Messianic Judaism has an inferiority complex

Remember that awkward nerd girl at school? You know, the one who tried to hang out with the cool cheerleaders? The cool kids would always pick on her. They’d say nasty things to her. They’d make fun of her when everyone’s watching.

Even so, the nerd still vied for their approval. She’d brush her hair. She’d lose the thick glasses. Change the way she dressed. She even stopped hanging around her nerd friends. Her nerd friends were saddened by all this.

Despite all these supposed improvements, the cheerleaders still mocked her and made her a public spectacle.

I think Messianic Judaism is that nerd. There's a great inferiority complex in Messianic Judaism. Some of its leaders are trying very hard to make it fit in with greater Judaism, even to the point of alienating its own gentile friends and abandoning the New Testament model of joint, equal fellowship of Jews and gentiles.

Oh, hello, fellow Jew. I’m a Jew, too; a Messianic one. We’re a legitimate form of Judaism. Honest! Now, excuse me while I put away my nerd glasses sweep our gentiles members and all their crazy theologies under the rug. Just nevermind them!

Hey, look at me, I’m reciting the Sh’ma! Are we cool now?

What makes the situation worse is, the Judaic world will never accept Messianic Judaism as a legitimate form of Judaism. Only deluded optimists believe otherwise.

No matter how much liturgy we chant, no matter how much tradition we embrace, no matter how great the wall we build to separate us from our “undesirable” gentiles, as long as Yeshua is Messiah and Lord of Messianic Judaism, we will be shunned and downplayed and isolated and delegitimized by greater Judaism.

Let me say it again: Messianic Judaism will never be a legitimate form of Judaism as long as Yeshua is Lord.

It is very painful to watch as certain leaders divide and build more walls and distance itself from its friends in an ever-futile attempt to legitimize itself in the eyes of greater Judaism. Like the nerd girl trying to fit in with the cheerleader crowd, it’s all in vain. Messianic Judaism won’t fit in unless it denies Yeshua as King. It is painful to watch our faith strive in vain for approval in the eyes of men.

I don’t want the nerd girl to become a cheerleader. She’s too caught up trying to fit in with the cool crowd to notice who her real friends are. We can only hope and pray she realizes this as she gets older.

24 comments:

  1. "What makes the situation worse is, the Judaic world will never accept Messianic Judaism as a legitimate form of Judaism. Only deluded optimists believe otherwise. "

    Judah... you've made and knocked down your own little straw man. Can you show me who and where says that getting "accepted" by our non-Yeshua Jewish brothers is the goal of Messianic JEWISH movement? Hogwash!

    We don't TRY to be accepted or have any illusions about that - we want to LIVE as the Jews we were born to be (with Yeshua, of course) - for our G-d, for us, for our children, and as a witness to our people. I don't expect most non-Jews to understand that (some, thankfully, do)!

    If this doesn't sit well with some Two-House Ephraimites and One-Law (replacement) theology adherents in the various pseudo-Messianic churches - well, tough I say!

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  2. Messianic Judaism, and the whole movement labeling itself as "Messianic," is still very much a first generation "thing." We should expect a wide variance of visions and what we think its purpose should be, to emerge.

    As far as Messianic Judaism being recognized as just another branch of Judaism, while this might not be a point of view share by some, it is a point of view shared by many. Dan Cohn-Sherbok, editor of Voices of Messianic Judaism, does in fact argue that Messianic Judaism could be recognized as another branch of Judaism. For some Messianic Jews, this is precisely their goal (but again, it may not be everyone).

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  3. J.K. McKee...

    Dan Cohn-Sherbok is not a Messianic Jew or a believer. While it's nice that he's so accepting of Jewish Yeshua-followers, his opinion is a conjecture, not a statement of fact.

    Some individual MJs (and non-Jews) in Messianic Judaism may be under that illusion of eventual acceptance, but most MJ leadership I talked to know that only with the coming of Yeshua will things really change. Everything else is wishful thinking.

    However, just because the not-yet-Yeshua-believing Judaism doesn't accept Messianic Jews, it doesn't mean that we are allowed to cut ourselves off, as many anti-Judaic/anti-rabbinic folks in the fringes want us Messianic Jews to do.

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  4. Gene, I have never argued that Messianic Jews should cut themselves off from the greater Jewish community, even though being a Jewish Believer does present some unique difficulties (to which we should all be quite sensitive).

    And as you know, I do not share the kinds of anti-Judaic and anti-Rabbinic sentiments that are present in the various strands of the Two-House and One Law movements. I observed Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot on the same days that you did.

