Differences – Excerpt from “The Council of My Nation”

Differences

What are our theological differences? To put it simply, we can narrow it down to four major differences. There are the issues of idolatry, the Law of Moses, atonement, and Messiah. I think it is important that we define these differences before we go on. Our opposing perspectives gives each of us a different way of looking at each of these issues.

 

 

Idolatry.

The Jewish people identify Christianity’s devotion to a certain person, as idolatrous. This assertion is harsh on Christian ears. Christians consider themselves monotheists and they see their devotion as worship of the One God of Israel. Because of their preconceived notions it is difficult for Christians to appreciate the serious nature of this matter. In order to help you see things in a different light, I will ask you to consider the following question; – If the devotion that Christians apply to their savior were to be directed at another man – would that be idolatry? Do you not realize that if the Christian savior is not what his devotees claim him to be then he is “another man”?

 

 

With an appreciation for the seriousness of the issue, we can define the question. Do the Jewish scriptures advocate devotion to a man? Does it allow this devotion? Or does it prohibit this devotion in the strongest terms?

 

 

The Law of Moses.

This one is tricky, because of the divergence of opinion amongst Jewish Christians on this subject. Many Jewish Christians consider themselves “free” from the Law of Moses, they believe that it no longer applies on a practical level. Others accept the binding nature of the Law of Moses, but accept only those laws explicitly written in the Five Books. Others yet accept the full body of the Law of Moses as defined by the living legacy of the Jewish nation. The basis for this position is the recognition that the Christian savior himself believed this way and that he lead his life accordingly.

 

 

The Jewish contention with each of these positions can be stated in the following terms. To the first group  – We believe that the law of Moses is eternal in nature and is binding upon all of the Jewish people in all generations. To the second group – We believe that the living legacy of the Jewish people is the only context from within which to approach observance of the Law. As for the third group, at first glance it would seem that we are in total agreement, but this is not so. Although the third group accepts that the living legacy of the Jewish nation is the only true context for the Law, they differ with us over some key issues. They do not accept the Jewish definition of the law of idolatry.

 

 

We will have to examine the Jewish scripture as it relates to each of these issues. Does the Jewish scripture acknowledge that the living legacy of the nation is the repository for the law – specifically the law of idolatry? Is the law of Moses binding upon every generation of Jews? What do the Jewish scriptures teach us in these areas?

 

 

Atonement.

Here too, Christians differ in their approach. All Christians agree that no atonement can be achieved without devotion to their savior. The divergence relates to the role of repentance in the atonement process. Some are of the opinion that no action on man’s part can play a role in the atonement process, thus repentance is believed to be a result of atonement and not a cause for atonement. Others accept that repentance is a necessary prerequisite for atonement, but that devotion to the Christian savior is necessary to complete the process. The Jewish position is that repentance is the key component in the atonement process. When man repents, God forgives. We will search the Jewish scriptures for guidance on this matter.

 

 

Messiah.

Christians view the Jewish rejection of the Christian Messiah as the most significant issue dividing the Christian and the Jew. The fact is though that the difference runs much deeper. Our respective understandings of the very concept of Messiah stand poles apart from each other. Aside from the technical issues, such as the difference of opinion about the virgin birth (Christians believe that the Messiah must be born from a virgin while the Jews believe that the Messiah must have a human father from the line of David,) there are some deep theological issues such as the questions of divinity and atonement. Christians believe that the Messiah must be divine, while the Jews believe that he is human. Christians believe that there is no atonement without devotion to the Messiah, while Jews believe that devotion to the Messiah has no bearing on the atonement process. (These two issues – divinity and atonement – are subsumed in the previous categories.)

 

 

Still, the list of differences does not end here. The entire thrust of the Christian concept of Messiah runs counter to the Jewish understanding of this same matter. Christians believe that a new election is achieved through devotion to the Messiah. This means that just as the Jews were elected by God on account of their fathers, Christians are elected by God on account of faith in their Messiah. Some Christians believe that this election supersedes the election of the Jewish people – in other words the Jewish people are no longer God’s elect. Others believe that these elections are parallel to each other and that there are two elect people, the Jews, and those devoted to the Christian Messiah.

The Jewish people accept no such election. They see this claim to election as the antithesis of the entire thrust of God’s Messianic promise. The hope and yearning for the Messianic age is very different in the heart of the Jew than the hope that goes by the same name in the heart of the Christian. One yearns for the ingathering of the scattered of the Jewish people, a rebuilt temple, observance of the Law of Moses, and worldwide worship of the God of Israel, while the Christian looks forward to the vindication of the devotees of his Messiah to the shame of the Jewish people, he looks forward to a world in which the only recognized method of atonement is devotion to the same man. Many Christians are also looking forward to the ultimate nullification of the Law of Moses.

 

 

Finally, we have the issue of unfulfilled Messianic prophecy. So much of the prophecies concerning the Messiah have not been fulfilled. Can we accept the Christian explanation of the second coming of the Messiah? Is there scriptural justification for this doctrine? Can one claim the title “Messiah” and demand the honor contained in that title without having fulfilled all of the Messianic prophecies?  We must examine the Jewish scriptures with each of these positions in mind. We must ask ourselves, on which side of this debate would the prophets of scripture have found themselves?

 

 

With the opposing views relating to these issues in mind we can begin our search of the Jewish scriptures. Which position does the Jewish scripture support, is it the Christian position or the Jewish one?

