Sid Roth - How Christianity Went from Jewish to Pagan
Sid Roth: Hello, I'm Sid Roth, your investigative reporter. I'm here with Dr. Howard Morgan, another Jewish man that says you're coming from an orthodox, traditional-type of Jewish background that boldly says that Jesus is his Messiah. How come, Howard?
Howard Morgan: When I was a college student - I was 21-years old - I was asked a question, and the question had to do with, "Who is Jesus?. And two students and I were talking about this, and as we began to talk about this, some supernatural things began to happen to me. It was in a crowded cafeteria at hunter college. They approached me and said, "We'd like to talk to you". I said, "What do you want to talk about"? They said, "We'd like to talk about Jesus". I said, "Go ahead". Being an intellectual in those days, college students were open to everything, but I was not prepared for what kind of supernatural things would begin to unfold in this crowded cafeteria. As they began to discuss this with me, I felt what I could only describe as a presence kind of come around us.
Sid Roth: So how do you know this wasn't drugs?
Howard Morgan: Well, because when you are involved with drugs, things tend to fall apart inwardly. Things are not knit together, and as they were speaking to me I could feel, like a wholeness come inside of me: a peace, like this is right.
Sid Roth: Have you ever felt this before?
Howard Morgan: Not really. I knew that God existed, but I felt like I was being personally encountered, and then the next thing that happened is that a vision opened up inside of me. I saw myself, Sid, as a man drowning in a sea and a huge ocean liner was coming by and I saw the captain of the boat standing as the ocean liner was passing by: and I heard the voice of God, and I knew it was God. It was so clear and powerful into my spirit, and I heard these words: "Howie, I will throw you a life preserver and save you, but if you don't take it, I won't take responsibility for what will happen to you next". At that instance there flashed in my mind incidents in car accidents - 3 distinct car accidents - when my life was spared: and also where I was ready to be arrested for possession of narcotics, but the police officer's hand was stopped like 1-inch away from finding the contraband, and the Holy Spirit was clearly showing me I was taking responsibility: "That's why you didn't get arrested, and you didn't die in those car accidents. But now you're like a man drowning in the sea, and I won't take responsibility for what will happen to you next". I knew he had been watching over my life, but that was about to change.
Sid Roth: Well, what happened next?
Howard Morgan: Well, these college students and i, we were discussing what it means to really be a believer, and they asked me if I wanted to pray and ask Jesus into my life. But I really - at that particular moment, wasn't really ready to do that. So I got on the subway to go home. It was in Manhattan. I was living in Brooklyn at the time. I'm sitting on a crowded subway train December 1971, sitting there, you know, minding my own business, and Sid, I heard in my right ear a clear voice begin to speak to me and say these words: "Howie, read the prayer. Read the prayer now".
Sid Roth: What prayer?
Howard Morgan: They had given me a little booklet that had explained the Gospel, and there was a little prayer in it. And the voice was very insistent and very persistent: "Howie, read the prayer. Read the prayer now. Howie, read the prayer. Read the prayer now". So I said under my breath, "All right already! I'll read the prayer". So I went to my back pocket - literally, this is exactly what happened - I got the little booklet out of my back pocket and there was a little prayer asking Jesus to come into my life. I read the prayer. The instant I finished reading the prayer, a bright bold light literally exploded inside of me. I felt and saw dark forces leave my body. I stood up because this power had just got turned on inside of me...
Sid Roth: What kind of "Dark forces"?
Howard Morgan: I can't, I don't, in those days i...
Sid Roth: How'd you know it was a dark force?
Howard Morgan: I saw it! It was black! It left me! Black shadows left my body when this light exploded inside of me. At that moment, I knew that God was real, that Jesus was alive. My whole life, in that second, turned around. I went home. I was dating a Jewish girl at the time, told her everything that happened. She looked at me and said, "You sound different and you have a funny look in your eye". I went outside...
Sid Roth: Wait a second. What was going on inside of you?
Howard Morgan: Oh, a tremendous sense of peace and joy and well-being, and it really was an incredible sense of joy and peace. I mean, those words sometimes don't carry the meaning...
Sid Roth: But you're Jewish!
Howard Morgan: That's right.
Sid Roth: You're Jewish! Didn't it bother you? I mean, raised in a traditional family in Brooklyn...
