Countering the Anti-Missionaries
Deceptions of the Anti-Missionaries
Anti-Missionaries make many claims concerning both Messianic Believers and Christians in general. Many of these claims can not stand up against a critical analysis of either Gentile Christianity or Messianic Judaic beliefs and practices. In this article we will examine many of the claims of some of the most infamous Anti-Missionaries on the net... many of which are closely associated with Anti-Missionary organizations which use their lies to plead for donations to fight what they call the Missionary plague. We will now examine the writings and claims of two of these groups, Outreach Judaism and Jews for Judaism. All references were accurate links at the time this article was written. Given the nature of the World Wide Web, we can not guarantee that these sites will not change the links in the future.
Claim #1: Evangelical Christians Are All Missionaries to the Jews.
One very large and prominent church in Arvada Colorado has an Israeli Awareness Day each year where they present Jewish dancing, Kosher food, and a holocaust museum to educate Christians on the spiritual debt they owe to Israel. This Church, Faith Bible Chapel has only one unbroken rule... no one is allowed to evangelize Jews from their fellowship. As a result, they have been able to partner with Denver's BMH Synagogue and the Mizel Museum of Judaica to reach out to both the Denver Jewish and Christian communities for love, fellowship, and education. If Rabbi Singer is correct, such a relationship would never exist between a Christian Church of over 5000 members and the largest Synagogue in Denver Colorado So what is it that drives Rabbi Singer to make such a deceptive claim?
Claim #2: Messianic Congregations Exist Only to Evangelize the Jews.
In the same Treatise, "Evangelizing the Jew", Rabbi Singer writes concerning Messianic congregations,"Today, more than 300 actively attract and recruit Jews who, because they lack a sound Jewish education and support system, are buying the manipulative rhetoric and persuasive techniques of the Hebrew-Christian missionary movement."
While Rabbi Singer's group claims that the success of these so-called Missionaries is the result of a lack of sound Jewish education and support, Jews for Judaism prefers a different approach. On their home page they attribute this success to massive fund raising, "Each year, over eight hundred different missionary groups spend in excess of $250 million towards converting Jews. They utiilize new, sophisticated and deceptive techniques, such as making Christianity appear Jewish in order to attract converts."
The Messiah Truth Project, a web site closely affiliated with Outreach Judaism makes even more extravagant claims. A flash banner on their home page claims: "Evangelical Christianity has spent over one billion dollars in the last decade to convert Jews to Christianity."
It is obvious to anyone who has been involved in the Messianic Movement that these so-called facts are bold faced lies. Denver is blessed with at least 9 different Messianic Congregations. One of the oldest congregations, Roeh Israel consists of approximately 50% Jews and 50% Gentile Messianics. The other congregations are largely Gentile by comparison. In my own congregation there are only 2 people of Jewish ancestry. Other congregations in the Denver area have no Jews at all. One was started by a former Roman Catholic of Irish descent who wanted to return to the Judaic roots of the Christian faith. That congregation spent years recruiting someone with an actual Jewish background to teach them the fashion of worship used by the early church. Another congregation is largely Hispanic and lead by a man who is descended from the Jews the Roman Church sent to Northern New Mexico over 300 years ago. None of these fellowships are wealthy, and of all the ones I know of in the Denver Area, only Congregation Roeh Israel even owns its own building. Where are these millions of dollars Jews for Judaism claim have been pumped into the Messianic Movement? Where are these congregations filled with poorly educated Jews? Most of the visible Messianic Movement is comprised of a few well educated Jews teaching Gentle believers the form of worship and praise that was practiced by Y'shua and his predominately Jewish disciples in the early Church.
So what is the motivation for such deceptions? In my honest opinion it is nothing more than a fear tactic which is used to raise money for the anti-missionary organizations. Jews for Judaism appears to be far more open in this than Outreach Judaism. On the Jews for Judaism web site there are no less than eight links to plead for money on the home page. Outreach Judaism has only two on the main page, but others are scattered throughout their site. Fear of hoards of rabid missionaries seeking to lead unsuspecting Jews astray is a powerful incentive to donate to their cause. And when you provide a solution it is simply good marketing to provide a problem which needs to be solved whether it has any basis in fact or not.
Claim #3: Messianic Congregations Only Appear Jewish in Order to Evangelize Jews.
The Messiah Truth Project claims "They are typically very pro-Israel and include an unusually high number of Jewish symbols -- the Magen David, Torah, talleisim, shofars, yarmulkes, mezzuzahs, Shabbat candles, and use of Hebrew and Yiddish language -- to assure prospective converts that they are not renouncing Judaism by accepting Jesus." We see a similar accusation from Rabbi Singer who writes "Such congregations are designed to appear Jewish, but they are actually fundamentalist Christian churches which use traditional Jewish symbols to lure the most vulnerable of our Jewish people into their ranks."
Once again, their premise is that Messianics only appear Jewish because they exist solely for the purpose of evangelizing Jews. Yet these Messianic synagogues go much farther and are far more personal in their beliefs than these anti-missionaries would want you to know. The typical Shabbat Service includes a Kosher Oneg (Shabbat Meal), Hebrew lessons, and Davidic Dance lessons. They are far more interested in teaching the Jewish roots of the Christian faith to Gentiles, who make up the largest percentage of their fellowships than to Jews. They teach Gentiles to keep the same feasts which Y'shua (Jesus) a Jew kept as is recorded in the Gospels, and they generally incorporate into their services studies from both Tanakh (Old Testamant) and Brit Chadashah (New Testament), teaching these scriptures in the Judaic context in which they were given.
