go I must have needed it. My parents did their best with the family, working hard for little money, rearing two kids they hoped would be accepted into college and survive the 60's and 70's unscathed. They meant well, but the only psychological tools at their disposal were discipline and guilt; expressions of affection, sympathy and forgiveness were rare. They were closed-in people like their parents, and their parents' parents, all the way up that deep, coastal shelf.
At those Friday-night meetings I learned another way to be. I learned to bang on a guitar, to sing at the top of my voice, to admit my worries and failings and collapse into the arms of someone whose love I could trust, knowing it would never be withdrawn. All that seemed an enormous gift of God, and I wanted to thank him. It is not true, as the ancient Epicurean philosophers taught, that human beings only invent gods out of ignorance and fear. Sometimes, perhaps often, they seek the divine out of joy and gratitude for what seem like miracles.
There was no joy to be felt in Corona Park the night I was there. To my disappointment we never got around to singing "How Great Thou Art. When I pulled my eyes away from the visual vortex caused by the screens, I realized that no one was singing along with them; the crowd just watched and clapped. I wanted to shout out the joyful words of Moses: "The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation!
Or the exhortation of the prophet Isaiah: "Sing unto the Lord a new song, and his praise from the end of the earth! But this was not an evening for the God of Sinai and the Judean desert. Nor was it an evening for the song in every believer's heart to rise up and draw him lovingly into the mystical body of Christ.
Tonight that body was plastered to its seats, each member gazing forward in private, rapt silence. Sixty thousand iPods would have had the same effect. Every so often, while watching sports on television, I see an evangelical in the crowd waving a homemade sign that simply reads "John For evangelicals, it is the epicenter of the biblical message. The mere mention of it, on a bumper sticker or a cardboard sign waved in a stadium, is thought sufficient to work wonders, like a talisman.
The verse occurs in the story of Nicodemus:. View all New York Times newsletters. King James Version. I am unable to count the number of times as a teenager that I read these verses, meditated on them and heard them commented on by preachers and fellow worshipers. John , supplemented by John , was our entire summa theologiae. We knew the Old Testament stories and read the major prophets in our misanthropic moods. The lion's den story in the Book of Daniel cheered us, as did some of the Psalms we ignored the pessimistic ones about feeling God's absence.
But that was all trimming. The only biblical story that really mattered to us was the story of Nicodemus. On the first night of the crusade, Billy Graham devoted his entire sermon to parsing these verses in John. Standing a few hundred yards from Shea Stadium, he began with the story of a ballplayer who hit a ninth-inning home run that should have won the game.
As the player rounded the bases, the cheers of the crowd echoed in his ears, and as he approached home he saw his teammates waiting to congratulate him. But in his excitement he had forgotten to touch first base. He was called out, the inning was over, his team had lost. And that story, Billy continued in his inimitable, comforting drawl, reminded him of Nicodemus. Nicodemus was a "professor," and, like all intellectuals, thought he had everything figured out.
And, in fact, he had everything people normally want in life.
He was respected, powerful and knowledgeable. But he didn't know the most essential thing for any human being: that he must be born again. Nicodemus missed first base. As banal as Billy's punch line is, I am reminded of its power. His sermons have never dwelt on the evils of the world, like the old-style preachers; nor has he presented Christianity as a success religion, like the younger ones today. His approach has been almost purely existential.
His ideal listener is someone whose life hasn't gone too badly: no bouts with cancer, no rap sheet. Billy simply looks that person in the eye and says: I know what you know. That you aren't happy. You may have a decent job, a loving spouse, healthy children, a pension plan.
You might even be a "professor" like Nicodemus. But there are moments when you sit out on your lawn and wonder, Why do I feel so empty inside? What does it all mean? I know you feel this way, Billy says; I also know what you need. I'm not asking you to forsake father and mother, wife and children. I'm not even asking you to forsake your car and vacation home -- not because those things are valuable, but because they are irrelevant.
All I'm asking is that you hear Christ's simple invitation, that you accept him as your personal savior and start your life anew. So come forward, come forward now while the organ plays. And they do. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association Web site reports that during the three-day New York crusade, more than 8, "inquirers" came forward, hoping to be born again.
But what does it mean, to be "born again"? When I was 14 I thought I knew. That first night I spent with the New Testament, curled up in bed, I was filled with many strange new notions, but the most alluring was the thought that I might, in American slang, "get a new life. An escape hatch! At that age I was short, chunky, myopic, acned and unsuccessful with any girl I really wanted -- in a word, average.
So when I finally got to the Gospel of John, sometime near dawn, I underlined the story of Nicodemus and put a large exclamation point in the margin. I read it, though, in my own fashion. In my gloss, the Scripture did not literally state, "You must be born again," which would have stiffened my antiauthoritarian adolescent spine. It read: "No matter who you are, no matter what your problems, escape is possible. You can be born again. A theologically weak reading, but a very American one. Yet that can't be all. Yes, I hoped that redemption in the afterlife would mean self-transformation in this one.
