Early Church History by C. S.

A History Lesson from C. S.

Missionaries allege that their belief in the divinity of Jesus is rooted in Jewish Scriptures. Some missionaries take this argument one preposterous step forward. They contend that the veneration of Jesus as a god can be traced to Jewish thinking that predated Jesus.

Let us step back and examine this claim from a historical perspective.

There are certain aspects of history which are difficult for us to ascertain from where we stand today. However, there are other aspects of history which are well known and easily verifiable.

The verifiable elements of early Christian history are; that the early followers of Jesus were Jews, that Paul was the one who brought a Christian message to the Gentile world, and that when the Council of Nicea was convened there was a strong contingent of followers of Jesus who believed that he was not divine.

The question we must ask is; where did this concept of the “non-divinity” of Jesus get inserted into the Christian thought process? How did such a concept gain so much popularity amongst Gentile Christians? According to the aforementioned missionaries, the Jewish followers of Jesus all believed that he was divine in a “smooth progression” from Jewish teachings. So was it the pagan converts to Christianity who resisted the message of “divine man”? Which pagan group would have had a problem with a “man-god” or with a “virgin birth”? Which pagan nation would have made such a fuss about the claims for the divinity of Jesus that the Council of Nicea needed to deal with those claims with such seriousness?

According to these missionaries we would need to imagine that the original followers of Jesus believed in his divinity while the pagans who joined the movement were the ones who resisted this message.

I propose that the far more plausible scenario is that the Jewish followers of Jesus never heard of the claim for his divinity and that it was the pagans, who were so familiar with the concept of a “man-god,” who inserted this concept into the Christian thought process.

The writings of the early Church Fathers lend validity to this version of history. Irenaus, Eusebius, Epiphanius and Origen all describe the Jewish followers of Jesus as people who rejected the belief in the divinity of Jesus.

“They use the gospel according to Matthew only, and repudiate the apostle Paul, maintaining that he was an apostate from the Law. . . . they practice circumcision, persevere in those customs which are enjoined by the Law, and are so Judaic in their style of life that they even adore Jerusalem as if it were the house of God. ” [Refutation of All Heresies, 1.26.2]

“God, then, was made man, and the Lord did Himself save us, giving us the token of the Virgin. But not as some allege, among those now presuming to expound the Scripture, [thus:] “Behold, a young woman shall conceive, and bring forth a son,” [Isa. 7. 14] as Theodotion the Ephesian has interpreted, and Aquila of Pontus. Both Jewish proselytes. The Ebionites, following these, assert that He was begotten by Joseph; thus destroying, as far as in them lies, such a marvellous dispensation of God, and setting aside the testimony of the prophets which proceeded from God.”

(Philip Schaff, Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martin and Irenaeus (Edited Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson) Vol. 1 Ch. 21 http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.ix.iv.xxii.html .)

Eusebius in 325 CE wrote of the Ebionites, in Ecclesiastical History 3.27:

Chapter XXVII. The Heresy of the Ebionites.

1 The evil demon, however, being unable to tear certain others from their allegiance to the Christ of God, yet found them susceptible in a different direction, and so brought them over to his own purposes. The ancients quite properly called these men Ebionites, because they held poor and mean opinions concerning Christ.

2 For they considered him a plain and common man, who was justified only because of his superior virtue, and who was the fruit of the intercourse of a man with Mary. In their opinion the observance of the ceremonial law was altogether necessary, on the ground that they could not be saved by faith in Christ alone and by a corresponding life.

3 There were others, however, besides them, that were of the same name, but avoided the strange and absurd beliefs of the former, and did not deny that the Lord was born of a virgin and of the Holy Spirit. But nevertheless, inasmuch as they also refused to acknowledge that he pre-existed, being God, Word, and Wisdom, they turned aside into the impiety of the former, especially when they, like them, endeavoured to observe strictly the bodily worship of the law.

4 These men, moreover, thought that it was necessary to reject all the epistles of the apostle, whom they called an apostate from the law; and they used only the so-called Gospel according to the Hebrews and made small account of the rest.

5 The Sabbath and the rest of the discipline of the Jews they observed just like them, but at the same time, like us, they celebrated the Lord’s days as a memorial of the resurrection of the Saviour.

6 Wherefore, in consequence of such a course they received the name of Ebionites, which signified the poverty of their understanding. For this is the name by which a poor man is called among the Hebrews.

Epiphanius, who lived in the third century, writes of the Ebionites:

“They declare that he (Paul) was a Greek… He went up to Jerusalem, they say, and when he had spent some time there, he was seized with a passion to marry the daughter of the priest. For this reason he became a proselyte and was circumcised. Then, when he failed to get the girl, he flew into a rage and wrote against circumcision and against the sabbath and the Law.” (Epiphanius, Panarion, 30.16. 6- 9.)

Origen had this to say about these groups who he condemns as heretics:

“Let it be admitted, moreover, that there are some who accept Jesus and who boast on their account of being Christians, and yet would regulate their lives, like the Jewish multitude, in accordance with the Jewish law, and these are the twofold sect of the Ebionites, who either acknowledge with us that Jesus was born of a Virgin, or deny this, and maintain that He was begotten like other human beings.” (Contra Celsum 5:6)

 

“For there are certain heretical sects which do not receive the Epistles of the Apostle Paul, as the two sects of Ebionites, and those who are termed Encritites” (Contra Celsum 5:65)

What emerges from the writings of these early Churchmen is that those followers of Jesus who considered themselves Jewish did not believe in the divinity of Jesus. Some of them did not believe in the “virgin birth”.

On the other hand, there is no record of any early followers of Jesus who identified themselves as Jews who clearly subscribed to the belief in his alleged divinity.

It is obvious and natural that the pagan followers of Jesus would have had no problem seeing him as a god. The fact that the Arian position was so popular in early Christianity can only be attributed to the monotheism of the Jewish followers of Jesus, who despite their small numbers had the stamp of authenticity on their side.

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Thank You

Yisroel C. Blumenthal

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65 Responses to Early Church History by C. S.

  1. Tsvi Jacobson says:

    Tell me who is C.S ? Is this C.S. Lewis?

    • Dina says:

      C.S. = Christian Scripture.

      C.S. Lewis was Clive Staples (no wonder he preferred to be called Jack). He was a likable fellow, by all accounts, and as far as I’m concerned a kindred spirit (he did say, after all, that eating and reading are two pastimes that go admirably well together–now that’s a guy I can relate to 🙂 ).

      • Dina says:

        He was also reportedly very kind to his Orthodox Jewish stepson, bending over backward to accommodate him with kosher food and the Sabbath (his wife was a Jew who converted to Christianity, and she brought with her two sons; the one who became Christian owns the Lewis estate today and all the rights that come along with it). And he was best buddies with J.R.R. Tolkien.

  2. Dina says:

    Impeccable logic, as always.

