Spiritual Instruction for Those Called to Restore Israel
IF? The End of a Messianic Lie
by Uriel ben-Mordechai (aka Uri Marcus)
Copyright: Uriel ben-Mordechai, published 12/2011 by Above & Beyond Ltd.
Shortly after IF was published, the author wrote to a Messianic dissenter: “Do you know why you won't read my book? It is because you are afraid that you won't have answers to refute the arguments there.”
Although I give the Body of Messiah more credit than that, the odd fact is that no critical review has been published in the 3-1/2 years that this book has been circulating. But whatever the reason, it’s not because his arguments are irrefutable! Eventually I was asked to take up Uriel’s challenge, by some who see me as uniquely equipped to do so. But first it would be appropriate to outline my past relationship with the author.
Personal Relationship. I volunteered with Uri Marcus and his first wife Sharon in the now-closed Israeli Messianic ministry, Nehemiah Trustees Covenant Fund (NTCF). Before being asked by Uri to join its Executive Board, I was a personal friend. The Marcus family and ours sometimes celebrated Shabbats and Jewish holidays together here in Israel.
My first Torah-related debate with Uri was over why I was leaving a NTCF meeting early on a Friday in order to reach home before the beginning of Shabbat. It was a decision that Uri questioned at the time, because his Torah observance had yet to reach the level at which our family was living it. However, from that point on, he scheduled NTCF meetings to accommodate my observance needs – an effort which I will always remember as kindness.
In short, I and the author have known each other for more than 20 years, and we once had a friendship based on open dialog.
First-Hand Knowledge of Events and Issues. As a friend and colleague during the time when events described in this book took shape, I am familiar with many individuals and incidents that are cited. This includes Uri’s litigation against his former colleagues in the USA, described in the last part of IF.
I personally attended the trial in May 2006 as an eyewitness observer, a supporter of the defendants, and an unofficial “defendant” (accused in plaintiff testimony, but not entitled to respond). I was permitted by the defense attorney to read all court exhibits, and I took detailed notes of each day’s proceedings. I still have copies of public court documents, as well as personal documents by the kind permission of those who endured that trial.
As a Torah-observant Jewish Israeli believer with a working knowledge of Biblical Hebrew, I too have studied the theological issues the author writes about. When Uri first launched his “Adonai Echad” anti-deity forum (mentioned in this book, p.56), I was reminded of our earlier talks which had encouraged him to deepen his Torah observance, and I was eager to help in this group endeavor to resolve issues that trouble Jewish believers. But after Uri informed me that I would not be allowed to post responses to the forum, I dropped the idea. Now that his teachings are available in a book, a response is both possible and necessary.
In other words, I’m well-informed on both the doctrines and the events that inspired Uri’s book, and I have the documentation needed to demonstrate inaccuracies and omissions.
A Public Need to Know. Regarding the doctrinal muddle presented in IF as a restored Messianic Jewish theology, space will not permit me to address every error and contradiction, but in an Extended Review I hope to provide enough examples for readers to draw their own conclusions. Since the theological issues are important for both Jews and Christians, I trust this will help clear up confusion and promote unity in the Body. Please ask for that document if you are interested (it’s still in process).
Regarding individuals and groups publicly branded by the author as his persecutors, I believe that my insider knowledge carries a duty to set the record straight. The author of IF writes (p.442) that all victims of defamation should be allowed to answer their accusers. I certainly agree. One goal of this Review and its linked files is to set an example for those other believers who have a similar duty to inform the Body of words and actions that have abused innocent people among us. There is also excellent practical advice from an experienced brother here, on how to do this in a way that is both smart and gentle (Matt.10:16).
Why Now? The author has published this “persecution story” numerous times for more than a decade, seemingly without challenge. A reasonable question might be asked: Why am I presenting an alternate history only now?
The short answer: My past attempts were silenced by Uri through legal intimidation. This time I am better prepared with professional legal counsel and other support. But the game-changer of course was Uri’s decision to repeat his “persecution story” to an international audience. Any printed publication can expect public criticism, especially a book broadcasting serious charges that contradict the documentation in one’s possession.
A Share of Responsibility. Although few will remember, I was once guilty of blindly supporting Uri just as others appear to be doing now. I took at face-value his claims that he was victimized by numerous people – even some of the individuals mentioned or alluded to in this book.
Then one day in 2002, just before joining NTCF, I was convicted by the Lord to contact certain “wrongdoers” and hear their side, as Scripture commands us. At the time I considered it a formality… I was sure that there was no justification for what (I was told) they had done. The accused parties answered all my questions honestly and supplied me with primary-source documents to back their statements. Thus I received a never-to-be-forgotten demonstration of God’s wisdom:
“The first to plead his case is righteous, until his neighbor comes and examines him.” (Proverbs 18:17)
I do not judge other believers who have also made this mistake. At the same time, I urge those who now regret their uncritical support of Uri's demands for “justice” to follow my example, through deeds that express repentance (Eph.5:11).
The above background might explain my difficulty in obtaining the book directly from Mr. Marcus cum ben-Mordechai. After an automated reply from his “Above & Beyond Ltd” site in May 2012, confirming receipt of my request, there was a silence that has lasted until today. An administrative glitch perhaps. A friend ordered it with no problem and presented it to me as a gift.
The Review: Executive Summary
An Extended Review of IF focusing on doctrinal dilemmas, misquoted scriptures and disinformation about Jewish faith, is still in process.
An announcement will be sent out, Lord willing, when it is available.
