Monday, February 13, 2006

A Jewish Perspective on Christianity

As a result of my post on the disgraceful Michael L. Brown, the Atheologist suggested that religion has divided people far more than it has united them. While I agree wholeheartedly with the Atheologist's assessment, I would like to clarify that the intention of my post was not to be divisive.
First of all, this blog has thus far been written mostly from a cultural perspective, and not a religious one. My intention is to celebrate the proud heritage that is Judaism. To that end, anyone who seeks to humiliate, denigrate, assimilate, or exterminate the Jewish people earns a demerit in my book. No one rightly accuses the Black civil rights movement of the 1960's as divisive. It is instead seen as corrective. So please consider that what I am about to say comes from the perspective of a man whose people have only recently crawled out of the crematoria of christian Europe and have begun to make their way onto the world stage.

The Jewish people see christians first and foremost as persecutors and torturers.
History is stained with the blood of my ancestors at the hands of "loving" christians. Inqusitions, book burnings, forced debates, forced conversions, pogroms, forced conscriptions, forced baptisms, forced sermons, forced expultions, and numerous other tragedies have been perpetrated against the Jews by christians in the name of jesus christ for close to two millenia. Martin Luther, the great reformer and church father laid out the blueprint of the holocaust in his great work of christian theology entitled
"On the Jews and Their Lies". His vision was ultimately carried out during the second world war by the members of the denomination that bears his very name - the Lutherans.

Jews also view christians as deceitful evangelizers. Judaism does not actively seek converts. We believe that all people can be righteous in the eyes of G-d. Christians on the other hand, have used any and all means deemed neccesary to add numbers to their ranks. After all, this precedent was set by the most famous of the self-hating traitorous Jews, the apostle Paul. He stated: "And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; to them that are without law, as without law...that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak I became as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some". In other words, he will evangelize, truth be damned. The King James Bible (as well as most other christian versions) is replete with gross mistranslations of the original Hebrew text in order to twist and distort the message from one of personal responsibility to a message of a dying god-man who takes away personal responsibility. The book of our people, The Hebrew Bible, has been hijacked and deliberately tampered with by christians. Are my gentile readers aware that the Jewish interpretation of the Bible permits divorce, and allows for abortion in certain cases? That "An eye for an eye" means monetary compensation, or that the standard of proof in court is so stringent that according to one rabbinic opinion the death penalty was invoked only once in seventy years? And most importantly, that the people of all nations do not have to convert to the Jewish religion to be "saved" (there is no concept of salvation in Judaism, but that is a discusion for another time)? You probably have never heard of these ideas because your christian leaders keep them from you. You are presented with the bible that they want you to see, not the original in its original language. After all, If you don't need christ, you don't need the church, and the christian leadership are out of a job.

The spiritual heirs of the apostle Paul are in full swing today trying to eliminate the Jewish people through conversion. They will use any tactic at their disposal (except for honesty) to entice Jews away from their heritage. I have seen missionary training literature, and it is very detailed, from the targets chosen (uneducated and lonely Jews) to the very words used ("don't say christian, say bible believer"). I believe in the right of christians to evangelize, I only ask that they keep it honest.

For those who say that christianity has evolved into a tolerant religion, I would argue that it is only the power of government that separates fundamentalist christians from their Muslim counterparts. Do you imagine for one minute that fundamentalist christians would not try to control your life if they had the power of government behind them?

In summary , as I stated earlier, my purpose is not to be divisive. I only ask that the world stop trying to convert us. After two thousand years of subjugation, we have earned the right to be left alone.


Mary Hogan said...

There are some people, like myself, who have found the "light" called the Jewish People and are eternally grateful.

I've been on this derech for years now after floundering away in nothingness.

Stacey said...

You have this uncanny ability, JF, to reach into my mind and write exactly what I feel.

This post was so good. I feel like printing it out and framing it!

You are right about the evangelizing. I grew up in a very Jewish area and now that I live in Texas my eyes have been opened to these huge efforts by the fundies to target us. It is really disgusting. There are millions of dollars devoted to such efforts.

After two thousand years of subjugation, we have earned the right to be left alone.


The Atheologist said...

