Questions from a Christian friend #1
This week, a Christian friend of mine wrote me about their theological and practical religion questions. Below is a peek into my inbox to see how I responded.
My friend wrote: “I would like to preface this by stating that I am aware that Jews do not consider messianic jews, Jews. They consider them Christians because they believe Jesus. I also understand that the idea of Messianic Judaism is offensive to Jews.”
Thank you for writing to me. I appreciate you putting all the details in an email and I’m excited to learn with you. Your questions are good questions and from my experience, you are not alone in your journey.
Concerning your first question, you are correct. From a halachic (Jewish Law) and cultural standpoint, Orthodox Jews do not consider Christians, who proclaim Jesus as the messiah, to be legally or ethnically Jewish (unless they are born to a Jewish mother).
- What this means from a legal perspective is that these Christians do not hold any of the legal obligations and responsibility of an ethnically Jewish person.
- What this means from a cultural perspective is that these Christians do not fit into the mold of Jewish culture because they lack a shared identity. Christians do not have the same day-to-day experiences as Jews nor do they share a similar history with the group they are proclaiming to have joined. These gaps prevent a genuine connection.
- What this doesn’t mean is that Orthodox Jews dislike people who call themselves “messianic”. (we have a problem with deception, but that is for another reply)
Jews have no problem with Christians believing in Jesus. If a Christian has had an emotional experience or transformation in the Christian religion and that has caused a person to live a life more aligned with biblical values… then please consider the Jewish people (including myself) your biggest cheerleader. While the Christian religion focuses much of its theology on faith, the Jewish worldview holds behavior as the highest calling. If you would like more details on this, please let me know and I can elaborate.