The Pagan in My Coffee Cup

            I’ve named this, “The Pagan in My Coffee Cup” because of recent concerns about the Messianic movement and other “get back to biblical roots, first-century” jargon. Many are into, First-Century Christianity; First-Century Judaism; First-Century Messianic Judaism; First-Century “this” and First-Century “that.” Well, if you’re like me, then it’s possible your head is spinning as quickly as mine. Why? Well, first let’s examine why this is a concern. This is more of my personal perception, but I believe it holds water.

            First, there seems to be more and more individuals grasping for a more biblical, centralized-faith. In this process, Christians and Jews are becoming weary and tired of the “same-ol’-thing.” “Church as usual” or “the rabbi says” . . . just doesn’t seem to be answering the questions that people have. I credit this “unsettling of the people” to what I’ll call, “Modern-day Bereans” (according to Acts 17:10-11). They are believers who study the Scriptures and see hypocritical interpretations which fit particular molds or they fit particular denominational standards, but they just don’t seem to be biblical. In my opinion, a thesis is being nailed to the doors of the synagogues and the churches across the world; a thesis which states, “We’ve had enough!” They are tired of plaster-molded preachers and teachers that simply teach the latest theological trend or the “new wave” of the stream of God. For example, a book comes out about the End-Times followed by a series; eventually, everyone is teaching about the End-Times. And, then, lines are drawn through “theological” stances: “I’m this . . . what are you?” Before we know it, we are theologically-judged by a popular novel series or a certain dispensation, etc. Well, people are tired of it and they are saying, “No more!” In part, because they see the nonsense, and in part because they see the pride of religious leaders, which refuse to stand  up for the Bible, but hold to their denominational creeds.

            It’s not like these Bereans are saying they want an all-inclusive faith of all religions and peoples. No, that’s ultimate tolerance and ultimate political-correctness. However, they are no longer taking the pill of “this is the way it’s always been” rhetoric either. They are truth-seekers and truth-walkers. They want the purity of the Word, and the junk of influential paganism stripped from their lives. They are willing to take heat from the church and Talmudic halakhah (Judaism’s interpretations of Jewish Law). Within Christianity there are over 33,000 denominations, and among Judaism there are several movements, which range from the most Orthodox to the most liberal. Now, although most Christian denominations adhere to many of the same foundational tenets, each claims to be the proper way or the “truth.” This is no different within Judaism; although most movements are based upon the Talmud and Sacred texts, they vary in practice or observance according to how they see fit. Now, logic only dictates that someone here has to be wrong. Christians will say they’re right, and Orthodoxy Judaism will say they’re right. Well, they both can’t be right! Unlike the popular, American cultural trend—one’s personal faith is all that matters, and truth is in the eye of the beholder—Yeshua says He is the Truth. Furthermore, not only does He say He’s the Truth but He is the Way and the Life. He states, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6, ESV). That’s right! Not all religions lead to the Father (however, they all lead to the Judgement Seat). They may all lead to the after-life and to their versions of heaven—that being the spiritual realm beyond our reality; regardless, the majority of religions are headed for a rude awakening!

            And, second, because most people want their lives to mean something, they are quick to join “this” movement or “that” movement, not really analyzing what the movement means or why it was started in the first place. When the Reformation began, in approximately 1517 C.E., it just didn’t happen, “out-of-the-blue.” There were previous attempts that helped establish, probably, the greatest reformation to this side of the Resurrection of the Messiah. Some of them were from people such as Jon Wycliffe and Jan Hus, which tried to reform the Roman Catholic Church and made some tremendous strides; however, they weren’t complete in and of themselves. With Protestantism on the rise, the Scriptures—for the average Christian person—became open to personal, biblical interpretation, and not solely the interpretations of the clergy or Papacy. (Let us remember and not make light of the fact that during these times a lot of blood was spilt over doctrines).

