Messianic Believers: Reflections on Identity of a Largely Misunderstood Group

By Yangarber-Hicks, Natalia | Journal of Psychology and Theology, Summer 2005 | Go to article overview

Messianic Believers: Reflections on Identity of a Largely Misunderstood Group


Yangarber-Hicks, Natalia, Journal of Psychology and Theology


Despite much progress made in understanding multicultural and religious diversity, certain ethnic and religious groups continue to be neglected by the psychological community. Messianic Judaism remains a largely misunderstood and ignored expression of cultural and spiritual diversity. Numerous fears and misconceptions persist within both Christian and Jewish communities with regard to this movement. Even less is known about the psychological experiences of individuals committed to Messianic Judaism as they navigate the mazeway of their identity. This article attempts to shed some light on aspects of psychological identity of Messianic believers by first presenting the historical and theological background of the movement and its influence on the current experiences of its adherents. Research on ethnicity and its psychological consequences is then used to elucidate unique aspects of Messianic identity. Finally, practical recommendations for mental health professionals working with this population and a future research agenda are provided.

**********

"How did you become a Christian?" "When did you convert?" are some of the questions this author is frequently asked by well-meaning people in different life contexts. What is a relatively straightforward question for most believers in Jesus evokes for me a number of divergent reactions that produce varying answers depending on the particulars of the situation. Do I take the time to explain that I do not identify myself as a Christian or convert but rather a Jew who believes in Jesus (Yeshua in Hebrew) as the Promised Messiah? By doing so, I risk being misunderstood and incurring the potential disapproval of the person asking the question. Or do I simply swallow my irritation and describe the story of coming to faith in the God of Israel and the Messiah that was sent to redeem the Jewish people and the rest of the world?

While this dilemma might appear trivial to some, it in fact represents part of a larger story that needs to be heard and understood by Christians and non-Christians alike, including mental health professionals working with individuals who identify themselves as Messianic Jews or Gentiles. This article will provide an exploratory look at this growing movement in its historical and theological context, the status of ethnic and cultural identity of individuals who comprise it, and pose issues that professionals in the mental health disciplines in general, and Christian psychology in particular, need to be aware of.

First, Messianic Judaism will be defined and its distinctive aspects described. The historical and theological context for understanding Jews who believe in Jesus and the particulars of Jewish identity will be presented. Second, relevant research on ethnic identity and its association with psychological functioning will be reviewed. Finally, implications of this knowledge base for clinical multicultural competency and a research agenda that would include Messianic believers will be proposed.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Messianic Judaism defined

While some differences in emphasis may be found among different constituent groups within the movement, Messianic Judaism is generally understood to be a movement of Jews and Gentiles committed to the Messiahship of Jesus that view the perpetuation of Jewish life and tradition and identification with the Jewish people and Israel to be central to their ethnic and spiritual identities (Kinzer & Juster, 2002). The two-pronged aspect of Messianic experience is essential to this definition: simultaneous commitment to the Jewish people and the larger Body of Messiah (Christ) as communities of reference. Recent controversy among various groups within the movement surrounds the relative centrality of each community to the corporate and individual identity of Messianic believers (Robinson & Rosen, 2003; Kinzer, 2000). Additionally, the importance of Torah observance and relationship to Old and New Covenants have been central themes generating dialogue and at times disagreement within various bodies in Messianic Judaism. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Messianic Believers: Reflections on Identity of a Largely Misunderstood Group
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.