Very Serious Problems With The Union Of Messianic Jewish Congregations

After being involved with the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations (UMJC) for a number of years (for a time I served as the head of the Evangelism Committee), and after completing their Yeshiva program, I was given smicha (ordination) by the UMJC at the Dallas conference in 1992. Several years later our synagogue withdrew its membership from the UMJC when it became clear to me that Jewish Evangelism was not a priority to the UMJC. I believed then, and still believe now, that any organization, congregation or individual that is not committed to evangelism is not healthy, and will eventually head in an unhealthy direction.

Other Problems Surface: Timeline Of Events

In the summer of 2,000, after speaking personally with Mark Kinzer, who was the head of the UMJC’s seminary program, it was clear to me that Mark had embraced serious errors, like the Documentary Hypothesis (see my “Refutation of the Documentary Hypothesis” below). When asked about two Isaiahs, Mark admitted to me that there were at least two Isaiahs, and probably three, four or five! Mark also let me know that Genesis 1-11 may not be real history, based on real historical events, with real historical people. Mark also embraced the “Unconscious Christian” or “Unrecognized Mediation of Christ” doctrine (see my article, “Sure As Hell” which refutes this false teaching. It can be found at Also, Dr. Louis Goldberg, of blessed memory, wrote a thorough refutation of a very closely related error, the Two-Covenant Heresy). Mark also teaches that the Roman Catholic Church is an acceptable Christian Church, and its Gospel is an authentic Gospel message (see “Comments on Roman Catholicism” below).

A week after discovering this information, I contacted Russ Resnick, the General Secretary of the UMJC, and let him know what I had found out. I followed up that phone call with a summary of our conversation. Russ Resnick’s initial response was to defend Mark’s doctrine as being acceptable. That same day I emailed Mark with my concerns. Mark and I exchanged several emails about these issues. Mark’s responses did not alleviate my concerns.

The matter was submitted to a UMJC committee that met at the national conference in Ohio during the summer of 2,000. As I recall, the committee was composed of three people: Dan Juster, Elliot Klayman, and one other person. I was informed that the committee met and decided by a 2 to 1 vote that Mark’s doctrines were acceptable to the UMJC. Dan Juster and the other man made a terrible mistake in this decision. They tolerated serious error. They could have prevented Mark’s errors from spreading further. They were negligent as gatekeepers.

I disagreed with that committee’s decision, and in February of 2001 I contacted the MJAA, which our congregation was then a part of, to let them know about my concerns. I was told that at a joint meeting of UMJC and MJAA leaders, the situation with Mark would be discussed. That meeting took place, and I was informed that the situation was discussed, and that other than keeping an eye on the situation, no further action was pending. I have further talked to the MJAA, and they are more concerned than ever that Mark is not teaching sound doctrine.

In November 2002 I warned my synagogue as part of a sermon, which was later also sent out by email, that Mark was denying that Jewish people needed to consciously place their faith in Messiah in order to be saved. On February 27, 2003, Russ Resnick emailed me letting me know that he was initiating a joint UMJC/MJAA resolution process against me. I met with Elliot Klayman, who represented the UMJC, and with Michael Wolf, who represented the MJAA, on May 18, 2003. They both were sympathetic to my concerns about Mark’s doctrine, and we decided that a further meeting with Mark would be attempted in the near future, but that meeting would wait until after the UMJC conference took place in Israel. I agreed that I would not publically speak out further until our meeting took place. I also said that I would only wait for a limited time, so that the matter could be dealt with promptly.

That meeting with Elliot, Michael, Mark and I never took place because the situation changed as a result of the UMJC’s Israel conference. In connection to that conference, Rich Nichol was quoted by the Jerusalem Post saying that the UMJC does not believe that Jewish people who don’t believe in Jesus are going to Hell. That made this entire situation a public matter. The situation further changed when I found out that Mark Kinzer and Tony Eaton were in print advocating some form of Dual-Covenant and Unconscious Christian heresies. Their heretical quotes can be found below. The situation further changed when quotes from various UMJC leaders were printed in the Jews for Jesus’ Havurah article in the Fall of 2003. That made this situation a public matter.

I continued speaking out about this public situation. Russ Resnick initiated charges against me for libel and divisiveness and brought those charges to the UMJC’s Judicial Committee. After looking into the matter, they found me innocent of 8 of the 9 charges that Russ charged me with. The one charge they found me guilty of, and which in their opinion was slanderous, was my following statement to my fellow UMJC rabbis: “I am writing to those who are part of the Messianic Jewish Movement, and affiliated with a UMJC congregation, to let you know what has been happening between me and some of the leadership of the UMJC. I write to you believing that, because these issues concern everyone, they should not remain private, and you should know the facts. Recently I’ve made some critical remarks regarding some of the theological drift of some leaders in the UMJC. For that, I’ve been threatened by Russ Resnick with the revocation of my ordination with the UMJC. It seems to me that Russ is biased, and is using his position as General Secretary to try and punish dissent.

