What Would It Take?

What Would It Take?

 

Belief systems generally provide their adherents with a complete world-view. Followers of various belief systems tend to look at the world in a way that fits with their religious beliefs. This basic fact presents a serious obstacle to a meaningful discussion between the adherents of two different belief systems such as Judaism and Christianity. Since each of these people look at the world so differently, there is little common ground upon which to base the discussion.

 

One of the factors adding to the confusion is the fact that these two belief systems use the very same words to refer to two different, and sometimes even opposite concepts. Take the words: “relationship with God”. For the Jew, the concept of a relationship with God absolutely precludes devotion to Jesus, while to the Christian; devotion to Jesus is part and parcel of a relationship with God.

 

One way of overcoming this communication barrier is by transposing concepts from one system to the next. In other words, instead of talking about concepts from the standpoint of your own belief system, try to find a parallel concept in the belief system of the person you are trying to communicate with and talk about that.

 

Let me provide an example.

 

As a Jew, you see the arguments that the Christians present for devotion to Jesus as inconsequential. This should not surprise you, because these arguments are inconsequential to the Christian as well. If you noticed, the Christian expects you to submit to Jesus just because he is Jesus and if you reject him – well you are rejecting Jesus! In other words, the Christian believes in Jesus first, and the arguments only come to justify his or her belief.

 

Instead of trying to argue with Christian about the merit of the arguments presented by the Church to justify her devotion, try to get the Christian to see the entire scope of the argument from your perspective.

 

Here is how you are going to do it.

 

Ask the Christian the following question: “What would it take?” – What it would it take to convince you to put your faith in a person aside from Jesus? How much evidence would you demand before accepting the claim that someone, who lives today, is a reincarnation of Jesus? What would be the quality of proof that you will want to see before believing that someone is the fourth person in the god-head? What would it take to convince you that your faith in Jesus is dead without faith in another person? What it would take to get you to believe that you are going to hell if you don’t believe in the new incarnation of Jesus?

 

So what would it take? – What is the quality of the evidence that you would demand?

 

Some Christians will tell you that their relationship with Jesus doesn’t allow for devotion to another person that can be considered equal to their devotion to Jesus. Others will tell you that the belief system of Christianity doesn’t allow for a fourth person in the god-head or for a new incarnation of Jesus, much less for a philosophy which preaches that faith in Jesus is meaningless without faith in another person as well. Other Christians will argue that if the Scriptures were to explicitly and directly teach such a doctrine, then they would accept it, but it would need to be explicit, clear, consistent and direct.

 

Now that the Christian understands how difficult it would be to introduce a new devotion into his or her own belief system, you can turn and ask if they could appreciate how difficult it is to introduce a new devotion into our belief system, the belief system of Judaism. Perhaps the Christian would then understand that our relationship with God, doesn’t allow for devotion to Jesus. Perhaps the Christian could understand that the God-given belief system that preceded Christianity, doesn’t allow for a trinity. And perhaps the Christian could understand that if the Biblical evidence is less than direct, explicit, consistent and clear – it is no evidence at all.

If you found this article helpful please consider making a donation to Judaism Resources by clicking on the link below.

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=FEAQ55Y7MR3E6

Judaism Resources is a recognized 501(c) 3 public charity and your donation is tax exempt.

Thank You

Yisroel C. Blumenthal

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

89 Responses to What Would It Take?

  1. Annelise says:

    Wow, I get that. As one who believes that Jesus is the God who spoke at Sinai, it’s hard for me to imagine ‘another’ ‘random person’ being ‘God’; it makes me feel sick to consider it, and my heart refuses to even consider about what evidence it would take. It’s hard to know what to do with that, but while people do make claims like that, they aren’t the ones I surrender my heart and life to. At all.

    I really love Luke 1-2 at the moment, though. I think that God is able to make the works of his arm and the calling of his heart clear to us, in each of our lives and for the nation, and I can’t understand or explain the ways in which he does that. I do know that his ways among us are precious.

    • naaria says:

      Sorry, but you absolutely do not get it. If Jesus was the God at Sinai, then Jesus is not needed, he is redundant. The God of Sinai is sufficient without Jesus. Jesus becomes a replacement for God. That is ok for those with a humanistic philosophy about the nature of God or gods. It is ok for most Christians as well, who have in Jesus a human representation of God (or god), but not for those who know God without Jesus. Jesus as a person becomes just another random person, who if anything, as a person (and not as an idol), should serve God and not “be God”. And, as much as a “Jesus twin” (2nd Jesus) would “make you sick”, a Jesus (the first one or by any name), makes folks who know God (without Jesus and not human), even sicker. Your Jesus god is a very small god to those who know God. Jesus, Zeus, “Yeshua”, Isis, etc are all equal to those who know, truly know the God of Sinai as originally revealed to us. See, like you I was raised Christian and so I understand how Jesus is adequate for some people. But Jesus is no “God of Sinai” to those who know that God.

      • Annelise says:

        What were the things that first made you decide not to be a Christian, and how did you go about seeking God for who he is? Also, what changed in your life, and relationship with God, afterward?

      • naaria says:

        What you want is a book or 2, so I might name a few.  But, seek & one shall find, including what one does not want to find.    First, about changes in one’s life, or the personal feelings and emotions of hope or rest, peace or joy, etc, are not a good gauge of Truth nor an indication of a heathy relationship with God,  the God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, the God of Israel, the God revealed to a whole nation at Sinai. Everything, every personal emotion, that one may find with Jesus can be found in numerous  denominations in Christianity (incompatible with each other) or in Judaism. Or Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, or Islam, etc,  If you are in the US & watch some commercial TV, you might have noticed ads about Mormons as good, decent God loving people, some who have made changes in their life because of Jesus.  Maybe the ads have some relationship with the Mormon Presidential candidate Romney, who has to somehow prove that a believer in Jesus (from a Church of Jesus Christ, LDS) can be acceptable to other believers in Jesus (since some of those believers in Jesus can not now accept Obama as a believer in Jesus).  They might be called “devils” by some, which shows that satan, the devil or lucifer or “morning star” is a part of “Christ’s body”.  There is an upsurge or resurgence today of new-age movements like Gnostic Christianity, “return to ‘Hebraic roots’, “yeshua-ism”, “Yhvh/Yahwehism”, old- or neo-paganism, because of people’s loss of trust or faith in “pagan” Jesus.  And yet this neo-paganism is not so far removed from the NT teachings as to be considered heretical by many believers.    Those feelings that one may have in Jesus/Yeshua can all be found in other faiths & philosophies. Ask some ex-Christian pastors, who believe that their life was changed for the better and they have found a greater peace, joy, freedom, etc., even in atheism.

        Since the earliest days in Sunday School, one may have an instinct, an intuition that there is something wrong with the “Jesus idea”.  You read the stories and see the illustrations of Moses, David, etc, along with Jesus as just another human.  You see that there is a God outside of the actions and world of the people, there is an “other”, who is not a person.  There is a difference between the Creator (of all the people & things in the story & drawings) and the people in the story; difference between the “sender” and the “one sent”; difference between the message (& message sender) and the “message bringer”; difference between the One prayed to and each of those doing the praying to the One.  But, a child you think as a child and all sorts of fantasies can be imagined as if they were real.  You are as innocent as Adam & Eve and can accept (the serpent as manifestation of a god in the flesh) the serpent’s word as real, the serpent’s false message as truth, despite a warning from the other, God.  As you mature, you see there are reasons and purposes for things. More and more you can tell the difference between right and wrong, between teachers/professors and propagandists & brain-washers, between clarity and “mysteries” or “secret revelations”.  Don’t make those “mysteries” (those “I don’t know why God would do it THAT way instead of the Biblical way?”), into concrete truths.  When one, as a believer, begins to read the NT, you begin to wonder why, perhaps, Matthew seems to write about the same parable or event as Mark, but it is also so different.  You think something is wrong in you and not wrong with the text, so you check out Luke and see something different again.  Go to John & get totally confused. But you accept it in faith that there is no problem.  Time, time, and time again. Paul, says something different than gospel Jesus does.  So, you “pray about it”, then go to your teacher, then go to your Pastor and you might be told that “the contradictions can be explained”, but no explanation makes sense. So you go to the “experts”, the best selling books of apologetics, but instead of clarity they bring about further confusion (“devil is author of confusion” you are told & they are the real confusers) and you get a sense that you are being conned by slick “word-smiths”.  The more you look into the NT text and at commentary by the early apostles & leaders, you are told & find that there are numerous divisions between the believers of the “one way”.  Believers who are deemed to be or who are called heretics, although the “heresies” may be the popular, even the most popular, beliefs about Jesus at some point in the history.  And so the “victors” write the history books and we today take it on “faith” that we are the “one & only true church” that have the “original” faith, the “original teachings”.  So, if you name the name of Jesus (or Yeshua or Yahushua, or Yhvh), you are in the right church.  So it doesn’t matter if you have mass at a Catholic church today, go to any one of the churches of any one of the 20,000+ Protestant/Independant denominations this Sunday, be a Mormon one week or Jehovah Witness, Muslim, or “Messianic Jew” the next.  They all teach Jesus, in some form, don’t they?    