Howard Morgan: No, because you know what this was all about? It was about meeting God, which is what I learned in the synagogue and what I learned in Hebrew school, and putting on to fill in: that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob - these people all had an encounter with God. This wasn't about religion. This was about a personal encounter with the living God, and I just had one! And I went outside and I looked up in the sky, and I saw three angels dancing with tambourines, and my thought was, "Wow! There's a party going on up there"!
Sid Roth: Why were they having a party?
Howard Morgan: Because the Bible says when a sinner repents, the angels in heaven rejoice, and I had repented. Went home, threw away all my drug paraphernalia, started to read the Bible, had this desire to pray, and just talk about Jesus to everybody that I met. They, of course, went crazy, but God started doing wonderful things. And the most amazing thing was this overwhelming sense of peace and joy and well-being.
Sid Roth: Well wait. I've never taken drugs, but I'm told you have a peace and a euphoric-type feeling when you take drugs. What's the difference?
Howard Morgan: Yeah, but it's always short-lived, and when it's over you're feeling terribly depressed and you need to go back for more drugs or stronger drugs because the previous didn't work. But this was nothing to do with that. I threw all my drugs away, and there was a spiritual sense rising from deep within me - this presence, if you will - of power, of empowerment, of joy and of peace that was all day long. I mean, I walked around, I went back to school after the vacation -
Sid Roth: How many years ago?
Howard Morgan: This was 1971, so this is -
Sid Roth: Today, today, time's going by: what's going on inside of you?
Howard Morgan: Same peace and joy. This is the remarkable testimony, that all through the difficulties, battles of life that everybody has, ups and downs and whatever, there was this rock-bottom peace that I have had in my life, this joy that is a buoyancy. It is...
Sid Roth: Howard became a phd, and he has studied something that is so amazing. It's literally supernatural of how something that started - you had to be Jewish to believe in Jesus 2,000 years ago. Everything was Jewish. The authors of the new covenant - outside of Dr. Luke - and, of course, how many non-Jewish doctors do you know? Just kidding! When we come back we're going to find out how something so Jewish got to be thought of as the opposite of Judaism. Don't go away.
Sid Roth: Hello, Sid Roth, your investigative reporter. I'm here with Dr. Howard Morgan. So, how did Christianity, which started so Jewish, become today the opposite of Judaism to most Jewish people? Dr. Howard Morgan.
Howard Morgan: That's a really important and fascinating question, because you see the history of man, kind of wrapped up in this dynamic of what happened. We see the Jewish people rejecting Jesus as the Messiah. We see the gentile church rejecting her Jewish connection to the Jewish people. The apostle Paul told the church...
Sid Roth: So you can say we humans are just plain "Rejected people"!
Howard Morgan: Yeah, we are, and we operate - this is an important point, Sid. We operate out of that rejection because we're always trying to get somebody either to love us, we're trying to get them to approve of us, and we're trying to control them so that we can be in a position of control and getting that love, and that's a fascinating insight, because you can look at this...
Sid Roth: We're operating out of hurt.
Howard Morgan: Absolutely. We are reacting to our situations rather than responding to God, and you see that in the early church fathers. Rather than embracing their own spiritual culture, the Jewish people, they got afraid that the Jewish people, because they rejected Jesus, were going to take their "Converts" away from them: and because they rejected the Bible, and the apostle Paul's admonition, "Don't be arrogant against the branches: the roots support you..".,
Sid Roth: You're saying the gentile church rejected the Bible?
Howard Morgan: Absolutely. They rejected the authority of the scriptures, because if they had obeyed the scriptures, we'd have a very different world today. So what they did was begin to pick and choose what they wanted, and the reason they did that is because they went into a non-Jewish culture. By rejecting their Jewish roots they went into this paganized Greco-Roman worldview that was very different than the Jewish view of the world.
Sid Roth: What's the difference?
Howard Morgan: Well, I'm going to explain that. The Greeks had what we call a "Dualistic view". That is, they separated the material and the spiritual. The Hebrew culture that produced the Bible had no such separation. Everything was spiritual. That's why now in modern-day Christianity people can go to church and think, "Oh, my spiritual life is done"!, and they go and do whatever they want.
Sid Roth: In effect, we can segment things.
Howard Morgan: Exactly.
Sid Roth: It's Sunday or Saturday: I do my thing with God. The rest of the week, I do my thing, for me.
