Karaites Advising Nehemia Gordon
More Info at:
We are also concerned about the ever growing reaction on part of Christians who, due to the activities of Messianic teachers like Michael Rood, various Hebrew-roots preachers and our own Karaite Jew Nehemia Gordon, develop misunderstandings regarding the Israelite God, religion and people in the form of a new religion called, Messianic Karaism.
Many of these Christians have begun to label themselves as 'Messianic Karaites', which means they observe Torah according to the Karaite manner of interpretation but still worship Jesus as a god and messiah. This is not entirely unlike Messianic Jews, who similarly worship Jesus but practice Judaism according to Rabbinic specifications.
It has been a common occurrence for Karaites to run into people online who claim to be Karaite but actually worship Jesus of Nazareth. These people have deceptively called themselves 'Karaites' when they are actually very much worshippers of Jesus. On one occasion, these Messianic-Karaites, who worship Jesus as god, wanted to attend HOLY DAY services at the Karaite synagogue in Daly City, Ca. These persons deliberately misrepresented themselves and by not revealing their feelings towards Jesus, lied. Such persons have no regard for the integrity of YHWH, Torah and Karaism when they lie to get into Karaite institutions to satisfy their perverted religious aspirations.
One Karaite stated, I have Messianic friends. When I told them I had left xtianity for Karaism, they replied, Oh you don't have to leave xtianity...even one of the most famous Karaite leaders supports Messianic xtianity! (They followed Michael Rood & his teachings...and of course, Nehemia's association thereof.) When they found out that I had been accepted by KJU, they were interested as well. They were totally shocked and somewhat angry when I told them KJU didn't accept 'Jesus believers'.
We are concerned that some have stated that Nehemia is trying to convert Christians to Judaism by writing these books. We feel this is a gross misconception at the least and self-deception at the most. From what we understand, the Hebrew/Yeshua and Prayer to our Father books in no way advertise Torah or Karaism. Although Hebrew/Yeshua posed the theory that Jesus was anti-Pharisee, it neither 'reached out' to Christians nor criticized their beliefs. Rather, as one Karaite stated, it encourages and gives fuel for Messianic Christian sects. Converts to Karaite Judaism/Israelitism understand the psychological dependence on Jesus. They understand that it is easy to adopt the practice of Torah. They understand that it is easy to begin studying Hebrew and learning the language of Tanakh. They also understand that it is very difficult to leave Jesus behind. They understand that the threat of 'eternal damnation' for rejecting Jesus is the controlling factor which prevents those who claim to be Messianic Jews and Messianic Karaites to leave Jesus behind. It is important to understand that if someone is truly attempting to convert Christians to the Torah religion, exposing the truth of the Hellenistic attributions to Jesus is of paramount importance-- not legitimizing his speech or actions! Furthermore, Nehemias theses are rooted in the assumption that the New Testament and Hebrew Matthew's portrayal of Jesus are accurate. This approach makes his books only marketable to the Messianic population, and as a result, causes Karaites to feel betrayed. This is not the way to convert people and is therefore the reason why we do not believe Nehemia is attempting to convert Christians.
We are concerned that some believe that these books will 'unite' Jews and Christians. In truth the only factor that has united Jews and Christians is the Tanakh. Yet the Christians 'believe' in the Tanakh so long as it supports their claims about Jesus of Nazareth and anti-Torah stance. This means there is little if anything that truly unites Christians and Jews. Therefore, how could the mere Lords Prayer be a common ground? Any true attempts to 'unite' or reconcile differences requires a 50/50 presentation of facts on all sides. Nehemia's attempts are one-sided and do not represent efforts to spread Torah. The fact that he is 'preaching to the choir' which would no doubt accept his position so long as he does not 'expose' the Pagan underbelly of the New Testament's representation of Jesus, does not reflect proselytizing, but pandering.
