FROM THE MIND OF A CHRISTIAN JEW #7
by Daniel Juster (1986)
SURVEY OF HISTORY OF JUDAISM AND CHRISTIANITY
At the close of the New Testament period we find the
following picture. Jewish followers of Yeshua maintained their
identity through the practice of their Biblical heritage as part
of their continued call from God. They were thus both witnesses
to the world of God's historical revelation and witnesses of
Yeshua to their own people.
Extra-Biblical records also prove the continued Jewish way
of life among first and early second century Messianic Jews.
The very disciples of those who knew Yeshua maintained this
lifestyle. The practice of New Covenant Jewish groups in the
early second century, however, was not uniform. Several groups
can be distinguished:
The Ebionites are discussed by Jerome and Eusebius.
Apparently they carried on the anti-Paul stance of the New
Testament Judaizers. They rejected most of the New Testament
except for Matthew, which they produced in a unique version of
their own. They also rejected the divinity of Yeshua. The name
"Ebionite" - which means a "poor one" could be a reference to a
weak or poor view of Yeshua or to the fact that they lived with
little material wealth.
The second group was the Nazarenes. This group was probably
closest in viewpoint to the disciples and those closest
personally to them. The work of recent scholars has capably
distinguished them from the Ebionites. They were Biblically
oriented in a very full sense and accepted the central doctrines
of the New Testament. They practiced their Jewish heritage as
part of their life in Yeshua. Messianic Jews today identify most
often with this group.
The third group was the Assimilationists. These were Jews in
Greek-speaking lands which were spiritually distant from their
Jewish heritage. In accepting the Gospel while acculturated in a
predominantly non-Jewish setting, their Jewish identity was
We are indeed thankful that God has provided us with records
by which we can understand the perspectives of these communities.
The writings of early church fathers preserved by Eusebius and
the work of Josephus, the Jewish historian, provide important
information on these groups.
After the death of the disciples, leadership among the
Jewish believers in Yeshua passed to James' cousins. By the
middle of the second century, however, the situation had vastly
changed; change which occurred mostly between 68 and 100 C.E.
Unfortunately, the exact nature of the process is hidden by a
lack of sources from this period. However, the end of this period
produced a church and synagogue at war with each other - while
Messianic Jews were rejected by both groups.
(During this time as we see from the New Testament itself, there
were many deceivers and those who twisted the writings of Paul
and as John put it "many anti-christs" are in the world. It was
the age of great deception coming on the "Christrian" scene -
The progress of this split can be mapped in basic terms.
First, the New Testament was written in Greek to convey the
message of God to a more universal audience. Although the
background of the New Testament was Hebraic in context, Greeks
often applied its content to a Greek context, leading them to
adopt teachings and perceptions that were essentially
Greek-oriented. Hence, the Church became more foreign to Jewish
JEWISH RESENTMENT RISES
After the death of the apostles, the leadership of most of
the Church passed to non-Jewish leaders. Unfortunately, many of
these leaders did not appreciate Jewish people or their Jewish
Biblical heritage. The fall of Jerusalem was evidence to them of
God's ultimate rejection of Israel in spite of Paul's teaching in
Romans 11. That "all Israel would be saved," was interpreted to
mean that all Jews and Gentiles who accepted Jesus - and were
thus spiritual Israel - would be saved. Judaism, to them, was
dead. Passages in the New Testament which condemned the hypocrisy
of the Jewish religious establishment were interpreted as
condemning all things Jewish.
Hence we find in Justin Martyr's Dialogue with Trypho the
Jew (130-150 C.E.), that a condescending attitude was often
present. Although aware of the Jewish Nazarenes, he could not
understand their continued practice of their heritage. He could
accept that they were "saved" but found it inconsistent that they
practiced what Yeshua fulfilled which he took to mean eliminated.
The Epistle of Barnabas (100 C.E.), according to H.L. Ellison,
used such language about Jews, Judaism and the Law as to make any
effective contact with the Synagogue impossible.
Ignatius of Antioch (early 2nd century) spoke as well of the
uselessness of all things Jewish.
Yet in the midst of all this it is crucial to remember that
the Nazarene Jews were the very relatives of Yeshua and disciples
of the disciples who carried on their practices!
The continued development of official church doctrine
concerning Jews in the centuries following brought a wider gap
between the Church and Synagogue. The Church was not only "New
Israel" but the only "true" Israel. Old Israel was reprehensible
before God. Bishop Ambrose (4th Century) therefore allowed the
burning of synagogues and stated that this was not a sin.
Augustine argued that Old Israel served only one purpose: to
exhibit the wretched plight of those who reject God.