  3. You could of course have added Justin martyr to your list of nascent anti-Semites, who tends to conflates all Jews with error. However I think there is strong ground for caution here, I am not an expert in patristics, but Irenaeus for example was taught by Polycarp who was reportedly taught by John, Zebedee’s son. Irenaeus would have had a very short memory if he regarded all Jews as unbelievers in John’s own theology.
    You have also chosen to entirely discount the historical value of the NT, even as a witness to early Christian doctrine. Now I would expect that from a rabidly liberal Bishop, and a determined enemy of repentance, like John Spong, not from a more dispassionate rabbi, with a good reputation for integrity in search of historical reality. Am I being unjust? The Ryland fragment of John’s Gospel dates to the early 100s AD. The NT repeatedly and emphatically asserts Jesus’ Deity. Do I need to prove this? ‘Before Abraham was, I AM’ ‘I said I was the Son of God’ ‘Making Himself equal with God’ ‘Noone can say Jesus is LORD (HaShem likely intended) without the Holy Spirit’ ‘In Him dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead’ ‘The Word was God’ ‘Great is the mystery of godliness God was manifest in the flesh’ Need I continue, for there are many, many other texts?
    No, from the outset John wrote of the outsiders, ‘Whosoever denies the Son, the same has not the Father:’ It’s also noteworthy that the NT writers, when Messianic Jews preach about the Messiah being the Son of God don’t usually meet the reaction that the Messiah is not the Son, merely that Jesus is not the Messiah. The Gospels even have the more Hellenic Sadducees asking Jesus if He thinks He’s the Son of God – anachronistic? Or maybe there really has been a tectonic shift in Jewish theology of the Messiah since the 1st century. Sorry I won’t get time to reply quickly, but I shall read responses when I can.

    • Charles
      I did not discount the historical value of the NT – but we have no evidence that it belonged to any Jewish group in its present format. The oldest extant manuscripts are written in Greek – when there is no question that Jesus spoke his words in Hebrew or more likely – Aramaic.
      Furthermore – I claim no expertise in NT studies but I do know that Unitarian Christians see no reference to Jesus’ claims for divinity in these texts – so I don’t consider them “clear” as I would the writings of the Church Fathers on this subject

  4. Annelise says:

    C.S., just a thought: could those Jews who rejected J’s divinity outright not have been converts to a Christianity where the issue was treated vaguely, but not as clearly against the divinity idea, or alternatively, could they have been just one branch of the Jewish Christian movement, while some other Jewish early Christians got caught up in ideas of a supernatural, more like angelic moshiach, in whom God’s glory was revealed, and with the idea of ‘wisdom’ and ‘word’ as pre-natural intermediaries…And lost the path from there?

    • Dina says:

      C.S. is not a reference to Christian scripture but to a person? LOL! The joke’s on me! 🙂

      • Annelise says:

        I just assumed so.

        By the way I saw your comment about C.S. Lewis… He and Tolkien were brilliant writers, my favourites when I was a Christian. I haven’t read them since because the aesthetic and theological beauty in their works are couched in so much pagan and Christian poetic material that I can’t… But there may be real ways to sift. A lot of their insights, skill, and creativity were pure as I remember.

        • Dina says:

          Annelise, I still enjoy these epic fantasies by these two great storytellers (I wanted to write a Lord of the Rings Cookbook but the Tolkien estate is fiercely protective of its rights). I’ve always enjoyed stories of witches and magic since I’m a little girl. So I just see these novels as fairy tales. I guess I compartmentalize when I read them. I don’t know if that makes sense.

          • Annelise says:

            You’re definitely not alone in the Jewish, truly observant community in that! Past and present have oft loved fairytales, including the foreign and magical, even occult based elements. It’s something I don’t understand but I only speak for myself, and what I’m comfortable with; may the Jewish community have its own conversations about it. I have a lot to learn about engaging with foreign creativity.

          • Dina says:

            It boils down to your taste in literature and your personality. I know people who just don’t like fantasy. It’s my favorite genre. (I only like children’s fantasy unless it’s from a long-ago time period; can’t stand modern adult fiction).

            There are differing opinions within the Orthodox community. Some people don’t let their kids read tales of magic like Harry Potter (others don’t allow their kids to read any secular literature at all; there’s a wide spectrum).

            Interestingly, a lot of Christians won’t allow their kids to read books of witchcraft either.

    • C.S says:

      I highly doubt it. There is no basis in Jewish thought of the coming of a divine Messiah or of him being some sort of quasi-angelic being, but a human king, born of two human parents. The above reports of various Church fathers all concur this, that they were regarded by them as ‘heretics’ for holding that Jesus was human and not divine. At best we hear that some of the early Jewish followers of Jesus adopted the Virgin birth narrative but rejected Jesus’s pre-existence and divinity. As far as they were concerned, they had not converted to a kind of Christianity, they were Jews who believed in Judaism no differently to other Jews of their time, and so their concept of who the Messiah was and is was the same criteria held by all other Jews. The basic facts remain, Jews today as always are not waiting for a divine Messiah, and whilst Jesus’s followers believed he was the Messiah, they did not believe he was divine at the time that he lived or afterwards, consistent with Jewish teachings about the nature of the Messiah. If any of these Jewish Christians came to adopt such views it would more likely have occurred at a much later date as a result of Gentile influences or their own attempts to redefine the concept of the Messiah to fit with the reality that Jesus was dead and hadn’t returned in their lifetime as they expected him to.

  5. Dina says:

    Hi Rabbi Blumenthal.

    Will you clear up the mystery of who or what C.S. represents?

    Thanks!

    Dina

    • I’m as lost as you are on that – especially with an apparent pseudo-CS here too.

      I’m not overly fond of the term ‘the Trinity’, esp when ‘it’ is represented with triangles and geometric shapes and mingled with pagan philosophy and metaphysics -how insulting! However the real and co-essential Deity of the Son is bedrock to the NT: ‘All men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honours not the Son honours not the Father which hath sent him.’ Jn.5.24
      Again, it is reported to be a mystery only revealed by the Spirit of God, not a subject discovered by the mere intellect or concluded by debate and for ordinary Galilean fishermen naturally synonymous with the concept of Messiah, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed are you, Simeon Bar Jonah: for flesh and blood has not revealed it unto you, but my Father who is in heaven.’ Mt.16.16b-17. Undisclosed to the learned, graciously revealed to the contrite and hungry sinner, ‘No man knows who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.’ Lk.10.22
      ‘What is His name, and what is His Son’s name, if thou canst tell?’

      • Dina says:

        Hi Charles.

        Your quibble with the term “trinity” sounds like playing semantics to me. Regarding the rest of your comment, I am understanding you to say that in fact it doesn’t make any sense (it’s a “mystery”); therefore you cannot accept it on rational and logical grounds but must take it on faith.

        Do you really believe that? Because if that’s the case, what is the point of intellectual argument? If you accept it on faith, it will be impossible to sway you with reason. Please know that I don’t mean any disrespect. I’m just trying to understand what you said in this comment.

        Thanks,
        Dina

        • Dina, it is quipped, ‘If you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don’t understand quantum mechanics’ although I think the real quote by Feynman was, ‘I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics.’ Yet we completely depend on some of its basic assumptions. God reveals Himself to who He will – He is profoundly mysterious but not in the least irrational or illogical, profoundly incomprehensible, but not at all unknowable, far beyond our imagination and adequate conception, yet well within the grasp of our relating to intimately. The principle barrier lies in us not in Him. Shall I document these assertions from the Tenach?