We are concerned that Rabbinic Jews already have a great misunderstanding about Karaites. Nehemia, your indirect support of Jesus Christ as represented by your writings are further distorting the perception of Karaites in the eyes of the non-Karaite world. Understand Nehemia, that you are the Wests face of Karaite Judaism. You are the most popular Karaite of the modern era. Therefore what you are doing in association with Messianic Christians/Karaites reflects negatively upon all of Karaism.
We are also concerned that the Moetseth Hakhamim sits either ignorant or deliberately idle on this matter. The Moetseth Hakhamim should be concerned that Christians are misunderstanding Karaism by way of one of its most influential representatives. If this central Karaite institution does not act, it will find itself in a similar position (for comparisons sake) as the Nazarene movement in the first century C.E. That is, there shall arise a Jewish Karaism and a Gentile Karaism. Unfortunately, the Gentile Karaism is already here under the title, Messianic Karaism.
That rabbis have good things to say about A Prayer to Our Father is a moot point. That pastors have good things to say about the book is moot as well. What no one, especially Nehemia Gordon is thinking about, is how his actions are shaping the view of Karaism in the eyes of Christians, Rabbanite Jews and Karaite Jews. A Karaite stated, I dont even go to Rabbinate rooms any more to talk about Karaism as the KK website has enough canon fodder on it for them to call us closeted Christians, and there is nothing I can say to bring some credibility. It's all very disillusioning as while it may be bringing Christians to Karaism (and no doubt Christians still believing in Yeshu) it is putting off many Rabbinic Jews...
From a Karaite: I do understand the concern you all have over a Karaite website sending potential Karaites from Xtian backgrounds straight back to church to listen to a Christian sermon or advertising books about Yeshua and his 'Lord's Prayer' (referring to Karaite Korner newsletter #396).
Another Karaite stated, Most of my Rabbinate friends tolerate my defection to Karaism, but those who consider me to be an apikorsiet have said acerbically precisely this, that I have joined a pseudo Jewish-Christian cult."
From a Karaite: I don't believe he's a closet messianic. I never expected it to go this far and definitely would like some clarity though. I have no idea why he thinks this is something suitable or appropriate to publish on a Karaite newsletter. It's like he's embracing the religion all of us left and it's very uncomfortable to me (referring to Karaite Korner newsletter #396).
From a Ger: I don't understand this at all. His Karaite community that basically HE [Nehemia Gordon] established is desperately in need of a leader. Meanwhile he's going to church services and referring to the sermons as some of the most powerful speeches he's ever heard. Most of us came out of this background. I'm seriously concerned about it and it angers me to no end. If his message is to take Christians out of their religion then that's one thing. But his messages seem to be encouraging their faith. I don't get, it but it infuriates me.
From another Karaite: One can only imagine the confusion of people with the release of the new book and the church presentations. (Actually, they aren't confused...they know that their religion/faith is being supported.) Why on earth would any Karaite want to meld Karaism with xtianity?? Even if that is not his [Nehemia Gordon] goal, it is the end result...especially with this latest Karaite Korner newsletter release. Nehemia is a very intelligent man. I agree with [name withheld], he knows what he is doing.
We are all in the agreement that Nehemias motivations appear to be for financial gain and recognition. While this is understandable, we feel it is a pity that he does not put his energy and talents into spreading Karaism. If Karaism could use anything, it is a greater promotion of our beliefs and values as members of the people of Israel. But Nehemia focuses on books about Jesus and speaks at churches rather than promoting his Karaite and Rabbanite brethren to their true place as priests to the nations.