These viewpoints led to the spiritualization
(allegorization) of the prophecies and promises in Scripture
which referred to the physical descendents of Abraham. All refer-
ence to Israel's promise of land forever was taken to mean the
Church's inheritance of the Kingdom. That God would gain His
ultimate triumph over the nations through Israel and then bless
the world through Israel was taken to mean the triumph of and
blessings for the Church. As one writer succinctly put it, the
Church took all the blessings and left Israel with all the
JEWISH SYNAGOGUE REJECTS CHRISTIAN JEWS
The Synagogue, on the other hand, rejected the Nazarene Jews
and developed its viewpoint in apposition to parallels with
Before the fall of Jerusalem to the Roman General Titus in
the year 70, there were several divisions within Judaism. The
Pharisees, the Saducees and the Essenes represented the three
most prominent sects. The Nazarene Jews constituted an additional
perspective within Israel. We do not know all of the reasons for
the rejection of the Nazarenes by the Jewish community, but some
prominent reasons stand out:
When the Roman armies approached Jerusalem to quell Israel's
rebellion, the Nazarenes fled the city, taking up residence in
Petra. They thereby avoided the terrible destruction and
slaughter by the Roman army. The rest of the Jewish community
branded the Nazarenes traitors, no longer to be accepted. Why did
the Nazarenes flee? The major reason was the prophecy and command
of Yeshua! In Luke 21 and Matthew 24, Yeshua predicted that
Jerusalem would be surrounded by armies. His followers were told
that when they saw this beginning to occur, they were to "flee to
the mountains." They were not "traitors"; they were simply
following Yeshua's teaching.
Another reason for their rejection, no doubt, was their
theology. It was abhorrent to many Jews to think of their great
king Messiah dying as a common criminal. The idea so went against
the common idea of the Messianic role that any explanation of how
the suffering role was a prelude to the kingly role was not
allowed. So severe was the rejection of this view in some circles
that there was no acceptance of the people who held it.
In addition, prominent synagogue leaders were angered
because the preaching of the New Testament blunted their efforts
to gain converts from Gentile ranks. A Gentile could accept
Yeshua, worship the God of Israel and claim salvation without the
stigma of circumcision or the necessity of adopting all the
practices of the Jewish tradition. Many potential "converts" left
the synagogue for the new movement.
PHARISEES PRECURSOR TO MODERN ORTHODOX JUDAISM
After the Temple fell, only one party within Judaism - the
Pharisees - had the strength to assert leadership. The Sadducees
were too connected to the Temple system and the Essenes' losses
were too severe in war. Pharisaical Judaism became the precursor
to today's orthodox rabbinical Judaism. The rabbis moved to
preserve and unify the Jewish community under their teachings and
sought to exclude all other forms of Judaism. Orthodox rabbinical
Judaism soon became normative Judaism. The Nazarenes received
special condemnation by the rabbis. The Council of Jamnia (90
C.E.) not only defined Judaism; it also condemned heretics.
At this time the "Berkat ha Minim" was added to the 12th
Benediction. It prayed a prayer of condemnation for heretics.
Although this prayer was later altered by force under Christian
rulers, it probably originally singled out the Nazarenes and
prayed for their destruction. A Nazarene Jew in the synagogue
would not be able to pray this and would thus be excluded. Thus,
the Nazarenes were cast out of rabbinical synagogues.
Further reflection of this rejection is found in the
Talmudic story where a Rabbi Jacob was sick. Upon questioning, it
was learned that his sickness was caused by once being pleased by
a saying of Yeshua which a follower of His quoted. We recognize
that the rabbis of this age preserved much of the great heritage
of Jewish history. However, this was overlaid material contrary
to Scripture, including the interpretations which rejected the
Messiahship and work of Yeshua.
The separation of the Nazarenes from the rest of the Jewish
community was further intensified by the Bar Kochba Revolt.
Bar Kochba, a ruthless military leader, spearheaded a second
revolt against Rome around 135 C.E. He recruited the Jewish
population still in the land for his revolt. At first, it seemed
that the Messianic Jews followed Bar Kochba and sought by this
means to demonstrate their loyalty to Israel. However, during the
war, the venerable Rabbi Akiba proclaimed Bar Kochba the Messiah.
Other rabbis rejected this proclamation, but the damage was done:
Messianic Jews could not follow a false Messiah. They threw down
their arms; only Yeshua was the Messiah. Bar Kochba massacred
those who would not give him total allegiance. The Romans then
quelled the revolt. A great loss of Jewish lives resulted; Rabbi
Akiba and Bar Kochba were slain. Despite the tragic ruthlessness
of Bar Kochba and the error of Akiba, the Nazarenes were again
branded as traitors for not fighting in the revolt. Over the next
few centuries, the Nazarene communities dwindled and ultimately
JUDAISM AND CHURCH (FALSE ONE) COLLIDE
The result of this history was the loss of the testimony of
loyal Jews who believed in Yeshua. Without such a community
within the Jewish community, the bridge of understanding between
Jewry and the Church was lost as well. Messianic Jews could have
kept alive the picture of a Jewish Jesus. This would have done
much to stem the tide of future anti-Semitism. With the loss of
this bridge of understanding Church-Synagogue hostility
increased. Both the Church and Synagogue fought for proselytes
among the Gentiles. In competition they formed their theologies
in opposition to each other. Christian theological positions were
adopted because they freed the Church from Jewish roots and were
contrary to Jewish teaching. To the theologians of the day, there
was no longer a Covenant with Israel as a nation; there was no
longer a purpose for Jewish identity. The Church was seen as all
in all in God's purposes. Some positions which were adopted were
anti-Semitic as the next section will recount.