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  5. J.K. McKee... I know that you are very supportive of mainstream J, MJ, and Christianity, as all having part in G-d's plan - as I am.

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  6. Can you show me

    Yep, already did, in the links contained in the post.

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  7. "Yep, already did [showed that MJ's goal is to be "accepted" by mainstream Judaism], in the links contained in the post."

    I don't see it, Judah - are we reading the same pages? Or, I suppose you are just seeing things a bit differently through your very own little "nerdy glasses" of anti-rabbinic prejudice and years of Tim Hegg indoctrination.

    Peace.

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  8. your very own little ... anti-rabbinic prejudice and years of Tim Hegg indoctrination.

    I have a small shrine to Tim Hegg in my room. Oh, and lots of pictures of rabbis with big red X's over their faces. Totally.

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  9. Let me say that the key is "signs and wonders". Before you flame me, hear me out.

    Scripture itself says, (1 Corinthians 1:22 NASB) For indeed Jews ask for signs, and Greeks search for wisdom;

    If we Jews, followers of Yeshua (the one that said we would perform greater signs), do not seek these, are we really His followers? Now I'm not promoting the signs and wonders for the sake of experiencing them, although the experience does build your faith. But I am stessing this point for the fact that if we do nothing else but preach Yeshua, but show no power of the message, then we are the same as the gentile church that has for centuries tried to convert us.

    Yeshua Himself preached the Kingdom and then showed the power. When this happens, then we won't have to prove we are Jews, because the power of God will be all the proof needed.

    Be encouraged, it WILL happen.

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  10. Hey Lou,

    Long time no see. Glad you're still around, thanks for stopping by and commenting.

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  11. "I have a small shrine to Tim Hegg in my room."

    :) Tim Hegg almost did our wedding. That was a while ago as you might imagine. I haven't read much of his stuff lately, he always struck me as pretty rabbinic sympathetic? Am I wrong?

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  12. Judah,

    Iin light of this post I would be interested to hear your take on Russ Resnick's furthered fleshing out of the UMJC's "Defining Messianic Judaism" statement.
    Here
    Is it really about trying to "find acceptance" from the larger Jewish world? Or is it about being true to a culture, heritage and covenant acceptance be damned?
    And (just for the sake of argument) isn't the MJ movement guilty of doing the opposite of what you've described here: Putting all of our effort into being accepted by(instead of "excepted" from) the larger Body of Messiah? "Look at us...we REALLY ARE Christians".

    I'm interested to hear your thoughts.

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  13. Yirmeyahu,

    I was kidding about Tim Hegg. Ironically, it was Gene who introduced him to me last year, as he pointed out Tim was somebody who disagreed with my beliefs. Now I am accused of being indoctrinated by him! Haha! Oh well.

    I think Tim is against Judaism. He recently said, "When you [speaking to Messianic organization First Fruits of Zion] started using the term "Judaism" to describe yourselves, I knew we had to part ways."

    Personally, I don't follow Tim much. I just hear bits and pieces over time. If he is anti-rabbinic, then I would disagree with him on that issue.

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  14. Jon,

    I have respect for Rabbi Resnik. I have not heard him make statements that felt like those from our nerdy high schooler. :-)

    I don't believe the MJ movement has ever been aching to be more Christian. The independents are largely folks that were fed up with the church and its replacement theologies, and the One Faith, Two Expression folks (UMJC, MJTI et al) look fondly at the church, but view it as an expression distinct from Messianic Judaism.

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  15. "I was kidding about Tim Hegg. Ironically, it was Gene who introduced him to me last year, as he pointed out Tim was somebody who disagreed with my beliefs. Now I am accused of being indoctrinated by him! Haha! Oh well."

    I think Timm Hegg is the only well-known pro-One-Law theologian the One-Law folks have left.

    Judah... personally, I get a bit lost in the things you follow. You are Two House (but don't express it much anymore - why?), formely adamantly One-Law yet not very observant of your own One-Law "traditions" (One-Law for argument sake?), later you said that you never thought yourself as "One-Law" and couldn't accuse pork-eating Christians of sin, previously anti-rabbinic (remember your own calendar thing?), but now semi-friendly to rabbis(with your own brother now totally into rabbinics), while saying that your father has discovered some Jewish ancestry therefore you're Jewish. All things to all people, mate:) At least that shows you are not a fundamentalist:)

    Here's my conclusion on Messianic Jews and Gentiles:

    There's no need to push for LESS Gentiles in MJ, we need to push for MORE Jews. By sticking to the scriptural "Jew first" guideline within Messianic Judaism this can be accomplished. And of course, Jewish self-rule is the first requirement of that.