A Karaite remarked: But, I don't believe Nehemia cares if this is ill received or not. One can argue he's merely doing the same thing his mentor Mordechai Alfandari was doing, but I see a world of difference. Alfandari was disproving the claims of xtianity and calling people to YHWH to be embraced as the true God [see www.light-of-israel.org]. On the other hand, Gordon seems to be increasing/ encouraging the xtian faith, or at least condoning it. I can only imagine what the Christians in these churches are thinking about Nehemia and his book. I'm sure their belief is such: even though he doesn't personally accept Yehoshua as his messiah -- God is still using him to spread the message of their messiah anyhow. This is more then troubling! First, Nehemia's community (that he started) is without a leader, and they seriously need direction. Basically, he's left these people starving. Secondly, this hurts the credibility of the Karaite community profoundly. In America, the two are so closely associated that outsiders don't really know the difference. I recently was befriended by someone who I believed was an authentic Karaiteafter further probing he expressed his belief in Yeshua to me. Unfortunately I see more people calling themselves messianic-Karaites. I have not seen a lot of people leaving Christianity because of Nehemias books, rather I have seen them embrace it more. I'm very disturbed by this.
Another Karaite says: A person whom I helped into Karaism, and who gets the Karaite Korner newsletter (at my suggestion, I'm afraid) just sent the following to me: Is he [Nehemia Gordon] nuts or what? Soon we will hear that he converted! YUK! This seems to be the general consensus of those with whom I have communicated concerning Nehemias announcement. I will not be sending anyone else to the Karaite Korner website.
A Karaite said: That's it! Im no longer referring to myself as a Karaite. Not with this non sense hanging around that can seriously damage the meaning of the word for untold years to come. Nehemia is too influential to NOT give the wrong impression of Qaraism to the Christian world. If he won't change, then it means that I have to. I therefore refuse to be called a Karaite and cause both Christians and Rabbanites to the wrong impression of my religious beliefs.
Another Karaite said: 1. The Christian 'Father' is not the YHWH of the Israelites. Our God does not have an 'identity crisis' where he incarnated 2/3rds of himself into a human being. Now perhaps the original conception of the Father was identical with YHWH, but this is not the case now-- the Trinitarian doctrines have made that certain. 2) Why a Jew is trying to emphasize the 'Hebrew roots' of this prayer to a Triune God is beyond me. All this does, plain and simple is legitimize the Christian Gods. If you are not contesting their Gods you are only condoning their doctrine because the Triune God is not the Israelite God. A Prayer to their Father-- not ours.
Let it be known to all Christians, Messianics or otherwise, that the following makes one a Karaite Israelite:
An Israelite is "anyone who 1) is circumcised [males only], 2) accepts the God of Israel [YHWH] as their own God, and 3) accepts the People of Israel as their own people is a full-fledged [Israelite], see Exodus 12,43-49 and Ruth 1,16" (http://www.karaite-korner.org/karaite_faq.shtml).
A Qaraite is an Israelite (see above) that has embraced the 'Tuv Ta'am' and, due to the absence of Prophets [that includes Jesus Christ], High Priest and Urim wThumim, strives to interpret the Torah according to its plain meaning (per the 'Karaite Confession') (http://www.karaite-korner.org/conversion_faq.htm).
We believe that Christianity is an ethical, para-monotheistic religion. Christianity has proven to be a strong example of ethics and morality in the West. We support Christianity in its endeavours to spread morality to the world. We do not however, support any actions to 'Judaize' Christianity by removing its Hellenistic elements and urging its members to practice the Torah while still worshipping Jesus of Nazareth as god.
To conclude: Nehemia Gordon has become a Karaite author of pop-Christian literature. He sells Christianity to Christians, not Torah.
We therefore petition Nehemia Gordon to consider the damage that he is causing to Karaite Judaism. We ask that he consider that he is indirectly giving support to the development of Messianic, pseudo-Karaite sects. We ask that Nehemia Gordon entertain inquiries from fellow Karaites on this issue in a just, temperate manner. We ask that Nehemia Gordon cautiously approach any further research and presentation of his findings realising that many Christians will use them to promote their own misunderstanding of Torah and Karaism.
Nehemia, take it from the Karaites, your brethren: this is doing more harm than good. We don't care about how your works are received by pastors, rabbis and Christians. We don't care about 'fantastic reviews.' We take no stock in them. Their comments are meaningless to us. Our eyes are on you and the effects your actions are having. Many of us are students of yours. We, the undersigned, have a responsibility to retain the integrity and pride of Karaism and Torah