Baptist vs. Messianic comparisons
As an Independent Baptist we were very supportive of Israel. I don't know of any Independent Baptist church that is not. Independent Baptist more than most other Christian faiths understand the importance of Israel in Bible prophecy. During the last few years I began to notice a dark side to Independent Baptist that I did not realize was there. Baptists as a group, Independent or otherwise, while being very supportive of the nation of Israel are very anti-Semitic when it comes to the Jew. Messianic people who have friends, family or acquaintances who are Baptist find that when they reveal that they are 'Messianic' the many Baptists immediately assume 'Jew'. From that point on their attitude toward the ‘Messianic’ person ranges from ignoring at best to outright hatred at worst. Families have greatly hurt because of this attitude.
This prejudiced attitude is not reserved just for the Baptists it exists in virtually all of Christianity, however, I only have substantial first hand experience with Baptist. I myself was guilty of this attitude until I found myself on the receiving end. Had anyone told me I had a problem in this area I would have honestly denied it. It’s one of those problems you can have and not even realize you have it. Anti-Semitism is alive and well in the church and it’s undercover.
This attitude is clearly seen in the area of Baptist missions. I recently went to the website for ‘Baptist Bible Fellowship International’, www.bbfi.org. This is a good website for one group of Independent Baptists. They have a list of ‘web enabled churches.’ I looked at each church on this list that listed the missionaries that they supported. I counted the total number of missionaries and the number that were to the nation of Israel or to Jews in general. There were 6763 supported missionaries and of this 38 supported missionaries to the nation of Israel or to Jews. That is 0.559% of the total. Although I did not count the missionaries to Islamic nations I could not help but notice that there was a much larger number. So much for Christ’s idea of ‘to the Jew first.’ I have heard it said that the lack of missions to the Jews is that it is almost impossible to win a Jew. Actually Jews are coming to Christ in large numbers. However, Baptists or even Evangelicals for that matter are not the ones leading them to Christ. Why? Very simply, Israel was severely disciplined by God so many times for mixing paganism with their worship of him that they finally learned. Now today, if there is one thing they know for a fact is that a guy named Jesus, presented to them dressed up like a Roman sun god, born on December 25th, is definitely not their Messiah. Absolutely, no way. (For those of you who don't already know, Mithra the Roman sun god was born on December 25th.) Present them with a Jesus who was a Torah observant Jew and you have quite another story.
During the last few years I have noticed that Baptist pastors come in two flavors or groups. Again, this is not just a Baptist phenomenon. The first group is quite small percentage wise. It is my experience that they are less than ten percent of the total. The characteristic that would best describe them is that of humility. When they hear the term ‘Messianic’ as in ‘Messianic Judaism’ applied to us their attitude tends to be along the lines of, ‘Let’s talk, I would like to know more.’ For these pastors I usually ask for about four hours of their time in order to explain what I have learned about ‘Messianic Judaism’ during the last few years. The most amazing thing about these times is that there is not as much discussion afterwards as you might expect. The attitude of the pastor’s tends to be something like, "I don’t really have a problem with what you have said." One pastor said, "You may not believe this, but I agree with everything you have said." One said something like, "I think I may have some problem with some of what you have said, but before I say anything I want to do some study." Why is this? What virtually all Baptists think they know about Messianic Judaism is complete misconception. Once they take the time to educate themselves they find that the areas of disagreement are not nearly as many as the originally thought.
One of the things I love about these pastors is their love of God and His word. They love, as do I, to sit for hours and discuss God and His word. There have been more times than I could count where we have talked well past midnight. This is one thing I love to do more than anything else. These pastors all realize that when it comes to trying to define what ‘Messianic Judaism’ is, Baptist is perhaps a better word than ‘Jew.’ In other words 'Messianic Judaism' is more closely associated to 'Baptist' than to 'Orthodox Judaism.' I must state here that this would be from a Baptist perspective. The average ‘Messianic’ would consider themselves to be closer to Judaism than Baptist. Ones perspective makes all the difference in the world in this case. Personally, I believe that those in the Messianic camp that have a perspective that would position themselves closer to 'Orthodox Judaism' than 'Baptist' are quite incorrect and ignorant of the history of 'Orthodox Judaism'.