Jew for Judaism incorporates a page of missionary alerts which warns about Messianic Congregations who would dare to advertise Feast Day services. Our own local congregation in Arvada Colorado also invites the community to our feast days. Last year we had a Baptist Church and a Russian Pentecostal Church join us for our Passover Seder and our Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) services. If the anti-missionaries had there way, no Messianic Congregation would be able to advertise their services to anyone.
The Anti-Missionary would tell you that the purpose of a Messianic congregation is simply to evangelize Jews, but the reality is we are more interested in teaching the true Judaism of the Bible to our Gentile brethren.
Claim #4: Messianic Jews Are No Longer Jews.
This is perhaps the most dangerous and defamatory deception of the anti-missionary. In recent years they have publicly toned this down. But dare to enter into one of their chat rooms or internet forums and let them find out that you are a Messianic and you will be immediately assaulted with the condemnation that you are no longer a Jew. You can find more details on this in part 2 of this treatise, The Tactics of the Anti-missionary.
The historical argument can best be seen in a post by Rabbi Moshe Shulman who is affiliated with both Outreach Judaism and the Messiah Truth Project. This post made in the alt.messianic newsgroup on 2/22/1995 says: "I never said that you were NEVER a Jew, I said that the halacha no longer considers you as one. You have lost all the rewards of membership in the Jewish people. You will be buried with the goyim to whom you have joined yourself. No Kaddish will be said for your poor soul after it leaves your body. And you will be forever rejected from that reward which should have been yours by birth."
Do the anti-missionaries still make this defamatory claim? Jews for Judaism has also toned the argument down somewhat, but they still write: "The halacha (B.T. Sanhedrin 44a) recognizes the biologic link to the Jewish people as inviolate, but also recognizes that as long as one remains an apostate one is not considered to be part of the Jewish community. A willing convert, whether formally or informally, forfeits his/her legal and social rights, which express a Jew's belonging to the Jewish people."
Another anti-missionary, Rabbi Stuart Ferderow writes: "Furthermore, this is the attitude of many Orthodox rabbis today. Orthodox Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, writing for the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, for the National Conference of Synagogue Youth, the Orthodox Youth Group, in his book 'The Real Messiah,' on page 21 wrote: "A Jew who accepts Christianity might call himself a 'Jewish-Christian', but he/she is no longer a Jew." Rabbi Kaplan refers to Maimonides' Mishneh Torah, Avodat Kochavim 2:5 in support of his statement."
Judaism has had many claimants to Messiahship, from Simon benKosiba (also called BarKochba) to Rebbe Menachem Sneerson, who while never making the claim was thought by some to be the Messiah. One scholarly book lists 50 different Jewish Messiahs. Today it is acceptable to practice eastern mysticism, Buddhism, and even Hinduism and yet be considered a Jew by at least some of the Jewish sects. But once one accepted Y'shua as Messiah, then that person is automatically disqualified as a Jew. Immediately, according to the deception of the anti-missionary, he/she is no longer qualified to study as a Jew to live a Judaic lifestyle or to refer to one's self a Jew. Immediately, the new Believer in Y'shua is now a Missionary whether that person has ever shared the faith with anyone.
Why must this be so? Unless all Messianics are well funded Christian Missionaries, the anti-missionaries plea for financial support looses its emotional appeal. Unless Jewish believers have become non Jews, the potential exists that other "Jews" might look at their lives and ask why they are different. This deception is both based on fear and driven by fear.
The most dangerous part of this deception is the anti-Semitism that it encourages. Many Messianic Jews are immediately disowned and separated from family and friends... and what is even worse, some "Christians" look upon them with skepticism. They often find themselves without community and family. They can often feel trapped in Gentile Churches which practice a form of Christianity which bears little resemblance to either what they are used to or to that of the early predominately Jewish Church. And this serves the divide and conquer tactics of the Anti-Missionary quite well.
Claim #5: The Christian Scriptures Demand That They Evangelize the Jews.
I added this fifth deception only because I was so amazed to the extent to which Rabbi Singer twists the New Testament Scriptures in order to produce this claim. Often the anti-missionaries tactic is to criticize the Messianics right to interpret or even study Jewish scriptures, perhaps they are the ones who should be criticized. Rabbi Singer writes: "Firstly, the New Testament specifically prioritizes Jews for conversion. In the book of Matthew (10:5), when Jesus is instructing his apostles, he warns them, 'Go not into the way of the gentiles ... but only go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.'"
Now let us look at this in the proper context... Jesus was a Jew... all of his disciples were Jews. By Jewish law limited communication and fellowship (meals) with the Goyim. Yet Rabbi Singer would have you believe that this command is a universal command given to Gentile believers, even though Y'shua himself told the Samaritan woman that he had come for the lost sheep of Israel. He also ignores the effort which G-d took to show the early church that the gospel was for the Gentiles as well as the Jews throughout the Book of Acts.
Rabbi Singer then tells us: "The Apostle Paul echoes the identical sentiment in the first chapter of the book of Romans when he declares, 'Go to the Jew first, then to the Greek (i.e. gentile).'" Perhaps Rabbi Singer is working on his own translation of the Brit Chadashah (New Testament) because this verse can not be found in the book of Romans... what we do find is:
Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
This is of course a true statement. For Y'shua, a Jew, brought his words of life to Jews FIRST, who in turn took these glad tidings to the nations. Yet, the anti-missionaries deceitful tactics are always to attempt to prove a conspiracy in order to induce contributions for their effort to protect Jews against the truth of the TRUE MESSIAH!
Soon to come: Part 2... the Tactics of the Anti-Missionary