Howard Morgan: Right. That's exactly right. And that all came out of the Greco-Roman culture, the worldview that they had that allowed them - see, because their view of God is, oh, you throw a little incense on a burner, you know, you did your thing with God - that God wasn't really interested in your morality or your character - and you did whatever you wanted because you did your "Religious thing". But the Hebrew scriptures and the revelation of the God of Israel in the scriptures were saying, no, God is concerned with our morality. He's concerned with our lifestyle, he's concerned with our character, and he has given us instruction - commandments - on how to live". When the church rejected her Jewish roots, that was put aside, and what began to develop slowly over the first few centuries of the Christian era, and what happened is we see a non-Jewish faith emerge.
Sid Roth: But why did we reject it?
Howard Morgan: Well, we rejected it, I think, for a number of reasons: and when I say "We", I'm not meaning "We". I say "They" did. One is they were afraid that they were going to lose converts. Two is, they wanted to make this religion palatable to the intellectuals of the western world that they were trying to bring the Gospel to.
Sid Roth: Are you telling me they had what we call today a "Seeker-friendly church" so it would blend in?
Howard Morgan: Well, in some ways they were, but what they - they made the mistake of being - here's a fancy word - they made the mistake of being "SynChristic". That is, they tried to bring everything together to please everybody, rather than preaching the Gospel that brought the faith to the Roman Empire in the first place, because when the original apostles, the Jewish apostles and prophets went preaching, there was power and signs and wonders and miracles, because people then, like they are today, in our view, is they're hungry for reality, and they were coming into reality. Lives are being changed. People are being healed. People are being set free from their insecurities, from their fears. Marriages and families were being put together because the power of God was being made available to them.
Sid Roth: Are you telling me there is a connection between the loss of the power of God, and rejection of our biblical Jewish heritage?
Howard Morgan: Absolutely. And we can follow that parallel right through history, as the church rejected the Bible. It calls them "Anointed roots": that is, they had the power of God flow, the reality of God flowing, and the message of the Kingdom of God, the reality of God in somebody's life, was being proclaimed. When the church turned away from that, things started happening. The church became political. It became military. Instead of people wanting to see others raised up as disciples, they wanted to manipulate and control them because an organization developed that had to now protect itself! In order to protect itself, it had to cut out anything that would threaten it. Jewish believers threatened it because Jewish believers in the church came and said, "No"! That's not the way this is supposed to be done! We're not supposed to have this kind of a hierarchical system in which clergy manipulates and controls laity. This is a relational thing that we all have with God: that we all have with each other, because we're supposed to grow and nourish each other in the faith. That was lost, but God is restoring it in many congregations today. We're seeing a renewal of this Jewish roots interest in churches...
Sid Roth: All right, give me some specifics. The biblical festivals - passover, yom kippur, rash hashanah: all they - why is the church not following these biblical directives?
Howard Morgan: Well, basically in the third century, Constantine "Had a conversion", and he began to make laws. He called all the bishops to him. You know, the emperor said come, because these were people who were persecuted by the Roman emperors. Now all of a sudden the emperor's saying, "Hey, guys, I'm on your side! I want to establish you as the religion of the state".
Sid Roth: So what looks for good was actually used for bad.
Howard Morgan: Sure, because he wanted to be able to control the empire and he wanted to control the military and religiously, so he set up a religion, but he had deep roots of anti-semitism, and the church had already been infected by that because she had rejected what Paul said: "Don't be arrogant".You know, they turned their back on the Jewish people. The spiritual forces that began to come into play said to the church, "Listen, the Jews rejected Jesus, the Messiah, their own Messiah: therefore God has rejected them. They're nothing anymore. Now the gentiles - the church - is the new Israel. God's done with the Jews. We've replaced the Jews, and we are the new Israel". With that one lie, a whole world of negative influences were brought into the church because now there was no connection to the Jewish people, and now they were open to any influence that would come from this pagan world that was around them.
Sid Roth: Hold that thought. And the influences came, as you're aware of. We'll be right back after this.
