Given the polar opinions regarding Some Messianic Jews Say Messianic Judaism is Not Christianity: A Loving Call to Unity” we thought we’d present two reviews of Stan Telchin’s new book from two of our staff members.
Stan Telchin—in his usual pastorly fashion—is responding to what he sees as unhealthy trends within the Messianic movement. In his new book, he gently lays out the problems together with biblical reflections on what it means for all believers to be “one new man.”
Beginning with a list of thought questions on pages 23-25, Telchin covers his purposes in writing before offering a history of Christian anti-Semitism as one factor that led to the rise of “Messianic Judaism.”
Telchin does not paint the entire Messianic congregational movement with one brush. I counted at least five places where he disclaims that his remarks apply to all congregations (pgs. 27, 64, 85-86, 96, 133). “I am not opposed to all Messianic congregations,” he writes on page 27, “but I am opposed to Messianic Judaism.” While one might wish that he’d more specifically defined that term, he offers plenty of descriptions.
Telchin accurately distills some trends within the Messianic movement: (1) the insistence of some that the single most important way for expressing one’s Jewish identity is to join a Messianic congregation (pp. 55-56); (2) the problem of seeking acceptance from the larger Jewish community and how that informs one’s views of identity and practice (p. 63); (3) the problem—and it is a problem, given the movement’s stated objectives—of why there are so many non-Jews in Messianic congregations and so few Jewish believers (ch. 6); (4) the loss of emphasis on reaching Jewish people with the gospel (pp. 99-100).
Telchin goes on to study biblical passages relating to “one new man” and concludes with an exhortation to beware of dividing our hearts between God and anything else.
Some have reacted with an unseemly defensiveness to this book. But if they’re one of those congregations whom Telchin says he is not addressing, why be defensive? And if they represent those to whom his remarks are addressed, why not take them under advisement and respond with equal grace? After all, the subtitle of the book is “A Loving Call to Unity.” And it’s a timely one, as well.
For more from our Jews for Jesus newsletter, see David Brickner’s article “Why I Support Messianic Congregations”.