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During much of the time over the last two millennia, if a Jewish person wanted to believe in Yeshua as Messiah, he or she was forced to publicly confess something like this Jewish Conversion Liturgy.
Prepare yourself—it is shocking!
“I do here and now renounce every rite and observance of the Jewish religion, detesting all its most solemn ceremonies and tenets that in former days I kept and held. In the future I will practice no rite or celebration connected with it, nor any custom of my past error, promising neither to seek it out nor to perform it. Further do I renounce all things forbidden or detested by Christian teaching; and (recitation of the Nicene Creed).
“In the name of this Creed, which I truly believe and hold with all my heart, I promise that I will never return to the vomit of Jewish superstition. Never again will I fulfill any of the offices of Jewish ceremonies to which I was addicted, nor ever more hold them dear. I altogether deny and reject the errors of the Jewish religion, casting forth whatever conflicts with the Christian Faith, and affirming that my belief in the Holy Trinity is strong enough to make me live the truly Christian life, shun all intercourse with other Jews and have the circle of my friends only among honest Christians. With them or apart from them I must always eat Christian food, and as a genuinely devout Christian go often and reverently to church. I promise also to maintain and embrace with due love and reverence the observance of all the Lord’s days or feasts for martyrs as declared by the piety of the Church, and upon those days to consort always with sincere Christians, as it behooves a pious and sincere Christian to do. Herewith is my profession of faith and belief as given by me on this date.”—cited by James Parkes (seventh century)
By the seventh century, Christianity had become largely political, and the Jewish people who did confess this were typically not having a genuine faith experience but seeking to survive without persecution. Sometimes, it was a choice between this confession and expulsion from your country (as in Spain in the late 1400s and beyond).
But once you confessed this and became a “new Christian” (a name for Jewish converts … they were also called Marranos, which comes from an Arabic word meaning pig), they were instructed to make sure they didn’t embrace any heresy. “What heresy?” you may ask.
Heretical practices included failure to eat pork; failure to work on Saturday; failure to wear one’s best clothes on Sunday; keeping the biblical feasts; observing any Jewish customs of any kind; saying any Jewish prayers; preparing food according to Jewish law; associating with non-baptized Jews; and intermarriage of children of Marrano families with children of other Marrano families.
Yes, if you were caught doing anything that could be considered a return to Judaism, you would be arrested and forced to endure public shame, sometimes even death, by being burned at the stake. However, if you would confess your sin of returning to Judaism, the church would have mercy on you: you would be strangled to death, and then burned.
Some Jews were allowed to “repent” by embracing what was called verguenza (shame).
It consisted in being paraded through the streets, men and women alike, bareheaded, barefooted and naked to the waist. At the head of the procession, preceded by the white cross, and [priests] walking two by two—dressed in black, with the white cross of St. Dominic displayed upon their cloaks. After them followed the horde of half-naked penitents, cruel physical discomfort being added to their mental torture, for the weather was so raw and cold that it had been considered expedient to provide them with sandals, lest they should have found it impossible to walk.
In his hand each carried a candle of green wax—unlighted, to signify that as yet the light of the faith did not illumine his soul. Anon, when they should have been admitted to reconciliation and absolution, these candles would be lighted, to signify that the light of the faith had once more entered their hearts—light being the symbol of the faith, just as “light” and “faith” have become almost convertible terms.
I know this is hard to read. It is hard to believe that people who confessed faith in the Jewish Messiah would subject his natural brothers and sisters to this torture. It’s no wonder that Jewish people, despite all the prophecies that point to Yeshua, feel like they will be a traitor to their people if they embrace Him. I certainly struggled with this as a young believer.
How does a Gentile Christian respond to such information? I don’t share it to bring shame or condemnation but to bring this history to light. Over the past 70 years—since the Holocaust—there has been a noticeable shift in the way theologians, and thus the Church, views Israel and the Jewish people. But, unless you study history, you would not know about this shift.
For roughly 1900 years, the church was unconcerned about the Jewish roots of the Messiah. It was an afterthought. To many, He was the end of Judaism and the start of something new. While antisemitism has not disappeared and is even growing, I do believe that a church will arise that will provoke Israel to jealousy. That is part of the calling of the Gentile church, which received the gospel because of Israel’s rejection.
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 (Romans 11:11).
Ron Cantor is the CEO of Tikkun Global, a family of Messianic ministries and leaders based in Israel (ritg.org). I also serve as the President of Shelanu.tv. Shelanu is the only 24/7 digital TV station sharing the message of Yeshua in Hebrew. I have written about 10 books including my testimony and “Identity Theft,” a novel about the Jewish Roots of the NT. You can see them in the bookstore. My newest one is “When Kingdoms Collide.”
For the original article, visit roncantor.com.