Helsinki Press Release: Jewish Believers in Jesus

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

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6 Responses to Helsinki Press Release: Jewish Believers in Jesus

  1. This looks promising. The major question is whether one can consider one’s self a part of a group while rejecting the authority of the leaders of that group. For example, not to pick on just the Catholics, would the Catholic Jews in this group be willing to accept my claim, “I consider myself a part of the Catholic Church,” even though I reject the authority of the Magisterium, don’t particularly care for most of the Church Fathers, don’t follow Catholic traditions, etc.? Probably not.

    If we are going to call ourselves Jews and say that we consider ourselves part of the Jewish people, then shouldn’t we be prepared to accept the authority of the Jewish rabbis, keep the traditions and laws of Judaism, etc., excepting only where there is a conflict with the New Covenant Scriptures?

    The Helsinki Statement is a promising turn of events, but I really hope (as I see you do) it results in actions rather than words and changed lives rather than just more rhetoric.

    Shalom.

  2. messianicmeira says:

    I am a Jewish Messianic believer who was raised very secular. After I accepted Yeshua, I eventually decided to find a church and I spent the next 12 years in churches. I wasn’t aware of Messianic Judaism at that point. When I attended church, I did not consider myself Jewish and tried to live a very Christian life. Other Jewish people I met in churches did not talk about being Jewish at all. If you surveyed Jewish people who attend churches, I wonder how many would proclaim their Jewishness at all? I haven’t met Jewish believers in churches who identified themselves as Jews and who served as a the living bond that the above statement proclaims. The churches I attended never mentioned that Yeshua lived a Jewish life. Perhaps things have changed or are starting to change, but I haven’t seen it firsthand. I am grateful that Adonai led me back to my Jewish roots and has provided a restored Jewish life to me.

  3. messianicmeira:

    I agree that Jews in churches have in many cases felt that their Jewish identity had to be set aside. This is, unfortunately, the explicit or implicit message the church has sent to Jewish people in the church (“eat a ham sandwich now and prove you are a Christian and not a Jew”).

    What I hope for is a repair of the breach between Yeshua and his Jewish people. The breach has been created by Jews and Christians, not by Yeshua or God. I hope that there will be a turning to Torah and tradition by Jewish believers in Jesus wherever they are: in churches, in Messianic synagogues, or unaffiliated.

    Of course, being a Messianic Jewish rabbi, I believe Messianic synagogues are the best place for Jewish and intermarried families who believe in Yeshua. But it would be selfish and unkind of me not to want to see renewal amongst Jewish people in Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox churches as well as those who believe in Yeshua from afar, remaining sadly unaffiliated.

    All movement toward God is good movement, even if people make different choices than I would.

    And renewal amongst Jewish people in churches could spread if the theological idea of Jewish identity is presented by Christian and Messianic Jewish theologians. The more pastors and priests who know that Jewish people do not surrender their identity or connection to klal Yisrael when they walk in the way of Jesus, the better. What if pastors and priests start teaching their Jewish members to grow in Torah and tradition?

    And there are so many more, perhaps ten times as many, Jewish people in churches than there are in Messianic synagogues. Ten times as many is not an unrealistic, but a conservative guess.

    Derek Leman

  4. messianicmeira says:

    A repairing of the breach would be fantastic. I just don’t think most churches are condusive to Jewish life. I was accused of being a Judaizer when I was started to be drawn back to my roots. I pray for the day when what you wrote about renewal becomes reality. I’ve heard it said that reaching out to Jewish members in churches is like “plowing cement”. How do we reach people who don’t want to be reached? I was perfectly content being a “nice Christian woman” until I saw a John Hagee teaching on The Mystery of the Tallit. That started everything. Baruch HaShem!

  5. judeoxian says:

    This is fantastic. A truly historic event.

    If we want this Jewish renewal and a repair of the breach with the greater Church to last, Messianic Jews and Jewish Christians are going to have to welcome each other on each others terms. Historically, this has very difficult among Jesus believing Jews. Yet, events like this give me hope.

    Besides Shulam, were there any other Israelis there?

  6. rebyosh says:

    Judeoxian-

    I know Father David Neuhaus, was also there from Jerusalem. He is the Patriarchal Vicar General for Hebrew speaking Catholics in Israel.

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