9

Statements like the following are common from Messianic Synagogues. This one comes from Beth Messiah in Sarasota, Florida:

At Beth Messiah, we are Messianic Jews and non-Jews who believe Yeshua (Jesus in Hebrew) is the Messiah, live a Jewish lifestyle, raise our children to be Jewish, and worship the God of Israel in a Jewish manner. Messianic Judaism is a movement of people from all walks of life who believe that Yeshua is the promised Messiah and the Savior for Israel and the world. Messianic Jews have not stopped being Jewish. On the contrary we have continued to remain strongly Jewish in our identity and lifestyle, and in our belief that Yeshua is the Jewish Messiah and the fulfillment of true Biblical Judaism.

According to the standards of this site these congregations may be considered Christian. In maintaining their Jewish culture and lifestyle, a major historical aspect of which is circumcision, I am curious as to what these congregations teach regarding circumcision, specifically circumcision according to Torah law, in the light of Paul's warning in Galatians 5:1-6:

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.

I wonder if some of these congregations circumcise their children in Torah observance. What is an overview of their doctrines regarding circumcision?

  • 2
    If nobody on this site answers, perhaps contacting those congregations directly, then posting the answer on here would be appropriate. – Thunderforge Sep 18 '16 at 21:59
  • 1
    @Thunderforge That would be a good way to get this particular synagogue's teachings, true, but I'm looking for an overview. – Andrew Sep 18 '16 at 23:35
  • This question similarly could apply to some "theonomist" Christian believers who espouse adhering to much/all of the Old Testament ceremonial laws (including the food laws and circumcision). I've always struggled to see how they might reconcile the quoted passage from Galatians with a belief that Christians should still circumcise. – davidethell Sep 23 '16 at 11:09
  • @davidethell Good point. Theonomists, if I understand correctly, try to follow the whole law, and teach that it should be followed. I would be interested to hear an overview of their arguments for theonomy in general, especially since, in contrast to the Messianic Jewish Christians, they have no cultural or ethnic identity with the Sinai Covenant. – Andrew Sep 23 '16 at 16:17
  • @Andrew I agree. At least the Messianic Jewish Christians have a cultural reason to follow the practice and would therefore fit more in line with Paul encouraging Jews to stay Jews and Gentiles to stay Gentiles. Theonomists seem to want to embrace a portion of Jewishness without quite embracing the whole. I speak as one who attended churches for more than a decade that included strong theonomists. – davidethell Sep 23 '16 at 18:35
1

Since the author of the question is seeking a general overview and not the view of specific congregations--I will offer an answer similar to Michael16, which is not itself wrong, but does lack specificity.

Right now there are two major branches of official Messianic Judaism. Those branches are the MJAA and the UMJC. The former being the body which started first and the later, a breakaway movement, and as such the UMJC is more stringent in their observance, if only in their own view.

A google search of UMJC and Circumcision yields the following link: https://www.google.com/search?q=UMJC+circumcision

The first result (in my search) then becomes immediately relevant: Is Judaism Jewish? Early on (in the third paragraph of said document) the author, one Dr. Mark Kinzer, speaks of the same proof text Michael16 did: 1 Corinthians 7:18, 19. Kinzer states:

"but keeping the commandments of God." Paul acknowledges with these words that the Torah commands Jews to be circumcised and to keep the mitzvot given to Israel, but expects non-Jews to keep only those commandments given to all human beings. Thus, what matters is not being Jewish or non-Jewish, but obeying those Divine commandments that apply to us.

Since the site bares the markings of the UMJC we can take this as an official position and not one individual congregation.

Next we come to the more lax MJAA.

Putting the terms, MJAA IAMCS Circumcision into a google search bar yielding the following results: https://www.google.com/search?q=MJAA+IAMCS+Circumcision

It should be noted that the results for the second search performed is far fewer than the first for the very reason that the MJAA has a less concrete positon on the matter than does the UMJC.