Already I wanted to start over, to be popular with my schoolmates, loved by my parents, healed of my acne scars. I wanted to be "other. One thing Jesus seems to be telling Nicodemus is that he must recognize his own insufficiency -- that he will have to turn his back on his autonomous, seemingly happy life and be reborn as a human being who understands his dependency on something greater.
That seems a radical challenge to our freedom, and it is. But one of the dirty little secrets about adolescence is that the young fear the very freedom they crave. They intuit the burden of autonomy and want, quite literally, to be "saved" from it. That is no doubt why, as researchers tell us, the average age of conversion is in the early teens. But the desire to escape is something we probably all want, at one time or another, and for some it is overwhelming enough to make them answer Billy's altar call.
A holiday from the self -- who could resist? The evening ends shortly after the altar call. We have spent several hours in the company of America's most revered evangelist, yet none of the subjects associated with evangelicalism in the secular public mind have been mentioned. Not a word about abortion, homosexuality, activist judges, stem-cell research, prayer in school, Darwinism, home-schooling or Hollywood. I'm relieved, since my memory is that we never discussed politics in my prayer groups, even in the overcharged 70's. I know that evangelical America has been manipulated to political ends in recent decades, but I also know that politics is not what sustains it.
There are deeper forces at work: the yearning for truth, for love and, more elusively, for rebirth. These are powerful forces, and they can also lead a soul out of faith, as they eventually did with me. When my small group finally disbanded not long after I finished high school, some friends and I tried to start another one in a poor black Catholic parish in the burned-out center of Detroit, where I was then living and putting myself through college.
But that group failed, too, so I made my way to Ann Arbor, Mich. Leaving Detroit, I felt I was going up to Jerusalem, never to return. It turned out to be a crushing disappointment. The community had hundreds of members, hierarchically organized, and the outsize prayer meetings left me cold. The members also struck me as dogmatic, a little too eager to bring me into line doctrinally. After a few months I got myself into a squabble with someone over Scripture, and sat down the next day to study the verses my adversary had marshaled against me.
To my surprise, I concluded he was right about what the Bible said. But in my heart I also knew he had to be wrong about the doctrine at hand. Which meant -- it was the first time the thought really penetrated my mind -- that the Bible might be wrong. My face flushed and I closed the book. It was my first step out of the world of faith and toward the world I live in now. The subway trip back to Manhattan is long, and the crush of the crowd nearly unbearable. But the mood is, for the first time, festive. Clusters of tall girls in African dresses chatter away on cellphones, telling their friends about their evening.
Korean groups break into hymns, some of them new to me. When we finally make it onto the train, my writer friend talks with a Mennonite family who drove in from Pennsylvania to see Billy for the first time. For them, this has been a museum visit; they have now "done" Billy Graham, the way tourists "do" the Louvre. I find myself standing next to two clean-cut young men who are up from the Wharton School, spending the summer as interns on Wall Street.
One of them is from Mississippi, where he attends a large but not mega-church. He says it has taken him some time to find churches he is comfortable with in Philadelphia and Manhattan, so he was eager to hear Billy Graham that Friday, and would be returning Saturday and Sunday. He asks where I attend church, and I say I don't. He is puzzled. His friend is more interesting. It turns out he was born in Gdansk, which is where my father's family was originally from. We talk about Poland, and I learn that his parents immigrated just before and flew immediately to Florida.
They are apparently observant Catholics who brought him up within the church, but folk masses in air-conditioned churches amid the orange groves were not enough to give him their old-country faith. He says he had never thought much about religion, but when his friend from Mississippi suggested attending the crusade, he figured, Why not?
I ask whether he went forward during the altar call, and to my surprise I learn he did. I found it hard to conceal my bafflement, since Billy had not said much at all. You must be born again -- that was it.
I felt a professorial lecture welling up in my throat about the history and psychology of religion. I wanted to expose him to the pastiche of the biblical text, the syncretic nature of Christian doctrine, the church's ambiguous role as incubator and stifler of human knowledge, the theological idiosyncrasy of American evangelicalism. I wanted to warn him against the anti-intellectualism of American religion today and the political abuses to which it is subject.
I wanted to cast doubt on the step he was about to take, to help him see there are other ways to live, other ways to seek knowledge, love, perhaps even self-transformation. I wanted to convince him that his dignity depended on maintaining a free, skeptical attitude toward doctrine. I wanted. I thought I was out of that business, but maybe not. It took years to acquire the education I missed as a young man, an education not only in books but in a certain comportment toward myself and the world around me.
Doubt, like faith, has to be learned. It is a skill. But the curious thing about skepticism is that its adherents, ancient and modern, have so often been proselytizers. In reading them, I've often wanted to ask, "Why do you care? And I don't have one for myself. When my daughter and I discuss her budding thoughts about the cosmos and morality, or when my students come to my office inspired or baffled by a book, something quickens within me. The Greeks spoke of eros, the Christians of agape and caritas.
I don't know what to call it, I just know it is there. It is a kind of care. It is directed toward others, but also, perhaps, toward that young man lying on his bed, opening the Bible for the very first time. His book on modern theology and politics, "The Stillborn God," will be published by Knopf next year. Please upgrade your browser.