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  16. >>Judah... personally, I get a bit lost in the things you follow.

    That's because you project onto me all the things you hate in the Messianic movement. When I don't line up with your deranged view of me, you get confused.

    You hold a simpleton's view of the world:

    -If you don't use the traditional 4th century calendar, you're anti-rabbinic.

    -If you believe in Ezekiel 37, you must be a foolhardy Ephraimite.

    -If you believe gentiles have a part in the Torah, you must be a One Law advocate.

    -If you see problems in Messianic Judaism, you must be a Tim Hegg worshipper.

    -If you don't use the traditional liturgy, you must be a crazy charismatic.

    -If you have a different theology, you must be a member of a false religious cult.

    Honestly, Gene, it's near comical if it wasn't so insulting. I have given up trying to explain to you my views: every time I do, you take the worst-possible meaning of my words and hurl insults. You need to change, man.

    Shalom.

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  17. All that said, I won't be drawn into yet another fruitless internet argument with you, Gene. I do well to avoid them.

    Unless you have honest, non-loaded questions, questions that don't have a sharp stick behind the veil, I won't be responding to your post, I don't wish to engage in another fruitless internet fight.

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  18. I don't think it has all been fruitless, Judah. In an age when most people (especially those within the two theological camps we represent) get their information online, I think that our little talks have accomplished quite a bit over the past year. Our discussions have certainly sharpened me personally in many practical areas of messianic Jewish ministry, where I had to apply my gained knowledge in a number of real life situations, including preventing possible congregational schisms or spread of confusion.

    Be well.

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  19. My wife and I used to be asked to do couples counseling by a local pastor. Most of the time, these sessions degenerated into one side complaining about the faults of the other. Regardless of counseling many marriages still failed.

    We eventually switched to each of us working one-to-one with the husband or wife. We found that if we helped the individual become a better person that the marriage would usually improve. This way even if the marriage failed, the individual still had someone better to live with. Themself.

    As the leaders of these groups, I implore all of you to work with the individuals. We will never invoke jealousy in the Jews or the Christians until we fix ourselves. Most of us "nerds" who tried to fit in by imitating the "cool crowd" eventually found out that it was "acting as ourselves" that got us accepted.

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  20. One of the main problems that I have seen in the Messianic movement for almost 15 years is the fact that few in the leadership emphasize the Biblical ideal of mutual submission (Ephesians 5:21). This begins in the home where husband and wife are equal partners together in marriage, not locked in mortal combat as a part of the curse upon humanity (Genesis 3:16) with the man having to rule over the woman.

    When such mutual submission is not really present in the home, with the war of the sexes very much in play, why would it be present in the greater Messianic world? If it were present in the greater Messianic world, not only would we see proper equality for all of God's people--but we would respect the role of Jewish tradition, and the legitimate body ministry aspects of Christian tradition. We would come together and actually be that "one new humanity" (Ephesians 2:15, NRSV/CJB) the Lord desires.

    I don't think that today's generation of leaders--be they Divine Invitation, One Law, Two-House, or whatever--really thinks in terms of mutual submission. But I do think it is the long term answer: "with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves" (Philippians 2:3b). It will be up to us how long we will see how vital it is to our future.

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  21. @JK and Messiah's Way,

    Amein and well-said!

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  22. Very interesting that you term Orthodox Judaism as the cool kids. Being an orthodox Jew, myself, and having gone through the messianic thing... I find it to be completely incorrect. You project upon yourself/messianic movement the image of a poor nerd that everyone should feel sorry for. However, in reality orthodoxy wants nothing to do with the lime light that messianics want to be in. We(orthodox jews) only want to be left alone and for xianity and messianism to stop making a mockery of our Torah.

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  23. >> We(orthodox jews) only want to be left alone

    Yes, you don't want the untouchable Messianics near you. That's precisely the nerd/in-crowd relationship I was talking about. You want nothing to do with the nerd, and the nerd looks up to you as a kind of ideal.

    Of course, this is a false ideal. The ideal is every Jew following the Messiah. The ideal is not Orthodox Judaism.

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  24. First things first. I'm glad I happened upon this blog. There's some really good stuff being said by all parties involved.

    It was said "What makes the situation worse is, the Judaic world will never accept Messianic Judaism as a legitimate form of Judaism."

    And why won't MJ ever be accepted as a legitimate form of Judaism? Because it's not. Personally, I view MJ as Christianity repackaged. A Christianity with a Jewish flavor to it, if you will. So your right, MJ will never be accepted by the greater Jewish community as a legitimate sect of Judaism, because it's not. Pretty simple really.

    Shabbat Shalom

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