A Mission Statement for Messianic Judaism

In a new episode of the Messianic Walk podcast, John McKee and I discuss his take on the mission statement for Messianic Judaism.

His statement, part of John’s coursework in Messianic studies, is formulated like this:

Today’s Messianic Jewish community has the widescale conviction that it composes “the end-time move of God.” This is based in the Biblical conviction that it is actively involved in the salvation-historical trajectory of “all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:26). A massive salvation of Jewish people is to be regarded as “life from the dead” (Romans 11:15). Given the Apostle Paul’s magnanimous burden of the salvation of his kinsfolk—“I would pray that I myself were cursed, banished from Messiah for the sake of my people—my own flesh and blood” (Romans 9:3, TLV)—everything that today’s Messianic movement does, should be with the expressed purpose of trying to enhance the mission of Jewish outreach and evangelism! Today’s Messianic movement was specifically raised up by the Lord to proclaim the good news of Israel’s Messiah to the Jewish community, and emphasize that they do not have to assimilate into a much wider non-Jewish Christianity to properly express faith in Him.

Many non-Jewish Believers, with a sincere and genuine love for the people and Scriptures of Israel, have been legitimately called by the Lord to be active participants and co-laborers in the salvation of Israel, along with Messianic Jewish Believers. Many of these people are to be regarded as modern-day Ruths, whose loyalty to Messianic Judaism is steadfast to the point of dying with their Messianic Jewish brothers and sisters (Ruth 1:16-17). They have a distinct role to play, in provoking non-believing Jewish people to Messiah faith (Romans 11:11). More importantly, as Jewish and non-Jewish people come together in a special and unique unity, in Messiah Yeshua, they should be representing the “one new man/humanity” (Ephesians 2:15)—a testimony and snapshot of the greater redemption to come to the cosmos in the eschaton (Ephesians 1:10).

-John McKee

John and I discuss this vision in detail:

  • Is the Messianic movement really the end-times move of God? Why we say it is, and what Biblical reasons we have for making that claim.
  • Are there other reasons to serve in the Messianic movement besides theology about the last days?
  • How and where the movement has diverged from the original vision of Jewish outreach, both good and bad.
  • Is the Messianic movement a more authentic Christianity?
  • Why the Messianic movement views assimilation differently than Christianity. (And how we know God doesn’t want Jews to disappear or lose their Jewishness.)
  • The Ruth calling: the role of non-Jews in the Messianic movement

We hope this episode will give some clarity around the movement’s purpose and calling, and how you, fine Kineti reader, may be called to serve in the Messianic movement.

You can subscribe to the Messianic Walk podcast on your iPhone, Android, PC, or Mac here.

The Holy Spirit Isn’t Your Bible Commentary

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Bible scholar and professor of Old Testament studies, Joel Edmund Anderson, writes a glowing review of (Mis)Interpreting Genesis, a new book which comes down hard against Young Earth Creationism (YEC).

I don’t share the author’s disdain for YEC, but regardless, Joel has some broader wisdom he shares in his review that I wish to highlight here:

Don’t read a passage in the Bible, conclude what it means without ever trying to make sure you understand the original context, and then say, “The Holy Spirit revealed it to me”—He didn’t. It is simply your uninformed and lazy opinion. Don’t appeal to God to cover for intellectual and spiritual laziness.

Oh, my sides! 😄 Joel is really spitting fire here!

And he’s right. A lot of folks don’t bother engaging with Scriptural context and instead punt to the divine revelation argument: the Holy Spirit told me what this means.

The Holy Spirit can help us apply the Bible to our lives, yes. God’s spirit can help us understand what is communicated to us through the Bible.

But that doesn’t mean we can be lazy about Bible scholarship. For a deep understanding of a text, we may need to engage with the context of a particular part of Scripture: its genre, its time in history, its purpose, its culture, its audience.

But wait, the ancients didn’t have that!

But…one thing I haven’t worked out.

The ancient readers (or hearers) of the Bible didn’t have access to Biblical scholarship. The milieu of Apostle Paul didn’t understand Ancient Near East cosmology. And much of the audience of the Bible – indeed most of humanity throughout our history – was uneducated and illiterate.

If ancient readers of the Bible didn’t always have context, and yet gleaned meaning from the text, can’t we?

I think the answer is yes, and Joel in his book review maybe comes down too harshly against that.

Take Genesis 1. When Ezra read the Torah scrolls to the Babylonian exiles, did those exiles have deep historical context and understanding of Ancient Near Eastern cosmology?

Probably not.

Did they understand the basic message of what they were hearing? Did they hear Genesis 1 and understand that God is the creator of everything?

Yes.

And what they didn’t understand, Ezra and other educated leaders could explain to the best of their understanding, given their education and the Holy Spirit at work.

We too can glean that message of Genesis by just reading the text; no engagement with scholarship is required to understand the basics.

But going beyond that – venturing into questions about cosmology, culture, history, purpose, target audience – I’m convinced that’s where we need Biblical scholarship the most. That scholarship can and should engage with our modern understanding of cosmology, biology, geology. Otherwise, we’re just shooting from the hip and calling it the Holy Spirit.

Messianic Music with a Contemporary Sound?

Contemporary Christian musicians

A friend emailed me with a question. Her Messianic friends listen to Christian contemporary music and tell her they don't care for Messianic music because there's nothing contemporary. Are there Messianic musicians with a contemporary music sound?

I interpret contemporary here to mean Christian pop, the kind you might hear on Christian radio stations, the kind of music published by Bethel Music et al.

My response:

There certainly are some Messianic musicians with a contemporary sound. I am thinking of folks like Shae Wilbur, Melody Joy, or Beckah Shae. Also, Joshua Aaron has done several songs with contemporary Christian artist Aaron Shust. I'd also suggest some Hebrew music from folks like Jamie Hilsden and albums like Midor Ledor have a contemporary sound as well.

That said, your friends are right that most Messianic music sounds different. I think that's OK! Most Messianic music does have a different sound, one that is not trying to emulate the Christian genre. The Messianic movement has a unique calling, distinct from the broader Church, so our music will often reflect that.