        You look at the history of Christian texts and see how they changed over time and wonder how that could be of God and how it is not of man and human traditions.  So some believers of Jesus, now call themselves believers of Yeshua (or some other variant of Iesous or even of YHWH).  But they use pretty much the same text as that of the “pagan Jesus” or the “Roman Catholic approved” NT.  Some essentially “white out” the name of Jesus (and other “Christian” names or nouns) and print the name “Yeshua” (or more Hebrew sounding names or nouns) over his name and those other words.  Some reject the words of the “pagan Jesus”, by essentially using a highlighter and marking the words of the “real” “Yeshua god”, which just happens to be their favorite and personally acceptable NT verses.

        There are answers out there, but only if you seek truth & reality, instead of closing your mind and stop seeking and then calling that “faith” because it agrees with the “traditions of man”.  If we were to examine each of the principles of Christianity, we will find some problem.  What if Eve or Adam had asked the serpent a few choice, simple questions, instead of accepting the serpent’s word on “faith”?  And could not God (before Christianity) stand before Adam, Eve, and even Cain, both before & AFTER their sins and God still loved them (where was the “fall”?).  Humans were created in the image of God & that was called “very good”.  Pagan gods hate or tolerate or depend upon humans. According to pagan philosophy, Humans usually were created as some accident or by some lesser, maybe even an evil, god.   After Adam & Eve, Cain, Noah, Sodom & Gomorrah, people “lost that image of God”?  Mankind was fallen & that relationship could not be mended by God without the desperate measures of Jesus?  Not according to the Hebrew bible.  In fact whatever we mean by holy, Holy God commanded Israel and us, to be holy, just as God is Holy.  Where was the “fallen mankind”?  They, a whole nation, were commanded to be priests of God, not just Jesus. The whole nation of those mere humans   was the Son of God (each sons & daughters of God), whereas in pagan philosophy only those non-human sons & daughters born in the heavenlies directly by the father and mother god were gods/goddesses (except human Kings made themselves gods, as well. Manifestations of gods in the flesh.)   OUR Father who art in Heaven (not Jesus’s father alone).  Pagans could imagine manifestations of gods in human flesh, in statues of their gods, in asherah trees, in the power of thunder or of the sun, in totem poles, in golden calves or bulls or lambs of god, etc., but in the Hebrew bible all of that is called idolatry and it is an abomination to God. Human sacrifice (or the sacrifice of born, dying, & rising man-gods manifested in the flesh) were the essence of pagan religions, but all that was idolatry and an abomination before the God of the Hebrew bible.  According to the Hebrew Bible, God could save humans without requiring blood and without a sacrifice.  Jesus even gave a parable, about a father running to meet a “dead son”, even though that son had no intention of even asking for forgiveness, no intention to even be recognized by the father.  Over & over in the Hebrew Bible, God shows Mercy & Justness.  God was pleased with “fallen man” Abel & his actions. But, just as God had warned Adam & Cain and they chose not to obey (and yet lived & prospered as man was originally commanded), God revealed many things to us, longer before Jesus.  God warned us about idolatry, about false prophets, about being in awe & putting our faith in “miracle” workers.  When will some of them ever learn?  When will they learn that the ba-alim ways, the Babylon ways, the Greek ways (of Jesus) are not the Hebrew ways?

                       

    • junzey says:

      Dearest Annelise,
      Luke 1-2 have No place in the heart of a Jew who looks at those writings as irrelevant! I’m a Jew who sees those writing as Very revelent! If the L-RD God of Israel came to earth to deliver Israel and the nations from the evil one – than rejecting HIM is rejecting the Holy One of Israel – Who met Moses at Sinai.

      It is the times of the Gentiles – and when Israel looks upon HIM whom they have peirced they will mourn for HIM (Zechariah 12:10).

      May you see HIM as HE Is – then you will no longer think of HIM as ‘just a man’ – for HE was Not created – HE Is our Creator and everything created was created by HIM!

      The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God (Luke 1:35).

      With Much Love,
      June

      • Hi June,

        I wrote that post years ago. Within a few weeks I was no longer praying to Jesus and within a few months I had left the church entirely. I have no interest in what Luke thought was happening, much less in the way people today read his work.

        The fact that you always begin your exhortation with “If he is…” flies starkly in the face of your reminder to be very careful. The fact that a claim has been made is not a good enough reason for me to worship your teacher.

  2. tsvi says:

    Annelise: It would be much more meaningful if you would consider the question:
    What made you accept Jesus as the God revealed at Sinai?
    Do you know that there is not one verse in the Jewish Bible (you call the Old Testament) that states God would come in the form of a man. Thus shouldn’t you question how Jesus could be the God revealed at Mt. Sinai???

    • junzey says:

      Hi Tsvi –
      Your reply to Annelise is not true! There is a prophecy of the coming of Messiah that goes against your statement: It is found in the prophet Isaiah: “5 For every boot of the booted warrior in the battle tumult, And cloak rolled in blood, will be for burning, fuel for the fire. 6 For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. 7 There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this ( Isaiah 9:5-7).

  3. Annelise says:

    Mm, that’s a helpful way of looking at it. I can only answer from my particular experiences, however meaningful or useful they are for others. I know this comment is quite long, but these are some of the things that have led me to accept this. You’re welcome to comment in any way if you read it, and want to.

    I’ve known about Jesus since before I could speak, since my parents are Christians, though their parents weren’t until later in life. Both my parents love God a lot, so as I grew up I saw and heard a lot about the Bible and who he is with us; I believe God was faithfully leading me to know him, rely on him, and learn to love him in obedience and worship through those years, despite how much I had (and have!) to learn. It’s true that as a child and early teenager, I accepted this message in exactly the form it was passed on to me, but I’ve learnt over time to consider and accept or reject things for myself. I’ve known God’s presence and his heart in the events of my life, and while I believe subjective or emotional experiences don’t match scriptural revelation, these experiences are at the heart of my knowledge of God. I don’t personally have a Jewish background, apart from in faith, in the Bible, and through some of my friendships, so my story will be so different from those of people with Jewish cultural, racial, and religious heritage.

    Still, I’ve learnt to call on God, knowing Jesus as God, and have seen him lead me as a shepherd through many things. I’ve been challenged so many times to grow in real obedience and integrity, and have tasted the sweetness of surrendering my life and actions to him. I’ve been healed in times of painful anxiety and insecurity, clinging to God and his promises for those who wait with him through darkness. He’s blessed me in my friendships, learning, and directions in life, and I particularly remember a time in the middle of high school (I’m now twenty-two) when I seriously needed to learn about grace and honesty: learning not to wear a facade of being righteous or happy, but knowing that it’s God’s opinion of me that matters, and that to show his strength and beauty despite my weakness, shame, and fear is a beautiful gift. I was struck deeply by God’s very present love for us, who don’t deserve him, by his complete forgiveness, drawing those who repent into intimacy with him. I couldn’t have found any of these things on my own; I thank God for moulding and shaping them in me.

    As I’ve grown older, especially during the last four years at uni (I studied history and literature, and a few units of biblical studies), it can’t be said that I only believe in Jesus only because of my parents or the social acceptance of my community of believers. I tend to think too much, and engage really deeply in the questions of friends and people around me, because I know how easily deceived our hearts are and I want integrity before God. I have heard a lot of agnostic and atheistic opinions during this time, and while I only have a simple knowledge of science, these have drawn me to consider both the Hebrew scriptures and the New Testament writings historically. I’ve been looking through literature written by Christian, other faith, and secular historians, as well as going back to read primary sources (only in English, but comparing translations where possible); and while I have so much yet to learn, and the discipline of history can usually only point to possibilities/probabilities, I am compelled by the New Testament as a collection of genuine first century letters that can only be deliberate lies (of an incredibly complex and difficult nature), or real accounts of people’s experiences of Jesus, and of his power and glory among them. I still have some questions about things like the law in the new covenant, but as I hold the experiences of these first century Jews who found and followed the Messiah, even God himself, I’m drawn back to trust the Hebrew scriptures on their own merit as God’s words. I find that if you read the New Testament carefully, finding what its writers are dealing with and teaching, it’s not incompatible with the scriptures; it lies at the heart of God’s desire for Israel, and for all people. This will be clearer after the end of this age, but there is already such life and restoration to be found in Jesus.

