POSTED 19 MAY, 2008
I have been in the Messianic movement almost thirteen years since 1995, and I have witnessed a great deal firsthand. I have been able to truly taste of what the Messianic movement can be if we place Yeshua the Messiah at the center of what we do, and we all strive to make a positive difference in the world. I have seen Jewish people come to enlivened faith in their Messiah, and I have seen Christians come to a deeper understanding of who He is. I have seen true unity among all the saints when the Lord and His work are emphasized as being the most important things.
I have also been able to witness a great deal of sensationalism and opportunism. There have been various individuals and so-called teachers who have taken a very holy and important message—the restoration of our Hebraic Roots—and have made it into a mockery. It has become very en vogue now for words like “Christian” and “pagan” to appear in the same sentence, deeply offending our Christian brethren and those who faithfully serve the Lord. It is now becoming more and more appropriate to castigate the Synagogue as not having anything beneficial, as a-traditional interpretations of the Torah are keeping more and more Jews away. And, I have actually encountered people telling me that they are receiving new “revelations” every day, about things that are not only not from God, but actually rob us of who we are as human beings made in His image.
I know I am not the only one who feels this way, either.
Many of you, unfortunately, have had to disturbingly witness friends, colleagues, or acquaintances actually enter into the Messianic movement—who later deny both Yeshua’s Divinity and Messiahship. Many of these people convert to Orthodox Judaism. But in a few instances, such people keep asking questions, and then may even deny God altogether when they are not answered to their satisfaction. While this is certainly disturbing, we should not be totally surprised as such apostasy has been taking place for a very, very long time. People deny the Supreme Creator all the time. What’s the big deal?
The big deal is that the Messianic community is very small, which means that people know each other, or at least know of each other. When a congregational leader or teacher bites the dust, and reneges on faith in Yeshua, people quickly find out about it. It can cause a ripple effect, with others wondering if such things that Person XYZ now believes actually have some validity. And to outsiders, particularly those who believe in Yeshua and are wanting to know about their Hebraic Roots, it makes them (legitimately) question whether or not the Messianic movement is a move of God that can assist them to know Him in a more profound way. The Messianic community is so small that even those who stand for God’s truth can be lumped in with extremists.
Many of the cases that I have been able to document since 2002 concern those who accept anti-missionary arguments about the Messiahship of Yeshua. Some of these people have converted to Orthodox Judaism, others to their own primitive form of Yahwism, and a few are now atheists. But here is a testimony that I recently discovered of someone who committed none of these offenses:
It was around 2001 that we found ourselves making a major transition regarding our faith. We became very involved in what many know as the messianic movement. Due to some teachings I heard and the conclusions I reached based on those teachings, I felt that many doctrines and practices within the world that I was part of, that being evangelical fundamental Christianity, were not biblical. I was convinced that much of Christianity’s core doctrines were simply men’s traditions. As a result, we made some changes which included the celebration of Passover and Tabernacles instead of Christmas and Easter. Saturday became our day of worship rather than Sunday. In 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005 I had the opportunity to speak at messianic conferences… We also had several messianic speakers come to [visit us]…for weekend conferences during this time.
Things really started to change in 2004/2005…I headed [out on speaking tours] with more and more questions emerging about this path I found myself on…From being very active writing and teaching in the fundamental Christian world and then the messianic world, for the past couple of years I ceased writing to a great degree and spent hour after hour reading, contemplating, and studying. As time went by…I found our spirituality undergoing some major changes.
So am I a Christian? Probably not if you define a Christian by the set of creeds or doctrines found within most of evangelical fundamental Christianity or the messianic movement. BUT…. if you ask me “Am I trying to follow the teachings of Jesus?” my answer would be “ABSOLUTELY.” When the word Christian was first used I believe it simply meant “those who followed the teachings of Jesus” so as much as I would say I would fall into that category, whether others would use that label to identify me isn’t really important. To be fair, I need to point out that my interpretation of what Jesus taught is probably going to differ a great deal from the interpretation held by evangelical Christianity and/or the messianic movement. It would probably fit in much more with Christian mysticism etc…
This individual testifies to have been involved with charismatic and fundamental Christianity, was quickly raised up as a Messianic teacher, and then started asking spiritual questions for which he could have no sufficient answer. I can only read between the lines here and speculate, but he was probably ill-prepared to handle some of the criticisms not only levied against Yeshua, but also against the Bible itself. Anyone involved in Biblical Studies—Jewish, Christian, or Messianic—is going to see that there are criticisms against the Bible. Yet, this is one of the weakest areas of Messianic theology today. Too many of our leaders remain isolated and purposefully ignorant of the poignant questions of faith and Biblical reliability, and the enemy has been able to use it for his (great) advantage against us!
This individual in question did not fall into atheism, but instead into some kind of mystical, quasi-New Age type of Christian expression. How on Earth did he get here? Did his Messianic quest ultimately end up with him believing, or at least giving credence, to ideas like “the Christ-spirit inside of all of us?” Was he, perhaps, ever opened to the occultic ideas of Jewish Kabbalah while in the Messianic movement, and now is opened to some of its paralleling ideas in fringe sectors of Christianity? Are the historical narratives of the Bible now to be viewed as simply metaphors for reaching into the universal consciousness, since they cannot be reliable accounts of what actually took place as some will falsely teach?
Today’s Messianic community is getting ready to enter into a very interesting season up ahead. As I said previously—apostasy has always been going on. But the testimony of our faith community does not need to be that we lead people astray! The testimony of the Messianic movement needs to be that we fully embody the ancient mission of Israel, being blessed by the Lord and thus being a blessing to others. We need to demonstrate that by our obedience to God, we can live like our Messiah Yeshua in a very real, interactive, and hands-on way. And above all, we need to demonstrate that we have transformed lives via the power of the gospel, without having to listen to lying or seducing spirits that wish to demean the Scriptures and its straightforward message for us.
Believe it or not, it might be very difficult to get some of today’s Messianics to see the importance of such a basic mission. Will others bite the dust along this path? I hope not, but will not hold my breath. I will simply plow ahead with the work of the Lord assigned to me, remembering what Paul wrote to Titus: “But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1). These are the things that will empower us to ultimately be that force that can be Israel to the max—a people even more impactful and influential than Ancient Israel was commissioned to be! How fast or slow we get there, though, will be the result of the choices that we make—whether wise or foolish.