by Christopher Fredrickson
We must be honest in the fact that the Messianic faith has changed over the past 20 years. In 20 years the sacred name movement and the two house movement have become increasingly influential and have spread like a cancer eroding away the halakhot of Judaism in our faith. There are several factors for this, not only can anyone with a webcam and a microphone now promote themselves as a "teacher" on avenues like YouTube and through podcasting as well as social media and other online venues. Through this, we have many Christian pastors or those who have done a semester in seminary think that they now have a license to teach Judaism without any Jewish training. YouTube and blogs seem to be the only training they feel they need. Yet the pool has become so muddied with those like them, that the basic Jewish premise of making talmidim and overseeing their observance is not something they feel they should have to do unless someone gives them an ungodly amount of monetary exchange for their guidance.
Through this, 90% in the Messianic movement on the teaching circuit have left congregations to go on the traveling teaching circuit or start websites where you can get a subscription or purchase their teachings.
We have abandoned, in the Messianic faith, trusted academic publications for a youtube subscription and with all this in modern times we wonder why the path of the ger is now unheard of. We have Messianic teachers today who don't know a lick of Hebrew, have never opened a Talmud but they can give you a list of websites as their resources. This is why 20 years ago we didn't have the sacred name movement, lunar sabbath people, anti-semitic rhetoric and all these things that have populated the Messianic faith and have become the majority. The root of this, is simply gluttony and making careers out of being internet teachers. Through gluttony and the love of money is why when they do post new teachings it is a "one size fits all" teaching because it is inconvenient to prune the ger in their minds.
Organizations like the MJAA (whom I have long been affiliated with) have decided that take a parallel stance with the MIA just on a different level. The MIA believes in complete observance from the beginning of a person's walk and level of observance varies from teacher to teacher. Which is not only confusing but also causes much anxiety to one who is not familiarized with Judaism. In most cases they cut complete ties with Judaism to form a new religion like Christianity has. So it is familiarized to them with a linear greek way of observance and thinking that they claim is "Hebraic" (which isn't even a word mind you). And the MJAA has recently taken the stance the MIA has and said, "if you are not Jewish then you never will be". My 4 years of conversion and years of training in my ordination say differently, thank you very much. As does the story of many of the great Jewish sages, such as R' Akiva. The MJAA has gone as far as to say that a person who who is not born jewish, should not worry with halakhic conversion and should remain a ger, but revere the Rabbis who refuse to oversee a conversion. In translation, "pay me and know I am always over you, listen to everything I say and know you will never be at my level of self perceived greatness." This is why I will not be renewing my membership with the MJAA in 2016.
I am not the only one who has taken issue with this, many other Messianic and Notzri Rabbis have seen these issues go on and the MJAI is being reformed and will be fully operational as an organization in the summer of 2016 is what I am being told. I have been involved in several meetings with several other Rabbis who are former MJAA Rabbis (and some soon to be former, like myself) because we believe that there should be educational programs for gerim in your local synagogues and communities, for serious converts. Serious vetting is done with the MJAI and it took a month till I was approved at the 7th Rabbi soon to be affiliated with the rebirth of the MJAI that went under in the 1990s because of Rabbis not wanting to mentor converts in the way of the ger. It was much easier to become gluttons and the payout was much better to join the MJAA, who's halakhot is almost completely identitcal except for the whole "conversion" thing. This path in the Messianic Jewish faith is going to be restored very soon. I am blessed to be a part of this organization because it is not about control and money. Instead it is about fulfilling the commandment of our Melech Mashiach, Yeshua to "go into the world and make converts."
In my humble opinion, going back to the ancient ways and the responsible ways of observance found in pre-first century writings that has been unbroken in hasidic judaism today (in the sect of Breslov) was indeed the path of the talmidim of Yeshua and is the same Judaism that Rav Sha'ul himself taught. The way of the ger and their observance is like grade school math, each year you learn a little more and apply more, a person marinates in each mizvos.
Theological Insights from Rabbi Eved Banah at Beit Geulah in Morganton, NC (www.BeitGeulah.com)