We are going to take a look at some of the arguments raised by Yisroel Blumenthal in an article he wrote responding to Michael Brown. I won't be looking at every point but I shall be looking at some points Blumenthal raises. Bible quotes, Blumenthal's quotes and other quotes shall be bold. The quotes from Brown if mentioned will be placed in italics. I personally haven't read Brown's material on Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus but I am willing to look at the objections presented by Blumenthal regardless.
This is one of the first points I want to look at:
"Fine, but were they Christians? An honest reading of Christian scripture will reveal that the early followers of Jesus did not subscribe to the Christian belief system. They viewed Jesus as a Jewish Messiah, and not as a god who dies for the sins of the world (as evidenced by their participation in the Temple rituals for the expiation of sin after the crucifixion of Jesus – Acts 21). They rejected Paul’s claims to prophecy (as evidenced by their discussion in Acts 15 without reference to Paul’s alleged prophecy on the matter), and accepted the rulings of the Pharisee Rabbis (as Jesus taught in Matthew 23 – see also Acts 15:5 – see below # IV. 11 and # V. 69)."
I have written on this subject of Acts 21 which can be found in this article right here: http://answering-judaism.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/response-to-yisroel-blumenthal-on-acts.html
Now he claims that Jesus accepted the rulings of the Pharisees, What verse he quote? He doesn't give one.
But let's take a look:
"23 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4 They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.
5 “Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries[a] wide and the tassels on their garments long; 6 they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7 they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.
8 “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12
For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted."
Jesus is anathematizing the Pharisees for their wickedness and hypocrisy. He tells the disciples to obey them but not emulate them. In other words it's to do with the Torah, not the rulings of the Pharisees, although the tradition consistent with the scripture wouldn't of been harmful. He is not saying that we are to accept the Oral Torah because there isn't one, this is Rabbinic Jewish anachronicism being read into the New Testament. The NT may be Jewish, but not necessarily Talmudic.
In Acts 15:5, The disciples are the ones holding the council in the first place, along with Paul funnily enough.
"15 Certain people came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the believers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question. 3 The church sent them on their way, and as they traveled through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told how the Gentiles had been converted. This news made all the believers very glad. 4 When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them.
5 Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the law of Moses.”
6 The apostles and elders met to consider this question. 7 After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. 8 God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. 9 He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. 10 Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? 11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”
12 The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them. 13 When they finished, James spoke up. “Brothers,” he said, “listen to me. 14 Simon[a] has described to us how God first intervened to choose a people for his name from the Gentiles. "
The Gentiles didn't have to submit to the Mosaic Law after the apostles consulted God for their answer but what makes this interesting in verse two is that Paul and Barnabas were sent to the council to speak with the apostles. If Paul was teaching some new fangled false doctrine, the apostles would of pointed out his error to him and tell him to repent. In addition to this, Why should Paul's prophecy be even brought up at the council? In the previous chapter the apostles welcomed him, though initially some of the Christians were afraid:
"Acts 14:26 When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. 28 So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 He talked and debated with the Hellenistic Jews,[a] but they tried to kill him. 30 When the believers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus."
The prophecy of Paul was not the focus of the council anyway. Why raise the objection?
Also, I have written some material on the Trinity which I think Blumenthal should take the time to read:
The angel of the Lord ones I have done will need some looking into by me, but these are some of the articles I have written.
The word Christian appears twice in the NT, once in 1 Peter 4:16 and the other in the book of Acts. The apostles did approve of the title given to them even if it was a derogatory insult.
"This statement (about thousands of Jews believing in Jesus within a few years of his death and resurrection) is based on the Christian scriptures. There is no reason to consider this testimony to be reliable. The same system that God put in place to teach us that the books of Esther, Ezra, Ruth and Daniel were written with divine inspiration, teaches us that the Christian scriptures were not."
The Oral Torah decided the Canon of the TANAKH? Hmm, strange. And considering those who followed believed in the Oral Torah, should it be a surprise they rejected the NT? No, but how does this argument deal with the inspiration of the NT? I don't see any objection here.
Also, if the system put in place was not the Oral Torah, then what was it.
"I. 11. Page 7
“…we rejected the Torah and the prophets as a nation”
If there was any truth to this claim, we would not have the Torah nor would we have the books of the prophets today. It was only the through the Jewish nation’s fierce loyalty to the Torah and to the books of the prophets that these were preserved to this day. Indeed, there were always certain elements of the nation who chose to abandon the Torah, and who refused to heed the prophets’ warnings. Those elements of the population were lost to assimilation. But the spiritual core of the nation preserved the words of the prophets and maintained their loyalty to the Torah. Had they not done so, the world would have never heard of Isaiah or Ezekiel."
It's thanks to God through his prophets that you even have the TANAKH to begin with. After all, the very TANAKH records the people by in large going into apostasy, with only a small rightous remnant being preserved by God. It is not your loyalty to the Torah that has preserved it and the Prophets, It's God who has done it.
