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"It is better to take refuge in Adonai than to trust in human beings; better to take refuge in Adonai than to put one's trust in princes." -Tehilah 118:8-9

Who Am I? What Am I Doin' Here?

An interesting post on Messianic Jewish identity and blogger discussions thereof caught my eye. In it, the author writes:
Let me say it again: Messianic Judaism will never be a legitimate form of Judaism as long as Yeshua is Lord.
Which leads me to ask a series of questions:

The author argues:
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.
Which leads me to ask why a Messianic Jew is defining a desire to relate to other Jews as a method for destroying relationships with gentiles? In the context of his argument why are the Jewish people still the scapegoat to be blamed for the "problems" of Jewish-Goyim relations?

Even more importantly, in the context of this conversation, why are Messianic Jews pinning one group against the other? And why is a Messianic Jew using Judaism as the fall guy?

One of the bloggers cited by this author writes:
by our own fault, and the simple overwhelming number of non-Jewish followers of Yeshua, the result of Messianic Judaism has largely been reduced to being a Torah revival for Christians.
To which I ask, what kind of "Torah revival" encourages gentile believers to continue behaving like gentiles, when the true purpose of Torah is to create a viable, sustainable, holy (a.k.a. "set aside"/"different") culture known as Judaism? If these goyim are truly adhering to Torah, doesn't that render them goyim-no-more? Aren't they, according to Rav Shaul, Jews in the sight of G-d?

Then again, I suppose that argument depends on whose eyes are G-d's, and that itself is dependent upon...who? The masses? The leadership? The blogger publishing a post? This blogger cites that "Nearly 95% of all Messianic congregations' websites state the purpose of a Messianic congregation is 'to be a congregation of Jews and non-Jews worshiping together.'" So, I suppose then that the difference between Jew and goy reside in the methodology that brings the most people in seats and the most money in the collection plates. Nothing much has changed; just ask the Guy who knocked over the merchants' tables for turning His Father's house into a "den of theives."

This particular blogger goes on to say:
It is not faith in Yeshua that is largely the stumbling block keeping us from effectively being a home to Jewish believers and seekers – it is our own hang ups.
This is absolutely true. The psychoses of the Messianic world are unmeasureable, unfathomable, and oftentimes so ridiculous and absurd it is a wonder that there is any functioning Messianic world at all, but for the mercy of HaShem Himself. The Messianic world has become a group of glorified navel-gazers, obsessed with seeing demonic forces around every corner and behind every sling and arrow shot our way. In short, they are trying so hard to be holy that they've forgotten how to be human. Didn't our Messiah dwell on earth to do exactly that--to illustrate the marriage between human and divine, to emphasize our inability in order to strengthen our faith in His ability?

Yet another blogger cited in the original complaint argues:
God, as I see it, was moving the hearts of Jews not only to follow Jesus as the long-promised Messiah, but also to identify as Jews and eventually to return to Judaism.
Which again, leads me to ask:

And, also:

This blogger continues:
Increasingly, however, in the 1980’s and 1990’s, Messianic Judaism became a haven for non-Jews looking to find a restoration of a perceived early church or some alternative to a church that had grown soft on Biblical practice and strong on revivalist tradition.

In other words, something God had been doing amongst Jewish people became a predominantly Gentile movement.

We could stop here and ask a lot of questions:
–What are some good reasons for Gentiles to be involved in Messianic Judaism?
–What are some less than helpful reasons for Gentiles to be involved?
–How can Messianic Jewish synagogues encourage the right Gentiles to stay and the wrong ones to move on and form their own movements?
Whether or not that is the reason for increased gentile involvement, I cannot say. But the questions this blogger asks are cheeky, at best, and completely ignorant of prophecy, at worst. Since when did Messianic Judaism become the "He-Jews Goyim-Haters Club"? Perhaps since it has become populated largely by Americanized, gentilized, Christianized people with absolutely no connection, no history, and no truly expressed interest in anything perceptively culturally Jewish outside of tallitot and shofarim that can be sold off to investors who phone in their donations by credit card.

In other words, Messianic Judaism suffers from the same cultural influenza that has been plaguing Diaspora Judaism since its inception in 70 C.E.: It is battling for cultural freedom against an opposition that is larger, stronger, and more overwhelming in nature than any one person or group could ever seemingly consume.

The reason Messianic Judaism is suffering an identity crisis is not because it favors gentiles over Jews or vice-versa. Messianic Judaism is suffering an identity crisis because it is a Biblical faith displaced into a world gone mad. Messianic Judaism is "in the world, but not of the world".

As to Messianic Judaism's relationship to and with Judaism at large, I'll revisit the questions I've been asking since the beginning of this post:

And, also:

The simple fact of the matter is that as long as Messianics continue to draw lines between Messianic Judaism, Rabbinic/Mainstream Judaism, and the gentile world, they will continue to "other" themselves into an ineffectual corner. It is also true that they cannot survive if they seek to imitate anyone else--Jewish or gentile alike. Messianic Jews must simply spend less time trying to be defined and more time defining themselves--not in light of the way everyone else thinks, but in light of the way G-d has always meant us to be.

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posted by Shoshana @ 3:35 PM