There’s a new national messianic organization on the scene.
The Messianic Covenant Community appears to be an effort by several former key players, including a Peoria-area pastor, in the Messianic Israel Association to get a fresh start in promoting the messianic message.
The MCC is led by Scott Diffenderfer, who pastors Lamb Fellowship in Tennessee and was chief operations officer for the MIA for seven years.
The MIA is the best-known expression of “messianic Israel” or “Two-House” theology, essentially teaching that when a Gentile becomes a Christian, they become a part of Israel and are bound to the same covenants as Jews.
Here’s how the MCC Statement of Faith describes its belief of a Christian’s identity:
We believe that when a Jew or non-Jew puts his trust in Yeshua as Messiah, they are grafted (or re-grafted) into the olive tree of Israel, by faith. Faith in Israel’s Messiah Yeshua makes one a member in the commonwealth of Israel. Our Father, Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness. If we are in Messiah, we are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the Promise (Romans 11:17-27, John 8:33-39, Ephesians 2:11-19, Galatians 3:29).
That has ramifications, according to the MCC, including the need to keep such commandments as the seventh-day Sabbath and the annual biblical feasts:
We believe that the weekly Sabbath and annual Feasts of the Lord … are “statutes forever” and should be celebrated by the body of faith represented by Believers in Yeshua. The feasts of the LORD, or moedim, are appointments for the Bride to meet with her Husband to learn more of Him and His Kingdom to come. We long for the day when His Kingdom is restored to Israel and His will is done on earth as it is in heaven (Leviticus 23, Zechariah 14:16-19, Matthew 6:10, Acts 1:6, Revelation 22:17).
Diffenderfer says that the MCC was birthed out of the need to focus on congregational development. The MIA’s founders, Angus and Batya Wootten, wanted to refocus on “the topic of Ephraim and Judah, who is Israel, etc.”
Asked how the MCC will be different than the MIA, Diffenderfer said:
1. Our focus is on stabilizing the Messianic movement through bringing stability and support to the families and communities of faith within the movement and those coming into the movement.
2. Our legal structure is not centered on one family and will contain provisions for generational transitions.
3. MCC will be reaching out to all who embrace the covenants of Israel and the Messiah of Israel , regardless of bloodlines.
4. MCC will reach across the current barriers within the movement without condemnation or previous relationship issues.
Those are telling points about the different road the MCC wants to take. The messianic movement is known, in some circles, for its instabilities, especially regarding differing views on how to apply the Torah to the life of a Christian—or whether it’s even OK to call oneself a Christian. The MCC seems to want to bring some kind of order to the messianic chaos, especially on the congregational level.
The “legal structure” Scott is referring to involves the MIA, which is “legally controlled” by the Woottens. He said that arrangement made it difficult to pass on leadership to future generations. The MCC emphasizes passing on the messianic life to children and grandchildren, and that includes the institutions.
The “reaching out … regardless of bloodlines” addresses a theological component that once dominated the Messianic Israel movement: that Christians are actually descendants of Israelites who had assimilated into the nations. Scott said the MCC wants its focus “to be on the blood of Messiah rather than the blood of a man,” but that it’s not relegating the matter to the sidelines.
Point 4 refers to contention between the Israel/Gentile/Ephraim part of the movement and the Jewish part of the messianic movement. I’ll address that in a separate post.
Dan Botkin, pastor of Gates of Eden Messianic Congregation in Peoria and an elder on the MCC board, is also optimistic about the impact of the new organization.
“I think it will give GOE (and all the Messianic Movement) more credibility,” he said in an email interview. “The MIA was tainted in the eyes of many people (unfairly) because of certain people’s association with MIA in the past. I know most of the men who are going to be leading the MCC, and as far as I know, they all seem like solid, credible, stable believers. One thing we all have in common is that we all have grandchildren who are being raised in the Messianic faith.”
Also notable are the MCC’s focuses (foci?) on marriage and the family. The MCC already has amarriage workshop set for Sunday and is planning leadership and worship conferences as well as a national conference this summer.
It’s sounding like the MCC will provide a fresh break and new opportunity to create a forward-looking organization in the Gentile area of the messianic movement.