Although Nazarene Judaism can be classed as “Messianic Judaism” there are certainly some differences between our movement and what is commonly called “Messianic Judaism”.
The “Sacred Name Movement” is a movement of loosely connected groups which began first to grow out of the Church of God Seventh Day and other Sabbatarian groups beginning in the 1920’s. The main factors connecting these “Yahwists” were 7th day Sabbath Keeping; Feast Keeping; refraining from Pagan customs and use of Sacred Names.
“Messianic Judaism” originated in the late 1960’s the term was coined by a then “Hebrew Christian” AoG pastor named Martin Chernoff. He was president of the Hebrew Christian Alliance of America, in 1973 he made a motion to rename it the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America and in 1975 the name was officially changed and the MJAA was born.
In 1984 I (James Trimm) became a believer in Yeshua as Messiah and left Rabbinic Judaism. At first I continued to attend my Rabbinic Synagogue on Friday night and Saturday and a United Methodist Church on Sunday. I really did not know what else to do. Then one day (about a month later) the pastor came to me and told me I might be more comfortable in a Messianic Jewish congregation. I said “What’s a Messianic Jewish congregation”? and he directed me to a small Messianic Jewish Congregation meeting in Fort Worth.
I began meeting with that group and soon learned that nearby was a large Baptist Seminary with a huge Seminary library. I began visiting this library, spending whole days researching NT origins and “Christian” origins. I soon became convince that the NT had originally been written in Hebrew and Aramaic rather than Greek. I also learned of an ancient sect of Judaism called “Nazarenes” who were the original followers of Yeshua as the Messiah. From this point forward I began calling myself a Nazarene and working to reconstruct this ancient Sect of the Nazarenes.
Around 1988 I met Rabbi Moyal, an Orthodox Rabbi who had become a believer in Messiah not by reading the NT but through studying the Talmud, Midrashim and Zohar. I began studying with him, and for this I was disfellowshipped from the Messianic Congregation.
In 1993 I met Dr. James Tabor, we learned that we both had an interest in Second Temple Era Judaism as our discussion progressed he challenged me on the issue of the two Houses of Israel, he introduced me to certain teachers in Rabbinic Judaism that were teaching the Lost Ten Tribes had migrated into Western Europe and would be reunited with Judah. Among these war John Hulley, Yair Davidy and the now late Rabbi David Horowitz. I became convinced that these Rabbinic Jews were correct on this issue and began teaching this truth as well in 1993. (This was five years before “Who is Israel? was published by Batya Wootten in 1998).
In 1996 I lost a personal debate with a Yahwist on the usage of the Sacred Name and was thus “drawn into” the “Sacred Name” movement.
That same year (1996) I was on a the newly hatched World Wide Web on an email discussion group (similar to YahooGroups but before they existed) called “Roots of Faith” which discussed the common origins of Christendom, Rabbinic Judaism and even Islam in Second Temple Judaism. I sent out a message declaring that I consider myself a modern Nazarene and asking if anyone else did. Several people responded and I created the Society for the Advancement of Nazarene Judaism (now known as the Worldwide Nazarene Assembly of Elohim). I searched the web and found three other independent congregations calling their faith “Nazarene Judaism”, I contacted them and all were interested in networking together.
That same year (1996) ten years after the death of Herbert W. Armstrong (founder of the World Wide Church of God – A large Sabbath Keeping, feast keeping Christian Church which abstained from pagan holidays and taught a theology similar to “Two House Theology”) (Shortly before his death Armstrong even declared that the doctrine that the Torah had been abolished was a satanic lie.) Joseph Tkach jr wrote a “personal” in Plain Truth magazine apologizing for Armstrong. This topped off an effort by Joseph Tkach to transform “Worldwide” into a mainline Christian Denomination, recanting the earlier beliefs of the group. The result is that about this time came an exodus of thousands of Sabbath keeping, feast keeping Christians abstaining from the pagan holidays and believing in a form of “two house theology”… these “Worldwide” refugees were looking for new homes, many of them came to the Two House movement and Nazarene Judaism.
Two years later (1998) Batya Wooten published her book “What is Israel?” and a year later (1999) founded Messianic Israel Alliance (MIA) teaching what was being called “Two House Theology”.
That same year we held our first Nazarene Judaism conference Netzarim ’99 in Dallas Texas.
In 2001 the MIA split into the MIA and the Union of Two House Congregations. The split was over the issue of the Sacred Name and secondarily over Torah Observance. The MIA was open to groups Sacred Name or otherwise, Torah Observant or otherwise. The Union of Two House Congregations was all Sacred Name and all Torah Observant.
In 2003 the Union of Two House Congregations changed its name to the Union of Nazarene Yisrael Congregations (UoNYC) saying “Nazarene is the most biblical term applied to Torah keepers in Yahshua as found in Acts 24:5” That same year SANJ (now known as WNAE.org) entered into a mutual recognition pact with the UoNYC.
Today there is mutual recognition and unity between the WNAE, UoNYC and the International Assembly of Nazarene Israelites (IANI).