See next articles. I'm a Roman Catholic, always in search of the truth and, yes, there is such a thing , and consider myself an ardent Zionist. Your information here is very helpful in furthering my knowledge of and appreciation for Judaism. Thank you. Please include me in any other posts. I would love to be informed of any events to become more involved. Today is Shabbat Shabbat Shalom. Dear Rabbi - i wanted to thank you for this thoughtful explanation.
My daughter goes to catholic school and the beauty of a religious school is that the children ask themselves the most impressive questions that most children do not think about. Often, I do not know how to answer her questions I have friends who are Jewish and they did not know how to answer either do thank you. What led me to actually studying more about the bible was learning Hebrew and studying the entire bible in its original language. I love learning about cultures and religions.
This is one of the best articles I've ever come across and plan to refer to this when I need something to reference regarding the character of jesus. Excellent write up!!! This is very intelligent analysis on Jesus and Christianity as a religion. While I'm an atheist I find Judaism a very logical religion it actually makes sense , while Christianity appears to me as a highly contrived and contradictory tale; a sort of twisted religious black mail.
This article should be the ultimate guide to debate your Christians friends. Thank you! I am currently exploring all different religious beliefs and its this one that fascinats me the most thank you for helping me understand but still confused as to why your religion has been persecuted so much x. Anonymous , January 24, PM. I agree. Not being a 'follower' of any religion, I have long been fascinated by the fact that Jesus was Jewish and yet Christianity and Judaism are completely at odds.
I found this to be very enlightening. Coach , January 24, PM. Anonymous , May 18, AM. Judaism is passed through the mother only. Kingship, priesthood and tribe are passed through the father. Garden of Emuna is an excellent book. Describes our purpose in this world to Serve G-d by connecting with him and by serving others.
This is an excellent article which I've read many times in various forms. I like to add the following line of thinking prior to this explanation: 1 Do you believe in G-d? Old Testament to Christians? To fit their religion? You can hear from hundreds who came to the same conclusion. Noahides have found a way to live Torah and serve G-d. Some eventually choose to convert. Diane Williams , December 3, PM. I am a Christian but I have always felt a yearning for truth. I believe that Cgristianity is not the embodiment of what God wants his people to be.
I just want the truth about my God and His people. I might as well conclude that bible scholars do not have the same interpretation that is why thousands of religion exist. Miss Whitney, I truly enjoyed reading your post thank you! So much that even I myself do not ever reply to anything I believe to be disbelief or negative on the internet, but I somehow "felt" like reaching out to you because I myself have seen so much in my 34 years of living that I am far convinced that there is something beautiful which exists in the heavens.
I was raised Catholic and have never changed my belief and I always hold much respect for other religions who "believe" in different God's, but carry strong ethical moral behavior Plz email meBK. VERY, very, fews times do I ever feel the need to comment to any article on the internet. I am usually one of those who reads the article, it's comments, and then moves on to the next thing. I felt the need to respond. This article impacted me in a way that is hard to express My family grew up catholic, and converted to Christianity.
So for a while I was Christian. And sometime two years ago, I became atheist. Yet, I have always felt a higher power around. Not Jesus, but something. I could never fully explain my feelings to anyone or myself. So I decided to try my best to understand everyone and anyone's views on religion, life, and relationships. Maybe, perhaps to better understand my own beliefs. Therefore, my mind became less narrow-minded and more open, which I am thankful for.
I am only 20 years old and my goal is to let people know that I want to connect with them and understand them for who they are, no matter what faith or choices they do or choose to believe in. I am not a judgmental person. I also believe that if something is flawed, you should have the right to point it out and question it. I think that there is nothing wrong with simply wondering and questioning.
Christianity doesn't want you to question how or why, you just have to accept. That's not me. But a lot of what Jews believe in make sense to me. I never really felt the call towards a religion till just now. NOT ME. David , September 2, AM. You could be on to something Sounds like you may have a Jewish soul and not even know it.
Don't worry, this is a common thing since Judaism believes in reincarnation. Sometimes a Gentile can be born with a Jewish soul, in order for that soul to go thru major learning and challenges before if learns and decided to "come home" again to the Jewish people. C'mon back Connie!! Kat , September 15, AM. I was adopted, and raised in a 2 Religion Family My Mother is Catholic, and my late, beloved Father was Jewish!
I've always felt a closer connection to my Father's Religion, than I did to my Mother's. I believe in "Reincarnation", whereas, I don't think the Catholic Religion does Not really sure though! Having been Adopted, I'm not sure what my "True Religion" really is I just know that I don't believe that Jesus was the Messiah, and that there's no such thing as a "Virgin Birth"! Anonymous , November 9, PM. How does that make any sense? THAT clicked.
What David says about having a Jewish soul - I totally agree! He had a lot of respect for the Jewish people, so it must have been passed on to me as well. Just listen for that "still, small voice" to guide you to where He wants you. Baruch Hashem! We Jews are Blessed among people. I do believe that we are the chosen ones. We have withstood the scorn and hatred of antisemitic people throughout time and held on to our faith even stronger. Hitler had the power given him by the Germans The power to prevail and continue as a freedom loving people, to heal a sick world.
