Monday, July 30, 2007

Divine Justice – the Jewish Difference


[scales of justice]

It occurred to me today, I think on the treadmill, that the really crucial difference between Jews and other people is one thing – our belief in divine justice; that there exists an Almighty God who ultimately will fairly punish and reward everyone for everything. There is be no bribery or favoritism (Deut. 10:17). There can be no escape from justice.

Obviously, a lot of people are uncomfortable with this idea and I believe this is perhaps the primary reason why Judaism is not more popular. People can swallow almost anything except inevitable justice.

Many nations in recent centuries have embraced some sort of atheism, agnosticism or deism. I am thinking primarily of Europe and also Japan. These nations first plunged into unimaginable barbarism and then, exhausted, have fallen into materialism and apathy. They no longer are reproducing themselves and are faced with a shrinking, aging population.

In traditional Christianity, there is a loophole that allows escape from divine justice. Jesus allegedly died for our sins and belief in him will atone for us. Divine justice is nullified for the faithful, which may help explain why some devout Christians have committed horrendous crimes without apparent guilt.

In Islam as well, there is a way to escape punishment for sin – death as a martyr fighting for Islam. (See Koran Surah 61). In general, Islam seems to emphasize human justice more than divine justice, an attitude which leads to constant wild vigilantism.

I believe that the Jewish philosophy, of belief in inevitable divine justice, is surely the only path to moral excellence, although it may not be quite what everyone wants to hear.

67 comments:

Agkyra said...

Wait, doesn't the Torah teach that the sacrificial animals were able to atone for violations of the law? What's the purpose of atonement if there's no escape from bearing the punishment yourself?

Doesn't the Torah also teach that God forgives sins and is merciful? In what sense can he be said to forgive sins if he metes out justice impartially? What room is there for God's mercy?

Am I mistaken that post 70 CE, prayer and good deeds were regarded by the rabbis as having the same atoning value as the sacrifices did before the temple was destroyed?

jewish philosopher said...

The Jewish attitude toward sacrifices is complex, and of course these sacrifices in any case ceased 1937 years ago. Essentially, the sacrifice symbolized the Jew’s willingness to offer up his life for God, as was seen in the story of the Binding of Isaac. Today our prayers substitute for the sacrifices (Hosea 14:3). To the degree that the sinner changes inwardly as a result of his sacrifice and/or prayer his punishment may be diminished.

Repentance also can bring about forgiveness (Jonah 3:10), however only in a case where the sinner has spiritually transformed himself into an entirely different person by his repentance, and therefore is justly no longer subject to punishment. This, however, is obviously easier said than done. It is not a magic “get out jail free” card.

Generally speaking, every Jew must expect that he will be held accountable for everything and live his life accordingly.

"Rich Perkins" said...

Obviously, devine justice and the idea of an reward in the afterlife (olam habaa) is pretty essential to the Jewish faith.

So where is it spelled out directly in the torah?

without this reward and punishment in the next life, thre is really no point to keeping the mitzvot of the torah aside from general moral ones needed in society (e.g. killing, stealing).

jewish philosopher said...

Divine reward and punishment are themes throughout the Bible, starting with Adam and Eve, going on through the Deluge, the favor shown to Abraham, the story of the spies (Numbers 13), Korah (Numbers 16), etc. The list continues on almost every page of the Biblical narrative. Human actions all eventually have consequences.

"Rich Perkins" said...

But those rewards/punishments are given during their lifetime.

Adam & Eve were thrown out of the garden Eden and the flood came then because of actions of the people at that time. likewise, the Jews were punished with travelling the desert because of the spies.

so while I would agree that the accounts in the Bible show that God does punish/reward people for their actions, I don't see it showing any reward/punishment after one is dead.

jewish philosopher said...

The precise time and place of eventual punishment or reward is not especially relevant. Kabbalistic literature refers to reincarnations as being a consequence of good or bad behavior, something long accepted by east Asian religions.

