Question: I have heard some people accuse Jewish believers in Christ of neo-Galatianism” because you talk about celebrating the Jewish holidays. What, exactly, is neo-Galatianism, and how would you answer such a charge? And why do you Jewish believers continue to celebrate Jewish holidays anyhow?
Answer: In Paul’s letter to the Galatian Christians he told them that they were foolish because they sought to follow the Law as a path to becoming more spiritual. He taught that those who tried to follow the Law would be cursed if they didn’t continue to do all things written in the book of the law (Galatians 3:10). In short, there is no such thing as following just a little of the Law. Paul taught that it was a matter of “all or nothing at all,” and if anyone violated the Law in a single point it was as though he had completely shattered it.
Many Jewish believers in Jesus celebrate scriptural holidays and enjoy certain other Jewish traditions, even enriching them with the added knowledge and symbolism of our Messiah Yeshua. For example, besides enjoying the Jewish holidays, many of us celebrate our young people’s passage into maturity with messianic bar or bat mitzvot (see the article on page 7 of this Newsletter). In doing these things we are not rejecting God’s grace in Christ, nor are we trying to gain merit by observing the Law. Our purpose is to preserve and transmit our cultural heritage to our children.
Those who would fault Jewish believers for expressing their heritage in this way would do well to study Galatians, chapter 2. There once again the Apostle Paul provided enlightenment about celebrating certain holidays or eating or abstaining from certain foods. Paul said that some people are vegetarians, and some eat all things. Elsewhere, in Romans 14:3, he said, “Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him.” Then Paul went on to explain that one person esteems one day above another and another esteems every day alike, but each must be fully convinced in his own mind.
Under the New Covenant, we all have a Holy Spirit-governed liberty and a God-sensitized conscience, whereby one believer might choose to accept more or less of a burden to follow certain holidays or customs than another. Those observances are purely subjective and voluntary, and never to be considered ways of gaining merit with God. The Holy Spirit gives us the liberty to maintain our heritage and culture so long as the traditions and observances do not obscure the gospel and we realize that the only way of salvation is through grace, by faith in the atoning work of Yeshua.