The Messianic Movement and Charismatic Christianity

The term “Messianic” is one you may be familiar with. Perhaps you have heard someone talking about “Hebrew Roots” or “Judeo-Christianity.” It’s just as likely that these terms are mostly unfamiliar to you. What does this all mean? Is this about some type of dangerous fringe-group or subversive cult? Let’s take a closer look at some of the basic information surrounding the movement.

In the Beginning

Although there are quite a few divergent groups under the umbrella of the Messianic movement, the fundamental motivation of the group as a whole is a return to the religious practice of the early followers of Jesus, whose name in Hebrew is Yeshua (meaning “Salvation”). Yeshua and His earliest followers were entirely Jewish and understood His words from a cultural perspective that is alien to our own. This position is affirmed by the Assemblies of God based Center For Holy Land Studies: “…the Center seeks to transform the way Christians study and understand the Bible, encouraging people ‘to study the Law of the Lord and to do it’ (Ezra 7:10)” . By placing the words of Yeshua in their original cultural context, we are able to better understand Him and our relationship with Him as His disciples.

The Movement Today

In between the early first century and today, much has taken place in the church to cause a separation between the Jewish people and Yeshua. Persecution, forced conversion, and teachings such as that the Torah is no longer valid and that the church has replaced Israel as the true chosen people of God have driven the wedge further still. The present-day depiction of Jesus no longer looks like a Jew or acts like a Jew, so how can He be the Jewish Messiah? In recent years, however, an alternative to this theology has arisen. Fueled by attempts at reuniting Jewish people with Yeshua, various Messianic/Hebrew Christian organizations emerged throughout the 1900s. They asserted that just as the early disciples retained their Jewish identity while still following Yeshua, so can Jewish believers today. A perhaps unforeseen consequence arose from these attempts: Christians began to see the value and depth of Biblical truths which were previously misunderstood or relegated to the position of archaic and obsolete. The effect of this knowledge can be seen today in that the overwhelming majority (over ninety percent) of Messianic congregations are charismatic in nature, and about one-third have even been birthed from the Assemblies of God, revealing that a large percentage of those living Messianic lifestyles are not themselves ethnically Jewish.

While the manifestation of the Spirit is most often associated with Pentecostal/Evangelical Christianity, we can see the Spirit moving in the lives of the Israelites from the beginning. The Mt. Sinai account, in its original translation, says that the people “saw the voices and the torches” (Exodus 20:18) as God spoke to them. According to tradition, each word spoken by God went out in seventy languages. This day is also strongly associated with miraculous healing, since the verse above says that “ALL the people” saw the voices, meaning any who were blind must have been healed. The strong parallels between this and the day of Pentecost are evident, and rightfully so: Pentecost occurred on Shavuot, which is the day the Torah was given on Mt. Sinai. The Spirit dwelt in Moses, and in turn was placed on the seventy elders who assisted in judging the people (Numbers 11:17). Joshua is chosen to succeed Moses, and in him the Spirit dwelt also (Numbers 27:18). The Spirit rested on each of the judges, giving them wisdom in leadership and judgement. The outpouring of the Spirit is symbolized when oil is used to anoint kings and priests. Prophecies, healings, wisdom, miracles, tongues, and all of the other gifts of the Spirit are recorded in the Scriptures in the lives of God’s chosen people, our spiritual foundation.

This long heritage of spirituality extends even to today. While traditional Judaism is often viewed from the outside as sterile and rigid, within it is found a world full of life known as Hasidism. The main aims of Hasidic Judaism are revival from spiritual poverty, increase in piety, spiritual and emotional growth and maturity, and increased understanding and application of mystical beliefs to the established rabbinic practices. These beliefs are outwardly expressed in worship, which shows itself in emotional dancing and fervent prayer. One belief of theirs that is particularly interesting is that people can cleave to a righteous man in order to have that man’s righteousness counted in their own favor and to draw closer to God. For us, this man is Yeshua. To take an in-depth look at the parallels between Hasidism and Christianity would be beyond the scope of this brochure.

We have looked briefly at the Messianic/Hebrew roots movement. While the beliefs within the movement varies, we have looked at its foundations in regard to charismatic Christianity. We also briefly touched on the spiritual movement within Biblical times as well as modern-day Jewish practice, showing that we all have much more in common than is generally recognized.

Quick Facts

– “Over ninety percent of the Messianic congregations in the United States are “charismatic” in their theological orientation (believing in the gifts [charisms] of the Holy Spirit: tongues, healing, etc.), with one-third having been created by the charismatic Assemblies of God denomination.” 

– “The vast majority of Messianic Jews are in the ‘evangelic’ wing of Messianic Judaism [and] hold theological beliefs which are essentially identical to those of evangelical Christianity.” 

– “Congregations sprang up throughout the United States with a distinctively Jewish twist on Evangelical Christianity, catering to Jews and non-Jews alike.” 

– Many congregations have a membership of at least 40-60% Gentiles. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

4 thoughts on "The Messianic Movement and Charismatic Christianity"

  1. Susana says:

    Yes, the church replaced Israel.
    Jesus does not have two brides.
    The bride of Jesus Christ is the church.
    God divorced Israel.
    But, he saved a remnant as Paul teaches us.
    The church is the Israel of GOD.
    Jews and gentiles all saved in Christ to become one new man.
    1948 Israel is under the wrath of God Paul the apostle said that they are under the wrath of God and Jesus Christ said there condemned.
    Whoever does not believe on the Son of God is condemned and the wrath of God abides on him.
    That would be 1948 Israel.

    1. Courtney says:

      Romans 11~

      The Remnant of Israel

      1 I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don’t you know what Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he appealed to God against Israel: 3 “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me”? 4 And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” 5 So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. 6 And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.

      7 What then? What the people of Israel sought so earnestly they did not obtain. The elect among them did, but the others were hardened, 8 as it is written:

      “God gave them a spirit of stupor,
      eyes that could not see
      and ears that could not hear,
      to this very day.”

      9 And David says:

      “May their table become a snare and a trap,
      a stumbling block and a retribution for them.
      10 May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see,
      and their backs be bent forever.”

      Ingrafted Branches

      11 Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. 12 But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their full inclusion bring!

      13 I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I take pride in my ministry 14 in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. 15 For if their rejection brought reconciliation to the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? 16 If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.

      17 If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, 18 do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. 19 You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” 20 Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but tremble. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.

      22 Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. 23 And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24 After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!

      All Israel Will Be Saved

      25 I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, 26 and in this way all Israel will be saved. As it is written:

      “The deliverer will come from Zion;
      he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.
      27 And this is my covenant with them
      when I take away their sins.”

      28 As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies for your sake; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, 29 for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. 30 Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, 31 so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you. 32 For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.


      33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
      How unsearchable his judgments,
      and his paths beyond tracing out!
      34 “Who has known the mind of the Lord?
      Or who has been his counselor?”
      35 “Who has ever given to God,
      that God should repay them?”
      36 For from him and through him and for him are all things.
      To him be the glory forever! Amen.

  2. Courtney says:

    Thank you for your wonderful article; it seems not much has been written on this subject, but perhaps that is because messianic congregations are more about experience than reflection, which is not necessarily a bad thing: I believe the Ruach Ha Kodesh longs for His people to fully experience His goodness and unending love, more than just talking about it. I appreciate your scriptural foundation and links to the other articles.

  3. Rin Takahashi says:

    This is truly fascinating. As a Pentecostal Christian, it amazes me that Messianic Jews are mostly Charismatic. I’ve been wondering about the cultural context of the earliest Christians. Thank you for your brilliant article. Love and peace.