Matt's blog

The story of me, an American in Edinburgh, Scotland finding my place as a musician, a husband, a father and a Christian.

God in Broken Churches

Where else can God be? When Jesus walked on earth, he hung out with the sick and the sinners. The Holy Spirit does the same now in our churches. The topic of imperfect churches has come up recently, and it brought to mind a recent experience. I don't know if it's really relevant, but I'll share it anyway.

A friend of mine is Christian and his wife is Jewish. They have two kids who have been raised in the church and have come to have a remarkable understanding of the connectivity of Judaism and Christianity at an early age. My friend's wife was disappointed that the kids where not getting more Jewish influence, so they started attending a messianic synagogue. Messianic Jews are Jewish people who retain their Jewish identity while accepting Yeshua (Jesus) as Messiah(Christ) as well as Gentiles who are sympathetic to the Jewish people and love Jewish culture. My wife Jeni is a believer in Christ who comes from a Jewish background, so we decided to try attending. We attended a messianic synagogue down in LA for a while and then found one up here in Spokane. Messianic Judaism is a cool movement, but it has some aspects that I don't agree with. (Just a disclaimer, Messianic Judaism is a young movement and doctrinal issues vary from congregation to congregation and from year to year. After being in Spokane for a year, I visited the synagogue back in LA and the liturgy had almost completely changed.) Some synagogues give ethnic Jews a higher status spiritually and in leadership than they give to gentiles. Many Messianic Jews are very Zionistic, and a large point of the movement is to support the political state of Israel. Another idea driving Messianic Judaism is to unite the remnant of the Jewish people under Yeshua, at which point the second coming will occur. Jeni and I were told at one point that we needed to belong to a Messianic synagogue because no one with Jewish blood will ever truly 'belong' in a Gentile church and needed to be a part of the Messianic movement.

But this also happened:

One Saturday morning we went to the shabbat service and before the service the rabbi stood in front of the congregation with two members who had started sleeping with each other and where not married. We postponed the start of the service for about an hour to pray for and offer support for these two people.

Is this a broken church (using "church" to mean a gathered group of believers)? In my opinion, yes, but that is just my opinion and doesn't mean a thing, except that I don't choose to worship there. God is working in that church, despite its shortcomings, just like He's working in broken churches all over the world.

2 Responses to “God in Broken Churches”

  1. # Anonymous Anonymous

    I just stumbled across this article by accident and doubt I’ll be back to this blog again, but I had to comment before I go.

    I am a Jew that believes in his Messiah. After reading your post I can only come to one conclusion; that you have missed the point of the Messianic movement. I am glad that you are honest about your comments only being your opinion and maybe what I write here (if you ever see this) will help your understanding in the future.

    Jews that believed in Yeshua have been around since He walked among us. Anti-Semitism of early church fathers pushed them away (I will put some quotes below to show what I mean) and by the time the “church” was born under Constantine, Messianic believers were becoming less and less, but a remnant has always been. In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s the movement was growing strong in Europe and then tragedy struck... some say 90 percent of them died in the Holocaust. The movement today seems new, but it is not. I can’t say if the Shul you attended is good or bad, but in Canada the Shul’s don’t change their liturgy with the passing of time. All liturgy should come from a Siddur which is rooted in the scipture of the Tanach. One Messianic Shul may have different views from another, but try going into a Baptist church, then a Pentecostal one, then a Vineyard one, then a Gospel Hall, and then a Catholic church and you may have a hard time believing it is the same religion... especially when one bunch says that the other bunch is going to Hell or vise versa. Messianic’s are much more united than these sad folk.

    The Messianic faith is based on this; Yeshua taught the Torah. He said that the Torah wasn’t changed by His coming and that we are to obey it and teach it just like Him. He corrected the man made rules that “Second Temple Judaism” was teaching the people at that time. Christians wear shirts that say “wwjd”, but the answer is simple. He was Torah observant and a Jew. Now the church and it’s complete misunderstanding of Paul’s teachings about grace have become the new man made rules. Jew and Gentile both can live a Torah observant life that is far more productive and Yeshua’s grace helps us when we fail. Abuse of grace is to not even try to observe the Torah.