The Synagogue also honed its theology in opposition. God's
unity was thus a singular numerical unity that allowed for no
sense of plurality at all, this concept being contrary to the
Trinity. All the passages of Scripture which pointed to a
suffering Messiah as well as any concept of substitionary
atonement for sin were played down.
Church ritual, statutary aids to worship and Greek theo-
logical concepts intensified the Jewish view that the Church was
a semi-pagan institution. When the Roman Empire adopted
Christianity as its official religion and institutional
Christianity became a persecuting church, hope for understanding
and reconciliation diminished.
A HISTORY OF ANTI-SEMITISM
"So, I ask, have they stumbled so as to fall? By no means! But
through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles so as
to make Israel jealous. Now if their trespass means riches for
the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles,
how much more will their full inclusion mean. Now I am speaking
to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the
Gentiles, I magnify my ministry in order to make my fellow Jews
jealous and save some of them" (Romans 11:11-14).
Here we read the wonderful directive of God through Paul,
that Jewish people see the riches of the Gospel in the lives of
non-Jews and be moved to jealously because of the reality of a
life and love so manifest: By this jealousy, they would turn to
the Messiah and receive Him.
Sadly; the history of the Church fulfilled this mission.
Soon after the Jewish apostles died, leadership of the Church was
transferred to people who had no great respect for Jews or
Judaism. Rather than seeing Jewish people as erring brethren to
whom they were indebted for the gifts of Scripture, the Messiah
and Old Testament saints, the Jewish people were looked upon as
reprobates hated by God. Sentiment expressed against some Jewish
leaders by Jewish followers of Yeshua was used by later
non-Jewish leaders as an indictment of all Jewish people.
The Epistle of Barnabas, from the end of the first century,
reflects this negative attitude and applies it to Jewish
practices as well. As H.L. Ellison put it, "Already the so-called
Epistle of Barnabas, which may go back to the last decade of the
first century, uses such language about Jews, Judaism and the
Law, as to make any effective contact between the two sides
virtually impossible. As soon as it had the power, the Church did
its utmost to defeat God's purpose. It persecuted and bullied,
thereby automatically putting itself in the wrong. It spread the
vilest calumnies about the Jews."
Many writers did not display an accurate understanding of
the very things they criticized, including the nature of the Old
Testament revelation. Ignatius of Antioch, in the same period,
was clear in indicating the uselessness of all Jewish things.
Justin Martyr, one of the famed leaders of the early second
century, spoke of Jewish people and practice in condescending
terms. In his dialogue with Trypho, he expressed dismay over the
fact that Jewish followers of Yeshua still maintained their
cultural identity and practice. He accepted the possibility of
their salvation, but could not understand Jewish practice as a
way of expressing their faith. Justin believed that fulfillment
by Yeshua eliminated Jewish things.
As the decades passed, the Christian polemic against Jews
and Jewish practice continued. Bishop Ambrose, in the 4th
century, even went so far as to suggest that burning a synagogue
was no sin. Why? Because the Jews rejected Yeshua; therefore,
what could be considered a crime against others would not be a
crime against Jews. This interpretation overlooked the fact that
it was the Jews who first followed Yeshua and who originally
spread the Good News throughout the Roman Empire; it overlooked
the great number of Jews who did follow Yeshua; and it overlooked
Judaism as the original context of Christian faith.
John Chrysostom, however, is the author of the greatest
virulence. Chrysostom was threatened because Christians in
Antioch visited synagogues to gain a better understanding of the
Jewish roots of their faith. Chrysostom held that the coming of
Christianity eliminated the value of Jewish practice and
identity. To destroy any Christian interest in Judaism,
Chrysostom wrote eight sermons against the Jews. The poisonous
hate of these sermons has not been surpassed. Nor was Chrysostom
just an isolated individual. He was a renowned church leader. His
viewpoint, therefore, became part of the attitude of
Augustine himself, the great theological giant revered by
both Catholics and Protestants, added his own fuel to the fire.
He explained the purpose of the continued existence of the Jewish
community in strictly negative terms. The reprobate state of the
Jews, who were under God's judgment, would provide a witness to
the truth of Christianity, he said, as well as an example of what
happens to people who turn against God.
Perhaps we could point to many parallels of religious and
social prejudice. The venom released in intense religious dispute
is great. Institutional Christianity became the state religion
when Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity in the fourth
century. Religious bigotry thus became part of state policy;
severe economic and social sanctions were progressively applied
to the Jews. The church-state collaboration in discrimination was
maintained for fifteen centuries.
When we come to our own age we find that Nazi leaders
defended their actions by claiming to follow the history of
church tradition. Luther's sermons against the Jews were widely
recounted. The historical image of the "insidious Jew" prepared
the way for Auschwitz. The Church found it difficult to recognize
its own complicity; for although it had demeaned the value of
Jewish people, it did not draw the implication that they had no
right to exist. The Nazis drew this implication.
It is often asked, why did so many of the people of
"Christian Europe" stand by during the Holocaust? Human weakness,
ignorance, fear of taking risks for others, self protection and a
crowd mentality are often mentioned. Some point to the very work
of the Devil himself in blinding the minds of people. However, to
all of these reasons, we must add another key reason: The
historic tradition of the Church in its teaching on Jews and
Judaism served to undercut concern for the Jewish people.
