Eddie Long Declared “King” in Hebrew Roots Torah Scroll Ceremony

This one has been widely reported – from the Christian Post:

A 14-minute video clip showing Bishop Eddie Long of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church being crowned by Rabbi Ralph Messer during one of the church’s televised services has gone viral, with members of the Christian community expressing complete confusion over the video.

….Messer offered Long on air what he claimed was a 312-year-old priceless Hebrew scroll saved from the Auschwitz death camp after World War II. He then wrapped the New Birth minister in it as mood-enhancing music played in the background, and called for Long to be lifted up on a chair, similar to a throne. While Long was being carried across the podium, Messer spoke of biblical kingship, which Long was supposed to represent.

…New Birth’s charismatic preacher has battled accusations of sexual misconduct and financial shenanigans. In December, Long’s wife, Vanessa, filed for a divorce, which led the bishop to announce that he was stepping down for a brief time to focus on his family.

I blogged on the allegations against Long (who once declared that “the job of the preacher is to bring fresh sperm!”) here and here.

Messer’s own organisation is called Simchat Torah Beit Midrash (STBM), and he is an adherent of “Hebrew Roots” theology. “Hebrew Roots” theology is distinct from Messianic Judaism; from the AP:

Rabbi David Shiff of Congregation Beth Hallel, a Messianic Jewish synagogue in Roswell, condemned the actions in the video.

“Ralph Messer in no way represents Messianic Judaism,” Shiff said. “He is not affiliated with any legitimate branch of Messianic Judaism. His actions in no way reflect the position of Messianic Judaism. I found the presentation to be repulsive and inappropriate.”

(Another “Hebrew Roots” adherent is Jim Barfield, a former fire investigator from Oklahoma who received some attention in 2009 after he claimed to worked out the burial place of the treasure from the First Temple in Jerusalem; see here)

This is not the first time Messer and his scroll have come to the rescue of a beleaguered evangelist; in 2007 Tampa Bay Online reported from Randy White’s Without Walls International Church, following White’s split from church co-founder Paula White:

[Randy] White preached for a few minutes before turning over the pulpit to Ralph Messer, a Messianic rabbi from Denver who teaches about the Hebrew roots of the Christian faith.

Messer preached about the Torah and Jewish entrepreneurship and spoke again at the 11 a.m. service, where he led the congregation in a prayer that ended emotionally for White.

“I declare today that my bishop has entered into a new season, a new season, a new season,” Messer intoned, prompting White’s followers. “Now, give him glory. Praise God.”

As emotions in the sanctuary reached a high point, Messer hugged White, telling him, “I love you. I love you so much.” White, a prayer shawl draped over his shoulders, stood clutching a Torah scroll, head bowed, with a pained expression on his face.

Alas, the “new season” was decidedly wintry – within two years the church was facing foreclosure and Randy jad stepped down due to “stress”. His ex-wife Paula then returned to the pulpit.

UPDATE: At her blog (and at the Huffington Post), Rev. Dr Wil Gafney, Associate Professor of Biblical Hebrew and Jewish and Christian Scripture at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, has a comprehensive 27-point debunking of the various claims made by Messer at Long’s church. Her corrections include the following:

The Torah cover is not a “foreskin.”

12 Responses

  1. Lots of people don’t like reason.

    They want magic. Why shouldn’t they have it?

  2. […] Comments Anonymous on Eddie Long Declared “King” in Hebrew Roots Torah Scroll CeremonyMike Killingworth on Eddie Long Declared “King” in Hebrew Roots Torah Scroll […]

  3. […] Messianic Rabbi do not accept. Apparently, this is all just part of Messer’s shtick. From Bartholomew’s Notes:This is not the first time Messer and his scroll have come to the rescue of a beleaguered […]

  4. […] White as a “queen”, just as he recently enthroned Bishop Eddie Long by wrapping him in a Torah scroll that had supposedly been rescued from Auschwitz. That incident – during which Messer made a […]

  5. According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, this Eddie Long character has now apologised to the Anti-Defamation League over the enthronement thing:

    http://www.jta.org/news/article/2012/02/06/3091534/bishop-eddie-long-apologizes-for-torah-scroll-ceremony

    A Baptist bishop in Georgia has apologized for a church service in which he was wrapped in a Torah scroll and called a king.

    “The ceremony was not my suggestion, nor was it my intent, to participate in any ritual that is offensive in any manner to the Jewish community,” Bishop Eddie Long wrote in a letter sent Saturday to Bill Nigut, Southeast Regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Nigut released the letter on Sunday.

    Last week during a service at the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Ga., Ralph Messer, a Messianic Jew and self-described rabbi, ordered congregants to wrap Bishop Eddie Long in a Torah scroll and lift him up on a chair bar mitzvah-style while he held the Torah scroll, which was identified as being rescued from Auschwitz. The church has 25,000 members, according to its website.

    Some 600,000 viewers have watched a video of the service on YouTube.

    In an article in the Journal Constitution last week, Nigut was critical of the ceremony, saying it “in no way represents any Jewish ritual that I’m familiar with. We do not proclaim individuals to be kings.”

    In the letter sent to the ADL, Long also said that “I sincerely denounce any action that depicts me as a King, for I am merely just a servant of the Lord.”

  6. http://michaelrood.tv/blog/messy-ralph-messer/

    Messy Ralph Messer Response by Michael Rood
    Hebrew Roots teacher Michael Rood responds to a video of a self-proclaimed Messianic Jewish Rabbi anointing Bishop Eddie Long, who recently settled a multi-million dollar lawsuit for allegedly molesting teenage boys.

    Michael sets the record straight on so-called Messianic Rabbis and exposes “Rabbi” Ralph Messer as a fraud. Find out why Messer can’t read the Hebrew Scriptures and what he has failed to understand in the scriptures because of it.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ePfpO5ZjhaE

    Michael, citing scripture:
    * Explains why Messianic Judaism and Messianic Rabbis are oxymorons
    * Teaches on the true meaning of the word “rabbi” and what Yeshua said about calling each other by that name
    * Tells us what Yeshua had to say about the man-made rules and regulations set in place by the Pharisees – the same rules and regulations that Messianic Jews regard today
    “If you don’t know the scriptures, you can easily be taken in by these con artists out there who are making their money off of the new Hebrew Roots movement; this is exactly what Messer has been doing,” Michael explains.

    Watch as Michael breaks down how Messianic Judaism feigns a true Messianic religion, but in its beliefs rejects the very teachings of the Messiah it claims to follow.

  7. […] here) achieved notoriety last year, when he involved scandal-hit evangelist Eddie Long in a bizarre ritual that involved Long (the “fresh sperm“ preacher) being wrapped in a Torah scroll […]

  8. […] achieved notoriety last year, when he involved scandal-hit evangelist Eddie Long in a bizarre ritual that involved Long (the “fresh sperm“ preacher) being wrapped in a Torah scroll – the […]

  9. […] the trend here and here; differences between Christianity and Judaism are elided (sometimes with eccentric results), and there is also a vicarious identification with modern […]

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