Dialogue with a Missionary
This actual dialogue picks up after this “Missionary” emailed us a few days ago, having read our latest JewishTimes issues. He critiqued our recent articles where we expose Christianity’s inconsistencies with G-d’s Torah. We will continue to publish this currently, ongoing dialogue as it unfolds, and invite participation from any other readers:
Mesora: I received your emails critiquing our position that Christianity is not G-d’s religion. If I successfully disproved Jesus’ miracles and Christianity, would you abandon both?
Missionary: Of course, if you could, as you say, ‘successfully’ (I assume you mean to my satisfaction) disprove the New Covenant account of Jesus’ miracles and ‘Christianity’, then I would abandon these things. And you have agreed to believe these same things if you find proof to your satisfaction.
Mesora: Yes, I will believe anything that is proven. You appear to have strong arguments. Therefore, I assume you will not mind our publication of our dialogue? Perhaps you wish your friends and colleagues to hear how your words surpass my own reasoning, so I ask you to invite them to monitor our debate. You are not afraid of others hearing your words, are you?
Missionary: I must warn you that many people have come to faith in Jesus thru just such an exercise. May I ask, do you read Yiddish? I have some Yiddish materials that you might enjoy along these lines. I don’t read Yiddish, so I have not yet read these documents, but I would be curious to hear what you think of them. I would be happy to send them to whatever address you choose. But, perhaps I am ahead of myself. How would you propose we proceed?
Mesora: Let’s start with your presentation of your succinct proofs of the following: 1) Jesus’ performance of miracles, 2) that he died for our sins, 3) that he was selected by G-d, 4) that accepting him will save us, 5) and any other doctrine you like. I ask you to comply with my request to be brief, to the point, and use reason in your arguments, not simply quote verses.
Missionary: Of course, it may be a bit silly for me to continue because you are asking me to provide you with the smoking gun, with DNA evidence, photos, etc. I hope you will take the time to understand what I have shared, not because I think it is important for you, but because G-d loves you, and wants your name in the Book of Life, not just for one year, but for all eternity!
1) Jesus’ performance of miracles: You have to start at the beginning. The Word (G-d) (later to take on flesh) created the World... Genesis 1:3, Elokim spoke... and there was light, etc. The Word that was part of the Trinity, G-d. G-D, the Father, Jesus the Son, and Holy Spirit, who said at Genesis 1:26, “Let us make man in our image.” (See John 1).
The miracles of Jesus were necessary to prove that he was the Messiah. For example in Isaiah 35:5, “Then the eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy.”
a. blind given sight: Matthew 9:27, 12:22, Mark 10:46, John 9 (there are others)
b. deaf given hearing: Mark 7:31
c. lame healed so they could walk: Matthew 9:2-7, John 5: 1-9.
d. mute given speech: Matthew 9:32, Luke 11:14, Mark 7:31
May I ask you why Jesus caused such a strong reaction among the Pharisees and Saducees? John 7:32 explains that these miracles, signs that Jesus might be the Messiah, led the chief priests and the Pharisees to send guards to arrest him.
In John 10:32, as Jewish people picked up stones to stone him, Jesus asked, “For which of these [miracles] do you stone me?” The reply, “We are not stoning you for any of these... but for blasphemy, because you a mere man claim to be G-d!” They did not deny the miracles. John 9 is all about trying to understand how a man born blind was given sight. It was a display of the work of G-d!
These New Testament Scriptures were written just a few years after these events. And the environment was not exactly warm and friendly. Neither the Jewish people nor the pagans were particularly excited about what was written. Its not as if they would not have published contradictory evidence if it existed!
I look forward to seeing your contradictory evidence.
Mesora: You make claims that G-d clothed Himself in flesh, that a Trinity exists, and that the New Testament is absolute truth. You make such statements, offering no sense for your words, expecting that I too simply agree, all because you verbalized something? You said you would comply with my design for this dialogue, that you won’t simply make statements, but you would offer proofs and rationale. Yet, you do not offer anything you agreed to, and what is demanded by reason. You simply recite passages, in doing so, you deny me the proofs you promised. For I too can recite, yet, mere recitation has no bearing on reality, nor does it offer proof for what G-d wishes from man. At the very outset, you led me to believe that my time would be worthwhile discussing matters, yet I see, I am wasting my time.