Sid Roth: You think you have a problem? You should see 2 Messianic Jews by the name of Paul and Silas. They could not keep quiet of the fact that Yeshua - that's Hebrew for Jesus - is the Jewish Messiah, so they were put in prison. And there was such a warning given, they were put into the depth of the prison. There was no heating, or air conditioning: it was rat-infested. They were put in stocks: they couldn't even move. They were beaten. They were bloody. There was no electricity. There was no light. It was midnight, and you know what they did? The last thing most people would do in those kind of circumstances: they began worshipping and praising God for all they were worth. They began singing songs to God, and suddenly God came on the scene. He showed up, and it says it was like an earthquake, and the prison doors opened up. You should try singing and praising God when things are tough because you're about ready to have your "Earthquake".
Sid Roth: Hello. Sid Roth, your investigative reporter here with Dr. Howard Morgan. And the question that I have for Dr. Morgan, and I believe you have it, too, is, how does what is known as the church today differ from the very first followers of Jesus, who were all Jewish, and had the power. They had, as the commercial said, "They had the beef"?
Howard Morgan: Right.
Sid Roth: How did it differ? What were they doing that we're not doing today?
Howard Morgan: Well, they understood the nature of revelation and the nature of spiritual reality, and they were seeking God for revelation rather than a rationalistic understanding. They understood that God was inviting them into a relationship with himself and a relationship in each other that had a purpose. The relationship with God was to change us, and then our relationship with each other was to help each other grow in this relationship with God. Now, today, we have people going to a building to observe a ritual that doesn't change them because they're disengaged from it in terms of revelation. They just kind of go through the rituals, and all the churches are doing that, so we basically have a theater that goes on. People go to a building to observe the show and then they leave, left to their own devices because the power isn't being exchanged, and that really, Sid, is the heart of the difference, the power of God now not being manifest in the ministry. You go to churches and people preach. You know, there's the preacher, and people hear something. But because they're not engaged with God personally, they're not able to receive the anointing, the power of God operating in their life, and then the people - the community - see, if we say "Church" to most people, they think, "A building you go to observe a religious ritual". But the "Kehillath", in Hebrew, what Jesus said, the congregation was a relational thing. It's everybody helping each other, supporting each other, looking after each other, studying the scriptures together: a flow of life.
Sid Roth: How different was the culture between the first Jewish believers and the Messiah than what we have today?
Howard Morgan: Well, the culture was, again, this dynamic of understanding that we're a tribe together, that we're a family together. Most people who go to church today don't even talk to one another.
Sid Roth: What I meant was things like, did they observe passover, yom kippur...
Howard Morgan: Oh, yes, they observed all the feasts of the Lord because they understood that those feasts were times of meeting with God for specific purposes: a time to remember what God had promised, and very importantly, to call to mind what God is going to do. This is what makes the Jewish religion and the Jewish people so distinctive, because they are a prophetic people: that God called this nation for a prophetic purpose, to bring to pass his redemptive purposes in the world. That's why the Jewish people are different than the French people, or the asian people. God loves everybody, but he has put a prophetic call upon them. This is another reason why...
Sid Roth: What is the "Prophetic call on the Jews"?
Howard Morgan: The prophetic call is to be a light to the nation and to prepare the world for the coming of the Messiah: that the Jewish people, giving birth to the Jewish Messiah, taking this Gospel - this good news - to all the world that...
Sid Roth: Wait a second. The rabbis say we Jews don't proselytize.
Howard Morgan: Well, they're wrong, and we were supposed to.
Sid Roth: Why?
Howard Morgan: Because we were called to be a light to the world. Interestingly, rashi, one of the great Jewish commentators about the life of Abraham, he said that Abraham was the first missionary, that he went to bring the knowledge of God to the nations of the world, and all through the scriptures where God is speaking about how he wants to bring all the nations to the knowledge of himself...
Sid Roth: What is going to happen when the gentile church embraces the Jewish people and we become one with creation? What's going to happen?
Howard Morgan: We're going to fulfill what Paul wrote in Romans chapter 11 in the Bible: that the church is going to be able then, "To provoke Israel to jealousy". The church is going to be able to have such a life-giving testimony to the Jewish people. It says, 'your Messiah changed our lives in these profound ways. It's your Messiah. It's not our Messiah. The gentile nations had no such promise of a Messiah coming to them. The Messiah was only promised to the Jewish people: and that Messiah, changing the lives of the church, and the church being reconciled to her Jewish roots and reconciled to the Jewish people, so that a life-giving testimony can go forth: then the end of the age is going to happen. The Jewish people are going to recognize that Jesus really is the Messiah and call him back from heaven. I think this will happen when there's a time of great crisis upon the Jewish people, when their destruction looks imminent. Then they will call upon Jesus. They'll say, "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord", and Jesus will come. I believe he is waiting to hear this divine invitation: "Come back, Mashiach: come back, Messiah".
