Jesus Who?

Discussion in 'Philosophy, Religion and Spirituality' started by Phre-massen.nash, Dec 29, 2012.

  1. Phre-massen.nash

    Phre-massen.nash Registered User

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    [h=3]It's time to clear up Jewish misconceptions about Christianity.[/h][h=4]By Amy-Jill Levine[/h]
    • In the following article, the author describes common Jewish myths about Christianity and explains why she believes it is important for Jews to learn about Christianity. In subsequent articles, Levine will debunk these misconceptions and put the development of Christianity in historical context. These essays first appeared in Moment magazine, and were also published in Best Spiritual Writing 2003 (Jossey-Bass). Reprinted with permission of the author.
      [​IMG]


    That many Christians have misperceptions about Judaism--views rang­ing from the slightly humorous (all Jews are smart, all Jews can read He­brew) to the blatantly obscene (Jews are children of the devil, Jews seek world domination) is common knowledge to us Jews. We would like our Christian neighbors to appreciate Judaism as a tradition of spiritual depth, profound practice, rich culture, and moral emphasis, and we would also like them to know that we Jews do not have horns, do not worship a God of wrath and law as opposed to a God of love and compassion, and do not spend much time worrying about the state of our immortal soul.

    But ignorance cuts both ways. It's time for us to learn more about Christianity: not just its history of anti-Semitism, but also its theological depth and system of morality.
    [h=3]Why Learn More?[/h]Most Jews know little about Christianity, and what we know--impressions often gleaned from benign mall decorations of elves and bun­nies to the spoutings of narrow-minded ministers convinced that they have a lock on heaven's doors--is likewise often mistaken. Our errors range also from the harmless (thinking that "Christ" is a last name) to the horrifying (thinking that all Christians are anti-Semites).
    Yet, in fact, since the birth of the Christian church, we have been ask­ing questions about this moment. Today, with the rise in Christian missionary efforts to convert Jews, on the one hand, and with the current congeniality of interfaith dialogue on the other, it's time to revisit these questions.[​IMG]
    Learning more about Christianity helps us in at least two ways. Not only does this type of inquiry tell us how anti-Jewish attitudes developed within the church, but also, informed historical discussion enables us both to appreciate the traditions of our Christian neighbors and to en­hance our appreciation for the choices Judaism made.
    [h=3]Mistaken Notions[/h]As a professor of the New Testament at a predominantly Christian di­vinity school, I do get a lot of questions from Jews interested in what their Christian neighbors are thinking. Here are some of the issues I am most frequently confronted with:
    • Jesus was a Jewish man who after his death was proclaimed to be divine. The whole megillah--virgin birth, walking on water, resurrection from the dead, ascending to heaven--is nonsense that no intelligent person could possibly believe.
    • Christianity is primarily a pagan religion: Although they have the "Old Testament," they dumped all the laws; instead of recognizing that God is "One" (as expressed, for example, in the statement "Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One"), they wor­ship three gods, a Father, a Son, and a Holy Spirit (who used to be called the "Holy Ghost"), and some worship the Virgin Mary. They are also idolators because they worship statues and paintings.
    • Christians believe they eat the real body and the real blood of Jesus when they "take communion" and are thus engaged in some sort of cannibalism.
    • Christians are necessarily anti-Jewish, think all Jews are going to hell, and therefore the proclamations of the church lead directly to the ovens of Auschwitz.
    Each of these positions, however, is based on partial evidence only, and that evidence has been sifted through centuries of Christian persecution of Jews.
    [h=3]What Christians Believe[/h]What do Christians really believe? The response begins with a word of warning. We can no more claim that "all Christians believe" something than we can claim that all Jews hold to a particular view. There are numerous groups within what is broadly called the "church": Roman Catholic, Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant; some churches are organized according to a particular system of leadership (popes or patriarchs, bishops, deacons, elders, etc.); some are independent. Some ordain women, and some do not; some approve of birth control and abortion, and some do not; some think that all Jews are going to hell, and some do not.