Missionary: 2) That Jesus died for our sins: Again, you must start at the beginning. Genesis 3 is the account of Adams disobedience. In 3:22, because the man now knows evil, the LORD said man must not be allowed to take from the tree of life and live forever. Is this just an evil inclination? In Psalm 51, David says he was sinful from the time of conception! Psalm 130: “If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?” From the fall of Adam, we have all inherited this condition that separates us from G-d (Isaiah 59:2). To quote Isaiah, “we all, like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way.” Isaiah 53: 6. Sin causes death (Ezekiel 18:4). Not just temporal death, but everlasting condemnation... to those whose name is NOT written in the Book of Life (Daniel 12:1-2). Can we simply try harder? Do more repentance? More prayer? More mitzvot? Can we earn G-d’s favor? Isaiah 64:6: “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.”
So where is our hope? In the sacrificial system in the Temple that G-d provided, such as Yom Kippur with the atoning sacrifice, so that the people can be cleansed from all their sins? This was G-d’s plan until the New Covenant. It is interesting that after Jesus died and rose again, the Talmud records that at Yom Kippur, the scapegoat no longer returned with the red cloth turned white... it remained red.
By the way, how are sins atoned for today? Is Leviticus 16 superseded by something other than the New Covenant? If there is some other way to atone for sins, can you explain?
Mesora: Again, you talk of a “New Covenant”, and that Jesus “died and arose again”. I am amazed that you expect my instantaneous acceptance of a “New Covenant” - that G-d should change His mind, a G-d Who knows all and need not alter His Revealed Religion, based on what must have been events, “unforeseen” by G-d! You also expect my acceptance of such unnatural occurrences, like Jesus being resurrected?! Where are your arguments you promised, your rationale behind your mere claims? You ignore your word to offer proof to me. Instead, you retract from your word to offer solid rationale as I asked, and as you agreed.
Missionary: After the year 70, there could not even be sacrifices in the Temple. That may never be possible again. (You have to admit, there is a bit of a real estate problem)
Why did G-d allow the destruction of the Temple? Because Messiah was to come, and did come, during the Second Temple (see Daniel 9 and Haggai 2). As Jeremiah 31:31 and Isaiah 53 explain, the Zeroah, the Arm of the Lord, was to be our once for all atonement for sin. He was pierced (OK torn as by a lion) for our iniquities...you know this text very well, as well as the Gospel texts. He endured separation from G-D (Mark 15:34) so that he could bear your sins and mine, suffer the punishment we deserve, so that thru faith in him, we can have forgiveness of sins and eternal life. But he didn’t enter the man made Temple with the blood of animals; he entered heaven itself with His own precious blood, shed for you and for me. He thought of you as he hung on that cross.
Mesora: Again, you make assertions that Jesus died for other people’s sins. Yet, you do not offer a shred of rationale. I am starting to see that in fact, you have no rationale. Your beliefs are just that, “beliefs” bereft of an ounce of reasonable argumentation. You display Christianity as bereft of reason.
Do you think scientists who study G-d’s creation base their theories on “belief”, or, on tested and proven rationale, precise equations and formulae? Of course it is the latter, you would agree, you know of the great scientific minds, and their writings. You learned of their calculations and how they are based on years of intense study, not mixed with emotional agendas. Yet, in matters of religion, you act as if G-d knows His “left hand”, but not His “right” - that He created the physical world with supreme, evident knowledge and wisdom, but He created religion, being absent minded? Is this your position, that reason applies to only part of G-d’s creation, but religion may be G-d’s creation, but simultaneously lacks the same precision and beauty of knowledge contained in physical sciences?! That is absurd, that G-d can create anything, and that it should not bear His mark of Divine wisdom. Not only does reason and evidence dictate this, that Creation is made precisely to impart the only intelligent beings - man - with an appreciation for this wisdom, but Scripture too attests to this, “The whole universe s filled with your honor.” (Isaiah, 6:3) This means that everything G-d made - religion included – bears witness to His supreme wisdom. However, you have displayed only one thing with your lack of rationale for Christianity, and it is this: that Christianity could not have been a creation of G-d.
Missionary: It is fascinating that when it was finished, the curtain separating the Holy of Holies from the rest of the Temple was torn in two... because as Jeremiah prophesied, G-d will remember our sins no more... once the Holy Spirit dwells in us (as it did on those Jewish believers at Shavuot, Acts 2), we are now the sukkot, the Temples of the Holy Spirit. We have Torah in our minds and hearts!
Mesora: What is fascinating is your complete acceptance of events, without proof. What is disappointing is your failure to comply with your agreement to offer me proof, instead of simply reciting texts, as you explicitly agreed to out the outset.
