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Definitional Niceties

Discussion in 'Religion and Lighthearted Discussion' started by PatsFanInVa, Mar 10, 2007.

  1. PatsFanInVa

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    Since the Jewish faith and adherents thereto seem to be of great interest to many Christians (the majority religious group in the U.S.,) I think it is worthwhile to take a moment to define some terms relating to discussions of Judaism and Christianity vis a vis one another.

    As mentioned elsewhere, Judaism's definitions of "who is a Jew" includes a hereditary definition. If one's mother is Jewish, one is a Jew, regardless of one's own belief. This is true whether one's mother was "born Jewish" or not. If your mother was Jewish when you were born, you are a Jew. The stand of all branches of Judaism is "once a Jew, always a Jew."

    Within Judaism, then, there is a special case for the "apostate," or one who abandons the religion, despite his Jewish heredity. (http://www.answers.com/topic/jews-in-apostasy) Regardless of the broad negative regard in which apostasy is held, apostates are nonetheless Jewish.

    In that Christianity is a historically and theologically distinct religion from Judaism, one can not call Christianity Judaism any more than one can call Buddhism Islam. One certainly can not pass off evangelical protestant theology as Judaism. That is why we have two different words for them.

    I've read a great number of opinions here with various degrees of critical or sympathetic outlook. One which is wholly unsupportable is the notion that one is being Jewish by being Christian.

    One is being Christian by being Christian. In some Christian re-formulations, one is being a good exemplar of a Christian idea of what a Jew should be, by being Christian. But believing in or practicing Christianity is not identical to believing in or practicing Judaism.

    The historical record and scholarly record are so extensive and undisputed on this point, from the late first century C.E. onward, that I will not deign to debate it. It's a matter of constitutive definition.

    Of the various frauds perpetrated in the name of proselytic zeal, this is perhaps the most pernicious: the attempt to denude another religion of its distinct identity, while simultaneously pursuing that religion's extinction (in this particular case, the hoped-for extinction would be of the idea of Judaism, at least in theory. Historically, that has not been the limit of the actions religious zealots have taken to remove the theologically inconvenient people who happen to actually practice or believe in Judaism.)

    A Jewish convert (or apostate) to Christianity is just that. He is Jewish by heredity, and Christian by faith. This neither makes him right nor wrong; that is for God to decide, if indeed He splits hairs about such matters as we debate endlessly here.

    But it does make the doctrine espoused by the convert Christianity, not Judaism -- whichever you adhere to.

    Thanks for your time,

    PFnV
     
  2. 3 to be 4

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    As defined by PFIV, not the Old Testament. No thanks.

    I direct Jews to the Old Testament for relevant definitions of Judaism. A belief in God and respect for the Hebrew scripture might be a good place to begin.

    I direct Christians to the New Testament for why Judaism is such a key part of belief in Jesus Christ.

    As far as Jewish identity, I dont believe that "identity" includes questioning the Hebrew Scripture and the power of God, which the author of this thread has done on a number of occassions, including defending people who started threads here openly mocking and ridiculing the God of the Torah.

    I happen to believe in the Torah, the Old Testament, and the prophesies contained in them. Did Abraham, David, and Moses believe a Messiah was coming? Do you believe they were correct? When was Judaism defined, before Christ or after Christ? Judaism was here long before you or anybody else decided Jesus Christ wasnt the Messiah.

    But before the question of whether Jesus Christ was that Messiah or not, which is the one great dividing line between fully practiced Judaism and Christianity, another question must be proposed.

    Do you believe in Judaism? If you do, that would mean a belief in God and his far reaching power, and a belief that the Old Testament is true.

    If you dont believe in those 2 things, it is you who is commiting the fraud of what Judaisms identity is.

    And if you do believe in those 2 things, what the Old Testament has to say about the Messiah is a relevant, worthy, and fair topic for believing Jews to be discussing, free from empty accusations.
     
  3. PatsFanInVa

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    It would seem that to address the concerns of 3 to be 4, I would have to go permanently off ignore, and descend once again into the muck pit -- not that I'm above that, although I've been trying to resist it, boredom be damned.

