4 Reasons Christians come to accept Jesus so emphatically, can’t understand why others don’t, AND WHY ITS A PROBLEM.
1. Christians often have a “conversion experience.” Dr. Michael Brown is a perfect example. He says he was an addict and an agnostic, though he attended synagogue sporadically as a child on high holidays. After an experience of Jesus, he purportedly became devoutly religious. Christians ask themselves, “how can a seemingly godly outcome come from something thats not of G-d?”
2. Christians presently percieve that they live in a “monotheistic” culture that used to be profoundly polytheistic. Nobody worships Zeus, thor, Hercules, etc. anymore. The change from western polytheism to monotheism purportedly came about with Christianity’s ascendance, Christians see “fulfillment” of passages to their mind, like Isaiah 42:4.
3. Before Christian theology becomes a meaningful factor for new converts, Christians (as Neophytes) are exposed first to the ethics of Jesus, ie the golden rule, love, the rules found in Acts 15, and Jesus’ rules for ethical living found throughout the gospels. They appear to most people to be Torah based ethics, based off of the ethics for G-d fearers, even according to scholars.
4. When Christians approach the question of theology, for validation and checking of their ideas and beliefs, they often examine the mytho-poetical aspects of Jewish traditions (midrash and mysticism) of the past to see if they can find some paralells that would possibly account for a Christian-like theology in Judaism of the past. They ask, “can I find Jews in the past who accepted ideas like mine while remaining religious Jews?”
-Rambam’s active intellect, and his descriptions of Moses as having a unique prophetic connection.
-traditions of Ascent of the righteous to heaven (enoch and Elijah) and their angelic transformations.
-Saadiah Gaon’s Kavod Nivra as vehicle and expression of Prophetic inspiration.
– Traditions of a possible dying, (or suffering) messianic figure.
-an examination of the history of messianism
When all these ideas appear to be found in Judaism in some form, Christians feel that their faith and experiences can be reconciled with the Hebrew Bible even if they can’t work out all the details, they feel vindicated. IT IS USUALLY TRUE THAT EVERYONE IS LIKELY TO BELIEVE THEIR OWN EXPERIENCES OVER THE WORDS OF OTHERS.
ANY astute reader of the above information should recognize the problem of method. Take a very careful note of the central factor that is MISSING in the Christian’s methodology for determining the truth of his faith claims, and answering this central question. HE DOES NOT EVER CONSULT HALACHA OR THE TERMS AND STIPULATIONS FOUND IN G-D’s COVENANT WITH ISRAEL! His faith is based on his perceived personal experiences of Jesus, some parallels that he sees in Jewish philosophy, mysticism, and history, and on the message received from his culture. HE LACKS the insider covenant perspective of the Jewish people who are born into an observant culture, with responsibilities to G-d’s Torah. He does not ask, “how does Christianity’s claim fit with the duty of the Jewish people to maintain scrupulous observance of all the commandments in Moses’ Torah forever?” Because the Christian is not asking the questions and seeking answers from the standpoint of Israel’s unique covenant obligations, he cannot really see why his faith doesn’t fit the Torah. In fact, to the Christians, their experience of Jesus seems to retroactively validate things in the Jewish Bible that they find too fantastic to be possible. They were brought in without consulting Torah, so they miss a crucial element in answering the question and getting the right answer.
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal