evangelism

Messianic Evangelism

Some people object to this. When they see Messianic Jews declaring the Gospel to other Jewish People and to Gentiles, they say, “Why are you doing that? That’s not Jewish. We Jews are not a proselytizing faith.” Well, that may be a popular notion to many people, but it isn’t true. In Matthew 23:15, Yeshua says, “Woe to you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees. You hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert and, when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.” Clearly, the Jewish leaders of Jesus’ day were proselytizing. They were telling people about God. They were winning converts, Yeshua says. So, sharing our faith is definitely Jewish. Not only was it true in the First Century, and before Messiah came, but it is also true today.

-Jonathan Bernis
“Good News for Israel”
Jewish Voice Ministries International

Last Sunday afternoon, I had my regular “coffee meeting” with a friend of mine. We meet every other week to talk about all sorts of things, but mainly to maintain relationship, friendship and community in Messiah. My friend is one of the few people in my life (face-to-face or online) who can really challenge me and present me with questions that make me stop and think. It’s not always comfortable but is it always inspiring.

Over lattes, he asked me how I’m personally sharing the good news of Messiah to the people around me as a Messianic Gentile. He didn’t word it exactly like that, but I have a reason for expressing the query this way.

Just about anyone I can think of who is involved in either Messianic Judaism or some aspect of the Hebrew Roots movement entered these movements by way of a Church experience. Before I entered Hebrew Roots and then became more Messianic in my practice and study, I came to faith in a Nazarene church here in Southwestern Idaho. Even the Jewish people I know, with rare exception, entered Messianic Judaism after coming to faith in Jesus (Yeshua) as Messiah within normative Christianity.

In other words, it wasn’t a Messianic Jewish or Messianic Gentile evangelist who shared the good news of Moshiach and the coming Kingdom of God with any of these folks. For me, a more traditional Christian evangelist (in my case, a youth Pastor and friend of my brother-in-law) asked me that standard question, “If you were to die tonight, do you know where your soul would go?”

share the gospelThat’s a horrible introductory line in my opinion, and the actual process of me coming to faith took a large number of specific steps and encounters over a six month to one year period of time. But in the end, I made the initial baby steps of coming to faith and then my life fell apart.

But how would a person with a Messianic Gentile perspective on the Bible come to evangelize, not Christians in the normative Church, which is what we’re used to doing, but atheists or even people from completely unrelated religious traditions, telling them of the plan of personal salvation through Christ?

It’s not an easy question to answer, because I believe the “good news” of Messiah is so much more than just a plan for personal salvation. Scot McKnight expanded on this idea in his book The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited and I agree that we (the Church) have reduced the actual gospel message down to a bullet list of talking points centered around individual salvation so that a person may be forgiven of their sins and go to Heaven when they die.

The gospel message of Jesus is often simplified down to believe in Christ and your sins will be forgiven and you will go to heaven when you die. In episode eight this common misconception will be challenged. Viewers will discover that the main message of the gospel is one of repentance and entering into the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of heaven is not the place we go to when we die but rather God’s kingdom coming down here on earth. The gospel message is about preparation for the Messianic Age.

from the introduction to Episode 8
The Gospel Message
from the First Fruits of Zion television series
A Promise of What is to Come

The episode is only about thirty minutes long and free to view by clicking the link I provided. It offers a more expanded understanding of what the good news or gospel message of Messiah is really all about.

The Gospel MessageBut that story is aimed at people who already have faith in Christ and who are looking for a deeper understanding of what that faith actually means based on a Hebraic examination of the scriptures.

How do you introduce this sort of stuff to people who have no background in it at all? If I go up to someone, tell them I’m a Christian, and ask if they would like to talk about Jesus, they may say “yes” or they may say “no,” but they’ll at least have some idea of what I’m talking about. If I go up to that same person and tell them I’m a Messianic and ask if they would like to talk about the coming Kingdom of God and the blessings of the Messianic Age, they’d have no idea what I was saying and would probably think I’m some sort of religious cult nut.

The Sunday before Easter, one of the Pastors at church announced from the pulpit the opportunity for anyone who desired, to join with others on Good Friday to go door to door in the neighborhood offering to share the gospel message and to pray with people. For a brief instant, I imagined myself doing such a thing, but then all the questions about the true nature of the gospel I mentioned above came flooding in.

