A Mr Nevin of Bangor, County Down, wrote a letter to the Daily Mail urging that the term Easter is pagan and should be dropped as offensive and implicitly anti-semitic. I replied, although I don’t know whether it will be published or not. Also, since the letters are not widely available, I have set out… Read more »
Missing the Messy Messiah (aka ‘Jesus the Jew’)
One of the great tragedies of church history after the last millennia and a half or more has been the way in which the church has abandoned it’s roots in the Jewish faith. As well as leading to anti-semitism and dangerous supercessionist teachings (also known as Replacement or Fulfilment theology) and the brutal persecution of the Jews by the church and Christian societies, culminating in the Nazi Holocaust, it has corrupted the teaching and life of the church in a wide range of doctrines and applications. The violence and persecution that it has engendered have, quite understandably, intensified and solidified Jewish resistance to their own Messiah, in whose name terrible things were done to them. However, historically, it was originally much of the Jewish population that persecuted Christians, and the main reason for this was that their expectations concerning the promised Messiah were based on only some of the Old Testament prophecy about him as liberator and military conqueror, and ignored passages that told of his suffering servanthood as redeemer and sacrificial lamb. Jesus taught that the Kingdom of God would be spread like seed, or like a leaven, hidden throughout the world before it came to its full manifestation. However, we Christians do a great disservice to the Jews when we disobey, however ignorantly, the teaching of the apostle Paul in Romans, which teaches Gentile Christians how to live in such a way as the just expectations of the Jews about the Messianic kingdom are not defied, but rather as Gentiles live in such a way as is expected of us by the Jewish faith. They may have missed the Messy Messiah and his hidden, messy-for-now Kingdom, but a large part of that is because we as the church have messed with the Messiah’s recipe for kingdom living as his disciples. This section is for articles that present the Messiahship of the New Testament to the Jews, and that present the Jewish Jesus to the church.
Quite rightly, there has been a surge in attempts to reconnect with the Jewish origins of the faith, including the Messianic Jewish movement(s) and the so-called ‘Hebrew Roots’ movement. In general I applaud this, but I do have a controversial caveat, as a theologian involved to some extent in the Messianic movement. A significant part of this movement has gone too far, and is based on historically false or dubious arguments. In an attempt to cleanse the Christian faith of perceived pagan elements, sometimes they slander the early church fathers and condemn what should not be condemned, for instance claiming falsely that the celebration of Easter and Christmas is pagan and sinful idolatry. I will also aim to correct some of these excesses and bring balance and historical accuracy to assessing the evidence of early church history and so on.
Ultimately, what is at stake is God’s integrity as a covenant keeping God, and this has several significant current applications and consequences, including how we view the state of Israel (and the church’s proper relationship to Israel and the Jews).