Disorientation for Israeli Messianic Jews

Hebrew-speaking Israeli believers must independently shape their own understanding of Scripture, directly with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

By Gershon Nerel | | Topics: MESSIANIC JEWS, Messianic Jewish Theology
Messianic Jews
Photo: David Cohen/FLASH90

A new translation of the Calvinist/Reformed Westminster Confession of Faith into modern Hebrew has been circulated among Messianic Jewish believers in Israel. Should this old creed, originally shaped by Scottish and English theologians around 1647, serve as a doctrine for contemporary Israeli Messianic Jews?

This is not the only credo that the historical churches have translated into Hebrew and promulgated locally in order to structure the theological thinking of Israeli believers. Many more man-made declarations of faith have been systematically introduced in the Land of the Bible, such as the Creed of the Assemblies of God, the Anglican 39 Articles of Faith, the Lutheran and Baptist Catechisms, Beliefs of Adventists, and a large variety of American “Messianic” creeds which simply copy Evangelical doctrines, to mention just a few.

The Westminster Confession of Faith, which is actually based on creedal foundations from the fourth and fifth centuries, mainly the Nicaean (325 AD) and Chalcedonian (451 AD), is an organized presentation of Calvinist orthodoxy. It includes many theological concepts that do not appear in the canonical text of the Bible. Among the terms one finds are “the Holy Trinity”; “Godhead and manhood inseparably joined together”; “God the Son”; Predestination; and the “Christian Sabbath,” namely Sunday, the first day of the week, which “replaced” the seventh-day Shabbat.

Additionally, part and parcel of Calvinism is the doctrine of “once saved, always saved.” Such a statement stands in clear contrast both with the words of the Lord Yeshua (Jesus) and the Apostles. For example, the Lord states that “he who endures to the end shall be saved” (Matt 24:13). And in the parable of the 10 Virgins, He teaches that 50 percent are rejected for not having collected enough “oil” (Matt 25:1-13). The Epistle to the Hebrews declares:

“It is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.” (6:4-6)

Interestingly, the Hebraic adaptation of the Westminster Confession does not include the Larger and the Shorter Catechisms, which were originally attached to the body text of the Confession.

These two series of formal questions and answers explain the doctrines of Calvinism. For example, both the Confession and the Catechisms refer to the Torah (Five Books of Moses) as the Law, saying that “all ceremonial laws are now abrogated.” This appears under the headline of “Christian Liberty,” which is described as “freedom from the yoke of the ceremonial law, to which the Jewish Church (sic!) was subjected.” Thus, while stating that “true believers be not under the law,” it more than implies that circumcision is no longer relevant for Jews.

Photo: Wikimedia commons.

Nowadays, Hebrew-speaking Israeli believers must independently shape their own understanding of Scripture, directly with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This is the needed and true spiritual pattern, rather than succumbing to bombardment by imported old church traditions and dogmas. This issue remains one of the more serious problems that local Jewish believers face in this land. Sadly, the ongoing efforts of multi-denominational churches to Christianize or “Churchianize” the Jews by creedal formulas aim to homogenize or assimilate them within non-Jewish ecclesiastical frameworks.

Strangely, the new Hebrew version of the Westminster Confession of Faith is published without mentioning the name(s) of the editor(s) or the editorial board, as well as appearing without the name(s) of the translator(s). Even the short foreword is presented anonymously, with no reference to an author. Only the technical name of the printer is revealed. Why hide the names of those who have labored so hard to bring this volume to the Hebrew reader?

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3 responses to “Disorientation for Israeli Messianic Jews”

  1. Robert's World says:

    Keep up the conversations, Gershon! As we read the various articles in Israel Today, we find many of them so refreshing, as they present different viewpoints from the dominant Western/ Evangelical Christian perspectives.
    At the end of the day, hopefully all believers will come to various subjects with great humility and dependence on the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Romans 11:14-21 comes to mind.

  2. psalm100al says:

    Thank you for this interesting article. From studying the Holy Bible, Calvinism is an incorrect doctrine because Jesus Christ’s blood atonement sacrifice was for all, not just for some who think they may be the chosen few. The elect in the Bible are Jewish.
    Matthew 25 is speaking about the great tribulation where faith and works for salvation return as under the OT law. Shalom.

  3. Disciple 1978 says:

    Not just for messianic Jews but for all who are in Christ. The faulty theology of the early church fathers produced the Nicene creed and others to refute Arianism, a 4th Cent heresy by Arius who argued that Jesus does not share the same essence as God. As Christianity came under persecution by the Roman Empire, Judaism distanced itself from Christians, which caused some church fathers to denounce Judaism. The antisemitism of Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Irenaus and Origen, who asserted that the Jews killed Jesus was established by Constantine in the creeds at Nicaea in 325 AD. Ambrose then Augustine helped this become mainstream Christianity although it was always compromised by the humanistic thought of Ambrose, Anselm and others who drew from its Greco-Roman root. Luther’s reformation was compromised by this humanism and antisemitism. Both Luther and Calvin were heavily influenced by Augustine. This affects Protestantism and Evangelicanism today.

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