Rabbi Jonathan Kendall: Messianic Jews not Jews at all

TCPalm.com/November 22, 2003
By Rabbi Jonathan Kendall

"Jews for Jesus" is coming to Palm Beach County in December to launch a major campaign to bring the Jewish community to its senses and to Jesus.

There are many such "Messianic" Jewish groups floating around, but they all have essentially the same agenda: To "complete" Jews by ensuring that we accept Jesus as the messiah.

I know that the Christian world is divided over these attempts to convert Jews through this strange vehicle of erecting synagogues in which "Jews and Gentiles worship together, proclaiming the sovereignty of Yeshua ... (Yeshua is the name that messianic congregations give to Jesus). What really is created is not a synagogue at all; it is an evangelical church masquerading as a synagogue.

We understand the impulse to convert us; it is there in Christian Scripture for all to read. However, this particular movement is beneath the dignity of the Christian community. Its entire premise is one of deception and predation - and it is insulting not only to Jews, but also to Christians.

Imagine the hew and cry if I were to rent a storefront and call it the "First Evangelical Baptist Church."

It would have all the trappings of the Baptist faith, all the hymns, liturgy and symbolism. It would have a "pastor" who claimed the mantle of authenticity.

The only difference would be that the underlying and unrelenting message from the pulpit, and a good part of the membership, would deny Jesus' divinity; subvert the idea that his life was surrendered for the sins of believers; proclaim that the "eternal life" offered by Christianity was a fraud; and assert that the Christian faith was incomplete and somehow bogus.

This "church" would target children, teenagers and residents of retirement and nursing homes - the most vulnerable and susceptible to the attention and seductions there offered.

Thunder and lightning from every Baptist and evangelical pulpit would be the response - and they'd be quite appropriate.

The "First Evangelical Baptist Church" would be a sham.

And more than a few pastors would ask who I was to set the standards for what constitutes a Baptist or evangelical church. Those boundaries must be left to Baptists and evangelicals - and, again, they'd be right.

Someone asked "To what would 'Jews-for-Jesus' be compared?"

Our answer: It's a lot like "Vegetarians for Meat."

The Christian world is constantly embroiled in the debate over what constitutes a "Christian."

The Jewish world - just as fragmented as Christianity on many subjects - on this question answers with one voice: We know that a "Jew-for-Jesus" is not a Jew and a "messianic synagogue" is not a synagogue.

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