    For a few months I was challenged by some of my Catholic friends to consider that church’s arguments about the nature of God’s authority among his people, how we can personally know the right way to read the Bible or follow God, or even know that the scriptures are his words; also, how problematic it is that there’s little unity among Christians in belief. In the end I haven’t been able to accept this institution because of its clearly unscriptural, gaping lapses of discernment regarding Jesus’ covenant with Israel, forever and ever. I’ve studied medieval history, and how could the authority be ‘infallible’, and safe, if so terribly wrong, for so long? There are also other things, mostly cultural ones, where I don’t think God’s heart or truth are well expressed in that tradition. It’s confusing. Still, that experience of questioning taught me a lot about what it would mean to perhaps follow God outside the boundaries of what the community around me accepts and values, to be misunderstood, and in that alone. It’s something I’m willing to do.

    Since then, especially through becoming friends with a Jewish Christian (for whom the above experience has been very real, as he wrestles for integrity, truth, and also understanding from both Jews and Christians he cares about), and also some Jews who are either within Judaism or not, I’ve considered deeply the questions of law and grace, and how the New Testament really deals with these; the issue of what it means for Jesus to be God, and how horrible, how serious it would be to worship anyone who were not God himself. These are things I’ve lost sleep over, searching the scriptures and Christian letters about, coming to God so many times and giving myself to him, asking him to show me himself so I can walk in his ways. You may understand that while for Jews it is *vital* to be absolutely sure that Jesus is God himself before worshiping or following him, the same thing cuts both ways; for one who has so deeply experienced Jesus as God our creator and Lord, if this is the truth, it is so wrong to deny him. How then can I even consider the questions? It’s much more complicated than asking about God’s reality, and choosing to direct the questions to him rather than to my own comprehension; but I pray that he accepts my worship and this prayer. I’ve continued to be encouraged by the beauty of God’s work with us throughout history, and his promises; by stories of physical miracles in friends’ lives, and of the blessing of God in following him. There is such joy in resting in him like a child, in him who is beyond my understanding, but has invested his love and himself into us.

    I believe that for Jesus to be God, he is absolutely not ‘another god’ (or anything like that) alongside YHWH… That’s completely against the Hebrew Bible and the teaching of Jesus. If God really chose to take on the tent of humanity, which he had created, and live among us, however huge that is as a reality, then Jesus is not a deified cult leader, or a person who somehow ‘became God’ or ‘was’ God. He is the creator on whom everything relies, and to whom everything is subject. The gospels are full of the disciples’ experience of this: he taught with authority; he calmed the storm; he fed thousands of people (such public events to be recording so soon afterward) with a few pieces of bread and fish, twice; “the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Shortly before dawn he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them…..he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed”. He was transfigured before them in glory, which is something that Peter continued to speak about at the heart of his knowledge of Jesus (it’s mentioned in 2 Peter, which is telling, whoever you think wrote that). Why did Jesus speak of himself as the son of God, except to identify himself as the Messiah and with Israel? There’s definitely a sense of relationship, and surrender, to the Father (who is God, our Father), and I don’t know whether that was something he took on in his humanity or whether it is something eternal in God. Those things, and the way God exists personally, are things too wonderful for me.

    Still, it seems that Jesus claimed to be YHWH himself, and in unspeakable love he lived his whole life as a human within Israel. It is clear that he is either the God of Sinai, or he is a deliberate liar (and/or his disciples deliberately made everything up about both him and the many things that happened by God’s strength, and to his glory, in the decades afterward). There is nothing in between, no being mistaken or confused about events and beliefs so clear. Knowing historically when those letters were written, and reading them for myself, and having known God since my childhood and how trustworthy and awesomely worthy he is of my worship, waiting for God’s promises to be completely fulfilled in the Messiah, Jesus… these are the things that form my belief in Jesus as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who spoke to Moses, who led his people through the sea, who made unbreakable promises to them, and who created and holds all things that exist. It’s this relationship with the Jewish people that I believe I’ve been invited into, through Jesus, who is the king of Israel and of creation. I pray always to have my heart and ears open to God’s truth, and to know his voice better as I continue to know him more, and listen to the wisdom of people who love him around me.

  4. thomas says:

    Your testimony though long is evidence that the New Covenant is written on the heart and is therefore real. Sinai was real for the nation. The Holy Spirit writing on your heart is real for the one who has experienced it. Your testimony touched my heart

  5. Thomas says:

    thomas (from another Thomas)

    The new covenant is simply the internalization of the Law of Moses. It is not a new election based on Jesus:

    “Furthermore, Jeremiah’s new covenant does not refer to the New Testament or to Christianity, though it has often been interpreted this way…it is a utopian vision.”
    ‘Covenant,’ By Steven L. McKenzie (Rhodes College)

    “There also seems to be almost a full consensus that this oracle does not refer to a new revelatory meaning of the Torah; rather, that the Torah’s internalization is the issue… In other words, but for the internalizing/realization, Jeremiah’s covenant was the same covenant, albeit renewed, as the preceding ones: same nation, same kernel of both new and old – the Lord’s Torah.”
    ‘Mapping the New Testament: Early Christian Writings as a Witness for Jewish Biblical Exegesis,’ By Serge Ruzer

  6. tsvi says:

    Anneliese: You must realize that your childhood definitely colored your belief in who the God of Sinai is. So I ask you to place yourself historiocally prior to the coming of Jesus. The God of Sinai was, is , and ever will be YHVH. The real question one must ask is: Did YHVH the true God come to earth as a man. That really is the only question that must be answered. The answer cannot just be based on the New Testament as the ones who were the Judges of Israel rejected that testimony. The testimony must be based only on the prophetic scriptures. Thus the question again must be: Where in the Tanach (old testament) did YHVH state he would come to earth born as a man. Do you have an answer to this?
    Tsvi

  7. tsvi says:

    To the Other Thomas:
    II will add this that keeping to the very text of Jeremiah
    The 31st chapter of Jeremiah states that 1. God will be the God of all Israel in that day. 2. All Israel will be back in the land when that New Covenant is made. 3. Shortly after Jesus made his new covenant so called Israel was kicked out of the land….hardly a fulfillment of Jeremiah. Thus the new covenant of jesus cannot be the same as prophesied by Jeremiah
    Saith Tsvi.

  8. Annelise says:

    Thomas, I believe you’re right in saying the new covenant was and is to be an internalisation of the Torah, and a gift by God of such. It’s a great promise. I’ve recently read the gospels looking for their understanding of this same thing, and they (especially Matthew) seem to emphasise having the law in your heart without neglecting it in your actions; keeping both the spirit and the commandments of the law. It’s interesting to note that while the gospels record events at the time of Jesus, they were written a decade or two after most of Paul’s letters, and clearly still retain this teaching. It should not be taken from the heart and essence of Christian understanding. I don’t agree with calling the Tanach the ‘Old Testament’, as if there is some difference between every single line of the scriptures as they existed around Jesus’ time, and then the writings of (that is, about the coming of) the New Testament.

    Tsvi, thank you for your reply, it’s good to hear it. I do agree with you that the experience at Sinai far, far surpasses my own experiences, but I hoped to paint a picture of the place from which I have come to approach this same question that is important to each of us. It’s only here that I can tell of my experience of God, even though it’s just a fragment of the experience of humanity, and of Israel, with him. He is faithful to reveal himself.

    I do agree that your question is right: whether the one, true God came to earth as this man. There are reasons to see the primary purpose of the gospels as being to answer this, again through a combination of huge personal experiences and the testimony of the Tanach. The relevant passages are still being discussed, as can be seen all over this blog, so this is a question I will be looking into still… maybe I could get back to you after I’ve learnt more. I at least think that the great New Testament revelation is *in line with* Tanach, and with Sinai, from all that I’ve read and considered.

    Thanks very much.

  9. Annelise says:

    To Thomas who commented first, I forgot to mention: you’re welcome, and thanks for reading it!

    “The LORD is my strength and might;
    he is become my deliverance.
    This is my God and I will glorify him;
    the God of my father, and I will exalt him.”

