Author(s)

Hiwatha BellFollow

Date

7-2019

Department

Rawlings School of Divinity

Degree

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)

Chair

C. Fred Smith

Keywords

Messianic, Judaism, Counter Apologist

Disciplines

Christianity | Religion | Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion

Abstract

Paul admonishes the leaders in Ephesus to guard the flock whom God gave them oversight, to develop their spiritual insight by advancing their Scriptural aptitude so they would be able to withstand opposing forces outside the church as well as threats that would emerge from inside the church (Acts 20:28-30). Christ often engaged religious leaders in Judaism, accusing them of evangelizing to others (Matt. 23:15) and misleading those whom they had evangelized and proselytized (Matt. 15:1-13). The Bible is replete with Scriptures that require the shepherd to protect the sheep from wolves, thus the impetus for this report. This report analyzes the reason(s) there is a decline in Messianic congregations and church growth resulting from Jewish counter-apologist’s misunderstandings of selected Messianic passages in Psalms and Isaiah that has influenced Messianic Jewish parishioners and even Christians to abandon the faith in Christ. This report reviews current literature and scriptural guidance, as well as establishes a training program, modules, and exercises to outline optimal practices for congregants and leaders who need to improve upon their spiritual convictions and develop their Scriptural acumen in order to successfully defend the advent and ministry of Christ. Additionally, this report uses a multi-tiered survey to gauge the knowledge, skill, and comfort level of parishioners who participate in this project report to determine their ability, or lack thereof, in arguing for Christ as the prophesied Messiah. Data from the survey highlights areas that needs improvement and further research. This report then integrates the academic research with applied research, all in light of scriptural guidance to detail best practices as it is delineated in the Bible to benefit congregants and to advance the ministry. Finally, this report provides a guidebook that will address how to mitigate the decline in church attendance by disambiguating passages in Psalms and Isaiah, thereby making it translatable to the congregants so that they may successfully relay their theology to one who inquires or challenges their faith. Peter says “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Pet. 3:15). Peter says that a believer should always be prepared to make a defense in one’s belief in Christ. Therefore, this report will enumerate common issues for the decline in church attendance and membership, and the decline in churches and synagogues due to congregant’s inability to successfully mount a defense to Jewish counter-apologists and introduce material that will mitigate attrition.

Available for download on Saturday, July 25, 2020

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