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    Joyfully Growing In Grace engages in an examination of beliefs found in the Hebrew Roots Movement, Messianic Judaism, and Netzarim streams of thought and related sects.

    The term “Messianic” is generally understood to describe Jews who have come to believe in Yeshua/Jesus as their Messiah. Jews who are believers in Jesus/Yeshua typically call themselves Jewish/Hebrew Christians or simply, Christians.

    Many Christians meet folks who say they are ‘Messianic’ and assume that those folks are Jewish Christians. Most aren’t Jewish at all, but are Gentile Christians who have chosen to pursue Torah observance and have adopted the Messianic term, calling themselves Messianic Christians, adherents to Messianic Judaism, or simply, Messianics. Some will even try to avoid that label and say that they are followers of "The Way".

    These Gentiles (and to be fair, some Messianic Jews) preach Torah observance/pursuance for Christians, persuading many believers that the Christianity of the Bible is a false religion and that we must return to the faith of the first century sect of Judaism that they say Yeshua (Jesus Christ) embraced. According to them, once you become aware that you should be 'keeping' the edicts and regulations of Mosaic Covenant Law, if you do not, you are then in willful disobedience to God.

    It has been my observation that Christians who adopt the label of Messianic identify more with the tenets of Judaism than they do with the tenets of Christianity. Many reject the label of Christian altogether and some eventually even convert to Judaism.

    1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 says, "But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil."

    Joyfully Growing in Grace examines the methods, claims, and fruits of the Hebrew Roots Movement, Messianic Judaism, and Netzarim streams of thought and related, law-keeping sects.

    To borrow from a Forrest Gump quote, “Law ‘keepers’ are like a box of chocolates - ya never know what you’re gonna get!” The goal of JGIG is to be a resource to help those affected by the Torah pursuant movements to try and sort out what they’re dealing with. Make use of the tabs with drop-down menus found at the top of this site – there’s tons of info there, and it’s very navigable.

    Be sure to click on the many embedded links within the posts here - there's lots of additional and related information for you to access that way, as well.

    Welcome, and may God grant you wisdom and discernment as you consider all of these things.

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Politics and Religion – What the Left is Afraid Of (I guess I’m a little slow)

It has always puzzled me –  the fear and vehement disdain with which Liberals/Democrats/the Left have reacted to religious political conservatism.  Having paid pretty close attention to politics since the 1980 presidential race, I thought I had a good grasp on the Right vs. Left, the Conservative vs. Liberal, the Republican vs. Democrat stuff.   And in reality, I think I do have a good understanding of what those different dots on the line to the left or right of center believe.  But this irrational fear, the lashing out, the disdain and in some cases hatred from the Left for the Right . . . I just didn’t get it.  Until . . .

Until I became aware of “Christian Reconstructionism”.  Until I became aware of “Dominion Theology”.  And then there’s “Christian [ultra]Patriarchy”, and the far right “Christian Fundamentalism”.  Before you “righties” start tuning me out, check out my Statement of Faith so you know I’m not off the deep end here.  And for you “lefties” out there who may have stumbled upon JGIG somehow, don’t bug out quite yet.

Lately I’ve wanted to put everything I see under a microscope.  Since I became aware of Christians putting themselves under the Law (Torah observance, Hebrew Roots Movement), more factions, for lack of a better word, have come to my attention that more or less do the same thing, to varying degrees and with different flavors.  So out came my spiritual microscope, and I don’t particularly like what I see.

I feel like I’ve lost a degree of my spiritual innocence.  You know, the “Jesus Loves Me, This I know” and the simple heart living the simple faith thing under my blog title.  To allay any fears of those who know me, I have NOT been shaken from my faith in any way.  If anything, I’ve been STRENGTHENED by God’s Grace and His faithful protection of my heart from so many of the things I now see.