In all fairness, we must mention that there were individual
Christians who stood with Jewish people against this tradition.
In their close walk with Yeshua, they gained a deep love for
Jewish people, in many cases sacrificing their lives for their
We should note that some have traced the origins of anti-
Semitism to early Jewish persecutions of Christians. Although
there was fierce persecution of Jewish followers of Yeshua, this
was an intra-Jewish battle. Jewish persecution of non-Jewish
Christians is now considered an unwarranted assumption by the
most competent scholars who deal with this early period.
The greatest irony can be seen in the fact that Yeshua's
disciples opened the door to anti-Jewishness by adopting a
liberal policy toward Gentiles and their admission into the
universal body of believers. They were permitted entrance without
the cultural restrictions of Jewish identity. This freedom was a
great spur to the spread of the Gospel among the Gentiles.
However, although the original identity and way of life among
Yeshua's followers were Jewish, when the later non-Jewish
majority was in control, they restricted freedom and would not
allow for Jewish identity within the body of believers.
The most glaring example of this is the Inquisition in
sixteenth-century Spain. Those of Jewish origin who claimed to
follow Yeshua, but yet celebrated Passover, were burned at the
stake. We must also mention the Crusades to free the Holy Land
from Arab-Islamic control in the twelfth century. The cross was
used as a symbol on the implements of war. The Crusaders were
offered freedom from hell and purgatory by participating in a
Crusade. The cry went out that it was inconsistent to seek to rid
the Holy Land of infidels when there were infidel Jews within the
midst of the lands of Europe. Hence the Crusaders held their
crosses high as they pillaged and destroyed Jewish lives and
property throughout Europe on their way to the Holy Land. Many
were burned alive and tortured. In his book, "The Anguish of the
Jews," Fr. Flannery made the perceptive statement that the cross
- which was an intended symbol of giving up one's life for
another, a symbol of pacifistic (in relation to violence) but
active love - was thoroughly adulterated. It was now a cross
sharpened into a sword to torture, kill and plunder.
Who can evaluate the extent of suffering during the numerous
explusions from many nations, from Spain in 1492 and throughout
Jewish history? Who can evaluate the damage from forced
conversions at the point of the sword from Charlemagne in the
ninth century and throughout later centuries? Or how can we sum
up the economic and social deprivation? Even the Reformation
brought little relief to Jewry. The early Luther was sympathetic
to the Jewish plight; but the later Luther attacked the Jews when
they did not convert to Lutheranism. He called for making them
into a caste of menial laborers for the rest of the nation.
The widespread nineteenth-century pogroms in Russia were
devastating to Jewish life once more. Every government made Jews
the scapegoat during difficult times.
The saddest chapter of all might be the Jewish turncoats.
These supposed converts to Christianity led the pogroms and Torah
burnings. Their purpose was self-serving. Joseph, Pfeferkorn in
16th-century Hungary was responsible for many Jewish deaths. When
some Jews think of Hebrew-Christians, it's his image that comes
to mind. How tragic! Yet could there be many who honestly
converted to Christianity when the Church required the convert to
renounce all things Jewish, to change one's Jewish name to a
"Christian name," and to give up contact with Jewish people? Each
"convert" had to sign a document swearing an oath to all of these
The major ground for this anti-Semitism was often said to be
the New Testament. A closer examination of the New Testament
shows that its passages are not at all anti-Jewish but can be
classified instead as follows:
(1) Statements which are negative to the established leadership
at Jerusalem consisting of Saducees (a party which did not accept
the resurrection of the dead or the prophets) and Pharisees.
These were criticized severely either for a narrow legalism that
was oftentimes self-serving and contradicted the spiritual intent
of Scripture or, (2) comprised Scriptural statements which were
critical of "the Jews" in the Gospel of John, but which were
actually referring to the Judean leadership establishment from
the perspective of Galileans. For example, Americans are known as
Yankees in other countries; but in the South "Yankee" is used as
a sectional term to refer to the North. In the same way, Galilean
Jews referred to the Judean Jewish establishment as "the Jews."
The word in Greek for the Judeans is the same as the word
translated "Jews." (3) Statements concerning the judgment that
would fall on the nation due to the blindness of the leadership
at the time. Nations as a whole suffer under the blindness of
their leaders. Thus, though nations are judged corporately, there
is no right to judge all the individuals in the nation.
These statements were made by Jews but were never intended
to condemn all Jewish people. Most of the statements referred to
only a particular group within the nation and are not meant as
universal statements. These are statements of criticism between
family members and are totally invalid when repeated by non-Jews
as applying to all Jews. Anti-Semites never quote John
4:24--"Salvation is of the Jews"--and admit that Jesus, the
Savior of the world, was, is and forever will be a Jew descended
from Jacob! Nor do they quote Romans 11:28-29- "they are beloved
for the Father's sake the gifts and call of God are irrevocable."
Neither do they quote the Gospel statements which testify that
"the common people heard Him gladly," that many wept at Yeshua's
death and beat their breasts, and that the priestly establishment
feared all of Jerusalem following Him (Luke 20:19; 22; 23:7;
24:20), Nor is it mentioned, that myriads of Jews followed Yeshua
(Acts 21) or that it was the Jewish blood of the Apostles and
many other witnesses which was spilled by non-Jews.