The point is that justice is inevitable. Believing in Jesus or even blowing yourself up will not save you.

"Rich Perkins" said...

The precise time and place of eventual punishment or reward is not especially relevant.

I wholeheartedly disagree. the time and place IS particularly relevant from a theological standpoint. If you are telling me to keep the mitzvot and by leading a good life as an observant Jew I will be rewarded in the world to come, then it is imperative to have a reason to believe this afterlife even exists.

The point is that justice is inevitable. Believing in Jesus or even blowing yourself up will not save you.

I agree with you here that belief in Jesus or blowing yourself up don't save you. But you still haven't shown me that believing in God and following the torah has either.

Justice is also inevitable in many ways from our court/police system. They chase people down years after crimes are committed.

jewish philosopher said...

What you seem to be asking is "How do we know the Torah is true in the first place?" I thought of that, and I've got a post.

Unfortunately, law enforcement in this country doesn't do a great job. Only about 50% of murder investigations end in a conviction and for other crimes it's much less.

"Rich Perkins" said...

JP - What you seem to be asking is "How do we know the Torah is true in the first place?" I thought of that, and I've got a post.

While I admit having doubts about the torah, God and the rabbis enacting laws, that is not my question.

My question is, How do we know there is a world to come and that we are rewarded and punished in it?

For this exercise, I assume it is a given that the Torah is divine and that God cares about our daily life.

Just as I know the source for keeping the Shabbat, I am asking for the SOURCE of olam habaa and devine justice after we die in this world.

Regarding our justice system, i just meant that it is inevitable in theory. the system is set up for us to catch people and punish them NOW for the deeds they performed in this life.

jewish philosopher said...

How do we know how to keep Shabbos? It's part of the Oral Law.

"Rich Perkins" said...

HOW we keep shabbat is part of the oral law, the fact that shabbat exists is straight from the Torah. so if the conept of olam habaa is mentioned and the rabbis just explain it in more detail, i can understand the logic.

As I have already mentioned, I don't believe the oral torah is divine. so if that is the only source for olam habaa and reward/punishments after death, then i'm not on board here.

so again i ask, where in the torak do we have a source for olam habaa and afterlife rewards and punishments?

jewish philosopher said...

The last verse in Isaiah seems to refer to an eternal future punishment.

God has plenty of opportunity to settle all accounts - this world, the spirit world, the time of the resurrection, future reincarnations, etc.

"Rich Perkins" said...

JP said - The last verse in Isaiah seems to refer to an eternal future punishment.

Seems to refer to eternal punishment?!?! For something that is the cornerstone of any belief in a higher power, i'd think you'd get something more than a refence that SEEMS to say what you want it to say.

JP said - God has plenty of opportunity to settle all accounts - this world, the spirit world, the time of the resurrection, future reincarnations, etc.

Based on . . . ?

While I believe that the idea of people believing that God is watching and that a potential punishment in the afterlife looms over them may make them act more appropriately, that is hardly a reason to believe it exists. It merely becomes a threat that makes us toe the line.

jewish philosopher said...

The concept of reward and punishment is number 11 of the 13 Principles of Jewish Faith. It is a recurring theme in the Hebrew Bible which permeates every single Biblical story, as far as I can recall, without exception.The Bible as I've mentioned does make mention of eternal fire consuming sinners. The Talmudic rabbis expanded on this theme to some extent, for example "the brazen will go to hell while the bashful will go to paradise" (Avos 5:24).

The Pentateuch does not include a graphic description of heaven and hell, just like it does not contain a graphic description of phylacteries for example.

"Rich Perkins" said...

Honestly, I don't feel like I am getting anywhere here. I have many questions about orthodoxy and we're just running in circles.

the 13 principles of faith were written by the Rambam and are basically what HE considers to be the pillars of faith. He may be right or perhaps he is wrong. In either case, these are his suggestions and not divine law in any way.

the talmudic rabbis expand
again, we have rabbis interpreting what they want from the torah.

permeates every single Biblical story
I find that the principle of reward & punishment in this world is obvious, but not in the next world.