Defining and redefining “the Messianic Lie”: Uri presents several theological positions as one “lie”, and then progressively identifies “the Messianic lie” as a rallying call against him, the faithful Jew; a force determined to “revoke” and “nullify” the very existence of Israel; and the provocation for his 6-year litigation against his former ministry partners. It’s also the reason offered for why that litigation failed, which led to the need for this book. (Read more…)
Garbled Torah theology: Uri sees belief in Yeshua’s deity as doing violence to both the Tanach and the New Testament (as he translates it). His “Torah-based” foundation for these claims is flawed by, ironically, a Christianized approach to Scripture, a narrow view of rabbinic teaching, and ignorance of Jewish scholarship on the history of the Masoretic Text. Support is also made from Jewish objections that are anything but Torah-based. (Read more…)
Dubious translations: “New” renderings of Biblical Hebrew show mistaken grammar, tenses and meanings, contradicting both Christian and Jewish traditions. These are dictated more by ignorance of Tanach Hebrew than by dilemmas in the NT Greek. A Koine Greek expertise without the use of sources is seemingly claimed by virtue of simply being Jewish. Uri then rewrites a few challenging NT verses, ignores others, and insults dissenters. (Read more…)
“Persecution” for Torah faith: Uri paints a uniformly negative picture of those who embrace Yeshua’s deity, as anti-Semites out to destroy Israel. The Israelis among them have abandoned their Jewish identity in order “to keep the dollars flowing in.” They made him a target for leading a Torah-based resistance, launching “a Messianic Inquisition” that damaged his family, finances and reputation. They found the U.S. civil court a willing partner. (Read more…)
Character assassinations: Uri’s treatment of theological opponents clashes with his call for “honest and open discussion” of his theology. The book is full of attacks that typically provoke libel lawsuits. Many partly concealed Trinitarian targets can be identified, thanks to the author's conscious clues and unconscious inconsistency. Some are defamed openly as anti-Semitic, like his trial judge who is personally targeted for some 20 pages. (Read more…)
Evidence presented/omitted: Supposed documentation is edited, hiding the essence and context of the original events, and surrounded by unsupported speculations. Old targets who had been vindicated long ago continue to be accused. Basic facts like his lawsuit charges are absent, and the “religious bias” responsible for the failed trial is not mentioned in the appeals, which also failed. Sometimes the author volunteers self-incriminating evidence. (Read more…)
Profound organizational confusion: The author presents NTCF and his ministry “Chut Hamshulash” as one entity aiding needy Israelis; he invites IF readers to visit the website. But site testimonials raise more questions than answers. The book publisher’s Israeli partner, Chut, is “U.S.-registered”; but the publisher names NRF as its “U.S.-based affiliate”, and its “2012 annual report” is in fact a 2006-7 report from the extinct Nehemiah Fund. (Read more…)
Blatant double standards: Despite Uri’s protest against those who refused to work with his charity because of doctrinal differences, his own charity did the same to their long-time Israeli partner. Likewise, his declaration that “as a Jew, I could never put my hand to any ‘statement of faith’ [on the Deity],” was set aside in order to use a Baptist subsidized car rental service. A 2008 photo identifies him as a deity-affirming missionary “home on furlough” from Israel. (Read more…)
Manufactured victim imagery: Uri likens his trial to the historic Dreyfus Affair, giving the impression that he was removed as NCC President for his unacceptable (Jewish) doctrine. Yet the author himself gives IRS-related reasons, which he nevertheless considers defamatory. The NCC “self-correction” after Uri's departure, which saved donors and Uri himself from possible IRS penalties, became another reason for their ex-President to sue them. (Read more…)
Emotional manipulation in place of fact: The quotes sprinkled through the book convey and also encourage a sentimental loyalty which is clueless about who launched the lawsuit and why. This is reinforced by contradictory statements from the author. Quotes revealing goodwill from Trinitarians are consistently presented as hate-mail. Uri also alludes to many former supporters and friends who withdrew support after receiving more facts. (Read more…)
Slander of a U.S. civil court: The real reason this book was written, according to the author, is to tell of the court’s injustice and not to challenge doctrine. His trial judge is subjected to focused character assassination for vindicating the defendants. His Catholic background is mentioned repeatedly, along with bias against Jews and Israelis. Yet Uri does not attribute either anti-Semitism or personal bias to the higher courts, which also ruled against him. (Read more…)
A court rebuke rewritten as abuse: Uri describes a reprimand of his expert witness as “judicial abuse”. His quote of the court transcript does not reveal the content of the IRS letter that provoked the rebuke. The Appeal Court upheld the judge’s assessment that the expert’s testimony had “misstated the law”. But the book portrays the exchange as just one more display of the judge’s “personal bias”, apparently because the expert witness was Jewish. (Read more…)
Prejudicing readers against fact-checking: Perhaps people with doubts about Uri’s integrity avoided a background check because they believed that there was no integrity on the other side either. The author builds an image of “baseless hatred” from what seem to be words from the “haters” themselves, but the people whom Uri spends the most pages discrediting are those who potentially have the evidence that would demolish his version of events. (Read more…)
Taking advantage of opponents’ silence: Accusations previously published by Uri are rehashed to "break the silence" he says was imposed on him. Yet one searches in vain for competing versions of these events which impacted at least four Messianic ministries. In reality, the lack of challenge was achieved by legal threats, and by decisions to keep confrontations private in the hopes of restoring peace. The author presents the silence as proof that he is right. (Read more…)
Other reviews and responses: Endorsements by non-believers mistook IF for a warning against “religious experimenting”, or research on “the historical Jesus”. Believers repeated the author’s claims at face value, based on “long friendship”. Fans of the author’s doctrine have expressed enthusiasm for the book without reviewing it. His webinars pick up where the book leaves off in denying Scripture, logic, Jewish teaching, and even standard halacha. (Read more…)
A final thought on “the end of a Messianic lie”: Once a lie is identified, ending it is the responsibility of the liar. But ending one’s support for it is an individual decision. In detecting a lie, behavior under scrutiny is a giveaway. Yeshua told us that no one who is practicing the truth will run from the Light; on the contrary, they will welcome it (John 3:20-21). Readers may contact me with questions or requests for more detailed evidence. (Read more…)
Postscript: Published for the sake of Zion
Silence in the face of continuing slander is the spiritual equivalent of innocent blood being shed, over and over, while we watch from the next hilltop. Refusing to make a statement IS a statement, and there are consequences. As long as we do not “remove the guilt of innocent blood from our midst” (Deut.21:9), we have not done “what is right in the eyes of the LORD”. Allowing slander to go on unchallenged brings judgment. I include myself in this indictment. (Read more…)
Appendices: testing statements published in IF against documented reality (linked file)
Appendix A - Messianic ministry upheavals and confusion: correcting fiction with fact
Appendix B - "Trinity on Trial" (Chapter 9) compared with trial transcripts and testimony
Appendix C - Primary-source documents tracing the saga described in IF
A "Tachlis" Question: How will any of this information help anyone?
Defining and redefining “the Messianic Lie”
The book’s title refers to what the author sees as a compound theological error in the Christian church, which he says dominates the Israeli Body of Messiah and their supporters. He presents several theological positions as one “lie” (p.33-4) which he seeks to expose: the deity (or deification, or divinity) of Messiah, the concept of the Trinity, and the pre-existence of Messiah before the Incarnation, which he says are “all the same” lie.
This definition, however, just sets the stage for a personal story. He writes about “the Messianic lie” as a rallying call against him, a faithful Jew trying to preserve a “Torah-compliant” identity. Even here, the “lie” goes beyond Uri’s doctrinal debates with Trinitarians. In some cases (p.xvi, 68), it is described as a force determined to “revoke” and “nullify” the very existence of Israel. In other cases (p.491), belief in the deity of Yeshua/ Jesus includes a global worldview that even “today” will still “carry out crusades and pogroms, to rid the world of those they perceive as infidels.”
By the end of IF, the “Messianic lie” is about anti-Semitism in the U.S. legal system. It’s cited as the provocation for Uri’s 6-year litigation against his former ministry partners – and also as the reason why he lost his case. He likewise attributes criticism of his legal adventure to the above-mentioned mentality of the modern-day crusaders, who “invariably” refuse to address injustice (p.491).
Garbled Torah theology
The author makes valid points in urging Messianic faith to be better grounded in a New Testament understanding which is informed by the Hebrew Scriptures (rather than by church teaching). These observations might have been positive contributions, if they had not been sabotaged by a mangled version of Jewish teaching and black-on-white scripture.
In Uri’s view, the conviction that Yeshua the Messiah is the pre-existent Son of God, in such union with God the Father that They are One, is rooted in idolatry rather than the Tanach (Torah, Prophets and Writings). He sees these beliefs as also doing violence to the New Testament (as he creatively translates it). His “Torah-based” foundation for these claims is seriously flawed in several ways. A detailed treatment will be offered in the Extended Review, Lord willing.