I want to share my faith, but it doesn’t always have a lot in common with the doctrinal position of Evangelicals, so how could I employ Evangelical religious tracts and Evangelical language and concepts in any program of sharing faith as I understand it?

Arguably, there are only two populations that Messianics attempt to engage: normative Judaism and the Church. Messianic Jews attempt to communicate to wider Judaism about the Moshiach, Yeshua HaNazir, and the New Covenant promise of a restored Israel and a reunited Jewish people as the head of all peoples and nations of the Earth. Messianic Gentiles and Hebrew Roots Gentiles tend to try to convince people in the Church or people who are disaffected and who have left the Church, that the Messianic and/or Hebrew Roots perspective on scripture tells a more authentic and accurate story about the relationship between God and humanity.

But how do we (or do we ever) communicate our message to people outside of those frameworks, people who don’t have the theological background we usually require of our audiences, and help them understand what it is to be a disciple of the Master?

I know of only one, single missionary effort currently operating, in this case in Uganda, that works to evangelize unbelieving populations directly from a Messianic perspective: Acts for Messiah. As the introductory text regarding their mission states:

ACTS for Messiah serves to follow in the footsteps of Yeshua and the apostles, providing for the needy, feeding the hungry, and providing a home for the children left in the streets. Our current area of operation is in Tororo, Uganda, where Emily Dywer brings ministry to small villages and runs an orphanage rescuing children from desperate and dangerous situations, giving them hope and a future…

That might be the answer or at least part of it. It’s not just what we say, but what we do and how we live. The answer may not be in the differences in perspective between Christians and Messianics (and of course, Messianics are Christians who simply view scripture from a different and more Hebraic perspective), but the similarities. At the end of the day, it’s all about humble obedience to the teachings of the Master, following the path, feeding the hungry, providing clothing, offering comfort, showing kindness, even to the unkind, for they are the ones who need kindness the most.

the missionary next doorI’m not a big fan of knocking on doors and offering to share the good news with strangers. I’ve been at the receiving end of door-to-door evangelists of one type or another and an unanticipated visit is usually an interruption. On the other hand, I am discounting the Holy Spirit and encounters previously arranged outside human awareness.

We have to start somewhere. We can’t just talk to ourselves about what we already know and we can’t just target limited populations if we really believe we have a good message that people need.

But where to begin? If you call yourself a Messianic anything, do you share your message with strangers or at least with atheists with whom you’re acquainted? How do you talk to someone about faith in a Jewish Messiah within the context of Messianic worship and faith?

The comments section is now open.

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40 thoughts on “Messianic Evangelism”

  1. The door-to-door approach does work for some people. I said a prayer to ask Yeshua into my heart when a youth group from a local church stopped by my house one day. The visit happened after I prayed a pretty heavy prayer though. Thankfully I let them in that day. I was a teen and I wasn’t attending church at the time.

  2. Hi, Jill.

    I’m not saying that a door-to-door approach doesn’t work, just that some (or most) people aren’t receptive to unannounced knocks at the door. As I said above though, that may deny the power of the Holy Spirit and that God arranged such a meeting ahead of time.

  3. I understand what you mean. I tried the door-to-door approach with the youth group and there were a lot of people that weren’t receptive.

  4. Yet again, you have caused me to think deep within myself.

    My first thought, unsure if I’m right or wrong, is in understanding this based on the examples given within scripture, as I perceive. I do not recall any stories or examples of evangelizing the way I have seen the stereotypical American Christian culture approach this task. I do not recall reading stories that would be the equivalent of knocking on neighborhood doors or passing out literature.

    The examples I do see, are of kindness, remembering the poor, and in general acting in such a way that unbelievers seek the truth, and not believers pushing the truth. Jesus explained that all men will know we are his disciples by the love we show each other.

    I have seen this in real testimony. I can not recall hearing testimony that someone started their relationship because of door to door evangelism. Not to say it hasn’t happened. I have heard several testimonies of personal friendships leading to an open conversation. I have heard several testimonies of someone attending a vacation bible school, or camp, or community faith event. I would think that the same is said about honest missionary work to “remember the poor” as Paul said. Show our love.