Note: In my personal study of past revivals and why they ended is because I’ve seen one constant: anti-Semitism! Sure, there are other factors to consider, but if one earnestly looks at historical events, he’ll see a pattern emerge and that pattern is how each movement treated the Jewish people. The Reformation was needed and it was a must! And, when Luther said, “no more!” with his 95 theses, he started something that continues to this day. When he started out he had hoped to see the Jewish people, by the groves, come into the church because they were no longer bound by the Catholic Church; however, when they (the Jewish people) still refused to accept “Christianity,” Luther, sadly, just before he died, in 1543 uttered these words:

First, their synagogues should be set on fire . . . Secondly, their homes should likewise be broken down and destroyed. . . . Thirdly, they should be deprived of their prayer-books and Talmuds. . . . Fourthly, their rabbis must be forbidden under threat of death to teach anymore . . . Fifthly, passport and traveling privileges should be absolutely forbidden for to the Jews. . . . Sixthly, they ought to be stopped from usury [charging interest on loans]. . . . Seventhly, let the young and strong Jews and Jewesses be given the flail, the ax, the hoe, the spade, the distaff, and spindle, and let them earn their bread by the sweat of their noses . . . We ought to drive the rascally lazy bones out of our system. . . . Therefore away with them. . . .

To sum up, dear princes and nobles who have Jews in your domains, if this advise of mine does not suit you, then find a better one so that you and we may all be free of this insufferable devilish burden—the Jews. (Michael Brown, Our Hands are Stained with Blood: The Tragic Story of the “Church” and the Jewish People, Destiny Image Publishing, Shippensburg, PA:  1992, pp. 14-15 as quoted in, Martin Luther, Concerning the Jews and Their Lies, reprinted in Talmage, Disputation and Dialogue, pp. 34-36.)

The influence of these words, no doubt, rang in the ears of Hitler and they persist to this day in bigots, skin-heads, and the ignorant. Furthermore, they are also remembered deeply among the Jewish people! Now, just to be fair, this didn’t start with Luther, but he may have been influenced from such sayings that trail their linkage back to before the fourth century and earlier. One of the “Father’s of Christianity,” St. John Chrysostom, referred to by Cardinal Newman as a “bright cheerful gentle soul, a sensitive heart, a temperament open to emotion and impulse; and all this elevated, refined, [and] transformed by the touch of heaven,” called the synagogue, “worse than a brothel . . . it is the den of scoundrels, etc. . . . [And,] as for me, I hate the synagogue . . . I hate the Jews for the same reason.” (Brown, Stained With Blood, pp.10-11.)

            It should not surprise the church that the Jews, over all, have rejected Christianity or Christian movements because of such things. Yet, it seems to escape even the greatest of theologians in the church today. It’s really not that hard people . . . the “Church” has got to change! Just like the reformations of the past, a modern one is needed. Additionally, it should be noted . . . with change comes messiness! Modern church movements or revivals are quickly labeled heretical by the “church” as defined through apologists on “Church Doctrine,” which uses its own canon of doctrine to determine whether a group of believers are heretical or not. And, to some degree, this has worked pretty good for the church for the past 1700 years—not considering all the separatists, reformations, rebellions, and such. Thus, to many in the church, Messianic movements are a danger and a hindrance to Christianity. Judaism, especially, among Orthodoxy, also label these Messianic movements as heresy. So, what we have in the middle are a bunch of “get-back-to-the-Hebrew-Bible-and-New-Covenant-Scriptures-movements” wandering in the heretical-zone where no Jew or Gentile has gone before!

            Regardless, what I’m saying is that these Messianic movements are needed! However, what has partly come from these movements are tails of some pretty, negative fruit and more divisions. Not that they’re all wrong or bad, but what we have—in the midst of the truth within these movements—are “fleshly” prophets (mostly, but not all, non-Jews fascinated with the Messianic movement and anything Jewish, including Talmudic Judaism) screaming at the church, Christianity, and Judaism, shouting, . . . “You Pagans! . . . You’re nothing but Pagans! Christianity and Judaism are filled with paganism and you’re all going to hell! . . . You need to embrace the real name of God and his Son’s name” (usually, some non-Hebrew name), etc. Yet, their love for the believer in Yeshua—Jew or non-Jew—isn’t present; their lack of the gifts of the Spirit and being led by the Ruach HaKodesh, and expressing God’s Word through patience and gentleness for the believer and unbeliever is, frankly, appalling. In reference to Christianity, I call this anti-Gentilism. And to Judaism, simply, I call anti-Judaism.

