HOUSMAIL #HM107 -- WHO ARE THE JEWISH "ANTI-MISSIONARIES"? 18 July 2003
This article was sparked when a friend pointed me to the Web Site of a determined group of Jewish "Anti-Missionaries". Taken on face value it offered some VERY persuasive "evidence" aimed at refuting Christian claims that Jesus is the Messiah prophesied in the OT. He was concerned about the potential of its subtle arguments to destroy the faith of "baby Christians". This paper represents an initial response. God willing, I plan to cover other aspects of this subject in other HOUSMAILS in the near future.
Right up front I confess to being BIASED! Jesus said "If any man's will is to do his (God's) will, he shall know whether the teaching is from God or whether I (Jesus) am speaking on my own authority." (John 7:17) Jesus said it, and I KNOW it! The Anti-Missionaries have got it wrong!
A lifetime spent in following Jesus has convinced me beyond question, that the New Testament is a reliable record -- that Jesus is indeed the human Son of God -- that he is the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament -- that he did rise from the dead and is alive in Heaven today -- that Jesus alone can save us from the penalty and habit of sin -- and that believing his teaching, and learning to LOVE him and obey his commandments, is the NARROW WAY he calls us to walk, to prepare ourselves for immortality, and a future inheritance in the coming kingdom of God on Earth. All of that is incorporated in what the New Testament calls FAITH and GRACE.
This is not a new thing! In every generation since the first century, Jewish Rabbis have vigorously repeated for themselves, the tradition of rejection of Jesus, established by their 1st century ancestors.
In this current generation we call them "ANTI-MISSIONARIES". They are the "spiritual descendants" of the first century Jewish Leaders, who refused to recognise Jesus as their MESSIAH, rejected him, accused him of blasphemy, and delivered him to the Romans to be crucified.
They are called "anti-missionary" because of their objections to the attempts of "Christian Missionaries" who try to convert Jews from Judaism to Christianity.
THE "TARGET" OF THEIR ATTACK
It should be noted that the main target of attack by the anti-missionaries, is the "Constantinian" Trinitarian mainstream Church, founded on the Nicean and Athanasian Creeds!
REAL disciples of the REAL MESSIAH will find themselves in sympathetic agreement with MUCH of what they say about that Church!! It is the Church system (both mother and daughters) about which Jesus says, "Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues." (Revelation 18:4)
Over the centuries, their "christ" has borne little resemblance to the one described in the Gospels. They say many different things, which are often the direct opposite of what is taught by the REAL Christ. We should NOT confuse "false christs" with the REAL THING! (Matthew 24:24)
This paper is NOT a defence of THAT Church! Nor is it an encouragement to join with it in any way which conceals or denies Old Testament truth about God, or assists it to proclaim its "other gods", (Deut 13:1-5) "false christ", and "false gospel". (2 John 7-11)
This short paper cannot take either the time or the writing space which would be required to address EVERYTHING they have said in the many thousands of pages written since the 1st century. Some of the answers have already been covered in back issues of BIBLE DIGEST and HOUSMAIL. God willing, some of my future papers will concentrate specifically on some other aspects of these Jewish objections to Christianity. So for practical purposes here, it will highlight and briefly address the FOUR main issues on which they usually concentrate.
1. THE TRINITY.
This is the major point of attack by the "anti-missionaries".
In the fourth century, the Church formalised the doctrine of the Trinity, thereby creating yet another major "stumbling block" for Jewish acceptance of Jesus as the prophesied Messiah of the Old Testament.
The heart of Judaism is the SHEMA of Moses -- "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall worship the LORD your God with all your heart, and all your soul, and with all your might". (Deut 6:4) From the cradle, Jews are taught to recite these words, as an act of worship. Many religious Jews wear them inscribed on tiny pieces of vellum, in little leather boxes (phylacteries) attached to heads and wrists. When persecuted, they die with these words on their lips. There is simply NO WAY possible to reconcile Jewish belief in the ONE GOD of the Shema, with the Trinitarian God of the Mainstream Church, described in the Nicean and Athanasian Creeds. Nor for careful logical readers, is this Trinitarian God found anywhere in either the Old or New Testaments!
True Christianity is based on the worship of this same God. This is the God that Jesus addressed as His Father, and the ONLY TRUE God -- thereby declaring that he, himself, is NOT that God! And when asked, he reinforced the SHEMA as the most important of all the commandments in His Gospel of the Kingdom! (Mark 12:28-30)
There is of course, a quite numerically strong group of Messianic Jews around the world, who worship the Trinitarian God. What is less well known is that there is also a significant growing number of Messianic Jewish believers, who reject the Trinity, and remain faithful to the ONE God of their forefathers. They often come under the same fierce attack from Trinitarian Messianics, as has always been the lot of other Christians who reject the Trinity!
I have already written extensively on this subject, and don't propose to duplicate it here. God willing I will summarise some available resources in a separate HOUSMAIL, which should issue along with this one. It is entitled:
2. OLD TESTAMENT PROPHECIES
The claim of Jesus to be the Messiah, stands or falls on whether he is the one the OT prophecies refer to. In Luke 24:44-46, he pointed two of his disciples back to these to show the amazing detail in which the Old Testament predicted his identity and work. Like the Bereans in Acts 17:11, our own acceptance of Jesus as the Messiah MUST begin there, in order to lay a solid foundation for our FAITH in all the rest of his teaching.
The Jews have long recognised this, and have spent considerable effort to devise ingenious alternative "Interpretations", all aimed at disproving Christian claims that they refer to Jesus!