I grew up Christian. It had been all i've ever known. Now I'm 32 and I've met many people from other religions who are good people and seem to be soul full. I'm searching for truth and the way. I've been skeptical for some time of the virgin birth. There's something inside me that feels unfaithful to God that Christians put Jesus on a pedestal and somewhat equal to God.
Some say he is even the human embodiment of God. Is this not a contradiction of our very first commandment? It is. I can't honestly say that I am Christian if I don't believe in the virgin birth. I feel lost in that I don't have a religion. What if I die unprepared during this time of truth seeking? What's to happen to my soul?
I've heard that Rabbis and Jewish don't seek for people to convert the way that Christians and Muslims do, but from what I've studied of religion the Jewish way seems right in my heart. I've heard that Jewish people refer to themselves as the chosen ones. Was I not chosen too? If I were chosen I would've been born Jewish? I feel I have a soul and I feel God walks with me.
I want to know the Kingdom of God. I would never convert to a religion simply to marry or have someone love me. I would only do it if I truly believe it is the way and the truth and I felt God's call and approval, if that's possible. I'm compelled to learn more about Judaism and importantly truth.
Thanks for any the article and any help you may feel you could provide me in my journey. Sam , August 10, AM. To help answer your question about whether you can still be considered 'chosen' even if you weren't born Jewish, I think you should read one of the articles from Ask the Rabbi- Titled "A Convert's Soul". One god for all people And all he expects is goodness and love!!!! I have through my adult life been a skeptic. I do believe in God. I went to a Catholic School. There was fear instilled in all the children by mean nuns. We were always told if someone is not baptized they could not enter their kingdom of heaven.
A newborn child or baby could not enter heaven, but be in Limbo for all eternity. If we missed Mass and died before confessing our sins to a priest we could not enter heaven but instead hell awaited. Missing one Sunday mass was a mortal sin not a veniel sin. Missing mass carried the same wrath as murder. I am a believer that our God is a loving God and not a vengeful God.
I do have doubts about the way I was taught. God would not allow anyone good, kind, selfless and loving whether it be child or adult baptized or not the hell we know of.
Thank you for the info you've provided me personally from your site. I think it is important to share a few things. Yes, we veer away from eachother regarding belief in Jesus. Keep in mind, when you question your Christian faith, you have the right to question, but you don't have to reject everything you grew up with at once in order to throw yourself into something else. He will tell you that for those born non-jews, fulfillment of the 7 noahide laws you can research this and probably already adhere to most of them are really the only obligation.
Good luck in your journey. I think it is always important to remember that we are all one people, across the globe, under G-d. I don't know the answers but Judaism teaches me to question. In that way alone, Judaism is about freedom -- and that alone means the world to me on every level of my being. It doesn't make sense. They believe Jesus was born of a virgin. But say he wasn't from the line of David. Think about it.
For the last 2 years I've been searching for the truth and in all honesty I can say that Judism is the religion that makes the most sense to me.. The originator! I don't care of I have to change my life style! I just want to be a part of G-ds people and worship only 1 diety!!! Please send me any info to my email on how I can convert xx3ddiexx thank you.
Moriah , February 12, PM. If you are serious you will have to make changes but as you will see if you do convert, every inconvenience and struggle will bring the most sublime pleasure of knowing you are worshiping the One true G-d. It's wonderful to be a Jew and take on the yoke of heaven but it is not necessary to worship G-d correctly.
Anonymous , May 15, PM. Judaism is not for everybody and, as a gentile, you are not obligated to convert, yet have the benefits of serving G-d through the noachide laws. I was born and raised in an Orthodox Jewish home, and never had any doubts about my religion. I know it to be the truth. Two years ago, I registered in a college online, because I did not have time to go to school on campus.
The only college I found that had good reviews, where I can get my entire degree online, was a Christian University. I was told that I would be required to take one class about Christianity, and I am in the middle of it right now. I was interested in the beginning to read more about what Christians think, and how their religion works, but now I cannot wait until it is over.
The more I read, the less sense it makes. It boggles my mind and I am not trying to offend any Christian out there how this religion ever took off. The only good thing I can say about how Christianity works is that Christians also believe in the Ten Commandments, and have similar morals to Jews. Anonymous , February 12, PM. The reason Christianity took off was that it was supported by military force- first the Roman empire, then various European kingdoms that succeeded the Roman empire. Trey Haydon , April 20, PM. I would disagree that "the reason Christianity took off was that it was supported by military force.
Anonymous , July 30, PM. Your whole articles were offensive to me.
They were posted! Stop spreading lies like a plague. Don't lead more people to hell behind you!!! Anonymous , August 9, AM. I grew up Christian and yes it is very confusing even to Christians. There are many aspects of the Bible that contradicts itself and yes we do notice that. Even to the Priests and Pastors it's confusing and questioning them makes them very defensive and I must say a little angry.
If you have questions that they can't answer they immediately tell you that Satan is the one putting these evil thoughts of doubt in our heads. We're told to forget those questions and pray. I'm no longer Christian now that I know that Christianity says that to be a true Christian you must believe that Jesus was born of a virgin and rose from the dead and accepting Jesus as the son of God is the only way into the Kingdom of Heaven when we die. That no matter the sins you committed or the way you live your entire life as long as you accept Jesus as the Messiah and son of God before you die then your soul will be saved.