I’m one who could have been so easily sucked in by any one of the above “belief systems”, because, well, I like to be right.  I like to have everything neatly sewn up, just as many of us do.  And the above belief systems seem to have every detail of our messy existence all worked out.  Life will be happy and ordered and just so if you follow formula steps A, B, and C.  And if you don’t, or worse yet, walk in rebellion, off with your head!  You think I’m kidding?  Read those links I put in this post.  No wonder the Left fears/hates “Right wing” conservatism.  Well, those folks scare me a little, too.

Let me get one thing straight right here and now.  I do believe that God is the final authority on all matters.  I believe that He has a plan for the ages, and that HE’S IN CHARGE, NOT US.  God’s instructions to us were to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations, not to dominate and rule over all nations.

One of the primary stones in the foundation of Reconstructionism/Dominionism/ultra-Patriarchy is that the Church is to establish God’s kingdom here on earth, preparing the way for the return of Christ.  Their view is a post-millennial view (a time I’m pretty sure we haven’t arrived at yet), and in their world, they set up the Kingdom for Jesus to come rule instead of Jesus coming to set it up.  I’m pretty sure that’s not how it reads in the New Testament.  If anything, there will be a great falling away, increased lawlessness (to coin a favorite term of theirs), a decaying of society, if you will, before Jesus comes back.  Jesus is the One who will set it up the way He intends.  We are not able to do so nor have we been commanded to do so.  Okay, so I’m leaving some timeline stuff out, but here’s the main point:  We, as Christians, were told to Love the Lord our God, Love our neighbors as ourselves, and to make disciples of all nations (first by loving them, not by dominating them!).  The rest is God’s deal.

Let’s take some things that the Reconstructionist and Dominionist types would have a particular problem with, and by that I mean they would impose a penalty of death, according to “God’s Law”:  Fornication, Adultery, Homosexuality, abortion, murder . . .  First, how did Jesus deal with the sinner?  Pick a sinner, any sinner.  I can’t for the life of me think of one time He condemned any sinner to death for their sins.  What did He do?  He loved them first, showed them His Grace and Mercy, called them to turn away from their sin, and exhorted them to sin no more.  He preached (as did the apostles) that those who sinned would not inherit the Kingdom of God . . . but He didn’t squish them like a bug right then and there.  And then He DIED for them.

Jesus is God.  There is no doubt that He, as He walked the earth, had a MUCH bigger problem with the sin He saw here than we ever could.  He also sees the damage and wreckage that occur as a result of sin more than we ever could (and the woundedness that often leads to certain kinds of sin).  His first response to sin?  Love.  Perfect Love.  Love that sees us as He intended us to be the first moment He began to knit us together in the womb.  Then we have a choice to make: to accept or reject the perfect gift of salvation by Grace, through Faith, in Christ.

I have to ask those in the Reconstructionist/Dominionist/Ultra-Patriarchy/Ultra-Fundamentalist camps, and I’ll admit, not in the most respectful of tones, Who died and made you God?!  Not Jesus!  He did not die and rise again so that anyone could hold the Law over the heads of mankind.  If you hold the Law over anyone’s head, you are putting yourself  in the place of God.  God’s Law.  God’s standard.  God’s way to show us that without Grace and Mercy and the Cross of Christ we will always always always fall short.  God’s way to show us our desperate need for Him.

What was the title of this post again?  Oh yeah, what the Left is afraid of.  Well, Lefties, those scary guys mentioned above?  It’s okay to be afraid of them.  Us run-of-the-mill conservative Christians?  We’re not so scary.  We may disagree with you about lots of stuff, some of it really important stuff, but we aren’t out for world domination, either.  We’re just loving God and loving our neighbor, and telling those who don’t know the Good News about Jesus.

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13 Responses

  1. . . . I just didn’t get it. Until . . .

    Yes, ‘until’…i know what you mean. When i began to look at the very same things you mentioned, it not only stunned me, it caused me to stop refering to myself as a right wing conservative–which by the way, i had been doing for years!

    The term had taken on a totally different meaning since the early 80’s. It had morphed into a beast or title i no longer wanted to be associated with as a Christian.