Quoting from a document among the results:

The main Jewish life cycle events include circumcision, bar/bat mitzvah, wedding, and death and each of these events have their own set of liturgy and ritual. The first two are pertinent to this study. In obedience to God’s command to Abraham, Jewish males are circumcised on the eighth day as a physical sign of the covenant God made with Abraham in Genesis 17:11-12. (Messianic Jewish Liturgical Practices, by Elizabeth Ames, p. 10)

The only other relevant quote comes from Rabbi Jim Appel, a messianic Rabbi from New York whose congregation Shema Yisrael belongs to the IAMCS. This becomes relevant because when understanding his quote and how the IAMCS works, he would not be a member of that organization if his beliefs did not match theirs. (The IAMCS is the governing body of the MJAA.)

A substitute document is Competing Trends In Messianic Judaism: The Debate Over Evangelicalism, which cites congregation Beth Yeshua as a forerunner for the MJAA position (though certainly progressive in its implementation). This article may be the best fit for your desire for an overview of Messianic Judaism as a whole as it does, like I have here done, break the movement into its two constituent bodies.

  • Welcome to Christianity.SE, and thanks for taking the site tour. Thanks also for offering an answer, including supporting links. I've cleaned up your answer a bit and made all web references into actual links. I was unable to find a source for your second quote. If you know where it came from, please add the reference. In general, providing links to Google searches is not particularly useful, since people can do that for themselves. Also, I've removed a lot of parenthetical material that only bogs down the answer and makes it less likely that people will actually read it. – Lee Woofenden Sep 28 '16 at 15:16
  • Thank you, Lee, I appreciate the welcome and your editing on behalf of the site. I can understand your stated stance on google, yet, to be sure most people seem to be--shall say--unmotivated to do so. The OP failed to google the relevant topic and do a bit of searching and so it seems they were soliciting opinion rather than doing the reading and searching. Which is OK, but I'm not sure I should be faulted for doing the legwork. – user31124 Sep 28 '16 at 15:45
  • Thanks for adding the reference for the second quote. I have now formatted it as a quote, and also added the author and the page number of the quote for ease of reference. FYI, overview questions are fair game here. And although the OP might have been able to research it, the idea is that people more familiar with the particular groups being asked about will be able to do a better job answering the question than those who do not have much knowledge about them. – Lee Woofenden Sep 28 '16 at 16:14
  • @Lee, point taken. Which only serves to shore up the reasons I had for posting links to google searches. The searches I had included broke Messianic Judaism into two camps and searched for the relevant terms in each body's literature, so then it was not a search that nearly anyone could perform as I do have specific knowledge on the topic and am familiar with it. Thank you for your further edits for clarity sake. Again, though, it seems as if it was a baited topic since it was not simply asking "What is Messianic Judaism's overview on circumcision?". – user31124 Sep 28 '16 at 16:28
  • 1
    I don't believe you can change the wording of the question after it has already been submitted and answered Unfortunately, it happens with some frequency, particularly when questions don't fit or are not well phrased. (Not saying this question is or isn't). It's something to be aware of in the SE format: questions get edited as well, usually to improve them or narrow their scope to become answerable or better focused. – KorvinStarmast Sep 28 '16 at 21:54
-1

The overview of Messianic Judaism or Messianic Christianity about circumcision can be understood from their statement of beliefs that you quoted. Circumcision is an essential part of being Jewish or a Jewish lifestyle, so is the observance of kosher diet. Their practice of continuation of the Jewish practices does not violate Paul's instructions to the Gentile new believers of Galatians as he also instructed that circumcision or non-circumcision doesn't matter but only keeping of the commandments. The instructions to Galatians against circumcision therefore apply against mandatory observance of it as an essential practice for salvation. Thus if the Messianic believers wants to continue Jewish traditions and lifestyle as a non-mandatory cultural significance then it is permissible by Paul.

(1 Corinthians 7:17-20) 17 Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches. 18 Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. 19 For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God. 20 Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called.

  • Not sure why you were down voted here except perhaps that your question isn't really an answer from any document of the groups in question. So perhaps you're speculating? If not do you have specific information on this answer from a messianic group? – davidethell Sep 23 '16 at 11:11
  • It is an answer from personal knowledge and interactions with Messianics; and there there are different perspective within Messianic churches regarding this. This is the most mainstream belief. – Michael16 Sep 23 '16 at 17:28

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.