They say that Jesus will be the first we'll meet when we die and basically if we deny him he'll deny us to the Father. To me that puts Jesus before God which is against our very first commandment. It does not feel right. I have never had any christian be able to help me this question. That's why I'm seeking knowledge of another faith. I know that Christianity was derived from Judaism.
They openly teach that Jesus was Jewish himself. I absolutely love the fact that Judaism teaches to ask questions. Where would we be as a human race if we didn't question to find truth? Don't feel alone in your confusion we're all confused to, and ask your instructor anything you may be confused about. I'd love to be a fly on the wall in that conversation.
Coming from a family background of preachers three generations , I was raised with a very, very strong Christian background. The turning point for me was to learn that the all that was written about Jesus was done no less than 75 to years after He died. That made me question the accuracy of what was written about Jesus. How could the quotes attributed to Jesus be accurate if the authors of "His words" were not present when he spoke?!
Thus, how accurate is the New Testament? Realizing that we, as Christians, are taking one person's word Jesus' on what revelations were said to Him shatters the foundation of the Christian "faith. Bottom line: I'll take a National revelation Judaism over one person's revelation for the truth! I was raised Catholic and always wondered about the question we're all here wondering about. This page made so much sense its rattled me a lot! If there is anymore information I can get that is this straight forward please let me know.
I think I should be a Jew! Seriously this has made me open my eyes to the world. I will no longer be led blindly and believe what I'm told to just because I'm told to!!! Steph-M , December 30, AM.
Talk to a rabbi if you want guidance. I was raised Christian too, but I left because I am tired of getting the wool pulled over my eyes by people who can't even read the Jewish bible. Pieter , January 6, PM. I agree , it is the best to see a Rav. You can also visit Rabbi Tovia Singer. My wife and I dared to stand back and question the christion religion we were brought up in 66yrs. We are now converting to Judaism. Hans Schmidt , July 30, PM. The Jews murdered Jesus is that ok? For all you confused people out there don't listen to this propaganda! They made a mistake and crucified Gods earthly form!
That is why they denounce Him! To the people writing this article million will wake up in hell because of false teachings! Shoshana-Jerusalem , August 16, PM. The Romans murdered J. The present pope as well as the previous one, acknowledged this and removed the claim of "diocide" from the Jews. Anyway, G-d is eternal, so how could he be killed? I grew up in a seventh day adventist house hold. My parents always lead me to follow all of Gods 10 commandments. Because they are His will and if we love God with all our hearts than we should keep His commandments.
I have always struggled with the idea of jesus. And have always thought to myself We have all been in anticipation for the "return" of Gods son, but in fact he was really just a false prophet. With all good intentions like he seemed to have all the people followed. And now we've all been decieved. We are all awaiting an apocalypse We are allowing them to enslave us.
I took the best lessons from their teachings as in loving everyone, no matter what they believe or what their social status and i also have read about muslim, jewish, and morman beliefs. I had a lot of questions going into this page. It is very well written and easy for anyone who reads it to grasp. I definitely have a lot to think over now. But i was always worried about the jesus question. Lets say he is the son of god.. But if not, and he is a false prophet..
Would i be damned to hell for following something i have been taught since birth? That worries me. As i only want to please god. This page was an eye opener. But it raised a lot of questions for me. I am terrified i will be punished for making the wrong choice. I always held god on top in my beliefs.. But i dont know when or if i can return to this page. Somebody please help me out. I just want to do what i should be doing. Thank you for reading this long comment. And i hope to get an educated individual on the subject to bombard with questions. As if i feel by the end of it that jewish beliefs are the right way to go..
If not, then i suppose i will continue my search for "my" truth. Patience would be appreciated. And no, i am not the biased, finger pointing christian archetype. I am very open to new ideas. Dvirah , December 23, PM. There is another very fundamental reason why Jews don't "believe in" Jesus. This is because at the heart of Judaism lies our relationship with G-d, and how can one have a relationship with an entity that one never directly confronts?
An analogy: suppose you have lived in your parent's home for a long time and are on normal speaking terms with that parent. Now along someone comes and tells you that for whatever reason, you can no longer speak directly to your parent but must approach your parent only via a third party intermediary - even as that very morning you and your parent spoke as usual. Surely your reaction would be to laugh in that someone's face at such a ridiculous contention? Direct relationship is what it's all about. Anonymous , January 13, AM. It is important to note I think, that Moses, the greatest prophet of all, never told the Jews to follow him or to pray to him, but only to G-d.
He never portrayed himself as a god. On the contrary, the Torah calls him 'servant of G-d' the greatest of compliments as well as 'the humblest man that ever lived'. Troy , January 18, PM. God loves all of us. Does it really matter which road you take to be with him? No i dont t think so. Love each other love GOD He loves you. Lawrence , October 6, PM. Great article That really does put a whole new light on what I've been taught as a Christian. I shall continue to search for the real truth: this has really encouraged me.