    Excellent post Wendy!

    God bless,
    pj

  2. pj – I know what you mean, too! I’ll be “labeling” myself more carefully when it comes to the politics, that’s for sure. We do live in interesting times . . . .

    Free in Christ,
    Wendy

  3. Wendy,

    Nice post!

    You are absolutely correct, there are Christian ‘everythings’ out there on both sides of the spectrum.

    No matter what side they are on, it pretty much boils down to the ‘law’. If they are on the ‘right’ then they (and you and I ) need to live up to God’s law (keep the commandments or make a good effort). If they are on the left then it is the law of doing for the neighbor, for society, for the world. Doing, doing, doing , doing. Jesus is just quite never enough.

    Well, for those of us in the ‘center’ (theologically speaking) Jesus is enough. In fact He is the ‘Center’. Not only for us as believers, but for the whole of creation and the universe. He is everything. Period.

    Try that one out on the wackos and you’ll definitely get a ‘yeah… but’. The ‘yeah’ is fine. The ‘but’ is what stinks to high Heaven.

    Thanks Wendy! You have a really fine blog site. I’ll come back to read some more great stuff!

    – Steve Martin san Clemente, CA

  4. Thanks, Steve!

    Great comments. And thanks for the kind remarks about my blog.

    And about Jesus being the center, I was just talking with my husband about all the stuff that has popped up on my radar screen lately, and the best way I could explain to him what I thought about it all was this:

    Shortly after my husband and I were married, we had the privilege of seeing Rich Mullins in concert. I love Rich Mullins’ music. I love Rich Mullins’ lyrics. His style . . . his ability as a musician . . . you get the idea. When we left that concert, Rich Mullins was not anywhere in my heart or mind. Jesus was. Rich’s ability to draw people to God and Who God is was an amazing gift. Rich understood that Jesus is everything and knew how to gently lead people to the place of being able to grasp (glimpse) that, too.

    What I see happening in the Church today is that Christians say “I’m a follower of so-and-so” or “such-and-such” theology. I like what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2:2 – “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” We need to be followers of Christ.

    I’ll pop in on your blog on occasion, too . . . good stuff there! And a really beautiful pic for your blog’s header.

    Blessings,
    Wendy

  5. One of the primary stones in the foundation of Reconstructionism/Dominionism/ultra-Patriarchy is that the Church is to establish God’s kingdom here on earth, preparing the way for the return of Christ. Their view is a post-millennial view (a time I’m pretty sure we haven’t arrived at yet), and in their world, they set up the Kingdom for Jesus to come rule instead of Jesus coming to set it up.

    And when you mix Reconstruction/Dominionist/”Handmaid’s Tale for Real” types with pre-Mil/pre-Trib “Wretched Urgency”, things get really weird and scary. (According to Jollyblogger, this was the result of Pre-Trib PMDs getting hold of Reconstructionist political goals in the Eighties.) Pre-trib Reconstructionists skip to the endgame (Total Theocracy) right at the outset, without the long preparation period of its original post-Mil adherents which would lead to VOLUNTARY theocracy. Christian (TM) Coup Now!

    Never mind that Pre-Mil Reconstructionism defeats its own purpose. The reason they’re so Urgent about Christian (TM) Coup NOW! is that “Christ is coming soon and It’s All Gonna Burn”. At which point, what does it matter that you’ve taken over and made a Christian Country by force?

  6. I’m one who could have been so easily sucked in by any one of the above “belief systems”, because, well, I like to be right. I like to have everything neatly sewn up, just as many of us do. And the above belief systems seem to have every detail of our messy existence all worked out. Life will be happy and ordered and just so if you follow formula steps A, B, and C. And if you don’t, or worse yet, walk in rebellion, off with your head! You think I’m kidding? Read those links I put in this post.

    Just look at any Islamic Republic, from Iran to Sudan to Taliban Afghanistan to al-Qaeda. Everything neatly sewn up in the Koran, every detail of your messy existence already decreed by God, every choice you could possibly make already made for you by Divine Fiat. Submit or be killed by God or His agents.