Sid Roth: What kind of power can we expect when the church embraces the Jewish people?
Howard Morgan: I think we're going to begin to see the church coming into unity. Pastors no longer at odds with one another over petty, artificial, theological arguments, but really embracing one another, loving one another. Then churches coming together to fulfill the call of God that's on their life: life flowing back and forth so that we're going to see real authentic signs and wonders and miracles happening on a common level in people's homes, in hospitals, everywhere, because we're really getting connected back to the power of God.
Sid Roth: What do you anticipate seeing in hospitals?
Howard Morgan: I think we're going to see all kinds of signs and wonders. We'll see dead people being raised, cancers being healed - the power of God - because the church finally is being connected to that authentic source, and the authentic purposes of God, because God isn't giving miracles just to entertain us. It's a sign, in Hebrew: it points a way. It's a message to us, to repent. It's a message to us, to get our life right. It's a message to us to begin to go back to the Bible and study the Bible for ourselves. I want our viewers to think for themselves: get a Bible for yourself. Ask God, "Is this really the truth"? And let the Holy Spirit - the reality of God - begin to be manifested in their lives. Otherwise our discussion today is a nice, you know, theological intellectual discussion about history, and our viewers will miss the point that God has an invitation for them, and he wants them to read his word for themselves and study for themselves! See, this is one of the things that the church lost! They lost this very Jewish thing about studying! So you just watch the church, and the church forbade people from reading the Bible! It was a capital crime!
Sid Roth: There seems to be a trend in many churches throughout the world to go back to the biblical festivals and to love the Jewish people. Why is this happening now?
Howard Morgan: This is a move of the Holy Spirit because it's God's time to favor Zion. Israel is being regathered. Jerusalem is under the hands - control - of the Jewish people. Jesus said this would be a major sign of his coming, that "...Jerusalem would be trodden down under the feet of the gentiles, until", a powerful word in the Bible, "Until the times of the gentiles be fulfilled". 1967, the 6-day war, that Jerusalem is back under Jewish authority and control, and we're watching, since that time to this, there have been more Jewish people that have come to faith in Jesus. Now there are Messianic congregations all over the world and indigenous Hebrew-speaking Messianic congregations in Israel. Sid, this hasn't been true in 1,800 years of history, but it's true today because we're approaching the time. God is bringing - stirring people's hearts, members of the church - believers, real Christians - stirring their heart to see something's wrong in the church. What is it? And they're coming to the conclusion, "You know what? We're not practicing the Jewish faith anymore". We've been so influenced by a Greco-Roman worldview that we have to go back to the festivals and learn from them. We have to go back to God's calendar and study, because these festivals, the Bible says, were all rehearsals of an ultimate spiritual reality that's going to take place, and God is causing the church to rehearse again the coming of the Lord and the purposes of God.
Sid Roth: Is that why God says to observe these festivals forever?
Howard Morgan: Yes.
Sid Roth: Because there are, you used the word "Rehearsal"?
Howard Morgan: Right. That's exactly...
Sid Roth: Rehearsal of what?
Howard Morgan: Each of these festivals has a lesson for us, and the Hebrew word for "Convocation", these holy convocations, literally means "A holy rehearsal". We're rehearsing history before it happens. We're proclaiming to God and to everybody else that these things are going to happen, and as we study the festivals we'll see that they all lead to the personal return of the Messiah, to rule as king. In Hebrew, "Malik Mashiach".
Sid Roth: The personal return of the Messiah. Is he coming for you personally? He is coming, but is he coming for you personally? Someone has just been healed that has a pain in their neck, and someone has a pain in their head. God's giving you a supernatural sign right now. You are healed, in Yeshua - that's Hebrew for Jesus - in Yeshua's name. And someone's back is being healed right now, and someone's hip, but the head, it's very strong. People are being healed right now. Recognize that's God giving you a sign because he loves you. And some of you are not getting a sign, but recognize by his spirit, he loves you. You see, if you believe without seeing, well, blessed are you! You're just plain blessed! God really does have a destiny for you. There is a purpose for your life. There really is.