    Regarding the contrast between what or how to share as a Christian vs Messianic, I would say the beginning is the same. We can not download all of the information we have learned. It is about establishing the foundation of learning to love God. In time, those that are seeking the truth will find it. Our goal should be to discuss the richness of an ongoing relationship with God, that is about always learning, being willing to stop, take a couple of steps backwards realizing a mistake, and restarting. I find the Messianic community is much better at admitting we don’t have all of the answers and our life task is to learn and adjust. Being honest with someone about that, although I haven’t taken that opportunity yet, could be a refreshing change from the contrasting style of some that appear to have all of the answers.

    Just some off the cuff thoughts, with only a few sips of coffee in me so far. I’m sure your blog post will inspire many comments and I eagerly await reading through them.

  5. Many within “normative,” Judaism are atheist/agnostic. I find atheists are much more open to talking about spiritual issues from a Judaic point of view, as it is more intellectual and less dogmatic and scripted. And they love it when you disprove evangelical doctrine 🙂 Their sites are also really useful for good research into frauds with documentation.

    Now anti-missionaries perform the proselytizing they claim that Jews don’t do. I know they claim that they are merely bringing Jews back home (to their particular brand of Orthodoxy) but they don’t seem to have an explanation for why they go after Hebrew Roots (gentiles.)

  6. Today, Rabbi Kalman Packouz posed a list of twenty ways to connect with God based on the writings of Rabbi Zelig Pliskin. He posted them at Aish.com. I won’t say that it’s a perfect list, but it reminds me that the first step in sharing our faith is living our faith.

  7. I would add that they methodology employed by the first century disciples was that they healed the sick, raised the dead, cast out demons and freely gave as they freely received. Maybe if these signs don’t follow our “ministry,” it is because we have the wrong message.

  8. That’s an interesting point of view, Chaya. It seems as if you’re saying the “hook” of the conversation would be to emphasize the Jewish perspectives, teachings, and practices of Messianic Jewish faith rather than the “fire and brimstone” approach of some Evangelicals.

    I’ve been thinking that if the gospel message for Christianity is the plan for personal salvation, the same message in Messianic Judaism is becoming a disciple of the Master and becoming involved in the approach of the Messianic Kingdom. To become a part of that effort, one must repent (“Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near”) and learn to draw close to God through, among other activities, study, since study is a more “Jewish” approach to worship.

    That said, it seems, like normative Christianity, we should also emphasize service to others, obviously not through miracles such as healing the sick, but we can still feed the hungry and perform many other mitzvot in the service of humanity.

  9. I got in a discussion with one guy when I suspected “apologist,” Lee Strobel of being a fraud, and my hunch was correct. In fact, it might be more difficult discovering which evangelicals are not frauds or hirelings. Christians feel they are under siege from atheists and seculars, and I don’t see it that way. Since I don’t believe one employs Greek logic to convince a person to have faith, a Hebraic concept, they don’t need to fear a canned spiel from me.

    The three most important people involved in the restoration of Israel as a nation were atheists/agnostics, and it was the religious people who opposed them. I wrote an article, “Can God Use Atheists?” Sort of puts a spin on it.

  10. @chaya — I’d be a little more careful about characterizing any somewhat secularized Jew in the period immediately following the Shoah as atheist or agnostic, because the faith of many Jews was shaken to the core by that horror. Because of it, an orthodox rabbi named Mordechai Kaplan invented an entire theological perspective that became the foundation of Reconstructionist Judaism, as an alternative to complete alienation of a large segment of the Jewish people. But the loss or suppression of faith is not necessarily a permanent phenomenon, as demonstrated by the religious character embodied in the supposedly secular State of Israel. But perhaps you blame the existence of that character on the demands of religious Jews who were skeptical of a national restoration without the visible participation of its long-awaited messianic king? I suggest that matters were not so simple.

    On what basis do you label “apologist Lee Strobel” a fraud? I know nothing about him, though I’ve heard others mention his name in a positive context. Also your reference to evangelicals as frauds and hirelings, and a difficulty in identifying any who are not so, strikes me as gratuitous “lashon ha-r’a”. You seem to be painting with an awfully broad brush, and I find myself less than confident about the accuracy of your definition of “fraud” and uncertain why you should have such negative feelings against employees or “hirelings”.

  11. Hi James.

    Like you, don’t like door-to-door evangelism. I have found, more often than not, as we live our lives following the Master, people notice that we are different. And in that noticing, curiosity is aroused and conversation takes place.

