Jewish AND Christian? Impossible! Or Is It?

In the 1980’s, as a self-centered and arrogant Jewish 29 year-old, I discovered something I was not looking for and the course of my life was completely and forever altered. I found out that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah. I learned that he was the one spoken of in the Hebrew Scriptures, that he was God’s way of salvation for Jew and Gentile alike, and that through him my life could be transformed — even though I did not want it to be transformed.

One result of this revelation was a desire to get to know the God of the Bible better who, I discovered, had gone to great lengths to reveal himself. So I did something that would classify me as foolish, if not mentally deranged, by most contemporary New Yorkers: I began to study the Bible. As a Jewish new believer in Christ, the reality of Christ as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy resonated through every corner of my soul.

I understood on a profound level that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah. Everything about him was Jewish. He was born a Jew, raised in a Jewish community, lived and worked as a Jew among Jews, worshipped in the Temple as a faithful Jew, taught as a Jew and ultimately died as a Jew with the Hebrew Scriptures on his lips. And I discovered that the New Testament, though reputed to be an anti-Semitic book, was in fact written by Jews, for Jews and about Jews. I also learned that a continuous theme that weaved its way throughout the entirety of the Hebrew Scriptures was that of a Messiah, or special anointed one, who would one day set foot onto the stage of human history. And the more I read and studied the Bible, the more fascinated I became at this extraordinary unfolding plan of God’s. Consequently, I also came to understand that Jews, more than any other people, should believe that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah. For only then can they be completely true to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and in harmony with the Hebrew Scriptures.

I also discovered to both my surprise and dismay that many Gentile Christians, including many who had been followers of Christ for decades and attended church regularly, though very knowledgeable of the New Testament, were often profoundly unacquainted with the rich Old Testament roots of their faith. This was particularly surprising to me because the primary point of the New Testament is that Jesus Christ is the Jewish Messiah of the Old Testament.

Old Testament messianic prophecy and New Testament fulfillment is also one of the most compelling evidences of the Christian faith. As a Jewish man, this evidence was central to my own acceptance of Jesus as Israel’s Messiah. The New Testament did not simply come down to us in a vacuum, but rather is the culmination of God’s great promise to send a Messiah or anointed one — a promise foretold hundreds, and in some cases, over one thousand years before it actually came to pass.

These promises or messianic prophecies are our sure reliable guide, a bedrock of our faith, the written assurance that Jesus indeed is the “expected one” (Mattew 11:3), and the fulfillment of the messianic prophecies of the Hebrew Bible. In order to get his disciples to understand his coming, Jesus continually referred them back to the authority of their own Hebrew Scriptures. He was in essence saying: All of Scripture points to me. The whole of the Scripture (i.e., what we now call the Old Testament), finds its focus and fulfillment in the life, death and resurrection of Israel’s Messiah. The disciples themselves then used the Old Testament to substantiate Jesus’ messiahship to others. When the messianic expectations are truly understood, it becomes clear that Jesus, and only Jesus, can fulfill these requirements.

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About Alex Haiken

Born to a Jewish family in New York City, I came to faith in Christ in 1982 after trying to disprove the Bible. I found so much evidence in support of the claims of Jesus and the Bible that it required more faith to reject it than to believe it. I hold a Master’s degree from Westminster Theological Seminary and among other things am a lecturer, teacher, blogger and conference speaker. I came out as gay at a young age but was taught when I came to faith that I could not be both Christian and gay. I served for a time as a leader of an ex-gay ministry but shifted my views after recognizing that when the few passages generally appealed to in this debate are examined more closely and in context, the traditional anti-gay interpretations do not hold up to scrutiny. I learned that the ex-gay route is a scripturally unsound mirage, a specious illusion that deceitfully draws people not to a life-giving oasis but to a deeper and deeper spiritual desert. Seeing the immense need for education in this area, I began to speak and write about my experience and new-found convictions. I am also passionate about helping the Church better understand her rich Jewish roots; helping other Jewish people understand Jesus as their Jewish Messiah; and helping other gay people integrate a theologically sound, committed Christian faith with their sexuality. It is my hope that the reflections in this blog will prompt you to explore the paths they suggest, leading to your own more eloquent thinking, exploration and action. If you want, visit the “Contact” page and let me know what you think.
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6 Responses to Jewish AND Christian? Impossible! Or Is It?

