Jeff Montanari

From Messianic Deception to Torah Truth

Recently, I was engaged in a Facebook post that addressed a man in Jerusalem working hard trying to propagate his religion to convert unsuspecting Jews. It is amazing to me that we don’t seem to understand the goal of missionaries is to change the State of Israel. Change it from being Jewish to being something else, maybe even Christian. People that were Jewish were defending this man’s freedom of speech rights, not realizing that the entire argument in supporting a missionary is to eliminate who we are as a people. Freedom of speech is great, we love it, but if we all converted as the man would desire, we would be the Christian State of Israel. No more Hanukkah, no more Shabbos, no more Rosh Hashanah and Hebrew calendar. The Western Wall would be of no significance and we would be worshipping a man to come and occupy the Temple Mount when the 3rd Temple is restored including all the other pagan rituals. Yet, we allow this right for him to speak because of the democratic state that Israel is. For me, this is not the state that is spoken of in the Torah, not the state that honors and observes the commands and the guidance given to Moshe by Hashem. But, that is just my opinion and maybe another state will arise that will fulfill Hashem’s goals.

Someone said to me once that I should not be surprised at all the information I am learning about how Jews have been treated by Christians all along. As it wasn’t very long ago, I was one of those very aggressors. I was once a leader in the Christian messianic movement working within a large denomination and bringing the Christian messianic flavor to light in a Christian community that isn’t completely aware of the Jewishness of the Christian bible, or so I thought. I was instrumental in creating and facilitating messianic gatherings, Christian Seders, festivals, convention booths and finding emerging leaders. I reflect on this today and realize that at the time I was in what’s called the “crushing stone” season; the bridge to truth. I had left the Christian Church and stepped into the messianic realm of the church to eventually realize that my destination would be Orthodox Judaism. Why you say, jumping back, because lost Jews are seeking truth, spiritual truths more than culture and traditions. The trap of the pagan religions, man made religions are enticing, but the liberating freedom of knowing the truth of Torah is knowing your where Hashem wants you to be.

In Judaism, everything we do has a counterfeit. And the Christian messianic movement is the true counterfeit to Judaism. Firstly, you cannot be Jewish and Christian. Sorry, I know that hurts. The Christian messianics claim to be Jewish, yet when they want to make aliyah, they lie about their Christian religion, claiming to be Jewish and often use a Conservative or Reform rabbi to gain “admission” into Israel, yet they are not Jewish at all; rather, they left Judaism long ago and are Christian imports with that exact desire to convert us to their brand of religion. Yesterday a friend called me telling me about how he was advised by a national Christian messianic leader of “how to get into Israel.” I wasn’t astonished because the missionary strategy uses friendship and manipulation to make inroads into the state. But by being Jewish, you have made a commitment to the one true G-d of Israel and the commandment and principle to not support and worship idolatry. One Torah for all Jews. You can be blood Jewish and of another religion, but you cannot be of two faiths. To be of the Christian messianic viewpoint, this position is polar opposite of the Jewish messianic prophecy. I expect most Christian readers to not understand this or grasp the point. Judaism is not looking for a savior or a messiah in the Christian context. But, in the Christian messianic movement the theology is essentially the same as the normative Christian doctrine. Yet, in the movement they use rabbinic traditions to lure unsuspecting and typically non-observant or non-religiously raised Jews into the Christian fold under the ignorant guise of them needing a savior and they have the Jewish messiah available to them now. Welcome to the Christian counterfeit.

The sole reason our people are still looking for the Jewish messiah is because the Jewish messiah hasn’t come yet. Though I believe The Lubavitcher Rebbe of Blessed Memory fulfills the role as Messiah in many respects; yet we wait for the Moshiach.

The deception of this Christian movement is that they take holy ordinances and observances and use them as tools to create an atmosphere that they believe are conducive to “bringing the Jew home”. I agree that the Jew needs to be brought home; to Judaism, not Christianity. I do believe HaShem isn’t looking for his people to leave the faith of their fathers and grandfathers to convert to another faith that is rooted in the anti-Semitic traditions of the Catholic Church, reformation leaders as Jew-hating Martin Luther, Constantine, and the King James Bible.

In this deceptive movement, Jewish tradition is attempted to be assimilated into a Christian-Jewish mode that disrespects the very traditions of our Jewish customs and traditions that kept and maintained the purity of the Torah for over 3000 years.

A few examples of this are the lifestyle that is lived is not observant to the laws and commands of Torah, and it is primarily a gentile movement that works to teach gentiles to use Jewish traditions to convert unsuspecting Jews. And I understand that observance in Judaism has a broad spectrum of practice, but in the traditional sense I speak to how Christians write-off the “law” as finished and insignificant. Christian music in the Christian messianic church is used in a mixed gender audience where congregants are peppered in modified liturgy from an Ashkenazi Orthodox Siddur that incorporates the narrative of the Christian messiah throughout the rendition. No distinguishing between Jew and gentile in these congregations identify that the Torah texts are for the Jew, but rather they use the typical gentile application of the Tanach to everyone without consideration of the context and intended audience. Hebrew songs and typical traditional Jewish music is often used to create the “feel” of a Jewish service yet the intention is strictly a part of the overall goal and trick to convince unbelieving Jews that the church has a messiah for them they need.

