The following is a cross-post written by Dr Calvin Smith of King’s Evangelical Divinity School:
I’ve previously posted on some of the issues contributing to diverse expressions of Messianic Judaism (MJ, also Messianic Jews), for example MJ self-identity as both Jewish and Christian, the movement’s relationship with (and role within) the wider Church, and Torah observance. I’m particularly concerned at how vociferous anti-Israel sentiment within segments of Evangelicalism further complicate Messianic Jewish self-identity as believers in Jesus, together with their relationship with the Church. It can’t be very easy to identify oneself as both a Jew and a believer in Jesus while some in the Church openly and systematically demonise Israel (flatly refusing to see both sides of the story). Furthermore, it makes it so much harder for a Messianic believer to share his or her faith with another Jew if what is being offered is inclusion within a body which is critical and polemically one-sided in the current Middle East conflict. That the Church has a long history of anti-Semitism only compounds that point.
Thus Messianic believers are increasingly alarmed by some of the extreme rhetoric emanating from within parts of the Church. There is considerable disquiet at the harm it is causing MJ-Gentile Christian relations, together with MJ efforts to evangelise the Jewish people. There is growing criticism, too, of how some MJs are dialoguing with anti-Israel Christians, for example through the forthcoming Christ at the Checkpoint. An open letter posted yesterday to Messianic leaders and congregations raises this very point. It provides some insight into how the movement is feels under siege and seeks to respond to the current anti-Israel rhetoric and activism evident within Evangelicalism.