The church was created by Jesus, who was born Jewish. His early followers were both Jewish and Gentile, and the church’s early culture was rooted in Judaism and a Jewish understanding of God’s relationship to his people. Over time, Christianity became increasingly more Roman than Jewish. How did this transformation affect the church’s identity?
Bible Gateway interviewed Rabbi Curt Landry (@curtlandrymin) about his book, Reclaiming Our Forgotten Heritage: How Understanding the Jewish Roots of Christianity Can Transform Your Faith (Thomas Nelson, 2018).
Explain how Christianity has Jewish roots.
Curt Landry: The church was birthed through Jesus who was born Jewish and yet primarily rejected by his family and his people. He was adopted by both Jewish and Gentile followers whose early culture was rooted in Judaism. Therefore, the early church was simply considered a “Jewish sect,” but by AD 365 Constantine and the various councils removed the majority of the Jewish culture from “Christianity” and gave it a more Roman expression. In doing so the church lost its identity and its purpose was distorted.
Why is it important to understand Christianity’s Jewish heritage?
Curt Landry: Romans 11:18 says, “…remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.” There are over 800 references in the Old Testament through to the New Testament regarding the roots of Christianity.
When we understand the history of the disconnect of the church from her Jewish roots, we’re better equipped for God’s reconnect. Replacement theology teaches that the Christian church has fully replaced Israel and the Jewish people as God’s chosen. It also teaches that all promises and prophecies have been transferred from Israel to the church, and therefore the state of Israel and the Jewish people no longer have an active roll and are simply a political accident.
This identity theft has robbed the church of an understanding of the deep and rich covenant heritage they have in their faith; we’re interpreting Scripture based upon a Hellenized Greek filter instead of reading it through the eyes of one who understands the culture of the people who were speaking and being spoken to. Replacement Theology makes God a liar and keeps the church blind to the prophetic fulfillment regarding Israel–which is happening before our very eyes.
The apostle Paul warns: “For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in” (Romans 11:25 NKJV).
What does it mean for a Christian to discover his or her identity?
Curt Landry: Identity is a basic God-given gift. God gave the responsibility of naming or identifying the animals (creation) to Adam (man) in Genesis 2:20. Our society today is truly in an identity crisis. We’re blaming everything from DNA to spirits for the onslaught of confusion. Have you ever asked yourself why there’s such an attack against individual identity? We live in a world of people asking, “Who am I?”
When you understand your spiritual heritage, it’s like gaining understanding of your own family tree. It’s your history. It defines you. And it empowers you. Reclaiming Our Forgotten Heritage takes you on a journey like you’d find on Ancestry.com®. It’s the roots of your spiritual identity and your covenant relationship with your Father. It’s the answer to the question: “Who am I?”
How does the death of a counterfeit lead to true identity?
Curt Landry: “…buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead” (Colossians 2:12 NKJV). The death of our counterfeit identity begins with the separation from our sin nature. Sin has a voice that creates visions, dreams, and produces a false identity that’s typically tied to worthlessness, shame, and guilt. Sin acts as a taskmaster that controls our times, tasks, and activities.
When we’re born-again we put off the old body of sin and put on new robes of righteousness that cause our soul—our mind, will, and emotion—to connect with our new identity as new creations in Christ. As new creations we’re no longer slaves; we’re liberated to walk in our spiritual heritage that releases our divine purpose so that we can walk out that which we were created for: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10 NKJV).
How do covenant and adoption factor into the church’s heritage?
Curt Landry: Covenant and adoption are very similar. There’s a name change and for the adoptee that gives you legal right to everything that’s tied to that name as if you were a biological heir.
Romans 8:15, 17 (NKJV) says: “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father’… and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ…”
In the Old Testament God made a covenant agreement with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David, and we see where the Bible speaks about many different covenants: Abrahamic, Holy Land Covenant, Mosaic, Davidic, and of course the New Covenant. As New Testament believers we’re grafted into the covenant promises by grace as the One New Man; through the redemptive act of the cross we were given an opportunity to walk in the covenant promises of Abraham that were made available to the Gentile people (see Galatians 3:14).
What do you hope this book will do in the lives of its readers?
Curt Landry: I wrote Reclaiming Our Forgotten Heritage to share mysteries of our heritage so that readers can be empowered to live in their God-given identity and leave a lasting legacy. When we discover our lost roots and forgotten heritage we’re empowered with peace and walk in healing and restoration from false labels and destructive past influences that have impacted our true purpose. It’s my hope that each reader will have a release of identity, heritage, and purpose and not only a better understanding of the power of covenant and their spiritual heritage, but also a clear perspective to the question of “Who am I?”
What’s a favorite Bible passage of yours and why?
Curt Landry: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33 NKJV)
When I was first saved in September 1989, my family and I began attending a small church in Redmond, Washington. There was a beautiful banner on the wall with this Scripture that’s stuck in my mind’s eye for almost 30 years now. It’s become a foundational cornerstone in my life. To seek first his kingdom is to have a habit and pattern of seeking the Lord in regard to all decisions you have in your life. This practice makes him Lord and not just Savior. His righteousness needs to be sought after, and when we do so we find his righteousness manifesting in our own life choices. Righteous living produces blessings and favor and is a worthwhile investment in your life and your legacy. Living with a kingdom mindset governed by his mindset produces covenant provision and protection, and that’s why you can expect “all these things added to you.”
What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway?
Curt Landry: I love Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App! It’s a personal study resource that I use on a consistent basis. I’m grateful that this tool is available to the masses to spread the Word of God as it says in Hebrews 4:12 (NKJV): “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Bible Gateway is being used to spread life and to connect people everywhere with their spiritual roots and for that I’m grateful.
Thank you for the opportunity to share my heart about Reclaiming Our Forgotten Heritage I hope it inspires you to dig a little deeper into your own spiritual lost roots.
Reclaiming Our Forgotten Heritage is published by HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., the parent company of Bible Gateway.
Bio: Curt and his wife, Christie, travel extensively, preaching and teaching about the Jewish roots of the Christian faith. Together, their passion is to empower families to live and leave kingdom legacies and understand their own spiritual heritage. Curt and Christie are also actively involved in raising support for Israel within the evangelical community and have participated with the delivery of millions of dollars in aid to Israel and the nations. Curt Landry is the founder of Curt Landry Ministries, House of David Ministries, and My Olive Tree.
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