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What Is Messianic Judaism -- Isn't It Just Christianity?

Ellen Kavanaugh

Messianic Judaism is Biblical Judaism with Yeshua as the Messiah. We believe that Yeshua (Jesus) was the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53. Messianic Judaism has more in common with other branches of Judaism than with Christianity in spite of sharing the belief that Yeshua was Messiah. Messianics see Yeshua as a Jewish rabbi who taught His disciples the Torah, even commissioning them to take His Torah teachings to the rest of the world. Christianity sees Jesus as one who 'did away with Torah (law)' and 'freed us' from needing to obey G-d's Word. G-d never changes nor does His Word. I believe any doctrine *not* based on a solid Torah foundation will be faulty and lead many astray. Torahlessness (lawlessness) is that old religion of hasatan, the fallen one who has tried to lure man away from G-d's instructions from day one. Hasatan has succeeded not only in drawing the church away from Torah but also in making lawlessness even seem the godlier choice. Lawlessness is a scary deception and is a major reason why many Messianics have attempted to separate themselves from the mainstream church.

Without a solid foundation built on G-d's TaNaKh (sadly referred to as "old testament' within the church), many in the mainstream Christian churches have been teaching that the church replaces Israel in G-d's plan; many teach that the promised earthly messianic kingdom has been replaced with a spiritual kingdom for the church; most believe that obeying G-d's Holy Torah (law) is somehow useless or irrelevant in our lives -- even likening Torah obedience to "earning" the free gift of salvation. These beliefs result from interpreting the Brit Chadasha (new testament) apart from it's TaNaKh foundation. Sadly the church seems to believe it can exist apart from its TaNaKh foundation and Jewish roots. Such church teachings reflect a non-Jewish mindset and are not considered part of Messianic Judaism.

But Aren't Messianic Jews And Hebrew Christians The Same Thing?

Sadly, Hebrew Christians are Jewish brethren who have been assimilated into the mainstream church. Some may observe the Holy Days --- but their basic belief system remains that of Christianity. A Messianic Jew is one who practices Messianic Judaism -- his beliefs rest on a solid foundation of Torah. Interestingly, the two labels themselves (Messianic Jew & Hebrew Christian) show each's differing emphasis: a Messianic Jew emphasizes personal lineage: a Messianic Jew is a certain type of Jew (a Jew who happens to believe in Yeshua). Whereas Hebrew Christian emphasizes the belief system: a Hebrew Christian is a certain type of Christian (a Christian who happens to be Jewish).

Gentiles who practice Messianic Judaism refer to themselves in more vague terms, such as "Messianics" or "Messianic Believers" (terms which fit both Jewish and gentiles believers).

Then Why Do People Say Messianic Judaism Is Christianity?

Ignorance? Broad generalization? A refusal to let Messianic Judaism define itself? It is confusing when other branches of Judaism (as well as some within the church) call all believers in Yeshua "Christians" regardless of their view on Torah. More recently I have been bothered that some Christians are deciding to call themselves Messianics even though their belief system remains unchanged from that of Christianity. I only hope as more people study the Messianic Mov't, they will learn the many differences between these two very different belief systems. Messianic Judaism should the best of both worlds: True Biblical Judaism *with* Messiah -- exactly as G-d intended!

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