Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Is Christianity "Judaism Light"?

Moses Receiving the Decalogue

“Jesus was a Jew.” I heard that almost everyday I worked with the old man. He was an orthodox Jew and very proud of his faith, race, nation and ability to “keep” the Torah. I was sent there by the agency I worked for to ease some of the burdens of his family. It was a busy house with a lot of kids and it was easy for him to be forgotten. We talked, played cards, listened to music and every evening I would take him to the synagogue to pray.

He knew I was Lutheran and studying to be a pastor, he had even helped me with my Hebrew a few times. But he just could not wrap his mind around my “silly” worship of a “dead Jew.” It was a touchy situation. I was hired by his family, all very orthodox Jews and I didn’t want to get into religious debates with this old man every night, but whenever he brought it up I answered truthfully and respectfully. He just couldn’t understand. I, along with the angels, apostles, saints and white robed martyrs, was not worshipping a “dead Jew” as he so flippantly put it. We worship the Living Christ, the Son of the Living God, the God of our forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Jesus is Yahweh, whose name is forbidden to even speak in Orthodox Judaism.

When I first started working with this man, I knew nothing about modern orthodox Judaism. It is an intriguing and ancient religion with a rich history. But is it just another “way” to heaven? It certainly is NOT an extension or compliment to Christianity. Orthodox Judaism is a religion that worships the Torah and man’s interpretations of that Torah. Orthodox Judaism is, as Jesus said, “A whitewashed tomb.” It looks very pious and holy on the outside, but inside it reeks of the death and decay of any religion of the Law. There is just no hope there.

This old man told me time and again that there are 613 laws in the Torah that all have to be followed perfectly. He would often ask me why I didn’t follow all of them (like the prohibitions against pork and meat and dairy, the wearing of a tzis tzis, and many others) and I would tell him that Jesus is the Christ, the anointed of God and He came into the world to be the fulfillment of the Law and free all humanity from the curse of the law. Upon hearing this I could tell that this old man wanted to “rend his garments and pull out his beard.”

He really believed that he followed them fully, but he didn’t count the accidents, like the time he…gasp…ate chocolate less than 6 hours after eating meat, thereby breaking the interpretation of Exodus 23:19b "You shall not boil a young goat in its mother's milk.”

So, when asked, “Vicar, aren’t Judaism, Christianity (and Islam) all really just the same thing but with different covers?” I will emphatically say “NO! We have Christ and hope, they have the law that brings only doubt and sorrow.”

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