    • junzey says:

      Amen, Annelise – may your eyes be opened HIM once again for you, for your dear husband and for Savanah! Who Is The LORD? The God of Israel – The Holy One of ALL?

  10. Concerned Reader says:

    Annelise, as you have noted, (and I tend to agree,) we seem to be tied by strong conviction and knowledge to our own experiences as communities and individuals. We can only see the truth of various religious claims as we perceive them for ourselves. Being told various truths by other groups and people, (be they Jews or Christians, or others) can seldom hold a candle to our personal experiences. I used to believe in Jesus. (I wasn’t raised trinitarian, though I appreciated the doctrine later, after deeper studies in university.)

    What led me away from Jesus and Christianity was not disrespect for Jesus, it wasn’t that I couldn’t find various historical or theological reasons to believe in him, it wasn’t for lack of love, nor was in an inability to empathize with Christian experience, it was the realization of the original target audience, content, context, and the expectations of the biblical books of the Torah read by themselves, and as understood as lived by Jews before Jesus who were expected to observe the law.

    When Jesus first came, there was not yet a set of books called the “New Testament.” The only sacred text available to Jews to learn from was the Torah of Moses with its laws, and its promises addressed uniquely to Jewish people as a covenant nation, in which they were told to observe perpetually the law in all generations. Even Christians agree that a “second coming” must occur to truly fulfill the big picture of the biblical messianic expectations, namely the age of peace and prosperity.

    This hasn’t happened yet, but its the only Crystal clear picture the Tanakh gives us of what it will be like when the messiah comes with the least amount of interpreting of biblical verses needed. Even Jesus’ students asked, “are you going to at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” Messiah is understood by the Torah text, plainly and straightforwardly to be an anointed mortal monarch, just as David, Solomon, and others were. Jesus has not ever literally ruled as an earthly monarch.

    In the Jewish people’s historical experience therefore, (given the Torah’s clearest passages about expectations of the coming messianic age,) Jesus has been nothing like a king in the sense the Torah uses most plainly. In that historical plain sense, as far as Jewish experience goes, Jesus simply doesn’t have a role. He has none of the same historical significance for Jews and Jewish culture as he has had for the non Jewish world. He’s not their King. He hasn’t saved them from exile, he hasn’t saved them from enemies, etc. His purported followers in fact have historically harmed Jewish people. Im not blaming all Christians for that, but it shows us something. These promises are things the Torah says the messiah must do. Jesus has not done. This is vitally important information to understand. The Torah describes (most clearly and in its most plain historical sense,) the coming of a ruling mortal king who ushers in an age of peace for humanity, but chiefly, this promise is addressed to the covenant community, the Jews. The Christian experience (coming to monotheism, learning about G-d and bible stories, having many redemptive experiences from lives of depravity,) may have been felt strongly by the Gentiles through this Jesus, but Jews as a nation and people didn’t and haven’t ever experienced these things when Jesus lived, or through him. The Jewish people as a covenant nation therefore have no basis in their lived out historical experience, or clear reason given from a plain reading of the Torah text to accept Jesus as anything more than a 1st century rabbi who made an unverified claim.

    Even the gospels tell us that Jesus’ students only knew of Him (at first) as a human rabbi, until he allegedly explained mysterious things to them in a deeper way, or taught them what to see that others couldn’t. The NT says he had to “open their eyes to the scriptures.” This tells us that the everyday people (such as any regular guy who met Jesus with no prior knowledge) had to be told certain things about him.

    The New Testament is a document that Chronicles the unique Christian experiences of a Jesus that has been filtered through those Christian experiences. Joe nobody couldn’t just read Hebrew scripture plainly and be assured that Jesus was the messiah. It had to be taught. Messiah as taught by the Torah is supposed to be self evident. Israel knew Moses because he finished his task. Jesus hasn’t completed redemption, so in Jewish experience, he’s not the one.

    Give a read to the article entitled Starting Points.

    • Dina says:

      Con, this is great. Thoughtful and gives a fair hearing to both sides.

    • Concerned Reader I would like to make a post out of this (if that’s ok with you) – this is amazingly clear. However – there seems to be a typo towards the end in the sentence that begins with “Joe” could you please explain what you meant there? Thanks

    • Concerned Reader,

      I agree that Jesus wasn’t the messiah. But remember that the Christians are only claiming that Jesus came in a pre-kingdom role, to establish the spiritual foundations of the kingdom that is yet to be physically restored. They believe there is evidence for that beyond Tanach, specifically in the resurrection claim. The thing is, though, even in his generation there was no clear national revelation: even Gamliel, who is said to be open and sympathetic to the original Christian movement, found evidence lacking according to the story in Acts. What kind of foundation is that for the idea of praying to someone as God incarnate? And besides, extra skepticism is in order because of how Tanach makes many warnings, and gives a clear picture of what owes worship to God, without describing an exception or warning anyone to look for one as the heart of God’s redemptive plan.

      • Besides, as history has played out it has been the traditional Jewish community that kept the mitzvot and held off from worshiping Jesus. There is really no case to be made by those who think he was messiah but not God. The rabbinic community has been following the clear teachings of the prophets, and they have been holding the light when no one else has. What can be said in reply by a movement that admits its messianic claimant has been made into an idol by almost all his followers?

        • Dina says:

          There is also the problem of the behavior of Christianity’s adherents compared to the behavior of Judaism’s adherents. The followers of Jesus believed they were being led on the moral high road, but their history shows the very opposite…

          I have just finished reading Thy Brother’s Blood: The Roots of Christian Anti-Semitism by Malcolm Hay, a Scottish veteran of World War I, and it’s so much worse than I ever imagined, even after having read so many books on the subject. My mind is reeling.

          • A lot of them negate that by saying the true values of the religion were twisted for personal or political ends… And that when it is followed properly, people are very generous and caring. I would agree with that, although I also believe that Christian Europe’s antisemitism arose in the presence of lies about the Pharisees and tjeir faith that did originate with the Christian scriptures.

          • Dina says:

            I do not know how to say this kindly, so forgive me for being blunt, but your comment reveals the same ignorance of the origins of Christian anti-Semitism as Christians themselves. I think it’s important for Christians, Jews, and ex-Christians to study the subject; otherwise forgiveness and healing are impossible (in fact I do not believe that will happen before the Messiah comes).

            I recommend the following heavily documented and researched books on the subject:

            Thy Brothers’ Blood: The Roots of Christian Anti-Semitism by Malcolm Hay
            Christian Anti-Semitism: A History of Hate by William Nicholls
            Holy Hatred: Christianity, Antisemitism, and the Holocaust by Robert Michael

            You simply have no idea, Annelise, how pervasive, prevalent, and common hatred of the Jews was until the 1960s. Jews were not even seen as human beings even by those who attempted to protect them. This was the most shocking revelation to me, documented in Thy Brothers’ Blood.

          • I’m so sorry for causing pain. All I meant was that the first Christians would not have been in any way ok with what ‘Christendom’ later did.

            When I was once a Christian I considered Catholicism because of their claims to apostolic tradition. I want you to know that the reason i stopped looking there was that the treatment of Jews didn’t mix with the idea of any level of papal infallibility. I know I will never fully understand your perspective but I hear you.

          • Dina says:

            No need to apologize, you didn’t cause pain in any way and I’m sorry for being so forcefully blunt. I think our perspective is easy to grasp once you make a study of the subject. That is I recommend the writings of Malcolm Hay and William Nicholls, who understand as much as it is possible to understand because of the work they’ve undertaken.

            The facts must always be considered, and that is what they present.

  11. Concerned Reader says:

    Sure rabbi, a post out of this would be fine. I was trying to say that its impossible that an average Joe be able to pick up the Torah as a book in its own right, and come to Christian theological notions based on the plain meaning. There is much interpretation that needs to happen before Christian doctrine can be made clear.

  12. Concerned Reader says:

    But remember that the Christians are only claiming that Jesus came in a pre-kingdom role, to establish the spiritual foundations of the kingdom that is yet to be physically restored.

    That’s just it though, there are already spiritual foundations, namely, the Torah. Jesus “pre messiah” appearance is not spoken of directly or unambiguously, so there is no real case for it. The Christians have to say that the Torah is inadequate to the task of giving us access to G-d. That’s explicitly contradicted by Tanach’s plain meaning. G-d calls the Torah his covenant of love. Jesus did not need to bring grace and love, because G-d’s covenant was never devoid of it.

  13. Concerned Reader says:

    Dakota1987 I accidentally typed out info in the name line that I didn’t mean to.