As I was blind to all these issues while I was involved in this movement, a former licensed leader in a national movement in America, it wasn’t until I started meeting with actual Orthodox friends where I learned that I was involved in something so highly offensive to those people I cherished, our people, that I realized I had to separate myself from this Christian messianic movement. It wasn’t very long after that I began to see all the holes in the Swiss cheese of Christianity that I was able to see for the first time. How Christians cannot connect the dots on facts but would rather bandage the issues with the “faith” statement. Meaning that if we cannot logically prove a point we say it is believed by “faith”. An example of this is obviously the story of the virgin birth.

I recall hearing L’maancha by Eitan Katz on a return military trip from northern California with a rabbi friend of mine. I remember thinking that this nigun was a Jewish worship song and thinking how my messianic friends in the Christian world would appreciate it. I later showed my people the video and I was expecting our people to love it. I explained that the video was Jewish boys worshipping the G-d of Israel and how awesome it was. To my surprise it didn’t go over well because they were not worshipping the Christian messiah and in that there is the great divide. I later wanted to discuss the foundations of the Torah’s commands of how to observe Shabbos and I got resistance in this as well. And then at this point I called it quits, I was ready and wanted an out and they gave it to me. I knew messianics were not really interested in Judaism or Torah. All they wanted was a feel good Christianity wrapped in some Jewishness and nothing more. I quickly left the movement and dedicated myself 100% to learning at the feet of rabbinical guidance where the truth of real salvation, redemption, forgiveness and grace rests; in the Torah of Hashem. Hey, that’s my story, like it or not.

The deception of the idea that Christians can use a messianic movement to bate Judaism and threaten its existence in Israel for the same false narrative that Christians have been using against Jews for two thousand years except this time they do it cloaked in Jewishness, is a catastrophe. And we Jews need to stand up against this false practice of deception and expose the movement for what it is, an evangelical missionary movement attempt of the Christian Church funded with lots of American cash just destined for Israel and for the man handing our Christian bibles on Ben Yehuda.

I recall in Orange County, we first were exposed to this movement thru an extinct congregation called Adat HaMashiach, where the gentile leader became a friend of mine. He would teach from a perspective that added the Jewish context back into the Christian bible that had removed the Jewishness in the version. I found this very attractive as I was looking for something fresh. I remember thinking that I was being taught something I never heard before and in that I was learning and growing in ways that was exciting to me. But, this excitement turned into a zealousness that I used to form the messianic movement in my denomination that ultimately created a network of numerous congregations and leaders. So these movements reject the observances of the law, play pretend Kosher, drive to shul, disrespect our traditions and customs, manipulate our Torah, modify our festivals, holidays and Judaism and think we will ever accept their brand of counterfeit?

One Shabbos morning we saw a few of these folks on our street handing out missionary DVDs to our homes in Valley Village. Even on Shabbos we can expect them to disrespect the day and they work even then to propagate their false messiah on us. Remember there is a counterfeit for all Judaism in other religions. The Torah says there are counterfeit miracles in other religions, a test to ensure we do not get swayed to religions, unknown to our fathers.

Since we have removed ourselves from this Christian messianic world a few years ago and have embraced our Judaism, we have endured tremendous hatred, loss of friendships, and rejection from Christians, having been told we are deceived of the devil, and that Judaism is a cult. Even to this day, long after this old way of life and thinking, we still have had no communication from former leaders of the denomination, district pastors, and local pastors who were “life” friends and worked close with us. No one ever called and asked us what was going on, why were we leaving and why did we stop what we were involved in. They totally disconnected and excommunicated our family and to this day we have had no communication with any of them. And honestly, it doesn’t bother us much as it is expected and we moved on.

From deception to truth is how we have moved. From the lie of the Christian messianic movement to the truth of the Torah. Today, we my story is what it is, we all have a path and experiences, sharing lessons learned is how we grow. We Jews need to remember our heritage and G-ds unconditional love for us. Our desire is for all Jews to return home to Judaism and the Land of Israel.

Baruch Hu veBaruch Shmo.

About the Author
Dr. Jeff Montanari, author of "God Made You a Jew", a theological expose' on combatting missionaries. Dr. Montanari discusses issues between religious faiths in defense of Judaism. He is a graduate of Regent University and Yeshiva Pirchei Shoshanim. An endorsed military Orthodox Jewish chaplain with the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary, Civil Air Patrol. He is also a blogger with The Times of Israel, The Jerusalem Post, Arutz Sheva 7 and is a lifetime member of the Jewish War Veterans, a member of the Conference of European Rabbis (CER). He holds membership as a Daedalian, the Naval Order of the United States and Military Order of the Loyal Legions of the United States. He is a former associate Rabbi at Congregation Pirchei Shoshanim, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Pacific Region District chaplain, and an Orange County Sheriff’s Department chaplain. Ari Ben Avraham A.A, B.A., M.A., M.Rav., D.MIN.