  6. Yedidiah says:

    Exactly what do some people think they mean when they say the “divinity of Christ”? If one says “son of God”, the son is definitely “not God”. If it did mean both are divine, how does that “son of God” differ from the pagan, polytheistic “son of god Zeus”? Well, some Christians do use Nebuchanezzar’s “one like a son of god” to prove their theology of a “son of god”. Or they use a pagan Roman soldier as a witness to some type of divinity of Jesus with his words, “truly this was the (a) son of (his?) god”. If one says “the father and me are one”, it means more like “the man and woman become one”, which means that they were or are not equal nor does it mean that only 1 person, 1 body exists were 2 did before. “I am in my father” would be similar to what some Christians mean when they say “we are in Christ”, which does not mean they belief they are dissolved/merged into 1 person or soul nor that it would make them equal to Jesus, despite the fact that they are still individuals in the flesh. Philo, a Jew from Hellenistic Alexandria Egypt, had a similar view of wisdom or logos or “the word” as did Plato or some Gnostics, but the “word” was spirit and could be used by God or the word could be “with God”, but it was not God and definitely it was not a human. And some scholars say the Greek in John 1 does not say the “word was” God.

    And the modern NT is not a reliable witness, since it has been so redacted and edited, that is difficult to sort out what the beliefs of the original writers were. Today’s trinitarian and unitarian Christians (not just “liberal bishops) dispute the “divinity of Jesus”. Who the writers were of the canonical NT texts (and even which texts were or were not canonical or apostolic) was unknown and was much disputed by early church fathers. And we see in the modern NT text itself (like in 2 John), that there were “believers” who were so-called “heretics” or “antichrists”, some of whom did not even believe Jesus “came in the flesh”. From my studies of early Christianity and of “normative Judaism” in the 1st century c.e. (Including all of what C.S posted above), the NT is most influenced by it’s Babylonian (and Zorastrian) and Hellenistic Greek and Roman roots, than it’s “Hebraic” or Jewish roots.

    • Yedidiah says:

      I don’t agree with some of what CS says that is “verifiable” about early Christianity, but that is another issue. As for CS’s good question about where the “non-divinity of Christ” came from, it is not logical to assume that it came from those who believed God was one and God was not a man. Not from those who were influenced by Greek thought. Perhaps those influenced by the book of Enoch and other “OT pseudepigrapha” rather than from plain, literal Tanach. It was not likely to have come from non-Jews. Some early Christians, like Marcion, called some of his fellow non-Jewish “believers”, Judaizers. If the “Christ” was originally “Jewish”, how could there be a problem with those “heretics” who were trying to make the Christ “Jewish”? Most of the “Christ believing” sects beleived in a divine Christ, but differed when the Christ or Jesus became divine. Some believed only on “ascension”, others believed only at the “resurrection”, others at the death or at the “transfiguration “. Some believed at his baptism or at his birth or at “the foundation of the world”. Some Christians believed the Christ was only and always a spirit, a “ghost” and never a flesh & blood man, since the “incorruptible could not become corruptible”. Others thought Jesus was only a messenger or an ordinary human prophets as all other prophets.

      • C.S says:

        Yedidah, thank you for your comments. The objective of the article is to point out, as you stated that it is not logical to assume that the belief in a divine messiah came from Jews who believed God is one and does not assume human form as Jews have for thousands of years. There is not just two influences on Christian thought, Jewish or Greek but we see parallels with other mystery religions and as you mentioned perhaps Babylonian, Egyptian… and more. It is possible that the ideas may have come from those interpreting OT pseudepigrapha, I do not know enough about this, I am just speculating. But Judaism does not believe in the coming of a divine messiah, yes of course it is possible that there may have been some Jews who may have at some point adopted this view or something nearer to it than the Jewish understanding, this cannot be used as a compelling argument for it being authentic Judaism or the mainstream belief. Ascension and resurrection are not alien concepts in Judaism but that does not automatically mean we can assume that means divinity. Judaism holds that the prophet Elijah never died and ascended to heaven and will return before the messiah arrives, we have a tradition on Pesach of pouring a glass of wine for Elijah, yet Jews do not regard Elijah as being divine, or of the same substance as God, or to be worshipped or anything like how many Christians regard Jesus. Resurrection too, does not mean in Jewish terms being divine, Jews believe in the resurrection of the dead at the end of days, we would not attach divinity to such beings. Your mention of others who believed him to be a prophet or a messenger like all the other prophets were is much more consistent with Judaism and is likely how the disciples would have viewed Jesus.

        • Yedidiah says:

          Thanks. I agree with you wholly. I had meant to mention Elijah & other things, such as some “Qumran” writings, but tried to keep my comments brief. Many Jews, then as now, did believe in resurrection (in particular a general one). The main point is God is One and not a man. There is a difference between One who anoints and anyone who is anointed, between the Sender of any “message” and a messenger or deliverer of “the message”. Even Angels don’t stick around for approx 30 years entirely as ordinary humans and then finally carry out there mission in less than a year, or maybe 3 as most people read “John’s gospel”. That is even quite far-fetched according to pagan beliefs. Judaism before, during, and after the 1st century c.e. was largely a “religious island” in the midst of a “pagan, polytheistic, & even man-god worshipping sea”. But the God of the Jews did appeal to quite a few non-Jews (often called God fearers). We see Paul try to “convert” those god-fearers and promote his religious opinions on others. Even if an “angel from The Lord” came & spoke to a person, that person should reject the angel’s message & stick with Paul (but supposedly all of Asia left him?).

  7. Paul summers says:

    Hello

    In a very large nutshell to deny the deity, The virgin birth, The life, Death,Ressurection and accension of Jesus is to simply deny God Himself.
    When Jesus spoke ;Mathew ch16 v18, He spoke about building His Church in the future. He said that His Church will be built on the basis of what Peter had just confessed.
    “You are the living Son of the living God”
    It is on this priciple that one believes on Jesus to be saved. This is the conviction of acknowledgement and repentance by the works of the Holy Spirit.
    So according to the NT this is foundational. Anyone whoever they are, Jew, pagan greek who claims to believe in part, on the said above cannot believe in the Message of Christ.
    The numerous groups that came into the flock were not believers. Jesus warned the disciples of such.
    Paul and John also.

    You either believe or reject the truth. The scriptures do not teach half repentance.

    God does not do half measures.

    x

    • David says:

      Hi Paul,

      According to your understanding of the NT, what does one need to confess and believe to become a Christian?

      • Paul summers says:

        Hello David

        According to the NT you have to be convicted that Jesus died a substitutary death to pay the penalty for your sins. That He was buried, ressurected. By being ressurected He deafeated sin which is death.
        The crucial point to the message is that your eyes are opened to the fact of a forgiveness of ones sins by the free gift of Jesus’s death. John 3 16.
        The arguement of ie The virgin birth are not pivitol for the Gospel message. However once you have been born again all the writings of scripture do become clear. Because only the works of the Holy Spirit can reveal spirtual truths. Spiritual baptism only occurs at the second when one is born again.
        John warns of the danger of anyone who cannot confess Jesus as Lord. 1 John ch4 v1~6
        x

        • David says:

          Hi Paul,

          I was looking more for a NT verse which you may hold to for becoming a Christian.
          I can find nothing about swearing to the Trinity doctrine. But maybe you see it somewhere in a verse which I haven’t listed here.