The Pentateuch does not include a graphic description of heaven and hell
I don't need a graphic explanation of some guy in hell stoking the coals, but an acknowledgement of olam habaa would be nice.

just like it does not contain a graphic description of phylacteries for example.
You're right and personally i wonder where the heck the rabbis derived the laws of tefillin from as well. However, it does say in the Bible that you should "bind these words on your arm . . . and afix them on your head" so at least there is a source for doing something like we do with tefillin.

jewish philosopher said...

So what exactly happened? The Jews experienced the Exodus, they received the Tablets from Moses at Mt. Sinai, they went around for the next thousand years or so doing and believing in whatever it was Moses told them. Then some guys popped up and told everybody "Hey, this is all wrong! That's not what phylacteries are, they're something else! And haven't you heard all about heaven and hell? We are rabbis, we know, trust us." And all, or the vast majority of Jews anyway, fell for this scam and said "Oh, sure, you're rabbis, you must know." and that's where the Talmud came from, which yeshivas are teaching to this day.

If the rabbinical tradition is bogus, how do you explain this?

"Rich Perkins" said...

You are getting way off topic. I don't care to discuss whether rabbinic literature is true or not. Or where they decided that tefilling should be small square boxes with 4 passages written in them. The rabbis got the essence of the mitzva from something that was written in the torah and then expounded on that.

so where is that beginning point for the concept of olam habaa and a devine system of reward & punishment in the afterlife?

i am not trying to be anotognistic, but you just simply don't answer the question directly.

jewish philosopher said...

The earliest explicit reference I am aware of would be Pirkei Avos 1:5 "Yosi ben Yochanan of Jerusalem said: Let your house be wide open and let the poor be members of thy household; and do not talk much with women. This was said about one's own wife; how much more so about the wife of one's neighbor. Therefore the sages have said: He who talks too much with women brings evil upon himself and neglects the study of the Torah and will in the end inherit Gehenna."

Yosi ben Yochanan lived just three generations, or about a century, after prophesy ended and the Biblical writings sealed. He is making a reference to earlier anonymous sages who seem to have taken the existence of "Gehenna" for granted.

"Rich Perkins" said...

i appreciate the attempt, but I guess I will continue my search for an answer of where the concept stems from.

jewish philosopher said...

You won't find anything in the Hebrew Bible which says explicitly "If you're good, you'll go to heaven, if you're bad you'll go to hell." Even in the Talmud, it isn't dwelt on too much.

david said...

JP, How is it that the sacrifice system no longer matters. If it really was give by God then it either still has to apply or it has been replaced. You cannot pick and choose from the word of God like you seem to. Secondly you are either don't understand or are just ignoring what Christ actually teaches. Read Matthew 5:17-20 as well as James 2:14-26 and 1 John 2:1-14 as just 3 examples of why you are wrong in your judgement of Christian belief. When the New Testament talks of Salvation through Grace and faith it is not meaning that you do as you wish and just believe. The true message is that you must still work to obey the law, but as you will always fall short you cannot be saved by these works but only by Grace.

jewish philosopher said...

Sacrifices can be one component of a many facited process of self improvement and returning to God. They are not a cure all, however. Take for example Moses, Saul, David and Solomon. They all sinned. Why didn’t they just bring a sacrifice and that’s it, they’re fine? Clearly it’s not that simple.

The Christian concept of substitutionary atonement seems to mean different things to different Christians, however the idea that faith in Jesus will redeem us from all sins seems to be commonplace. The Kansas BTK serial killer, a devout Christian, in fact used that rationale to commit his crimes.

david said...

