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Anti-Semitism in the Church
A Required Response to the Charge
that Messianic Judaism is Apostasy

by Messianic Pastor/Theologian Ari Levitt
MA, MDiv, ThM, ThD, DMin, MBA, NS, CNHP
Page 2

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Ms. Nero's Article Continues My Response

Judaism: A religion developed among the ancient Hebrews and characterized by belief in one transcendent God who has revealed Himself to Abraham, Moses, and the Hebrew prophets and by a religious life in accordance with Scriptures and rabbinic traditions 2: Conformity to Jewish rites, ceremonies, and practices (Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, 1987). [9]

[9] Since when is Webster's Dictionary considered an authoritative source for theological definitions? [Return to Note 26]

In the first place, it is extreme theological error to claim that Judaism is “a religion developed among the ancient Hebrews.” That definition could only be accepted by someone who denies the authority of the Bible [ergo, Ms. Nero obviously rejects the authority of the Bible, and thereby also rejects the God of the Bible].

“Judaism,” when correctly understood, is a covenant relationship between the Creator and His chosen people, the descendants of Avraham, Yitzhak, and Ya'akov! It was not “developed” by ancient Hebrews — rather, its very form was originally given by direct revelation to Israel by God through Moshe (Moses), and was both endorsed and practiced by Yeshua and his Shliachim. The fact that many of its practices have been corrupted by (for the most part) well-meaning religious leaders does not negate its validity. Modern Judaism is far less a corrupt form of true “Biblical Judaism” than “the Church” is a corrupt form of true Biblical worship.

The term “Judaism” goes far beyond the narrow definition cited here, and absolutely does not necessarily include “rabbinic tradition or Jewish rites, ceremonies, and practices.” Under present Israeli law, as defined by the council of rabbis (the modern version of the Sanhedrin), a person is a Jew (and therefore “Jewish”) as long as his or her mother can be identified as a Jew, totally regardless of whether or not that person conforms to rabbinic tradition, Jewish rites, ceremonies, or practices. A person can believe anything he or she wants to, including a total rejection of the God of the Bible, as long as he or she rejects “Jesus” as the Jewish Messiah, and still be considered a “Jew” (and therefore “Jewish”) under the laws of Israel. In fact, even within the three major divisions of Judaism (Orthodox, Conservative, and Reformed) there is much disagreement over exactly what constitutes “Judaism.” The nation of Israel, which is the modern embodiment of Judaism, is probably more qualified to define Judaism than is Webster’s Dictionary.

To say that the rituals and traditions of Judaism are needed in The Church for Jewish people believing Jesus is the Messiah is unfounded.[10] Judaism inhibits the Holy Spirit,[11] whereas the Holy Spirit is uninhibited in The Church of Jesus Christ because without Him, there is no Church. Jesus’ Church is with power. Should the Holy Spirit, whose initial duty is to regenerate, seal, indwell, and fill all who believe and are baptized into Christ (The Church), be shackled and bound by the traditions and rituals of Judaism,[12] He will not operate – He cannot operate.[13]

[10] Nobody that I know of claims that “the rituals and traditions of Judaism are needed in the church” for either believing Jews or believing Gentiles. What Messianic Judaism claims is that the apostate Gentile “church” needs to repent of its anti-Semitism and paganism, and return to the purity of the true Faith as it was taught and practiced by all those, both Jew and Gentile, who believed in and followed Messiah in the first century. Messianic Judaism also claims that an apostate Judaism needs to repent and return to her Messiah as did the multiple tens of thousands of Jewish Messianic Believers in the first century of the common era (Acts 21:20), and that there is absolutely no reason to give up their “Jewishness” to do so.

Messianic Judaism also holds that any non-Jew who wishes to do so is entitled (but certainly not required) to observe that form of worship that was practiced by both Jewish and non-Jewish Believers in Messiah from the day of the Resurrection until it was abolished by the apostate Roman cult in the fourth century. What Messianic Judaism offers to both Jews and non-Jews alike is exactly what the true so-called “First Century Church” looked like. In fact, any “church” that calls themselves a “first century church” is mistaken unless they practice a “Jewish Synagogue” form of worship as was practiced by the Messianic Community in the first century.

[11] There was not even a single Gentile mentioned in Scripture as being in Jerusalem on the day of Shavuot (Pentecost) when Ruach HaKodesh (the Holy Spirit) was given, and 3,000 Torah-observant Jews came to the knowledge of Mashiach in one day. Does the following passage sound like Ruach HaKodesh is inhibited by Torah-observant Jews?