    Suffice it to say, one can walk into any synagog or temple in the world, and explain one's attitudes toward God from PatsFanInVa's perspective, as PFnV has actually done from time to time, in conversation with both laymen and clergy, and be within the mainstream of Jewish thought. Many steadfast Jews who did not change their religion in a way that matched the surrounding Christian culture, tend to enjoy such exchanges. I'll not get personal about when and how often PFinV goes to shul, etc. I will however attest that PFinV is squarely within the norm of Jewish religious belief and observance.

    Anyone claiming to be a Jew, who takes these opinions -- about Jesus' messiahship, etc., -- to a real shul, with regularity, may be tolerated for a little while, but eventually will be asked to leave (since the purpose of Judaism and gatherings of Jews, is not to proselytize for protestant fundamentalism.)

    The options are known and available: Judaism, Christianity, other.

    If you are a Christian, be a Christian. If it is a satisfying enough faith for you, in and of itself, one would think it would suffice that you practice Christianity, rather than attempt to proselytize to Jews.

    But if you belong to one of the Christian sects which insists that the inherently disrespectful practice of proselytizing is a requirement of your religion, at least have the decency to say what you are.

    It's a common enough phenomenon. You were born to Jewish parents, but converted to Christianity.

    Steadfast Jews don't have any real need to discuss how we'll all have to change the definition of Judaism to match an Evangelical Protestant reading of the Torah, Neviim, and Ketubim -- or in the Christian formulation, the "Old Testament."

    This is the crux (no pun intneded) of the matter.

    Furthermore, for a believing Jew, whether to question God (the very word Yisrael means "struggles with God,") is not some sort of evil demonic issue. It's a matter of course. It is part of Judaism.

    I realize there are those who read the scriptures the way that 3 to b 4 reads them.

    They are called Evangelical Protestants.

    One may always return to the Jewish faith, having strayed philosophically or for reasons of emotional outburst; the belief of most Jews is that God does not slam the door.

    What one can not do is trivialize Judaism into nonexistence, to fit the definitional mold convenient to Evangelical Protestantism.

    PFnV
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2007
  4. 3 to be 4

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    It is you and whatever "mainstream" Synagogue you are going to that trivializes Judaism by spending more time "questioning" God than in worshipping God. Judiasm was never meant to be about meeting religiously, "struggling" with God, and ignoring or downplaying scripture.

    It may be the norm, it doesnt make it correct. I have the greatest respect for Orthodox Jews because they, at least, respect the God of Abraham, and honor the Torah. I may disagree with their interpretations ( and they, mine) but at least they believe in something, they dont show up in order to punch a religious timeclock and it isnt the cornerstone of their faith to "question" God or scripture.

    Whether a person like me is accepted in Synagogues doesnt matter. Jesus wasnt either. As I said, the norm isnt always correct.

    But you are not sinister for disagreeing with me any more than I am for disagreeing with you. The fact that you feel you must always resort to that shows an underlying insecurity in the rock you are standing on.

    That I speak of it isnt about any insecurity on my end. In fact, its just the opposite. You see Im so sure its correct that I risk others scorn in order to be obediant to the great commission, to spead the good news of Jesus Christ.
    And to make sure other Jews know what their scripture says about their Messiah. Because it is their Salvation that is at stake.
    That trumps the "norm", or the worlds wish for quiet on the subject.

    You wish to stay in the burning building go right ahead, that doesnt make me a bad guy for telling people the way out.

    And you can stop with buzzwords "targeting Jews". I only used one thread on that subject, and, as im speaking to the people of my heritage, it makes perfect sense I would have an interest in spreading Gospel that was written by Jews to other Jews in the first place.
    Hello!!! Who do you think wrote the Bible? Jews. Who were they first speaking to? Jews. It was the Gentiles who were reached out to afterwards. Who was Jesus but the Jewish King, and the people he will first come back for are His chosen ones.

    Praise the Lord.
     
  5. PatsFanInVa

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    Regardless of one's own preferred "brand" of Jew, the fact remains: no branch of Judaism or Jewish theology, Orthodox, Reform, Conservative, etc., equates itself with Evangelical Christianity.

    You may make the claim, based on an Evangelical Christian reading, that Christians are the "real" Jews.

