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The Messianic Walk Posts

Messianic Jewish Problems with Hebrew Roots

John and I tackle difficult issues separating Messianic Judaism and Hebrew Roots.

For the uninitiated, the Messianic movement encompasses both Messianic Judaism and Hebrew Roots.

In Messianic Judaism, the goal is Israel’s salvation by making a space where Jews can follow Yeshua as Messiah without losing their Jewish identity.

In Hebrew Roots, the goal is a return to the Jewish roots of Christianity, removing the extra-Biblical cruft created by the Church over the last 2000 years.

Go to most any Messianic congregation today, and you’re bound to find folks from both camps. These groups need each other, and yet, often there are theological disputes and disagreements that can prevent fellowship.

In this podcast, John and I look at 4 major issues that the Messianic Judaism movement sees with Hebrew Roots, and offer some ways to navigate them:

  1. One-Law Rigidity – dogmatism around the idea that non-Jews must follow the Torah in the same way that Jews do
  2. Two-House identity – which claims many or most non-Jews in the Messianic movement are actually descendants of the lost 10 tribes of Israel
  3. Sacred Name Onlyism – the idea that you must pronounce God’s divine name, יהוה, and must never use circumlocutions like “Lord”, “God”, or even “Adonai” or “Elohim.”
  4. Divergent Calendars – Calendars that differ from the modern Jewish (Hillel II) calendar, resulting in dates of the Feasts differing from mainstream date.

These 4 issues were raised by Rabbi David Schiller of Congregation Etz Chaim in Richardson, Texas, during an interview with John in an earlier podcast.

In this episode, John and I talk about how to navigate these difficult issues — and have fellowship in the presence of disagreement — via a Big Tent kind of Messianic movement. Enjoy!

The Winter Holidays

“Christmas is pagan”

“Christmas is anti-Jewish”

“Christmas is Catholic”

If you’re a Messianic believer, almost certainly you’ve heard these claims. Are they true?

The Gospels record,

Today in the city of David is born a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord. And the sign to you is this: You’ll find an infant wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger. And suddenly, a multitude of heavenly armies appeared with the angel, praise God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest! And shalom on earth and good will to men!”

Luke 2

This Biblical event 2000 years ago changed the world forever. Today, it’s celebrated by billions of Christians around the world as Christmas.

But many Messianic believers don’t celebrate Christmas.

Some of us feel it’s un-Jewish to do so, especially given the existence of Hanukkah and its anti-assimilation themes. Some Messianics feel that Christmas is mere dressed up Catholicism, a view shared by some early Reformers. Some Messianics highlight pagan influences that have seeped in: Christmas trees, yuletide, and other “Christmas” symbols have more to do with Norse and Germanic mythology than the historical Jewish Messiah.

In this new episode, Messianic apologist and author J.K. McKee and I discuss how Messianic people can navigate the winter holidays while avoiding some of the doom, gloom, and heresy hunting too prevalent in today’s Hebrew Roots movement.

I argue we Messianic believers ought to have joy at this time of year. 😊 It’s OK to have joy that Messiah was born. It’s OK to have joy that billions of people are celebrating His birth, even if it’s not exactly on the right day.

Tune in for a great discussion between John, who celebrates Hanukkah, and Judah, who celebrates both Hanukkah and Christmas.

The Messianic Movement: The End-Time Move of God

In this episode, John and I discuss the the last days and the return of Messiah, and what perspectives we Messianics bring to the table.

We tackle 5 questions pertaining to the last days and the Messianic movement:

  1. What our experience has been today in the Messianic movement when the topic of the last days is raised.
  2. Given how disruptive and uniquely difficult 2020 has been, the Lord’s return has been top of mind. How should Messianics think about the last days?
  3. With regard to the end-times, what does the Messianic perspective bring to the wider body of believers?
  4. What role will the Messianic and Hebrew Roots movement play in the the last days leading up to the return of Yeshua?
  5. What further studies and investigations need to take place in the Messianic movement regarding the last days?

Here you’ll find a candid conversation about the last days and the Messianic movement.

I expressed how I’ve personally been turned off to conversations about the end-times due to sensationalism, failed predictions, date-setting, and more. John shared his reservations as well.

At the same time, we can’t simply punt and avoid the topic. The Lord wants us to have a joyful anticipation, an excitement even, knowing his return is imminent.

John and I discuss all this and more in episode 5 of the The Messianic Walk. Enjoy, friends!

Lawlessness vs Legalism

Many churches in the Evangelical world spend a great deal of time condemning legalism: rigid adherence to Biblical laws and the man-made stringencies around them, observance by the letter and not by the Spirit, observance of Biblical laws to gain eternal life with God.

But Yeshua’s words in the Gospels warn of a different issue:

“Because lawlessness will multiply, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. This Good News of the kingdom shall be proclaimed in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.”

Matthew 24:12-14, Tree of Life Version

While legalism has been and continues to be a problem among believers, especially Messianic believers, its opposite — lawlessness — pulls God’s people away from living godly, upstanding lives.

In this new podcast episode, Judah and John discuss forms of legalism and lawlessness we’ve encountered in our Messianic faith, and how believers can walk a better path that avoids both extremes.

Tackling Romans for Messianic Believers

In this new podcast, John and Judah tackle issues relevant to Messianic believers in the book of Romans.

Specifically,

  • When Paul says, “A true Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart, in spirit and not in letter” (Rom 2), is he saying Gentiles are spiritual Jews?
  • Paul speak about the righteousness of “Gentiles who do by nature the things of the Torah” (Rom 2), is this the moral law, the full Mosaic law, or something else?
  • Paul tells the Romans, “We are released from the Torah” (Rom 7). Does this mean the Torah has no relevance the lives of Messianic believers?
  • Paul writes, “Let every person submit himself to the governing authorities” (Rom 13). In the coronavirus era, how should this play out? Governors are issuing mandates to wear masks, quarantine for indefinite periods of time, close churches and social gatherings. Should Messianic believers submit themselves to these authorities, or are these issues going beyond what Paul had in view?
  • Romans 13 speaks about not causing others to stumble over issues of food. Can this be applied to kosher standards today in the Messianic movement? Is it wise use of Romans 13 to discourage Messianic folks from taking a stand over kosher issues? Or can we cite Paul’s “the Kingdom of God is not about eating and drinking” and tell people that food ultimately doesn’t matter to God?

Tune in to hear the discussion of these difficult matters of walking out the Bible in the modern Messianic movement.

Leaving Messianic Things, Part II: Theological Objections to Torah Observance

John and Judah discuss the theological objections to Torah observance from a man who recently left the Hebrew Roots movement.

Does Matthew 5 really say the Torah is still in effect?

Has God changed, or have people changed? If people changed, does it means God’s law applies differently?

Is the Sabbath merely a cultural commandment, meant only for Bronze Age Israel?

Did the Christian community at Rome really celebrate Passover?

These questions and more are tackled in this new podcast.

Leaving Messianic Things, Part I: Problems in Hebrew Roots

In this first episode, J.K. McKee and Judah Gabriel Himango discuss the difficult Messianic issues raised in Responding to “No Longer Torah Observant.” 

In it, we address the challenges facing Messianic believers today: the pitfalls of end-times sensationalism, conspiracy theories, low views of the New Testament, heresies about Yeshua’s identity, contempt for the Church and Christianity, a lack of Gospel evangelism and outreach, and more. We discuss better paths forward for our movement, one centered around the weighty matters of the Torah and the salvation of Israel.