Based on this last sentence (the sentence in italics) the Judicial Committed concluded that I was guilty of libel charge against Russ on this one charge. They also stated that this did not rise to the serious level needed to take away my ordination. However, Resnick ignored the recommendation of the Judicial Committee, and went to the Credentials Committee, who without contacting me, took away my UMJC ordination. At the following delegates meeting, the delegates allowed this decision to be approved.

Additional Problems

Conversion of Gentiles: Although it’s against the teaching of the New Testament, leaders of congregations that are part of the UMJC are converting Gentiles into Jews; and it is tolerated by the UMJC. See my article, Conversion?

Exclusion of Gentiles: Although it’s against the teaching of the New Testament, leaders of congregations that are part of the UMJC are excluding Gentile Christians from participating in their congregations.

Heretical Quotes

* “If Abraham Heschel is not in heaven, I don’t belong there either, regardless of what I think about Jesus. This is a person who had a deep personal connection with God.” (Quote from an interview with Tony Eaton, found on page 74 the Senior Thesis of Gabriela Karabelnik, titled, “Competing Trends in Messianic Judaism: The Debate Over Evangelicalism.” Gabriela’s Thesis was published for Yale University, the Department of Religious Studies, April 12, 2002.

* “The day is going to come in the judgment when all these devout Jews are going to come before the Messiah, and when they approach Him they’re going to look at him and say, ‘Didn’t I know you?’ and He’ll say, ‘Yeah, you did, you just didn’t know my name.” (Quote from an interview with Tony Eaton, found on page 74 of the Thesis).

* “The Talmud says all Israel has a place in the world to come.” Why? Because God made a covenant with our ancestors. So it doesn’t become an obsession for the Jewish people to worry about post-mortem bliss. For some reason, it’s an obsession particularly with evangelical Christians…. The focus on redemption and salvation in the Christian world is wrong – God’s role is primarily as a consummator, bringing creation to completion. Redemption is there, but it’s not the focus.” (Quote from an interview with Tony Eaton, found on pages 74-75 of the Thesis).

* In a recent article in the Jerusalem Post, Rich Nichol said that he “does not believe that Jews who have not accepted Jesus are doomed to hell.” (Jerusalem Post, July 3, 2003. “Zaka gets donation from Messianic Jews”, pg. 4).

* In an article entitled, Some People Call Me a Heretic published in The Semi of Fuller Theological Seminary, November 3-7, 2003, Stuart Dauermann writes: I am a pretty well-educated person. Still, I find it baffling when the orthodoxy of my faith and the authenticity of my life’s work is judged by my answer to the question, “Do you believe Jewish people are going to hell unless they believe in Jesus?” … Lately, some people have attacked my friends and me. When they do, they are thinking and acting like a Greco-Roman. Thus, they call me a heretic because I don’t form my categories and/or fill my categories the same way they do. To them, every Jew who doesn’t believe in Jesus belongs in the category “going to hell.” Only those who die in infancy or are mentally defective get a break. However, I don’t believe the Bible unambiguously supports their claims. God may still have some surprises up his sleeve. I argue he may just apply the benefits of Messiah’s death and resurrection to some people who loved and served God the best they knew how, and who sought his mercy because they needed it, even though they never received Messiah Yeshua in the evangelical sense. I believe this is God’s business and not mine. I am prepared to say, “I don’t know the answer to that question because it is not my business to know – it is God’s business.”… While Greco-Roman theologizing involves fitting new situations into a revered grid (i.e. old answers to new questions), this Hebraic approach involves asking new questions and perhaps finding answers that haven’t been discussed before. I contend it is not wrong to say, “God, it’s not fair that these people should go to hell because they have never received Jesus. After all, look how Jesus has been represented to them by 2000 years of persecution and prejudice! Look God: they seek to honor you! Is there no place in your Kingdom for them?” Here is a concrete example from my synagogue. Judy visited a 100-year-old Jewish woman who was blind and almost totally deaf. It was not possible for Judy to get doctrine across to Mildred, but she did go and visit with her. A few days before Mildred died, Judy heard her say clear as a bell, “Father, forgive me.” Now, assuming she was talking to God, does “sound doctrine” require us to say that God said to her, “Mildred, I’d really like to help you, but you chose door number two and the answer is behind door number one?” Finally, I think any conclusions we draw about people’s eternal destinies need to be made with a heightened awareness of what we are talking about, rather than in the airtight theological grid which has a preformulated response for every question. I think it is better for us to embrace the rigors, uncertainties and agonies of beseeching God for better answers, than to accept the closure that comes from acquiescence to a system of theological thought that gives us tidy answers but a terrible God. Or so it seems to me.