Certainly there are countless examples people using religion as an excuse for the evil they do. However before you call a killer a devout christian you need to check to see if they are conforming to the teachings of Jesus. Clearly if a man is killing people then he is hardly living up to these teachings. You regularly on this blog claim for example that the European Jews were killed in the Holocaust for not following the Mosaic Law. They however would have claimed to be devout Jews. Surely you must also say that just because a man claims to be a Christian does not mean anything if his actions are so far from what the Bible teaches. The bible does teach that Christians should be known by their actions. Certainly the belief is that Jesus redeems us from our sins is common. This is seen to be the ultimate sacrifice for sin, and replaces the Old Testament sacrifice system (read Hebrews). I don't think however that just bcause Old Testament figures, such as Soloman, sin and there is no mention of sacrifice that it is reasonable to assume that they did not offer any. Please if you can, give me some alternate ways to gain forgiveness that don't require the sacrifice system and that appear in the Bible. The only one I can find is that there is one that is without sin and speaks in our defence.

jewish philosopher said...

Only a small minority of Jews in Europe in 1939 would have considered themselves to be very religious.

Biblical figures did offer sacrifices, however that alone is not sufficient.

In the book of Jonah, Nineveh is saved through fasting and repentance.

As I understand it, the issue of faith vs. works is a very controversial one in Christianity, however faith seems to play a leading role.

Joebaum said...

I believe that the Judeo-Christian philosophy is that as long your intention was good you are bieng foregiven, What is the Jewish philosophy that you actually have to do the right thing No matter the circumstances.

jewish philosopher said...

Well, for one thing, you've got #11 of THE RAMBAM'S THIRTEEN PRINCIPLES OF JEWISH FAITH:

"I believe with perfect faith that God rewards those who keep His commandments, and punishes those who transgress them."

You have to keep them; the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

david said...

There is no issue of faith vs works. Quite simply we all sin and our works cannot save us. We are saved through Gods grace, which we get through a living faith in Jesus Christ. The faith that I am talking of is not just belief in Jesus but A total sacrifice of ones self. We are called to live for God and to honour him in all that we do. Again I urge you to read James 2:14-26 before you write Christian faith off as simply believing and you are saved.
As for the European Jews what evidence do you have that most of them didn't conider themselves very religious. There were millions killed in brutal ways, do you honestly think they died for something that was not in their own minds very important. Honestly, regardless of your own opinion of them, regardless of how right or wrong you are, do you really have reason to think, that they didn't at least think they were doing the right thing by God. I don't see how you could legitimately believe that.
I am also curious, if there are ways other then sacrifice to gain forgiveness why it was ever done. Either it was important enough to build a temple for that purpose, or it never really mattered and why did they ever bother. What changed in this eternal unchanging religion that ment sacrifice was no longer an essential part of gaining forgiveness.

jewish philosopher said...

I am not a Christian theologian, however statements like this do, in my reading, seem to imply a nullification of justice:

"We believe in the absolute necessity of regeneration by the Holy Spirit for salvation because of the exceeding sinfulness of the human nature, and that all are justified on the single ground of faith in the shed blood of Christ, and that only by God's grace through faith alone are we saved (John 3:16-19; 5:24, Romans 3:23; 5:8-9, Ephesians 2:8-10, Titus 3:5)."

Regardless of what we do or don't do, we are all incorrigible sinners who are saved by the blood of Christ. Seemingly, there is no difference if I am Mother Teresa or a the BTK serial killer, so long as I have faith in the shed blood of Christ.

European Jews were killed not because of any belief. Some were devout Catholics, many were atheists. The policy of the Nazi Party was to liquidate anyone of Jewish ancestry.

There a lot of ways to sin and there are a lot of ways to atone for sinning. Sacrifices are one way. Prayer and fasting, as on Yom Kippur, is another. All must be accompanied by repentance, since "the sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination" ( Proverbs 21:27).

david said...