"I. 12. Pages 8 and 9
Brown supplies us with a fanciful version of early church history. One sentence runs – “the emerging Rabbinic Jewish community began to disassociate itself from the many thousands of Jews who were followers of Jesus”
Another sentence informs us that – “At some point toward the end of the first century some of the Rabbinic leaders either composed or adapted a prayerful curse to be recited against believers in Yeshua”
There are several points that Brown would have his readers believe, none of which have any basis in fact. Brown wants his readers to believe that the Rabbinic community was “emerging” in the first century CE. In other words, Brown would have us believe that the belief system that he calls “Rabbinic Judaism” was only coming into existence in those years. Every historical document from the times of SecondTemple and beyond – including the Christian scriptures, testify unequivocally that the belief system known as Rabbinic Judaism was firmly in place before the advent of Christianity, and was followed by the vast majority of Jews. The Christian scriptures testify that the masses of Jews followed Pharisee ideology (- the mere fact that they accepted and followed the Pharisee calendar is evidence enough). The Christian scriptures also tell us that many, if not all of the early Jewish Christians were Pharisees by belief. Matthew has Jesus exhorting his disciples to obey the Pharisees because they sit in the seat of Moses. There is no question that the Rabbinic community was not “emerging” from anywhere in the first century CE.
It was the Christian community that began to disassociate itself from the body of the Jewish nation. As the Christians, both Jewish and gentile, began adopting pagan beliefs and practices, they effectively cut themselves off from the stream of Jewish history. When the Christian community began identifying with the Roman oppressors, they became a threat to the physical existence of our people. Their early writings are only a partial reflection of the hatred they harbored towards Jews and Judaism. The Christian scriptures themselves are full of venom against Judaism. The writings of the early Church Fathers continue in that same vein. These include but are not limited to; The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles , the Epistles of Ignatius, the Epistle of Barnabas, and the Epistle to Diognetus. All of these writings, dating from the first and second centuries of the Common Era, reflect an intense hatred towards the Jews. By presenting Jews and Judaism in this light to the Roman rulers, they were opening the way for legitimized persecution. The Rabbis instituted a prayer, adopted by all Jews until today that God may save His people from their enemies, and that God’s enemies may see no hope. Indeed this prayer was directed against the early Christians. But this was the prayer of all the people, in a desperate plea to God for their very survival."
The point about Anti-Semitism in Early Christianity and the New Testament would need a seperate article altogether. One thing I can say is you will not find it in the NT. Blumenthal demands historical documentation from Brown earlier in his paper, yet here he doesn't provide a source that affirms the existence of Rabbinic Judaism before Jesus.
"I. 14. Page 17
In an attempt to mock Judaism, Brown presents a parable in which the owner of a professional basketball team offers jobs to people who are less than five feet tall on condition that they make the team. Brown compares this scenario with Judaism’s encouragement that through observance of God’s Law we could be considered righteous before God. Perfect observance of the law is an impossible task according to Brown. It is not Judaism that Brown is making fun of. He is mocking God’s word in the Bible. Throughout the Bible God exhorts humans to be holy, which Brown believes is an impossible task. The truth is that God is fair, He knows our frailty and He takes our humanity into consideration (Psalm 103:13, 14)."
The fact that you need to ask for God's mercy shows that it is impossible to perfectly observe the Torah. It doesn't mean you should have a carefree attitude which I need to preface. I agree, God exhorts us to be holy, but we need to his grace to be such.
"I. 15. Page 19
“…both faiths (Judaism and Christianity) believe in One God”
Since one of the salient differences between Judaism and Christianity is their argument about the definition of “One God”, it is misleading to say that they agree on this point. It would be comparable to saying that the communist and the capitalist both agree in principle to the same economic structure, because they both believe that the country should follow the best economic structure. This happens to be the point of contention, what is the best economic structure? Here as well, the point of contention is – What do we mean when we say “One God”? There is no way to say that we agree on this point."
Or you need to understand what Trinitarianism actually teaches. I may get into this point later.
"Here Brown tries to explain to his readers why Jews have not accepted Jesus as their god. Brown fails to tell his readers the most important reason why Jesus was never an option for the Jew. The Christian Scriptures themselves testify that the most important Jewish reaction to Jesus was: “how can a man claim to be god?” In other words, Jews in Jesus’ time and until today, recognize that attributing divinity to a human being is idolatry. It is for this reason and for this reason only that Jews gave their lives rather than accept Jesus. Judaism teaches that human life is sacred, but in order to avoid idolatry, one must be ready to die.....He fails to inform his readers, that the Jewish people, who were entrusted by God with preserving the message of Sinai, consider his product idolatry. Instead he tries to convince his readers that the product he is trying to market was not given a fair trial!
Another point to consider on this issue is Brown’s own admission that the Church had been preaching false doctrine. For centuries upon centuries, the Church had been teaching that Israel is no longer the elect of God. Even today, many Churches contend that the Jewish people can no longer consider themselves God’s firstborn sons. So how are Jews supposed to accept the “truth” of Christianity? The Christian teaching that the elect of God are the followers of the Messiah is nowhere to be found in the Jewish scriptures. Should the Jews have accepted a non-scriptural election and repudiate the scriptural election? According to Brown’s own standard that he set forth in the introduction – “follow the Bible” – and according to Brown’s own interpretation of the Bible, the Church has miserably failed. Why does Brown value the conversion of Jews to Christianity at a time when conversion to Christianity meant rejecting God’s firstborn son? (Exodus 4:22, Jeremiah 31:8)"
Brown is correct that you will not find replacement theology in the scripture, but sadly many churches refuse to let go of that teaching. Also, Christians are a body made up of JEWS AND GENTILES. The Gentile believers in Christ only "replace" if you want to use that term, the unbelieving Jews. If the Jews are cut off because of unbelief, The Gentiles are at that risk as well.