    This is what messianic is suppose to look like. The actual commands of Yeshua being obeyed.

    Before I list the quotes I spoke of, let me challenge you to read Nehemiah Gordon’s book “The Hebrew Yeshua vs. the Greek Jesus”. It is a real eye opener about the real words Yeshua spoke. Please check it out. I could quote a lot of scripture right now, but like I set, I had only come across this blog by accident and my time is short right now. I will give you a website or two if you are interested.

    The quotes are in this article I wrote...

    Anti-Semitism in the Early Church

    I have been amazed at my findings of anti-Semitism among early Church fathers who far predated Constantine. Also I was very disappointed to find that the actual canonization of the books of the New Testament took place after Constantine "took over Christianity" in 313. Thus we now can clearly see that the people who chose what we today call the "New Testament" were possibly influenced and some definitly hand picked by Constantine. I'll be honest... that is a very disturbing thing to find out.

    Here are some quotes from Constantine (272 -337) for us to get a picture of his anti-Semitic thinking.

    "... it appeared an unworthy thing that in the celebration of this most holy feast we should follow the practice of the Jews, who have impiously defiled their hands with enormous sin, and are, therefore, deservedly afflicted with blindness of soul. ... Let us then have nothing in common with the detestable Jewish crowd; for we have received from our Saviour a different way."

    "It was, in the first place, declared improper to follow the custom of the Jews in the celebration of this holy festival, because, their hands having been stained with crime, the minds of these wretched men are necessarily blinded. ... Let us, then, have nothing in common with the Jews, who are our adversaries. ... Let us ... studiously avoiding all contact with that evil way. ... For how can they entertain right views on any point who, after having compassed the death of the Lord, being out of their minds, are guided not by sound reason, but by an unrestrained passion, wherever their innate madness carries them. ... lest your pure minds should appear to share in the customs of a people so utterly depraved. ... Therefore, this irregularity must be corrected, in order that we may no more have any thing in common with those parricides and the murderers of our Lord . ... no single point in common with the perjury of the Jews."

    Now we can look at some of the anti-Semetic things that the Early Church fathers had to say. Although I don't believe this represents all the Early Church fathers, it still shows that powerful and influential Gentile believers were pushing the Jews and everything Jewish out of Christianity. Look at the time period that some of these Early Church fathers lived and you will see that it matches up with the dates of the earliest "Greek copies" we have of any of the writings of the New Covenent. Don't even get me started on the problems the translations had... and still have!

    Ignatius Bishop of Antioch (98-117) – Epistle to the Magnesians

    "For if we are still practicing Judaism, we admit that we have not received God's favor…it is wrong to talk about Jesus Christ and live like Jews. For Christianity did not believe in Judaism, but Judaism in Christianity."

    Epistle of Barnabas Chapter 4:6-7 (between 130 & 138)

    "Take heed to yourselves and be not like some piling up you sins and saying that the covenant is theirs as well as ours. It is ours, but they lost it completely just after Moses received it."

    Justin Martyr - Dialogue with Trypho (Between 138 & 161)

    "We too, would observe your circumcision of the flesh, your Sabbath days, and in a word, all you festivals, if we were not aware of the reason why they were imposed upon you, namely, because of your sins and the hardness of heart.
    The custom of circumcising the flesh, handed down from Abraham, was given to you as a distinguishing mark, to set you off from other nations and from us Christians. The purpose of this was that you and only you might suffer the afflictions that are now justly yours; that only your land be desolated, and you cities ruined by fire, that the fruits of you land be eaten by strangers before your very eyes; that not one of you be permitted to enter your city of Jerusalem. Your circumcision of the flesh is the only mark by which you can certainly be distinguished from other men…as I stated before it was by reason of your sins and the sins of your fathers that, among other precepts, God imposed upon you the observence of the sabbath as a mark."

    Origen of Alexandria (185-254) – A ecclesiastical writer and teacher who contributed to the early formation of Christian doctrines.

    "We may thus assert in utter confidence that the Jews will not return to their earlier situation, for they have committed the most abominable of crimes, in forming this conspiracy against the Savior of the human race…hence the city where Jesus suffered was necessarily destroyed, the Jewish nation was driven from its country, and another people was called by God to the blessed election."