  14. Concerned Reader says:

    A lot of them negate that by saying the true values of the religion were twisted for personal or political ends… And that when it is followed properly, people are very generous and caring. I would agree with that,

    Annelise, please give the following a read.

    Damage control and the problem of scriptural interpretations

    Its no secret that most Christians read the ethics taught by Jesus in the New Testament and see a pacifist bent to many of his statements, as well as many Torah ethics. They see these statements and feel that Jesus therefore preaches love. These statements of love are not what we take issue with. The issue is, along with all the pacifism of Jesus, are all the rebukes he gives to others that are laced with anger and frustration, that are so easily wrenched out of the 1st century context and applied to non Christians (and Christian minority groups) today and in the past.

    When Peter says of Jesus “heaven forbid that you should die,” Jesus replies in a very negative way by calling Peter a Satan. This was an expression of extreme frustration by Jesus (at the least,) or a violent disproportionate response to Peter’s statements at most, by Jesus toward his right hand disciple, someone he says he loved.

    Jesus’ opponents by contrast get condemnations of a far greater severity and venomous character than what Peter recieved, and there are only a couple of verses in the New testament where Pharisees may be said to appear godly. Some Pharisees saved Jesus from herod antipas, Gammiliel suscpends judgement on the Jesus movement, etc. but apart from these moments of humanity, Jesus’ opponents are ripped to shreds.

    This is an issue because of the outcome these words can have at any given time and situation. No written record exists in a Vacuum. There is not only one way to read a given text, but many ways to read it, and these readings can be good, or very evil. This means that an author of a given book is accountable for all the words (and interpretations) arising from his penned works.
    It may be true that there is a “perfect” interpretation or explanation out there of all of the New Testament’s problematic rebuke and chastizing passages, (presumably a one on one interview with the original authors in their time period, would provide this,) but that is not the reality or the interpreted text that we live with every day.

    The Church historically has produced whole genres of literature devoted to eradicating minority Christian groups, (heretics) and grinding the axe against non Christian groups, (polyheists and Jews.) These genres are all based off of and fueled by these problematic New Testament verses. Even if a godly reading were to exist, the damage is done, and the effects of these words still live with us today. We know that there are some Torah teachings in Christianity, but its not those aspects we are against. We are against and mortified by those Certain verses in the New Testament which breed violence and division, because that was the tone and spirit in Which those verses were initially written in the 1st century.

    As an example. Most Scholars hold a consensus that dates John’s gospel to the year 90 CE. For the sake of argument and for the sake of our Christian readers I will allow the possibility that it was written before this. We know that during this period from BCE to CE the temple leaders, and the temple itself were regarded as being in deep trouble. Groups of Jews were ready and willing to fight with the Romans, and with each other (such as the Zealots,) and this tense climate naturally lead to fierce arguments among Jews, that sometimes became very violent. As a result, many books were written in this period that contain very angry (even violent) language in them, John’s gospel is among such books, a product of its time. The problem is, that this original historical climate of tension, agression, fear, and uncertainty, has passed into history, but the words and their effect remain into modern times. The mistakes of one generation have become a badge worn by a nation for 2,000 years. This is a tragedy. Its unimportant what the text “really means” when it has a historical climate drenched in violence and fear.

    • Concerned Reader, I pretty much agree with all you wrote. The early church was threatening, unfairly accusational, and exclusivist. Also the Christian scriptures contain sentiments and verses that, as words, have fueled much antisemitism and been largely at fault for it. But the church in its earliest form was neither antisemitic nor murderous, and that is what matters to those who rightly claim that what happened in Christendom is not the way of its first founders.

      • Dina says:

        What is your evidence for that?

        • Dina says:

          Our only information about the first followers comes exclusively from the NT, which as you know is an untrustworthy document. We don’t know what their intentions were either way, good or bad or mixed. Everything we can say about them is mere speculation.

  15. Concerned Reader says:

    The thing is Annelise, even if the early Christians were descent people, their literary works, and the actions of their successors have outweighed whatever good will may have existed. Christianity has never given rabbinic Judaism the benefit of the doubt, or given a fair hearing because of the prejudgment passed down in the NT writings. Religious Christians never seek out rabbinic Jews to ask their opinions on religious matters, never seek to ask them what it is they actually believe and teach, all because the New Testament tells Christians not to trust the Pharisees, or elders. All religions malign their opponents to some degree, but it’s not healthy, nor is it constructive.

    The thing is, we (with help from scholars) can find a 1st century Jewish teacher named Jesus in the NT, but he is so enveloped in Christian theological assumptions that he can’t be seperated from it. The theology of a divine son who is worshipped and served as divine alongside the father goes against the plain sense of Deuteronomy chapter 4. If you believe Jesus was a Torah teacher, then just let your Jewish neighbors be content with the Torah as they have it.

    • All I’m saying is that the Christians who oppose all those evil actions are probably interpreting their scriptures in a closer way to what was first intended. Of course we can’t know for sure, but you certainly can’t prove otherwise as if to say their perspective is impossible on this point. Just playing devil’s advocate for the sake of clear argument.

      • Concerned Reader says:

        I may just grant you that premise Annelise, but I’ll raise you a question. Is it not just as possible (and even more likely) that the people who don’t accept Jesus at all are the ones living much closer in proximity to the way Jesus actually lived his daily life even though they don’t accept him?

        Its a Christian misconception about Judaism to say that it is devoid of grace, love, mercy, etc. and that’s the point. One glance at a Siddur would dispel any notion of a graceless legalistic Judaism. There was a time when the Christians and Jews got along, and it was when the Christians were just Torah observant Jews who didn’t view Jesus as a needed go between in their walk with G-d, but saw him only as a claimant, a hopeful.

        The very name of Christian suggests a change in thinking about the religious priorities. Messiah centric thinking, but Christians do not consider that there can be no messiah centric thinking without first having a Torah centric thinking, because Messiah is a Torah based, and Torah subservient idea. I stress this.

        Christianity says there is a way of G-d apart from the law, that Torah observance is fruitless, and many other things that have no basis in the Torah, but are innovative. I know the history of my Christianity, and because of that, I don’t have a problem with Judaism just as it is. Messianic ideas, apocalyptic ideas, Christian theological ideas are all based on homilies, appocrypha, commentaries, etc. but no halacha. These ideas are not based on a simple reading of Torah.

        If you examine the history of any Jewish messianic movement, (including the small segments of Lubavitch,) Judaism as a whole is supportive of the notion of messianism until halachic lines are crossed by zealous followers. Gamaliel exemplified that tolerance in Acts. Once those lines are crossed however, the message and purpose of a messiah has failed, and the person must be let go of.

        The northern kingdom of Israel’s approach to religious priority was very similar to a Messianic centric ideology, namely by focusing all of the kingdom’s energy on following its monarchs, their whims, and their priorities in worship and service. The kingdom of Judah by contrast was always (to a degree) subservient to Torah, to the point that even the king had to write his own scroll to study. It would be a different world if Christians said, “hey its ok if you don’t pray to Jesus because you actually live the life he did. You are his brothers, and he wouldn’t need to be over you as a go between.”

      • Dina says:

        Annelise, I appreciate your playing devil’s advocate because it brings more clarity to the discussion, so it ‘s a good thing. What Con says is important, and I’d like to add a different perspective. Those Christians who reject the behavior of their spiritual ancestors and claim to interpret their scripture as it was intended to be interpreted have an insurmountable problem. They need to ask themselves about the nearly 2000-year gap between the first followers of Jesus and themselves. How did so many people get it so wrong for so long? Furthermore, they need to confront the fact that they still honor, revere, and study the writings of rabid Jew haters like John Chrysostom, Augustine, and Martin Luther (the founder of the movement that half of Christians belong to).

        Christians who say this are dishonest at worst and ignorant or unthinking at best.

        • I find it hard to prove that there can’t be gaps of history characterised by error. The continual line of a righteous witness community without any great periods of failure isn’t so clearly outlined in Tanach.

          • Dina says:

            I disagree, but that wasn’t the subject under discussion, Annelise. Here’s a challenge: read the books that I recommended and then tell me if you still feel like playing devil’s advocate.

            It will take some time, but don’t worry; I have patience, I can wait.

          • It was just a reply to your last comment.

            I agree with most of what is being said here and have no special affection for Christianity. I just don’t think any proof has been brought here that would compel a Christian to think ‘real Christianity’ can’t possibly (possibly being the main point) be different from the evil acts of Christendom.