The term Israel in the NT is applied to Israel but ONLY possibly 2-3 times it's speaking of the church. Furthermore, Blumenthal fails to realise that Jesus and Paul said MANY will fall away, which can be found in Matthew 24:10 and 1 Timothy 4:1. Also, Blumenthal forgets that if God is able to preserve a remnant of Jews, he can preserve a remnant of Christians (Made up of Jews and Gentiles) as well. Didn't Moses say to the people of his time they would rebel? Does that mean the Jews failed?
"Deuteronomy 31:24 After Moses finished writing in a book the words of this law from beginning to end, 25 he gave this command to the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord: 26 “Take this Book of the Law and place it beside the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God. There it will remain as a witness against you. 27 For I know how rebellious and stiff-necked you are. If you have been rebellious against the Lord while I am still alive and with you, how much more will you rebel after I die! 28 Assemble before me all the elders of your tribes and all your officials, so that I can speak these words in their hearing and call the heavens and the earth to testify against them. 29 For I know that after my death you are sure to become utterly corrupt and to turn from the way I have commanded you. In days to come, disaster will fall on you because you will do evil in the sight of the Lord and arouse his anger by what your hands have made.”"
That's something to pose to Mr Blumenthal. God keeps a REMNANT FOR HIMSELF. Jews are still the chosen people, but that doesn't mean they will be saved without Christ's atonement. Jews and Gentiles alike, need Christ.
"One does not have to be a scholar to recognize that Christianity is not an option for the Jew. Every Jewish child who knows the story of the revelation at Sinai, knows that God taught the Jews “I am the Lord your God. You shall have no other gods before me.” We were shown at Sinai that the Creator of heaven and earth is God, there is none else (Deut. 4:35). Since no one ever claimed that it was Jesus who was revealed to our ancestors at Sinai, so he cannot be worshipped. That’s all there is to it.
Brown “graciously” acknowledges “can Jews be blamed for thinking that Christians worship idols when the churches were filled with worshippers bowing before large beautiful statues…?“
Brown would have us believe that idolatry is limited to obeisance to statues. This is not true. Worship of anyone or anything other than the God who revealed Himself at Sinai, is idolatry. In any case Brown himself advocates (in theory) worship of a physical body. Brown, along with all (Trinitarian) Christians, claims that while Jesus was alive he ought to have been worshipped. In other words, while Jesus was alive Christianity would have its adherents prostrating themselves in adoration and worship of a human. This too, is blatant idolatry."
First of all, Old Testament people did not say at Sinai "Hello Jesus" when God revealed himself on Sinai, Jesus wasn't given the name Jesus UNTIL the incarnation. It is Jesus' claim and the apostles that he was God in the flesh. If Jesus was not who he claimed to be, Then the Jews were right in concluding that bowing to him in worship would be idolatry. If however Jesus is God but he is not the Father in heaven and proved that to be the case, then worshipping him is acceptable. We don't bow to the flesh, we bow to the one who took on flesh. He "tabernacled among us" as John 1 puts it.
If Jesus is God as I am convinced he is, then the revelation at Sinai wouldn't present a problem, and I have written on the subject of Deuteronomy 13 if Blumenthal wishes to bring that up:
The point is in the context of Sinai, the three persons are not required to be seen at once. James White made an excellent point on the Dividing Line on the subject of singular pronouns. He says:
"Every single time, that the context does not demand that we see a particular individual operating differently than the others, would be a reference to the Triune God. So any time where God's general activities, God's general attributes or in reference, can be referred to the entire Godhead acting in unity."
This would cover the Sinai Revelation, considering it was the ONE God acting in that context without having all three persons seen at once. The Godhead was acting in unity in the context of Sinai. Also, James White has stressed that the revelation of the Trinity was revealed in the Incarnation of Jesus and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. It was revealed between the Old and the New Testament. He made this point in his debate with Jalal Abularab.
"Brown presents the Christian scripture’s argument that it is spiritual blindness that prevents Jews from seeing the “truth” about Jesus. Brown does not present another argument offered by the Christian scriptures, and that is that the Jews are children of the devil, and are thus incapable of seeing the “truth”. This “tolerant” and “philo-Semitic” statement is attributed by John to Jesus (John 8:44).
Another important point to consider, is that if Christianity is the “obvious truth” and it is only a supernatural blindness that prevents Jews from appreciating it, where is the evidence? It is 2000 years now, and Christianity has still failed to present a logical and honest argument why it is that one should worship Jesus."
Jesus was not saying ALL Jews were of the devil, he was speaking to a particular group of Jews who believed him outwardly. There is nothing anti-Semitic about that. if Jesus said the same statement to Gentiles regarding their hypocrisy, does that mean he is being anti-Gentile? Also, take a look at Isaiah 1:
"Isaiah 1 (New International Version)
1 The vision concerning Judah and Jerusalem that Isaiah son of Amoz saw during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.
A Rebellious Nation
2 Hear me, you heavens! Listen, earth!
For the Lord has spoken:
“I reared children and brought them up,
but they have rebelled against me.
3 The ox knows its master,
the donkey its owner’s manger,
but Israel does not know,
my people do not understand.”
4 Woe to the sinful nation,
a people whose guilt is great,
a brood of evildoers,
children given to corruption!
They have forsaken the Lord;
they have spurned the Holy One of Israel
and turned their backs on him."
Is this anti-semitic? I think not. Blumenthal should retract his statement if it isn't.