The second and much larger group of Independent Baptist pastors is quite the opposite of the first. While very supportive of the nation of Israel they tend to be very anti-Semitic when it comes to individual Jews. These pastors when hearing the term ‘Messianic’ applied to us immediately and correctly think ‘Messianic Judaism’ and within a micro second incorrectly convert that to ‘Jew.’ And now having labeled us a Jews will no longer talk or have any thing to do with us. When we run into them at a conference or other meeting, they say ‘Hi’ as they quickly pass us by. One pastor, whose daughters were good friends of my daughters, would no longer allow his daughters to have anything to do with my daughters.
So just what is it that makes these pastors so anti-Semitic when in fact as Independent Baptists they are so close to being Messianic themselves that they could change their name from Independent Baptist to Independent Messianic Baptist and almost get away with it? I have over the last few years come to this conclusion. While the character trait of the first group of pastors is humility, the defining character trait of the second is an 'inhibiting pride'. They are proud of being ‘Independent Baptist.’ They are very proud of the big ‘B’. They are proud of being ‘KJV.’ They are proud of their theology. In fact their theology has become their real god. They are proud of the fact that they have ‘stayed by the stuff.’ They are proud of the fact that over the years since they graduated Bible College they have not changed in the least a single thing they believed the day they graduated. They are proud of the fact that because of not changing God has not been able teach them anything new since graduation. They are proud of their music. They are proud of what they have accomplished for God in spite of the fact that five years ago their church was two to three times larger than what it is today. In fact there is not much they are not proud of. They are too proud to admit to any of this. This is a pride that they are, for the most part, not even aware that they have.
As a result of this pride I have found that the one thing they absolutely hate doing is having a discussion about God and His word. I have come to realize that this is due to the fact that if they were to have a discussion about God and His word they risk learning something that might result in their having to admit that they have been wrong, and this actually scares them to death. This is something that their pride cannot allow. I call this 'inhibiting pride' because it prevents them from risking being wrong about anything.
Having a discussion about God and His word for hours at a time is not going to happen. In fact more times than I can count I have tried to get a discussion going and found that if you can keep it going for just two minutes you have achieved a major victory. On the other hand, sports is quite another thing. Football seems to be their favorite, especially if they live in Denver. They will talk for hours and the one thing you do not want to do is try to bring up God or His word in the middle of a discussion of the Broncos. I have never been able to develop any kind of relationship with any of these pastors, even going way back to before I even knew the term ‘Messianic.’ Why? Simply because I hate talking about sports and they hate talking about God and His word. The only time you can hear them talking about God is Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night and for a few when they go out ‘knocking doors’ and then they use a scripted ‘Romans Road’, because an open discussion is out of the question.
The thing I find that I love the most about many (not all) ‘Messianic’ people is that they love to talk about God and His word. They don’t even have to agree with each other. They just want to learn. They don’t even always agree with the pastor, but they don’t have roast pastor on the way home. They do tend to go study the Word to try and find out who God thinks is right. And if they should find that they believe that they are correct and the pastor is wrong, it simply means that here comes another one of those fantastic discussion sessions. They tend to be in love with God and His word and not their own theology. Which, I think, is the way it should be. Is this true of all Messianic people. Of course not.
In conclusion, why would I consider myself a 'Messianic Baptist’? Primarily because in order to become 'Messianic' I did not have to quit believing anything that I believed as a Baptist. As a Baptist I always believed as a Baptist, but I did not for the most part know why I believed what I believed. A situation I find that most Baptists are in. Since adding the 'Messianic' part I now know why I believe what I believe. A 'Messianic Baptist' is a Baptist that knows and understands why he believes what he believes. A large share of this knowledge has come from many long discussions of God and His word. As a 'Messianic' I have simply become a better Baptist. It was this kind of church that in the first century was able to say that 3000 were added in one day. It is interesting to note that these 3000 came from that group of people that today we say are almost impossible to win, Jews.
I do know this. Until we get to the point when we are willing to drop our pride and start doing things according to the word of God and give up our favorite traditions it really doesn't matter if you call yourself Baptist, Messianic or something in between, when God looks at us He sees little or no difference. And its interesting to note that when we all start doing it God's way He will still see no difference.