The Jewish apostles spread the Good News of Yeshua
throughout the world. The debt of the Church is to Israel as Paul
states, and the proper Scriptural response is gratitude and love.
For as Paul says, "it is not you who supports the root, but the
root supports you" (Romans 11:18). The whole of the Biblical
testimony refutes the principles of anti-Semitism.
Let us note that the reason the leadership of Jerusalem
handed Yeshua over to the Romans was that His popular following
caused Him to be a threat to this leadership. Let us also note
that it was a Gentile Roman instrument of capital punishment, the
cross, which was his place of execution.
Theologically, it was God's plan that Yeshua would die on
the cross for the sins of the whole word (I Peter 2:24). It was
our collective and universal sin which placed Him on the cross.
He died not for our punishment, but that through Him we might be
freed from condemnation.
Too few were those who gave their lives in love for Israel.
How few were those like the Ten Boom family who fearlessly gave
themselves with courage. This remarkable family lost a brother,
father and sister in the Holocaust. Brother Wilemten Boom was a
writer against anti-Semitism and argued against the assimilation
of Jews into Western Christian forms. He adopted Messianic Jewish
conclusions back in the 1930's. Corrie Ten Boom has well
recounted the marvelous story of God's grace in their service to
Israel, stretching back to grandparents who supported Zionism.
In the light of all this history, there is cause for much
The bridge between the Church and the Synagogue, the
Messianic Jews, to all intents and purposes, ceased to exist. The
Church and the Synagogue were light years apart in understanding
each other. Yeshua was seen as a false god of the Gentiles by
Jews, and as a Gentile Savior by establishment Christianity. Gone
was the great vision of Acts 15 of two great wings of one
universal people of God: a Jewish wing and a non-Jewish wing,
each part of one body, but each, in freedom, following their
distinctive callings. Neither side would seek to dissolve the
other, but there could be Hebraic congregations in "Jewish"
areas, non-Hebraic in non-Jewish areas and mixed congregations
where this was most feasible - all under the Lordship of Yeshua.
Jews would be believers in Yeshua; but still loyal citizens of
Israel. How Messianic Jews could have given the lie to
anti-Semitism! How they could have reflected the Jewishness of
Yeshua as a witness to the Jewish community and the Church! What
a gain there would have been toward a deeper Biblical
understanding of Israel and the Church in the purposes of God,
thereby thwarting anti-Jewish theologies.
(Ah, what rose was a FALSE Christian church - Babylon Mystery
Religion - a false church that cast away anything that could be
called "Jewish" [Passover - 7th day Sabbath and etc.] and adopted
pagan customs and traditions, sprinkled them with so-called "holy
water" and made them "Christian." So the mother whore church
began to sweep the world with her false teachings and customs,
and with her hate for Jews, even to the time of WW2. In recent
times the Pope issued an apology to Jews for not taking a
stronger stand against Hitler during WW2. So today we have a
MASSIVE false Christianity full of wrong teachings and customs.
We have a Mother Babylon church with many daughters [that came
out of her to protest a little of her wrong indulgent ways] but
also retained much of her falsehoods; all exposed on this website
- Keith Hunt)
THE RESPONSE OF HEBRAIC CONGREGATIONS
Messianic Jewish congregations are forming in response to
Scripture and the impact of history, Messianic Judaism is not a
completely new movement, but rather the resurrection of a very
We have sought to show that the identity described under the
term "Messianic Judaism" was the identity of the apostles and the
community of Jewish "followers of the Way" in the first and
second centuries, Since that time, many Jewish believers in
Yeshua have enhanced the Church as pastors, theologians and
laymen. It remains however, that a Messianic Jewish style of
existence has been lacking subsequent to the early centuries.
Indeed, the church sought to have its converts literally change
their names and give up all identity as Jews.
The Synagogue, as well, sought to have followers of Yeshua
ostracized from the mainstream community. A Jew who accepted
Yeshua was considered no longer Jewish.
The early history of Jewish missions was often a sordid
affair, with self-serving missionaries seeking to enrich
themselves at the expense of gullible church members. However,
there were always some who understood the place and calling of
Israel and whose lives were exemplary.
In 1825, theologian J. Toland argued that a careful reading
of Scripture would lead us to believe that Israel is still called
by God as a nation and that Jewish followers of Yeshua should
maintain their identity and heritage as Jews.
(And in that sense of course - The Scotish, Welsh, Irish, still
keep their heritage - Keith Hunt)
In the mid-nineteenth century, the Hebrew-Christian Alliance
of Great Britain was formed. It sought to bring Jewish Christians
together in periodic fellowship so as to maintain their Jewish
identity. In 1915, the Hebrew-Christian Alliance of America also
began to foster a purpose of Jewish identity and witness within
Israel. In 1925, the International Hebrew Christian Alliance was
formed. In the original founders of the Alliances one finds a
deeper appreciation of Jewish identity and practice than was
sometimes to be found in later followers. Of note in those years
was Mark John Levy, the General Secretary of the American
Alliance. Levy argued indefatigably that Jewish Christians were
called to maintain their heritage of feast, festival and Hebraic
worship. He traveled worldwide and in 1914 convinced the
Episcopal Church to adopt as its official position that
congregations of Jewish believers should be formed for the
preservation of Jewish identity and as the best means of witness
to the Jewish community. Levy was himself a gentleman, scholar
and saintly man. Even Rabbi Eichorn, who has researched the
seediest aspects of Jewish missions, conceded his high character.