    Not surprisingly, however, this is not a premise accepted among steadfast Jews. It is, however, a premise accepted, in one guise or another, among some Christians. This does somewhat clarify the character of the dilemma we see: you embrace Christianity, but that makes you Christian, not Jewish, by faith. You support your Christianity through Evangelical readings of Jewish texts. These readings would be alien to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as well as Moses, Aaron, David and the Prophets. They only fall so melodiously on the ears of other Christians; Christian readings of the Jewish bible are of course convincing to the biblically ignorant, the confused, and the weak-minded, who are the current trolling pool for proselytizers in the West, now that a baptism is not a "ticket to acceptance" into the larger culture, as it was in Europe for centuries.

    But I digress. What is important is to clarify in the objective record, what the objective case is: Christianity, though it may be a wonderful, fulfilling religion, is not Judaism. Christian theologies, whatever their virtues, are not Jewish theology.

    Doing violence to the language does not in any way move such a discussion forward. It merely reduces steadfast Jews to an inconvenience in a proselytizing Christian's world, one which will hopefully be eradicated.

    A little history: Christians have referred to themselves as such for nearly two millenia now, specifically because 1) Christianity was never the dominant faith among those born to Judaism; and 2) Judaism and Christianity became ideologically and socially distinct very early in Christianity's history.

    Your evangelical Christianity has its own identity, which is separate and distinct from Judaism's. Whatever you tell yourself to get you through the night is one thing, but what one spews into the public arena is another.

    Your Christian worship is just that, and long may you entertain tents or churches full of fellow worshippers (to say nothing of good old fashioned bar-b-ques, or pig-pickins, as they're sometimes referred to south of the Mason-Dixon).

    But don't fool yourself that you're practicing Judaism.

    PFnV
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2007
  6. 3 to be 4

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    Your first point is entirely false as the number of Jews around the world who have accepted Jesus Christ is growing every day.
    http://www.mjaa.org/engine.cfm?i=2&sl=12
    http://www.jewishvoice.org/

    But again, popular doesnt make correct. So I needn't get into a debate about the numbers.

    Secondly, Judaism and Christianity became distinct over the question of whether Jesus was the Messiah. Before Jesus, Judaism was already established, and in Judiasm, there was a God to be worshipped and scripture to be followed. If those 2 things arent happening, Judaism the faith is not being practiced ,although Judaism the culture and heritage may be thriving.

    I do agree with you to this point: As people in Synogogues are not believers of Jesus Christ, I identify and practice Christianity and worship in a Christian church. But by believing in Jesus and worshipping Him with other Christians, I am practicing the faith that I believe Jews were called on to first, before the Gentiles, but for the most part rejected.

    It would be my observation that Jews who have a problem with those proclaiming Jesus as Lord, have a problem with their own scripture and their own King. And just as important, Christians who have ever had issues with Jews had better understand they are thinking ill of the authors of their own faith and of THEIR own King.

    The key again is what Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:11-22, from the NIV.
    11Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called "uncircumcised" by those who call themselves "the circumcision" (that done in the body by the hands of men)— 12remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.

    14For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, 16and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

    19Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, 20built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
     
  7. PatsFanInVa

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    Despite the judgment of an apostate to Evangelical Protestantism, Judaism is, and was, being practiced, by steadfast Jews. Not many among them believe that it is the job of an Evangelical Protestant to determine whether they are practicing their faith by the bible, as Evangelical Protestants read it.

    I think it was Wild who once said "Christianity's a wonderful religion. Someone should try it some time." Evidently, 3 to b 4 holds a similarly dim view of Judaism and its adherents. But the key here is that it does not matter. Judaism is not simply an irrelevant phenomenon to be claimed as a springboard for Evangelical Protestantism.

    The only question is, whether this negative assessment of Jews and Judaism developed prior to or after his conversion to Christianity. This may shed some light on the psychology of apostasy, for future generations to examine.

    Fascinating as that question is, the fact remains:

    There is a Jewish religion. There is a Christian religion. One can also be "Jewish by birth," but an apostate to Christianity.

    What one can not do, is claim Christianity to be "your" Judaism.

    As I said, if you are a Christian, be a Christian. Enjoy. But the fact of a birth to Jewish parents, does not make your Christianity the "real" Judaism, just as your birth to Hindu parents would not make your version of Christianity the "real" Hinduism.

    There's nothing mysterious here. You've just embraced Christianity.

    Enjoy,

    PFnV
     
  8. NYCPatsFan

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    Question: can you call yourself a Jew but not practice/follow Judaism?