          For example:
          Romans 10:9,10 has nothing about the Trinity
          Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

          or John 3:16 has nothing about the Trinity
          For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

          The early church was quite simple in accepting new Christians as you can see from reading Acts and reading of the baptisms and how they were done. Then around about the 4th century the church invented creeds and complicated things by making people memorize them and swear to the Trinity in order to baptized a Christian.

          • Paul summers says:

            Hello David

            Yes you have just underlined my point. False teachings around the 4th century.
            False teachings on the Godhead which you hold.
            Try looking at these;

            Gen 16 v7-14
            22v9-16
            31 v11-13
            32 v24-30
            Ex 3 v1-5
            Judges 2 v1
            6v11-24
            13v2-24
            Isa 37 v36
            The above mention the 2nd person of the Godhead.

            The following 2 mention all three personalities;
            Isa 48 v12-16
            68v7-14.

            Sorry ran out of time.

          • David says:

            Hi Paul,

            Before we go further since we haven’t written to each other much in the past, and not on this subject as I can recall; I’m assuming it’s already clear to you but just to state the what is probably obvious, I’m not trying to attack you personally on the Trinity issue, or pass judgment on you. My style is to kind of write more dispassionately and that has been taken by others to be rude or as a personal attack. I’m just presenting my point of view and I leave it open to criticism. I’m not interested in convincing anyone of anything. I don’t see that as my job. Feel free to move on and leave the discussion at any point as I plan to do the same.

            Regarding your post. Yes, I agree with your point on false teaching. But false teaching is in the eye of the beholder. The Trinity for example is a false teaching of this beholder. And Christianity is a false teaching to most of the beholders on this blog.

            But what I was getting at more is what do you hold that a person say with his lips and believe in his heart to be a Christian.

            I can find nothing in regards to the Trinity in scripture for becoming a Christian.

            It’s very interesting to me that something supposedly so central to the Christian faith, as I’m told it is by Trinitarians, is absent in scripture when it comes to becoming a Christian. Non believers can receive the baptism, become a Christian thereby obtain the promise of eternal life, become a new creature in Christ, without professing anything in regards to the Trinity?

            How do you explain this apparent inconsistency in scripture?

            As I stated earlier, the church put a stop to this through the use of creeds. But a creed is not scripture, and in either case we no longer use creeds for much of Christendom, even Trinitarian believing Christendom.

          • Paul summers says:

            Ps
            You are correct in saying that you cannot see a ref to swearing to the Godhead.
            Scripture does not teach swearing as an oath.
            The NT does not say swear by the Godhead. But accepting Christ as Messiah is a confession of ones heart. It does not have to be verbal. That would make salvation based on works not of faith.

          • David says:

            Hi Paul,

            Sorry, I didn’t see this second post of yours. I was just going through my email list and not looking at the blog itself. I think that at least addresses in part my earlier post to you.

          • Annelise says:

            David, good thoughts in your post “Before we go further…” It seems quite true that the apostles were teaching people to believe that Yeshua was the future king and the present means of forgiveness. They don’t seem to have been proclaiming clearly “God has made His presence known to us here in this teacher of ours!! And this is how we know, and how you can test and accept it…”

            Without that kind of message from those early evangelists, the whole incarnation claim is dubious in itself just on that point. It was not being clearly proclaimed as their big message, nor was any reasoning put forth for absolutely certain knowledge (the kind one needs for worshiping God only) by those who slipped into revering him as ‘God’ ‘with us’.

          • David says:

            Hi Annelise,

            Yes, I agree.

          • Paul summers says:

            Hello David

            First of all I never take anything personal. Honest say what ever you feel like.
            you mention that you cannot see anything in scripture about the believing in a Godhead as a pre condition of becoming a Christian. Again you are correct, and you would do well to find such.
            I mentioned that accepting Jesus death as substitutary for ones sins is pivotel. Not His birth origin or His Diety. Why? Because those points are not the Gospel message per se. The point I was making is one is borne again on the conviction and exceptance of Christ, then the others points are clearly seen. The NT states that God is revealed to babes not the “wise”.
            The apostles didnt preach the virgin birth because it wasnt crucial as such. They probally never quite understood it or even new about it. Either from the scripture or word of mouth. However the virgin birth and His works were indicators to Israel and others that the scriptures were being fulfilled through Jesus. Through His ministry more and more was being revealed.
            You also mentioned that non believers recieve the baptism. If you mean that believers in Christ recieve the baptism then of course. If you mean confessing christians who deny the Trinity then I would say no baltism of the Holy spirit. Just religious peole who think oppersite to Gods word. They believe in a different message of a same kind.

    • Yedidiah says:

      As a Christian, I know you can deny or reject any sort of “deity” (or other absurdities) of Jesus, and thereby accept & love God more fully. Jesus is not the center of one’s life, when you see the light and see that God is. God existed without Jesus before Rome promoted Jesus and He can exist w/o Jesus after some of the Christian writings were finally canonized. You need to read more of the history of Christianity to see the great diversity of beliefs about Jesus held by Christians in the first 4-5 centuries c.e. You inherited only a portion of the faith system about Christ; even today there are many Christians who would disagree with your view.

      • David says:

        Hi Yedidiah,

        All you have to do is read the NT from beginning to end without a predisposition as to deification of Jesus. Just let the chips fall where they may. You’ll see that the argument against deifying Jesus far outweighs a deification of him. That’s just from reading the NT, without having to understand anything from the OT or other writings. 90% of the terminology which Trinitarians use to describe their belief is not even found in the NT. It’s basically creed language invented to fill in the gaps of a theology not supported by scripture.

        For example, the following terms cannot be found in the NT:
        God the Son
        Incarnation/incarnate
        God Head
        Trinity
        1st, 2nd, 3rd person of the God Head
        fully man and fully God or 100% man and 100% God

        The vast majority of verses in question have only a non-Trinitarian meaning. And of the remaining verses which could have a Trinitarian meaning, there is not a single one which couldn’t also be explained and understood in a plain non-Trinitarian way.

        • C.S says:

          David, I completely agree. I recommend the following book by Gerald Sigal on this http://www.amazon.co.uk/Trinity-Doctrine-Error-Jewish-Analysis/dp/142570610X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1384203138&sr=1-1&keywords=The+trinity+doctrine+error

          The idea of a trinity is a later development within Christianity and is arguable that Christianity was not always Trinitarian in the sense of considering what they call the three persons of the Godhead as co equal. For more see here:

          To both Jews and Muslims, this is not Monotheism, we have a lot of issues that we do not see eye to eye on, but we speak with one voice against trinitarianism in the name of unitarianism, and pray to God alone, directly, none besides Him, not through any inter-mediary, or in anyone’s name, and God is most definitely not a man, to Jews and Muslims this is idolatry.

          • David says:

            Hi CS,

            Your Youtube link doesn’t work.

            Thanks for your link to the book but it’s a book with a price and I have no money. Thankfully there’s a ton of free material on line written by Christians for Christians on the error of the trinity. But thanks never the less. Here’s a link to a free audio seminar I found very informative a few years ago by Don Snedeker on the subject. http://stfonlinestore.com/ontheerrorsofthetrinity.aspx

          • Dina says:

            David, libraries lend out books for free. Libraries are a great resource for people who want to do serious research but don’t want to buy piles of books (even if they have the money for it). The Internet, information super highway though it may be, is simply not the place to conduct real research.

