Jewish believers in Jesus is a broader category than Messianic Jews. The former category includes all Jewish people in churches, in Messianic Jewish synagogues, and even unaffiliated who profess faith in and allegiance to Jesus.
Throughout history since the time of Yeshua, there have not failed to be Jewish believers in Jesus. What is new about Messianic Judaism is not the idea of Jewish people turning in faith to the Messiah of Israel, but to do so as even more than self-identifying Jews, but as participants in Judaism, recognizing that in coming to faith in Yeshua, it is not necessary to leave Judaism and join another religion called Christianity. The ultimate arc of Messianic Judaism is faithfulness to Torah and connectedness to Jewish tradition, which is where, at last, many of us have been arriving during the past decade.
But there are far more Jewish believers in Jesus (the broader category) than Messianic Jews (the narrower category). In fact, to compare the numbers (theoretically, since no one has actual numbers) is to realize Messianic Judaism is not merely outnumbered, but dwarfed by the swell of Jewish believers in Jesus.
Helsinki Consultation on Jewish Continuity in the Body of Messiah
MJTI’s president, Mark Kinzer, is in Helsinki now with David Rudolph, an assistant professor of Bible and theology at MJTI and a group of fifteen scholars from a variety of denominations: Lutheran, Catholic, Orthodox, Messianic Jewish, and more.
This body of scholars has issued a press release. The full text will be posted later today on www.mjti.com.
They deliberated for several days and settled on a few points of agreement. I will summarize some points here in my own words and then quote a bit of the press release. The purpose of my summary is to highlight some meaningful resolutions from this diverse group of Jewish believers in Jesus:
–They do not believe their Jewish identity is something forfeited by means of turning in faith to Jesus (Yeshua).
–They do not believe that their Jewish identity is something forfeited by means of membership in Christian denominations (for the ones who have joined with Christian denominations).
–They do believe their Jewish identity serves a purpose in the healing of humanity in Messiah (Christ) as the divide between Israel and the nations (Jews and Gentiles) is to be healed in the work of Messiah.
–They do believe that as Jews, not having surrendered their identities either through joining Christian denominations or in forming Messianic Jewish synagogues, there is a “distinctive” calling for Jewish believers in Jesus in terms of lifestyle.
They did not say that observance of Torah and tradition was exactly what they meant by this “distinctive” calling. I can only hope that this is the trajectory they are considering.
The papers delivered at the conference will be published in November/December in Kesher: A Journal of Messianic Judaism (www.kesherjournal.com).
Excerpts from the Press Release
The full press release will be posted later today on www.mjti.com. For now, here are a few excerpts as well as a complete list of participants:
The first ecumenical conference of Jewish believers in Jesus in modern times met in Helsinki, Finland June 14-15, 2010 to affirm their Jewish identity, their faith in Jesus and their desire for unity.
Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant and Messianic scholars