            If you disagree could you show me, by the text, undeniably? My intuition says as you do but I see room for counterarguments because there is fallibility and partial understanding in each generation.

          • Dina says:

            No need for intuition. The charge of deicide (which led to the blood libel that caused tens of thousands of murders including horrible torture to get “confessions”) comes straight from Matthew (“His blood be upon us and our children”) and 1 Thessalonians 2:15.

            The view that Jews are not quite human beings: John 8:44.

            Synagogue of Satan: Revelation 3:9

            The condemnations of the Pharisees. Brood of vipers (Matthew 23:33) etc.

            Now if you read the writings of the early church fathers, you will see echoes of these biblical phrases in their diatribes against the Jews.

            The examples are book-worthy (that’s why I recommended some to read), so here is one example from John Chrysostom:

            “The synagogue is worse than a brothel…it is the den of scoundrels and the repair of wild beasts…the temple of demons devoted to idolatrous cults…the refuge of brigands and dabauchees, and the cavern of devils. It is a criminal assembly of Jews…a place of meeting for the assassins of Christ… a house worse than a drinking shop…a den of thieves, a house of ill fame, a dwelling of iniquity, the refuge of devils, a gulf and a abyss of perdition…I would say the same things about their souls… As for me, I hate the synagogue…I hate the Jews for the same reason.”

            And one from Martin Luther from his pamphlet “On the Jews and Their Lies”:

            “To sum up, dear princes and nobles who have Jews in your domains, if this advice of mine does not suit you, then find a better one so that you and we may all be free of this insufferable devilish burden – the Jews…However, it all coincides with the judgment of Christ which declares that they are venomous, bitter, vindictive, tricky serpents, assassins, and children of the devil.”

            There is a lot more, but like I said, it will take up too much time and space. It’s frustrating that the only people who want to get educated about this and actually read the research are Jews like me. (That’s why some of them are out of print.)

          • Dina says:

            Annelise, you simply have no idea, none at all, of how extremely pervasive and all-encompassing Jew hatred was. People hated Jews like people hate cockroaches. The people who tried to protect Jews from being murdered were like people who don’t want to kill roaches. They believe it’s wrong to kill roaches but they still can’t stand them. They’d rather trap them and put them in ghettoes or something. Okay, the analogy isn’t perfect, but you get what I mean.

            I am not being hyperbolic. I just finished reading Malcolm Hay’s Thy Brother’s Blood and it was very dark and depressing. There were so few Christian leaders who not only wanted to protect Jews but who actually saw them as human beings and sympathized with them–like, maybe three! And Hay shows how the influence of certain passages in the NT that were taken at face value by the early church fathers created this horrific climate. A terribly grim indictment of Christianity, written by a Catholic, not a Jew.

            It was worse than I even knew, and I know quite a lot about the subject.

          • The apostles were Jews, as were most of the first Christians, and they used to take part in the Temple service; a lot were Pharisees. I’m not talking about later than that. So I think some Christians point to that as the original and genuine Christian attitude and see a lot of later history as a big mistake that needs to be turned back from but doesn’t disprove the original version. The vilification found in the Christian scriptures may be largely responsible for the hatred that came after but it is not necessarily identical to it.

          • Dina says:

            Annelise, if the “vilification found in the Christian scriptures may be largely responsible for the hatred that came after” then that is the crux of the matter. The sacred text of Christianity itself is responsible for the actions of its followers by encouraging this hatred. I rest my case.

          • I agree, I think that the divisiveness that was taken up by the nations in such a way was false and unnecessary even in its original state. So the whole thing is wrong, start to finish. But to show that to a Christian you’d need to first convince them that Jesus was not the one way to God.

          • Dina says:

            Annelise, I’m talking to so many people here at once that I may be confused, but I believe the question under discussion was the roots of Christian anti-Semitism, and I argued that the roots are in Christian scripture. This is undeniable. To convince Christians that Jesus is not the only way to God is a separate, albeit related, question.

          • I think the sentiments in the Christian scriptures were either contorted or misapplied by the later church, because antisemitism and genocide were probably not agendas of the very earliest church from whom those statements come. You couldn’t prove they were. But we can say the statements are at fault if it turns out they are false, and that one falsehood gave birth to another. If the claims about Christianity’s exclusive path and Jesus being moshiach were true, as some think they are, then we would not call them at fault in the same way.

            The point is that I think the proof for this argument comes from outside it.

          • Dina says:

            Annelise, I am not trying to prove intent but to show responsibility, and Christian scripture bears responsibility. For example, during medieval times, Christian leaders preached the degradation of the Jew; when the masses took their preaching to its logical conclusion and started murdering Jews, the Christian leaders tried in vain to protect the Jews. But they could not stop what they had wrought. Although their intent was not to murder Jews but to keep them in a state of degradation, they still bore responsibility for their incitement.

            You are right, I cannot prove intent, but the language is violent, and it was directed at an audience that was already inclined to be hostile to Jews. So to deny the responsibility Christian scripture carries is simply immoral.

          • Maybe the Christian would say that if the original meaning is true, it cannot bear guilt and the responsibility lies fully with the violent interpreters. That’s what I meant.

            Lots of true prophets and also various exclusivist sects of Judaism spoke with similar tone yet without being antisemitic or encouraging physical violence. But you have a really good point in that these were to be read by gentiles. I do agree with you about the responsibility (at least of unfair accusations and negligence) borne by the Christian texts, but again that is only because I don’t see them to be true. If they were then they could be called exempt, especially because other parts are clearly pro-Jewish…thus how so many Christians have an obsession with Israel and Jews.

          • Dina says:

            The comparison to the tone of the Hebrew prophets fails for the reason you pointed out–that its target audience was one that was predisposed to hostility toward the Jewish scriptures. Modern scholars see the record of Israel’s failings in the Bible as a work of self-criticism (such as William Nicholls). It was meant to be read by the nation of Israel not as a condemnation but as an exhortation to return to God.

            Christian scripture, on the other hand, was written in Greek for a gentile audience, and rather than an exercise in self-criticism, it condemns the Jewish people to the wrong audience. The disastrous results speak for themselves. If the people who wrote Christian scripture (and it is not certain they were all Jews) did not intend harm to the Jewish people, they should have taken care not to slander them to the goyim. That is why they bear responsibility.

            In terms of practical reality, the negative toward the Jews far outweighs the positive. This is also the case in sheer volume: 5 percent of the verses in Christian scripture are negative toward Jews.

          • It would be interesting to see those 5% of verses, are they listed anywhere?

            I wasn’t just comparing it to the Hebrew prophets but to any group that felt the others were missing a vital revelation or practice.

            Do you think that the fact that non-Christian Jews were criticised in front of gentiles is hard and fast proof that it can’t be from Hashem?

            Tanach is full of non-private criticisms and warnings not to be like one group, nation, etc. or another.

          • Dina says:

            Hi Annelise,

            Here is a study that crunches the numbers: http://thejewishhome.org/counter/AntiJewishNT.pdf

            It’s nine pages plus one page of references, and the table with the percentages in on page seven.

            You asked, “Do you think that the fact that non-Christian Jews were criticised in front of gentiles is hard and fast proof that it can’t be from Hashem?”

            But again, although a case can be made for that, that wasn’t the issue under discussion. (There are so many other easy ways to prove that Christian scripture is not from Hashem.) I’m just showing that Christian scripture is responsible for Christian anti-Semitism. If you believe anti-Semitism is immoral, then whoever and whatever bears responsibility for it is immoral as well. I believe that anti-Semitism is a moral sickness. By the way, I believe that all forms of racism are immoral. Racism is a stupid and evil ideology.

            It is madness to inflame a group already hostile toward a vulnerable people. And make no mistake, the Jews were powerless and vulnerable. The NT was written during the period–and some of it right after the period–when the Romans were sacking Jerusalem, murdering millions of them, and carting the rest off as slaves. Talk about beating a horse while it’s down. What kind of sick human beings would pen such vicious vitriol when the target of it was in such deep suffering?

            Would you ask the same questions about the Koran? Its text explicitly encourages degradation of Jews (and Christians, but much more so the Jews). And I gotta tell you, the Jews did not fare much better under Muslim rule. It’s fair to say that a religious text that uses inflammatory rhetoric against an unpopular group is responsible for its adherents mistreatment of that group. And it’s telling that in the last 2000 years Jews only suffered from those whose religious texts maligned the Jews.

