Many Jewish believers in Yeshua – “Messianic Jews” – don’t like to be called “Christians,” because they reject much in traditional Christianity, claiming that it has been corrupted by Greek/pagan thought. For them, the appellation “Christian” is pagan and should be replaced by the term “Messianic. They also maintain that the term “Christian” in the New Testament is used only as a derogatory term.
I disagree with this view. “Christ” is merely Greek for “Messiah,” and, so, a “Christian” is a follower of Christ. I am proud to be called “Christian;” and if people call me a Hebrew Christian or a Jewish Christian or a Christian Jew, that would be nice too. In the time of Christ, many literate Jews read and wrote Greek, because Greek continued to be a major language (which had been so since Alexander the Great) after the Roman occupation of “Palestine” in 63 B.C.E. Furthermore, many Jews had Greek (or Hellenised) names; for example, Nicodemus and the historian, Josephus, who wrote his history of the Jews in Greek. So, in order not to rebuild the wall of partition between Gentile Christians and Messianic Jews, I prefer to call all followers of Jesus/Yeshua simply “Christians,” and don’t mind specifying, if necessary, or if the person likes it, that s/he is a Jewish/Hebrew Christian. I do know one rabbi who says that I am a Christian Jewish man but not a Jewish Christian ish – “man” in Hebrew is ish. If I were drunk, I’d say: “man” in Hebrew ish ish.
Hope that this has helped in some small way to make my Jewish antimissionary friends be nicer to me.
But, and this is a big but, what are my (real) Messianic Jewish friends going to say?
Messianic Jew : What d’ya mean the wall of partition is broken down and all that “one new man” stuff?
Christian Jew: Oh, do you mean that bit in Ephesians about he is our peace, the one who made both groups into one and who destroyed the middle wall of partition, the hostility, when he nullified in his flesh the law of commandments in decrees. He did this to create in himself one new man out of two, thus making peace, and to reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by which the hostility has been killed? Is that what you mean?
Messianic Jew: Exactement. Where does Israel fit into all of this?
Christian Jew: It doesn’t.
Messianic Jew: I knew it. You blew it! As soon as you started talking about one new ish – eish! I knew that you were a replacementist.
Christian Jew: Whazzat?
Messianic Jew: You’ve replaced ethnic Israel with the Church.
Christian Jew: Ah, I get it. Not at all. The “one new man” in Ephesians and the “all Israel will be saved” of Romans 11 are talking about two different things. Look; I’m an ethnic Jew; I now believe in Jesus Christ. Calvin was a Gentile; he also believed in Christ. So, the two of us are one in Christ. As for the future of ethnic Israel, that still stands. So, you see, I am, like our great Apostle Paul, no fan of “replacement theology.” Now, here’s a thing; and most Calvinists are going to scratch my eyeballs out: Calvin – and he would be the first to admit that it was by God’s grace alone – rejected replacement theology.
Messianic Jew: Calvin was horrible to Jews.
Christian Jew: What’s that got to do with the price of Roman or Ephesian pork?
Messianic Jew: And he also didn’t believe in free will.
Christian Jew: I have a confession to make. I’m a Calvinist robot.
Messianic Jew: Shaaaaaaa-lom.