    That conversation is about the love of God. A love so deep that He would not demand it of us, but offers it as a choice. An it is that love, His love, that attracts people. The more I study Judaism and the Torah, the more I see this is His plan.

    Two scriptures stand out in my mind:

    – Lev 19:33-34 – “‘If a foreigner stays with you in your land, do not do him wrong. Rather, treat the foreigner staying with you like the native-born among you — you are to love him as yourself, for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt; I am Adonai your God.'”

    – Deut 4:5-7 – Look, I have taught you laws and rulings, just as Adonai my God ordered me, so that you can behave accordingly in the land where you are going in order to take possession of it. Therefore, observe them; and follow them; for then all peoples will see you as having wisdom and understanding. When they hear of all these laws, they will say, ‘This great nation is surely a wise and understanding people.’ For what great nation is there that has God as close to them as Adonai our God is, whenever we call on him?

    I believe that when we live out the commandments God gave us, to teach us what holiness looks like practically, people can’t help but have one of two reactions. They will either be drawn to us or repelled by us. And as Jesus said, it is not us they are accepting or rejecting, but Him.

    In thinking along these lines, I also feel it is important that we keep speaking to our fellow Gentile Christians about Messianic Judaism. As we do so, more people practically live out a life of holiness as defined by God, which looks very different from the world. This includes not only caring for the poor, the orphan and the widow (which some non-believers do as well) but also in the way we live out our every day lives, from Sabbath to Sabbath.

  12. Since I have been a Christian, I have done all the door to door, tracts at Halloween, and all the other super cheesy evangelizing possible, (at least to my knowledge.) I did mission trips through Indian reservations in the Midwest and Southwest, and local mission opportunities with homeless shelters and other things like that, all the while proselytizing my heart out. In those many years I have no idea if those people were impacted. A few would come to our church but most would leave after a while. After getting into the Hebrew Roots movement, we didn’t really do outreach. The approach taken was, “We are living examples of Israel, how to keep Torah, and what it means to follow Yeshua, and since we are keeping the commandments we will lead others to him through our life.” I can honestly say I never met anyone (Wish I could underline anyone) who was interested in the movement that wasn’t already upset with their church experience, but still loved God. It was usually the claims of Pagan origins that got them attracted to a more bible oriented faith, and that’s something that people who weren’t already Christians could care less about.

    That brings me to my thought on how to evangelize, honestly the best example I have ever seen in my lifetime is a small (about 20 people in the church) Episcopal church near me. These people amazed me from the first time I met them, for their love that they have for God. This church gives more and serves it’s community more, than any church I have ever seen. These people spend time in hospitals helping the sick, they work with all the food banks to feed the poor, and minister to the elderly by helping them get to the grocery store, with other people their age on senior days, so they can socialize and get out of their homes. They have helped so many have second chances when they couldn’t get there on their own. I personally have met hundreds of active church going believers that started with these few. They don’t work to swell their numbers and most of the people that they see accept Christ, end up in fundamentalist sects of Christianity, Yet I have never seen an impact as great as what these few people make just by sacrificing a little of themselves for others. To me this is what evangelism is, it’s doing those things that Christ did and not worrying so much about trying to convert people, but instead build them up, so that they can begin to have a fuller understanding of God.

  13. Jim, based on your description, that congregation is doing exactly what Chaya explained. Serve the people.

    Not with the direct motive of, “We will help you as long as you come to church,” but the message of “How can we help you?”

  14. This is good to talk about James, and I wrestle with some of the same issues.

    I’ve never done the door-to-door, or handing out tracks routine, probably because I’ve spent most of my life far too shy to ever consider it.

    I don’t knock those who do, or street preacher types, because that would be attempting to limit God and I know people have had powerful encounters with Christians who were out proselytizing and came upon someone moments away from ending their life.

    But I also don’t see this behaivior as Jesus’ example either, to the contrary of what the Church teaches.

    He was doing what you say Messianic’s do, that is, he taught a bunch of already religiously observant and conversant people (in his case, Jews) how to understand the scriptures and God’s plan, within relationship.

    These were not Gentiles or atheists ignorant about the ways of the God of Israel, and he didn’t fashion a hit-and-run message of salvation for them so they could be in heaven with him when they died — although there was just such an encounter on the cross moments before he died, this shouldn’t be taken as “normative”, because it wasn’t.