  1. bmalt34 says:

    Enjoyed your blog, something that has recently become known to Christians is the “Declaration of Health, Protection and Provision” this is the authority to declare that:
    “I cannot be sick, any sickness that threatens me is saying Isaiah 53:5 is not true and therefore is saying Jehovah God is a liar and there is no sickness that has the authority to call the Creator a liar!”

    “I cannot be harmed by anything or anyone, any situation that threatens me would be a situation that says Psalms 91:11 is not true and therefore is saying Jehovah God is a liar and there is no situation that has the authority to call the Creator a liar!”

    “I will be provided for. Deuteronomy 28: 1-14 makes it very clear that I am blessed and I will have all that I need. There cannot be a situation where I lack food, water, clothing, shelter…whatever it is that I need. Jehovah God will not be called a liar!”

    This power is being exercised more and more by Christians regardless of their denomination.
    I believe being Jewish and Christian is possible!

    • Alex Haiken says:

      Bryon,
      Being both Jewish and Christian is one thing; it appears we’re in agreeemnt on that. But the other stuff you referenced sounds like a page out of what’s commonly referred to as the “prosperity gospel” or “health and wealth” movement. This is a doctrine based on “proof-texts” stripped from their contexts. It’s highly unbiblical in my opinion and also does great harm to people because it always lays blame on the sick individual, who is thus accused of hidden sin or a lack of faith. John McMurray once expressed the difference between false and true religion by saying the motto of false religion is, “Fear not! Trust in God and He will see that none of the things you fear will happen to you.” The motto of real religion, on the other hand is, “Fear not! The things you are afraid of are quite likely to happen to you, but they are nothing to be afraid of.”
      -Alex

    • Byron says:

      Alex, looks like you added the fact that you are gay sometime in the last 6 years! I am mandated by God’s love and word to tell you that a gay Christian doesn”t exist.

      • Alex Haiken says:

        Bryon,
        I appreciate your concern, but you may wish to review the two most basic and fundamental rules of biblical exegesis. The first rule is: NEVER ask of a passage, “What DOES this mean?” Because that unconsciously means, “What does this mean to me personally?” This is why you can gather 25 believers and ask them about a certain passage and get 25 different personal opinions. Without sufficient background, every one of the 25 opinions may be wrong even though they all sincerely and completely believe they are correct. Obviously there’s nothing wrong with wanting to know what the Bible means to each of us personally. That’s one of the reasons for the its existence! The issue is to make sure we’re going about finding that out correctly.

        So what does responsible biblical exegesis require that we ask, then? The second rule is also specific. Rule two is: ALWAYS ask, “What DID this mean to the author and to the original intended audience?” If we have no idea what the text meant THEN, we’re left to only guess at what it might mean for us NOW. The reason why there are so many wild and utterly wrong interpretations of Scripture is because these two fundamental and basic rules have not been applied.

        Homosexuality is debated with great rancor today because of the deep-seated and earnest belief on the part of many, like yourself, that the Bible condemns it. While many are sincere in their beliefs, the problem with sincerity is that we can be sincerely wrong. I don’t fault anyone for their faith in the Bible, but I do fault them if that faith is not founded in exegetical reality. Whether you believe the bible condemns homosexuality or not, you need to bring your opinions to the test of biblical exegesis. These are the scientific and common-sense rules by which opinions about the meaning of any biblical passage are tested by various objective rules.

        You are not “mandated by God’s love and word to tell [me] that a gay Christian doesn’t exist.” The fact is I do. But you are mandated to learn how to do responsible biblical exegesis.
        -Alex

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