    And not all church members agree with the official teachings of their church: Some Roman Catholics favor birth control, but the church's official line condemns it; some Presbyterians and United Methodists favor the or­dination of gays and lesbians, but the official teaching of their denomina­tions still forbids this. A few years ago, the head of the Southern Baptist Convention proclaimed that "God does not hear the prayers of the Jews"; numerous Baptists disagreed.
    In other words, Christianity in terms of its di­versity looks very much like Judaism. Thus, any comments that might be made about "what Christians think" are true only in a general sense.

    Is the whole system nonsense? No, it actually makes a great deal of sense when seen in its historical context. The Christian proclamation was both developed and accepted by a number of Jews, so it must have made sense to them, and it clearly made sense to the greater number of pagans who joined the church. The reason many of the claims of the church ap­pear so alien to Jews today is the passing of time; to understand how the church could begin within Judaism, we need to go back several genera­tions before Jesus.

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Frater Cliff Porter

    Frater Cliff Porter Premium Member

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    Christians would do well to learn about Christianity.
     
  3. BryanMaloney

    BryanMaloney Premium Member

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    Yes, Christians would do well, and do well to learn about the lies spread by those who would twist Christianity's history and make long-discredited claims about the origins of the Faith.
     
  4. widows son

    widows son Premium Member

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    What exactly of the origins of Christianity are false?
     
  5. jwhoff

    jwhoff Premium Member

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    Origins? Or, rather, interpretations?

    It is human nature to affix truths to that which we do not understand. Fear, prejudice, and ignorance reign supreme in all human emotions.

    What more fertile ground than religion?


    Think long and hard of these traits. Then tell me who is qualified to cast the first stone.
     
  6. widows son

    widows son Premium Member

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    Well there are scholars who find facts about the origins of certain religions. Archeology doesn't lie.
     
  7. jwhoff

    jwhoff Premium Member

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    As long as you take into account the activity of pack rats, erosion, and thieves through the ages.

    I had a professor years ago who criticized many of his fellows, saying they liked to go out, mark off a grid, and go at it with front-end loaders. Often you had to check the booster stickers on the back of the tractor to see which university was to blame.

    Such critique is never lost to the wise.

    :eek:hmy:
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2012
  8. widows son

    widows son Premium Member

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    I think regardless of what facts there are, a person will disregard them if it goes against what he/she was indoctrinated with, even if it is true.
     
  9. jwhoff

    jwhoff Premium Member

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    Unless they are willing to explore their faith. How much stronger are the beliefs of someone who has taken the time to check the facts and find their beliefs, after honest examination, were indeed factual?

    But you are right my brother, so very few are strong enough to even try.
     
  10. widows son

    widows son Premium Member

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    But those truths that they disregard are found when one divulges into their faith. Sometimes the truth contradicts.
     
  11. daddyrich

    daddyrich Registered User

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    Remember that even only 100 years after the death of Jesus the Christ, church Fathers couldn't even agree upon his age at 'crucifixion' It's a shame, but opportunists will always jump at the chance to join a movement to further themselves and their greed for temporal power. As true now as it was then. Just read some of the early works against heresies, very little cohesion but clothed in authority.
     
  12. widows son

    widows son Premium Member

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    I'm quite familiar with the heresies. All religions are based on former religions. A newer religion will borrower successful ideas from former religions to further ground itself on legitimacy and authority. We see this in the worlds 3 major religions. I believe at one point there was a prevalent belief system among ancient humans that spread across the globe once they decided to migrate out of Africa. Still a theory but a very plausible one.
     
  13. jwhoff

    jwhoff Premium Member

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    That's plausible. Man's greatest quest it to discover his origins and purpose.
     
  14. widows son

    widows son Premium Member

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    I don't think we will find our purpose, only because I think our purpose is to just live and experience. If you look at it a certain way: as beings we are composed of matter, that was created when our sun created the solar system, which much earlier was created by the universe. We are a direct product of the universe, so therefore we are the universe. So one can say we are a way for the universe to observe itself.
     
  15. Frater Cliff Porter

    Frater Cliff Porter Premium Member

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    Religion is beautiful because it shows man's quest to know himself and God.

    Religion is terrible because it shows what man is willing to do to others on a quest.
     