I am grateful for a succinct and forceful exposition. It will indeed be helpful to answer my Christian friends with courtesy. I reposted this article to my Facebook wall, where I have a wide group of friends, from evangelical Christians to Jews who reject religion and adopt a secular humanist approach. This article sparked a really interesting conversation.
I am a "reform" Jew by political leaning, although more traditional in my ritual leanings e. I don't think it matters very much whether you can or cannot prove any religion is "true. We are a varied people living on this planet, and we all need some moral rod to grasp. Wherever you find it, there you are! Any of these paths is better than being morally path-less. I have to say though, my grandparents were from a place and time where they did not question their Judaism because culture isolated them for it politically, and there was no denying it or getting away from it.
Because of that, they did not realize they would need to teach their children "why" Judaism matters. Still not sure how all that will play out for them, but at least I made the effort. Thank you for this explanation which has helped me understand many questions I have had mainly due to my curiosity of belief systems. I was raised as a very strict catholic but at the age of 35 became a Buddhist.
I am very interested in people in general and believe that basicly it does not matter what your belief system is as long as you live a "clean" life. Not hurting, harming your fellow man and treating everyone as equal. All good religions are right in their own way. Anywhere a group of people can live freely and as one without hatred and sin, I feel that this is right. No-one should be condemned by others if their existance is peaceful and their actions harmless. We should all be working towards world peace for all living beings no matter what their orientation.
Each person has to deal with their consciousness, and if they are happy with themselves so let it be. It is not up to us to judge another persons "soul". This is great information and has answered my questions fully. I was raised a Christian, and this question has at times entered my mind; not because I think it's odd that Jews don't believe in Jesus, but it had always perked my curiosity considered Jesus was present there. The reasons in this article make a lot of sense, and I'd like to think these reasons would make sense to all other Christians, too.
Thanks again! I've always loved branching out to learn and understand the many religious views present in the world. Being single minded and ignoring all but your own seems like a sad way to be. Just because you understand another religion or culture doesn't mean you have to believe and follow it, after all. Why Jews shouldn't believe in Jesus?
Why no one should believe in Jesus! There's sufficient doubt, as reflected by our Talmudic era Rabbis, that Jesus never existed, so what is evident, is that hundreds of millions of people believe in smoke and mirrors; a religion created hundreds of years after Jesus purportedly lived and died, but witnessed by no one. No one knows for certain his day of birth and no one knows exactly when he died. Early Christians mixed their fading Judaism with Paganism and by the time they arrived in Rome, the center of Paganism, Constantine, the sentry of Paganism, had his own ideas of how to meld Christianity into his own image of Catholicism.
I'm not really sure why AISH is spending so much time and effort explaining away a religion based on Pagan followings and a trivial amount of Torah, manipulated and changed to satisfy their confused hearts? Ya'akov , October 2, AM. Regardless of whether or not Jesus existed, we do know the approximate dates of the NT books being written. Christianity was definitely well underway in the 1st century CE.
The author states that this is one of the most common question Aish receives. That's why they "spend the tome and effort" explaining it. This is a great compilation of information. However, this will tend to inflame those whose beliefs may be challenged. Why should a religion that preaches love produce such hate for all those who do not bow to its tenets? Our people have not suffered because they did not accept Jesus--they suffered from those who did.
I recently was working at a place where two of my fellow employees referenced the Bible and Jesus. During a break and in front of others.. All I could say is.. I responded that not only do Jews not share this lack of evidence, but a large number of other religions too! Wher are they headed? Thanks for the facts to help in my claim that Jesus is Not Lord. He was just as compassionate as you and I should be during a time in our world when men lacked the knowledge of the world around them and the universe beyond.
I have never read anything like this before. I have to study the claims especially from Scripture. Thanks for sending this article along. I am going to print it in order to study and follow the scripture claims. Many of the anti-semetic rhetoric says: Their religion hates Jews because the Jews killed their "G-d". If their G-d died - isn't it obvious he is not G-d. Abraham taught us that anything that has a weakness cannot be G-d. A man dies - thus he cannot be G-d. You don't need to know bible to figure this out. After all the Pogroms, Inquisiton, auto-dafe, holocaust, blood-libels, terrorism, spewing-of-hate that the other religions -that believe in him - did against innocent people and Jews, how can any self-respecting Jew "convert" out of Judaism or marry someone that refuses to disown their non-jewish faith.
I'm just learning about this and it has me torn. But how can I not believe it. When it makes all the sense in the world thanks for the knowledge. The other day someone asked me why Jews didn't believe in Jesus, and when I couldn't answer that question, I felt that as a Jew I should research. So I looked up 'why Jews don't believe in Jesus' and this was the first option that came up and I'm glad i did. I was able to share the article with the non-jew and myself. The writing was insightful and sourced well! Thanks for the clarification on the importance of national revelation.
I'm not Jewish but this made sense. Dear Rabbi Simmons, I occasionall have discussions with very knowledgable Christians who seem to be honestly seeking truth. I state what Israels Moshiach will accomplish, as you lead your article with, as pre-requesets to knowing who he is. Please clarify two other points that come up in these discussions: the concept of Moshiach ben Dovid and Moshiach ben Yosef re:second coming and Gen.