I think you are missing the point. The difference between Mother Theresa and a killer is that her faith is shown in her actions. OR as it is writen in the book of James,

Yea,a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works.
Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
But wilt thou know, vain man, that faith without works is dead?
Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
And the Scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

The simple truth is that like everybody else you have sinned in the past and will continue to do so until the day you die. Your rightful judgement is to spend eternity seperated from God (Hell). Your best efforts alone are not enough and you need christs shed blood to bridge the gap. I am not disagreeing with you for a second that we are only saved by Jesus attoning sacrifice, only what faith in that shed blood means. It is much more then a simple belief. It requires action.

jewish philosopher said...

My impression is that particularly in Protestant theology, faith alone, even without works, will bring salvation since Christ's sacrifice will atone for everything.

david said...

Yes faith is what saves us but, but faith without works is dead. As one who attends an Anglican church I can say with some authority that we are never told you can do as you please.
Are you familiar with the Sermon on the Mount

jewish philosopher said...

Couldn't someone like the Kansas BTK killer Dennis Rader correctly say "True, I did murder at least ten people just for the fun of it. However on the other hand, I have faith in the shed blood of Christ. This was amply demonstrated by the numerous good works I did by being a member for about 30 years of Christ Lutheran Church and serving as president of the Congregation Council. I was also a Cub Scout leader. Therefore, I am surely saved."

In Jewish theology we have no such concept. Rader will be rewarded for this good works. Perhaps he has already been in this world. His punishment for his crimes will surely await him in the fires of hell.

david said...

It would be very difficult for me to believe this man had a true faith, the Bible is quite clear that just going to church and saying the right things is not good enough. If this man truely had put his life into the hands of Chirst then I don't think he would have committed these crimes. It is quite easy imagine, (and I am sure these people exist), those that Claim to be Jews, do alot of charity, say the right prayers and are at the temple every week. They may however not obey the food laws because the like cheeseburgers to much, or they may be in a homosexual relationship. You would then point out they are not genuine in their faith, why can you not realize that the example you are giving is not somebody that is a genuine Christian.

david said...

Isiah 53:11 and 12 sound alot like the christian consept.

jewish philosopher said...

Jews who do good things and bad things (meaning everyone) will be rewarded for the good and punished for the bad. Faith in Moses won't save them.

So is Rader going to hell? I think his pastor is very supportive of him.

I would assume that someone like Ted Haggard used similar logic to live a double life with no guilt.

david said...

personal guilt is not what matters, and Moses never to my knowledge claimed divinity. If I were God I could tell you where Ted Haggard is now, but I am not the Judge and I don't know who he was let alone how genuine he was. His pastor has a responsability to try to help even the worst of sinners. And lets not forget that Moses was a murderer, if he can be saved why not others

jewish philosopher said...

Moses killed a cruel Egyptian slave driver, not an innocent person.

david said...

So why did he flee in fear for his own life

david said...

Apart from anything else it was still murder, why is it not the same. He was a sinner like the rest of us, a great part of Gods plan but a sinner all the same. You can't ignore it just because its difficult

jewish philosopher said...

Murder means killing an innocent person. Killing a concentration camp guard, let's say, isn't murder, although the authorities might not agree, in which case the killer would have to flee.

Joebaum said...

i had a girlfreind a very devout christian had a very good heart, she tells me she feels gilty bcause she had an abortion but she hopes god forgave her, so i ask her "do you regret it?" she answears "under the cicumstances i had to do it"
she had no choice - god forgave her - she kiled a baby,
Thats what hapens when you can be "forgiven".

david said...

I think that is what happens when people believe that all you have to do is say sorry. It is a very sad situation, and I do hope she is genuinely sorry. But being forgiven is not just believing in Christ on an interlectual level. You are called to live for God and deny yourself. If a Jewish man simply killed a few animals, and said a few prayers but was repeatedly breaking the laws, and making no efffort to do otherwise, would you say he had attoned for his sins within the jewish concept.
I think we are simply making the same mistake again. Because somebody claims to be of a certain faith does not in itself make that claim true. There will always be people who use any religion, or other ideals, to justify actions that are wrong. This is a mark against those people, not a sign that their religion is weak or bad.

jewish philosopher said...