  16. widows son

    widows son Premium Member

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    Religion is an institution created by man, spirituality is a gift given from the creator.
     
  17. BryanMaloney

    BryanMaloney Premium Member

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    Agreed, and Christianity is based primarily upon Judaism. The problem is that most people, Christian or not, are quite ignorant of the full variety of Judaism during the last Temple Era. Most people blindly believe that modern (Rabbinical) Judaism, in its three major forms, is what Judaism always have been. Thus, when some element of Christianity does not agree with Rabbinical Judaism, it is automatically (blindly) attributed to "pagan" sources. Angelology/Hagiology? Jewish. "High Church Liturgy"? Jewish. Festivals and celebrations? Jewish. Messianism? Jewish. The "Word"? Jewish. They just aren't Rabbinical Jewish. Yes, there were other elements openly adopted and not concealed at the time, but they were usually adopted as "prefigurations" or "prophecies" of the basic Christian message.
     
  18. BryanMaloney

    BryanMaloney Premium Member

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    Mushy "spirituality" is a temptation from the Enemy, every but as much as a totalitarian and tyrannical "religion".
     
  19. widows son

    widows son Premium Member

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    Most recent archeology has shown that the majority of Judaism sprang from former Canaanite beliefs, in fact substantial evidence is showing that the Jews are Canaanites, and that in some part of the past a peasant population revolted and replace the urban Canaanites with a new faith and a new identity, still a theory in the works, but a numerous amount of pottery and other artifacts are helping to push this along. We know that Judaism as we now it today sprang from their time in Babylon, in which they tried to preserve their culture among many others. Christianity does have its roots on Judaism, but as it was brought to Rome it started to become something else. I have yet to find anything on the contrary to show me that Mithras and his many attributes are the precursor to the attributes of Christ: his birthday, his divine status, the shedding of blood for sins (the bull), virgin birth, died and rose from the grave. In those days most religions resembled each other, as a result of the middle east being a hot bed of different ideas and philosophies. In fact there are many things the early church adopted from other faiths to incorporate into Christianity. As far as spirituality being a device of the "enemy" consider the following. Spirituality, not religion has been at the forefront of human evolution. There is substantial evidence to prove that proto humans such as homo erectus, homo habilis, Neanderthal and the first Homo sapiens all were spiritual and even helped propel their evolution. Also take into account that once religions appeared on the scene humans started to war each other. Also note that a religion among other things has the sole purpose of self preservation, so control over its subjects is imperative, where as spirituality has the freedom of ones own consciousness. Before you mock spirituality consider how much more sense does your faith make? Does your faith provide you with the proper facts based on what has been proven to be true, on the origin of the universe? Of humanity? Nope. Does spirituality do? Nope, but it at least will leave room for that acceptance, where as your faith doesn't. Before you mock my faith consider that your faith has shed more blood in the name god than spirituality has. Also consider that if your faith is superior,why is it divided and have many sects? If christs word is the word, why is his church divided? Why were catholics killing protestants and protestants killing catholics? Before you mock spirituality as a totalitarian belief system consider that your faith at one point tried to unify the world with Christianity at the helm, not many people's cup of tea. Spirituality has never condemned anyone for their belief. Spirituality has never spread hate in the name of god and Christ, as we see certain sects in America doing. Spirituality is the oldest form of veneration to the unknown. Unlike religion where it claims to have the answers, spirituality claims it doesn't, but relies on the human being to make sense of the world around them using the tools that helped propel us to where we are in the first place. Spiritualities aim is close to that of religion, the difference is there is no finality, no limit. Because it acknowledges as humans we have a long way to go until we find the right answer, and never claims to have the final answer as some faiths do. If you choose to
    mock my faith that is fine, I will not mock yours as that is disrespectful, but what I will do is continue to show you facts, to show that you and your faith are nowhere near superior to anyone or anything.
     
  20. widows son

    widows son Premium Member

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    Btw, the definition of spirituality is: a way for a conscious being to make sense of his environment, his place, his origins, and role in the universe, using pre existing and current factual information, that has been passed down through generations (as we see in early human species) and trial and error ( as we see today)
     

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