From the Editor

This issue of Kesher explores the place of the Messianic Jewish Movement in relationship to Judaism and Christianity. Undoubtedly, Messianic congregations are deeply connected on many levels to these reli­gious worlds.

In the feature article, "Competing Trends In Messianic Judaism: The Debate Over Evangelicalism," Gabriela Reason highlights both com­monalities and dissimilarities within the Messianic Movement. Reason traces the history and character of the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America (MJAA) and the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations (UMJC) against the backdrop of Evangelical Christianity. Even though there are limitations to Reason's work and she occasionally highlights views that are not main­stream, the quality and depth of her research advances the conversation.

Protestant Evangelicalism, an influential force in the formation of the Messianic Movement, remains a part of the Movement today. At the same time, there are numerous points of tension between modern Jewish Messianism and contemporary Evangelicalism. Two tendencies for dealing with this discontinuity co-exist within the Messianic Movement:

  1. Continued adherence to the ethos and culture of Evangelicalism including a reticence to develop indigenous, local Messianic Jewish theologies. Evangelical theology is upheld and Jewish life consistent with Evangelical values is embraced.
  2. Critical engagement with Evangelicalism that appreciates its ongoing con­tribution. Value is placed on a broader spectrum of Christian traditions, while mainstream Jewish practice, theology, and spirituality is integrated in far-reaching ways.

Although Reason tends to focus on the differences within two major branches of the Messianic Movement, both branches are developing in the same direction. The commonalities in theology and practice are also sig­nificant. In fact, the same belief within the MJAA and UMJC concerning the person and work of Messiah is one of the greatest expressions of unity.

The MJAA states: We believe in Messiah Yeshua's deity (Isaiah 9:6, John 1:1,4), His virgin birth (Isaiah 7:14), His sinless life, His atoning death (Isaiah 53, Psalm 22), His bodily resurrection, His ascension, and His future return in power and glory.

The Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations holds that the One God, the God of creation, the God of Israel, the God of our ancestors, of Whom our tradition speaks, reveals Himself uniquely, definitively, and decisively in the life, death, resurrection, and return of Yeshua the Messiah.

Yeshua is the incarnation of the Divine Word through Whom the world was made, and of the Divine Glory through Whom God revealed Himself to Israel and acted in their midst. He is the living Torah, expressing per­fectly in His example and teaching the Divine purpose for human life. Yeshua is completely human and completely divine.

[Affirmed by the UMJC in 2003]

 

The shared theological tradition of the MJAA and UMJC provides common ground for dialogue, cooperation, and service.

As stated in a previous Kesher editorial, "our journal functions as a forum for such discussions, recognizing that it is vital to periodically explore our identity as a Messianic Jewish community. Although a diversi­ty of voices express Messianic Jewish identity, our story is still developing and continues to reveal who we are (or will be). As a pluriform movement that values and recognizes a concert of traditions, the Messianic Movement is seeking a shared vision and common trajectory."

A Commentary on Defining Messianic Judaism by Russ Resnik furthers our journey of understanding into individual and communal identity. On the back cover of Kesher is the Defining Messianic Judaism statement (approved at the 2002 Delegates Meeting of the UMJC).

The final contribution is a review by Stuart Dauermann of Communicating God's Word in a Complex World: God's Truth or Hocus Pocus? by Daniel Shaw and Charles Van Engen. This work demonstrates how Scripture is deeply embedded in culture and every re-communication of Scripture infuses the Message with culture. As a result of the inextricable linkage of language, culture and community, each community must trans­late the Message passed on to them. As Dauermann highlights, the natural progression of the Messianic Movement is to translate its tradition to Jewish enculturated forms and to continue "developing its own theology."

Consider offering a tax-deductible donation to Kesher this year. The costs are significant to publish Kesher. There is also so much more we would like to do, such as increase the web presence of Kesher and further its influence in Jewish, Christian and academic communities internation­ally. If you, your congregation, or educational institution do not have a subscription or have not renewed, we anticipate hearing from you.

Andrew Sparks  Editor-in-Chief  Kesher
Andrew Sparks (M.DIV., Westminster Theological Seminary, S.T.M., Yale University) leads Congregation Avodat Yisrael of Philadelphia, PA, serves as Executive Director of Messiah Now and is Editor-in-Chief of Kesher.
 
MJTI School of Jewish Studies
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