An excellent post, Jewish Freak. There is nothing in it that I disagree with. I would like to comment and expand on a couple of points that you made.

Point One: “The Hebrew Bible has been hijacked and deliberately tampered with by Christians.”

While the Bible is no more than a mythological book to most Atheists and Freethinkers, (we won’t go into that now), the fact of the matter is that religions and whole cultures around the world follow and are even based on these writings. The different interpretations of this book, has lead to the many sects and denominations in Christianity in Judaism that we see today. But it seems that it is, (at least in this part of the world), only the Christians who interpret and mold these ancient writings to suit themselves and their agenda. A good example would be their anti-homosexual stance. They interpret Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 as condemning homosexual behavior, but they totally ignore the other part of the Jewish Holiness Code which permits polygamy, prohibits sexual intercourse when a woman has her period, bans tattoos, prohibits eating rare meat, bans wearing clothes that are made from a blend of textiles, prohibits cross-breeding livestock, bans sowing a field with mixed seed, prohibits eating pigs, rabbits, or some forms of seafood and requires Saturday to be reserved as the Sabbath.

Point Two: “Do you imagine for one minute that fundamentalist Christians would not try to control your life if they had the power of government behind them?”

Yes they certainly would and are trying to do just that. They not only want to do away with the wall that separates the church and state in the USA, but they want to make their church, the state, (watch out Canada you’re next.). This I believe is the most important issue in the USA today and why the work of the FFRF,and Americans United, is so important and should be supported by everyone regardless of their beliefs or non-beliefs.
Keep up the good work Jewish Freak.

Bacon Eating Atheist Jew said...

I think you are being a bit too harsh.
Christians had many chances to make America minority free. I do think that many Fundamentalists today actually respect Jews by taking the "chosen people" thing very literally.
I'm no fan of the Fundies, but I haven't had very many knocking at my door trying to convert me.

Stacey said...

Bacon: Move to Texas and you will be singing another tune.

Minor Fast Days said...

I agree that Christian fundamentalists are coming from the same place as Muslim fundamentalists,
there means might be different, but their intent and mission are the same - one true religion.

The Jewish Freak said...

Mary: You are an inspiration. I wish you luck in all your endeavors. Thanks for stopping by.

Stacey: Things are different in the bible belt aren't they? Send a friend into church one day to find out what they say about the Jews when outsiders aren't listening.
Also, thanks for the compliment!

The Jewish Freak said...

Atheologist: Thank you for your kind words. If history has taught us anything, it is that the church should never be allowed to have any power whatsoever in the state.

The Jewish Freak said...

Godless circumcised consumer of cured porcine products:

I maintain my view that christian and moslem fundamentalists are not very different except for the power they wield. I know this from my conversations with current and former christians. I am also aware of the complete disdain that fundamentalist christians have for the Jews. If Billy Graham became king of the US, I would get myself and my family out in a hurry.

BTW, the articles you posted recently in your blog are excellent, thank you for sharing!

The Jewish Freak said...

Sushi: Good insight. Also, I think that their means are different because christians do not have the means at their disposal that moslems do.

Stevin said...

Great post! I've found that the Christians I come into daily contact with love to try to convert me. In their eyes, a Jewish convert is the highest prize.
I don't despise them for it, though. They love me enough to share their good news with me. However, I'm afraid that it will devolve again into outright persecution and conversion-by-force like it has in the past.

Bacon Eating Atheist Jew said...

Jewish Freak, don't forget I'm married to a shiksah. Maybe things are different in Canada then the bible belt. But I do think real Fundies think of Jews like East Indians think of cows. We are sacred but they don't want to be a cow. I'm trying with my blog. Traffic has picked up lately so I feel the pressure.
One more thing. Fundies do have lots of powerin the States, and they had a lot more power before Darwin and Nasa came along.

The Jewish Freak said...

stevin: Thank you!
However I do believe that the christians motivation for converting Jews is not out of love for us, but out of contempt for our way of life (and our continued existence).

The Jewish Freak said...