Others of note during these early years of the Alliance included
Rabbi J. Litchenstein of Hungary, who was a district head rabbi.
He became a follower of Yeshua by reading the New Testament when
the light of God's grace, love and power in Yeshua dawned on him.
This rabbi saw Yeshua as a Jew. He taught the New Testament from
his pulpit and refused assimilation into any Christian
denomination so as to remain with his people. So respected was he
that for a time he could not be dismissed from his congregation -
despite his unwillingness to recant his beliefs before higher
authorities. He may be said to have had the first Messianic
Jewish congregation in 1400 years. There was also Joseph
Rabinowitz, who held similar views to Litchenstein and traveled
in Eastern Europe and Russia.
Of special note is Theodore Luckey, who edited The Messianic
Jew at the turn of the century. This Eastern European was a man
of such kindness and piety that Dr. Henry Eim spruch called him a
"lamed vavnik"; or one of the 36 righteous men of each generation
who, by their saintliness, stave off God's judgment. Dr. Luckey
lived a life of true Jewish practice and called Jesus "the bone
of our bones and flesh of our flesh" in relation to Israel.
Luckey argued our basic positions eighty years ago.
Strong currents were afoot in America, however, which would
impede the new progress toward an authentic Messianic Judaism.
Fundmentalist dispensationalism, a turn-of the-century movement,
discovered the truth of God's promises to Israel - to be
regathered to their land, to recognize their Messiah and to be
the geographical center of His Kingdom. However, they held to a
rigid distinction between Christians and Jews.
(And so they continued in the Mother Babylon church of Rome -
with her many wrong teachings and customs - Keith Hunt).
To many, a "Christian" was a former Jew or Gentile who
became part of the Bride of Christ - the Church. The converted
Jew thus was to find his total spiritual identity within the
Church and not in the nation of Israel. The nation had a separate
identity and future salvation, but was not to be confused with
those "saved" during the present age. Hence, a converted Jew,
being part of the Church, could remember his origins
intellectually, but was to no longer practice Jewish holidays and
festivals, for these were said to be part of the "Old"
dispensation, while the believer was in the New dispensation of
(Again part of the wrong theology of the Mother whore of harlots,
and hence the false idea that God's Sabbath abd Festivals have
been abolished - Keith Hunt)
Although early Fundamentalists were fine scholars, many
later dispensational Fundamentalists became narrow, legalistic
and even obscurantist. This is why many present day evangelical
Christians will not accept the Fundamentalist label.
(They are still part of Mother Babylon - and her spiritual
fornication - Keith Hunt)
These narrow attitudes and rigid distinctions became common
in the American Alliance and progress toward a more authentic
Jewish movement for Yeshua was precluded. One of the casualties
during these years was the enigmatic figure of Hugh Schoenfield,
who is notorious today for his book, "The Passover Plot," which
discredits the resurrection of Yeshua. Schoenfield was also the
author of "A History of Jewish Christianity," which is a fine
historical account and defense of the tenets of what we today
call Messianic Judaism. Schoenfield was a member of the American
Alliance and sought to foster a more authentic Jewish expression.
When I learned of this I was mystified as to how he had changed
so radically. However, I had a sense in my spirit that this
sensitive young man was probably badly mistreated for his
viewpoint, left the Alliance and harbored bitterness toward
Jewish-Christians ever since. This bitterness would explain his
later skeptical writings. I corresponded with him to see if my
sense was correct. It was! Furthermore, he also indicated another
central problem which explained his writings. Schoenfield had
occult abilities which he took to be natural abilities, but which
we as Bible believers know to usually have their source in Satan
and from which a person needs deliverance. The later Schoenfield
received visions of historical events and wrote the footnotes
later to prove the truth of the visions. What a tragedy! What if
Schoenfield had been treated discreetly and supportively? What if
he had been delivered from occult bondage? Perhaps he could have
been a great Messianic Jewish scholar. However, since that time
for several years the Alliance made little progress toward
This does not mean that progress was not made anywhere.
Progress occurred mostly in the United States. The Holocaust
eliminated many European thinkers and leaders who were tending
toward an authentic Jewish identity among Jewish followers of
Yeshua. In America, the United Presbyterian Church established
several important works, some of which still continue. Hebrew
Christian churches were established in Los Angeles, Philadelphia,
Baltimore and Chicago. The latter three still exist.
By far the most influential work was the Peniel Center (est.
1921) and the first Hebrew Christian Church (est. 1934), which
became Adat Hatikvah (1975). David Bronstein was the founder of
both these works. Although they did not achieve an authentic
Jewish expression of faith, progress toward this ideal was made.
Accusations of re-erecting the "wall of partition" were made
against Bronstein then, as today against Messianic Judaism.
