JUDAISM: Not 'just Christianity without Jesus'

Want to make a Jew mad?

Easy: inform them that Judaism is 'really Christianity, but sans Jesus'.


It's something that Jews hear fairly often, and we don't like it. Why would we? It suggests that Judaism was merely some archaic, warm-up act that set the scene for the main event: Christianity. And it reinforces an idea that many Christian fundamentalists espouse: namely, that Christianity is 'perfected judaism'.


So let's set the record straight.


Christianity is not 'fulfilled' nor 'perfected' nor 'completed' Judaism. And the correct response to anyone suggesting this, is laughter, frankly. Because such a statement only shows how ignorant the person is about all things Jewish.


Christianity = the rejection of Judaism.


Now, this is not to imply that one faith is right and one is wrong, or that one is somehow 'better' than the other. Not at all. But let's be crystal clear: Christianity does represent a rejection of core Jewish beliefs.

For those out there reading this, and now muttering in disagreement, take a look at the things Judaism and Christianity disagree on:



JUDAISM
- says that no human can ever die for the sins of others
CHRISTIANITY
- says that Jesus died for the sins of mankind


JUDAISM
- says that all humans are born pure, and innocent
CHRISTIANITY
- says that all humans are born with 'original sin'.


JUDAISM
- says that G-d would never allow/enable a 'virgin birth'
CHRISTIANITY
- says that Mary gave birth, though a virgin


JUDAISM
- says that no man gets a 'second coming'
CHRISTIANITY
- says that Jesus will have a 'second coming'


JUDAISM
- says that every human should speak directly to G-d
CHRISTIANITY
- Jesus claims in the 'new testament' that the 'only way' to G-d is via him


JUDAISM
- says G-d is one, indivisable, cannot be separated into three aspects/incarnations
CHRISTIANITY
- speaks of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit


JUDAISM
- says that we are ALL equally G-d's children
CHRISTIANITY
- says that Jesus was 'god's son' above all others


JUDAISM
- has no concept of 'hell'
CHRISTIANITY
- *some* Christians non believers to 'hell'


JUDAISM
- has no 'devil', the Jewish 'satan' is just an ordinary angel, under G-d's control
CHRISTIANITY
- describes 'satan' as a devil and 'fallen' angel


JUDAISM
- the 'messiah' will be a normal, mortal man who must fulfill all the Jewish messianic prophecies in one normal, mortal lifetime
CHRISTIANITY
- Jesus was the 'messiah' and will fulfill the prophecies when he 'returns'


JUDAISM
- says that the righteous of ALL faiths will reach 'gan eden' or 'garden of eden'.
CHRISTIANITY
- *some* Christians insist that only those who 'know Christ' can reach heaven


JUDAISM
- forbids Jews from trying to convert anyone to Judaism
CHRISTIANITY
- believes in actively 'witnessing' and encouraging people to convert to Christianity


These are just some of the differences between Judaism and Christianity. Only those unaware of such differences could possibly state that the two faiths are 'similar or, even more bizarrely, that they are the 'same'.


And let's shatter another myth, while we're here.

Some Christians claim that their faith is somehow 'jewish' because 'the first christians were jews'.
Now, using that 'logic', does that mean that today's Australians are 'British', because the first Australians were Brits?


Clearly, the answer is 'no'.


The tiny sect of Jews that then became part of the emerging Christian faith, left Judaism when they violated Torah and began practising the new religion that ultimately, would become the Christianity that we know today. The fact that they were born Jewish, is irrelevant.

Just because a Jew converts to Christianity, does not make Christianity somehow 'jewish'. Yet a surprising number of people think it does!


Again, let's use their 'logic':


I'm Jewish, by birth. So are some of my friends. If we decide that Scientology is the right faith for us, and begin practising it, does this then confer 'jewish' status on Scientology?

Answer: NO, of course not.

Well, the same reasoning does apply to Christianity. A Jew who becomes a Christian is a CHRISTIAN.

The Jewish bible, the Tanakh, makes it clear that no Jew can follow another religion or deity AND remain Jewish: a person who was born a Jew can at some point cease to be called a Jew.

In the Book of Kings, Elijah the prophet is sent to rebuke those Jews who were worshiping a foreign god called Baal. In I Kings 18:21, Elijah says to them:

"How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is G-d, follow Him: but if Baal, follow him."
In other words, you are either a Jew or a worshiper of Baal. Not both.

A Jew who follows another religion is Jewish only in that that he is obligated to return to Judaism. But, while his beliefs are idolatrous and foreign to Judaism, he cannot call himself a Jew.

That is why the terms "Messianic Jew," "Hebrew Christian," or "Jew for Jesus," are all totally, utterly nonsensical.


Judaism and Christianity are two entirely different, separate religions. And anyone who knows even the basics of both, knows this.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well said. Christians who view their religion as 'completed' or 'perfected' Judaism should bear in mind that Muslims view their own religion as the final correct version of both Christianity and Judaism, so that sort of thinking places Christianity as neither the original or ultimate religion, but as a mere historical stop-gap...

Sam said...

Hi Tabatha. I got a copy of the Tanakh in the JPS translation, so hopefully we can avoid arguments about correct translations and such.