The most prominent flaw, ironically, is his Christianized approach to Tanach (p.227 for example), which insists on restriction to one “original meaning of the text” and condemns the valid multiple interpretations recognized in the rabbinic approach. His pronouncements include the flat declaration (p.306), “Mashiach is NEVER called ‘Adonai’ [YHVH]” – apparently unaware of the rabbinic declarations to the contrary. Uri also rejects Jewish scholarship by repeating (p.317) the disproven claim that the Masoretes were free of all bias or error, and promoting a myth that the MT was not standardized in 800-1000 AD but was “accurately preserved and transmitted…from the palaces of Melach [sic] David over 3000 years ago”. (See this myth busted in the paper by Menachem Cohen, Professor of Bible at Israel's Bar-Ilan University and Director of the "Miqraot Gedolot HaKeter" Project.)
The author’s rebuttals of Messianic faith sometimes rely on Jewish objections that are anything but Torah-based. An example is the late Tommy Lapid, correctly described by Uri as an Israeli secularist who “wanted nothing to do with the Bible” (p.8); yet two pages later, Lapid is counted as a demonstration of “normative Judaism” simply because he rejected Yeshua’s deity as well. And in rejecting the idea of a divine Son of God, he quotes law professor Richard Rubenstein (p.220): “Doctrinally, this is the point at which Christianity breaks decisively with its parent faith, insofar as they use family metaphors, consider G-d a Father and the persons created in His image Sons and Daughters.” In other words, Rubenstein flatly rejects both the Deity and Uri’s position (“We’re all sons of G-d”, p.11) as Christian ideas! Yet here he is, presented in support of this position.
The author relies on his conversational Hebrew, acquired as an American immigrant, for his new understanding of Tanach passages. This confidence, however, is undermined by the consensus of Hebrew teachers that even native Israelis need guidance in order to grasp the differences between Biblical and modern Hebrew. Sure enough, some of Uri’s arguments fail to take those differences into account, resulting in mistaken grammar, tenses and meanings. But even that doesn’t explain bloopers like p.170, where the verb in Genesis 22:14 “yireh / yera’eh [ éøàä ]” (rendered in Jewish translations in the future tense), is changed by the author to present tense in its active form, and past tense in its passive form. The same anti-Jewish result is achieved in a 15-page attempt (p.270-284) to prove that Jeremiah 23:6 does not give Messiah’s name as YHVH – contradicting rabbinic assertions that it does (Baba Bathra 75b, Lamentations Rabba 1:16).
By the same token, the author claims an unexplained expertise in Koine (Biblical) Greek, which he says was not acquired by formal training or by reliance on any of the popular Greek concordances (p.497-501). He implies (p.501) that all Greek scholars are wrong because they are Christians, while Uriel is right because he is Jewish. His “corrected translations” of NT verses include John 1:1 (p.365), which changes “logos” from “Word” to “Torah” (i.e. “Law”, which is another Greek word, “nomos”), and insists that “Theos” is not “God” but “godlike” (the latter has its own word, “thelos”). These are given without revealing the sources of his new definitions or parsing rules. The footnotes generally lead to either the Bible verse itself or to Uri’s own website (where one can download a graphic image of the footnoted text) – with one odd exception (p.302), citing an outdated edition of a Christian lexicon.
Confronted with New Testament passages that pose serious challenges, Uri rewrites a few and ignores others. He splits Colossians 1:15, ridiculing the first half as “the alleged ‘visible image’ component of the invisible G-d” (p.146), and referring the second half (p.248) as scriptural truth. This allows him to claim near the end of the book (p.440) that the “evidence contained in relevant Biblical texts testifies and asserts, in every case without exception, that Yeshua was a human being in toto [i.e. entirely].”
Some changes appear to be dictated more by his ignorance of Tanach Hebrew than by dilemmas in the NT Greek. As above, the results occasionally overturn Jewish tradition, like Matt.22:45, where Yeshua challenges our people about Psalm 110: “If David calls him ‘Lord’, how is He his son?” This verse is rewritten by Uri (p.303) as an argument against the Messiah’s title as Son of David: “If David is destined to sit at the right hand of the L-RD, until Hashem makes his enemies a footstool for his feet, how can Mashiach be the son of David, as you have stated?” More examples will be examined in the Extended Review, Lord willing.
This schizophrenic approach to Tanach is enshrined in the name of the author's newest ministry, “Chut Ham'shulash”, presumably taken from Eccles.4:12 ( äçåè äîùìù /“Ha-chut Ham'shulash”). The zeal that took such pains to preserve the Masoretic vowel pointing in the second word (an 8th century addition) saw no problem in erasing the definite article written into the first word (the original Hebrew scripture from first Temple times).
Perhaps it’s no coincidence that the author’s claim to follow Matt.5:18 in preserving every stroke of the Hebrew Bible (p.273) is printed with an appropriate typo: “A good Bible student will now [sic] allow a single mark to escape his or her attention.”
“Persecution” for Torah faith
A superficial account of the Messianic debate on Yeshua’s deity is entangled with Uri’s retelling of personal clashes with individuals and groups in the Body of Messiah. He paints a uniformly negative picture of those who embrace Yeshua’s deity. They are enforcers of the “Trinity” church creed through “intimidation” (p.64, 68). The Israelis among them have abandoned their Jewish identity (those few who were Jews to begin with) in order “to keep the dollars flowing in” (p.54) from powerful Trinitarian groups.
MJs and Christians together have “carefully disguised” the truth “to protect the church and her doctrines” (p.371); and they made him, Uriel ben-Mordechai (then known as Uri Marcus), the target of their attacks for leading a Torah-based resistance (p.62-71). They launched “a Messianic Inquisition” (p.68) against him that eventually damaged his family, financial stability and reputation (p.495).
Repeatedly the book presents those who disagree with Uri’s doctrine as anti-Semites out to destroy him and all Israel. Working with them is the American civil court system (p.443-4), implicated as a tool of the Christian Trinitarians in denying him justice. He writes (p.497) that “religious extremism elicited a moral and social imperative to write this book.” My first-hand knowledge and documentation of these clashes shows a very different picture, which can be confirmed by a close reading of Uri’s own narrative. The rest of this Review gives examples of the latter from the pages of IF.
Uri’s treatment of his theological opponents clashes with his call for “honest and open discussion of the issues” (p.55). Those promoting the “theological catastrophe” of Yeshua’s deity (p.121) are portrayed as capable of “premeditated murder” (p.82) on one hand, and having “the IQ of a tree stump” (p.370) on the other. Scripture-based explanations by pro-deity Christian and Messianic teachers, which note the limits of human understanding in grasping the oneness of God, are dismissed as “oxymoronic dribble” (p.37). The author appears unaware of the Jewish equivalent of this “dribble”.