Also there are the angles spritual beings who took human form with Avraham Avinu and Simshon's parents. Thanks for this spiritually educative article. As a Christian from birth, as i grew up, i began to question many Christian doctrines especially the one that uphold Jesus Christ as God. I don't believe that God would allow him be tempted and finally killed his creation. Christ never made this claim. I have been longing for true worship of God and thats why i stopped going to church to this day. Thanks for this eye opener.
I have always understood that Jesus was, first and foremost, a Jew. Far from his being non-observant, he made it clear he had not come to bypass the law and the prophets. After his death, the first Christian church was based in Jerusalem under his brother James, and all its members were observant Jews. They only dispersed after AD It was Paul who introduced all the nonsense about Jesus being God, one third of a Trinity, being resurrected and so on.
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Understood properly, Jesus plays an important role in 2nd-temple Judaism, while the larger role is based on a fiction that became Christianity. While everything that the good Rabbi is true, he as many rabbi's always seem to fall into the Missionary trap and that is to debate if Jesus was the Messiah or not. Judaism believes in a non-corporeal non divisible, Divine Being, Christianity does not, plain and simple case closed. Who needs to debate them on their out of context, false quotation "proofs" when all we need to know is that the Jewish tradition has always taught of an invisible and undivisible God.
Even jesus believed it. Pagan Christianity adopted the "politically correct" Belief of the day and they have been trying to justify it for the past years. We should not make their lives easier but remind them that our Hebrew Bible has not have ANY Belief of that sort nor ever will. Any honest Christian reading the Bible will tell you the same thing. So the next time you come across someone interested in a religious "dialog", bring this point up and let THEM justify their pagan beliefs from some other religion and not Judaism.
It is my feeling as a orthodox layjew, so to speak, is that there is no real need other than to maintain Jewish identity to anticipate the coming of mashiach. Our responsibility as Jews is to bring the world closer to the messianic ideal. Regardless of the metaphysical reality of mashiach himself, the messianic age will not come about unless we Jews and righteous gentiles do our part to bring G-d's light into the world.
Put in plain English, this means that we should observe Torah and attempt to emulate the chesed shebechesed lovingkindness of G-d by doing good deeds, like helping the poor or disenfranchised Revelation of the actual mashiach, to respond to one commentor, will naturally and nationally follow when he shows up. For, his showing up is really just a marker for olam haba, when all will know G-d and we will all be one people.
I grew up in a practicing Jew, but never fully understood Easter. Now that I live in the Bible belt it wasn't getting any easier to understand. This article put it in such an easy and simple way and cleared up a lot for me. Thank You! Security Systems Atlanta-.
Thank you for this wonderful summation. Everyone should read this. Really should be taught in all religious schools. I can't believe I never heard this before! One of the basic tenants that I have read is that the Mesiah will be a direct descendant of David. When that person, who is not devine i. Thank you for the information. It broadened by understanding greatly.
Simple and easy to understand. I Wld ask but, never could get clear concise answers! Thanks so much for all of this info! I'm actually going to bookmark this pg on my phone to refer back to! I'm trying to find a pathway to God.. Now, maybe I can:. Sarah , April 5, AM. I'm not Jewish but I think this is a great article. I wish every Christian became aware of the reasons why Jesus couldn'tt possibly have been the Jewish Messiah. Maybe they would start rethinking their beliefs. Everything i read just gave me a clear understaning about why we did not except JC as messiah bcause of the way we read the sedra if u dont read the whole old Testament u miss think.
Now i converted to Judizum about 6 years ago but i converted from Islam so i have never thought of JC as A massiah. And because im African American Most Jews dont except us but truth be told im pretty sure the Israel Lites looked more like me so i pray that more calcation jews start to reconize that. My entire congrecation is African Americanhas been around for more then 50 years. Thank you so much for this concise yet clear explanation, and the reading list. I am studying with the intention of converting in the future , and this helps to solidify my understanding of Judaism.
I especially appreciated the clarification with regards to Isaiah 53, and how Christians misinterpret this to be a prediction about the coming of "the messiah" i. I always thought the theory was strange to say the least even though I come from a Christian background. Something about the Christian theory about Isaiah 53 just did not resonate with my own personal beliefs.
Now I know why. Prior to reading this article I was ignorant of Jewish beliefs. Thank you the article is very clear and informative. Joyce Shulman , March 15, PM. I am Jewish and, I am ashamed to say,don't know very much about my own religion Your articles are a real treasure for me-and I thank you for them! I was a Christian,but have been thinking a lot, I have many questions and seem to be agnostic at this time thank you for the information to help with some of those questions. Jews believe in things. I recently corresponded with a Mennonite Minister it's a Christian sect on the meaning of the talmud and oral law.
At the end of the correspondence he remarked that based on all the things that Jews believed, he felt that his own faith narrative was lacking. I wasn't trying to convert the man, and I am assured that I did not. What I think he meant was that while his religion focuses almost entirely on their messiah and the afterlife he provides, messiah is in my opinion a very small part of Judaism.