Although Christian hymnology and Sunday worship provided a church
atmosphere, Bronstein's own teaching, the symbolism and design of
the worship hall, and the remembrance of feasts by preaching and
demonstration were closer to a Messianic Jewish style than
anything else then in America.
The bridge to contemporary Messianic Judaism can be clearly
seen as we look at the ministries of Edward Brotskey, Manny
Brotman and Martin Chernoff. As a student at Moody, Brotman
gained a vision for producing materials which would speak the
Good News in a thoroughly Jewish way.
Space and time do not permit, us to credit all who have had
a significant role in Messianic Judaism. We would mention the
spur given to Jews who are believers in the Messiah by the Jews
for Jesus under the leadership of Moishe Rosen.
(Jews for Jesus is VERY Protestant. I went to a day long seminar
in Toronto in the 1980s. Was shocked at how "Protestant" they
were. Needless to say NOT impressed at all with them - they are
Jewish Mother Babylon whore followers - Keith Hunt)
We would also mention the theological help being given by
Dr. Louis Goldberg of Moody Bible Institute, who has sought to
provide balance to the Messianic movement theologically over the
last ten years.
(If coming from Moody Bible Institute, would say they would be
very Protestant minded, hence not really the correct mind of the
correct true church of God as in the time of the Apostles of
Christ - Keith Hunt)
Beth Messiah of Washington, D.C., is typical of the progress of
Messianic congregations. Beth Messiah was founded by a handful of
Jewish believers including Paul Liberman, Sid Roth of Messianic
Vision, and Sandra Sheshkin. It was spurred on by the outreach
ministry of Manny Brotman, who was called as the first leader.
Beth Messiah is presently growing in walking out a Biblical
spiritual life style. Since 1973, this congregation has continued
to see scores of Jewish people came to know the Lord. It was the
first independent Messianic congregation to own its own facility.
Ed Brotsky headed the first Messianic Jewish congregation in
Philadelphia. Brotsky came to the faith through the ministry of
Kaminsky while he was still in Toronto. A significant work under
Daniel Feinstone in Philadelphia which later developed into a
(Been to many "Messianic Congregations" over the years. Never
been inpressed with any of them. Some are more "Protestant" than
others. Some are more into too much "Jewish traditions" that
need to be dropped, as they are man-made traditions of the
Pharisees - Keith Hunt)
A prominent Messianic Jewish congregation was planted by the
late Martin Chernoff in Cincinnati. He was also won to Yeshua by
Kaminsky and had continued contact with Chicago. He next led a
congregation in Philadelphia. His son Joel is known for
pioneering Messianic Jewish music. Several Jewish missions also
established small congregations of varying success and
(Again many of them are still holding far to many Pharisee
traditions that are man-made - Keith Hunt)
In 1975, the Alliance changed its name to the Messianic
Jewish Alliance, reflecting the growing Jewish identity of Jewish
followers of Yeshua. It is at this point that a major question
comes into focus: What is the distinction between Messianic
Judaism and Hebrew Christianity, which was the traditional
designation for Jewish believers in Yeshua?
Hebrew Christians, traditionally, have not emphasized the
planting of Jewish congregations; but Messianic Jews have.
Hebrew-Christianity, at times, saw Jewishness as merely an ethnic
identity, whereas Messianic Judaism saw its Jewish life and
identity as a continued call of God. Of course there are many
exceptions for those who use either label. A total distinction
cannot be drawn. In general, however, Messianic Judaism has
emphasized the planting of Messianic Jewish congregations and
fidelity to the Jewish biblical calling. The exact nature of this
is still in process of outworking. Furthermore, Messianic Jews
have tended not to use the "Christian" label because of its
cultural sense - not being Jewish (which is a Jewish
understanding of the word) rather than its linguistic meaning,
"One of the Messiah."
(Most Messianic Judaism groups are either too Protestant, or too
Pharisees tradition keepers. They do not have the balance of the
true New Testament life of the apostles of Christ in the first
century AD - Keith Hunt)
An interesting aside is the story of Willem ten Boom. He was
the brother of the famous Corrie ten Boom. Willem ten Boom became
a student of the history of the relationship between Jews and
Christians. Through his studies, he came to the conclusion that
it was God's desire to not have Jews assimilate, but that Jews
under the Abrahamic Covenant were still chosen as a distinct
nation. He came to believe that a Jew who comes to Yeshua should
do so within a context of maintaining his own heritage. This
leads us to a practical question - how is this to be done?
(And most Messianic Judaism congregations still do not know -
The issue of Messianic congregations is a pragmatic answer
to several such questions: How shall an ongoing Jewish lay
witness to Israel be established? How shall a Jew be enabled to
maintain his heritage of Shabbat and feast while holding to the
capstone of revelation in Yeshua? (Ah the Protestants would say
there is no weekly Sabbath and the Festivals called by God "his
feasts" in Lev.23, are ablished - Keith Hunt)
How shall a Jew enable his children to grow up with a sense
of heritage, to be Bar Mitzvah and maintain an ongoing
involvement in the Jewish community? The Synagogue will not open
its door to train his children and the majority of local churches
will not provide for this. How then? The answer is clearly
congregational, for achieving this individually or through a
monthly fellowship may be inadequate or too difficult to sustain
for the average person. Many who are brought up without a Jewish
congregational context have little understanding of their
heritage or felicity in its practice. Without such a strong
context of a Jewish fellowship of believers, an effective out-
reach is also blunted. Furthermore, a, congregation is the most
effective center of discipleship for new Jewish followers of
(But most Christian-Jewish congregations have no balance, as to
what is correct and what is wrong in Jewish theological history.
