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BARUCH MAOZ, pastor of a Reformed Baptist assembly in Israel called Grace & Truth Christian Congregation, will address the theme of his controversial book: "JUDAISM IS NOT JEWISH: A Friendly Critique of the Messianic Movement".
Baruch was born into a Jewish family in Boston, MA, in 1943 and after the divorce of his parents he immigrated with his mother and brother to Israel at the age of 10. He concluded there was no God at an early age and remained a bitter and agressive atheist through young adulthood. While serving in the Israeli army he met and befriended a Christian family. After rejecting and resisting the Christian teaching of these friends for two years, Baruch was finally saved by our merciful, Sovereign Christ at the age of 20.
At the age of 30, following the October 1973 War, Baruch joined with Christian Witness to Israel (CWI). His desire was to help produce and promote Christian literature that is clearly Reformed in its theology. To that end HaGefen Publishing was founded. Baruch participated in the translation and editing of the International Bible Society's Annotated New Testament project in Hebrew, the founding and editing of an International Journal on Jewish Evangelism and in various national Christian bodies which are now part of the local Christian scene. HaGefen now produces Israel’s one and only Modern Hebrew Bible, of which Genesis to II Kings has been produced and work on the remainder of the Bible continues.
In 1976, separate from CWI but with their blessing, a local church was founded, Grace & Truth Christian Congregation. Its Affirmation of Faith and by-laws are distinctively Reformed and Baptist. Baruch remains in Israel to this day pastoring this congregation, and proclaiming the glorious Gospel of Christ's Sovereign Grace to Jew and Gentile alike. Baruch and his wife Bracha have 3 children, now adults, Avital, Shlomit and Tamar.
In 2003 Baruch's 400-page book, "Judaism Is Not Jewish", was published as a theologically Reformed response (from a Jewish Christian's perspective) to the Messianic a movement which today is predominantly Dispensational, Arminian and Charismatic. People from a Jewish background face difficult choices when they trust in Jesus as the Jewish Messiah. Baruch Maoz believes that to be Jewish is a blessing from God. The strong Jewish cultural identity impacts on worship and life so how does a Jewish Christian worship with his Gentile brothers and sisters? If they join churches will they be assimilated? If they establish synagogues will their fellow Christians feel excluded?
The response that some Jewish Christians have decided upon is to establish a fourth branch of Judaism called Messianic Judaism (the others are Orthodox, Conservative and Reform). Baruch accepts there are fine Christians within the Messianic movement but shows how Jewish life is not the same as synagogue life. He enables Jewish Christians to retain a cultural identity without losing fellowship with other Christians.