Canadian Bacon:

I believe that christians do not regard us as sacred cows, but rather as non-sacred cow dung. The "chosen people" talk is all just lip service. We are held in contempt because we try to earn our salvation ourselves by being under the law (Jews don't even know what the hell that means), rather than accepting god's grace through jesus'death on the cross.

Bacon Eating Atheist Jew said...

JF, here is a Fundy who started off posting on my board first. I like this dude, he is OK except for the 6000 year old earth and his stance against evolution. But this is another side of the Fundy story:

The Jewish Freak said...

Bacon Eater: Thank you.

Conan said...

Thank you for the nice writing. I intend to come back and re-read some of yoru fine arguments. Not religious (ex Catholic) but always have been very pro Israel and Jew. The damn Muslims try to preach black is white and good is bad..meaning their hate filled death cult is some wonderful as they protest and kill all across the globe while they demonize the wonderful Jewish people. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

I have found your posts very interesting. I would like to present a different point of view to you. Much of what is presented to the general public from the pulpit is somewhat different from what is espoused in closed meetings of the leadership. From the pulpit I would hear the message of the 7 woes at least monthly. This is based on verses from Matthew 23. Jesus speaks these words about the Jews:

 Jews are basically only concerned with appearance and standing in the community (verses 5-7).
 Jews are hypocrites. Their teachings and laws prevent others from entering heaven (verse 13).
 Jews are more concerned with wealth than the condition of the soul (verses 16-22).
 Jews are more concerned about the letter of the law than justice, mercy, and faithfulness (verses 23 & 24)
 Jews are full of greed and self-indulgence (verse 25).
 Jews are liars, unclean, full of hypocrisy, and wickedness (verse 26).
 Jews are snakes and vipers lying in wait to snare the unsuspecting (verses 33-25)

Onto the leadership and closed meetings. The leadership in the “church” is broken down into the membership, the Deacons, the Elders, and the Pastor. The Deacons are elected leaders whose primary concern is the physical care of the church property. The Elders are elected leaders whose primary concern is the religious training of the membership. The Pastor basically is considered an Elder who is not elected and has leadership over all of the above.

That being said, I was raised in the Deep South as an evangelical fundamentalist beginning approximately 40 years ago. My father was an Elder. My ex-husband was also an elder. I was privy to most of these meetings, many held in my home. What JF states is true, “I believe that Christians do not regard us as sacred cows, but rather as non-sacred cow dung.” Jews are considered to be the worst hypocrites and fools. Yes, they do set out to convert you. Their rational is, until a specific number of Jews are converted to Christianity Jesus will not return in the rapture to reclaim the Christians to heaven. Jews are nothing more than a means to an end.

Presbyterians (PCA) believe that their religion is the only true Christian religion. Those who are not converted should be “dealt with harshly”. Women remain chattel. There is no such thing as divorce. We are allowed to be abused if our husbands feel so inclined. Out of my little Pres. Church alone four women ran from their husbands after they pulled guns on them and threatened to kill them (two of these men were Elders and their behavior was widely known). The women were excommunicated from the church for leaving their husbands against the churches wishes. As a side note – it also produced the man that shot John Lennon.

I left the Christian church about 7 years ago and now pursue my Jewish roots (my mother has Jewish history). Be leery of the Fundamentalist. What they say to your face is completely different from their motives.

The Jewish Freak said...

Anonymous: Thank you for your heartfelt comment. You have confirmed everything that I have been saying. I wish you success in your pursuit of happiness. There is much truth and beauty to be found in the Jewish tradition. I think that you will find our emphasis on personal responsibility and accountability to be particularly meaningful considering all that you have been through.
You have also inspired a future post. Thanks for stopping by!

The Jewish Freak said...

Conan: Thanks for the compliment. The Jewish people can always use a good friend.

Stacey said...

What you wrote was fascinating, Anonymous. That's why I can't get behind the fundie support of Israel. Their motives are selfish. They are only using us in their hopes to bring about the "rapture." I am not interested in such "support."

JDHURF said...

Wow, this was a very good and enlightening post with many comments of the same nature.
JF, have you heard of Constantine’s Sword: The Church and the Jews – A History by James Caroll? I would recommend it, I usually do not recommend books that I have not fully read but James Caroll is a very progressive Catholic and I read some very good reviews of the book (mostly secular and infidel critics, lol). I certainly do not recommend that you read (I haven’t even read it) but there are some interesting articles and essays based on and inspired by it.

