By Marshall Beeber
March 21, 2021
Early this March Rob Holding of the
“Know My Faith
” Christian podcast ministry of New Zealand
recorded me in an
hour-long interview session
During the interview he asked me a provocative
question that prompted me to write this article.
The question he asked was “Did Gentiles hijack the
Messianic Jewish Movement?”.
him “yes and no!”
While the topic is
still fresh in my mind I think it appropriate to give a
thorough explanation to my answer.
Before explaining I also think it
necessary to provide a short history of my life as a
Messianic Jew. In 1973 I accepted Yeshua
(Jesus) as Messiah while in the Navy, stationed in
Philadelphia. I attended both Messianic
Jewish congregations and Hebrew Christian fellowships as
well as numerous Christian churches as a bachelor and family
man. In 1998 I created an internet
Messianic poetry ministry that eventually expanded to become
Messianic Literary Corner, providing grace-oriented
teaching, basic prophesy studies, scientific and
archaeological apologetics and poetry.
Early on as a believer I noticed a
divergence in Messianic Jewish teachings towards Torah
observance that also refrained from teaching and preaching
the gospel of grace so prominently taught in churches and
Hebrew Christian ministries. I later saw
the emergence of Gentile groups that splintered off from
Messianic Jewish congregations to create movements of their
own. In an attempt to retain many
Messianic Gentile members who financially supported their
congregations they encouraged Gentile membership.
The problem with many new Messianic Gentiles was that
they were mostly indoctrinated into “Sacred Name” and
“Hebrew Roots” teachings from heretical teachers before they
joined Messianic Jewish congregations.
Their influence on Messianic Jewish congregations changed
the culture of the Messianic Jewish Movement to such an extent
that many congregations today are over 90% Torah observant
Gentiles. By the end of the 1990s, a
doctrinal dispute arose at many Messianic Jewish
congregations with numerous Messianic Gentiles leaving to
form Hebrew Roots groups completely denying the “gracious
freedom” of the New Covenant.
departure of many Hebrew Roots movement members from
Messianic Jewish congregations these Gentile believers stole
the term “Messianic” which previously was a term used only
for Messianic Jews and created a parallel “Messianic
Gentile” movement whose doctrine was essentially Hebrew
Roots teachings espousing a loose form of Torah
observance. This “Messianic Gentile”
movement also stole Christian biblical terms , redefining
them to suit their own false theology. So
when one uses the term “Messianic’ today, it seldom refers to
“Messianic Jews” , but rather to Gentile "Hebrew Roots"
To make matters worse quite a few of these Messianic Gentile
congregations were accepted back into Messianic Jewish
umbrella organizations without being screened for
The question “Did Gentiles hijack
the Messianic Jewish Movement?”, would therefore have to be
answered as a “Qualified YES”.
But there is also an aspect of culpability among
Messianic Jewish leaders that would lead one to say “NO, not
entirely!”. My answer of "No" is not so much accusative but rather an effort to save what is left
of the Messianic Jewish Movement and help transform it into a
movement empowered by the Holy Spirit.
The answer of "No" then leads one
to question: “Is the Messianic Jewish Movement” biblical in
most aspects? The most glaring contradiction in
Messianic Jewish theology is their loose interpretation of a
verse in the New Testament book of Ephesians chapter 2,
verse 15. Ephesians 2:15 states: by
setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and
regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new
humanity out of the two, thus making peace.
According to Paul, the purpose of Yeshua’s atonement was to
create “One New Man” out of the two. But the “One New
Man” only can exist in gracious freedom , rather than Torah
observance. By Messianic Jewish congregations
incorporating Torah observance among both Jews and Gentiles
the predominant culture incorrectly espoused a "One New Man"
theology united in Torah observance rather than gracious
freedom. Any consideration of foregoing Torah
observance in worship and daily practice was rejected by
many Messianic Jewish leaders. In doing so, Messianic Jewish
congregations actually became “incubators” for future
“Messianic Gentile” and “Hebrew Roots” cults. It was
just a matter of time for a Gentile rebellion to take place,
and it did so in the 1990s. One may look at the recent
history of the Messianic
Jewish Movement that began in the 1970s as a grand
experiment that was not likely to succeed because it's
leaders did not seriously consider the warnings in New
Covenant doctrine. Thus with the influx of Gentiles and
erroneous doctrine an inevitable Gentile rebellion occurred.
This rebellion should never have occurred if the Messianic Jewish
Movement did not embrace Torah observance , adorning
themselves with liturgical garb and renaming their leaders
rabbis. Instead, they may have embraced a basic “One New
Man” worship format devoid of rabbinic liturgy, and stressing
“gracious freedom” rather than encouraging Torah observance.
If that would have taken place the movement may have been
turned around twenty years ago, but it probably would not
have been called the "Messianic Jewish Movement", but rather
a type of “One New Man” movement. Today though adopting a
"One New Man" (ONM) movement and calling it so, would be
difficult since most believers would find it hard to
differentiate a "grace oriented" ONM movement from a "Torah
observant" ONM movement since the ONM term was already
hijacked and redefined by the Hebrew Roots Movement. So one would have to use a different term other
than “One New Man” to establish itself as a movement.
Another very disturbing trend is Torah observant
Messianic Gentile congregations being established
internationally by well meaning but heretical Torah
observant Messianic Jews. These Torah observant
Gentile congregations appear to be most popular in third world countries.
Their theology is based on erroneous doctrine asserting a
Torah observant revival of belief among Gentiles must occur
before the "Second Coming of the Lord".
Lastly, there is also an
incorrect mindset that exists in Messianic Jewish
congregations that assumes most Messianic Jews are attracted
to a rabbinic form of worship and observance. To a
large majority of believing Jews that may not be not the
case. Many Messianic Jews would be happy worshipping in a
congregation that retained some Jewish culture, like music
and holiday celebration but also incorporate New Testament
grace teachings and Gentile Christian music and holiday
celebrations (Christmas, Easter, etc.). In the
USA many Jewish believers are children of mixed Jewish and Gentile
families. Most Messianic Jewish leaders need to be
informed in how their Jewish members perceive a less
rabbinic form of worship and daily practice. Such a
change may assist in attracting new Jewish members and will
also be helpful in reeducating Gentile believers in what a
true "One New Man" congregation is all about. It may
cause a departure of Gentiles indoctrinated in Hebrew Roots
error, but it may be all for the better to create a unified
body of believers holding to "gracious freedom".
In summary, the answer to the
question “Did Gentiles hijack the Messianic Jewish Movement”
may help us all find a better way to understand and correct
the mistakes of the past.
Commentaries On Legalism In the MJM & Hebrew Roots Movement
The Messianic Movement & It's Perpetual Identity Crisis (Rev. Dr. Alan Poyner-Levison, Beit Shalom Ministries, UK)
The Law of Moses and the Law of Messiah (Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum, Ariel Ministries, USA)
The Jewish Roots Movement: Flowers and Thorns(Jews for Jesus Article by Stephen Katz)
About Torah Observance - by Rich Robinson, Jews for Jesus
Grace Oriented Messianic Jewish & Hebrew Christian