The Judaizer Debate Continued

When JOY! decided to publish an article on modern day Judaizers we anticipated response to some extent from believers across the spectrum. We received several letters and calls from pastors who thanked us for tackling such a tough topic. We received calls and letters from Messianic Jewish leaders and congregations who were concerned our article was aimed at them.

We also received emails from Gentile believers practising Jewish customs, who were hurt or offended at the article and wanted a retraction. Though we did not receive an overwhelming reaction (considering we have over 140 000 readers every month), we decided to address the concerns and to clarify a few points that may have been misconveyed or misunderstood.

Dealing with a difficult issue
Let me begin by apologising to any readers who were hurt by the article. Our intention at JOY! Magazine is educate and equip the Body of Christ so as to fulfil the Great Commission and extend God’s Kingdom on earth. We are not here to attack other believers or to hurt our readers. That said, we must emphasise that JOY! Magazine has a prophetic role within the five-fold ministry (Eph 4) and thus is a voice of teaching, correction, exhortation and rebuke.

The role of JOY! Magazine
Therefore many who at times are hurt or offended by our articles (and deem us judgemental) have failed to recognise our role within the five-fold ministry. Yes, all Christians are called to love and encourage each other. But specifically within ministry, the Prophet is there to call people back to righteousness and justice.

Once readers recognise this calling, they will receive the articles of JOY! with understanding and in context.  It is important to remind readers that JOY! as a magazine publication, is not here to teach doctrine or to offer an exclusive perspective on a topic or issue. As a magazine, it is our role to address relevant issues and to present a viewpoint (or at times several viewpoints) and to hopefully stimulate healthy debate and Biblical introspection on behalf of readers. JOY! is a platform, not a person. It is not the sum of one person’s beliefs. I have to mention this because sometimes (and especially in this instance) readers have responded in a personal and rather hateful manner, which is unfortunate.

Sadly, some readers have launched personal attacks on the author of the Judaizer’s article and have even questioned his salvation! This is unnecessary and ignorant behaviour. Several readers accused JOY! of anti-Semitic sentiments. Yet, (ironically) in the same letter admitted that they have never read the magazine prior or do not subscribe to it regularly. Their accusations are hence illogical and out of context, for anyone who regularly reads the magazine will confirm that JOY! supports Israel and has a healthy Scriptural perspective on that nation and its role within Biblical history and eschatology. JOY! also celebrates our Messianic brothers and sisters and regularly supports the work of these vital ministries through articles, etc. Why then did we publish this article? What was our motivation for touching a tender nerve?

In search of understanding
After much prayer, JOY! decided to address the actions of certain groups of Gentile (ie: non-Jewish) believers who cause division within the Church by drawing young or vulnerable Christians away from Sunday fellowship and into their private house church settings. Now, many of these Gentiles are sincere in their desire to know the Lord more intimately in the context of Jewish custom and O.T.. teaching. Many have left the Christian church because they see a lack of reverence around the Old Testament and the Lord’s Feasts. Many have enjoyed a richer and deeper relationship with God because of their focus on the Jewish heritage we have. And JOY! has no issue with this. In fact we regularly run articles that take us back to Old Testament truths and cultural contexts, that serve to deepen a New Testament understanding.

The Scriptural perspective
What we are concerned about though, is the lack of dialogue and community between members of the ‘Hebrew Roots’ movement and members of the modern Christian church. Some congregations have literally been ripped apart because various members took issue with the Name of Jesus being used, and worship taking place on a Sunday.

Whatever the Scriptural truth may be (which many of the letters have eloquently stated their case for the Sabbath and the Lord’s Name as Yeshua etc), we as brothers and sisters in Christ need to seek common ground and vision – which should be to fulfil the Great Commission and point others to a meaningful relationship with Jesus Christ, our Messiah.

Let us live in peace with all men
To all the Christians who ignore or ostracise members of the ‘Hebrew Roots’ movement, we ask that you would engage in discussion and consider their perspective on Biblical truths. To pastors, we ask that you would study out the richness of the Old Testament truths and feasts, and perhaps incorporate them into your services. To the ‘Hebrew Roots’ members, we ask that you would refrain from judging all who do not conform to your customs, and seek dialogue and friendly relations with Christian believers. And to the Messianic Jews and those reaching out to Jews in Israel, we encourage you to continue in your calling and to network with other believers that we may support you.

If you choose to worship God on a Saturday and call Jesus Yeshua, that is fine and forms a rich part of your relationship with the Lord. But please do not attack those who do not do the same, and do not split churches over these issues. To those form part of the modern church and focus on the New Testament teaching, unite and agree on this: “Fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith… Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy…” Hebrews 12:2b;14