            Your comparison to the Torah’s warnings not to be like the other nations who were engaged in pagan worship that required and encouraged deviant sexual acts and human sacrifice and treated women and children as disposable goods is really, I am sorry to be so blunt, absurd. The Torah was not attacking groups of people that the Jews were predisposed to hate. And the Torah focused its harshest criticism on its own target audience.

            The proof is in the pudding, Annelise. Once the Jews carried out God’s commands to wipe out the nations of Canaan–which they did imperfectly, not having the stomach for it–they did not persecute the surrounding nations, however pagan and sexually immoral and murderous they were. The wars they engaged in after the conquest of Canaan were strictly defensive. Even when they had the power, such as during the First Temple period, we do not find evidence that Jews persecuted other groups.

            But I digress. My point is to show that Christian scripture is responsible for the mistreatment, torture, and murder of millions of Jews throughout the centuries. And the Holocaust could never have happened if not for this climate of Christian anti-Semitism throughout Europe. Hitler knew it, by the way. He said straight out that he could get away with this for pretty much this reason.

          • Dina says:

            Sorry, I made a mistake. I wrote the Romans were murdering millions of Jews. That is an exaggeration. The Romans murdered tens of thousands (later in the Second Jewish War in the second century over a half a million were killed).

          • I thought that was the point we were discussing, sorry. That’s probably why we’ve been missing each other.

            Anyway, I hadn’t thought about the extent of persecution going on while the Christian scriptures were actually being written. I’m now inclined to agree with you about it appearing inexcusably negligent.

          • Dina says:

            Thank you, Annelise! So good to have some clarity. My reason for rejecting Christian scripture as coming from Hashem is very simple:

            I accept the Torah as true. If the Torah is true, Christian scripture must be false because it contradicts Torah.

            Now of course you can ask, how do you know the Torah is true? That is a fair question, but it’s a different one.

            Of course, to me the moral legacy of the followers of a particular text does not necessarily prove its truth, but if it’s an abysmal one, like Christianity and Islam, I think it’s fair to say that it’s highly unlikely it would come from Hashem. One would think Hashem would be able to figure out how to give instructions so they would help His followers take the high moral road rather than the stinkin’ low road.

            But like I said, there is a much simpler, plainer reason that brooks no argument. God can’t contradict Himself.

          • The difficulty is that Christians have ways of reading Torah so that it harmonises with their beliefs. To me the issue is more with the whole attitude set up by Torah, and the way that the new claim interacts with the safeguards and basic concepts that existed prior to it.
            That said you probably can prove contradiction. What would you say are the main ones?

          • Dina says:

            Hi Annelise,

            Just because a Christian says the Torah harmonizes with his beliefs doesn’t make it so. He has to prove it, but he can’t. This is why every Christian I debate disappears or changes the subject when I press him on Deuteronomy 4.

            But you have got to be kidding me. You’ve been reading this website for how long? And you don’t know the passages in the Torah that contradict basic Christian doctrine?

            All right, then, here goes.

            Christian doctrine: Jesus is 100% man and 100% God. To attain eternal salvation you must accept him as your lord and savior. He is the only way to God (“I am the way…and no one comes to the Father but by me” John 14:6).

            The Torah flatly contradicts this. Deuteronomy 4 teaches that we are to worship God only as He appeared at Sinai, which was without form or without image. Jesus was not introduced to the Jewish people at Sinai, ergo he is not God.

            Deuteronomy 13 teaches that we are to reject any prophet as false who introduces a new type of worship. Worshiping Jesus together with God is a new type of worship, ergo it contradicts the Torah’s teaching that it is okay to worship him. Furthermore, Psalm 145:18 puts the lie to the notion that we need a mediator to access God.

            Christian doctrine: atonement is only through the blood.

            The Torah contradicts this doctrine with the law that a man who cannot afford an animal sacrifice may offer meal instead. The Torah also does not teach anywhere that atonement is only through the blood. It’s not even a law. The Torah tangentially explains that consumption of animal blood is forbidden for two reasons, one being that the blood is the part of the animal that atones.

            The Torah provides means of atonement other than blood–in fact, the prophets taught that animal sacrifice was the least meaningful form of atonement, a broken heart and works of justice and charity being far more pleasing to God. Ezekiel 18 and 33 map out a complete path to repentance in which our sins are wiped away without any blood. King Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the First Temple tells us that by praying toward Jerusalem we can obtain forgiveness for our sins. Hosea and Habakkuk likewise taught that prayer replaces sacrifices when we are unable to bring them.

            Christian doctrine: the blood of a sinless human being atones for the sins of all mankind.

            Torah teaches that each man dies for his own sin and not for anyone else’s (Deuteronomy 24:16; Jeremiah 31:30; Ezekiel 18:20).

            There are many more examples, but Christian scripture also contradicts the Torah in the way it misquotes, mistranslates, quotes out of context or flat-out makes up prophecies. I am sure you are familiar with these and so I won’t review them here–but if I am mistaken please let me know and I will be happy to list them for you.

          • I just wanted to know if you had any in mind that I didn’t know of our could hear more closely.

          • Dina says:

            I’m sorry, then, Annelise, for being so forceful. No, at this point I doubt I have any contradictions to offer that you haven’t heard of before :).

  16. Dina says:

    Hi Con,

    Over in the comments section of “Good, Bad, and Both” and “Matthew’s Guards–by Jim” we have been discussing Eric’s website, Jews for Judaism 2000.

    I would love to hear your thoughts, when and if you have the time to weigh in.

    Thanks!

  17. Concerned Reader says:

    I tend to agree with Annelise about Christians and their hard sought attempts at harmonization with Torah via the limited information they have available to them. Without a robust halachic framework, it’s not unthinkable that (if Christians start only with the assumptions inherited by their culture and their historical experience,) they will indeed see Jesus as a redeemer to some degree historically/experientially in their mind. I say this because I felt that way. Ancient non Jews did not care about Torah at all. And if you read the writings of the polytheists themselves, it’s crystal clear.

    Through the Christian movement (500 years before Muhammad,) the Gentiles were exposed to Torah in a way that spoke to them within their own cultural context via Paul. It’s very true that a great percentage of the Gentiles in the Roman empire were constituted of G-d fearing non Jews, but these G-d fearering people (if they were not born Jews) were still obligated under Roman law to pay tribute to Caesar via the imperial cult. Only Jews were exempt from homage to the cult of Rome. It was thus hard to avoid idolatry, even as a G-d fearer. European polytheism was abolished by imperial Christianity. In that limited sense, I see how the Christians feel that Jesus did redeem them in some sense, and they don’t see it as debatable, they see it as their own history, just as Muslims view Muhammad in the same way. The problem is, this reading/understanding does not account for what the law of Moses has to say on the matter. Paul stated the real problem best when he said “a way of salvation apart from the law has been revealed.” The problem lies in, “apart from the law.” If something is apart from Torah, it can’t be grounded in it.

    The difficulty for the Christians is that Jesus (appears at least) to advocate submission only to the father, with an ethic that it seems is grounded in Torah. Any manual of discipline in Christian sources (when Christian theology is removed) is just a collection of ethics common to second temple Judaism.

    As I said in the article starting points, various Jewish ideas seem more than vaguely related to Christian concepts, but they are stripped of all proper guides for understanding, so Christians work from assumption and come up with mysteries. Take the trinity as an example. Christians cannot fathom how an angel can be called by G-d’s name, without actually being itself G-d, because it seems like a contradiction. They don’t account for the fact that even Jerusalem is called by G-d’s name (Jeremiah 33:16) This in no way implies the deity of the city. In light of Deuteronomy 4, even if G-d’s words came through a physical phenomenon, the physical entity would never be prayed to or served, nor would that phenomenon be essential to relationship with G-d. That is the reality that the earliest strata of the Bible (the five books) presents. When you dismiss that, you miss the forest for the trees.

    • Dina says:

      Con, I hear what both you and Annelise are saying, but it is a subjective assessment on the part of the Christian. The Christian read the Torah to find confirmation of his beliefs, not to discover what it is teaching.

      • Concerned Reader says:

        All corporeal experience has some subjectivity to it, because (even when discussing things pertaining to eternity and the divine,) our life experiences invariably shape how we perceive these things to a certain degree. I think without a degree of subjectivity, free will would be threatened.

        • There’s no room for subjective feelings regarding whom we pray to. The lack of certainty in that would leave us at risk of idolatry, a risk we just shouldn’t take…

          • Concerned Reader says:

            There’s no room for subjective feelings regarding whom we pray to.

