Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Jews and Jesus

For a long time many in the church – the Catholic, the Eastern Orthodox and the Lutheran – justified their antipathy toward Jews by claiming that the Jews crucified Jesus.

I, for one, did not crucify anyone. I have an admiration for Jesus. He is a much better person than me. As for the Jews at the time, they were only following the law of Moses. The first commandment is “Thou shalt have no gods before me.” Jesus claimed to be God; which, to the Jews of the time, was the worst possible crime in the book. That is why they let off a murderer while insisting on crucifying Jesus. What they did is no sign of any kind of “wickedness.” They were following the Ten Commandments.

When a New Age guru was telling me that there are no unwilling victims, I asked him, “Well what about the 6 million Jews who got killed by Hitler?” He said that the Jews had a victim mentality that brought on the persecution. Uh-huh. Did the 1 million Jewish children who were killed by Hitler have victim mentality as well? What about the 50 million Russians and Ukrainians who died in Stalin's labor camps? How about the million Americans who died in the Civil War? I was quite advanced in the New Age at one point, but beliefs of this kind turned me off of it. According to this belief, if a witch gets burned then she has to think that she has caused it. And according to this belief, if I were to rape you and kill you it would be your fault rather than mine.

Present-day Lutherans have a doctrine that God has separate covenants with the Jews and the non-Jews. I've listened to a Jewish convert priest in a DC-area megachurch, Lon Solomon, claiming that there is only one way to get to heaven and avoid hell and that is through Christ. He has lead a successful effort to convert Jews to Christianity. It has been a part of a large-scale trend of Christians reaching out to Jews; which may or may not be a good thing. But if they are to achieve any kind of success they need to drop the idea that Jews are wicked and do a better job of reading the Bible. The first commandment is, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” If someone says that he is son of God, the person following the Ten Commandments will want him dead.

Recently during a meditation session, an otherwise smart and knowledgeable person told me that Jews practiced ritual sacrifice of babies. This is very similar to English media in 1990s claiming that New Agers practiced “Satanic ritual abuse” of children. I am familiar with both Jewish and New Age practices, and I know for certain that neither claim has any truth to it whatsoever. This kind of nonsense discredits the people who claim it – and discredits also the faith of which they are a part. A Christian who tells blatant lies discredits Christianity. And that makes it lose its appeal to honest people, resulting in more honest people leaving it.

In the same way as New Agers claiming that there are no unwilling victims discredits New Age, likewise resulting in honest people leaving it.

Was Jesus the son of God? From the rational standpoint, I would say that an omnipotent being can beget any number of sons and any number of daughters; and from a rational standpoint I want to know why Christ has not done more to correct His followers when they were doing wrong things or fighting each other in His name. Why does not Christ, for example, tell the warring Catholics and Baptists which one of them – if either - is right? I have, however, also experienced what I believe to be the presence of Jesus, and I know many people who claim convincingly that Christ has worked miracles in their lives. I continue to struggle to reconcile the different things that I have experienced with what I know from science and what I've learned from both Christianity and New Age.

German philosopher Lessing referred to Jews as “sensuous” and Christians as “spiritual.” I have definitely known any number of highly spiritual Jews and any number of Christians who had no spiritual inclinations whatsoever. I question the traditional Christian view that the spirit and the body are enemies of each other. In the experience of romantic love, the two come together; and the love that people feel for one another is spiritual and physical at once. It is a passion both of the soul and the body; which, if the two were pitted against one another, could not be.

John Keats said that the way to intelligence is to make one's mind a thoroughfare for all kinds of thoughts. Not all ideas are created equal, and some are easier to disprove than others. I find it very easy to refute, for example, Nazism and Marxism. Spirituality and religion is different. With both the major religions and the stuff “out there,” we find bogus cosmology and real powers. It is easy to refute the cosmology; not easy at all to deny the powers if you are at all honest.

Christians are expected to continue reaching out to the Jews, and the people loyal to Jewish creed will make many efforts to keep Jewish people from converting. The Christians who do reach out to the Jews will need to do away with the perception that Jews are wicked and read the Bible better. Jesus, in claiming to be God, violated the First Commandment; and the Jews who got him crucified were only following the Biblical law.


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