Messianic Judaism is not Christianity

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Puritan Board Senior
Stan Telchin is Jewish. He is also a Christian. He does not feel there is a contradiction. He is closely associated with Jews for Jesus, which is widely know for it’s evangelisation of Jews. His perspective of the Messianic Judaism (Hebrew Roots) movement is as a Jewish Christian.

His analysis of Messianic Judaism is illustrated initially by interviews, phone calls and e-mails. These serve to highlight the issues being thrown up. Stan is careful to explain that there is a breadth in the movement but that the movement is characterised by a move towards “Torah observance” and replacing pastors with “rabbis”. This is done in part, to gain acceptance by the Jewish community, to become “the fourth branch of Judaism”. The irony is that the majority of Jews (by birth) are basically “secular”. They would not feel “at home” in a strict “Torah observant” Messianic synagogue. Stan suggests that somewhere about 95% of Jewish believers in the US do not worship in Messianic synagogues.

He reinforces the distinction that Baruch Maoz makes about Israeli congregations. They do not have rabbis or call themselves synagogues. (p117) He also makes it clear that Messianic Judaism is better known for what it does (Torah) than what it believes.

Stan is quite clear that rabbinic Judaism is an innovation of the rabbis after the destruction of the Second Temple (p22). It is not to be emulated.

Positively Stan sees the Church as an integral part of Israel’s turning to the Messiah. Taking his cue from Romans 11 Stan sees the church as provoking to jealousy.

He gives one of the clearest explanations of being “under the Law” contrasted with “grace” on p136. Maybe prior reading made it more understandable but it was beautifully succinct (one page)!

On page 138 he lists 3 myths he has dealt with
  • Jewish people know the Hebrew Scriptures better – they don’t as a whole!
  • You need to approach Jews within the context of Judaism – less than 7% of American Jews actually attend synagogue regularly!`
  • It is best if Jews evangelise Jews – most Jews come to faith through gentile believers!

The book is easy to read but also challenging. (Easier than “Judiasm is not Jewish” which now goes under the title “Come Let Us Reason Together”) Stan is quite clear that Messianic Judaism is headed in a direction that by and large conforms to rabbinic Judaism. As such he feels it needs to be challenged, however gently. One of the most interesting pages discusses the term tolerance and what it has come to mean in a world where truth is relative. (p130)

Stan concludes with a call for unity. He describes his congregation of 30 Jewish people, 110 former Catholics and 150 Protestants from different denominations. They hardly ever spent any time on the things that used to divide them. Instead they focused on what united them.

(I am still looking for a book dealing with Messianic Judaism/Hebrew Roots backwards translation of the NT into Hebrew but this is a personal issue and in no way detracts from the book)
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