There is a post at Mystical Paths - which is hosted by a Lubavitcher that lists the breakdown of their various messianic views about the late Lubavitcher Rebbe. I found it very revealing.
Here is an abbreviated version of it:
Chabad Position #1 - The Rebbe was "chezkat Moshiach", the generation's candidate Moshiach as described in the Rambam’s Mishneh Torah Hilchos Melachim uMilchatonim 11. Since his passing from this world he remains a strong influence… (but presumably is not Moshiach).
Chabad Position #2 - The Rebbe was "chezkat Moshiach", the generation's candidate Moshiach, and remains so even after his physical departure …his statements on Moshiach and geulah must be treated as navua (biblical prophecy) - prophecies of a kosher prophet that have not yet been fulfilled.
Chabad Position #3 - The Rebbe was Moshiach tzidkaynu (our righteous redeemer) as confirmed by rulings of hundreds of rabbis and his demonstrations of navua (prophecy), as well as fulfilling most of Rambam's rulings on the actions Moshiach must fulfill (Mishneh Torah Hilchos Malachim uMilchatonim 11).
Chabad Position #4 - The Rebbe is Moshiach tzidkaynu who is hidden from us at this time. Since Moshiach ben Dovid does not die, the Rebbe is not dead.
Chabad Position #5 - The Rebbe is Moshiach tzidkaynu who is hidden from us at this time. The Rebbe wrote in his prophecies that we have entered the time of the Geulah and "people must only see it and recognize it". Geulah is here changing Rabbinic fast days to feast days.
Chabad Position #6 - The Rebbe, Moshiach and Prophet, wrote about the levels of connection between the soul of Moshiach and Hashem… Therefore, the Rebbe Moshiach, who is here although hidden at the moment, is not just the agent of Hashem (…he) is Hashem.
He goes on to say that position 1 one is held by most of their mainstream; position; 2 is the remainder of their mainstream - manifested mostly in Israel. Positions 3 and 4 are what they call Meshichists; position 5 is problematic even for Lubavitch; and position 6 is heresy.
I understand his perspective and I believe it is probably an accurate breakdown. But I do not share his view that even position 1 is ‘completely kosher’.
Position 1 – on its surface is acceptable even if is absurd to the rest of Orthodoxy. The idea that the Rebbe was the B’Chezkas Moshiach (the presumptive Messiah) during his life goes way beyond the simple idea that he was just a candidate.
Although I never thought so and thought such beliefs were counter-productive, I can accept that his followers believed it – especially since the Rebbe was so focused on the subject. Lubavitchers interpreted the Rebbe’s accomplishments as fulfilling the Rambam’s conditions for being Messiah and thus simply were waiting for a signal from God.
I had great trouble with the way they arrived at their conclusions about the Rebbe’s fulfillment of the Rambam’s requirements …and the fact that the Rebbe - while yet alive - did not forcefully and fully disabuse them of this notion. The Rebbe instead focused on the Moshiach and kept insisting that his arrival was imminent.
I’m not sure how ‘kosher’ it is to interpret the Rambam in self serving ways that are at odds with how the rest of the broad spectrum of mainstream Orthodoxy does. But I will concede that it does not disqualify them from acceptance as full-fledged believing Jews.
If only the Rebbe’s death would have ended the issue – all would be well. But it didn’t.
Position 1 is the only one that even comes close to acceptability. The other positions are increasingly non acceptable and completely rejected by all of Orthodoxy. I also wonder how accurate it is to omit from position 1 allowance for the belief that the Rebbe may indeed resurrected at Techias HaMeisim to fulfill his mission and become the Messiah then? None of the positions he lists mention that fact. He conveniently ignores it.
Position 2 is which is acceptable to Lubavitch even though admittedly not preferred – is not an acceptable position to the rest of Orthodoxy. It is in fact identical to the early Christian view about a Messiah who died and will have a 2nd coming. The only difference today is the later Christian deification of their Messiah.
There is also evidence that position 3 is pretty widely held. The proclamations signed by hundreds of Chabad Rabbis have to the best of my knowledge - never been repudiated.
It is hard to say how many in Lubavitch hold Position 4 - that he is still alive lying in wait to come out at the right moment and reveal that he is Moshiach. But I have heard this stated more than once.
Position 5 has some adherents as demonstrated in various videos online that show them making a feast on various fast days. How many are there? Who knows?
And though there are only a handful of those who believe the Rebbe is God they definitely exist.
What does all this mean? I think it means that Meshichism is still a problem despite all their protestations to the contrary – no matter what the breakdown is or what the percentages are of each.