    He did everything within relationship and for me, that has been what I’ve tried to do. I have people in my life who credit me with bringing them into relationship with Messiah and I am grateful, and feel the tension of the Church’s model and my (personal) rejection of it.

    I think more of congruency, and believe that if the Church (i.e., Christians) would take the time to L O V E their neighbor — including JEWS, without strings attached, and would repent for the sins of our people — and begin to asses if we are actually living what we say we believe, more people would come to Messiah than ever in history.

    My next post is sorta about these things, as I said yesterday, you’re reading my mail! 🙂

  15. @Chaya: I agree with PL that it’s one thing to disagree with an Evangelical Christian (or all Evangelical Christians) and another thing entirely to call them hirelings and frauds. I looked up Lee Strobel and although we’d probably disagree on just about everything, I see no reason to doubt his sincerity or his love for Christ.

    @Rosemarie: Yes, showing love to others is a definite plus in the area of evangelism, on the other hand, we still need some way to start a conversation and make a connection with people who have only some knowledge of Christianity and no knowledge of Messianic Judaism and a Hebraic view of the Bible all. Yes, we should still talk to Christians in the Church but they’re only a small part of a world that needs to hear our message.

    Jim said: Yet I have never seen an impact as great as what these few people make just by sacrificing a little of themselves for others. To me this is what evangelism is, it’s doing those things that Christ did and not worrying so much about trying to convert people, but instead build them up, so that they can begin to have a fuller understanding of God.

    I agree. Help and connect first. Worry about making disciples once the connection through service has been made. Even if some don’t become disciples, we will have still performed many mitzvot.

    @Sojourning: What you said reminded me of Paul and Barnabas at Lystra (Acts 14:8-18). I think this was Paul’s first experience trying to teach Greeks who had no background in or understanding of Judaism or ethical monotheism at all. He had to give them a cram course in Judaism 101 before the crowd either killed him or started worshiping him. Of course, the way he got anyone’s attention in the first place was by healing a lame man.

    Sorry about the mail. 😉

  16. @James, I am not saying all evangelicals are frauds and hirelings; but a good many are for reasons we can go into some other time.

    Regarding Lee Strobel, just as an example: I read his book a long time ago, and of course didn’t see anything wrong with it due to the cognitive dissonance I was experiencing, and I’ve taken a second look at a lot of things I accepted because these were supposedly, “our guys.”

    I won’t go into the Strobel issue in detail, but I saw something that seemed off and disingenuous in a video I saw when I went with a friend to her thing, so I went home and googled, “Lee Strobel fraud,” and came up with a whole slew of evidence which I checked for validation.

    With my background in journalism, I am not supposed to take anything at face value, to not either accept or reject testimony, but to seek corroboration. I hear this meme you used a lot, that someone, “loves the Lord, etc.” This is no different than those who claim Christian antisemites were not, “real Christians.” I can’t judge one way or another whether one, “loves the Lord,” or not, so I won’t assume they do (why?) or claim they don’t. What I can do is point to lies, deception, inconsistencies, cover-up and the $$$$$ that all this brings in. These are the things that cause the secular and non-believers to mock, because it is for good reason. In the same way, if an evangelical claims to have a Ph.D, I wouldn’t take his word for it, as it can easily be checked out. Likely it would make fans mad that I dared to question, and they certainly don’t want to know the inconvenient truth. If someone is dishonest in little, they are dishonest in much.

    My son was telling me one thing he can’t deal with in religious people of all stripes is the cognitive dissonance. This is the same as when I presented clear evidence to my pastor about R.C. Sproul and his not only replacement theology, but disdain for Israel and Jews. I showed my pastor a link to the exact words that Sproul spoke and document he signed, and my pastor, who is an honest, decent man who I believe seeks to love God and others said, “R.C. Sproul is not prejudiced against Israel.” Sproul claimed this in his own words and it is not even an argument. But we see what we wish to see and close our eyes to what we don’t wish to see. People refuse to even examine evidence. That bothers my somewhat scientific mind. There are things that cannot be tested. But we should test the things that can be tested, such as whether evidence points to a person telling the truth or not.

  17. I share many sympathies here. When I was in my youth the Southern Baptist started a campaign, ” I found it!”. I volunteered to make phone calls to tell people what we ‘found’. At some point in dialing phone numbers and hoping to engage someone, I was overcome with the feeling, ‘this is wrong. you don’t make the gospel a product.’ If any of you remember that, I just gave away my age.