Missionary: 3) That Jesus was selected by G-d: He WAS G-d. See John 1. One G-d (Echad, not Yachid) in three persons.
Mesora: Not only do you fail to offer any proof for the most unbelievable claim man can make, but you suggest blasphemous ideas that the mind cannot bear to ponder, and that G-d’s prophets openly denounced, “And to who will you equate Me that I should be similar? says G-d.” (Isaiah, 40:25) Yet, you pay no heed to Isaiah when he denies Christine doctrine. Isaiah openly states that G-d cannot be equated to anything or anyone, yet you not only ‘equate’ G-d to man, you MAKE G-d a man! This is outright blasphemy of the worst kind. Do your ears not hear what your mouth utters? You believe what violates Scripture, and you accept that which reason cannot bear – that the Creator became the created, man! It is a contradiction, and violates G-d’s very words. But your position is also in violation of G-d’s word to Moses, “Man cannot know Me while he is alive”. (Exod. 33:20) But you feel you do know G-d, that He became a man. How is it that you have knowledge of G-d, when He said Himself, “You cannot know me...”?
Missionary: 4) That accepting him will save us, Isaiah 53: “the punishment that brought us peace was upon him...” and 53:11 “by knowledge of him, my righteous servant will justify many.” I am sure you are familiar with John 3:16. See also Romans 3:23 and 6:23. Romans 10 is a great text. To your question, see vv. 9-13. I encourage you to read these for yourself if you really want to know the truth.
Mesora: You read the texts, assuming you have greater knowledge than the Rabbis - who gave you this text! Beware, the Rabbis are the exclusive source for the text and Oral Torah, essential for understanding the truth behind the texts. This area of Isaiah 53, is recording not G-d’s words, but the corrupt view of the other nations. As they see the Jews exiled, the world’s nations suggested an explanation for the sinless Jews being in exile. Exile must have been a punishment not of their own deserving. The nations vindicated the Jews. So why were the Jews exiled? The nations suggested a false explanation, but one that they were pleased with; “the Jews suffered for the other nations’ sins”. Similar to Christianity, but both are false, as Ezekiel 18 teaches, “Each man in his own sin will be killed…” The Torah states this openly many times. Yet, you again, conveniently disregard these passages. Had you been searching for truth, you would have abandoned Christian doctrines already, as they violate G-d’s open words. Isaiah 53 does not record G-d’s words, but the flawed opinions of the world’s nations, as they desperately searched for some rationale behind the Jews’ suffering. They wrongly concluded that the Jews suffered for their sins. (Christianity’s error is in understanding the term “man” as a single man, when in reality it refers to the entire Jewish nation.)
Missionary: I pray that you will ask G-d to show you whether the New Covenant is true. It is only G-d that can show you. I can’t convince you because it is not an intellectual exercise.
Mesora: These are the first truths you have uttered. Your words are in fact not an intellectual exercise.
Missionary: By definition, your faith is no less based on faith. Can you prove with facts that G-d exists? Facts, other than His Word? If you can, then why are there atheists in the world?
Mesora: I can, but we both agreed that you will commence with offering rationale for your Christian beliefs, and you have not done so yet.
Missionary: Jesus rose again from the dead. His tomb is empty. He is alive! He is different than anyone else who ever walked this earth in human form. He understands your struggles. He has endured far worse. And he loves you so much, he was willing to die for you!
Mesora: Again, words with no support.
Missionary: What is particularly interesting is He, like all of his early followers, and all of the authors of the New Covenant, with the possible exception of Luke, is Jewish! They struggled with whether you could be a Gentile and believe in Jesus. I wonder if part of your resistance comes from a healthy concern about the ugly history of anti-Semitism that infected the church beginning at the end of the first century. Maybe we could agree in this area. I actually believe that there should be additions to the Holocaust museums to show why the German people ‘went along’ with Hitler. It is very convenient to blame him. If it was all his fault, why is anti-Semitism coming back so strong
Anyway, I will be slow in responding for a while as I am on my way in the morning to Florida. On the road, I don’t have good access to my e-mail. But I promise, I will carefully read your reply as I have time! Shalom!
Mesora: You write, “I wonder if part of your resistance comes from a healthy concern about the ugly history of anti-Semitism that infected the church beginning at the end of the first century.” You made a faulty move: you made an “assumption”, and at that, one that plagues your overall credibility. But I think you already have my answer, as I repeated it numerous times: my resistance is to anything bereft of reason. –Moshe Ben-Chaim