Uri seems to resent being called a “heretic” (p.38,63) and views the label as an expression of hatred (p.136-8). This, however, doesn’t prevent him from calling Israeli believers not only teachers of “heresy” but “idolaters” motivated by crass self-promotion (p.68). He asserts (p.223-4) that most are supporting “their fanciful deity doctrine” not from conviction but because of either economic benefits or peer pressure; and in case of doubt, “it’s the profit factor for the majority.” Readers encounter this blanket slander in the early pages of an entire chapter entitled “For Prophets or for Profit?”
Some of Uri’s theological opponents are targeted by name. One is presumed “jealous” of Hebrew speakers (p.315), while another’s personal finances are dissected (p.265) in tones of vague disapproval… or perhaps jealousy? Evil deeds are attributed to specific Messianic Israelis, such as adopting the goal of Constantine “to excommunicate and expel the infidel Jew from the Land of Israel” (p.61), attempting to “sabotage” his family life (p.72-4), and planning a hostile takeover of his ministry assets (p.451). The last two were answered in Messianic mediation more than 10 years ago. (See Appendix C, Source 4 .)
In general, IF abounds with pronouncements and insinuations that typically provoke libel lawsuits. Possibly in an effort to escape legal liability, most targets are partly concealed with half-names or initials. Many can nevertheless be identified, since Uri helpfully supplies readers with cities, job titles, online sites and/or ministry names to remove the ambiguity. Moreover, the veiling of identities is applied inconsistently, with some names withheld in one place and given in full elsewhere. Taken together, these contradictions make a double hash of the disclaimer (p.xix, repeated on p.496-7) that the identities in this book “have been disguised…to protect the innocent.”
Evidence presented and omitted
The author’s claim of having been abused by the Messianic believers and the U.S. courts is accompanied by what looks like primary-source documentation. He asserts (p.496) that all his statements are “fair reports of official and widely accepted information,” and they were based on “all credible evidence available to me during the writing process.” His citations, however, are often surrounded by speculations not supported by the quotes. In addition, some of his “widely accepted information” explicitly contradicts the court-generated transcripts and trial exhibits. I offer examples in Appendix B.
There is obvious tampering with the evidence, such as the author’s direct quotes of comments to or about himself which are retroactively altered, to replace his name at that time (Uri Marcus) with the name he adopted years later (Uriel ben-Mordechai). This effort seems pointless and trivial; all it does is raise the question of what else might have been changed. Indeed, comparison of a colleague’s letter quoted on p.74-5 with the original (which I still have) reveals that at least here, more significant changes were made which distort the message.
Sometimes what isn’t presented as evidence is also noteworthy. Uri’s description of the Trinity-inspired offenses committed by his NCC colleagues does not match the legal charges he filed. Actually, a list of the seven charges is not found in the book. But the defense attorney’s press release ( Appendix C, Source 9) and the plaintiff attorney’s closing argument ( Appendix C, Source 7, p.9-16) show that religious discrimination was not a factor. On p.472 we are told about one charge: defamation; but Uri himself tells us (p.474) that the alleged defamation had nothing to do with the trinity-deity dispute. Also on this page is an admission that when he was fired as NCC President, the issues were “incomplete financial reporting… and fund transfers”; his anti-trinity doctrine was not stated as an issue. Despite all that, Chapter 9 is inexplicably entitled “Trinity on Trial”.
Along with the targets of his lawsuit, other targets continue to stand accused long after being vindicated by the authorities to whom the author had appealed. Prominent examples are p.83 and p.450, where the author regurgitates old charges from mar/2002 against a half-identified individual, without letting on that the “criminal complaint” had been dismissed by law enforcers nearly a decade before his book was published.
A rather bizarre revelation volunteered by the author is his use of NTCF (Nehemiah Trustees Covenant Fund, an Israeli charity mandated to aid needy Israeli believers) to channel funding for his personal lawsuit appeals (p.479-80). Uri’s attempts to reverse the verdict which vindicated his former colleagues went all the way to the state Supreme Court, only to see the original decision upheld in favor of the defendants (p.486). During that time, he solicited funding from Christian and Messianic supporters (for example, Appendix C, Source 11). To my knowledge, no other readers or reviewers of IF have commented on the implications of believers not only helping to finance several years of litigation against fellow-believers who turned out to be innocent, but presumably receiving tax deductions for contributing to this ‘charitable’ project!
Profound organizational confusion
As far as donations reaching the needy in Israel, the author presents NTCF and his newer Israeli ministry “Chut Hamshulash” as one entity (p.137) and writes (IF, back cover) that this entity “continues to raise funds for needy families”. He provides the ministry URL in a bold advert (p.531). Yet visitors to that site find that all the testimonials were “disabled by the video owner”, which is presumably NTCF. Although these are identified on the page as recipients “whom the Nehemiah Fund has aided, and Chut Hamshulash continues to assist”, there are no updates, and no other testimonials at all on the site.
Indeed, the “disabled” testimonials turn out to be produced by NTCF – that is, the original Nehemiah Trustees Covenant Fund. Some of them date back to before my time in the NTCF Executive (2002). But the outdated videos can only be viewed off-site... at which point the secrecy becomes more interesting than the clips. A click takes the would-be viewer to a YouTube account where ministry names disappear, replaced by two individuals (first names only: “Uriel and Adi”); these particular videos with their coded names are not listed in the couple’s video collection, and each clip ends with an advisory to “think twice before sharing” it.
As if this is not confusing enough, “Above & Beyond Ltd”, the publisher of IF, was registered with the Israel government in may/2000. Readers of IF are invited to visit its site as well (p.530). But once at the A&B site, we read that it was founded in “early 2011”, in order “to carry on the original work and vision of the Nehemiah Fund that ceased operations [sic] in December, 2010.”
The site describes Above & Beyond as a “new initiative” that “works closely with another Israel-based initiative”: the same “Threefold Cord” ministry identified in Uriel’s 2011 book (p.137) as the still-operating NTCF… an acronym registered until 2012 as "Nehemiah Trustees Covenant Fund". Only according to the A&B site, the initials now stand for “Nehemiah Threefold Cord Foundation”. (The history behind this name confusion is outlined in Appendix A, Fiction 5.)
Unlike Above & Beyond, its “Israel-based” partner seems to have no legal base in Israel, only a mailing address. On the contrary, Chut Hamshulash is identified as “a U.S. registered non-profit organization” with the same address in Ojai, California that is displayed on p.531 of IF. But a search in Ojai, CA fails to locate this charity. There was a non-profit by that name in Mission Viejo, some 130 miles from Ojai, founded by one Yvonne Wittstock – possibly the “Threefold Cord” mentioned on the author’s ministry page which had been founded by his second wife Yvonne before they met (except that her name before marrying Uri was Nevarez). But the listing of this “Threefold Cord” with GuideStar reads: "This organization's exempt status was automatically revoked by the IRS for failure to file a Form 990, 990-EZ, 990-N, or 990-PF for 3 consecutive years. Further investigation and due diligence are warranted."
Nevertheless, the URLs for “NTCF”, “NRF” , the UK branch “NSG” and “Chut-Hamshulash” all lead to the same homepage: the merged Nehemiah-Threefold-Cord-Foundation-Chut-Hamshulash entity. Donations to Chut are receipted by NRF, Nehemiah Restoration Fund, but the U.S. registered tax-exempt NRF has no online presence apart from Threefold Cord aka Nehemiah Fund/new-NTCF aka Above & Beyond. On the other hand, the publishing company A&B seems to have no market identity other than as a storefront for Chut/new-NTCF.
