July 13, 2012

Counterfeit Religions III: Judaism

Matthew 27:50-51~"And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom"

Although Judaism was a legitimate faith/religion until the temple veil was rent at the moment of Jesus Christ's death, after that it became merely another false religion that could not gain you eternal salvation. Some facts are below. I imagine I will have some zealous Christian Zionists breathing down my neck for that last comment but truth is truth. Worse, I  fear I will be labeled an anti-semitic (like John MacArthur and others who are clearly not) because I dared to state that Christianity has the authoritative truth claim for salvation. The Jews rejected their Messiah and therefore their religion was given over to the Gentile nations as Christianity and, "whosoever will believe in Jesus Christ, let him come and be saved by the blood of the Lamb." The Old Covenant and ceremonial aspects of the Old Testament Law have been abrogated or fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Judaism is free to do as it pleases with no interference from me but I will also state that Judaism is no longer the path to salvation and eternal life after the death, burial and Resurrection of Jesus in accordance with Scripture.

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’ ” Matthew 23:37-39


Dates:  Depends on who you ask. If we view Abraham as the founder of the Jewish Religion than it is figured to be approx. 2000 B.C. (conservative)

Founder(s):  Depends who is asked. Conservatives would say God. Specifically, in biblical tradition God revealed Himself to Abraham, the ancestor of the Jewish people. God promised him a people. That  would begin the 12 tribes of Israel through Jacob’s sons.

Major text(s): Tanakh/Hebrew Bible (broken down into three major portions): Torah (Law), Nevi'im (Prophets) and Ketuvim (Writings). Also use the Talmud (commentary), Midrash (rabbinical material ) and Responsa (commentary on the Law)

Major variations Variations would probably be considered divisible into sects, branches or denominations like Christianity. They are as follows. Just as in Christian denominations the two main variations are derived from different hermeneutics of Jewish Scriptures. They are either Progressive/Liberal or Traditional/Conservative. These further break down into:
  • Orthodox Judaism: Orthodox Jews believe that God gave Moses the whole Torah (Written and Oral) at Mount Sinai. Orthodox Jews believe that the Torah contains 613 mitzvot (commandments) that are binding upon Jews. Modern Orthodox Jews strictly observe Halakhah (Jewish Law), but still try to assimilate into modern society.
  • Ultra-Orthodox Jews, which includes Hasidic Jews, strictly observe Jewish laws and do not integrate into modern society by dressing distinctively and living separately. They are the Jews version of the Amish
  • Conservative Judaism: Conservative Judaism maintains that the ideas in the Torah come from God, but were transmitted by humans and contain a human component. Conservative Judaism generally accepts the binding nature of Halakhah (Jewish Law), but believes that the Law should adapt, absorbing aspects of the predominant culture while remaining true to Judaism's values.
  • Reform Judaism: These believes that the Torah was written by different human sources, rather than by God, and then later combined. While Reform Judaism does not accept the binding nature of Halakhah (Jewish Law), the movement does retain much of the values and ethics of Judaism as well as some of the practices and culture.
  • Reconstructionist Judaism: These believe that Judaism is an "evolving religious civilization." In one way it is more liberal than Reform Judaism - the movement does not believe in a personified deity that is active in history and does not believe that God chose the Jewish people. Ironically, they may observe Jewish Law, not because it is a binding Law from God, but because it is a valuable cultural remnant.
  • Humanistic Judaism: Was founded in 1963 in Detroit, Michigan by Rabbi Sherwin T. Wine, offers a nontheistic alternative in contemporary Jewish life. Humanistic Jews believe in creating a meaningful Jewish lifestyle free from supernatural authority. As do all humanists, they embraces a human-centered philosophy.
Current Number of Adherents: 14-14.5 million approx..

Beliefs About Major Holidays & Practices: Major religious holidays of the Jewish faith include Passover, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Hanukkah, Purim, Sukkot. The Sabbath, a day of rest/ worship at the synagogue, is observed each Saturday. At the age of 13 a boy becomes a Bar Mitzvah or “son of the commandment”. At 12 girls become a Bat Mitzvah or “daughter of the commandment”. Males are circumcised on the eighth day after birth in accordance with Jewish scripture. As stated before Jewish life is regularly celebrated by punctuated events such as Sabbath, they also observe the kashrut eating only foods that are Kosher .They generally worship in synagogues.

Beliefs about God:  Central the Jewish faith is that there is only one God (monotheism). There are 13 Articles of Faith that are generally adhered to even today. (1) God exists (2) God is one and unique  (3) God is incorporeal (4) God is eternal (5) Prayer is to God only (6) God’s prophets spoke truth. (7) Moses was the greatest of the prophets (8) The Written and Oral Torah were given to Moses. (9) There will be no other Torah (10) God knows the thoughts and deeds of men (11) God will reward the good and punish the wicked (12) The Messiah will come (13) The dead will be resurrected. Jews will not pronounce God’s name YHWH, hence the tetragrammaton

Beliefs about humanity:  Like Christianity, they believe that man is made in the image of God. This image is considered the ability to reason. They believe man is inclined to both good and evil. Judaism believes strongly in freewill also and man’s ability to choose either right or wrong. Most often they chose wrong/evil. Unlike Christianity, they do not believe in original sin (at least from what I can tell) but do believe man was created good.

Beliefs About the Supernatural (Angels, Messages from God):  Depending on which type of Jew you ask, some will say they believe in angels and demons, others not. It appears they do but they are on the periphery of the big picture of Judaism. Parts of the narrative in the Torah (Red Sea) speak of miraculous intervention of God in the form of miracles.

Beliefs About the Afterlife:   Jews believe in a soul. There doesn’t appear to be a general concensus about the afterlife. An early common theme is that death means rejoining one's ancestors. Another recurring biblical image of the afterlife is called Sheol/ Gehinnom (Gehenna or more commonly understood Hell for those under judgment or the wicked/unrighteous Jews and Gentiles. Some forms of this belief limit the confinement there to 12 months. Under Hellenistic influence something arose called Tehiyat Hameitim or the resurrection of the dead. This is what the Pharisees believed. In Judaism, how this resurrection was to take place was unknown. There was also the idea of Olam Ha-Ba or “the world to come" and appears to be used to refer euphamisitcally to the messianic age and/or an afterlife. There is also the idea of Heaven or Gan Eden/The Garden of Eden. Jewish ideas of hell, afterlife in general and resurrection are not as thorough and articulated as they are in Christianity.

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