    “God Said It; I Believe It; That Settles It!
    Al’lah’u Akbar!Al’lah’u Akbar! Al’lah’u Akbar!”

    Ever notice that when Christianity goes sour, it resembles Islam?

  7. Wow, Ken, you kind of got on a roll there, didn’t you?!

    I understand your points. I do. I just want to clarify and restate in light of your comments that, as stated in my post, I do believe that God is the final authority on all matters. that He does have a plan for the ages, and that HE IS IN CHARGE, NOT US, and that His instructions to us were to love God, love our neighbors, and go and make disciples of all nations, not to rule over or dominate all nations.

    Even stated that way, being the aroma of Christ, Christ followers will be the the smell of death to some, the frangrance of life to others (2 Corinthians 2:15-16a).

    When any “formula” or “institute” or “movement” takes the focus off of Jesus and His completed work at the cross and the new life we have in Him, there’s bound to be trouble. In my opinion, the above typees have separated themselves from the Vine. Sooner or later, they’ll die, as movements resembling them have died off in the past, only to be followed by some others who think they have to do the Holy Spirit’s job for Him and separate themselves from the Vine and it will start up again.

    “When Christianity goes sour . . .” When Christianity goes “sour” it doesn’t matter what it may resemble. If it resembles anything but the reflection and embodiment of the love and character of Christ, then it’s not Christianity as God intended.

    Run away from those that would have every detail of life structured and impose law keeping in opposition to the Liberty that was purchased for you at Great Price. Likewise, run away from Christianity that is permissive and heaps on a cheap grace to “cover” repeated sin without requiring any accountability according to the Word.

    That was kinda rambly, but I hope I got across what I meant to . . .

    Thanks for your comments, Ken!

  8. Wendy – I was so appalled when I found out about this craziness within Evangelical Christianity. I felt the same as you – that my spiritual innocence had been stolen. This is a very scary group of Christians and we all have good reason to be scared of them. After commenting about some of this I received a threatening personal email from one of the leaders of Vision Forum. I have not heard back from them since, but my eyes were really opened by this experience. We all need to be so careful to make sure that everything adheres to and complies with scripture..

    Thanks for a great post.

  9. RichardD said, “We all need to be so careful to make sure that everything adheres to and complies with scripture.”

    Can’t improve on that =o).

    Thanks for your comments!
    ~Wendy~

  10. Wendy,
    I came from my own site where you commented me (thanks!)

    I, too, have just begun to hear about all these groups – those who observe the Torah and the Patriarch movement – and I am amazed, and not in a good way. I don’t understand why so many are choosing to go back to the law. Great post!

    I also really appreciated Rich Mullins. I rarely go to concerts but was hoping to see him in concert one day. When I heard the news of his death I cried and that is so not me. I didn’t cry because I wouldn’t get to see him in concert (here on earth anyway) but because I was so touched by the songs he wrote and even more by the way he lived his life. I just knew the world had lost someone who really truly walked with the Lord.

    Thanks, Wendy!

  11. Hi K,

    Welcome to JGIG! And thanks for your feedback. Several of the moms on the mom’s forum I mention in the “Law Keepers” posts encouraged me to start a blog . . . so I did =o).

    About Rich Mullins . . . he had a genuine and intense way (gifting) of communicating the heart of man and the heart of God, that’s for sure. I miss him still. Keith Greene, too.

    Stay tuned for more posts on “Law Keepers”. I’m trying to not make this a “Law heavy” place, so I’m spreading them out a bit. It’s a very much growing movement in the area of the country that we live in. Interesting in a sad way.

    Thanks for stopping by,
    Wendy

  12. Thanks for contacting me. And I’m glad you enjoyed my blog. This is great post, too.

  13. A good book to read about our place in politics is Is God on America’s Side by Erwin W. Lutzer. My husband and I really appreciated it.

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