  18. @Chaya: I’m not overly concerned one way of another about Lee Strobel. I’d never heard about him until you brought his name up, Chaya. I did Google “Lee Strobel fraud” and it appears that Strobel has no end of critics, both Christian and atheist. As far as I can tell from my brief (very brief) investigation, Strobel may be just plain “rabidly” wrong than someone who is devious. Is he out for dishonest gain? Who knows? If so, he wouldn’t be the first “famous Christian” to bilk the public.

    But I prefer not to devote too much of my time winding myself up over people I suspect may have bad motives (not that I haven’t called out a famous Christian Pastor or two in the past). I’ve got too much else to do (and to write about) in a positive direction.

    @Cynthia: I remember seeing those “I found it” bumper stickers back in the 1970s. Jews put bumper stickers on their cars that said, “I never lost it.”

  19. James said ‘I think this was Paul’s first experience trying to teach Greeks who had no background in or understanding of Judaism or ethical monotheism at all. He had to give them a cram course in Judaism 101 before the crowd either killed him or started worshiping him. Of course, the way he got anyone’s attention in the first place was by healing a lame man.’

    Paul’s attempts to convert rank pagans (Athens and Ephesus) appear to have been abject failures. His best results came at communities in which Gentiles had already learned about Hashem from the Jewish people.

  20. That couldn’t have held true forever, Steve. My guess is that once a core group of believing Gentiles came together, they told all their friends and family and word spread from there. Paul spent long periods of time in various communities so he must have formed relationships with the former pagans.

  21. James: ” I think this was Paul’s first experience trying to teach Greeks who had no background in or understanding of Judaism or ethical monotheism at all. He had to give them a cram course in Judaism 101 before the crowd either killed him or started worshiping him.

    This is an important point, he didn’t have much, or any, results with Gentiles who hadn’t been around Jews. And even the congregations that were more successful still had many problems that Paul had to address, especially regarding the immorality that was commonplace in Greco-Roman culture.

    Then Gnosticism takes hold very quickly in the Church and it fights all kinds or errors that keep cropping up. Marion is a famous “heretic” and even though he is rejected, his errant teachings live on in parts of the church. If you take a NT seminary course they will teach you that these “errors” were caught and straightened out.

    But the very things that you and I rail against (RT) and the extreme allegorization of scripture, were themselves errors that have remained with us, in varying degrees. So, I think there’s a TON of work yet to do in the community of people who regard themselves as believers, yet have largely bought in to a weak “cheap grace” model that is a far cry from what Jesus himself taught.

    Every time I read Christian blogs I encounter this idea that “we’re all good” and cannot do anything to lose our favored position (as the Jews [supposedly] did, no matter what because:
    A) God divorced Israel, but will not, and cannot, divorce “us.”
    B) The New Testament is already here and there is nothing else but our trip to heaven which is guaranteed because we cannot lose our favored standing. Blah, blah, blah, you get the idea.

    Anyway, this needs repairing so I guess that’s been my focus, along with getting myself sorted out because we truly do impact our culture.

  22. No worries. I always have to manually edit my writing to correct spell check.

    Funny thing about errors, especially those of doctrine. If they’re believed in long enough, they stop being wrong and start becoming fact and finally truth.

  23. “Funny thing about errors, especially those of doctrine. If they’re believed in long enough, they stop being wrong and start becoming fact and finally truth.”

    Thank you and regarding your response, yes! That is dead on..

    Btw, sorry you’re not feeling well, and how’s you’re dad?

  24. There was an article, “Ghost of Marcion.” It wasn’t one of yours, was it? I just mentioned LS as a recent example, not that he is important in himself, but he is rather representative of the offerings of the religious marketplace. If you are going to be selling a product, at least admit it, and don’t claim your fruit is organic if it isn’t.

  25. It seems as if every message was tailored to the individual, and perhaps that is what bothers me about the canned approach; it is like it is disrespectful of each person’s uniqueness. But then, you have Yochanan’s general message of repentance for the purpose of preparedness to meet Messiah.

