By Richard Sison | 2013
It is sad that some people have NOT completely researched the whole messianic movement and after meeting some, have concluded that all of us are the same. I would certainly love to present to you some groups that DO NOT fall into the category of some questionable theologies. When people started to call messianic groups as "Cults", they already painted black many legitimate messianic groups. Obviously, they seem to have encountered those with bad theologies but what about others who dont fall into that category? There are many messianic groups in Israel and North America that adhere to the Jewish customs and Biblical practices at the same time and yet have the right theologies and same beliefs with mainstream evangelicals but they dont call themselves "christians". There are also a lot of so-called evangelicals who do not adhere to the Biblical theologies and what do you call them?
If you further examine the early believers especially those in Judea and Asia Minor during the 1st and 2nd centuries, you will find them very different from those christians in Rome, Alexandria and other places. No wonder pope or bishop Victor of Rome towards the end of 2nd century called them heretics and yet if you examine deeper, they actually adhere to the teachings and practices of apostles John, Phillip and other heavy weights of the early faith.
Quoting from the History of the Christian Church by Phillip Scahff vol 2:
Much more important and vehement was the third stage of the controversy between
190 and 194, which extended over the whole church, and occasioned many synods and
synodical letters. The Roman bishop Victor, a very different man from his
predecessor Anicetus, required the Asiatics, in an imperious tone, to abandon
their Quartadecimanian practice. Against this Polycrates, bishop of Ephesus,
solemnly protested in the name of a synod held by him, and appealed to an
imposing array of authorities for their primitive custom. Eusebius has preserved
his letter, which is quite characteristic.
"We," wrote the Ephesian bishop to the Roman pope and his church, "We observe
the genuine day; neither adding thereto nor taking therefrom. For in Asia great
lights have fallen asleep, which shall rise again in the day of the Lord’s
appearing, in which he will come with glory from heaven, and will raise up all
the saints: Philip, one of the twelve apostles, who sleeps in Hierapolis, and
his two aged virgin daughters; his other daughter, also, who having lived under
the influence of the Holy Spirit, now likewise rests in Ephesus; moreover, John,
who rested upon the bosom of our Lord, who was also a priest, and bore the
sacerdotal plate, both a martyr and teacher; he is buried in Ephesus. Also
Polycarp of Smyrna, both bishop and martyr, and Thraseas, both bishop and martyr
of Eumenia, who sleeps in Smyrna. Why should I mention Sagaris, bishop and
martyr, who sleeps in Laodicea; moreover, the blessed Papirius, and Melito, the
eunuch [celibate], who lived altogether under the influence of the Holy Spirit,
who now rests in Sardis, awaiting the episcopate from heaven, in which he shall
rise from the dead. All these observed the fourteenth day of the passover
according to the gospel, deviating in no respect, but following the rule of
"Moreover, I, Polycrates, who am the least of you, according to the tradition
of my relatives, some of whom I have followed. For seven of my relatives were
bishops, and I am the eighth; and my relatives always observed the day when the
people of the Jews threw away the leaven. I, therefore, brethren, am now
sixty-five years in the Lord, who having conferred with the brethren throughout
the world, and having studied the whole of the Sacred Scriptures, am not at all
alarmed at those things with which I am threatened, to intimidate me. For they
who are greater than I have said, ‘we ought to obey God rather than men.’ … I
could also mention the bishops that were present, whom you requested me to
summon, and whom I did call; whose names would present a great number, but who
seeing my slender body consented to my epistle, well knowing that I did not wear
my gray hairs for nought, but that I did at all times regulate my life in the
Lord Jesus." (pages 216-217)
"Did we ever wonder why is it that the letters of Jesus in Revelation where only sent to the seven congregations in Asia Minor and not to bigger "churches" like Rome, Antioch, Syria and Alexandria?"
We also have to ask why did apostle John preferred to stay in Ephesus after his exile in Island of Patmos until his death. We also have to ask why the practices John's disciples like Polycarp and many others in Asia Minor were different from the rest of Christendom during that time? Why was it that John being the last apostle and outlived many were not considered as the "pope" or the highest ranking bishop during that time? Did we ever wonder why some people have the guts to go against the only living apostle at that time (3 John 1:9). Why is it that John kept on repeating in the gospel and the epistles that he wrote to keep the commandments of God?
Sometimes it is better to understand fully before we do name calling. Summing it all, practices are not salvation issue and come to think of it, even some "minor" deviations in beliefs does not disqualify a person from being saved. If you read and study the beliefs and writings of many apostolic fathers (e.g., the converts of the apostles) and anti-nicene fathers (2nd-3rd centuries) you will find that they too have major flaws in theology and have different beliefs and practices from modern evangelicals yet we know that many of them (if not all) were true believers and were saved because they gave and lost their lives for Jesus. Many of them were martyred in the most inhumane way and they stood their ground till death.
After all said and done, we cannot deny that salvation comes only from Jesus of Nazareth as there is no other name under heaven that we can be saved. If you want to discuss this further (or if anyone are interested to know more), you can reach us at email@example.com and I believe it is important to distinguish who are real and who are not, at least among the messianic community. God bless and shalom!