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Part 4: Answering questions from Christians

March 4, 2014

In this fourth installment of the Answering questions from Christians series of posts, I am again answering actual questions that I received through email from Christians. For previous installments, see Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

Question 1: “Did only Jesus ascend to heaven, as per John 3:13? What about the cases in the Old Testament of people who ascended, like Elijah and Enoch, they seem to contradict John’s statement, as does Eph. 4:8, when Paul talks about ascending into 3rd heaven?”

Answer: You are right, John 3:13 appears to contradict what the Bible says about Elijah and Enoch. Also, many biblical scholars do not uphold Pauline authorship of Ephesians.

Question 2: “What happens to people like Muslims, who might be righteous, not violent kind and other religious and pious folks?”

Answer: We have no way of knowing what G-d thinks about this or that person. However, Judaism permits a Jew to worship in a mosque (since Muslims are monotheistic), but not in a church (because of Christianity’s belief in the Trinity, or G-d composed of Three Persons, one of whom is a man). Furthermore, Judaism holds that the righteous of all nations have a place in the World to Come.

Question 3: “I know that Christianity is true, because I have felt the presence of God, or something supernatural. I have felt demonic forces physically holding me and they left after I yelled to leave me in the name of Jesus. I have felt emotions when I see people come to believe in God. Was this not real?”

Answer: I can’t know what you felt, whether it was psychological, emotional or spiritual. If you felt the presence of G-d, I don’t see why you’d be excluded if you are truly seeking Him. However, people in other, non-Christian religions also report experiencing various manifestations of G-d (or of their gods). What about them, are they not real? Also, I can’t say that I ever felt demonic forces physically attacking me, so I can’t relate to your experience or comment on it. King Saul, we are told in 1 Samuel 16:14, was tormented by an evil spirit sent from the L-rd. Which brings us to an important distinction between Judaism and Christianity. In Judaism, Satan (the Adversary) is G-d’s servant and does nothing without His permission (see the Book of Job). He’s not supposedly in war with G-d. He’s G-d’s district attorney and prosecutor.

Question 4: “I have felt the spirit and spoken in tongues. Doesn’t it prove the truth of Christianity?”

Answer: Well, if you really felt the Spirit of G-d, I don’t see anything wrong with that. But that’s not a proof of anything, certainly not of a religion – many people, including groups Christians consider “cults”, claim the same feelings. Glossolalia, or “speaking in tongues”, also occurs in many religions (including Voodoo, Hinduism and Shamanism). Personally, from what I know about it, I don’t believe that speaking in tongues as performed in Charismatic churches is an actual supernatural experience at all. It’s a nonsensical babbling. No offense!

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