            Yes, true, but in order to know whom it is you should pray to, a person or group generally needs that real sense of first hand knowledge of whom it is, and to whom we should pray. Abraham had this first hand knowledge and experience, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and also Israel as a national entity had it. The non Jewish cultures (as far as they knew) haven’t, (given the tools or lack thereof which they ask the questions with.)

            That’s why Jews can say with conviction “we heard G-d speak on Sinai,” because that is the unique Jewish historical experience brought down from their own ancestors. They alone have the “inside scoop.”

            These all believe that G-d spoke directly to them via revelation. If a gentile is living in his own culture (and as far as he knows his own history has Jesus or Muhammad in there playing a historic role,) I don’t blame them at all for believing based on that only, that they have a degree of objective historical knowledge about their culture’s experience.

            We can all only examine any question with the tools we have available. If I’m born into a culture and told a thing by my ancestors, I’m predisposed to believe (based on my limited exposure at the time) that what they tell me is true. We are not in the habit of accusing our ancestors of deliberately lying to us until we branch out and learn whether they have or haven’t lied about a claim they make.

            That said, I think that in order to be consistent, Christians need to admit that the Christian Bible ties itself uniquely to the Sinai paradigm (in that the NT claims to fulfill it,) and that’s why Jews have a unique capacity to be able to judge the NT claims. The NT is a claim made by some of their Jewish people about their Jewish tradition and history.

            As I’ve said before, gentile Christians today believe in the Torah only secondarily/superficially, or by proxy of their own cultural history/assumptions.

            They generally have some conversion experience, cultural baggage, etc. that makes Christianity, and not Judaism, their default position. They are exposed to the Bible without having a thorough knowledge of Jewish law and traditional perspectives.

            The only generation of Jesus followers that could possibly try to claim a full Jewish frame of reference and knowledge, and say whether Jesus was someone according to their opinion, would be his Jewish students, that early Torah observant Jewish movement that doesn’t exist anymore. The only other people qualified to ask the question whether Jesus was someone or not, are Torah observant Jews who didn’t accept Jesus. Only those two groups would have the requisite knowledge, the inside scoop, to ask the question.

            They were the only ones who had direct access to Jesus, direct access to a Torah centered frame of reference, etc.

            All of Paul’s gentile converts by contrast were connected to the bible without any of the prerequisite knowledge of Judaism, but were only connected by a belief in what they heard about Jesus.

            For example, If Paul introduced a pagan gentile to the Jesus movement without the law, and that man in turn had a child who he raised as a Christian based on Paul’s message, that child (and his descendants) would consider themselves as “bible believers” without even approaching the Torah for an opinion as to whether Jesus was anyone or not. This Pauline gentile would just assume, “I am a bible believer based on the knowledge I have about Jesus.” He wouldn’t know otherwise unless he asked Jews about the claim because with Paul’d preaching, the Torah was not part of the information loop.

          • Dina says:

            It is right and proper to be charitable in our judgment regarding Christians who believe what they believe because that is their first-hand experience, they don’t know better, and everything else you said, etc.

            My problem is with Christians who preach to Jews. Then, when we respond, they refuse to consider our point of view, when confronted with damning evidence wriggle out of it by saying things like faith is more important than reason or miracles outweigh evidence or personal spiritual experiences count the most or changing the topic is the best way to win an argument, and/or teach each other that Judaism is morally inferior and legalistic.

            It would be nice if Christians were as kind and generous in their judgment of us and also left us alone.

          • Dina and Concerned Reader Its actually worse than that. When the missionary approaches the Jew he/she is in essence asking the Jew to reconsider the basic foundations of the Jewish faith. Reexamining and questioning the foundations of one’s faith is usually a traumatic experience and the missionary has no hesitation to put the Jew through this experience – but the missionary shows no reciprocal willingness to reconsider and reexamine their own faith. This is a most basic violation of “do not do unto others what you hate done unto yourself”

          • Dina says:

            Oh my, I didn’t think of it that way. Yes, it really is worse than I thought.

      • Concerned Reader says:

        Just because a Christian says the Torah harmonizes with his beliefs doesn’t make it so. He has to prove it, but he can’t.

        This says it all. The Christian believes (based on his experience and culture,) that what his religion says is true. This is why Christians say, “well, I can’t prove everything, but how do you prove your own claims?” In many ways, the Christian is content not to need to prove every detail about Christianity, because it is his default position, that of his culture, his family. He believes it is good, and has produced good. You can tell them otherwise, but arguing against a person’s perceived first hand knowledge is difficult.

  18. Concerned Reader says:

    My problem is with Christians who preach to Jews. Then, when we respond, they refuse to consider our point of view, when confronted with damning evidence wriggle out of it by saying things like faith is more important than reason or miracles outweigh evidence or personal spiritual experiences count the most or changing the topic is the best way to win an argument, and/or teach each other that Judaism is morally inferior and legalistic.

    I agree with what your saying wholeheartedly. Pride and boastfulness about Christianity by Christians, and their dogmatism is disturbing and wrong. The saddest thing to me is that they could learn so much from Jews if they were just willing to learn.

    “Faith is more important than reason.” I think this comes from Christianity’s war against Hellenic philosophy. It’s definitely sad.

  19. Concerned Reader says:

    Dina and Concerned Reader Its actually worse than that. When the missionary approaches the Jew he/she is in essence asking the Jew to reconsider the basic foundations of the Jewish faith.

    I’ve got to say, when the Christian causes Jews to question foundations of faith, he inadvertently undermines his own faith at the same time. Christianity cannot survive without Torah, even whilst Christianity’s adherents don’t know much about Torah, and don’t consider its laws. It’s further ironic that when a Christian learns his faith’s historical roots, the argument against Judaism has to disappear, because the Jewish Jesus movement was founded from within Judaism’s own frame of reference.

    I once saw a video of Dr. Brown that threw Judaism’s viewpoint into stark relief. It was brown arguing with a messianist from Chabad about whose deceased messiah claimant was in fact messiah. You watch this and you realize, if the commandments aren’t the driving factor in the faith structure, the messianist argument becomes ridiculous. Any group can claim that their deceased or living rabbi suffers for sin, has to die, etc. before he comes again and finishes the job. Even the Christian bible admits this. Be smart in asking the question, wait for someone to actually bring the pudding,Magen decide. 🙂

    • Concerned Reader says:

      *and then decide.

      • Dina says:

        Ooh, I want to see that video, can you post the link?

        I wonder what happened to Tal, by the way. It seemed like he couldn’t stop talking, then he stopped abruptly.

        • Concerned Reader says:

          There are a couple of videos with Brown talking with this guy.

          • Concerned Reader says:

            What I find the most curious is that the messianist implies, the rabbi only seemed or appeared to die. That was similar to a sect of Christianity called Doceticism. They believe that Jesus only seemed to die. Dr. Brown says categorically that the rebbe (who died) can’t be messiah, but JESUS HAS TO BE! It made me think of my article “what does the Resurrection prove.”

          • Dina says:

            Con, this was very funny, thanks for posting it. Brown sneers at the crazy messianist for believing what he believes when he himself believes the same things about Jesus. He’s too un-self-aware to realize it.

          • Concerned Reader says:

            It’s sad actually. Very sad. Here we have a theology that is very near to one within the early days of Christianity, among these chabad messianists, and Brown just writes it off. (the NT tells him to write it off though btw, read revelation 13 and 2 Thessalonians 2.) I honestly feel bad, because they will believe these things are true about Jesus in spite of their own book’s warnings and the Tanakh;s not to believe the same things about anyone! Even the Tanakh explicitly warns against people claiming to be divine, and even apart from the text of Deuteronomy 4. I’m referring to the warnings to the prince of Tyre in Ezekiel 28. The monarch in Lebanon (who helped with the Temple’s construction by providing timber) thinks he deserves worship for his trouble. G-d cuts him down to size.

            Below is the text of 2 Thessalonians 2 with the warnings

            Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,

            2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.

            3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;

            4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.

            5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?

            6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.

            7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.

            8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:

            9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,

            10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

            11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:

            12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

          • Dina says:

            I predict that the Chabad messianists will go the way of the early Christians. They will simply disappear within a couple hundred years.

          • Dina says:

            There is one thing Brown does that is so low-down stinkin’ mean I can’t stand it. He only debates Jews who are not nearly as intelligent, educated, and versed in Scripture as he is so he can make them sound incredibly stupid, and by extension all Jews, for not believing in Jesus.

            I’d like to see him demonstrate a little guts and take up Rabbi B.’s challenge to debate him in writing. At the very least, he ought to pen the response to Contra Brown that he promised the rabbi.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s