They do not know how to throw out the bad and incorrect, while
establishing the correct according to New Testament theology. The
true Church of God has never been "Jewish" per se nor has it ever
been "Babylon Rome and her daughters" - Keith Hunt)
Without a visible community of Jewish and non-Jewish
followers of Yeshua in a clear Hebraic fellowship, how shall the
truth of Israel's call be reflected for the Church? And how shall
Israel see Yeshua as her own anointed King? Such a visible
community, capable of fulfilling all these goals and drawing the
full resources of God's power, is only to be found in the local
body (Matthew 16).
(And the local body is neither Jewish nor Catholic/Protestant. It
knows the plan of salvation for all peoples. It knows who all 13
tribes of Israel are and God's plan for then in the time line of
history. It knows how to teach and spread the Gospel to
Jew/Israelite and Gentile, and has no agenda for Zionism - Keith
A Messianic Jewish congregation provides the social and
spiritual context to reflect the whole of Biblical truth. A
congregation of Messianic Jews is as well a New Covenant con-
gregation, whose membership is open to Jew and non-Jew who are
called to it and who affirm its purpose and mission. Such a
congregation is a local expression of the universal body of
believers. It fully expresses Jewish heritage in the context of
New Covenant fulfillment and truth. Yeshua only established one
type of organization to be empowered to carry out his work: the
Kehilah or Congregation. There need to be such congregations
within Israel to carry out His commission of witness and
discipleship, rather than only "professionals" doing the work of
God. Lay people in a congregational base multiply witness.
(The true Church of God congregations are doing so now and in the
future. A Christian Jew can keep his national heritage in their
lives, just as Irish Christians, Welsh Christians, Greek
Christians, Polish Christians, Scotish Christians and etc. can in
their lives, as long as the national traditions do not conflict
with the laws and cammandments and ways of God - Keith Hunt)
Furthermore, we have to ask what institution - outside of
life in Israel - is able to help Jewish believers in Yeshua in
their Jewish identity. In the light of God's supernatural
preservation of Israel, in the light of untold Jewish suffering
throughout the centuries, culminating in the Holocaust, and in
the light of Romans 11:29- "the gifts and call of God are
irrevocable" -we assert that the assimilation (loss of identity)
of Jews is not God's will. It was the devil's desire to destroy
the Jewish people as a distinct people. Can we in the light of
all history diminish the Jewish nation by our own assimilation?
(Those who are Irish and etc. still have kept their Irish culture
without standing off from others, and yet are a part of the
whole. The Christian Jews must do the same - Keith Hunt)
A Messianic Jewish congregation provides the social and
spiritual context of discipleship in the Messiah without
assimilation. Other examples of non-assimilation without congre-
gational life usually manifest some marks of a congregation by
having worship services, fellowship times, witness training and
activities to foster Jewish observance. They have simply not yet
been named congregations.
(And some simply get together as people from Ireland, or Poland,
or Greece, or Germany, outside of the "church." The Christian
from those countries must distinguish what is right and proper to
observe WITHIN God's law and way of life, when attending the
functions of their "national" country and heritage. The Christian
Jew can do likewise - Keith Hunt)
At the invitation of Adat Hatikvah and B'nai Macadeem, in
the spring of 1978, a successful preliminary meeting of
congregational leaders from nineteen congregations was held
in Chicago. It was agreed that they would form a union of
congregations. The official incorporation meeting was set for
June. Finally, in June 1979, nineteen congregations joined
together in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania and formed the Union of
Messianic Jewish Congregations to help one another foster the
goals of Messianic Judaism. This union has since grown to over
(But are they too much "Jewish" or too much "Protestant"? - Keith
The Messianic congregation is a practical answer to the
two-thousand-year tug-of-war between the Church and the
Synagogue. In the very teeth of controversy and anti-Semitism, it
can adequately testify that Yeshua is the Messiah and Savior of
Israel to the Jewish community and to the Church that Yeshua is a
Jew, a son of Israel and that anti-Semitism is anti-Jesus. It can
be a living bridge of understanding between the Church and the
Synagogue. It can be, at once, part of the Jewish community and
an expression of the single universal body of believers.
There is another model which also can bear much fruit. It is the
model of a non-Jewish congregation which understands and
encourages the Jewish identity of its Jewish members to the
enhancement of the whole congregation. This option hardly seemed
possible twenty years ago; but today, we have many examples of
it. Messianic Jews must stand for - and with - the whole body of
(In deed the Jewish Christian will be part of the true Church of
God, that is neither fully "Jewish" or fully "Protestant" and
will maintain their Jewishness in after hours, where Jews may
meet to remember their heritage, just as Greeks do, Irish do,
Germans do, English do, French do etc. - Keith Hunt)