Messianic Judaism — The Present
Messianic Judaism has reached a new crossroads as a generational shift is taking place. For Messianic Judaism to subsist and thrive in the new generation, we must transition and grow in substantial ways.
There are dramatic differences between the older and newer generations in the Messianic Jewish community. Most in the older generation made a conscious choice to embrace Messianic Judaism and to depart in some manner from the views that they held before, whether that was from traditional non-Messianic Judaism, from life as a secular Jew, or from assimilation into Christianity.
Messianic Judaism is a difficult path, and children who were raised within it may not share the personality traits and experiences that led their parents to choose it. As such, the next generation of Messianic Jews might look elsewhere for spiritual fulfillment. They may give up on faith in Yeshua and be absorbed into other Jewish communities. They may cease to appreciate the uniqueness of the Jewish people and way of life and assimilate into Christianity. They may seek spiritual fulfillment in completely different religions. But the most looming threat is secularism: atheism, agnosticism, or simple apathy about God.
Simple apologetics targeting each group will not suffice to reduce attrition or to encourage healthy growth. Rather, we must focus on improving our Messianic Jewish communities and cultivating a strong and mature form of Messianic Judaism.
Messianic Judaism must develop a clear, crystallized perspective on who we are as a movement. We must understand and define the role that each should play as Jews and Gentiles who embrace Messianic Judaism.
Our Jewish children must be exposed to and identify with Jewish culture and life and traditions. The children of Messianic Gentiles must be shown concrete examples of appropriate ways to lead their lives in a healthy, respectful, balanced manner as a part of a Messianic Jewish community.
The Messianic Jewish community should strive for authenticity. It should be clear to us and to others that we are not just making things up or wearing costumes. Rather, we are a part of something greater and are practicing true, biblical faith.
This means that we must seek full, well-rounded literacy in Jewish belief, practice, and history and put that knowledge into action. We must learn to use symbols and ceremonial items only in their proper context and manner. We must exude both humility and confidence.
One major function of a spiritual community is the stability and consistency that it adds to a person’s life. To be successful we must hold on to things that are permanent and enduring; we must not be enticed by the distractions of constantly shifting modern trends and values.
In our fractured movement, there is little continuity from one Messianic synagogue to another. The only things we hold in common are those features we have embraced from traditional Judaism. This implies that the more we engage in traditional Jewish expression, the more unity and stability we will achieve.
Ethics and Morality
New generations are increasingly sensitive to hypocrisy. This shows that Messianic Judaism must place a huge emphasis on morality and moral clarity. Our ethics must be genuine, introspective, and result in being kind to others.
The Jewish teachings of mussar (ethics and discipline) dovetail beautifully with the teachings of Yeshua. We should seek to be masters of mussar both in theory and practice.
Many religious systems are founded on the basis of limiting or controlling access to information. Such control is simply not possible anymore because information is immediately accessible to everyone.
This new climate has the potential to help us greatly, since people seeking truth will naturally be drawn to us. For example, both Christianity and Judaism must face up to the increasingly recognized fact that Jesus was a dedicated Jew.
As people of faith, there are areas where we have no choice but to take God at his word. Nonetheless, to survive in this world Messianic Judaism must possess the willingness to ask and engage with questions and to incorporate new information.
Theological and philosophical issues are important, but spiritual decisions are more often based on social factors. In the Jewish community, homes—not synagogues—form the core of religious life.
Our Messianic Synagogues must not simply be “church on Saturday”; they must be a natural outgrowth of a thriving Jewish community that meets one another’s needs for positive, supportive, encouraging, and friendly social interaction.
The Jewish principle of hiddur mitzvah means that we seek to carry out our observances in the most beautiful way possible. Not only does this practice show respect and honor to God, but it also creates an association between beauty and holiness, engendering affection for holy things. People naturally connect beauty with truth.
The rituals, resources, services, and sanctuaries of Messianic Judaism should not function at only a minimal level; they must be beautiful and prompt a sense of wonder and awe. This will create memories that touch people on spiritual, emotional, and aesthetic levels.
We must possess a clearly articulated sense of purpose that explains why Messianic Judaism is not made obsolete by either Christianity or Judaism. Messianic Judaism must be able to articulate in Jewish terms what our goal is and why devotion to Yeshua is essential in achieving that goal.
Messianic Judaism is not simply a Christian missionary effort to Jews. It is a prophetic restoration of something lost by both Christianity and Judaism; it is a step toward tikkun olam and the ultimate redemption.
Resources for Maturing Messianic Judaism
Vine of David exists to provide the Messianic Jewish community with the practical and educational resources needed to cultivate all of these attributes. We provide materials that reinforce Jewish identity and clarify and affirm identity for Messianic Gentiles. Our resources draw from the wealth of Jewish tradition over thousands of years in light of the most modern scholarship and research. We do all of this at the highest aesthetic standards in order to bring honor and respect to our Master and his entire body of disciples.
Vine of David helps the Messianic Jewish community in the following ways:
- Resources such as books, periodicals, online content, and articles
- Seminars, workshops, conferences, and lectures
- Practical aid for Messianic synagogues and other organizations such as donating materials, staff time, or assisting with production their own resources
Vine of David is committed to today’s Messianic Jewish community. We are eager to see it grow, mature, and fulfill its prophetic destiny.
Partner with Us
Vine of David produces legacy literature and educational resources that bring honor to Messianic Judaism, urging our movement forward to a new level of Jewish connectedness.Support the Vision
Christians know the Messiah by many names, such as Immanuel, Lamb of God, and Prince of Peace. In our Jewish tradition, the Messiah is called by many other vivid and fascinating names. →
Passover is the season of our redemption, and it is ripe with Messianic imagery. The most well-known Passover custom is the seder that we observe on the first night. But there is also another lesser-known festival. →