    Trying to figure out if the word "Jews" is used to denote a particular race as opposed to people following Judaism. Thanks,
     
  9. 3 to be 4

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    But theres the interesting question. What defines "practicing Judaism"?

    to some, it simply is about NOT believing in Jesus. To others its about believing that God was and is who He says He is, believing in Him and His power, and believing that Hebrew Scripture is true.

    too many modern Jews, its about Religion, going to Temple, questioning God, not knowing Scripture, and not believing in Jesus.
    Secular Judaism. Which is actually FARTHER from Judaism than believing in God, believing in Scripture, and based on that scripture believing that Jesus is the Messiah.

    One that believes in God and the Old Testament but has a different interpretation of who the Messiah is, is a lot closer to Orthodox Judaism than someone who practices Secular or Reform Judaism, the practice of calling oneself a Jew by birth, showing up to Temple, and questioning God and Scripture.

    Just for the record, I was never the one who started this "Who is a real Jew" discussion. Long ago, and continuing here, I have been told many times how im not really practicing my faith.

    some people dish it out quite well and then when challenged hide behind the wail of "anti-semitism".
     
  10. NYCPatsFan

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  13. PatsFanInVa

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    NYC, even the "national" definition of Judaism is not of a race per se. For one thing, you can not convert to a race. "Hereditary" Judaism is not, in fact, a very strict "race" definition.

    Within Judaism, however, there is this "national" definition; there is a notion of "the Jewish people," which has nothing to do with how one worships. For example, a Jewish apostate to Evangelical Christianity is, in fact, within his rights to say he is a Jew. He is not, however, practicing Judaism.

    Being a Jew is something like citizenship. The rabbinical maxim is "once a Jew, always a Jew." So even our convert to Christianity qualifies. So yes, just as an Evangelical Christian can say he is a Jew, if born to Jewish parents, so can an Atheist. But the Atheist can not say he has no belief in God, and no intention of ever informing his own life by a Jewish ethos, and claim that his Atheism is in fact Judaism. The same goes for an Evangelical Christian. While there are a broad spectrum of beliefs and practices that are considered "mainstream" to Judaism, the belief in a God in human form, or the belief that God does not exist, are pretty much non-starters in the Jewish mainstream.

    Since Jewry is determined in part by parentage, but Judaism involves a belief system, it can be a pretty perplexing notion that, for example, an Evangelical Christian can claim to be a Jew. It's pretty much a historical oddity, born of a time when the Jewish people inhabited Judah, then Judea; the people of that land were called Jews, and their religion Judaism (among other epithets, such as b'nai Yisra'el, the House of Israel, for the people.) So if a Christian or Atheists says, "Ah, but you see, I am a Jew," what he actually has the right to say, is that he is from this national group. He certainly is not speaking as the determinant of ethical or moral teachings of a religion he has himself abandoned, regardless of what he may have convinced himself of.

    PFnV
     
  14. 3 to be 4

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    My goodness, I think PFIV is telling other people who a "real" Jew is.
    What nerve! :)

    Does a "real" Jew have to worship God and believe the Torah to be true?
     
  15. PatsFanInVa

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    Hello, 3, noticed your slander from high orbit, and thought I would respond.

    First of all, the definitions I have discussed have to do with Christianity on the one hand, as well as Judaism, and the position of the apostate. Far be it from me to decide what a "real" Jew is; the question of "who is a Jew" has occupied far brighter lights for quite some time now, not to mention some dimmer ones, outside of the Jewish community. As I've mentioned, the definition of "Jew" has a hereditary aspect as well as a religious aspect. That does not mean that one can not determine what apostasy is in a mainstream Jewish context.

    We can discuss mainstream Judaism, as well as sectarian movements, some of which may not be considered Judaism, and may not consider themselves Judaism, but are nonetheless far closer to Judaism than is evangelical Christianity. I would be capable of doing so regardless of my own religion or beliefs; take me to be an artificial intelligence, if you like, generated by Patsfans.com to keep you interested. It is not germane to our subject, which is that of Christianity being a separate offshoot of Judaism.

    Most importantly, I am able to discern the historical fact of Christianity as a separate religion, whose tenets are not, in fact, wholly contained within Judaism. Again, that is why there is a Christian religion.