The festival of Shavu'ot [Pentecost] arrived, and the believers all gathered together in one place. Suddenly there came a sound from the sky like the roar of a violent wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then they saw what looked like tongues of fire, which separated and came to rest on each one of them. They were all filled with the Ruach HaKodesh and began to talk in different languages, as the Spirit enabled them to speak. Now there were staying in Yerushalayim religious Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd gathered; they were confused, because each one heard the believers speaking in his own language. Totally amazed, they asked, “How is this possible? Aren’t all these people who are speaking from the Galil? How is it that we hear them speaking in our native languages? We are Parthians, Medes, Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Y'hudah, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome; Jews by birth and proselytes; Jews from Crete and from Arabia! How is it that we hear them speaking in our own languages about the great things God has done?”

      … So those who accepted what he said were immersed, and there were added to the group that day about three thousand people. They continued faithfully in the teaching of the emissaries, in fellowship, in breaking bread and in the prayers. Everyone was filled with awe, and many miracles and signs took place through the emissaries. All those trusting in Yeshua stayed together and had everything in common; in fact, they sold their property and possessions and distributed the proceeds to all who were in need. Continuing faithfully and with singleness of purpose to meet in the Temple courts (not in the local Baptist, Methodist, or Presyterian church) daily, and breaking bread in their several homes, they shared their food in joy and simplicity of heart, praising God and having the respect of all the people. And day after day the Lord kept adding to them those who were being saved. (Acts 2:1-11, 41-47 CJB)

In fact, the Roman Centurion Cornelius was the very first non-Jew mentioned in Scripture upon whom Ruach HaKodesh fell, and that was nearly fifteen years after the original Pentecost experience, so was the Ruach HaKodesh totally inactive for the first fifteen years following the Resurrection?

Additionally, if “Judaism inhibits the Holy Spirit” then the entire Bible is only a human invention, because every single page of Scripture, both the Tanakh and the Messianic Writings, flowed from the pen of a Torah-observant Jew!

[12] In what respect may the following core of Jewish thought and practice possibly be considered either shackles or bondage?

Sh'ma, Yisra'el! ADONAI Eloheinu, ADONAI echad [Hear, Isra'el! ADONAI our God, ADONAI is one]; and you are to love ADONAI your God with all your heart, all your being and all your resources. These words, which I am ordering you today, are to be on your heart; and you are to teach them carefully to your children. You are to talk about them when you sit at home, when you are traveling on the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them on your hand as a sign, put them at the front of a headband around your forehead, and write them on the door-frames of your house and on your gates. When ADONAI your God has brought you into the land he swore to your ancestors Avraham, Yitz'chak and Ya'akov that he would give you — cities great and prosperous, which you didn't build;  houses full of all sorts of good things, which you didn't fill; water cisterns dug out, which you didn't dig; vineyards and olive trees, which you didn't plant — and you have eaten your fill; then be careful not to forget ADONAI, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, where you lived as slaves. You are to fear ADONAI your God, serve him and swear by his name. You are not to follow other gods, chosen from the gods of the peoples around you. (Deut. 6:4-14 CJB)

But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” (Matt. 22:34-40 NAS) [Note that the phrase “the Law and the Prophets” is a Hebrew idiom which means “all of Scripture.”]

Ms. Nero has obviously never attended a Messianic worship service. I grew up in the Christian Church-Churches of Christ until I was 22 years old, was a member and lay-leader in charismatic Christian fellowships (Full Gospel and Assemblies of God) for over 14 years, and served as a Baptist pastor from 1983 until I “discovered” Messianic Judaism in early 2000, and I have never observed such a total Joy in Mashiach and freedom of worship as I have observed in a Messianic synagogue. The plain and obvious fact of the matter is that Ms. Nero simply does not know what she is talking about. She is speaking purely from prejudice and ignorance …

[13] … and she has the audacity to presume to tell Ruach HaKodesh what He can and cannot do. To my mind, that is sheer blasphemy!

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Page originally posted on 30 August 2001
Page revised on Friday 13 September 13, 2019
Page revised (minor) on Monday, 1 February 2021

Page last updated on Saturday, 03 July 2021 12:38 PM
(Updates are generally minor formatting or editorial changes.
Major content changes are identified as "Revisions”)

Anxiously awaiting Mashiach’s return