Although Above & Beyond shares a two-page spread in the book IF (p.530-31) with its “Israel-based” and “U.S.-registered” partner Chut, it names NRF and not Chut as its “U.S.-based 501(c)3 affiliate”; however, its “audited annual reports” [sic, one report] turn out to be from the extinct Nehemiah Trustees Covenant Fund… a report in which “Above & Beyond” is not mentioned and neither is “Chut Hamshulash”. Last but not least, this annual report is presented on the site as “2012” but it’s actually for the years 2006-07.
Blatant double standards
The author repeatedly finds fault with those who refused to work with his charity because of doctrinal differences. He devotes Chapter 3 to the theme of “baseless hatred”, the sin for which he condemns those who broke relations with him over doctrine. He cries out (p.79) against those who “run about, issuing citations to everyone who does not agree with their particular doctrinal position”, and (p.141) against those who “refuse to work with, or acknowledge those who hold to another view”. Yet the year before IF was published, the organization headed by Uri declared a break with Nehemiah Trustees Covenant Fund, in part because their long-time ministry partner was too forgiving about doctrine: “The NRF came to recognize that BNN [sic, NTCF] was assisting too many Christians in Israel who were unwilling to accept the yoke of Torah in their lives….Without this vision, NRF’s members were finding it difficult, if not impossible to continue their financial support” of the Israeli charity which (by coincidence) Uri had recently left after a personal clash. (See Appendix C, Source 16)
Oddly, more than a year before the NRF report of Uri Marcus being “wrongfully and improperly” ousted from NTCF, Uri had announced his “voluntary resignation” from NTCF due to the thrice-failed litigation described in IF. The resignation was to be effective 27/feb/09, “so that the good name of the Fund can be protected, and so that its good work might continue unimpeded under the direction of the Fund’s Board of Directors, in Israel." ( See Appendix C, Source 14)
Be that as it may, IF’s author clearly expresses his revulsion (p.284) toward Trinitarians who “make us an offer, and then sweeten the deal with all manner of coercion, money, social benefits” in order to “pull us into their camp”. But despite his solemn declaration (p.82) that “as a Jew, I could never put my hand to any ‘statement of faith’ [that included the Deity doctrine],” there is evidence that Uri set aside his Jewish principles for an especially sweet deal.
The Baptist Missionary Transportation Ministry was a heavily subsidized car-rental service founded “to help Independent Fundamental Baptist Missionaries of like faith to have high quality, dependable transportation when coming back to North America on furloughs.” The site is clear about eligibility: "Missionaries using a BMTM vehicle must be of Like Faith, belonging to an Independent Baptist Church and be in agreement with our Statement of Faith (Form # 01)."
Their Statement of Faith, which all vehicle users were required to sign, included commitments like:“We believe in the deity of Jesus Christ,” and “We use the King James Version” of the Bible (which Uri ridicules as “king [sic] Jimmy’s…unauthorized revisions” – IF, p.370). Nevertheless, the author of IF voluntarily signed the statement, also identifying himself as an American Trinitarian missionary. He is seen here (next to last entry on the page) posing next to the vehicle that had carried him more than 1000 miles around the USA while “home on furlough” from his mission field. The caption trustingly describes him as “Uri Marcus of the Nehemiah Restoration Fund… serving the Lord in Israel with his home church being in Eastbend, NC.”
According to the date on the BMTM site, this transaction took place in 2008. That was seven years after Uri first publicly opposed the Trinity doctrine, “the catalyst for the book you are now reading” (p.52), and during the “ten years” he spent writing the book that reviles those, whose generosity he enjoyed, as people with “blood on their hands” (p.82).
Manufactured victim imagery
The author of IF compares himself with various innocent victims, from the biblical Jacob harassed by Esau (p.445-8), to the victims of the Catholic Inquisition (p.82), to the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53 (p.440).
He likens his trial to the historic Dreyfus Affair (p.443), an innocent Jew targeted for “raw, animal religious hatred” by “a select few who were in power”. Since this is a real and infamous category of victimization – and one which the discerning church is sensitive towards and anxious to combat – only the most callous believer would turn a deaf ear to such a claim.
The resulting goodwill granted to Uri by some in the Christian/Messianic community is evident in IF. The author quotes numerous supporters who rallied around him under the impression that he was removed from the helm of NCC for his unacceptable (Jewish) doctrine. Yet the author himself establishes that his removal as NCC President was reported to be for “financial impropriety and mismanagement” (p.452), a charge which he considered defamatory but which was supported by an IRS audit of NCC. ( See Appendix C, Sources 5 and 6) Despite that unfavorable publicity, Uri’s new position as President of NRF remained unchallenged from its founding in 2004 until today (sep/2015). This reality undermines the author’s 2011 complaint that the trial “unquestionably damaged my occupation” (p.495).
As for the IRS audit, the remaining NCC board rectified those deficiencies to the U.S. government’s satisfaction, by helping to launch a new Israeli partner which met the requirements left unfulfilled by the Israeli partner NTCF. That move, for which the IRS commended the organization as a “self-correction”, and which saved both donors and NCC board members (including Uri himself!) from possible penalties, became another reason for their ex-President to sue them. In the book, the NCC decision was merely of a plot “to seize all of the assets of the [NCC] Corporation” in defense of the trinity doctrine (p.451).
Emotional manipulation in place of fact
Those rallying behind Uri Marcus/ Uriel ben-Mordechai during the events surrounding his litigation are quoted in various personal notes sprinkled throughout IF (although with the authors not clearly identified, it’s not possible to verify their authenticity). These quotes convey as well as encourage a sentimental loyalty which is clueless about who launched the lawsuit and why.
Admiration is expressed (p.124) for Uri’s “magnanimous responses” and “noble spirit” in the face of “ridicule, rejection, deceit and betrayal, again and again.” He is thanked (p.346) for his “perseverance in the midst of great opposition by those who say they love you most.” He is given sympathy (p.437) for the fact that “brothers are unwilling to allow you to search the Scriptures and teach the truth.” A lament (p.492) goes up to God over “the smearing of your reputation, robbing your family of its livelihood and the destruction of a Fund that supports needy in the Land.”
The ignorance is reinforced by contradictory reasons given by the author for the lawsuit. Relatively early in the book (p.139), Uri writes that he was suing to challenge a NCC board vote that didn’t go the way he had expected. (The court judgment did mention the voting dispute in passing.) One of his supporters, who testified of that voting dispute, is in fact quoted (p.124) as congratulating Uri that “a lesser man of God than you would have just chalked this all up to a theological controversy….” Yet when the author introduces the litigation (p.441), he chalks it up to exactly that: “In this final chapter, I am going to demonstrate the consequences that erupt…when a person challenges Christianity’s time-honored convictions.” But later (p.453), he again cites “defamation” and a violation of “corporate protocol” as the circumstances that forced this “inescapable feeling of duty” upon him to sue.