            I go to the library very, very often with my kids. We are probably their biggest patron! Librarians love to help, and you can ask them to bring in books from other libraries in their system if the library doesn’t have the particular book you are looking for.

            All you need to apply for a library card is proof of address, like a bill or a letter addressed to you.

            Hope that helps!

            Best wishes,
            Dina

          • C.S says:

            David, sorry I posted the wrong link here is the correct one http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Hnlw4iMhE8

            Looking just at the titles of Don Snekekers seminars seem to make the same points that Sigal makes on the topic.

          • David says:

            CS

            Thanks, I’ll review the video and let you know how it compares to other things I’ve seen and read on the subject.

          • David says:

            Hi CS,

            I reviewed the video.

            I’d give him about a 2 on a scale of 10 for his delivery and presentation. All he did was read verbatim for 45 minutes in a monotone voice from a paper he wrote. He continually refers to a projection he’s controlling on a screen but whoever’s doing the video never pans to the screen except in one instance out of maybe 50 times.

            Very few people are going to have the patience to sit through that.

          • Dina says:

            I didn’t watch the video, but I’m amazed at your response. The delivery of the lecture is more important to you than the substance? I challenge you to listen to the presentation and respond to the substance of the arguments, rather that worry about the possible ADD of the audience. Really, David, this is too much!

          • David says:

            Hi Dina,
            At least I watched it which you didn’t do.

          • Dina says:

            David, you left out “nyah nyah” at the end of that sentence :).

            I do plan to listen to it sometime this week, but I think you missed the point, which is to respond to the substance and not to the delivery.

          • David says:

            Hi Dina,

            Thanks, but the library is not an option for me.

          • Dina says:

            I am sorry to hear that, David. I hope you are well.

            Peace and blessings,
            Dina

        • Yedidiah says:

          I never accepted the idea of the trinity so I can’t speak for them, but many others (if not most Christians who have read the NT as much as you or more) do believe in a Trinity, because that is what they read there, especially in John’s gospel. And supposedly that is what the editors (or original writers) wanted the NT to say. You can’t just wish Trinitarianism away. The trinity was a concept held by Christians as early as we have writings by Christians, at least as early as 150 c.e., long before Arianism or Constantine. Dualism (father & son, “only begotten son” or Devil vs. God, etc.) is definitely there; just add in comforter, spirit, holy spirit, etc. Theologians (trinitarian or unitarian) use words that often aren’t explicitly found in many translations (such as non-trinitarian, unity, Yeshua, messiah, messianic, protestant, Judaism, rabbinic, etc). Beside incarnate, they do use “the word became flesh”.

          • David says:

            Hi Yedidiah,

            A much stronger argument is made by many scholars that a non-trinity argument is proven in early writings. Or at best some primitive beginnings of the trinity.

          • Yedidiah says:

            Depends on what you call early. If you base your opinion upon the canonized text, you will find there are many more scholars and ministers who believe in a trinity and they make a more convincing arguments. You must already know this, just by looking around you. And if you look at the early writings (visit some site such as earlychristianwritings.com), you will see the majority believe in a spiritual or a divine Jesus (who may even be God, but usually a separate “son of God”, especially in the more gnostic writings, where in some cases Jesus is the logos or the “wisdom of God” or where Jesus is the “Good God” and the God of Israel or any “creator god” is the demiurge or the god who, without the permission of the “Good God” rebelliously make a big error by creating things & corruptible, living beings. The Christ was sent to fix the problem of having a non-spiritual, material world). The Pseudo-Clementine and some of the Nazarene writings and the writings of the gnostic sect of Ebionite writings are mostly 3rd or even 4th century texts. You may want to read the more scholarly, less biased, wrings about the Arianism & why it was so controversial. Constantine eventually also sided with the Arianists priests, or at least he was more forgiving of a few of their leaders.

        • Yedidiah says:

          I never accepted the idea of the trinity so I can’t speak for them, but many others (if not most Christians who have read the NT as much as you or more) do believe in a Trinity, because that is what they read there, especially in John’s gospel. And supposedly that is what the editors (or original writers) wanted the NT to say. You can’t just wish Trinitarianism away. The trinity was a concept held by Christians as early as we have writings by Christians, at least as early as 150 c.e., long before Arianism or Constantine. Dualism (father & son, “only begotten son” or Devil vs. God, etc.) is definitely there; just add in comforter, spirit, holy spirit, etc. Theologians (trinitarian or unitarian) use words that often aren’t explicitly found in many translations (such as non-trinitarian, unity, Yeshua, messiah, messianic, protestant, Judaism, rabbinic, Christian (only twice), etc). Beside incarnate, they do use “the word became flesh”.

          • Yedidiah says:

            Sorry, my WordPress App on my iPad is messing up, by either wiping out what I write or by causing it to be sent when I wasn’t ready to send.

            …… common phrases such as “God the father and The Lord Christ Jesus” instead of (Yahweh and his prophet or messenger Jesus). Semantics is not that important as the meaning of the words used. There was debate in the early church about many things and teachings. What words Christians used and how they used them was important when they were evangelizing and when they were being confronted by non-believers, skeptics, pagan philosophers, etc. They had to use words to differentiate themselves from pagan and mystery religions and they could not appear to be non-monotheistic, since that would deny any sort of divinity to Jesus and he would just be a man, a carnal man, and why then would people want to be “followers or believers” in a mere man? They might as well concede to their theological enemies, the Jews, and become Jews themselves in order to worship the Creator, God. As a “Unitarian”, I reject “trinitarianism” (atheism is preferable to it), but David, you offer nothing, nor does Hinduism or Buddhism.

          • David says:

            Hi Ydidiah,

            I guess what you mean is that Christianity doesn’t offer anything as opposed to Judaism.

            That’s everyone’s personal choice in the matter. Judaism offers nothing to me for example. But Judaism offers everything to you. Or to put it more fairly and in perspective, Judaism offers nothing to me in comparison to Christianity, and the other religions don’t even offer that.

            The focus for me is the truth which God is trying to reveal to us, and for me that is best expressed and revealed in Christianity.

            For me, Judaism is a true revelation and is not bad in itself, but compared to Christianity it is an inferior and incomplete message and revelation which is surpassed by Christianity because that’s the way God designed it from the beginning.

          • Yedidiah says:

            Judaism does have more to offer (I still am a church attending and even tithing Christian). Judaism differs from both Christianity and Islam and that difference can even be “quantified” in a side by side comparison of principles. God did not design Christianity from the beginning; man did, and that too can be seen in the texts of both the canonical and the non-canonical Christian writings. We see in the NT text numerous disagreements between believers & other believers. We see numerous heresies in early Christianity, even in the text itself and even when Jesus was alive and we see even much greater division today. There are many more cults; I can give you a number of websites where there is more criticism of Christians by Christians than any criticism a Jew, or even an atheist, will make against Christianity. FAR more. I can just imagine what you really think of Trinitarians and Catholics and you must ask yourself why you can not be one with your brother. The “design” was suppose to be “the one way”. We can see in the Gospels and Acts that the one way began to disintegrate before it even got “off the ground”. Whatever one says bad about Judaism, whatever area you look at, there are greater problems and more reason for criticism in Christianiy. There are numerous, numerous contradictions & disagreements between “Paul’s writings” and the Jesus of the gospels. There are numerous contradictions between the gospels. Each gospel even contradicts itself in several places. Too numerous too ignore, much to numerous to be a “Godly” design. Bad fruit is supposed to indicate something about the “tree”, the source of the NT. A house so divided; tell me what that is supposed to mean according to your NT. I was ignorant about the NT once too, until my love for Jesus had me immerse myself in its text (even putting aside any interdenominational disputes or non-canonical or heretical texts). You have not gotten a real revelation from God yet; you still into the apologetic & dogma of your teachers. You are not focused on truth, because you yield to much to your emotions and feelings that you have so much invested in. I know where you are at; you come a little way out by seeing the error of the trinity. But the real, deep problem with Christianity is not belief in the trinity or not or the Catholic Church or not. There are major problems at its core. The many are deceived and but they shall see the light, hopefully before the Messiah comes to show where your tradition went haywire. Stick around on this site & do not be so afraid of opening your eyes or your mind. And study the early church fathers in order to get it from the “horse’s mouth”.

