Import jQuery

The State of the Messianic Movement: Defining Jewish Christianity

This is part II of a series of posts on the state and future of the Messianic movement.

Our purpose? Figure out how things are in the Messianic movement, look at where we’re struggling, and find a way to move forward towards greater faithfulness and maturity. Join me as I look at Jewish Christianity, Messianic Judaism, and Hebrew Roots, and see where we can move forward on each front.

Folks, I want to have a growing Messianic edge to my life. I don’t want my faith to stagnate. I don’t want to decline. How does a person grow his faith?

And on a bigger level, I want to see God at work in our movement again. I want God to move all these Messianic people closer to himself. Growth, faithfulness, maturity. Moving forward. Sound good to you?

In order to move forward, fine Messianic folks, we have to understand where we’re at. How are things in the Messianic movement? What are some of the problems we’re facing? What are some things that are stopping us from moving forward?

The answer is complicated, because  there are a lot of people who call themselves “Messianic”, each with different visions, goals, beliefs:

  • Jewish Christianity
  • Messianic Judaism
  • Hebrew Roots

As a 2nd generation Messianic, having been involved in the broad Messianic movement since childhood and indeed all of my adult life, I’m in a good position to look at this fairly.

So I’m going to break it down in these posts. Divide and conquer the complexity so that we can look objectively at how we can move forward. Whether you identify with Jewish Christianity, Hebrew Roots, or Messianic Judaism, let’s move forward in the positions God’s placed us in.

Jewish Christianity

It surprises a lot of Messianic folks, but the truth is the biggest group of people who identify as Messianic are Jewish Christians. These are the folks who are ethnically Jewish and identify within the mainstream Christian Church. They identify as Messianic usually when speaking to other Jews; otherwise, their primary identity is in Christ and the Church.

What is Jewish Christianity?

  • Jews believing in Jesus and following Christianity
  • The largest Messianic group
  • Jews For Jesus
  • Many of the Messianic congregations in Israel
  • The face of Messianic faith to unbelieving Jews

Many Messianic folks are surprised to find out this is the largest group. As it stands, fine Messianic folks, there are far more Jews in the Church, Jewish Christians, than there are any other segment of the Messianic movement.

Jewish Christians have a vision for Jews coming to Jesus through Christianity. They believe the Christian Church is ultimately God’s vehicle for action in the world. They believe God has 1 body: the Church. It is God’s single ekklesia for both Jews and Gentiles.

In Jewish Christianity, identity is in Christ and Christianity first. Jewish Christians will often describe themselves as “Messianics” only when distinguishing themselves from non-believing Jews. Therefore, identity is above all in Christianity, and not in Messianic faith or in Jewish culture.

With regards to Torah and Israel, Jewish Christians generally hold the classical Christian view: the Torah has been made obsolete by Jesus’ appearance, and Israel superseded by the Church. There’s always exceptions, but by and large, Jewish Christians live lives similar to gentile Christians.

As I noted in last week’s post, the face of all things Messianic is Jews for Jesus. Jews for Jesus is a Jewish Christian missionary organization with the purpose of converting Jewish people to Christianity.

In the next post, we’ll look at the goals of Jewish Christianity.

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