"Brown presents the issue as a question between; following God versus following the ways of our fathers. What Brown does not tell us, is that God Himself designated the national tradition of our fathers as a means to communicate with us about the revelation at Sinai (Deut. 4:9). In the passage from Deuteronomy that Brown quotes, God refers to idols as “those which your fathers knew not”. In other words we are to look to the testimony of our fathers to enable us to identify idolatry when we see it. This means that the testimony of the Jewish nation concerning the revelation at Sinai is a divinely ordained means of communication, and not an immature emotional hang-up as Brown would have his readers believe."
Not much to say here. No problem with the Sinai revelation.
"In this section, Brown presents an age-old philosophical problem with Christianity. Where are all those who did not believe in Jesus? Are they all in hell? Brown throws up a smoke-screen by pointing out that no one is perfect in God’s eyes. But Brown utterly missed the point of the objection. The question is – is there really no difference in God’s eyes between Hitler and someone who may not have been all that righteous but was no Hitler (such as their grandmother)? According to Christian theology it is all the same. Judaism believes that God does not make demands of people that are beyond them. God knows our inclination (Psalm 103:13,14) and is close to all those who call to him with sincerity (Psalm 145:18). God is just, and everyone receives reward and punishment according to their ways (Eccl. 12:14). There is indeed a difference in God’s eyes between Hitler, and Hitler’s victims."
Yes, in this life they are punished according to their ways and sometimes not so. As for those who did not believe in Jesus, Well the answer is obvious, hell. The OT saints where covered by Christ though they had no conscious knowledge of him, which William Lane Craig adequately put in his debate with Tovia Singer:
"They're saved by responding to the revelation that God had given to them, and if they respond in an appropriate way, Then according to the NT, God applies to them the benefits of Christ's atoning death, so they are saved through Christ even though they have no conscious knowledge of Christ,because they respond to the revelation that God has given to them"
That takes care of the OT Saints. As for those during and AFTER the NT period, rejection of Jesus results in hellfire. Also, If God is close to those who call on him with sincerety, who is to say that a Nazi or any person on this planet CANNOT call on God to grant them repentance and help them be better people.
"I. 21. Objection 1.11
Here too, Brown attempts to deal with a major philosophical question. What happens to Nazi murderers who accept Jesus? According to Christian theology, one who accepts Jesus is cleansed of his sins. Many rational people have a hard time believing that a past filled with sin could be so easily erased. This Christian doctrine seems to be giving these evil people an undeserved “free pass”.
Brown responds by telling us that the Bible teaches that through repentance God forgives all sin. Indeed the Bible does teach that repentance atones for sin. It is interesting to note that Brown makes a mockery of this teaching in volume 2 (page 103), but here the teaching serves his purpose.
According to Judaism, repentance includes facing the sin squarely in the face and recognizing the evil and the guilt. If a Nazi murderer would truly repent, the feelings of regret should kill him. How many Nazi murderers actually repented according to the standards of the Jewish Bible? Yet many Nazis did not find the free pass offered by the Church too demanding."
It is not only Brown who says a Nazi has to exercise repentance, The New Testament commands ALL to repent. There is NO free pass as it were. Salvation is by grace, not by works, but that doesn't mean we have a free pass. The Nazis would have to prove their repentance by their deeds. Jesus died on the cross for you and me, but in order for me to have his blood cover me, I need to repent. Of course man is dead in sin until God awakens him, but that is another topic. The point is a Nazi CAN be forgiven, if he truly repents and of course if they didn't make restitution then you would be right in questioning their repentance.
I can assume Brown is 'mocking' as Blumenthal puts it the idea that repentance alone atones.
"Brown claims that repentance is an essential part of the message of Christianity. What is repentance? True repentance includes a departure from sin, and reentry into obedience of God’s holy law. When a person regrets his sin with his whole heart, admits his guilt before God, and makes restitution to the people he harmed, and accepts upon himself to obey God’s commandments in the future – God wipes the slate clean. Is this the process that Jews who put their faith in Jesus undergo? How many of them observe the scriptural commandments of Sabbath, Kosher, or family purity. This is to say nothing of their total disregard of the first two of the Ten Commandments."
The Gentiles are not required to observe Sabbath or Kosher or any ceremonial law in the TANAKH, the Jerusalem council made that clear, but certainly family life is to be pleasing to God. Moral commands without the death penalty are what Christians are required to have. Making amends is biblical and a must, but there is no New Covenant obligation to destory a town that is rife with idolatry or burn a house down if it has dry rot. However, a thief is to return what he stole and a liar is to tell the truth two name a few.
Family life is still to be sanctified to the Lord in the New Covenant. But it is not our works that save us, it's our faith. If one has faith the works follow but the works don't save them. Repentance is not a work, it's something that the apostles commanded and it's something that Christians must do. The Jews who believe in Christ are free to observe the Mosaic Law, provided they are not using it to justify themselves before God. They can keep it if they want if they feel it honors Christ. They days you observe or not observe regarding the Old Testament are a matter of conviction and conscience.
Repentance is something that is often overlooked in Christianity and anyone who claims that repentance should never be done is ignorant of the New Testament's content. In fact what does Paul say in Titus 2:11-14:
"Titus 2:11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good."
If Blumenthal takes the time to read Paul's letters, he will be astonished at the number of times exhortation to live holy lives can be found.
"Brown describes how some of the Orthodox Jews he interacted with could not describe an intimate ongoing real relationship with God, while Christians are alive with their relationship with their god. At the same time Brown describes how Jewish people he questioned felt that they were not assured of forgiveness for their sins, while Christians revel in the confident assurance that all of their sins are forgiven.
