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Article: How Does a Jew Attain Salvation?

February 27, 2015

am-i-saved1-0011The following article originally appeared on beingjewish.com

Christianity maintains that all men are doomed to sin, and everyone will go to everlasting hell unless they accept jesus as their savior.

Judaism has always held that we do not need that sort of salvation, for we are not doomed or damned at birth. We are not doomed or fated to sin. Quite the contrary. The Torah says: “If you do good, won’t there be special privilege? And if you do not do good, sin waits at the door. It lusts after you, but you can dominate it.” (Genesis 4:7) In other words, you can do good, and if you do, things will be better for you. If you do not do good, sin wants to be partners with you. But you can control sin, you can control your evil desires, and you can be good.

So we have free will, and that is what Judaism has always believed, because that is what the Torah teaches. The Torah does not teach — or even mention — that we are “born in sin,” or that we are fated to sin. Just the opposite. We have the ability to choose. Continue reading this post

Old Christian saints and modern messianics agree: Jews suffered terribly for rejecting Jesus

February 25, 2015

JewsKilledJesusSign“One Law” messianic was arguing to me that Jews have suffered so much because they made a terrible, huge mistake – they rejected Jesus as their messiah and god:

[When] Messiah returns, Jews will weep as one weeps for an only son (Zech 12). As hard as it may be you to believe, Gene, Jews and Judaism have also committed errors, perhaps the greatest being the rejection of the real messiah and subsequent embracing of a false messiah. Both have had disastrous consequences.

This messianic’s argument is not new at all. In fact, it’s very familiar to the Jewish people, who have heard it all before. Continue reading this post

Three reasons why Jesus’ claimed resurrection became so important to Christianity

February 23, 2015

caravaggio-thomasSome time ago one of the blog readers asked me to opine, as a former Jesus-believer and worshiper, on why I thought resurrection of Jesus became such an important event in Christian theology.

So, here are three reasons why I think Christianity placed such paramount importance on Jesus’ resurrection:

1. It allowed Christians to proclaim Jesus as still very much alive, both as god in the flesh and one who is in communion with G-d the Father. Being now forever alive, although a mortal man during his lifetime, Jesus became a divine figure which could be prayed to and worshiped as a deity. Of course, to the Jewish mind, such a notion was and remains idolatrous. It’s also important to note, however, that with proliferation of venerated (and oft petitioned) departed saints and martyrs within Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions, dead holy men who are seen as very much “alive” but only as spirits without bodies, Jesus’ own supposed bodily resurrection vs. a “mere” spiritual ascension doesn’t seem as so important or as practical a distinction for traditional Christians.

That it to say that it is not at all certain that the earliest Christians believed that Jesus was bodily resurrected. The earliest gospel we have in our possession, of Mark, doesn’t end with anyone seeing the resurrected Jesus at all, either in physical body or as a spirit. It seems that few Christians are even aware of this!  Continue reading this post

No, New Testament is not “rabbinic midrash”

February 19, 2015

jesus-midrashFor many Christians (and their Messianic brethren) living in this age of freely available information, when they come to the realization that the New Testament texts grossly distort both the meaning and intent of the Hebrew Bible, this sudden encounter with truth can become a real test of their faith. Some of them eventually come to understand that they have believed falsehoods; they stop seeing the New Testament as authoritative. Others, on the other hand, especially those in the Messianic camp of Christianity, dig in and attempt to rationalize the New Testament distortions as “midrash”, a Jewish method of teaching scripture in a non-literal way, that is by looking for hidden spiritual, but not literal, insights. Continue reading this post

Is it OK to worship Jesus but not images of him?

February 17, 2015
The Houten Idol; Wood, 5000 BCE, Willemstad

The Houten Idol; Wood, 5000 BCE, Willemstad

A Jesus-worshiper that I’ve recently come across on a messianic blog wondered why doesn’t the Christian bible (the New Testament) describe Jesus’ physical features in any great detail. The only feature we know for sure that he had (at least according to the NT) is a beard. Was it because people are not supposed to worship images, the Christian asked? Would not knowing what Jesus the man looked like somehow prevent idolatry? Protestants (and their messianic offshoots) think that as long as Jesus’ images are not worshiped (the way Catholics and Eastern Orthodox do), they are not committing idolatry by bowing down to Jesus the human being as unto G-d. Could they be right?

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Fact or fiction: Pontius Pilate as Jesus’ defense attorney

February 12, 2015

Gene Shlomovich:

This post that I published early last year is worth revisiting. Is there any third party evidence for the “Jews persecuted Christians” blood libel, that is something outside of the information we have in the New Testament and post-first century Christian works (where Jews are sometimes described as crucifying Christian saints)? In the NT we have Pharisees alternate between being best of friends and protectors of “Christians” and their worst enemies, while Romans are portrayed as either just bystanders (or rescuers, in Paul’s case) or, unlike the brutal Pilate of actual history, helpless protectors of Jewish messianic leaders against relentless Jewish viciousness. This post is about the fictional portrayal in the New Testament of Roman governor of Judea Pilate trying save Jesus from the hands of the Jewish mob.

Originally posted on Daily Minyan:

Pontius PilateThe New Testament presents the Jewish leaders and the Jewish people as a bloodthirsty mob out to get Jesus, mercilessly calling for his blood, without any regard for justice. This is the lens through which Christendom would come to view the whole of Jewish people for the next two thousand years. At the same time, the ruthless murderer Roman procurator of Judea Pontius Pilate, a man who would often slaughter people indiscriminately and without trial, a foreign ruler who crucified hundreds if not thousands of Jews and Samaritans under his charge, is portrayed as going out of his way to spare Jesus’ life. He is even shown as almost pleading and trying to reason with Jews in Jesus’ defense, acting not as a vicious executioner who hated Jews with every fiber of his being, but as a defense attorney for a Jewish messianic candidate. (Note: it was the Roman policy to execute all…

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G-d can do anything, can’t he?

February 9, 2015

4_lord-jesus-christWhen Christians argue that Jews limit G-d by their stubborn insistence on strict monotheism, by being so certain that He would never become one of us by becoming a man, they accuse Jews of putting G-d in a box. If G-d is so powerful, they ask, what would stop Him from taking on flesh to dwell among men as one of us, doing all the normal things we mere mortal do and even dying at the hands of His own creatures? As one popular messianic blogger put it recently, it’s a non-starter to even think that something is “impossible” when it comes to the Almighty. G-d can do anything, can’t he?

There are actually many things that even G-d can’t do either because they are indeed impossible or because they go against His very nature. What are some of those things? Here are a few examples:

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