          • David says:

            Hi Ydedidiah,

            You wrote:
            “You have not gotten a real revelation from God yet…”

            That’s getting kind of personal and pontificating don’t you think?

            And did you know that this is an argument some misguided Jews and Christians use against those with opposing views when they can’t convince someone for lack of scripture based argument?

            Just a suggestion is to stay away from that line of attack since it calls into question everything else you want to say.

          • Yedidiah says:

            David on 20 Nov, 0806am. Sorry, I usually use the words “one” or “some” instead of “you” so that people won’t take it personally. When I use scripture, I need my study bibles and other reference material by my side. At other times, I try I to use logic or reasoning or examples to make specific points. But often I tend to use the words of others, or the meaning behind those words of others that I am responding to, as a part of my counter-argument against arguments that they have already made. Certain things are based on opinions, but opinions that use reason are more reasonable. That is why I suggested one use a one-to-one comparison between ideas, such as in a book by Rabbi Silver called “Where Judaism Differs”, where he shows where and how Christianity & Islam differ on over a dozen major beliefs that are held or also held by Jews or are tenets or principles of Judaism. Judaism is a “whole different religion” from either Judaism or Islam. Their God concepts are different based on the “opinions” of the prophets and writers of the Tanach, several hundred or even 1000 years before Jesus or Paul. Some of those “opinions” are incorporated into Christianity and are opinions held by many Christians. Tanach or Torah is not a total alien book to Christians. My opinions of Jews and Judaism were formed by the church and the NT and the NT was my teacher.

            I often use the words of others to “use against” those first making an argument for their opinions. I try to look into their words to find hidden meanings or to find the logical fallacies in their argument. Take for instance part of a sentence such as “inferior and incomplete message and revelation which is surpassed by Christianity because that’s the way God designed it from the beginning”. If I were a Jew I would find that very, VERY, insulting. But I am not a Jew and I am very rarely offended or upset by “mere words” of others. But the attack on Jews & Judaism by modern Christians is not “mere words”. Truthfully and honestly, what Christian (and I am one myself) can say that they are more offended by the Jewish posters on this article than they should be by what we say about Jews and Judaism. Inferior is not an insult? “Incomplete” is not pure nonsense? Christianity “surpasses” those who believe and hold on to their “God-given covenant”? Did God make a mistake and came out with an “inferior product” that he had to improve on “with blessings from Roman church scholars”. (Sorry about that last part; that was a little uncalled for just for the sake of emphasis). Are Christians sure that was the way “God” intended? The biggest critics of Christianity are Christians (and my criticism is definitely tame compared to what I have on some well financed, “sophisticated” Christian websites. As a Christian, I was never insulted by Jews as I should have been by “vile spewed out” by Christian websites, some of which are by well known Christian preachers & organizations. When I was deciding who I wanted to be a part of, I found that Yeshua believers were “at war” with other Yeshua believers (“messianics” calling other “messianics” deceived by the “devil”). A says B is evil (deceived) and B uses scripture to show A is evil, So, I could not choose either “evil”. I was told by people of several respectable denominations (not just by “so called cults or weirdos) that if you use any bible other than the 1611 KIng James than I was using the “devil’s bible”. So quoting scripture can be “the work of the devil”.

            I didn’t realize how a lot of what Christians believe can be considered to be blasphemous, especially to a Jew. Innocent words said by loving, well meaning Christians not intentionally intending to hurt anyone’s feelings can be perceived as insulting even to the “thick skinned”. But what do some people feel when Mary is said to be a “Mother of God”. That is what the NT says, right? That is heresy say lm emerge od some churches that came long after the Catholic Church was established. How does heresy apply to believers who came long before the more modern re-definers of heresy? Joseph is a different sort of issue; a father, yet not, etc. And the Hebrew bible said Israel is the Son of God long, long before Jesus, so why do words in a later book make him special? And who said the ONLY way to get to God is though one man, when there is very little real evidence that he even existed? I thought God was OUR father, so we have to go though a man, just another son, to get to OUR Father? Something is wrong logically, theologically, with that “only way”, since it wasn’t that way before and it makes less sense sense today.

          • Yedidiah says:

            The bottom line is that not until more Christians know about their “own history”, the history of their new texts and the diversity of the beliefs about Jesus (almost 1900 years ago and today as well), it is less profitable and less wise to spend much time examining much of the Hebrew Bible to perhaps somehow justify the Christian writings or to explain (perhaps to explain away?) Christian history after Jesus. Since Jews who believe in God believe in God already, it seems almost pointless to supposedly teach them about or to argue with them about their religion. I would assume that God would want one to speak to “sinners” or to unbelievers (of the One God) in order to convince them of the necessity to worship God, instead of arguing with God Worshippers about God (mainly because of different interpretations of words or different emphases of which words are more important). Since all worshippers (or denominations) of God use scripture (& most read their scriptures or at least part of it that they are told to or are encouraged to) to justify their faith, arguments based on interpretations of that scripture is rather pointless or are based on vanity. This is especially true when “outsiders” or “others” arrogantly presume a superiority over other worshippers of God, because of “their own personal revelation”. They are arguing against the God that they supposedly believe in; they are undermining faith in God because their faith ain’t my faith. Let God determine that; man is not the judge of the validity of God’s “religion” of “His People”. 1000 verses & valid refutations of 353 so-called prophecies are not enough to convince some that God ain’t with them when they come with pre-conceived ideas that originated (at least in large part) from outside ideas and sources.

            Their are numerous true contradictions in the NT (not merely different interpretations); so where is the desire to deal with those? To explain them and not merely to ignore them or try to explain them away. And if Jesus (or NT authors) was “who he said he was”, why did he allow his words and image be so distorted by all those “who weren’t real Christians”, but acted and spoke as if they were? To not so naively believe that if one reads the entire NT, they will come to the same conclusions as you. After all, countless millions of Christians read their NT’s daily or completely annually and yet their disagreements are many and often quite intense, so what will change when his believers fail to teach their fellow believers? Most got a “personal revelation of Jesus”, so does Jesus want them to have all those different revelations? Or just remain “ignorant”? Is it in Jesus’ best interest that “his fruit” should be represented by all those millions of ignorant, lying, sinning, “not real” Christians. Those who are closest to one should be your first concern. So who is spending their time in inter-faith dialogue within their brother & sister believers? Who is trying to bridge (or “build a ship” to sail over) the vast gulf between various Christian denominations? Who is going to go “across the seas” or” go up to heaven” to “bring it down”? God told some folks that his Torah was within the reach of all and that they could do his will.