JDHURF said...

From Publishers Weekly
Part history, part memoir, this hefty tome by novelist Carroll (Mortal Friends, etc.) traces the record of anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism in the Catholic Church, suggesting that centuries of animus culminated in the Holocaust. Carroll also traces the development of his own thinking about Judaism: as a Catholic seminarian, he knew no Jews and little about Judaism, except what he learned in classrooms, i.e., that Judaism had been superceded by Christ's new covenant. As a young priest at Boston U (which his colleagues disparagingly referred to as B-Jew, since so many Jews were enrolled), Carroll began to spend time with rabbis and Jewish students whose political and social commitments he found congenial. Eventually he left the priesthood; his increased discomfort with the Church's attitudes toward Judaism played no small part in that decision. But this book is more than guilty Catholic breast-beating. It also offers a sweeping look at instances of anti-Jewish sentiment throughout European history, from the blood libel to the Dreyfus affair, from the Inquisition to Auschwitz. Carroll offers fresh, provocative analysis, as in his discussion of the idea that the God of the Jews is a judgmental God concerned with law, whereas Jesus is about loveDa foundation of much anti-Semitism. Carroll argues that Jesus' emphasis on love was his most Jewish attribute. Carroll makes these incisive arguments in his characteristically vigorous prose; fans of An American Requiem, his National Book Award-winning memoir, won't be disappointed. This magisterial work will satisfy Jewish and Christians readers alike, challenging both to a renewed conversation with one another.

The Jewish Freak said...

JD: Thank you for that great info.
I'm very interested.

The Atheologist said...

I just came across this today. Is it possible that the fundi Christians will now have a little competition? And here's a little poll you can take on the subject.

The Jewish Freak said...

Atheologist: Thanks for the link. For your info, in case you don't know, Reform Judaism is analagous to Unitarian/Universalist. Not saying that's good or bad, only that there's not much religion there.

A. Nonymous said...

I think Matthew 23 is talking about Pharisees, Anonymous. That's why it says "Pharisees".

The Jewish Freak said...

a.nonymous: What most non-Jews do not understand is that the Pharisees are the spiritual (and biological) ancestors of the Jewish people as they are today. "Pharisee" is another way of saying "Jew". If the NT were written today it would be classified (at least by me) as hate literature.

Anonymous said...

Dear Jewish Freak,
As A discouraged and disappointed Christian I have to agree wholeheartedly with what you are saying. I read a very enlightening book entitled the Jewish Perspective on Christianity. It is a compilation of essays by such names as Martin Buber, Abraham Heschel, Leon Baech and a few others. This book needs to be on the shelf of every person who has ever asked the the really important questions like: what does God really expect of us and did Jesus really intend to start a new religion?

Shalom Shelee Havar. I thing that means peace to you my friend. If not please correct me. Keep on keeping on and God Bless you

Anonymous said...

Good gracious.... where to begin???? I'm a Jewish believer in Jesus Our Messiah. I belong to what many on here would label a "fundamental" church. There is no "prize" given for converting a Jewish person. We wish everyone to come to the saving knowledge of Jesus, both Jew, gentile, whoever. When we speak of Jesus to a Jewish person (of whom I'm one), we are not asking them to "stop being Jewish". I am still Jewish. I cannot be "non-Jewish". I am a born Jew, as was Jesus and His disciples. We follow the Bible, both Old and New Testaments. The Old Testament is a foreshadowing of the New Testament.
If there were people in the past who used their religion as power of other people, it was because they were "using religion" instead of "having a relationship" with Jesus. Another way of saying this is.....I do not believe in any religion, it's works, or its man-made doctrines. I am a follower of Jesus only and I strive to have a personal relationship with Him. Religion is a man-made construct which in times past has been used as a power-wielding tool over others. I will now take my leave.
If anyone wishes to understand more about who the Lord is and Who I worship, read the Bible from the Old Testament to the New Testament and hopefully you too will learn who the real Jesus is. God bless!