One warmly positive note from a generous contributor (p.479) is contrasted with the same writer’s change of heart after learning more about the trial verdict (p.480). The author of IF distracts readers from the second note’s content by returning to the melodramatic charge that “anti-Semitism was the underlying cause” for his failed lawsuit and therefore the justification for his appeal. But the supporter’s objection is about distinct legal issues, again hinting that “Trinity on Trial” is a misleading title for Uri’s legal adventures. His response also shows the effect factual information can have on sentimental cluelessness.
The author of IF alludes to others who withdrew their support, for example in Chapters 2 and 3. Although he invariably explains these turnabouts as the evil influence of the Trinitarian belief, a significant number are identified as former supporters and friends. Even those he sued are identified (p.452) as “once trusted colleagues”. This reveals the perplexing fact that Uri once had good relations with Trinitarian believers. Indeed, numerous “attackers” quoted in this book actually expressed the hope of a continued friendship despite the doctrinal differences (p.44, 133-4 for example). Another dissenter (p.72) was willing to continue working with Uri’s Israeli ministry as long as it was understood that he did not support Uri’s doctrine. A good many simply stated their disagreement and added that they were praying for him. All these are presented by the author as offensive hate-mail.
Slander of a U.S. civil court
The worldly authorities (performing the function that had been avoided by Messianic leadership) examined Uri’s accusations and published their conclusion that the accused were innocent. That acquittal, and not the doctrinal issue, is the real reason this book was written, according to the author (p.487): “You would not now be reading this book, had the events related in this chapter [the thrice-failed litigation against NCC] not transpired.”
Judge Timothy J. Ryan of the Maricopa County (Arizona) Superior Court is subjected to around 20 pages of focused character assassination by the disappointed plaintiff. Ryan’s Catholic background is mentioned nearly a dozen times in the first five pages, to feed innuendos like this one: “Here is a judge, hardly impartial, who even in the best of circumstances would defend the Irish/Roman Catholic agenda in his…courtroom with all vigor, and with every fiber of his being, against heretics accusing Christians of wrongdoing.” (p.460)
As an observer present during the entire trial, I was distressed to see Uri’s side being given roughly 80 percent of the time allotted for testimony, resulting in three of the defendants being unable to even speak on their own behalf. Yet Uri complains (p.484) that he was not allowed nearly enough time to present his 23 witnesses and 400-odd court exhibits (p.455). He accuses the judge of perjury (p.484) because the court minutes noted that “the Plaintiffs rested” without having secured Uri's agreement to stop and allow the Defense to begin testifying. He complains (p.460-1) that the judge’s “determination to keep a promise he made to the jury” to not force them to “stay beyond what we asked them to do” was not in consideration of the jurors’ rights, but just more evidence of “partiality” against Uri.
Also among the perceived injustices is the judge’s “bias…against Jews in general” (p.481), despite the fact that there were Jews – and non-Jews – on both sides. Uri’s book fails to mention the Christian participants on the losing side, such as his co-plaintiff Kay McLean, and (presumed pro-deity) Christian ministry leader Morris Ruddick who was a “key witness” (p.487).
To support the oft-stated claim that this trial was driven by a Trinitarian agenda, Uri brings up (p.457) the defense attorney’s references to his doctrinal stand as a source of friction. But Uri himself stated in court (direct testimony, 3/may/06, p.93) that his doctrine was causing friction. Later he admitted that donors might also have been lost: “I won't be naive and exclude the possibility that during this period [2001-02] my own theological perspectives were made known, and there could be in here some drop attributable to that.” (testimony, 3/may, p.151)
At any rate, court documents reveal that the lawsuit was not about religious freedom. The closing remarks of both attorneys ignore this issue. Nevertheless, we are assured in IF that the real reason for the court's determination of the plaintiff as a "public figure" was "the trinity/deity doctrine", a reason which Uri had "identified subliminally during the trial" (p.476). The judge "wasn't about to go on record, saying, 'for this Court finds the Plaintiff heretical in his views against our god [sic] and our holy trinity'," (p.475) but his intention was "more than obvious" (p.476).
Uri gives his tale of miscarried justice seeming validity by citing (IF, p.477) unidentified “legal experts”. He reports that “every one of them shook their heads in disbelief, concluding, after reviewing the trial transcripts, that what we had experienced in Ryan’s courtroom should never have occurred.” Readers may draw their own conclusions by comparing this claim with the full transcript of the final day of the trial ( see Appendix C, Source 7).
In light of the many accusations of racism aimed at the trial judge, it’s significant that Uri does not attribute anti-Semitism or personal bias to the higher courts, where his case also failed. His loss in the Appellate Court is blamed (IF, p.486) on his attorney’s “incompetence”, although the same attorney(s) went on to represent him in the next two appeals ( compare Appendix C, Sources 7 and 13). This terse account in IF also ignores the Appeal Court’s extra effort to compensate for any shortcomings by Uri’s attorney (see Appendix B, Fiction 10). The rejection by the state Supreme Court is simply noted by the author a few paragraphs later, with no attempt to explain it at all.
A court rebuke rewritten as abuse
Especially interesting is a dramatic account (p.465-6) of Judge Ryan’s “judicial abuse” of Raya Tahan, Uri’s expert witness. The author quotes from the court transcript to lend his claim credibility, but he never reveals the content of “the IRS letter” that provoked the judicial rebuke. It was an after-audit directive to NCC to rectify deficiencies. It included the statement that failure to do so “could result in penalties and/or loss of exempt status.” (See Appendix C, Source 6.)
Uri’s expert dismissed this letter and its addendum as routine recommendations that were not necessary to comply with if they weren't "reasonable". Even while looking at the cover letter which begins, “I received the IRS auditor’s report…” she argued that “there is no evidence” of an IRS audit having taken place. The Appeal Court upheld the judge’s assessment of Raya Tahan’s testimony (Appendix C, Source 12). The trial judge used even stronger language in his closing comments (Appendix B, Fiction 2 ).
Despite being aware of these realities, Uri’s book portrays the court’s strong reprimand of his expert witness for misstating the law as just one more display of “personal bias” which violated Uri’s “rights to a fair trial” (p.466). And while complaining (p.455) that the judge instructed the jury to disregard her testimony, Uri makes sure to mention that Tahan is Jewish.
The author also reinstates a charge which the Appeal Court had dismissed years ago as unfounded (Appeal Court Decision, p.22); he interprets the court’s reference to terrorist-funding organizations as an anti-Semitic accusation against Uri’s ministry (IF, p.462-4). Here the author again draws attention to Raya’s Jewish identity (p.462), this time adding that her family once lived in Israel… to support the insinuation that the reason for the court’s rebuke was “racial and political bias, without question” against the Jewish State (p.464).
Prejudicing readers against fact-checking
With only this book as a history of the author’s adventures, readers are likely to believe that they are supporting (and indeed must support) a lonely victim of church-inspired anti-Semitism. But since several accused individuals and organizations are clearly identified, such a position is maintained only by foregoing any investigation of the dispute, and opting instead to accept the author’s version as authoritative. And yet a pledge to be “supremely interested in establishing the truth” (p.496) is meaningless if not backed by a history of integrity.