Perhaps this reveals the weakness of the belief system Brown is trying to promulgate. One who is honestly seeking a real relationship with with God, will always be questioning themselves. Am I deluding myself? Or is this real? A real relationship with God is a constant ongoing experience that brings a person into constant soul-searching introspection. Of-course there is joy, real joy, in the relationship with God. Just watch the dancing at an Orthodox Jewish wedding or an Orthodox Jewish celebration of one of the holidays. But this joy does not come at the expense of truth. Orthodox Judaism does not attempt to delude its followers into false assurances. The joy of serving God does not come from the delusion of being “saved”, rather the joy is produced by the realization that we are touching the eternal truth of the God of truth. This joy encourages an incessant, relentless, and ruthless pursuit of truth. The joy of Judaism does not allow one to be lulled into a false sense of security. Judaism does not claim to offer safety. Judaism offers truth."
Christianity provides assurance of salvation to the believer, not a false security. Christians condemn the idea of false assurance. The New Testament exhorts Christians to make their calling and election sure.
"Brown informs us that the crime of rejecting Jesus is the sin which deserves the holocaust. Sad. What is the moral crime of failing to see the scriptural “truth” of institutions that could produce a holocaust?
According to Brown’s own standards of right and wrong, and according to his own interpretation of the Bible, Brown would have to acknowledge that the Jewish rejection of Jesus was no sin. In the opening pages of this volume, Brown informs his readers that the “rule of Jewish faith and practice” should be the Bible (pg. xx). Up until recent years, the vast majority of Christians believed in replacement theology, they believed that the Jewish people are no longer chosen by God. The Christianity presented to the Jewish people was one which came along with a rejection of Israel’s election – a teaching that Brown recognizes as unbiblical. How could the Jews have accepted Christianity? Should the Jews have seen the “powerful evidence” to the alleged Messiahship of Jesus but not seen the evidence to their chosenness as God’s firstborn son?
According to Brown’s own standard, the Jews made the morally correct choice when they rejected a theology that is clearly at variance with the word of God. Is this a sin?
There is a much deeper point to consider here. The tragedy suffered by the Jewish people during the holocaust was indeed terrible. But there was a far greater tragedy that occurred during the holocaust. The greater tragedy was the fact that the vast majority of Christian Europe participated in this terrible crime either practically or implicitly. Not only that, but the holocaust rendered 1900 years of Church history as a preparation for the greatest crime committed against God’s firstborn son. When the holocaust happened, it retroactively rendered all of the Church teachers that lived for the past 2000 years – inciters for murder. Their acceptance of Jesus did not save them from this terrible tragedy. Our rejection of the same Jesus saved us from the worse of the two evils.
If the crime of rejecting Jesus brought the holocaust upon us, we thank God that it effectively prevented us from being the perpetrators."
It is sad that so called Christians did participate in the holocaust itself, that is something upsetting and should not of happened. Replacement Theology to the best of my knowledge came from Augustine, NOT from the apostles. Again, If the Jews were replaced because of disobedience, the Christians will suffer that same fate if they disobey, that is if replacement theology were true. Christians have to face up to the fact that anti-Semitism has damaged the church's reputation to the Jews and should try their best to repair the damage.
"Brown’s compares of the accusation that the Christian Scriptures is a book of hate to the anti-Semitic accusation that the Talmud is a book of immorality. This analogy is outrageous. No one who revered the Talmud ever read it as a license to be immoral, but many people who are still considered authorities on the Christian Scriptures read it as a license to hate Jews."
This issue of anti-semitism needs a seperate article to deal with the issue.
"Did the authors of these books have any inkling as to how their words would be understood in future generations? Did these authors have any idea how the mind-set of their intended audience will influence the way their words are understood? If they did, then they were partners to the murderous activities of the Church. If they were myopic, simpleminded people who could not foresee how their words would be understood by the very audience that they were addressing, then how can anyone attach significance and value to their words?
Brown quotes Jesus as saying “love your enemies”. Where does Jesus say anything positive about his own enemies? Where does Jesus acknowledge the moral responsibility to question his authority? After all, if he wasn’t who he claimed he was (which he wasn’t) then obeying him is the most grievous sin against God. Together with the false prophets of history, Jesus could not recognize the simple truth that God desires an honest heart."
Regarding the first part of this statement, I could ask the same thing about the TANAKH and the Talmud, but where would this get us? Furthermore, Peter warns about ignorant and unstable people who distort the scriptures (referring to the OT and possibly the Gospels) to their own destruction, as well as Paul's letters. Also, Jesus did have harsh things to say about his enemies, but that is not a contradiction with love your enemies. You need to pray for them to repent of their sin and witness to them.
"Brown responds to the contention that Jesus must be a bad tree as the evil fruit that Christianity produced seems to indicate. His basic argument is that anyone who fails to be a moral person cannot be labeled a Christian. (page 115). What line does a person have to cross in order to be considered immoral? If someone says a lie, does that make him lose his standing as a “true” Christian? How about anger, pride, lust, self-centeredness – would any of these character faults remove a person from Brown’s roll of “real” Christians? Where did Brown find a billion Christians earlier in his book?
We all agree that one should be a moral person; that is not the point of contention. The point of contention is should we worship the Master of all and Him alone, or should we worship Jesus? Should we look to the Christian scriptures for guidance or should we look to the Talmud? We have a case history. We have two societies. One worshiped Jesus and revered the Christian scriptures, while the other worshiped God as an absolute unity and venerated the Talmud. Compare.
Idolatry eventually produces immorality. It doesn’t have to show itself in the first generations of enthusiastic, spiritually motivated, and sincere (if misguided) believers. But it will eventually show up."
