Many Christians (including their Messianic co-religionists) often point out to me that Christianity, the religion that placed a first century Jewish man at its center as god-incarnate, the lord and savior of the world, has brought a whole lot of good into the world (at least for the non-Jewish part of it). This, they tell me, is evidence that G-d Himself is behind Christianity and in their minds it is the confirmation, indeed part of the proof that their faith in Jesus is true. First and foremost, they say, millions of pagans who once worshiped the gods of the Roman pantheon, multitudes of other gods and various assorted demigod heroes and emperors, rejected them all in favor of Jesus, and are now worshiping the “G-d of Israel”, albeit in his “human” and “trinitarian” form. What’s more, I am also frequently reminded, Christianity had introduced untold numbers of former pagans to the Jewish scriptures, albeit in their Church-translated form and as an “Old Testament”, and this must be G-d’s own doing and explicit will. In addition to that accomplishment, I am pointed out that Christianity has also done a lot of humanitarian work all over the world as part of its mission to spread the Christian gospel, improving (arguably) lives of multitudes of people. And what about the so many who, after embracing Jesus and Christian tenets, have forsaken destructive lifestyles and habits, saved failing marriages, became more honest and kind to those around them? Are not all these things the evidence that Christianity is true and the will of G-d for humanity? But what if their faith in Jesus, despite of all the apparent good it wrought in minds of the devout, was based on a lie? What if it is a false faith and not from G-d, what then? And if it is indeed a false faith, can it still be seen as “good” and should it be lauded because of all of the apparent good it has accomplished for so many?
I was surprised to come across a very profound answer to this question not from a Jewish source, but on a Christian apologetics website, of all places. Continue reading this post
Even though Christianity is a “daughter” religion of Judaism that insists that Jews, by rejecting Jesus, missed the coming of their own Messiah, there are far more things, very important things, that separate Judaism and Christianity than just the identity of the Messiah. One of these important differences between these two religions is their respective approaches to evil and to dealing with people who commit it, whether against us personally or against others. These profound differences are found not just in later interpretations of clergy, but in the very foundational texts of the two faiths. Some of the Christian views on dealing with evil are expressed in that religion’s holy text, the New Testament, where they are taught by Jesus in the format “You have heard it said… but I say to you”. This formula was used by Jesus (or by the writers of the NT) to create a contrast between a supposedly prevailing harsh “letter of the Law” understanding within Judaism and his own novel “kinder” teachings that emphasized G-d’s love for all, no matter how evil. Although to anyone familiar with Judaism it is apparent that this contrast was greatly exaggerated throughout the New Testament, it led to some downright bizarre views about how to deal with evil on the part of Christians throughout the ensuing two millennia. The following article by Rabbi Meir Y. Soloveichik looks at these differences of how evil is viewed and dealt with by Judaism and Christianity, analyzing their historic fruit as well as their implications for the world today. Continue reading this post
There’s an old joke that goes like this: Why did G-d make Mormons? So that Christians know how Jews feel! In my recent post, I reviewed some examples of failed prophecies supposedly uttered by Jesus within the books that make up the New Testament. Of course, “mainstream” Christianity is not the only religion with prophecies about the future. Other “christianities”, such as Mormonism, have had their own prophets too. Like the Trinitarian Christianity from which it splintered in the early 1800s, Mormonism has a rather embarrassing problem – failure of their founder’s prophecies to come to pass. Traditional Christians have battled the Latter Day Saints Church for converts since its founding, calling it a “false religion”. They do not fail to point out to Mormons that their prophet Joseph Smith was a false prophet, claiming that not only is the religion he started in contradiction to what is revealed in both the Hebrew Bible (the “Old Testament”) as well as the New Testament, the prophecies he made failed to come to pass as well. Therefore, they claim, Joseph Smith couldn’t have been from G-d, since no false prophet could be. Which is why I thought it quite amusing to see Mormons use the exact same “what does this word really mean” defense as the mainstream Christians to defend its prophet Joseph Smith from outside accusations of him being a false prophet. Mormons point out that the “anti-Mormon” Christians are guilty of a double standard, since Jesus made very similar prophecies that his non-Christians critics (“who improperly interpret”) claim have also failed to come to pass, even though he was using the same terminologies as Joseph Smith, and yet one is still called as “true” and another as “false”!
Let’s take a look: Continue reading this post
When it comes to rationalization (a.k.a. making excuses), all human beings are born experts. This is especially true when it comes to the things we hold most sacred – our religious beliefs. Most dearly held religious tenets, especially those concerning otherworldly things, however, cannot be easily proved or disproved. This fact, the mystery of the unknown hereafter, powers all the myriads of religions and their tens of thousands of religious sects, many of which contradict and cancel out each other’s claims. It’s easy to make claims one doesn’t need to prove or defend. Yet every so often, a religion comes into a direct conflict with reality by unwittingly exposing its falsely constructed framework for all to see. Never is this more true than when it comes to prophecies that fail to come to pass as expected. Continue reading this post
Recently, I had an interesting conversation with a prominent messianic/Hebrew roots man (not of Jewish birth) who was attempting to show me that my (and that of Jewish people in general) rejection of Jesus as G-d’s prophet, as Israel’s “true messiah” and as god-incarnate is blasphemy against the G-d of Israel. In keeping with my long-standing practice of not embarrassing even those I disagree with on my blog, I will keep his identity anonymous.
Many Christians (including their Hebrew Roots or messianic co-religionists) believe that the Jewish people will not celebrate and rejoice when their messiah comes, as Jews believed for thousands of years. At least this will certainly not be their first reaction at all. Christianity has always held and still does, that Jews will instead grieve and mourn when Jesus returns to earth during his “second coming”. Jews will be ashamed and embarrassed at the sight of Jesus! According to many Christians, the whole of Israel will be stricken to its heart because “they killed Jesus” during his first coming, have “sinfully” rejected him both as messiah and god, and thus suffered all this time for obstinately refusing to worship Jesus as god or the the son of G-d. But will this really be the case or are these Christians grossly mistaken in their view of the future of Israel? Will Jews really mourn their disbelief in Jesus as many in the Christendom predict? Or, will something quite the opposite happen? Will Israel instead rejoice when their messiah comes, while those who clung to their lifeless idols (including Jesus) and those who for thousands of years tried and still try to missionize the Jewish people into worshiping a man Jesus, will it be they who will be ashamed and mourn their idolatry? Continue reading this post