Let us be blunt about this! The Apostle Peter writes that it requires the same Holy Spirit to understand a prophecy, as it did to receive and write it! The starting point is to engage in a totally honest search for God -- with ALL OUR HEARTS. (Jeremiah 29:13-14)
I can't of course, enter into judgement about what is in YOUR heart -- but I can give here, my personal testimony that whilst searching for God with as much of my heart as I know how to give, I have prayerfully examined those Old Testament Prophecies, and the New Testament evidence which points to Jesus as the one who fulfills them. There I became convinced beyond all doubt that Jesus is the Messiah, and the Human Son of the Living God. (but NOT, I hasten to add, "god-the-son"!)
That means that from my perspective, these "anti-missionary" Jewish alternatives are "delusions" (Ezekiel 13:9) which come, NOT from the Holy Spirit, but from their own rebellious minds! (Ezekiel 13:2; 2 Peter 2:20-21)
I won't attempt to list all the OT messianic prophecies here. Nor will I attempt to expound on them all from a Christian perspective. It is your own responsibility to search them out, and become familiar with them, to reach your own prayerfully acquired faith that they refer to Jesus. But if any of you do have any difficulty with the "anti-missionary" versions of particular prophecies, I will be happy to address your individual questions, at some later time.
3. NEW TESTAMENT "DISCREPANCIES"
The anti-missionaries are quick to seize on alleged discrepancies, and inaccuracies, and differences, found in our English NT Translations.
At first glance this might appear to be daunting to those who are not well versed in the history of the origin of the manuscripts from which the various translations are made. We simply don't have access to the original manuscripts. Both the Hebrew and Greek texts, commonly used for modern translations are COMPOSITES made by comparing large numbers of earlier manuscripts. Not the least of the difficulties encountered is the problem of "scribal errors" which have crept into individual manuscripts, copied by hand over the centuries. Another problem is the OT version from which the New Testament writers have quoted. They haven't always used a Hebrew text. Many times they have used instead, the Septuagint version (LXX) which was in common circulation amongst Greek speaking Jews and Christians when the New Testament was written. In very much the same category, are the frequent differences between modern English translations. I have nearly 20 different translations in my possession. I refer to them all when I need clarification of the meaning of a particular verse, about which translators sometimes differ!
Again, I don't propose to list any of them here, or attempt to explain all the alleged discrepancies listed by the anti-missionaries. Suffice to say that experience says that most of them will disappear in a puff of smoke when looked at by serious Bible students. Careful study by sympathetic Bible students will ALWAYS reveal a logical reason for apparent discrepancies. They are NOT a reason for rejecting the New Testament!
And just in passing, it is worthy of note that this method of attack BACKFIRES on the Anti-missionaries! The same things can be said about the Hebrew texts of the JEWISH OLD TESTAMENT!
They point to the inescapable facts of history. There has been centuries long terrible persecution of Jews, (and other nonconformists) by the MAINSTREAM Churches.
In this of course the anti-missionaries are correct! No TRUE disciple of the REAL Jesus of the New Testament, would ever condone, or engage in persecution of anyone -- especially the Jewish people! The Bible predicts terrible consequences for any who ignore this warning. (Genesis 12:3; Isaiah 54:17)
The persecuting Church is a counterfeit! It has a "false gospel" from a "false Christ" who says DIFFERENT THINGS compared to the REAL Christ of the NT. It cannot possibly be the REAL Church of the REAL Jesus.
And the existence of persecutors who falsely call themselves Christian, is NOT a valid reason for rejecting REAL New Testament Christianity!
Mature Christians will not be surprised by the existence of the anti-missionaries.
Their major goal is to uphold JUDAISM as the true religion, by rejecting belief in Jesus as the Messiah who fulfills the Old Testament prophecies. Anyone familiar with the four Gospels knows that in this they are no different to their first century "spiritual ancestors". The same tactics were used then, and I suspect that some of these 21st century Jewish apologists just might have the same envy and fear of losing their "power base", (Matthew 27:18; John 11:48,50; 18:14) that led their forefathers to deliver Jesus to the Roman authorities for crucifixion.
Jesus told the Jewish leaders of that generation that they were afflicted with spiritual BLINDNESS and DEAFNESS from which they could only be healed by a genuine repentance! (Mark 4:10-12) And Jesus also told them that their rejection of himself, would result in them LOSING their right to inherit the Kingdom. So it came to pass with the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple, and their centuries long expulsion from the Holy Land.
And the Apostle Paul predicted that this same UNBELIEF would persist amongst Jews, (Romans 11:7-25) leaving the door open for GENTILES to accept the GOOD NEWS of the Kingdom rejected and LOST by the vast majority of Jews! (Matthew 21:43)
Old Testament and New Testament prophecies combine to tell us that the current revival of the Jewish nation, heralds other events which will assuredly lead to the restoration of the Kingdom of God, under Jesus. I can't tell you exactly when (Acts 1:7) -- but I do know that it is certain.
Of course it doesn't suit the anti-missionaries at all, to recognise that many Christians neither believe nor practice the things that they set out to discredit.
The responsibility for those of us who do worship the same Jewish ONE God of the Shema of Moses, is to ensure that the other major accusations of the Anti-missionaries are NOT true of us! We need to be able to establish from the OT prophecies, that the Holy Spirit has revealed to us that Jesus is the Son Of Man, the Messiah, and the Son of the Living God. (Matthew 16:13-18) Only so can we ourselves become part of the TRUE Church that is built on the rock firm foundation of THAT truth.
And only so can we receive the keys of the Kingdom, which will enable us to bear witness to the life transforming POWER of the Gospel of the Kingdom.
The best evidence of the truth of the Gospels, and the validity of the claims of Jesus to be the Messiah of the OT, will always be the transformed lives of his TRUE disciples, lived out in uncompromising radical obedience to his teaching -- especially the challenging requirements of the Sermon On The Mount.
"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 5:14-16)
How are they to hear and believe without a preacher? (Romans 10:14-15)