Perhaps good-hearted people with doubts avoided this basic background check of Uri Marcus / Uriel ben-Mordechai because they were convinced that there was no integrity on the other side either, dominated as it was by “baseless hatred” – the theme of a whole chapter in the book. This is indeed the image the author diligently assembles from what seem to be words from the mouths of the “haters” themselves, whose “acts of sabotage” extended to “the holy bonds of the family” and for whom “nothing remained sacred” (p.72).
One implied epicenter of this hatred is the court which examined Uri’s charges and (as the author presented it) sided with "baseless hatred". Uri’s testimony at his lawsuit and Judge Ryan’s final statements are two court-generated documents which have been available to the public upon request since 2006. Comparing these to Uri’s imaginary version of the judge’s message to him (p.481) reveals a stark difference in both tone and topic. (See a comparison in Appendix B, Fiction 6.) So I am not surprised that so many pages in IF are devoted to undermining the reputation of that court.
The other epicenter of that supposed hatred is the Messianic Body in Israel. Uri complains of individual supporters leaving him after making contact with Israeli believers (for example, p.131-3), which would indicate that this community also has evidence that can change the picture for those seeking the whole truth. I believe this is why the author devotes so many pages early in the book (p.52-78) to painting a repulsive caricature of the Messianic Israeli leaders, in which no redeeming qualities whatsoever are mentioned. Describing his troubled relationship with Israeli believers in colorful defamatory terms like “a witch hunt” and “a Messianic inquisition” (p.68), Uri again strives to support this image with what seem to be words from the Israelis themselves.
I cannot speak for other Israeli believers, but my own experience shows that Uri's defamation of Israeli believers is not an outburst of emotion but rather a planned strategy. I provide one example from my NTCF days (Appendix A, Fiction 1), which contributed to the decision by three Board members to resign simultaneously.
In both cases, the people whom Uri spends the most pages discrediting as malicious anti-Semites are those who potentially have the evidence that would demolish his version of events as laid out in this book.
Taking advantage of opponents’ silence
Although the author declares (p.495-6) that the book was necessary to break a silence surrounding his self-inflicted legal ordeal, “so that truth might be given an equal chance to be heard,” previous declarations by Uri already ensured that his story had been heard (for example, Sources 4,11,14 in Appendix C). As for that “equal chance” on the other side, one searches in vain on the Internet or in Messianic publications for competing versions of these events, which directly impacted at least four Messianic ministries in several countries.
While I cannot explain the silence of others, I can say that my attempts to present another viewpoint were silenced three separate times by Uri’s legal threats. He has repeatedly branded competing narratives, and even public documents which challenge his statements, as “defamatory”. Due to either widespread misunderstanding of defamation law, or fear of retaliation through frivilous litigation, the very mention of this lawsuit was considered off-limits. Despite the fact that the NCC trial was open to the public with no gag order on the evidence presented, the Body of Messiah imposed its own censorship on the affair, in a display of international unity rarely seen among us on any topic.
As illustrated by the quote at the beginning of my Review, the author tends to present the lack of opposing voices as an admission that he is in the right. This illusion is supported by the accusations collected and rehashed in IF, all of which have survived for a decade seemingly without challenge. In reality, however, challenges were made and the accusations did not stand. These advances toward truth were neutralized by decisions not to publish the results - again, usually under the mistaken impression that to do so would be defamatory.
Numerous claims of failed mediation by Uri fall into the latter category. For example, p.452-3 tells of the author's desire to settle out of court with NCC, but "despite best efforts, all requests for reconciliation fell on deaf ears." What's more, this refusal was attributed to the defendants' rejection of him as a fellow-believer. Thus Uri had no choice but to proceed with the lawsuits.
In contrast to this sad tale of doctrinal bigotry, I was informed of a settlement attempt some nine months before the trial, which was sabotaged at the last moment by an impossible demand from Uri (see Appendix B, Fiction 7). Another settlement was attempted midway through the trial itself. On the morning of 10/may/06, after the wash-out of the plaintiff's expert witness, the court recessed for a settlement meeting. Uri’s attorney offered to drop all charges and let everyone just walk away. The defendants agreed, but “with prejudice”. (Definition of "dismissal with prejudice": "The legal Action is dismissed, based on merit [for good reason], which prevents renewal of the same claim by the plaintiffs.") Uri refused, indicating that he was not interested in "reconciliation", but rather intended to prolong his litigation. So the trial continued to the bitter end, and beyond, to two appeals.
These responses were similar to a mediation meeting which Uri demanded in 2004, where he aired all the accusations alluded to in this book, and then sabotaged the mediators' attempted reconciliation. The mediation results (see Appendix C, Source 4) were never published to the Body of Messiah, allowing Uri to later rewrite the results to his own advantage.
The saddest exploitation of silence is the author’s reaction to the decision of his former colleagues not to counter-sue him. He admits that this had been their declared intention (p.487), and he knew that the grounds had been established in a disclosure statement to the court before trial. Likewise the $87,000 judgment against him, which might have been seen as a rebuke for frivilous litigation, was used as emotional leverage in raising funds for an appeal, and was finally admitted with self-pitying resignation in the book (p.479,487). But instead of seeing mercy in the defendants' decision to not exact revenge or increase the burden on him, Uri insinuates that they dropped the idea of counter-suing because they “feared the truth might come to light”.
Other reviews and responses
My conclusion is that IF? The End of a Messianic Lie deserves all the obscurity it can get. Even without the defamatory parts, its many misleading and misinformed statements guarantee that the book will perpetuate lies rather than end them. A provocative writing style, slogans borrowed from pop-culture, and bashing of opponents are poor substitutes for serious scholarship. At the very least, the book’s disregard of the basic Torah standard of “derekh eretz” (integrity, self-control and kindness) should have earned it a place as a model of how NOT to approach a controversy. Yet the author managed to receive endorsements from others.
Several reviews reprinted in the book (pp.vi-xi) are from people whose goodwill seemed to be their strongest reason for reviewing IF. Uri prevailed upon Dr. Asher Kaufman, a physics professor emeritus at Hebrew University who confessed limited knowledge of the issues, but obliged his friend’s request for an endorsement. Kaufman misidentifies the book as a warning to “young Jews” against “religious experimenting” outside of traditional Judaism. In answer to a query from me concerning his seeming endorsement of the author’s experimentation with the traditional Jewish view of Messiah, Dr. Kaufman (now deceased) informed me that he had only been shown the first three chapters of the book; and even these he had not read carefully enough to realize that Uri was promoting Yeshua the Nazarene as Israel’s Messiah (p.41).
I assume the same sort of quick look-through was given by Israeli tour guide Gil Zohar, whose review mistakes the book for a “new examination” of “the historical Jesus”. Despite what can only be called the complete absence of scholarly diligence in IF, Zohar likens the book to the landmark research of the previous century by Joseph Klausner.
More perplexing is the case of the two professed Messianic leaders in North America, who applaud Uri’s doctrine and then go on to confirm his claim of being victimized by fellow-believers for his beliefs. Both refer to long friendship with Uri, which is the only justification they offer for endorsing his narrative at face-value. While I do not judge them (having been there and done that myself), I do challenge any fellow-believer in this position to consider whether such blind faith can be supported by Scripture, or even by responsible ethics.