Regarding the line to cross to be immoral, good question. Firstly, if someone FALLS into sin but repents of it, then they are ok. If they slipped up but realised their mistake and repent to God, they will not go to hell. IF however they decide not to repent, they will not have the assurance of salvation. Simple as that. Jesus is speaking of those who PRACTICE SIN and falsehood, not someone who makes a mistake.
Another note is that no one should be asking how long and how far you need to be sin before you are lost. It is something that shouldn't be asked and the person needs to abide in Christ.
As for what to look to for guidance, well if the New Testament is scripture, we should look to that as well as the TANAKH ultimately. The Talmud is not inspired as the Rabbinic communities acknowledge. If the NT is from your God Blumenthal, I'd rather take my chances with that.
"Brown asks how the suffering of the holocaust brought healing to the world. In contrast, he claims, through the suffering of Jesus, countless millions were healed. The suffering of Jesus inspired countless millions to hate God’s firstborn son (Israel). The holocaust brought the Church’s top theologians to re-evaluate their assessment of this hatred. In any case, the prophet explains that a full understanding of the healing provided by the servant’s suffering will only come with the full revelation of God’s glory upon the servant."
Again, show me aside from the misuse of John 8:44 where anti-Semitism is in the New Testament and is condoned. Christ's death does bring healing only to those whom God has quickened and those who respond to him after quickening. It is clear that Jesus' intention was NOT to have us hate the Jews. I am not going to sweep anti-Semitism under the rug that's for sure.
"I. 49. Page 202
“Messianic Jews were excluded from the synagogue by Rabbinic Jews and misunderstood by gentile Christians”
Brown tries to get his readers to believe that the treatment the Messianic Jews received at the hands of the Rabbinic community was harsher than the treatment they received at the hands of the gentile Church (excluded vs. misunderstood). The facts are quite different. Rabbinic Jews excluded the Messianics from the synagogues. Why the Messianics would want to join is beyond me. But the gentile Church slaughtered them. Once the gentile Church gained power they cruelly eradicated every form of Christianity they considered heretical, including the Jewish sects that were still extant at the time."
AS stated before, Faithful Jews and Christians are preserved by God. It is possible that Messianic communities may have been preserved by God for their faithfulness to him. Both Rabbinic Jews and Gentile Christians both placed pressure on the Messianics in one way or another, especially the latter because of paganism creeping in.
"I. 50. Objection 2.16
Brown brings up the Jewish objection which points out that the Jews who lived with Jesus and his followers were not swayed by Jesus’ message. Brown responds by encouraging his readers to over-turn the decision of those Jews who lived with Jesus.
Again Brown missed the point of the objection. The people who lived with Jesus and interacted with him were by and large not impressed. Aside from a few who were obviously blinded by his charisma, the populace at large saw a person polluted by the same character flaws that afflict most false prophets. So who knew Jesus better? Is it the GentileChurch (founded by Paul – who never saw Jesus outside of his imagination)? Or is it Jesus’ own Jewish neighbors?"
Jesus' own apostles knew who Jesus was. Others rejected him because their hearts were hard and most of the Pharisees hated him because he exposed their hypocrisy and wickedness. Also to claim the Gentile church was founded by Paul is absurd, If you read Acts 8, Samaritans, half Jew/Gentile Peoples, responded to the message of the apostles, Paul's conversion is not until Acts 9. Paul did have an immense influence on the Gentile world and founded many churches, but to say he founded the Gentile Church as a whole is ridiculous. Also, An ethiopian eunich was a Gentile whom Phillip gave the Gospel to. If Blumenthal is trying to suggest there was a Pauline Gentile church being invented here, he is mistaken. Furthermore, The apostles ACCEPTED Paul as a true apostle. I recommend Yisroel taking the time to watch Keith Thompson's documentary on the reliability of Paul.
"II. 1. Page 4
Brown addresses Maimonides’ statement that Jews must believe in God as an “only one (- absolute unity): “There is no doubt that this reaction was due to exaggerated, unbiblical, “Christian” beliefs that gave Jews the impression Christians worshipped three gods.”
Brown would have his readers believe that Maimonides’ statement is a “reaction. He would have his readers believe that this “reaction” was due to an incorrect understanding of Christianity.
I have a difficult time imagining a statement that would be more offensive and insulting to Jews and to Judaism. Brown has “no doubt” that the core belief of Judaism is a “reaction” to another belief system. That would be like saying that there is no doubt that Christians revere Jesus as a “reaction” to the Moslem reverence of Mohammed. Or that the reason two people got married to each other was to avoid marrying someone else.
The Jewish people are married to their God. They met Him at Sinai and their hearts are pledged Him ever since. We know our God and we do not have to “react” to redefine our God against other belief systems.
Another underlying misconception that needs to be cleared up is the idea that Maimonides felt threatened in any way by Christianity, as if Christianity is a belief system that somehow loomed large and threatening on the horizon of Maimonides’ thought-process. This is false. It is obvious from the writings of Maimonides that the theology of Christianity in no way intimidated him. He viewed a belief system that deifies a human as something that hardly deserves mention. If Maimonides ever felt the need to “react”, it was not to Christianity.
Finally, a “correct” understanding of Christianity would have done nothing to change Maimonides’ views on the matter. Every form of Trinitarian Christianity attributes deity to a person that walked this earth. This concept, however it is presented, is the antithesis of Judaism."
