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What are the main differences between Messianic Judaism and Christianity? How does the idea of the Trinity differ?

Hopefully this can be answered by someone who considers themselves to be Messianic Jewish.

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The short answer is that because the early Jewish converts to Christianity (the original Messianic Jews) maintained their Jewish identity after conversion (at least initially, if not for a considerable time), modern Messianic Jews also seek to worship Christ while maintaining a Jewish cultural identity as a continuation of this historical precedent.

Shmuel Wolkenfeld, a Messianic Rabbi, has a much longer essay — “What Are Messianic Jews?”.

Note: As DJClayworth says in the comments, the doctrine of the Trinity is fully accepted by most Messianic Jews.

  • I had this conversation by email with a Messianic Jew a couple years ago which is why I had the link to that PDF handy. In the early years of Christianity there was contention between the Jewish converts and the Gentile converts over whether the old Laws had to be observed (eg: circumcision, abstinence from pork, etc). There was also the "scandal" that St. Peter preferred to associate with the Jewish converts for which St. Paul "resisted him to the face," calling him out on it in public. I need to study up more on how these factions were reconciled. – Audio Sancto Feb 2 '12 at 14:59
  • Accepted as the correct answer with DJClayworth's comment. Could you append to your answer regarding the trinity? – user1054 Feb 2 '12 at 16:17
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I'm unsure of the custom on the site regarding a question from so long ago, but since it has not been closed for comment I can only conclude that I may answer as well.

What are the main differences between Messianic Judaism and Christianity? How does the idea of the Trinity differ?
Hopefully this can be answered by someone who considers themselves to be Messianic Jewish.

I am Messianic so I feel qualified to proffer an answer.

Messianic Jews do accept the "Trinity" though it is not in the exact terms that a Christian may use on an every day basis. The distinction comes down to the assumption that all three have equal parts in the Trinity. If we are to understand the Trinity (hereafter G-dhead) in the same terms that Yeshua used then we must understand that Yeshua is in submission to the Father. Many Christians may pray to Jesus only and rarely refer to the Father. Messianics believe in the triune nature of G-d, and in the custom of Yeshua they pray to the Father. Messianics call G-d Adonai, Elohim and many other terms valid in Judaism. Yeshua is divine and He is the Annointed One, the Messiah. The Ruach is the Holy Spirit or Spirit of Holiness and Messianics do believe in the active role of the Ruach and also the gifts of the Spirit.

There are breakaway splinters that deny some aspects as I have laid them out but as an overall movement it is as I've stated here.

Messianics believe that the Law given by G-d remains largely in effect and they do their best to keep the aspects of it that relate to personal holiness to a Most Holy G-d. This has been derided as legalism and is a slanderous charge as Messianics do not hang their salvation--if that's the term used--upon their getting right with G-d first and earning anything. They do believe that Yeshua is the only way to G-d, the Father and just judge of the quick and the dead, the judge of all the world. To paraphrase Yeshua's words, those who love Him keep His commandments, and since the book of John makes it clear that Yeshua is the Word of G-d--then Yeshua's commandments are contained in the entire Word of G-d from cover to cover. It is through Yeshua that Messianics hope to be pleasing to G-d by doing the things which are pleasing to G-d, though first and foremost by the atoning death and substitution of Yeshua in sinful man's place.


Since I have been prompted to provide some references, to which people might find helpful, I include them here.

Hebrew4Christians Which is a good resource for people trying to understand aspects of Messianic Judaism and some of their beliefs from the perspective of an individual, John J. Parsons.

Beth Yeshua Messianic Cong. A congregation in Las Vegas, NV.

  • Welcome and thanks for the answer! You are indeed welcome to answer old questions like this one; I do so all the time. The experience you share here is quite valuable, but if you'd like to further strengthen your answer, you might consider adding a source or two that support your analysis and provide the opportunity for further reading. Thanks! – Nathaniel Sep 28 '16 at 18:27
  • Thank you for the welcome, Nathaniel. I've answered largely from years of reading and personal experience, but you've challenged me to provide a better reading experience for others, and that's a noble undertaking. So, I'll look to do that sometime in the not too distant future. Of course I've got to reread what I wrote to attempt to back up any claims I've made, but I'll get there.... sometime! – user31124 Sep 28 '16 at 19:00
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Messianic Judaism is a denomination that was created to convert Jews to Christianity. It does this by holding on to some of the Jewish tradition, and removing some of the parts of Christianity that are unappealing, or sound very un-Jewish. A Jew might be offended, or think of persecution of Jews when they see a cross symbol, or hear the name Jesus. So the denomination uses the name Yeshua in place of Jesus, make their churches look like synagogues, and tries to market itself as Judaism instead of Christianity.

It is by all means a Christian denomination, but it makes itself seem as Jewish as possible in order to have the best chance of converting Jews to Christianity. The mass majority of the congregations are actually non Jews who want to regain that connection to Judaism, while holding on to their core beliefs.

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    Interesting review. One way to strengthen it, and attract upvotes, is to add sources that corroborate what you are saying. Also, are you sure this is the only way to understand "Messianic Judaism"? – Nathaniel Jul 31 '17 at 1:13

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