Before we begin, I would like to make an important point. If our search turns out inconclusive (- I don’t expect this to happen, but just in case -), then I will consider it a modest victory for the Jewish position. Firstly, at least the myth of the supernatural Jewish blindness will have been successfully debunked. If the Jewish scriptures are inconclusive, then no supernatural explanations are necessary to explain the Jewish non-acceptance of Christianity. Of far greater magnitude though, is the issue of idolatry. If one is has the slightest doubt about the theology of the divinity of the Christian Messiah, then there is no moral justification to commit oneself in worship. The risk is far too great. If you are mistaken, then your worship is the greatest rebellion against God imaginable!

 

 

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Separating the False Prophet from the True

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The Universal Principles of Justice and Charity – Excerpt from: Christianity Unmasked

The Universal Principles of Justice and Charity

The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:3 – 7:27) is perhaps one of the most famous teachings of Christianity. In this Sermon, Jesus presents some basic and beautiful truths. The basic principles of morality, justice and kindness are articulated in this teaching clearly and concisely. But if you step back and look at the literary structure of the book of Matthew, the Sermon on the Mount takes on a different character entirely.

The underlying theme of the book of Matthew (and Christianity as a whole) is the exaltation of Jesus and the emphasis of humanity’s “need” for Jesus. The author of the book of Matthew presents the Sermon on the Mount not so much as a teaching on how to live a moral life but as an argument for the superiority of Jesus. Immediately after the Sermon (Matthew7:28,29) the author tells us how the crowds were amazed at the teaching; not because of the beauty of the truths they contained, but because Jesus spoke with incomparable “authority”. Key segments of the Sermon are introduced with the phrase: “You have heard that it was said to them of old time” and contrasted with “But I (Jesus) say to you”. This literary device accentuates the fictitious notion that Jesus is the originator of these universal truths and that they were unknown to mankind until Jesus uttered them to his audience.

But this is false. These universal principles of justice and charity were planted by the Creator into the heart of every man and woman; they belong to all of us. Every one of us is sensitive to an injustice that we suffer at the hands of another. We are all acutely aware that injustice is wrong and evil when we find ourselves at the receiving end of an injustice. This is the guide that our Creator gave us all to teach us these universal principles. Every civilization has produced individuals who have brought greater clarity to these universal principles through the lives they lived and through the words they uttered. Clarifying and articulating these universal principles is good and Godly; falsely claiming to be the originator of these universal principles is not.

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Supplement to Noachide Worship – by Jim

1000 Verses - a project of Judaism Resources

(in response to https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2014/08/22/noachide-worship-by-jim/#comment-14819)

Thomas,

 

Thank you for you comment.

 

Allow me to clarify things with two examples of errors that have cropped up because of the religious emotion:

 

1. A few years ago, I was at a conference for Noahides. On Friday evening, the leaders of the meeting ushered in Shabbat by lighting seven candles, each of a different color of the rainbow. As they lit each candle, they recited one of the seven Noahide laws.

 

I hope you see the problem.

 

The people who did this meant well. They wanted a way to grow close to Hashem. And they felt that this would be a great way to do it. They were not keeping Shabbat according to the manner of the Jewish people, because that was prohibited. So they invented their own custom.

 

In so doing, they were still violating halacha. Noahides…

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Invisible Perfect – by Jim

1000 Verses - a project of Judaism Resources

Undoubtedly, one of the most important doctrines of Christianity is the moral purity of Jesus.  The missionary would have one believe that Jesus lived a perfectly sinless life, which makes him the spotless Passover lamb.  This doctrine must be taken on faith, of course, because none of the witnesses to Jesus saw the entirety of his life.  Moreover, only God knows a person’s heart, wherein Jesus may not have been pure.  If Jesus were morally perfect, he certainly would have been a remarkable man, worthy of respect and admiration, though not worship.  But, perhaps he was not perfect; perhaps he was a man just like any other with his own temptations and human frailty.  How can one know?  One way to scrutinize this claim of the missionary is to analyze how Jesus’ hometown received him.  In so doing, one will see that it is highly unlikely that Jesus was morally…

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Jeremiah 2:5

1000 Verses - a project of Judaism Resources

Jeremiah 2:5

The Torah describes the false prophet as one who attempts to “make you stray from the path that the Lord your God has commanded you to walk in.” (Deuteronomy 13:6 (5). Instead of listening to the false prophet we are commanded: “The Lord your God shall you follow and Him you shall fear; His commandments you shall observe and to His voice you shall hearken; Him you shall serve and to Him you shall cleave.”

The true prophet will encourage Israel to follow after God – “O House of Jacob: Come let us walk by the light of the Lord!” (Isaiah 2:5). The true prophet encourages fear of the Creator of heaven and earth – “Will you not fear Me? says the Lord; Will you not tremble before Me? For I have set sand as a boundary for the sea, as a permanent law that cannot be broken.”

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Very Near

1000 Verses - a project of Judaism Resources

Very Near

In Deuteronomy chapter 30 verses 11 thru 14 Moses reassures the Jewish people that the commandment which he has presented to them is not hidden nor is too far. Quite the opposite, it is very near to our mouths and our hearts to do it.

How is the commandment close to us? How close is it for us to fulfill every directive of God to perfection? King Solomon exclaims: Who can say that I have purified my heart I am cleansed from my sin? (Proverbs 20:9). In the book of Job we read of the imperfection of angels; certainly no human can be perfect (Job 4:18). How then can Moses tell us that the law that he is presenting to us is “close”? What is “close” about it?

Perhaps we can understand this by focusing on the words of verse 14. Moses says that it is “hadavar” –…

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