Moschiac will come when he comes and that will be a good thing. We do mitzvot and make the world a more godly through those actions. Moschiac will simply be a force multiplier for those efforts. I find it sad that when we need to prepare some sort of responsa to Christian missionaries we start with what we don't believe in.
What's wrong with their religion. That's not the issue. It's just not Jewish and we are Jews. We should focus on what we do believe in. What we do. What we are taught to value. And on that basis, the faiths are incompatible. After all, we don't proselytize. We're not winning souls for Judaism. We're simply trying to provide support for Jews that are targeted by missionaries and such. We'll be more effective if we focus on the positive aspects of our faith than the negative aspects of another.
If we focus on involving our people in Jewish life then all other faiths become irrelevant. They're not Jewish and we're Jews. Scott makes an important point -- that Jewish-Christian dialogue often begins with what Jews don't believe. Both religions have the same ethical base, so the divinity of Jesus is the most obvious and most dramatic place to start pinpointing differences.
In Christian terms, accepting Jesus as Lord is the pathway to eternal life, and reward in the afterlife is the foremost goal of the Christian. It is difficult for a Christian to imagine how a Jew can risk being denied entry to what Christians call heaven and Jews call olam ha ba. Jews need to cultivate language and vocabulary to describe their beliefs in positive terms -- language that is neither adversarial or defensive, but full of the joy of accomplishment here on earth -- prayer, learning, community, family, mitzvot, tikun olam.
Like Donna, I consider myself to be a Christian but I have trouble with the new testament, especially Paul's writings. I am uncomfortable with some of the contradictions and cannot ignore them, as I have a very enquiring mind. I feel the need to question what I believe and you have provided a great starting point! Shmuley Anderson , February 6, AM. I was raised a dubious Christian. I am currently converting to Judaism.
Still,I have never heard such a marvelously cogent explanation for why Yeshua cannot be the Moshiach. Thank you, thank you! I used to have a lot of concerns about Jesus as a meassiah, i went over and over the whole new testament , nothing can prove to me that he was and deep down into my heart i feel the need to wait for the real one.
That why i decided to leave Christianity and to go home to judaism where my soul belong. Im haitian some people of birth land do a lot of miracles works as well using magik so that give me another good reason not to believe on them but HasHem the powerfull G-D. I consider myself a christian, but have never been reluctant to question things! I do not believe in 'blind faith' and to be honest I have struggled with the new testament for a while.
This piece is informative and interesting and will certainly encourage me to research more. A comprehensive explaination. Chris , March 16, AM. Like you, I like to questions things, and it led me to quit believing in Jesus even though I was raised Christian. Something just didn't seem right or believable about him to me I am going to try to find out more on here as I read all the articles and replies.. Amazing article. Sure makes sense to me. We have a blessed history. What is going on withthe rest of the world? I've been a lifelong nonbeliever of any faith, but reading this article has turned me on to further looking into Judaism.
I've never been so sure about the big man in the sky, but this makes sense if there were one. Why would he not expose himself to all of his people instead of just a few "prophets", that never made sense to me about Christianity. Thank you for this great article and I look forward to learning more. I am always amazed that otherwise intelligent and reasonable people can stare the truth in the face and still cling to their mistaken beliefs. Nothing in the Torah describes a virgin birth of the Messiah. Behold, the young woman will become pregnant and bear a son, and you will name him Immanuel.
King Ahaz would have to be resurrected in order to name the child. And, Mary and Joseph named their first born son Yehoshua, not Immanuel. Further, the prophecy would do King Ahaz no good if he were dead before it came true. This woman and child cannot be Mary and Jesus because this scene occurred more than years before Mary and Jesus lived. So I say to you, send out My son that he may serve Me. On the second coming? Did not your Jesus come a second time when he was supposedly resurrected and appeared to his followers? That was his second coming and he still did not complete any prophecy.
And, he seemed to have come a third time for Mormons when he supposedly appeared to Joseph Smith. Can someone lead me to a reference that further explains this concept? Vlad Seder , November 26, AM. Jewish concept of communication with G-d is always communal - even today certain daily prayers could be said only with quorum of ten adult male Jews.
Such a major communication as prophesy requires majority of the people to be present - and it requires unity of the people. While prophesy does require the people to be in the land of Israel, there were some exceptions - like Moses and Daniel, who prophesied while they were with the majority of the people outside of Israel. Cdave, thats ok. Nobody is trying to convince you otherwise. The rabbi is just explaining, why we dont believe in Jesus. We believe hes a prophet just hes not the messiah.
As long as you are a good person and follow the 10 commandments all is well :. Jews are born jews for a reason. I am actually a convert bt obviously had a spark in me that gnawed away until I decided to convert. You start finding things out little by little. I consulted with rabbis, read books, re-interpreted the Torah and the Halaha, attended services at the nearest Schul and rearranged my thoughts and beliefs accordingly.
Simple as tha. Christian , November 17, AM. If you read the new testament of Bible, you can see the great forgiveness that Jesus showed to the people who crucified him. He was praying for those who were hurting him. The true followers of Jesus show the same love and compassion to others.