        • Yedidiah says:

          But, going back to my original point, in early Christianity (before the NT that you read was canonized -and even after), there was a wide diversity of beliefs about Jesus, which shows that there was either no Jesus or that he was incompetent to teach his disciples, his followers what he believed. Believers believed he was only a spirit and others believed he was only a man and others that he was more than an ordinary man. If he was only a man, why follow him? Those who believed he was more than a man, had to believe he was somehow divine (few believed he was only or just an angel; according to the NT, some believed he was a “demon”). Those who believed he was divine (whether or not he was “God”, ‘son”, or part of a trinity), believed that either occurred on the “ascension”, or else on the “resurrection”, or else on his death, or else on the “transfiguration” or else after temptation, or else after baptism, or else at birth, or else at conception, or else sometime before at sometime in history. Some believed & wrote that he was the “son”, others that he was incarnate, others wrote that he was fully a man and yet fully a god, others believed and wrote he was part of a duality or a trinity, others that he was the “good god who battled against the bad god”, etc., etc.

          • C.S says:

            Yedidah, I agree, that you have pointed out quite well, how well meaning Christians take little consideration for the fact that the fundamental beliefs of their faith are heresies to others, and what is a heresy to them is being a true believer to others. It is simply not possible for us to have meaningful, mature and respectable conversations about the points of difference and things we may share in common, in the context of missionaries and counter missionaries. There has been some huge progress in general with regards to the relationship between Jews and Christians. I listen to some Christians say things on some topics which impress me as a Jew, as I discover that they are seeing some issues similarly to how we do. I don’t know if that has always been their position or has changed as a result of some soul searching or rethinking their ideas or not, but conversation can lead to some great developments. But this emerges from a context of not wishing to convert one another, simply to learn together and understand how the other side sees things. What missionaries do is deny Judaism, and set themselves up in place of it, claiming that what the Church believes is the true Judaism, claiming to be authentic by mimicking and making a total insult and mockery of our traditions, and attributing christological or “hidden” meanings to what they mean. At least when Christian missionaries try to evangelize Jews they were honest, they appeared as a Christian, selling a Christian message. They respected the boundaries, and differences. I feel we have a right to respond to it and challenge it and ask questions, but the fact that they want to try through peaceful means to convert people is their business, Muslims do the same. I don’t have a problem with outreach per se, its the deception and false claims that infuriates us, they deliver a very clear Christian message but insist they aren’t Christians, that they are proud to be Jewish and that its just a different denomination of Judaism.

            Lets create the equivalent scenario of this so that a Christian can understand. Imagine that there is a new movement called Christians for Mohammed. This movement is made up of mostly Christians and a few Muslims, it is supported and financed by some Mosques, they accept the Quran and read the old and new testament, and all the beliefs of Islam, if there were an area of dispute between what Christians believe and Muslims believe they would always side with the Muslim position. These Christians who believe in Mohammed do not call themselves Muslims, they insist that they are Christians, nor pray in Mosques, they pray in a Church, they call their Imam’s priests, who however are not recognised ordained priests but nonetheless call themselves priests or pastors or whatever… They go to Church on Sundays, they only use Christian symbols, they do not live according to the Muslim calendar. They do not use Arabic prayers as this may make Christians feel like this is alien to them and discourage them from joining their Church. They don’t even refer to Mohammed as Mohammed but give him a nice English name, Michael, that’s nicer, it doesn’t give people the feeling the room is about to explode. So for example, when they pray in the name of the father the son and the holy spirit they will add the prophet Michael to the list. Their argument with “other” Christians who have not yet come to accept Gods final prophet is that they believe in Jesus, except that other Christians are wrong, he’s not part of a Trinity, he’s not divine at all, he was a prophet, Christians have descended to Idolatry and it was necessary for God to send another prophet to correct the errors that Christians made about who Jesus was, his purpose and what his true message was, so they are not only believers in Mohammed/Michael but the true believers in Jesus, to be a ‘real’ Christian you have to accept Mohammed. Other Christians mean well and we love them, but they are in error and haven’t opened their eyes to the truth of Jesus and Mohammed and are not complete Christians until they do so, the most Christian thing you can do is believe in Mohammed as God’s final messenger. They will as a result of not celebrating Muslim festivals, attribute new or additional meanings to Christian festivals, so Lent will become like Ramadan, where incidentally for Lent Christians for Mohammed will give up eating during daylight hours. And Christmas becomes a joint birthday for both Jesus and Mohammed, after all, we all know that Jesus wasn’t born on December 25th, then neither was Mohammed, but that’s no reason not give our two prophets a shared birthday together.

            If you are a Christian and found this offensive, it was supposed to be. Not because I have any desire to offend anyone, only to make a point about deceptive missionaries. Such groups go even further, as Rabbi Blumenthal has gone to great lengths to respond to and critique books which try to claim that our Rabbis even up to the modern era, taught a Christian message and not a Jewish one. Attempting to deny us the ability to even draw from our own leaders throughout history, portraying it almost as if, it was perfectly acceptable to hold all of these Christian beliefs and still be a Jew, even a sage up until very recently, where all what we say now is quite recent, but in the past many Jews, if not the majority believed in Christian concepts which are alien to Jewish thought. Its like saying that Tertullian was really teaching Judaism not Christianity, the opposite of what Christians learned from him. And to make patronizing statements like the only reason Jews don’t accept Jesus is because of Christian anti-Semitism, anti-Semitism or not, Jews don’t accept the Christian claims about him, and shows how they have no real knowledge of what Judaism believes. Their portrayal of what they they think Jews believe is unfounded and make out like we are totally blind and unable to understand the meaning of our own texts, and its not until Jonny come lately studying a King James version of the bible in a different country, different time period, with a warped understanding of Judaism which they know second hand from what the Church or the Christian bible tells them about Judaism. I often hear Christians say things like, the Jews didnt accept Jesus because they were expecting a warrior like Messiah to overthrow Rome, not a passive turn the other cheek Messiah like Jesus, so they didnt recognize him when he came… That’s not the whole story, but that leaves a Christian thinking that Jews are all blind, they cant see things which are in their own texts, and that they must come and point them out to us.

            I feel like Jews are offended one way or another by all sorts of onslaughts, whether that be through missionaries, or anti-Zionists spreading lies and propaganda about Israel, or through just blatant anti-Semitism not trying to hide behind anything. But we do not over react when we respond, it comes in the form of letters, or constructive criticism, expressing how what was said was offensive. But many in other faiths seem to just expect that just because they believe something is an absolute truth, we all have to accept it as well, but we don’t, people can’t get offended and call people the devil or things like that because they don’t read their translation of the Bible, which is probably not doing the original any justice anyway. Or Muslims who become violent and attack embassies over someone drawing a picture of Mohammed. If Jews responded anything like how others do when they get offended, the planet would have been destroyed 2500 years ago.