I don’t think showing a list of differences between Jews and Christians is enough to say that Christianity is not Judaism. After all, I can show a list of differences between protestants and Catholics, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t both Christian. And I can show a difference between Baptists and Methodists, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t both Christians.

Besides, a person might come along and show you all the similarities between Judaism and Christianity in order to demonstrate that Christianity is a sect of Judaism. Then you’d have to argue about whether it was the differences that mattered or whether it was the similarities that mattered.

I think there’s a better way. You need to come up with a definition of Judaism—maybe some core elements about what Judaism is. And then show that some of the core tenants of Christianity contradict them. I think that would definitely show that Christianity and Judaism are not the same religion and it’s therefore impossible to be both.

For example, you might argue like so:

1. A Jew is a person who X, Y, and Z, but not A, B, and C.
2. A Christian is a person who X, Y and A, but not Z, B, and C.
3. Therefore, no Christian is a Jew.

I’ll try to tell you what I think are the bare bones essentials of Christianity such that if a person denies any one of these things, they are no longer a Christian (in my view, anyway).

1. There is one God.
2. Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ.
3. Christ died for sins (entails that there is such a thing as right and wrong).
4. Christ was raised from the dead.

If a person affirms all of these things, then they are a Christian, however heretical some of their other beliefs might be. But if they deny any one of these things, then they are not a Christian. For example, if a person denied that there was any such thing as right and wrong, they can’t be a Christian, because if there’s no such thing as right and wrong, then there’s no such thing as sin, and if there’s no such thing as sin, then Jesus didn’t die for sins.

What about Judaism? How would you define a Jew? While I have no complaint with you saying that Jews don’t believe in virgin births, I have a hard time believing that the denial of virgin births is part of the definition of a Jew such that if a person thinks virgin births are possible or that they may have even happened, then the person is not a Jew. I’ve never heard anybody define Judaism as a non-belief in virgin births until you came along.

Now I want to respond to some of the specific things you said.

JUDAISM
- says that no human can ever die for the sins of others


Who is the suffering servant of Isaiah 53? It says, “But he was wounded because of our sins, crushed because of our iniquities. He bore the chastisement that made us whole, and by his bruises we were healed. We all went astray like sheep, each going his own way; and the LORD visited upon him the guilt of all of us,” (Isaiah 53:5-6) and “For he was cut off from the land of the living through the sin of my people, who deserved the punishment,” (v. 8) and “My righteous servant makes the many righteous. It is their punishment that he bears” (v. 11). The suffering servant obviously dies for the sins of Israel. But the suffering servant cannot be Israel itself because (1) he dies for Israel, and (2) “we” are all guilty of sin and worthy of punishment while the suffering servant “had done no injustice and had spoken no falsehood” (v. 9) and is a “righteous servant” (v. 11). If no human can ever die for the sins of others, then the suffering servant cannot be a human. Read the whole chapter. Start from Isaiah 52:13.

JUDAISM
- says that all humans are born pure, and innocent


Then how do Jews understand these verses from the Tanakh?

Psalm 51:7 “Indeed I was born with iniquity; with sin my mother conceived me.”

Psalm 58:4 “The wicked are defiant from birth; the liars go astray from the womb.”

JUDAISM
- says that G-d would never allow/enable a 'virgin birth'


But the Tanakh does not say that. So why do you consider this an essential of Judaism?

JUDAISM
- says that no man gets a 'second coming'


But the Tanakh does not say that. In fact, the Tanakh says just the opposite. Everybody gets a second coming at the resurrection (Daniel 12:2, Isaiah 26:19, Ezekiel 37:12-14).

JUDAISM
- says that every human should speak directly to G-d


So does Christianity. See Matthew 6:9 (obviously not in the Tanakh! :-Þ)

JUDAISM
- says that we are ALL equally G-d's children
CHRISTIANITY
- says that Jesus was 'god's son' above all others


“Son of God” is a messianic title used of kings of Israel. In making the king of Israel his “firstborn,” God was making him “the highest of the kings of the earth” (Psalm 89:28; see also Psalm 2:6-7 and 2 Samuel 7:12-14.) Clearly the messiah is a son of God in some special sense.

JUDAISM
- forbids Jews from trying to convert anyone to Judaism


Why is it forbidden?

My brother-in-law, who is an atheist, comes from a Jewish family, and I had an argument with him one day about whether a Christian could be a Jew. He insisted that they couldn’t. But he still considers himself to be a Jew even though he’s an atheist. I found it ironic that he thinks Christians, who believe in God, cannot be Jews, but atheists, who deny the existence of God, can. What do you think about that? Do you think an atheist can be a Jew?

The Jewish bible, the Tanakh, makes it clear that no Jew can follow another religion or deity AND remain Jewish: a person who was born a Jew can at some point cease to be called a Jew.

The Tanakh doesn’t even use “Jew” to designate a member of a religion. A Jew is somebody from the tribe of Judah. Nowhere does it say that a person ceases to be a Jew when they follow another religion or deity. In fact, it seems to imply just the opposite (see all of Ezekiel 16, especially the last few verses, 59-63).

In other words, you are either a Jew or a worshiper of Baal. Not both.

Those “other words” are nowhere found, though. And if a person ceased to be a Jew, how is it that God intends to keep the promises he made for Jews to those people?

Does a person cease to be a Jew for any sin or just the sin of becoming a Christian?