JEWS FOR JUDAISM (Canada) had posted a video of a notorious missionary,
“Messianic Rabbi” Ralph Messer, who wraps mega-church leader Rev. Eddie Long in
a Torah scroll. The scroll allegedly came from the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Rev. Long is currently embroiled in scandal after being accused of alleged sexual misconduct with five young men.
The video, which circulated widely on the Internet for almost a week, until it was removed, is a shocking illustration of how the so-called “Messianic Jewish” (Hebrew-Christian) movement exploits, distorts and violates the most sacred objects and rituals of normative Judaism.
The video also illustrates the scope of acceptance and impact that Messianic Jews are having within the broader Evangelical Christian world. By teaming together with this massively influential group, “Jews for Jesus” style missionaries are able to magnify their effectiveness. Some people still wonder if there really is a missionary problem. This video, which shows just the very tip of the missionary iceberg, clarifies the vital importance of the counter-missionary work of Jews for Judaism.
MESSY ANTICS AND HYPOCRICY
Canadian Jewish News, February 9, 2012
By Rabbi Michael Skobac
When a Youtube video of a notorious missionary desecrating a Torah scroll surfaced on the Internet recently, it took only a few days for it to go “viral” and receive widespread media attention. On January 29, “Messianic Rabbi” Ralph Messer visited the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church near Atlanta and “coronated” Bishop Eddie Long by wrapping him in a Torah scroll, fitting him with a tallit and parading him around in an uplifted chair.
Messer claimed that the scroll used in this bizarre ceremony came from the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. The credibility of this has been questioned along with the credibility of virtually everything he said about Judaism during his offensive spectacle. This included referring to the Torah’s cover as a “foreskin” and asserting that the Jewish kings were wrapped in Torah scrolls. Long himself is currently embroiled in scandal after being accused of sexual misconduct by five young men.
The entire Jewish community was justifiably outraged at this deplorable violation of the most sacred ritual object of Judaism being used as a prop in a Christian worship service. Numerous Christian leaders also expressed their disgust over the disrespect and insensitivity shown toward Jewish tradition. Bishop Long as well expressed regret and apologies for the incident.
For Messer, a non-Jew and leader of Simchat Torah Beit Midrash, a “Hebrew-Christian” congregation and school based in Colorado, this was not his first wrapping of a besieged Church leader in a Torah scroll. In a video he released on the Internet after the controversy broke, Messer unapologetically offered a rambling hour-long explanation and justification for his Torah travesty.
But the most ironic reaction to the growing scandal came from the so-called “Messianic Jewish” community. Numerous leaders and organizations were quick to try and distance themselves from Messer, claiming that he wasn’t a legitimate rabbi and that he perverted and misrepresented Jewish symbols and Jewish tradition. As one Messianic leader lamented, “Judaism is not a toy box for Christians to rifle through”.
Of course there is tremendous truth to the old adage that when you point your finger, you have three pointing back at yourself. When Messianic Jews give their ascent to every single doctrine of Evangelical Christianity, can they honestly claim that their leaders are legitimate rabbis? When the Messianic movement routinely perverts and distorts Jewish traditions, as their insistence that the three matzot at the Passover Seder symbolize Christianity’s Trinity, how can they in all good conscience distinguish themselves from Messer? Methinks the missionaries doth protest too much!
David P. Gusbee, professor of Christian ethics at Mercer University observed that, “one problem with Messianic Judaism, in which leaders attempt to fuse Jewish and Christian traditions and symbols, is that it can easily stray into profound insensitivity”. Yehudah Ilan, who converted to Judaism after a long involvement in the Messianic movement astutely observed that Messer’s wrapping of a Christian in a Torah scroll is actually an act that most aptly embodies the very modus operandi of Messianic Judaism – the wrapping of Christianity in the cloak of Torah.