In reaction to "the Messianic Movement", an article by Rabbi Shlomo
Riskin which appeared in the August 2010 edition of the
Jerusalem Post Christian Edition
, Jewish Israel
contacted a number of known personalities in the field of
counter-missionary work and asked them their opinion.
(For backround, see related post
"Are Messianics Missionaries?"
with Penina Taylor's reaction)
Professor Uri Yosef of the Virtual Yeshiva.com
As much as I respect Rabbi Riskin, I cannot help but feel that he
is simply unaware ofthe true goal of the messianic movement when he
“It is easy to say the Messianic community is a monolith and
they all wish to bring the Gospel to every Jew. The truth is many
just want to practice their faith in private and have no active
agenda in missionizing other Jews. However there is a minority who
use deceptive proselytizing practices to win Jewish
All one has to do is go the the web-sites of the major
organizations within the messianic movement and read their "About
Us" or "Statement of Faith" pages to realize what their main goal
Here is a quote from the "Build" section in the MJAA page "Restoration of Israel inAction"
"Never before has the Jewish population been more ready to
hear the Good News of Yeshua. The harvest is great, and the
leaders are in great need of support. The spiritual and physical
restoration of Israel needs a stable network of partners to support
the prophetic end-time work."
Similarly, in their "Statement of Faith", the Messianic Bureau International
following (emphasis is mine):
"The final plan for the Israel of G-d is to bring the remnant
of the faithful Jewish people, and the remnant of those
believers who were formerly Gentiles, but recovered from the world
by faith, back together and united into one holy people under
one Shepherd, namely Yeshua, the Messiah, thus completing the
tearing down of the wall of partition. This is a necessary part of
the restoration of all things spoken by the prophets. Hosea 1-2,
John 17, Romans 9:26, Ephesians 2, Acts 3:21."
One can find similar statements on the web-sites of the other major
organizations within the messianic movement.
Rabbi Stuart Federow of WhatJewsBelieve.org
Rabbi Riskin contradicts himself. At the beginning of his article
he states, "If a Jew believes in Jesus as divine and savior, he has
taken himself out of Judaism and is in error." However he then
states later in his article, "...there is a minority who use
deceptive proselytizing practices to win jewish converts." If these
messianics are not all using deceptive practices, why then do they
not call themselves what they are -- Christians? The reason they do
not call themselves 'Christians' is that, in opposition to what
Rabbi Pliskin stated at the beginning of his article, they wish to
appear that they have not, in fact, left Judaism. This is the basis
of their missionary technique. That technique is to make it appear
that one can, in fact, be Jewish and Christian at the same time, in
spite of what Rabbi Riskin writes, that they are "out of Judaism
and in error." It is the basis of their proselytizing technique,
and it is deceptive. Inherently, if one continues to call himself a
'messianic Jew,' then one is, by definition, using a deceptive
We Jews cannot make the same mistake that Christians make about us.
Not all Jews are alike, and not all Christians are alike either.
When the Jewish community works together with Evangelical
Christians, we know that we are working with a group of Christians
who wish to proselytize us, but who have set aside, for now, their
missionary agenda. They are open and up front with this, as one can
read on their web sites. Messianic "Jews" are not so open and
honest. They hide behind Jewish appearances like a wolf in Jewish
clothing and they explicitly do so as a fulfillment of their own
Christian scriptures, "And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I
might gain the Jews....I am made all things to all men, that I
might by all means save some." 1 Corinthians 9:20-22.
We can, and must, partner with Christians. But not all Christians
are alike, and we can and must pick and choose with which
Christians we will partner. The Christians who call themselves
"Messianic 'Jews'" only wish to be our partners to proselytize us,
and they should be shunned.
Mark Powers of Magen League
In his article in the Jerusalem Post – Christian Edition, Rabbi
Riskin attempts to explain the “Messianic” movement and what he
perceives their relationship with the Jewish Community should be.
Rabbi Riskin acknowledges that belief in Jesus as “divine and
savior” is incompatible with Judaism, and a Jew who accepts this
belief has removed themselves from Judaism and the Jewish
Community. I believe, however, that Rabbi Riskin’s assessment of
the nature of this movement is incorrect.
As American Director of MAGEN, the Counter Missionary Organization,
I have spent approximately 30 years studying this movement, and
working to counter their efforts to evangelize the Jewish
Community. While I agree with Rabbi Riskin that the “Messianic”
community is not monolithic, there are certain areas where this
movement, which is made up of over 1000 different groups, is in
agreement. They all agree that the Christian scriptures are the
Word of G-d, and they unanimously agree that the Jewish people need
to be evangelized. In this effort, the overwhelming majority of
these groups engage in what can only be “described as deceptive
It is at the very least naïve to believe that the leopard has
changed its spots after 2000 years. It is, however, irresponsible
to ignore the clear facts that have been presented in publications
like the Jerusalem Post in the past and which have not changed.
Groups such as Bridges for Peace, which presents itself as a
non-proselytizing entity, have repeatedly been caught red-handed
attempting to convert Jews. The International Christian Embassy,
Jerusalem features converted Jews at their Friday night programs in
Jerusalem and at their Festival every year at Sukkot. I would hope
that Rabbi Riskin wouldn’t consider Christian Friends of Israel,
also located in Jerusalem, as friends, because of their
proselytizing endeavors. Each of these groups will clearly indicate
that one can remain a Jew and believe in Jesus, and that it is the
most Jewish thing in the world to do so. I would hope that Rabbi
Riskin would acknowledge this as deceptive.
Religious conversations between Orthodox Jews and Evangelical
Christians are not new, contrary to what Rabbi Riskin indicates.
Christians have been forcing or attempting to force Jews into these
“conversations” for hundreds, if not thousands of years. What is
new is that Orthodox Jews are now enthusiastically engaging in
these “conversations.” In many cases, I fear that the Jewish
Community is not sufficiently educated or discerning enough to
recognize the deceptive tactics that the Evangelicals have
developed in their efforts to convert Jews, of which this is one.
Particularly when they see leaders in the Jewish Community entering
into the “partnership” with the Evangelicals that Rabbi Riskin
I am certain beyond the shadow of a doubt, that Rabbi Riskin’s
intentions are pure in his acknowledged pioneering efforts of
partnership with Evangelicals. However, I would hope that Rabbi
Riskin, and others involved in this partnership from the Jewish
perspective will neither ignore or dismiss the information on these
groups that those of us in the Counter-Missionary field can make
available to them. I also sincerely hope that some will not be
blinded or willing to ignore this clear and present danger to our
community because of the staggering sums of money that Evangelicals
are throwing around, or chose to push this threat aside because
“both our faith communities are challenged by radical Islam on the
one side and secular materialistic culture on the other.”