    As to my own personal beliefs, not only do you not know them, I do not think you capable of understanding them. As I've said, we differ not only in creed, but also in complexity, and I would suspect we differ in age as well. This may or may not also apply to your parents' observance of Judaism (and certainly to their ages, relative to your own.) It is, in fact, possible that your dissatisfaction with Judaism has as much to do with what was there which you missed, as with what was "lacking." This is not important to me.

    What is important is that any assertion that evangelical Christianity is Judaism not go unchallenged. On the one hand, in the best case, God and man are partners in making Religion. And, unless we have constructed a limited "miniGod," He is in each of us, and so to make further division is to harbor illusion.

    On the other hand, I find myself confronted with a distortion of historical fact, and in this corporeal realm, I find that the historical and empirical fact of division is less false, than a historical and empirical invalidation of the Jewish people, based on an evangelical Christian reading declaring Christians the "real" Jews. This reading declares quite clearly that we'll all be just fine as soon as we get with the program and become Christians (at which point, of course, we'll be "real" Jews.) This tenet is divisive at its core.

    To claim Christianity is the "real" Judaism is simply patently false, and to claim Christian worship to be Jewish worship is chutzpah at the very least, and just plain derogatory when thought through to its logical conclusion.

    This is not to say Christian worship is "wrong" or "bad." It is very good for expressing the Christian religion. It simply is not Judaism.

    Thanks for dropping by,

    PFnV
     
  16. 3 to be 4

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    let me rephrase the question then. Is it necessary in the practice of Judiasm to worship God and to believe the Torah to be true?
     
  17. PatsFanInVa

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    Hi there, 3. Define your terms. What do you mean by "true" and "God"?

    PFnVius Pilate
     
  18. 3 to be 4

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    Is this Bill Clinton?:confused:

    how about, you know, the God that Jews believe in?? true, as in, um, its true? Hello??:rolleyes:

    I dont think its too much to ask a Jewish person to know what the term God means, or to be able to answer a straightforward question such as, are the words in the Torah true, or to be more precise, the truth.
     
  19. PatsFanInVa

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    Nooooo, 3, I'm a bit less gullible than that. You have to tell me exactly what you mean by God, and exactly what you mean by Truth. What do you believe is God? Is it the same as anybody else's belief in God? What do you define as Truth? Must every word be literal? Etcetera.

    While you ponder the terms, I'll provide the following link, not with the intent of hijacking my own thread, but to give us another example of what does not qualify as an expression of any of the branches of Judaism I'm aware of (and to lighten everything up for a moment, and because I honestly miss Mojo Nixon).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gopc3fgnXDw&mode=related&search=

    Thanks,

    PFnV
     
  20. 3 to be 4

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    man, Clinton has got nothing on you. You cant even answer if Jews worship God or believe the Torah to be true.
    It wasnt a tough question, and it kind of tells me I've been wasting my time talking faith with you.
    Sometimes less is more, PFIV. You can write intellectually impressive essays ABOUT faith but you cant answer the most basic of questions.

    the heart of Judaism is a belief in God. And that the Scripture is truth. Its not about showing up, performing religious ritual, and eating coffee cake.

    You have a decent arguement that as a Jew, who believes that Jesus Christ is the Messiah prophesied about in the Old Testament, I am a Jew by birth and only a Christian by faith. I feel I have a decent arguement that believing what I do is simply fulfilling what Judaism was telling us.

    But without God, and without scripture, what you consistantly have put out there, while common amongst Jewish people ( especially Secular American Jews), is farther from Judaism than anything I practice.

    What many non-Christians fail to grasp about Christians is that while we believe in Jesus the Son, He is but part of a trinity, and that He is the way to the Father, the same God the Jews worship. So there is no way for a Christian not to believe in the God of Abraham, of David, of Moses and to believe in the Torah, the first 5 books of the Old Testament, and to also believe in the writings, the Jewish writings, which make up the rest of the Old Testament. Christians who dont grasp their Jewish roots are missing the point of who Jesus Christ, not to mention Mary, Joseph, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Paul, to just name a few, were.

    So for Jews who dont worship that God or look to the Scripture as truth ( or cant simply answer that question when posed) to talk for Judaism is very questionable.

    You may speak as a Jew, but if you cant proudly claim that God is your Sovereign Lord, then dont speak to me of Judaism.
     

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