A former “Messianic Jew” emailed me recently asking me my opinion on whether it’s proper to “access tzaddikim” (dead holy men), as long as one doesn’t consider them to be G-d. He told me that he no longer worshiped Yeshua/Jesus or thought of him as G-d or even as messiah, but wondered if it’s an acceptable Jewish practice to rely on dead holy men as mediators between G-d and man. Was it OK to access them for deliverance or any sort of help, the way Christians rely on Jesus? Here’s my reply.
Christianity starts with one idea about man; Judaism with another. The idea that Judaism starts with is that man is created in the likeness of G-d. You do not have to go far, according to Judaism, to discover that it is possible to bring forth the divine within you and the divine in other men. There is always the opportunity to do a mitzvah. It is with that opportunity that I began as a Jew. Christianity begins with the basic assumption that man is essentially depraved and sinful – that left to himself he can do nothing. He has to be saved. He is involved in evil. This is not the Jewish way of thinking. The first question of Christianity is: ‘What do you do for the salvation of your soul?’ I have never thought of salvation. It is not a Jewish problem. My problem is what mitzvah can I do next. Am I going to say a blessing? Am I going to be kind to another person? Am I going to study Torah? How am I going to Honor the Sabbath? These are my problems. The central issue in Judaism is the mitzvah, the sacred act. And it is the greatness of man that he can do a mitzvah. How great we are that we can fulfill the will of G-d! But Christianity starts with the idea that man is never able to fulfill the will of G-d. All he has to do, essentially, is to wait for salvation. (Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, quoted in What Christians Should Know About Jews and Judaism. World Books, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, Chapter 2, page 66).
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. (Apostle Paul, Romans 10:9-10)
Christianity has countless heroes of faith and saints. However, almost without exception, virtually none of these “best of Christians” tried to treat Jews with compassion and relate to them as to fellow human beings. They all condemned them to hell for not believing and worshiping Jesus, often looking the other way when Jews were mistreated and even slaughtered, although since Augustine Jewish lives were occasionally preserved as a “witness to their failures”. This is because Christians have always looked at the Jewish people through the greatly distorted lens of the New Testament. That text, as well as the accompanying Church dogma that has been built up on its foundation over the last two thousand years, have made Jews less than human in the eyes of a Christian, a veritable spawn of Satan himself (John 8:44).
Because of this it is exceedingly rare to find a Christian who, prior to the Holocaust (itself a culmination of European Christian antisemitism), truly tried to empathize with Jews, to see the world from their perspective. Few Christians proved able to shake of such a high degree of religious indoctrination, found in their own religious texts, against the people that birthed their god and savior. Indeed, when one reviews biographies and stories of most celebrated of Christian saints, people whose virtues Christians have come to admire the most, not a single one stands out as a friend of the Jewish people. Not one of them who was tried to be truly compassionate to the oppressed (by fellow Christians!) children of Israel and tried to understand them or help them, with virtually all of them speaking of Jews in most condemning of terms and looking the other way when Jews were maligned.
Except for one man – Peter Abelard, the great medieval French scholastic philosopher, theologian, logician and composer. For his thinking outside of the Christian box Abelard was virtually ostracized by Christian theologians, clergy and thinkers of his day. Yet, when it comes to the Jewish people, he refused to join their chorus. Continue reading this post
Here are the posts and topics that I am planning on publishing in the near future on the Daily Minyan:
- Saving Paul – the great whitewashing of the apostle by New Perspective on Paul theologians
- Why is “Messianic Judaism” so repugnant to the Jewish people?
- A Messianic Jew’s guide to doubt and cognitive dissonance
- The fuzzy midrashic Jesus
- You may have fallen for antisemitic propaganda if…
Check back soon!
I have received quite bit of off-the-blog feedback regarding my post C. S. Lewis on Jesus’ False Prophecies. Some Christians/Messianics have accused me of taking Lewis’ words of out context. Invariably, those who make this charge themselves have not read the material in its context, but simply refuse to believe that Lewis would actually feel this way as it doesn’t seem to jive with whatever else he may have said or felt about Jesus. And so they dismiss, blindly, without checking the facts for themselves. However, if one reads the book in context it becomes clear that C.S. Lewis uses the failed predictions of Jesus not to malign Jesus, but only to suggest that such embarrassing words were in fact proofs of New Testament’s authenticity, since the authors would have doubtless left out (according to Lewis) anything so embarrassing to their cause had they really had a devious agenda to dupe their audience. C.S. Lewis applauded such embarrassment because it, by a roundabout way, bolstered his own faith in New Testament being delivered to us truthful and unaltered! What is ironic is that in the name of New Testament’s authenticity C. S. Lewis compromised the character of his god-man (as Lewis called him) Jesus, by questioning his master’s prophetic abilities and exposing his ignorance! Continue reading this post
By Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim
The Flaws of Christianity and [other] Religions
Should we allow our lives to be guided by what is popular? Are we to simply follow the crowd, without questioning our beliefs? As all religions oppose each other, all religions cannot be God’s word.
Our souls are at stake, and our limited time here in Earth demands that we take stock in what our actions and beliefs must be. Are we living life properly, what our Creator asks, what is truly best for ourselves? We must realize the false notions we harbor, be we Jew or Gentile. It is imperative that we all question these popular notions and not blindly coast through life, losing what could be an inspiring and enlightening existence. What a tragic loss of God’s gift of life to each of us, if we do not engage our intelligence, given to man and no other creature. God desires that we use this intelligence in the most important of all areas, our religion: our belief in God and His plan for mankind. Continue reading this post
C. S. Lewis is one of Christianity’s most celebrated and loved authors. His work Mere Christianity is a classic of Christian apologetics and is easily one of the most influential books among modern evangelists besides the New Testament itself. This is because C.S. Lewis was not only a novelist but also a prolific lay theologian. However, not all of his opinions about the Christian faith have been celebrated by Christians and some have proved quite embarrassing. Those happen to be the views of his that Christians rarely if ever quote. So embarrassing are some of those opinions to the cause of Christianity, indeed to Jesus himself, that some Christians have opined of C. S. Lewis that he was a better writer than a theologian.
In his work The World’s Last Night C. S. Lewis expressed a frank if shocking to most Christians view that Jesus was very wrong. The “God-Man” (as Lewis called him) was clearly wrong when he prophesied about his own return. He was ignorant and has spoken presumptuously. Indeed, Jesus was the cause of the deception among his own disciples and knew no more than they did. Yet Jesus did prophecy, as the New Testament recorded for all to read, repeating the same failed prophecies across all of the four gospels.
Here is C. S. Lewis in his own words: Continue reading this post