It does seem to me to be at least a common misperception within Christianity that behavior is of little or no importance. Personally, as an Orthodox Jew with some knowledge of American Christianity, Christianity has seemed like basically a "talking religion". In other words you talk about Jesus, but otherwise live just about like everyone else does, and you're a Christian.

In Orthodox Judaism we laugh at Jews who claim to be "good Jews at heart". We say that's probably why heart attacks are so common - too much burden on that one organ.

Joebaum said...

What if she is all into christ and she deosn't regret it ( the abortion ) is she forgiven?
Thats what sounded off of her.

david said...

JP, I think your right that this misconception is common, I don't konw a great deal about how common this is in North America. Correct me if I am wrong but the culture in your country is very much a Christian cultuer, and this would result in people going to church and the like because it is the done thing, not because they always believe it. I know certainly in Australia where I live, while we inherit, through English settlement, the western Christian Tradition, it is alot less common. Our constitution in fact states that their is no national religion. As a result of this we have less of this cultural christianity then I gather you do in the States. In fact you tend to be ridiculed and thought little of if your silly enough to be religious. But I just think in the same way you laugh at the "good Jews at heart" you need to realise that the same sort of people exist in all faiths. What is simply most important is to know what Jesus taught, and in this case he speaks out directly against the 'talking religious' people that you are reffering to.
As for the abrtion, how could she be both 'all into Christ' and not regret the abortion. How could she genuinely ask for forgiveness for something that she does not regret.

jewish philosopher said...

I have never been really deeply involved in Christianity and I'm sure that there are many fine people in that community. However when one reads stories about people like Ted Haggard, Dennis Rader and child molesting Catholic priests, one gets a feeling that primarily Christianity is lip service.

To the best of my knowledge, and check me on this, there has never been a leader of an ultra-Orthodox congregation credibly accused of any sexual misbehavior nor are any Orthodox Jews serving a prison sentence for murder, other than Yigal Amir who murdered Israeli Prime Minister Rabin.

We aren't perfect, but we do try.

david said...

Well the whole middle east situation is unfortunate. I have no doubt at all that you try and I know that of course there are many very Genuine Jews. The very fact however that you refer to only Orthodox Jews, suggests to me that you are drawing a line between the genuine Jews and those paying lip service. I do not entirely know what criteria you use, but you are drawing a distinction. This is the same within Christianity. There is obviously going to be more examples within a faith that well over 1 billion people connect themselves with then Judaism. Add this to the fact that Christianity is in the spot light alot more and it is of no suprise that these eamples will come out more frequently. Please just don't make the mistake of thinking of a relatively small number of examples and forgetting the massive amounts of good that the Church is involved in.
I would like to add that I have not interest in attacking Jews for their actions, my only disagreement is whether Jesus was the Messiah or not, but that obviously is not going to be something that we will ever agree on if previous conversation is anything to go by.

Joebaum said...

If works is importent too what distinguishes between Christianity and Judaism?, and don't tell me that Christ saves us, Becouse if you take back your sin why do you need anymore atonement .
In the time of the temple we had one more atonement adventage, we could reverse our sin, and all the methods of atonement writhen in the Torah are about sin reversing ( even today we have "kifel" wich is: if you steal mony you have to pay back dubble, to cover the time the victom didn't had his mony ).
Secrificeng animals are also about sin reversing ( if you want i can explain it to you why ). But i dont see how the death of Jesus could reverse our sins of today.

jewish philosopher said...

I think Orthodox Jews could be defined as those who do not use motor vehicles or electricity on the Jewish Sabbath and who consume only kosher meat. Ultra-orthodox are those who are more strictly observant - for example, praying three times daily for men, wearing a headscarf or wig for married women. I believe there are about 14 million Jews, of those whom 2 million are Orthodox and of those whom 1 million are ultra worldwide.

david said...

