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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Christianity Unmasked

Note: I encourage readers to read the complete article by Rabbi Yisroel Blumenthal. I have denoted those clips from his article with italics and asterisk (***) marks. The section headings are from his article. gt

***The Church has enjoyed the credibility associated with these truths because people failed to discern between that which is originally Christian and that which is the true possession of all mankind.

Christianity has also falsely claimed to be the originator of certain truths that do not belong to her.

And finally and most seriously, the Church has set herself up as the sole distributor of truths that belong to everyone.***

The Universal Principles of Justice and Charity

***This literary device accentuates the fictitious notion that Jesus is the originator of these universal truths and that they were unknown to mankind until Jesus uttered them to his audience.***

I appreciate your opening word of caution in your article, sir. It may be my own familiarity with much of the content of your message, but I found nothing shaking about your approach or your claims and unbelief.

As you are a Jew with convictions; I am a disciple of Jesus. Your claims reflect some common misconceptions.

You state: ***This literary device accentuates the fictitious notion that Jesus is the originator of these universal truths and that they were unknown to mankind until Jesus uttered them to his audience.***

The truth is I have stated for many years that with the exception of very few points most of what Jesus taught was not new to the world. That you take exception to what you perceive as Jesus' claims as originator of these truths is more a flaw of interpretation. The claim is as weak as it is unnecessary. Your claim is unnecessary for no less then the reason you cite, namely, that the universal, common principles and truths exposition by Jesus are as much his as they are yours, mine and all mankind to claim. When our convictions meet or exceed those of the originator have we not effectively made those truths our own so as to live and die by them? Certainly, Jesus propounding of those truths was with much more of an intent that to speak or parrot them as others did before and have done so since. More on the exaltation of Jesus and humanity’s “need” for Jesus later.

The Inherent Godliness of Mankind

You have seriously overstated, if not outright misstated, the message of the New Testament scriptures on the evil of man, sir. Your overstatement is a eschew, as for example, of the Genesis 6 passage.

Yahweh saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of man’s heart was continually only evil. 6 Yahweh was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him in his heart.

As much as you eschew the above passage you do concede there is evil in man. It's the matter of that “sorry state of affairs” concerning Jesus that does not sit well with you. More on that sorry state later.

I understand there's no room for any gospel business here and I'll leave that aside for the moment, but your assertion is as ignorant as it is a serious misstatement of the New Testament message. IT IS NOT that non-Christians cannot do good. It is not that they cannot do righteousness. Furthermore, it is not that they fail to DO good or DO righteousness. Rather, it is that the good they do and the righteousness they do is according to a righteousness in accordance with their own standard. Yes, the scriptures do speak of “enemies of God”, but any judgment on them is NOT for the good they DO, but for the good they DO NOT do. More on that later.

The Testimony of the Jewish Nation

Yes, Israel was the recipient of the oracles of God even as Paul reminded the church of Israel's role in God's revelation to man. Your claim:

***The Jew was trustworthy enough to establish the credibility of her covenant with God, her prophets and her Messianic vision.***

What does “trustworthy enough to establish the credibility” mean? Your statement does bring to my remembrance the admonition of God to Israel that He had not chosen them because of piety, goodness or anything God deems favorable. Rather, Israel was chosen because of God's was faithfulness to his promise to Abraham.

The Jewish Scriptures

***According to the Jewish Bible, the deification of any inhabitant of God’s earth is idolatry, the greatest rebellion against God.***

This is certainly a true statement. Yet, as true and noble as it may make us sound or make us appear it is not to say there is much or any degree of appreciation for one of your key points: Man was created in the image of God.

Israel's own sin of idolatry is only reflective of all mankind's own proclivity to idolatry. The interesting point about your statement is that it is glib if not short of memory. The reason I state this is that in a mere matter of weeks or months after God had liberated Israel from Egyptian bondage and after they have already seen his works Israel was quick to forget these works of God and had Aaron built them a golden calf.

Although the sin was immediately dealt with by God Israel was to slip into worse, far-reaching idolatry which resulted in Israel, not God, breaking their covenant with God and being taken captive to Babylon.

What shook my first century Jewish brothers and sisters in the faith to look to Jesus was extraordinary. It was not the matter of a virgin birth or his claims on universal truths, but the claims He unabashedly made and which were clearly heard and understood as much by friends and foes as to his deity.

Those claims would be a hollow, worthless notion had his friends and foes alike not been witnesses to the fulfillment of his claims concerning his resurrection from the dead.

Why does it seem incredible or impossible if God were to elect to take on a similar form as the man which he created? Do we really think such a short term blink-of-an-eye human experience of thirty years could possibly be a hindrance to God? Was God hampered or limited in his governance of creation when he manifested Himself in the burning to Moses? Or, when His presence remained with Israel in the ark of the covenant? The history of Israel in the Torah, the prophets and writings is replete with God surprising people with his actions, often to the appall of Israel and her prophets. Today, if we would understand and appreciated those lessons we would then maybe consider, even if with no less shock or appall then Israel and the prophets, at His incarnation among his own.

The Messianic Hope

***According to Christian theology, the glory of the Messianic era is reserved for those who have placed their faith in Jesus.***

This statement struck me as peculiar until I read the rest of your article. A message of exclusivity does not play well in our present world. The world wants to be safe, as in professing trust in God in accordance with a particular tenet of faith, while being open to anything and everything. This is the way to absolve oneself both from the need to understand, teach and tougher still, to correct.

The Relationship That Man Shares With God

***All we need to do is to focus on the blessings, recognize how we did nothing to deserve them, and we will learn to feel each moment of existence as an embrace from a loving Father.***

This marks an enormous and significant shift between your point on The Messianic Hope and The Relationship That Man Shares With God. You ply on the prophets and their message of hope to the world to employ your own message. Was the message of prophets like today's new age, culture-speak of “focus(ing) on the positive”, “overcome(ing) psychological barriers,” of “Your relationship with your Creator . . . before you were born” or did they call it sin? Yes, in the midst of their proclamation of messianic hope and calling Israel back from her rebellion against God they called it sin. We know of the people's response to the message of sin by the prophets and the fate faced by those servants of God.

Conclusion

Your lament about how the church has stolen the scriptures, Jewish culture is unconvincing. It is unconvincing because Israel still has the scriptures and her culture. Whatever the church or anyone else might do with those scriptures and that culture can in no way be taken from Israel. Your mistaken view to equate the precepts and practices of the Catholic church as that of all disciples of Jesus is seriously flawed.

The thrust of your article fell short. You failed to unmask Christianity, (Personally, not a term for which I have any use and about as intended towards the faith that is in Christ Jesus as your view on the term “Old Testament.”) Had you unmasked those who followed after Jesus as Lord and Savior you would have seen they emerged with much fear. Yet, greater still was their joy, resolve and determination from these who were from among the children of Israel. They followed, unmasked, after one who ostensibly appeared to be like any Jew or any man, but was cleared more than a man. He was God incarnate.

Blessings to you in the name of the our God and Creator of heaven and earth, sir.