I won't be focusing in Maimonede's statement about Yachid because that is not my concern, although I fail to see how bringing up the Muslims as an argument is even remotely relevant. Islam came AFTER Christianity, not before. Trinitarians believe Jesus is GOD AND MAN. I will touch on the tabernacle point in which Blumenthal raises.
"II. 3. Page 6
Brown argues that the Shema (-Hear O Israel… Deuteronomy 6:4) only says that God is alone and not that He is absolutely One. This point is also irrelevant. Which God is the Shema referring to? The One that the Jews believed in, the One that took them out of Egypt and who revealed Himself at Sinai, Him alone – and no one else. Who is excluded? If someone were to take a graven image and claim that this is “one and the same” with the God of Israel, is that not excluded? When Jerobaam pointed to the calf and said “this is who took you out of Egypt” (1Kings 12:28), was that not excluded? When the Buddhists point to a stone statue of Buddha and claim that this is the incarnation of the Creator of heaven and earth, is that not excluded by the “one” of Shema? The “one” of Shema points back to the Sinai revelation. At that revelation God made clear to the Jewish people who it is that they should be directing their devotion to. It was not Jesus. Furthermore, at Sinai God gave the Jewish people to understand that everything in the heaven and earth are but His creations. Any theology that justifies worship of an inhabitant of this earth is precluded by the Sinai revelation and by the Shema."
Buddhists, Confucionists, Muslims or anyone outside the Judeo-Christian faiths are not even relevant because those religions don't worship the God of the Bible anyway. Jeroboam's calf was exclude, and I will argue Jeroboam said this for political purpose and for expediency. Limitbreak9001 raised a similar point to Blumenthal's point regarding the calf.
All the Shema says is that there is only ONE God, period. Trinitarian Christians do NOT repudiate the Shema, unless it's in ignorance. The Shema doesn't speak of God's nature anyway, it only says he is the ONLY God. If Jesus is the God at Sinai and a member of the Trinity, he would not violate the Sinai revelation. If he isn't, then Blumenthal would be correct in his assertion that Jesus would be excluded from the Shema.
"II. 4. Page 7
Brown claims that the Jewish rejection of the trinity is the result of a “gut level negative reaction to anything Christian”. Where did this negative reaction start from? According to the Christian scriptures, the Jews rejected Christianity because it did not fit with their understanding of God; an understanding that preceded Christianity.
Another point to consider is the fact that the far more likely scenario is that the Church adopted belief in the trinity as a gut level negative reaction to anything Jewish.
The same Council of Nicea that adopted the trinity as a Christian belief, was plagued with a “gut level negative reaction” to anything Jewish. The same Church Council that ratified the trinity also prohibited celebration of Easter in conjunction with Passover. The basis for this decision was not some scholarly calculation or an esoteric argument. I will allow Eusubius, the Church historian who was present at that Council, to speak for himself: “And these are the words with which the Emperor addressed the assembly at Nicea; “Why should we follow in the footsteps of these people who are scorned by God, to celebrate our holy festival together with them? Is there any greater impertinence than this, that these hated Jews should be able to say that we cannot celebrate and observe our festival unless we follow their calculations?” (De Vita Constantini 3:2).
Hatred of Jews and Judaism was reason enough to move this Church Council to change their practices. Is it not likely that the vote against Arius (who opposed belief in the trinity) was also influenced by this hatred of Jews?"
The notion that the Trinity is somehow a motivation for Jew Hatred is ridiculous. The NT already applies passages about HaShem God in the TANAKH AND APPLY THEM TO JESUS!!! Jesus is identified as HaShem or God by the New Testament because of those passages being applied to HIM, not merely as a representative as Anthony Buzzard and other unitarians claim and not merely God in a qualitative sense as the TrinityDelusion claims. Jesus is EXPLICITLY referred to AS HASHEM. The only route you can take on how to reconcile Jesus being HaShem and the Father being HaShem yet retaining the monotheism the TANAKH is the Trinity itself. Also this article addresses the idea that the Trinity was invented at Nicea: http://answering-judaism.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/classical-trinitarian-objections.html
Now Easter being in the NT is very unlikely but that's another issue, considering that one using Easter as an argument against the Trinity is a red herring. It's just as silly as using Michael Servetus and John Calvin as an argument against the Trinity, which sadly many unitarians do, not to mention most fail to tell you it was the secular government who put Servetus to death, not Calvin and that Servetus was a Modalist. Though I am not a Calvinist, I would never want to misrepresent history like this. In the past I have been ignorant of Calvinism although I have learned a little bit about Calvinism from others, including Keith Thompson who I have often mentioned in my articles. However, the history of Calvin is not relevant to this article so let's carry on.
" II. 6. Page 15
Brown considers the argument “your god wore diapers”, to be crude. But the Bible ridicules graven images as those which cannot see, hear, eat, etc. I can hear a Native American who pays devotion to a totem pole, laugh at this. “I am not worshiping the wooden pole, I am worshiping the spirit behind this pole. What a crude argument this book is trying to present, these are certainly not the words of an all knowing God.” Most idolaters can provide some sophisticated rationale which seems to justify their worship. The arguments that Brown uses to justify worship of Jesus can just as easily be used to justify worship of the spirit of thunder that the totem pole represents. But God’s words stand forever, despite the derision of misguided men. If an object of worship can be represented by a physical body, then the worship is foolish, and ought to be ridiculed by pointing to the deficiencies inherent in the physical manifestation/representation/incarnation of the object of worship.