The death of Jesus is essetially to replace the old sacrifice system. I know this is not the answer you are after but he is the distinguishing factor. He was the only one who has lived a perfect sinless life and has earned salvation on his own merit. I understand your point that if your sins are forgiven once you no longer need attonement, but you will continue to sin and need to atone for these new sins.
Jesus death was the ultimate sacrifice of the perfect "Lamb of God". You need to remember that he also physically raised from the dead. In doing this he has defeated death and sin, because of this he is able to free us from death. It is faith in him and the Grace of God that saves us. It is the Works that we do, that while alone are insufficiant to save, that are the sign of saving faith.

david said...

so JP you are at a guess saying that around 1 in 7 people who claim Jewish faith are what you would deem to be the real deal. If we assume for example that the same numbers apply to Christianity you end up with More genuine followers then all professing Jews together, and about 6 times as many that aren't genuine. Why would it shock you to find more cases of professing Christians turning out to be hypocrits then Jews. Consider that you were raised in a family of Lutherans and yet by your own admission have never really been involved in the faith. This is the way things often are within inherantly Christian cultures, People say they are something because its the done thing.

Joebaum said...

Its very nice to have a perfect man as a role model, however the Jewish feith has tousends of role models, and thats what they sin sometimes is a healthy think to show that nobody can get away with a sin even the holiest man.
So i dont see the point of Christianity, besides that you don't have a "list" of what to do,

david said...

The Torah still applies to Christians, the only things that Jesus death replaces to the best of my knowledge are the sacrifice system, and the food laws. It is true that nobody can get away with sin, but Jesus did not sin. Cristianity does not run from judgement, if anything it gives a much clearer picure of it then Judaism. Jesus talks explisitly of it and the book of revelation is about it. If you want to know how Christians are told to live then read the New Testament. Start with the Sermon on the Mount starting at Mathew ch 5, or read some of Pauls Letters to various Churches, but dont assume that because you don't know about it or can't grasp the ideas that there is no way to live set out in Christian scripture.

jewish philosopher said...

My feeling about Christianity is that makes it too easy for people to excuse their failures.

Can't a Christian argue "I know that I have real faith. And I do many good works which express that faith. I also do some bad stuff. I go to a prostitute a few times a week. I steal money from my employer to pay her. I even shot my wife a few years ago. But so what? We are all sinners. Perhaps I am a drop worse than average. But my faith in Christ will still save me."

In Judaism, having faith in Moses is a very important thing. We must believe in the Torah of Moses and we will be rewarded for that. And if we steal, kill, fornicate etc. we will be punished for that. It's two separate issues.

A murderer will not be pardoned in court for being a great patriot. He will be given a medal for patriotism and a lethal injection for murder. That's justice.

jewish philosopher said...

Although I am far from being a real “insider”, I do have a really great copy of the New Testament on the shelf next to my desk. I have read most of it.

My impression is the Christians basically follow the Seven Commandments of the Noahides, which is good if they do it. Just a little weak on the idolatry part.

david said...

A christian cannot argue as you say. When you converted to Judaism, did you not have to start to live a very different life. It is the same for us. Jesus uses the word 'hypocrite' which is derived from the Latin (I think) word meaning Play actor. He uses it mostly when talking about people who Act pious for all to see, but their motivations are wrong.
To say that your above example would have genuine faith is ridiculous. When you begin to follow Christ, you must deny yourself and work as hard as you can to live by the laws. God knows each of our hearts and will judge according to our efforts.
You need to realise that you cannot in Christianity have it both ways, you cannot say you believe in christ yet still live as you want.
Consider what Christ did, God steps out of heaven, jumps into a babies body giving up all his splendor, lives in a poor town for about 30 years. He then begins a 3 year minitsery to tell everybody who is is and why he has come. This as he says it would ends in him being beaten and killed in the most brutal way known at the time. All this he did so that he could save people that ignore his comands most of the time and don't even believe he exists. If somebody has a true faith, really believes that Jesus did as he did. They cannot help but live to honour him, this includes being prepared to give up all these earthly vices.

jewish philosopher said...

