Jews and Gentiles in one body through the cross (2:16). Through His death on the cross Jesus Christ abolished all the Old Testament ceremonial laws that made Jews distinct and separated them from Gentiles (2:15). As a result He has “made both groups (Jews and Gentiles) into one” by removing all spiritual distinctions between believers (2:14, 15). While maintaining ethnic and social differences, the Bible declares that “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). By encouraging messianic synagogues, Messianic Judaism promotes division in the Body of Christ that is contrary to the teachings of the New Testament.
I don’t know how many Messianic Jews this man knows or how many Messianic synagogues he’s been to, but I can tell you that from my experience, Gentiles are not only welcome in the Messianic synagogues, but in some (even many) areas, they comprise the majority of those who fellowship in them! But he continues and says:
Rather than establish a distinct Jewish assembly, local churches should bring together both Jews and Gentiles in membership. To remove Jewish believers from Bible-believing churches is to essentially rob the Church of the richness of fellowship God intends Jews and Gentiles in Christ to enjoy. All spiritual fellowship should be based upon our relationship with Christ—not our former religious backgrounds.
Why not argue that to remove Gentile believers from Bible-believing synagogues is to essentially rob the Church of (fill in the blank)? Historically speaking it was the Jews who let us in, not the other way around. I wonder if he takes this positions with all of the various denominations within the body of Christ — did the reformers rob the Church of its richness of fellowship that God intended when they left the Roman communion? How about the Wesleyans when they left the Methodist Episcopal Church? The list could continue for quite some time, but I’m just curious as to how far Mr. Kreloff would push this argument. I’m also curious as to whether or not he’s asserting that Messianic synagogues are somehow not Bible-believing congregations (churches/εκκλησιας)?
And I think the main point he’s missing in his last statement is that Messianic Jews don’t view their Jewishness as a ‘former religious background’ — rather they view their relationship with the Messiah as the natural evolution of their Jewishness — as Michael Brown often says: “what could be more Jewish than believing in the Jewish Messiah?” Imagine if Paul thought in the terms that Mr. Kreloff is suggesting! Paul even after his conversion claimed to be a Pharisee (Acts 23:6), an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin (Rom. 11:1), circumcized the eighth day, a Hebrew of Hebrews (Phil. 3:5)!
Are we to imagine that regenerated Jews just left behind their heritage because they became believers in their Jewish Messiah? I would venture a guess that the early Jewish Church continued to go to Jerusalem yearly for שׁבעות/Shavu’ot (Pentecost), בחג המצות/Chag HaMotzi (Unleavened Bread) and סכות/Sukkot (Tabernacles). We certainly know that it Paul’s custom to go to the synagogues on the Sabbath in order to preach Jesus to both Jews and Gentiles (Acts 17:2; 18:4).
I just find it peculiar and a bit disingenuous that so many people think true Christianity somehow only resembles Reformation Protestantism — I submit that from its inception the body of Christ has taken various forms (which makes sense seeing as how it is composed of many members, 1Cor. 12:12, 20) and despite the differences, we’re still united in fellowship in Messiah/Christ. I no more fault Messianic Jews for their style of worship and service and their decision to assemble with like-minded believers than I do Reformed Baptists for theirs or Charismatic Pentecostals for theirs. We have liberty in Christ to do such!