We are not the “Jewish church”

We are not the “Jewish church”


For many Christians that are supportive of Messianic Jews and the work of Messianic synagogues they support us as the “Jewish church”.

The “Jewish church” being defined as a Jewish cultural form of Christian faith. This can be seen in Hispanic, Korean, Filipino, Arab and other culturally sensitive forms of Christianity. Using the nomenclature of missiology this is called “contextualization” and these other cultural groups like the local Hispanic Baptist Church or Chinese Methodist Church are true examples of putting Christian faith and practice within either Hispanic or Chinese culture and language and this is a great way for these non-Jews to experience their Christian faith within their distinct culture, history and language.

This view of contextualising of evangelical Christianity for Jews can be seen in the founding of the Hebrew Christian Alliance of America (now the MJAA). The HCAA was founded in the early 20th century as a way for Jewish people who were Christians and in the local church to also be able to have an outlet to express Jewish cultural expressions like Jewish holidays (Passover seders, Hanukkah menorah lighting, etc.) while having their faith practice within evangelical Christianity.

Messianic Judaism is as our name says we are a JUDAISM, with our distinctive is that we are a Judaism with the Messiah in our midst and therefore we are Messianic Judaism which is in contrast to the contextualization model which would make us the “Jewish church” or a Jewish culturally sensitive version of Christianity.

The full adoption of this name as who we are and where we are moving for the future sets us in a scary position in a place outside either evangelical Christianity or mainstream Judaism, but it is the place that we must embrace. We are pioneers of a renewal of an old idea (Jews believing in Yeshua and living Torah) and also something new (building a 21st century Judaism within the context of over 2000 years of development of Rabbinic Judaism).

So then we go forward defining who we are and making clear who we are not.

May we truly build a mature Messianic Judaism for the future…




7 thoughts on “We are not the “Jewish church”

  1. Virtually every belief and doctrine of MJ is that of Protestant Evangelicalism, most messianic congregations meet in church buildings, most of the messianic membership are Gentile Christians. I say this as someone who dedicated years to MJ and even started and led a sizable congregation that was as “Orthodox” as MJ can get. So, perhaps you are not a “Jewish” church, true, but you are a church nevertheless. In a minor key.


    1. Though your comment about belief and doctrine may have been applicable 20 or 30 years ago it is not representative of the Messianic Judaism that I and my colleagues live within and are seeking to develop further for the future. You are one day early for “Throwback Thursday”.

      As to meeting in churches one of the prominent Reform synagogues in Los Angeles met for over 10 years in an African American church until they purchased their own building. It is not uncommon for churches and synagogues to share space. I have even heard of locations with Muslim services on Friday afternoons, Jewish services on Saturday and Christians services on Sundays.


      1. “You are one day early for “Throwback Thursday”.

        Do you consider having a single MJ (and still very much Trinitarian and therefore still very much Christian) congregation in CA with a Jewish majority as somehow negating my argument for the MJ as a whole?

        “As to meeting in churches one of the prominent Reform synagogues in Los Angeles met for over 10 years in an African American church until they purchased their own building.”

        A really, really bad example. Torah faithful, observant Jews do not consider as “Judaism” any religion that rejects Torah as inspired and Torah observance as still in effect. They may be Jewish (even that is doubtful for many, due to intermarriage and adoption of patrilinial descent), but their is not Judaism. Do you think that G-d thinks it’s Judaism? Why would you, as a messianic who claims to uphold Torah and Torah observance, even use them as an example? And since Reform from the beginning was consciously emulating of German Protestantism, going so far as meeting on Sundays and eating treif, it’s not surprising that meeting in a church is not a great compromise for them. That and ordaining gay rabbis.


      2. Sadly Gene, all your arguments are straw men of your own creation and made up on your pre-conceived notions and not based in reality but pre-written talking points. As I said before we will have to agree to disagree and besides you have your own blog to share your thoughts.


      3. “all your arguments are straw men of your own creation”

        My arguments are based on experienced reality and intimate first hand knowledge (including knowing, meeting and conversing with most of the top players involved in the MJ over the years). I was involved in building of the Messianic Movement as a Jewish believer in Jesus of almost 20 years. I do know what I am talking about!

        “besides you have your own blog to share your thoughts”

        I do indeed have my own blog where I share my thoughts, but I hope my comments on your blog do not intimidate you. Everyone and anyone is welcome to comment on my blog and they do, since I believe that truth will stand up to scrutiny.


  2. I totally agree. And it is worth noting that the HCAA name change (to MJAA) created a whole new set of problems. With it came a new form of faith that could be called “hebrew pentecostalism” which is just as flawed as the old hebrew christianity. But let’s look on the positive side. As you say, we are doing something new, that hasn’t really existed before, so it will take some time to get right. But I think we are getting there, and it’s exciting to see it happening in my lifetime.


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