            Abraham was a man saturated within a pagan culture, so was Joseph, and the benei Yisrael (Children of Israel). As was David, and yes, first-century Jews. Paganism is in the coffee cup, and it will always be there, there’s no question about it. Today’s Judaism and Christianity have pagan traditions throughout. We all follow the “work-week” whether we accept it or not. We all call the day by its pagan name. Sure, some of us try not to by referring to the days of the week as 1st day or Day one, Day two, etc., until the Shabbat. These are all noble things; however, balance is needed my brothers and sisters. Balance! If we are to reach sinners with the power of the Message of Messiah: that Yeshua is Elohim in the flesh and all Deity rests within Him, and He is the long-awaited Mashiyach to both Jew and non-Jew, and that He has paid the price for our sins through His death and resurrection, and we are now called to walk according to His Kingdom; these are all biblical facts by the way, then, dang it! Wake up! Balance, balance, and more balance are needed. If paganism is the “world”, which I believe it is, then you’ll be surrounded by it. However, if you’re called-out, set-Apart (holy-kadosh), then regardless of how much you’re in this “world” or saturated in paganism, you’ll not be of it.

            It’s really that simple chaverim. We are called (chosen); we are in this world but no longer a part of it because we all belong to a different kingdom-the Malchut HaElohim-with Yeshua as King. His ways are not of the world; thus, our ways are not of this world. He died for us and those that have NOT YET come into His kingdom. Therefore, we become a crossed-over people—no longer Jew, no longer Gentile—but like our father Abraham we are Ivrim (Hebrew). Why? Because we too have left our families, peoples, religions, etc., and crossed-over into His Kingdom. If you’re a Jew . . . welcome . . . by the blood of the Lamb you may enter. If you’re a non-Jew . . . welcome . . . by the blood of the Lamb you may enter. You’ve all, now, crossed-over and have become the people of God (Am Elohim), and the servant of Yeshua the King. Not that we should lose our heritage being Jewish, or Irish, Spanish, English, etc., but have you ever wondered why there is no definitive author to the book of Hebrews in the New Covenant? Yeah, yeah, I know you all have your ideas of who wrote it and so do I; but, just maybe, just maybe there is no name associated with the book of Hebrews because we all belong to a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession. Jew and Non-Jew called the Body of Mashiyach; called out for a purpose by faith through grace to be transformed into His likeness. Meaning, His Word (Both the Tanakh and B’rit HaChadashah), and His Character (walking out according to His ways)! So, pull the cork out, get off your pagan horse with your nose turned up and away from believers and non-believers and die to your “self”! Not only does the earth eagerly await, but pagans are crying out for the beneiElohim (Jew and non-Jew) to be revealed.

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About adrianabernal

I committed my life to the Messiah, Yeshua in 1985. In 1987 I attended bible college in Dallas, TX., where I discovered my rich heritage as a Spanish Jew (Sephardic). Like most Sephardim, I was raised more Catholic than Jewish--I can thank the Spanish Inquisition for that--however, we were for the most part not a religious family. I eventually graduated and have continued on to obtain the Master of Theological Studies (M.T.S.) in Biblical Counseling and Jewish Studies, and a Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) in Jewish Studies with Columbia Evangelical Seminary, in Washington State. I have pastored both churches and Messianic congregations since 1993. Currently, I travel and speak at several churches, synagogues, and Messianic congregations in Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon, and Colorado. For the past 26 years I've engrossed myself in studies on Judaism, Messianic Judaism, and Christianity. In doing so, I have an extensive background in all three disciplines, which gives me a balanced perspective on the complete Bible, both the Tanakh (O.T) and the B'rit Chadashah (N.T.). I have been married for 25 years to my wife Jennifer, and I have three wonderful children: Nathan, Adam, and Rebekah. I am also a golf teaching professional and enjoy fellowship with my Jewish and Christian brothers and family. If you'd like me to come and speak at your place of worship, please do not hesitate to email me or call. Thank you.
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2 Responses to The Pagan in My Coffee Cup

  1. Seana says:

    Adrian,
    This was another great article. You put into words, what I have often thought in regards to this topic. I pray you and your family are being blessed, and count it joy to have you and Jenny as friends. May you both continue to preach the word in and out of season, and never fear the opinions of man.
    Your friend,
    Seana

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