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Why people become Christians

Reader comment on item: How Church Attendance Affects American Attitudes toward Israel
in response to reader comment: True Christianity Dependent Upon Jewish Roots - The WORD of the LORD

Submitted by Michael S. (United States), Sep 12, 2014 at 21:55

Hi, Tovey

May God bless Daniel, for allowing us to talk to one another about these things here.

Responding to Dan's comments, you said,

"This is an ages old question that to date, is still under scrutiny from all of the above mentioned denominational perspectives, plus all the non-Christian quarters that would love to prove Christianity has never been what it claims to be..."

Is that what Dan was talking about? Proving Christianity is what "it claims to be"? Religion contains so many loaded words, I have trouble navigating these things.

First of all, I'm not sure what "Christianity" is. I assume it is, on the one hand, Roman Catholicism and all its daughter and granddaughter organizations; and on the other hand, it's the culture that derives from countries where these churches dominated. No "claims" there -- just history, plus historical distortions.

I know that, as Dan noted, there are many, many groups calling themselves the true "Christianity". He seems to think they are divided by doctrines; but really, they're just divided by personalities. The vast majority of registered "churches" in the US today have statements of faith that are virtually carbon copies of one another; but every one of them was started by some "apostle" or "pastor" or suchlike gathering a flock to himself and separating from another flock. Everyone wants to be God; but, failing that, everyone wants to be a pope.

The Jews have exactly the same problem. At the shul I attended for a year, we had a visitor from Baltimore. When asked how the Jewish community was doing in Baltimore, he said that they had 22 synagogues. My rabbi, one of only four in my city at the time, told the man that was wonderful! The man replied, "No it isn't -- every one of those 22 shuls came about from some sort of quarrel."

Next, what does "Christianity" "claim" to be? I assume you are talking here about what the New Testament has to say, seeing that Christian groups tend to think they follow that book some way or another. Do you think Dan was deterred from believing the New Testament, because the Christians behave so much like the Jews? I dare say, "not". First of all, hardly anyone has even read the New Testament, be they Christian, Jewish or something else. Most people have an opinion about Jesus, though. I don't think it's any coincidence that people call out his name in vain when they're frustrated or angry (How often have you heard someone say "O Moses!" or "O Buddha!" or "O Darwin!". They don't know him, but they all know his name; and for some reason known only to them, they have some sort of beef with him.

Now you say,

"Christianity takes its truth from believing the Scriptures as they are declared by the Spirit of the Eternal Sovereign of Israel: baruch HaShem Adonai."

I think you have something there. As a boy, I was read the "gospel" portions every Sunday, in their three-year cycle. I was only fed them one or two verses at time; and it wasn't until I was 24 that I realized they were all actually quotes taken from a continuous story (I used to think they were stand-alone stories). Along with this, I was taught about the omnipresent, all-knowing God, and how to pray to him. I didn't have any trouble believing that the God I prayed to was the God that Jesus prayed to. Even so, I don't think many co-parishoners of mine had this belief; because they didn't talk about having prayer lives like I had: They seemed to be concerned about more mundane things.

Perhaps this is the "faux-Christianity" you're talking about. I don't call it "faux-Christianity". I simply call it "Christianity" -- as Dan does, and as the Christians themselves do. In this context, Christianity isn't any more attractive to the Jews than Judaism. On the contrary, Christianity is a great threat to Judaism and to Jews; because in accepting Christianity, a Jew loses his identity as a Jew; and, taken to the extreme, Christianity threatens the very existence of the Jewish people.

There is nothing in Jewish teaching, though, to prevent a Jew from reading and believing the New Testament. I don't see such prohibitions in Tanakh, nor in Mishnah (I have never read more than a verse or two of the Gemara -- nor, for that matter, have many of the Jews I've known). There just seems to be an unwritten, unspoken taboo for Jews to do these things; because they fear that in so doing, they might "become Christians".

That's an unfounded fear, from the pit of hell. Why on earth would someone want to become a Christian, after believing the New Testament? I'll tell you why, because I went that route myself: I read the NT in my 20's; and less than a year later, I had an encounter with God and Jesus. That changed my life, but it didn't cause me to become a Christian. What led me to join a Christian commune and get re-baptized was the fact that I was all alone; and the Christians on the commune welcomed me as their brother -- for real, not just as a "church" member. In fact, those people didn't even have a church of their own for another several months; and even then, we met on Sunday afternoons in a chapel that we rented from the Presbyterians. Why would a Jew want to become a Christian? For the same reason I did -- because that's the way to find friends and family in a lonely, hostile world.

I guess that covers what you said here. God bless and keep you.

Shalom shalom.

Submitting....

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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