* “Because of the validity of the Abrahamic covenant, I believe it’s still as possible for a Jew who doesn’t know Yeshua to have a living relationship with God, just as a Christian. But of course Yeshua is still the Messiah and any Jew who knows Him is in a better place and has more access to God than before.” (Quote from an interview with Mark Kinzer, found on page 75 of the Thesis).

* In the “Letters” published by Jews for Jesus, which accompanied the February 2004 publication Havurah, Kinzer states: “He (God) makes a way for humble and faithful members (as if a Jewish person who denies the Son of God is “faithful”) of His people to enter His presence through the unrecognized mediation of Israel’s Messiah.” Contradicting this, John writes: “He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life” (1 John 5:12). Those who do not have the Son of God, who reject the Messiah, are not humble, faithful members of God’s people; nor do they have a way to enter into God’s presence – a way in which they will be accepted, welcomed and saved.

Refutation of the Documentary Hypothesis

Kinzer claims that the identity of the author is not relevant to the issue of inerrancy, but I disagree. My faith may be naive, even child-like, but I believe that where the Scriptures teach on the identity of the author, we must accept that teaching. The Torah itself says that it was written by Moses. “So Moses wrote this Torah” (Deuteronomy 31:9). “Moses finished writing the words of this Torah in a book until they were complete” (Deuteronomy 31:24). The prophets say it was written by Moses (Joshua 8:31, Malachi 4:4). The infallible Son of God says it was written by Moses (Matthew 8:4, Mark 7:10, 12:26, John 5:45-47). The inspired Apostles say it was written by Moses (John 1:17, Romans 10:5). Jewish tradition and teaching says it was written by Moses. “V’zot haTorah asher sahm Moshe leef-nay b’nay Yisrael, al pee Adonai, b’yad Moshe.” Christian tradition says it was written by Moses. But, starting 1800 years after Messiah came, critics have arisen who deny what the Torah says about itself, what the inspired prophets, Messiah and His Emissaries say about the authorship of the Torah. As to there being more than one Isaiah, the Lord and His Emissaries are clear that Isaiah wrote the entire book of Isaiah (see Matthew 3:3, 4:14, 8:17, 12:17-21, 13:14-15, 15:7-9, John 12:38-41, Acts 8:28-33, 28:25-27, Romans 9:27-29, 10:16, 20, 15:12, and other passages). Where the Scriptures teach on authorship, we must accept that teaching.

The Documentary Hypothesis has been thoroughly and sufficiently refuted by those who hold to inerrancy. “An Introduction To The Old Testament” by Edward J. Young has an extensive treatment of the literary criticism of the Torah. In his treatment of Isaiah, he discusses at length the evidence for the single authorship of the book by Isaiah. B.B. Warfield’s, “The Inspiration And Authority Of The Bible” is also recommended. Oswald T. Allis’, “The Five Books Of Moses” and his work, “The Unity Of Isaiah” are good. A large volume by F. K. Harrison of the University of Toronto, “Introduction to the Old Testament,” has some very good material dealing with the higher critical position. Another recommended work is Gleason Archer’s “Survey of the Old Testament.” Some scholarly works of Jewish authors who opposed the Documentary Hypothesis include Rachel Margalioth’s, “The Invisible Isaiah” and Umberto Cassuto’s work on the Pentateuch.

The Documentary Hypothesis has been ruinous to every denomination that has embraced it. The Documentary Hypothesis is contrary to sound doctrine, and what the Scriptures teach about their own authorship. The Documentary Hypothesis contradicts the doctrines of Infallibility and Inerrancy. The Evangelical Theological Society (a kind of Sanhedrin or Beit Din in these matters) recently reaffirmed that the Documentary Hypothesis is to be rejected by those who hold to the Word of God. Those who embrace it are outside of sound Evangelical theology.

Comments on Roman Catholicism

The Gospel that the Roman Catholic Church offers has been perverted, and consequently will not save its adherents. It has added to the Word of God by acknowledging the Apocrypha as part of the Holy Scriptures. It has added to the Word of God by elevating Catholic traditions, laws and decrees to the same status as the Word of God! In addition, it has arrogantly declared the bishop of Rome to be the infallible leader of the entire Church. It invented the doctrine of a non-existent place called Purgatory. There is no Scriptural support for traditions and practices such as the sacrifice of the mass, transubstantiation, prayers and masses for the dead, indulgences, the worship of Mary, prayers to the saints, adoring a piece of bread, the use of icons in worship, holy water, rosary beads and scapulars, a Roman Catholic priesthood, the demand of celibacy from these priests and nuns, and confession to priests to obtain absolution. It has multiplied anathemas against Protestants and against good Protestant Biblical doctrines. I believe that anyone who can’t say that the Roman Catholic Church teaches a different and distorted Gospel (see Galatians 1:6-9), should be removed from any position of authority within the Messianic Jewish Community.