The Legitmacy of Messianic Judaism



Dan Cohn-Sherbok is a rabbi of Reform Judaism and a prolific author on religion. He is currently Professor of Jewish Theology at the University of Wales, Lampeter. Contrary to the official position of Reform Judaism, Cohn-Sherbok is sympathetic to Messianic Judaism and Secular Humanistic Judaism. Cohn-Sherbok calls for the reintegration of Messianic Jews into the Jewish community as the seventh light on the Menorah (lamp-stand) of Judaism, taking their place along with the Hasidic, Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist and Humanistic branches of Judaism. Gradually some Jewish scholars are giving serious academic attention to Messianic Judaism. Perhaps this is because the Messianic Jewish movement is growing and gaining recognition-once again-as a significant religious community that cannot be ignored, despite opposition from the Jewish religious establishment. In Messianic Judaism, Cohn-Sherbok seeks to provide "an objective account of this important development in modern Jewish life," first by tracing the development of Messianic Judaism from its origins in ancient times, then by assessing the movement’s claim to represent an authentic interpretation of the Jewish faith, and finally by describing three alternative models of viewing the relationship between Messianic Judaism and the Jewish community (p. xii).

The first model is "Orthodox exclusivism." Orthodox Judaism rejects not only Messianic Judaism, but all non-Orthodox Jewish movements in the world, since it believes there is only one legitimate form of the faith: Orthodox Judaism.

The second model is "Non-Orthodox exclusivism." Despite their own rejection by the Orthodox, all other branches of modern Judaism "are united in their rejection of Messianic Judaism as an authentic expression of the Jewish faith" (p. 208).

Third is the "pluralist model." Here the author offers "a more tolerant view of the Messianic movement," but does not mention the names of any proponents of this model. Since modern Jewry is no longer united by belief and practice, "pluralists maintain that the exclusion of Messianic Judaism from the circle of legitimate expressions of the Jewish heritage is totally inconsistent" (p. 210). In many respects, he says, "Messianic Jews are more theistically oriented and more Torah-observant even than their counterparts within the Conservative and Reform movements" (p. 212). In this model, using the image of the seven-branched menorah he says, "Messianic Judaism should be seen merely as one among many expressions of the Jewish faith, [alongside] Hasidism, Orthodox Judaism, Conservative Judaism, Reform Judaism, Reconstructionist Judaism, and Humanistic Judaism" (p. 212). Cohn-Sherbok concludes that the pluralist model, in which Messianic Judaism is included, "is the only reasonable starting point for inter-community relations [among Jews] in the twenty-first century" (p. 213).

Yeshua said the following concerning those who are Jewish and believe in Him:
Matit’yah 23:34 Therefore I am sending you prophets and sages and Torah-teachers — some of them you will kill, indeed, you will have them executed on stakes as criminals; some you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. 35 And so, on you will fall the guilt for all the innocent blood that has ever been shed on earth, from the blood of innocent Hevel to the blood of Z’kharyah Ben-Berekhyah, whom you murdered between the Temple and the altar. 36 Yes! I tell you that all this will fall on this generation! 37 "Yerushalayim! Yerushalayim! You kill the prophets! You stone those who are sent to you!

Yochanan 15:17 This is what I command you: keep loving each other! 18 "If the world hates you, understand that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, the world would have loved its own. But because you do not belong to the world — on the contrary, I have picked you out of the world — therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember what I told you, `A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you too; if they kept my word, they will keep yours too. 21 But they will do all this to you on my account, because they don’t know the One who sent me.

Special thanks to "Moshe-משיחי חסידים של הדרך" of Yahoo! Answers for compiling this information.