    John Chrysostom (344-407) – One of the "greatest" of church fathers; known as "The Golden Mouthed," famous for his sermons and addresses.

    "The synagogue is worse than a brothel…it is the den of scoundrels and the repair of wild beasts…the temple of demons devoted to idolatrous cults…the refuge of brigands and dabauchees, and the cavern of devils. It is a criminal assembly of Jews…a place of meeting for the assassins of Christ… a house worse than a drinking shop…a den of thieves, a house of ill fame, a dwelling of iniquity, the refuge of devils, a gulf and a abyss of perdition."…"I would say the same things about their souls… As for me, I hate the synagogue…I hate the Jews for the same reason." "It is because you killed Christ. It is because you stretched out your hand against the Lord. It is because you shed the precious blood, that there is now no restoration, no mercy anymore and no defense. Long ago your audacity was directed against [God's] servants, against Moses, Isaiah and Jeremiah. If there was wickedness then, as yet the worst of all crimes had not been dared. But now you have eclipsed everything in the past and through your madness against Christ you have committed the ultimate transgression. This is why you are being punished worse now than in the past. . . if this were not the case God would not have turned his back on you so completely. . . . But if it appears that he has utterly abandoned you, it is evident from this anger and abandonment that He is showing even to the most shameless that the One who was murdered was not a common lawbreaker, but was the very lawgiver Himself, and the Cause, present among us, of innumerable blessings. Thus you who have sinned against Him are in a state of dishonor and disgrace, while we who worship Him, though we once were less honored than any of you [that is, as gentile pagans], are now established through the grace of God in a more respected position."

    From "The Roots of Christian Anti-Semitism" by Malcolm Hay

    St. Augustine (c. 354-430), Confessions, 12.14

    "How hateful to me are the enemies of your Scripture! How I wish that you would slay them (the Jews) with your two-edged sword, so that there should be none to oppose your word! Gladly would I have them die to themselves and live to you!"

    That is the kind of Attitude that greatly shaped Christianity. These guys are heavy weights in the Early Church  

  2. # Blogger Anders

    Hello! I found your website. My name is Anders Branderud, I am 23 years and I am from Sweden.

    You write about Christ; but you haven't yet realized that the historical pro-Torah Ribi Yehoshua and the post-135 C.E. anti-Torah Christ is two different persons.
    So who then was the historical Jesus?
    The first century pro-Torah Ribi Yehoshua – the Messiah - said:

    "Don't think that I came to uproot the Torah or the Neviim [prophets], but rather I came to reconcile them with the Oral Law of emet (truth). Should the heavens and ha-aretz (the land, particularly referring to Israel) exchange places, still, not even one ' (yod) nor one ` (qeren) of the Oral Law of Mosheh shall so much as exchange places; until it shall become that it is all being fully ratified and performed non-selectively. For whoever deletes one Oral Law from the Torah, or shall teach others such, by those in the Realm of the heavens he shall be called "deleted." Both he who preserves and he who teaches them shall be called Ribi in the Realm of the heavens. For I tell you that unless your Tzedaqah (righteousness) is over and above that of the Sophrim and of the [probably 'Herodian'] Rabbinic-Perushim (corrupted to "Pharisees"), there is no way you will enter into the Realm of the heavens! “
    Netzarim Reconstruction of Hebrew Matityahu 5:17-20.

    For words that you don’t understand; se ; the link to Glossaries at the first page.

    Ribi Yehoshua warned for false prophets who don’t produce good fruit = defined as don’t practise the commandments in Torah according to Halakhah (oral Torah). See Devarim (Deuteronomy) 13:1-6.

    If you don’t follow Ribi Yehoshuas Torah-teachings, than you don’t follow Ribi Yehoshua.
    So you need to start follow the historical Ribi Yehoshua – the Messiah – by practising Torah!!

    Finding the historical Jew, who was a Pharisee Ribi and following him brings you into Torah, which gives you a rich and meaningful life here on earth and great rewards in life after death (“heaven”)!

    From Anders Branderud
    Geir Toshav, Netzarim in Ra’anana in Israel ( who are followers of Ribi Yehoshua – the Messiah – in Orthodox Judaism  

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