          • Yedidiah says:

            C.S., I agree. Many Christians tend to be either grossly, but naively, ignorant of the content of their scriptures and of the history of that text and Christianity, or else have a distorted and biased, yet absolutist, view of it. I try to point those things, even a bitter truth, not to destroy their faith, but to ground them to reality, which can actually strengthen the foundation of faith and belief. Lies will come out eventually and “self imposed delusions” can make a fall that much more difficult. Often they tend to forget some basic teachings of their faith, such as “do unto others….”, or not “complaining about the splinter in another’s eye while ignoring the beam in their own eye”. Many are not aware that many of the sayings & teachings of the gospel Jesus comes from or parallels or is a slight variation of Jewish or Rabbinic writings. But the argument that “Jesus and all of his followers were Jews” is meaningless and is an invalid argument, nor is it necessarily true. And it ignores the history of Christian texts and the various sources of the texts and of the theology. At the same time, undocumented speculations and common assumptions about Jesus and the early church have become more real than that which is documented. By definition, “taking things on faith” does not make those things “the truth”, nor does it disallow analysis or remove those things from criticism.

            I have met all types of Christians, but most are sincere and well-meaning. Often it is their “absolutist attitude” (that they may see as a virtue, although others may see it as a vice) that comes off not as self-confidence or simple pride but as arrogance and close-minded ness (my experience is that, Christians tend to be more stubborn or “stiff-necked” than Jews of common stereotype). I went on a church trip to Israel once and I felt embarrassment a few times by fellow “pilgrims” or perhaps tourists who forgot that they were guests in another country. Although not too obnoxious, as evangelists can be, but a few times more than nice people would have, they had to ask our bus driver the typical questions about if “he knew the lord”, “why didn’t he believe in Jesus”, “did he really want to spend an eternity in hell” (a place which makes God look more like pure evil rather a Just and Merciful God), etc. Years earlier in Saudi Arabia and other places, I was introduced to Muslims & to Islamic culture & religion. Despite our best behavior, at first I felt that we were seen as the “ugly American” stereotype. Welcome to our country and get out as soon as you can. No, we were good ambassadors and they felt we weren’t all that bad after all. It was a good experience and both sides gained respect for the other and their ways.

            Can Jews and Christians trust each other, get along, and even become friends? Definitely. I was in a Jewish Community Center and heard one lady tell another, that she and severaI others had just come back from an inter-faith luncheon & meeting with members of the Catholic church. They had a good time and were looking forward to the next one. I seen Israeli soldiers and ambassadors welcomed as visitors in a Christian church. Orthodox Rabbis from in-town & from Israel came to visit, speak, give a sermon, or even hear one. Both sides know, understand, trust, and respect each other & they know the boundaries.

          • C.S says:

            Yedidah, you mentioned something interesting, about how many Christians are not willing to accept objective criticism or scrutiny of their faith, with historical fact, reliability of their sources, credibility of their claims, and seem to think that the answer to that is that they believe based on faith. Which that is fine for them, however from an outsiders perspective, that is the most absurd thing to ask of a non-Christian of any religion or no religion. I was not raised religious, I was brought up with a Jewish background and I guess I was quite agnostic, and eventually found Judaism’s claims more credible and compelling to me than other religions, when I compared them to others. Judaism’s attitude towards faith is very different to how Christians see it, it is seen as a personal matter and Jews place less emphasis on the necessity of having faith, and puts a greater emphasis on the process of learning, studying Torah and engaging in Jewish life, observing more mitzvot and improving our actions and behaviour. Jews are encouraged to ask questions and be critical and to challenge our own beliefs and their credibility. You only have to observe non observant Jews in Jewish outreach programs to see how they ask what appear as difficult questions to Rabbis on what they see as contradictions, and they answer using logic, reason, academic research and the same methods of research that would be adhered to by any secular scholar looking into any given subject. To respond to something which seems completely contradictory without a logical, persuasive counter-argument with ‘well you just have to ignore that and take a blind leap of faith’, is unacceptable to most Jews and would be to many non-Jewish non Christians as well. If one were looking for a religion, and were investigating the claims of all the major religions, trying to ascertain which ones claims were most likely to be true, they would ask questions, they would look for inconsistencies and listen to one religions criticisms of the other and why a Jew is not a Christian or why a Christian says he’s not a Muslim, and why a Muslim says he’s not a Christian or Jew… and would make up their mind which they believe to be most likely the true religion for them. I think that many Christians assume that every religion answers certain questions challenging the historicity or claims of their faith with the same answer, that you have to have blind faith. Well if I am asked to accept something on blind faith, why should Christianity be the faith to choose any more so than the claims of other faiths? Particularly when other faiths are not asking me to just take a risk, but are giving me a logical, reasonable case for why their claims are more credible, which seems much more convincing.

          • Yedidiah says:

            Which is why I have been asking you, why are you taking a “blind leap of faith” believing in Jesus on “hints” in texts and “twisted scripture”. How are you doing anything different from those Christians you criticize just by using different words for Jesus & Christ???

          • C.S says:

            Yedidah, I am confused. I don’t use different words for Jesus and Christ. What have you been asking me? What comment is this in response to?

          • Yedidiah says:

            I’m sorry. I was looking at some old notifications in my WordPress App on an iPhone and only seen that one response (not the whole post) and I meant to respond and thought I was responding to another individual who is critical of Christianity and who says he does not believe in Jesus. But that is because he is a believer in Yeshua (not Jesus) and “the Messiah” or “haMoshiach” (not Christ), but he tries very hard not to appear to be siding with any “Messianic believers” or Christians.

            Sorry, the confusion was mine.

      • Paul summers says:

        Hello
        The statement that I made about the basic principles and statutes of Christ still stand. You cannot believe and disbelieve in the samething in all its fulness.

        You do not believe in Jesus as Messiah. Fact…… If I then asked you if you believe in the virgin birth, you would say that I was quite blind to your views. And you would be right.
        Having said that I can argue on your false opinions about the NT and the early church, because the statements presented here are inaccurate. The true Church of Christ are predestined by Gods foreknowledge of His revelation of His Son Jesus. The Lord does not fail, just man in his carnal flesh which is enemity between himself and the Creator.

      • Paul summers says:

        Hello.

        The teachings of the church 200_500ce and today are totally pointless if they are not based on what the scriptures actually teach.

        When Jesus spoke on the parable of the mustard seed. He was making the point that the bush represented the Church on the whole. The church is full of believers and non believers. The true invisible church of Christ and the visible worldly church of non believers. The birds that come to rest in the bush are dirty unclean birds ie non believers who sow lies and error.
        x

  8. C.S says:

    Paul. Yes you are entirely right, to deny those things you mentioned is to deny the principles of the Christian faith and doctrines central to its belief today. However to accept those things in Judaism is the complete opposite. Jesus was a Jew, living in a Judea, with Jewish followers, who believed in Judaism. It is not logical to expect people who were observant Jews to have understood Jesus and his teachings the way that Christians understand them today. In Jewish terms it would not have been considered heresy to deny that he was divine, the virgin birth, the resurrection… Judaism is firmly unitarian and rejects the idea that G-d takes on human form. To Jews the Messiah is supposed to be just a man, like all the other prophets. Christianity grew out of Judaism, so Jesus’s life has to be understood within the religious understanding that he and his followers had at the time. The quotes taken above of the Church fathers show that Jesus’s Jewish followers held beliefs that were to them heretical but were quite consistent with the attitudes of Jews in general to their understanding of the nature of the messiah.

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