There are a few who have promoted this book for its perceived educational merits. Believers who have no Torah background and long for Jewish roots have expressed excitement over the author’s perceived Hebrew-Greek expertise and confident pronouncements, thinking they have found a pioneer Torah teacher. A typical example is a recommendation from Holland, which uncritically repeats the author’s claim that his theology is “based on the Hebrew Bible, ancient Jewish tradition and the writings of the Sages, and the Apostolic Scriptures.” There is no evidence of an actual review having been attempted, and the comments following this recommendation are uniformly enthusiastic.
The final declaration in IF (p.502) is that if you want to learn Torah truth, “your journey has just begun!” However, to learn from the author on an ongoing basis requires “a minimum tuition fee” of $50 a month for his weekly webinars. The webinars appear to promote the same sort of dubious rewriting of New Covenant scriptures as featured in the book, such as this reported example. Thus the undiscerning truth-seeker will continue to absorb and promote a “restored Torah” that does violence to Paul’s teaching of salvation through grace, precisely because of its missing Torah foundation. Even basic Halacha (observance of Torah commands) is a casualty here: Uri’s live webinars are scheduled at an hour that forces his North/South American participants to violate the Shabbat custom of turning off electronic gadgets.
Much more serious is the risk that the naive and immature will have their faith needlessly shipwrecked by reinvented translations that ignore both Christian and Jewish input.
A final thought on “the end of a Messianic lie”
Once a lie is identified, ending it is the responsibility of the liar. But ending one’s support for it is an individual decision.
Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. (Ephesians 5:11-13)
How can we detect darkness despite declarations of dedication to the truth? Behavior under scrutiny is a giveaway. Yeshua told us that no one who is practicing the truth will run from the light; on the contrary, they will welcome it (John 3:20-21).
And so, in making these hidden things visible, I do welcome any questions or requests for more detailed evidence. Readers can contact me at: hannah[at]restorersofzion.org.
Postscript: Published for the sake of Zion
I cannot end this review without addressing the implications of this ongoing Family scandal, now in its 12th year. This is going to get personal, and I hope readers will take it to heart.
It's true that many rank-and-file believers are completely uninformed about the events referred to in this 550-page saga. The same cannot be said for leaders in Messiah's Body.
For leaders, reading the 2011 book entitled IF is not necessary. The charges aired in this book have been circulating for more than a decade. And although a vigorous response was organized by leaders when Messianic doctrine came under attack by the writer (amply documented in his book), there was a curious lethargy when God's children came under attack by the same person. A position of false neutrality was adopted in 2003, when the slander printed in IF was first voiced, the same accusations against the same innocent brethren. Several calls for a public response, first in Israel and later abroad, went unanswered.
When the world’s authorities spoke in 2006 and 2008, administering the justice that the Body of Messiah ought to have done years before, God’s shepherds were duly informed. And still they did not speak up and take a position on this shocking case of Family Abuse. As a result, our brothers and sisters who had been vindicated (three times!) were left without comfort or protection. After the trial, they continued to live in isolation from much of the Messianic and pro-Israel Christian communities, because of doubts concerning their integrity which were kept alive with repeated accusations... aided by an information black-out.
I ask readers of this Review to take a brief detour to Appendix C, Source 19, and allow these good people to say a few words. They have waited 12 years for the Body of Messiah to hear them; it will take you 5 minutes to meet that modest request.
We now return to the book and its implications. In the absence of any corrective action - or even any corrective information (except for the doctrinal kind) - the ungodly behavior described above was given an open field. It was inevitable that the slander would roll on, gaining new listeners, new victims and new heights of absurdity.
Given the Messianic label and the role of teacher being exploited by the author of IF at every opportunity, real Messianic teachers would have the most to lose from a distortion of what they/we stand for. Even more is at risk for the author's target audience, the Christians and Messianic Jews who want nothing more than to give to and learn from our community in Israel. This is where the silence speaks the loudest.
Giving a Messianic pretender a free pass to promote himself as a spokesman for significant numbers of Israeli Jewish believers ("many more than you know or think" - IF, p.68) is bad enough. It's even worse to allow someone to use our Israeli identity and our Torah covenant as both ammo and shield in spreading personal contempt and lies, without a word of challenge. Standing by while a so-called "Messianic teacher" abuses others in our own community has no possible justification whatsoever. Is doctrine really more important to God than deeds? Yet the various Messianic leader groups that "contend earnestly for the faith" have never taken a stand against the deeds remembered in this book. The cry of distress from ministries that were established to help the Israeli believers did not move the Israeli believers to come to their rescue.
Distance from the disaster zone is no excuse either. Silence in the face of continuing slander is the spiritual equivalent of innocent blood being shed (Lev.19:16), over and over, while we as bystanders watch from the next hilltop… and then go about our business. While most Messianic leaders can wash their hands and say (Deut.21:7), “Our hands have not shed this blood,” many cannot honestly say, “…nor did our eyes see it.” The leaders and groups who were/are informed are known to God.
Refusing to make a statement IS a statement, and there are consequences. As long as we do not “remove the guilt of innocent blood from our midst” (Deut.21:9), we have not done “what is right in the eyes of the LORD”. Allowing the bloodshed of abuse to go on unchallenged in our Body brings judgment (Lev.19:15). Denying that what affects other parts of the Body affects us (1 Cor.12:25-26) also brings judgment (1 Cor.11:29-31). We are therefore under judgment of one kind or another for our collective silence about this affair.
Readers might dismiss that idea because there have been no ‘bolts of lightning’ showing God’s displeasure. Judgment has been taking place behind the scenes. Those who enabled or permitted the above slander of NCC became victims of slander, right down to the same false accusations. A ministry that allowed its former partner to be destroyed was itself destroyed, by its former partner. And yet in the aftermath there was no expressed remorse for the sins committed with their enabling, no attempt to make things right with the “slain” brethren. The silence goes on.
So the judgment will go on, until we as His Body do what is right in His eyes.
Make no mistake: I include myself in this indictment. I deleted the corrective information I had posted as a service to the Body in 2004, and again in 2007. By giving in to pressure rather than standing by the truth and paying the price, I showed myself unwilling to lay down my life in love towards those who were being mauled. Perhaps if I had stood firm, the Body would have eventually faced the problem, rallied around Uri to speak the truth in love, and convinced him to repent (Matt.18:17). By agreeing to the no-talk rule, I was one of those who helped clear the way for IF to be published. For more thoughts in this direction, go to the final entry in Appendix C, "A 'Tachlis' Question: How will any of this information help anyone?"
In that context, this Review should be viewed as a modest attempt by one Israeli to repent and speak what needed to be spoken all these years. I admit that I cannot take the place of Israel’s “elders” (Deut.21:7); I speak only for myself and our small fellowship at Restorers of Zion. I also realize that this information is too little to repair the reputations of those who were wronged, and too late to salvage several Messianic ministries which were destroyed by our inaction. But this confession is right in the eyes of the LORD.
“Forgive your people Israel whom You have redeemed, O LORD,
and do not place the guilt of innocent blood in the midst of Your people Israel.”
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