  26. @P.L.: Sorry I missed your comment to me. There are a number of reasons why many of today’s Western Jews are secular/atheistic/agnostic, and some of this occurred prior to the Holocaust, with immigration to new lands, upsetting of the social order, assimilation and opportunity. But you also may have discovered that those who claim to be atheists/agnostics aren’t really so dogmatic, and I have had these types ask me to pray for them or mention praying or thinking of spiritual issues during a difficult time. This happened when my friend’s agnostic husband asked people to pray/send good thoughts our way when his daughter was in a coma after getting thrown from her horse. she recovered 100%, after they were told there was a 50% chance she would not survive and likely she could end up severely disabled. I’ve noticed Sephardi Jews are more devout and seem to resist secularization.

    The thing with broad-brushing; if the stereotype fits, wear it. We cannot say that all used car salesmen are dishonest, but enough are that all become suspect. In general, the evangelical world exhibits a lack of barrier to entry for its “professionals,” and an often naive and trusting market. This is more a product of current times, then perhaps 50 years ago. Fifty years ago if someone was a minister, that person would be respected and seen as honest and trustworthy. You know how that reputation has been sullied.

  27. Dad’s got his appitite back, so he’s on the mend. As near as I can tell, my current little complaints are the result of getting older. Oh, I fixed the italics tag.

  28. Here’s the article: http://messianicpublications.com/daniel-botkin/the-ghost-of-marcion/

    @James, I know we’ve had this discussion before. I understand questions of doctrine are of utmost concern in Christian circles, and perhaps that is part of their influence upon us. I have come to believe that belief takes a back seat to character and trustworthiness/honesty.

    This was the disconnect in understanding between pastor and myself. He said that if there was any heresy and doctrinal error he was open to hearing about it. But the mind is closed to character.

  29. I’ve only had time to skim Daniel Botkin’s article, but what I’ve read so far makes sense, and I agree that an echo of the voice of Marcion can definitely be heard in the Church today.

    Theology and doctrine vs. character. Can a person of good character make a mistake. I’m sure they can. Hopefully people consider me as a person of good character and I know I make mistakes sometimes.

    If a person is truly a disciple of the Master and lives a life radically transformed by their faith, then even if they make mistakes, they should be of good character. No one has perfect character of course, and everyone can get on their high horse, but a person who is generally listening to God, will eventually see any flaws in their character and strive to improve themselves.

    People of poor character and who are essentially dishonest people may have fooled themselves into believing they’re believers and devotees of the Master, but you usually can tell a tree by its fruit.

    You can’t really disconnect character from belief because faith and changes that result from a life of faith should always affect a person’s character. As I said, no one is perfect and we all have flaws, but like David when confronted by Nathan the Prophet about Bathsheba, it’s what you do when you’re faced with your mistakes that counts.

  30. A little off subject but along the line of character, when did Christianity start to, not say, but practice….’sin that grace may abound?’ When I was in grade school divorce was rare. Today the opposite is true. G-d hates divorce, yet it appears to be the norm not the exception. When did this downward spiral start? I have pondered about the BG Crusades and the push for quick converts. Is that the fruit of Marcion?
    Thank you for sharing the link about marcion, very interesting.

  31. If you’re asking when did Gentile Christianity begin to diverge from the Jewish religious form of “the Way,” opinions vary. I think Paul suspected that it had already begun as we see in his Epistle to the Romans. I’m reading a book now by Magnus Zetterholm called The Formation of Christianity in Antioch which seeks to address the question from a sociological rather than theological perspective. I tend to believe that the split began in the mid-to-late first century and certainly after the destruction of Herod’s temple in 70 CE. It was a process, not a point event, so it would have taken decades, into the 2nd and even 3rd centuries, for the split to become complete. Some scholars estimate that there were still Jews who were disciples of Jesus into the 4th and as late as maybe the 7th century, but I think that’s pushing it.

  32. You’ll have to report back when you finish the book 🙂 I strongly suspect that Paul was speaking of this when he warned of wolves that would rise up among you that will not spare the flock following his death. The first Christian antisemitic writing was Ignatius, and I believe it was c. 90. It didn’t take long.

  33. No, it didn’t at all, Chaya.

    The book is already presenting some information that seems to have a direct bearing on Messianic Judaism and the interactions between believing Jews and Gentiles today. Can’t wait until I get the bandwidth to do some writing on this.

  34. Have you noticed that you get a lot of comments when you take a tough stance with Christianity?

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