Articles by Jacob Fronczak
Jacob Fronczak is an author, staff writer, and editor at First Fruits of Zion and lives in Coldwater, MI.
Messianic Jews and Gentiles should be bridge builders. With those of us in synagogues at one end and those of us in the church at the other, we have anchors on both sides; if we can each recognize the other’s role and calling, we can support a connection in between.
There is perhaps a no more powerfully condensed summary of Jesus’ teachings than the Sermon on the Mount. Ideally, every follower of Jesus would have complete command over the content of this revolutionary discourse. As disciples, we cannot afford to misunderstand these three chapters of Matthew’s gospel.
When we shrug our shoulders and say “Jesus is just weird,” it keeps us from asking any more questions. And if we don’t ask, we won’t get answers. If we don’t dig any deeper, we miss the chance to learn something. If we don’t dig down and find out why Jesus refers to himself as “the Son of Man” it becomes a barrier.
What do we really mean when we ask what a text means? This is an important question to ask, but most of us never consciously ask it. The answer might seem obvious to you. But you might be surprised at some of the answers others have given.
Misunderstanding the Bible is dangerous. By the time we are so led astray by our own misplaced zeal, it is too late—we cannot be convinced otherwise; after all, God is on our side, so to abandon our path would be heresy and betrayal.
Every experience life has to offer, from the mundane to the extraordinary, is ensconced in specific and verbally spoken blessings by the traditional Jew. There is even a blessing for when one hears exceptionally bad news, such as the death of a close friend or family member. But why?
For Christians, there is nothing more important than developing an accurate understanding of the Bible. For precisely this reason, I think Christians should not be reading it. How can I say that? Simple: because reading the Bible without understanding it can be worse than not reading it at all.
Chanukkah is a Jewish holiday. It’s kind of like, we think, some kind of Jewish substitute for Christmas. They saw all the fun we were having every winter and came up with something a little different that they could do, too. So we imagine them putting Chanukkah presents under the menorah, or maybe a Chanukkah bush of some kind.
Catholic-Messianic dialogue has the potential to inform Messianic Jewish theology, as both faith traditions now grapple with the significance of the eternal calling of the Jewish people on one hand, and the universal redemptive work of Messiah, the King they have yet to corporately enthrone, on the other.
Our faith finds its formative impulse in a religion we now call Second Temple Judaism. The most reputable and respected scholars across denominations agree that Jesus, the apostles, and the first generation of Christians were all practicing Jews. So how is it that we know so little about Judaism?
When we were young and our parents asked us to mow the grass, we might have responded, “Do I have to?” But we never responded like that when they told us it was Tuesday. No one asks “Do I have to?” of a calendar. It just doesn’t make sense.
Let’s not fall behind in doing the kind of work the Master spent so much time exhorting us to do—the Sermon-on-the-Mount kind of work, the work of learning to be good, the work of consistently making ethically sound choices. In doing so, we will grow to become more like Jesus.
Subcultures are normal and healthy; they are the modern equivalent of tribes. They give people a sense of belonging, solidarity, and acceptance. But those of us who are followers of Jesus need to consider carefully how our effectiveness might be limited by intentional and outward identification with a Christian subculture.
The emerging church has been hailed as the next big thing. An unprecedented blend of liturgy, spontaneity, social justice, and postmodern theology; it lies at the intersection of several previously separate streams of Christianity. But Messianic Judaism ties these same threads together in an authentic restoration of the first-century church.
The church is moving. What common thread connects the megachurch movement, neo-Calvinism, and the Protestant exodus to Catholicism and Orthodoxy? Each of these is an attempt to go forward by going back, but they each miss a critical aspect of the early church:
Some are for it, and others against, but most Christians haven’t even taken the time to learn what Messianic Judaism is or what it stands for. Who exactly are Messianic Jews, and what do they believe? Is Messianic Judaism heresy? Or orthodoxy? Generations of evangelical students have been trained as heresy-hunters.
An ever-growing body of scholarship testifies that the early Jerusalem church likewise maintained a self-identity within Judaism and that the New Testament should be read as a collection of Jewish texts. Unfortunately, the world-shattering theological, ecclesiological, and eschatological ramifications of the rebirth of Messianic Judaism are often overshadowed by controversy and confusion.