So you are saying that in practice Christians must still live under the Law and will be punished for not doing so. That's fine, however I think most Christians would be very surprised by that.

I had understood that Christ's sacrifice nullified the Law, which unfortunately leads to lawlessness.

david said...

Christians are not saved by works, and as far as I know there is no punishment, although there is the Catholic idea of Purgatory which I don't knw a great deal about, but I think it is in some way making up for sin. We are saved by faith, the works are something that follows the faith. Christ death nullifies the Law in so far as we no longer are judged by it but as Jesus said "I have not come to abolish the law" and as his brother James writes, faith without works is dead faith. From this I gather that we are to still live by the Law it is just not what saves us. Where does it spell out in Jewish scripture that believers will be punished before they will join God in Heaven?

jewish philosopher said...

I'm sorry, but I'm not following you.

Either Christians are obligated to follow the Law, which sounds like Judaizing to me, or they are not, which seems to imply lawlessness as I pointed out in this post.

The punishement in Hell is first mentioned by the Talmudic sages shortly after the closing of the prophetic era.

david said...

Christians are still to live by Gods law, that is clear, but it is not what saves us. You need to remember that why it sounds like Judaizing is simply that this religion grew out of Judaism. Qutie simply the point of difference is that you reject Jesus as Messiah and therefore do not accept his teachings, I accept him. So when we debate what Christians Believe it is simple, what did Jesus taech. That is that he did not come to abolish the law, but only by faith in him are we saved. I simply do not believe that you can honestly read the New Testament as a whole and not see that salvation is earned by faith but that the Law matters. Read any of Pauls letters and you will see this. Paul pushes salvation by faith more in his writing then anyone else in the bible, yet all his letters were dealing to some degree with issues in the Church. If faith in Christ was the only important thing, why would anything other then the Gospels even exist, you would only need to know who Jesus was and that he died so that you could believe and be saved.
I still maintain that true Faith in Christ will lead us to want to obey his laws.

jewish philosopher said...

I am sure that theologians will appreciate all that, however unfortunately I am afraid that many criminals believe they will escape punishment thanks to faith in Jesus.

david said...

They can believe it all they like, just as you can and Muslims can. That is the exact point of judgement isn't it. There are alot of conflicting ideas out there and they cannot all be true. Everyone thinks theirs is the right perspective, if you didn't you would change.

Joebaum said...

It just came to my mind the great diffrence between the Jewish fieth and all other coulturs, and what makes them special above all nations on earth.
Their respact for life,
By the Jews it cant even came to mind for a son - whan his father is on life support - to take him off of it.
Shock'd?
Well geuss what, the Jewish law forbids it.
The Christians might be good peaple.
they just don't have the Jewish religion.

jewish philosopher said...

David, I still don't really understand. You're saying that a sinner will go to hell. That's fine, I agree with you. However you also believe that Jesus saves us. From what? From keeping kosher?

david said...

From Hell, think of him as the sacrifice rather then a Lamb or a Bull. The sacrifice system was only ever to point to him. His death gives us a chance of salvation, his judgement will be, did you have a true faith in my death, and did that faith lead you to Glorify me.

jewish philosopher said...

Don't Catholics believe that confession absolves the baptized from even mortal sin?

david said...

I am not entirly sure about Catholic doctrine, as far as I know they have sources outside of the Bible from which they get some if these things. The reason the protstant church came to be was that the catholic heiracy were not regarding the scripture as theultimate authority in these matters. They also believe that Mary is a co-redeemer which i don't agree with. What I do know is that Jesus taught that he was the only way to God.