Brown tells us about Sai Baba, a Hindu man-god. What Brown does not tell us is how exactly is Jesus different from Sai Baba? Is it just that one of Jesus’s followers can come up with a “Biblical justification”, and Sai Baba’s followers did not? Let one of them come across Brown’s book. They can use most of Brown’s arguments, and using Brown’s style, they could probably come up with more. The followers of Sai Baba can also claim that Sai Baba is an incarnation of Jesus, if they haven’t done so already"
As if Sai Baba claimed to be HaShem at all, let alone claim to be Yeshua. Sai Baba's followers don't claim Sai to be the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to begin with. Hinduism is idolatrous through and through.
"II. 7. Page 23
“Jesus is the replacement of the ancient Tabernacle”.
So was the body of the Tabernacle “cosubstantial” with God? Was the Tabernacle 100 percent God and 100 percent human?"
Blumenthal completely misses the point Brown and other Trinitarians have made regarding the tabernacle being a foreshadowing or typological point related to Christ. In John 1:14, the word used in the Greek for tabernacled is eskēnōsen (ἐσκήνωσεν) which means literally "pitched his tent". HaShem pitched his tent among the Ancient Israelites and that description John uses to show Jesus is the God of the TANAKH who has taken on himself human flesh. The New Testament frequently uses typology to demonstrate how the TANAKH points to Christ. Of course, considering LimitBreak9001 is heavily influenced by Yisroel Blumenthal if I recall correctly, Blumenthal will probably, if he reads this article, dismiss this point as a cheap cop-out as LimitBreak did.
" II. 9. Objection 3.4
Here Brown addresses a basic Jewish objection. According to Deuteronomy 13 Jesus was a false prophet because he advocated worship of himself. Brown responds by informing us that all of Jesus’ miracles pointed to God, and directed people’s devotion to God.
Again, Brown misses the point of the objection. Brown claims that everything Jesus did was for the glory of the God of Israel. These are word games. The worship of the Christian is motivated by an awe and a reverence for the suffering experienced by a human body. The devotion of the Christian is inspired by the righteousness that was allegedly displayed by a man who lived on this earth, breathed the same air that we do, and died. The Christian considers these to be acts of the god to whom he is directing his devotion. This is not the worship of the God of Israel. This is not devotion to the Creator of heaven and earth. This is worship of something that is smaller than heaven and earth. Our devotion is due to God because He is our Creator. To direct the devotion due to God towards a created being is idolatry.
Another way to approach this would be to ask Brown, if the entire function of Jesus was to point people to the God of Israel, then why are you trying to convert people who already worship the God of Israel? The fact that Jesus’ followers encourage people to direct devotion to Jesus even if their heart already belongs to God, tells us that Jesus is not pointing people TO the God of Israel. He is pointing people AWAY from the God of Israel.
Another way of formulating this point would be to ask Brown or any Christian: “do you really believe that devotion to Jesus is only a means through which a higher goal can be reached?”"
This argument would have weight against Arian and Unitarian "Christians", not really against Trinitarians. If Jesus was merely a created being and agent of the Father and not HaShem incarnate, then yes, I would be on the same page as Blumenthal in condemning this kind of devotion to a man. Also, Pointing to Christ as the objection of the devotion would not detract from the fact that Jesus in John 5:22-23 that ALL men are to honor HIM as they honor the Father, which would entail worship considering it is the highest honor you give to the Father, though the word for worship is not used. Although Unitarians (excluding Modalists which is another issue) in Christianity do believe as Trinitarians that honouring Jesus is honouring the Father, their theology would have us succumbing to idolatry.
Nakdimon316 explains this point about John 5:22-23 regarding honouring the Son better than I do in his response to Muslim apologist Sami Zaatari on the Deity of Christ. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SU4u83ysSQ0 (Refuting Sami Zaatari 02 point 5-8.
Another point, Jesus made it clear that the one who doesn't honor him doesn't honor the Father who sent him. This point is hammered home also in 1 John 2:19-22 by John.
"II. 11. Objection 3.9
Here Brown puts another objection into the mouth of the Jew in order to be able to condemn Judaism. Brown has the Jew arguing that the sacrificial system of scripture was repudiated and replaced.
Judaism never repudiated the sacrificial system. It is Christianity which repudiates the entire sacrificial system. Jews who are loyal to God and His word believe in every detail of the sacrificial system as taught by Moses. We study its intricate laws and we hope and pray for the restoration of the system. It is Christianity who does not satisfy itself with the anti-scriptural teaching that the sacrifices were replaced by Jesus. The author of Hebrews takes this rebellion against God’s word one step further. He tells his readers that the sacrifices of the Hebrew Scriptures never really atoned at all (Hebrews 10:4)".
Let's read Hebrews 10:1-4
"10 The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. 2 Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. 3 But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. 4 It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
5 Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:
“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me;
6 with burnt offerings and sin offerings
you were not pleased.
7 Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—
I have come to do your will, my God.’”[a]
8 First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with the law. 9 Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."
Christianity does not repudiate the sacrificial system, The point the writer is making is the animals were insufficient in taking away sins completely and all they could do is cover a person until the Messiah came to take away their sins, that's all it is saying. The author is saying that Christ's death is a far superior atonement than the animal sacrifices because it actually takes away our sins. The New Testament states that the sacrificial system was replaced by something better or rather fulfilled in Christ.
More arguments will be addressed in future articles if the Lord Wills.
(Edits conducted on this article will be done without warning).
Part 2 here: http://answering-judaism.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/examination-of-some-arguments-raised-by_25.html