FROM: CHRISTIAN MESSIANIC ANALYSIS AND APOLOGETICS
BY: Steve Daskal
The Jewish faith, as was being taught & practiced in Jesus’ day, was no longer a single unified faith focused on “the Law and the Prophets,” but was made up of several sects that at best disdained or ignored each other, each following its own particular interpretations that suited them.
The Sadducees denied that anything beyond Torah [The Law, Pentateuch, Five Bks of Moses] was inspired of or delivered from God. So, they didn’t accept that there would be a Messiah at all. The Torah references frequently cited, such as Gen 3:15 and in Deuteronomy when Moses tells them that a Prophet like himself will come to lead Israel back to God after they have “fallen away,” point to from the perspectives of Christians, and of Pharisees, but they aren’t unambiguous/direct statements. The Psalms & the Prophets were considered by the Sadducees the way we’d consider books by C.S. Lewis or G.K. Chesterton — good reading, edifying, but neither inspired nor authoritative for doctrine. The Kohanim [the priesthood-by-descent] and many of the other Levites were Sadducees. They controlled the Temple in Jesus’ day and had a sizeable presence on the Sanhedrin which was the religious court that had been granted ultimate socio-religious authority for the Jews of Judea under Roman rule.
The unbelievers in our schools and universities often teach that the existence of so much evil in this world negates the existence of a holy and righteous God. Life itself proceeds with no discernible purpose. Events that occur in the cosmos appear to be totally random. The First Law of Thermodynamics proves since energy cannot be created or destroyed the universe has always existed.
Since we cannot argue that creation exists then how can creation exist apart from an act of creating initiated by an unseen Creator?
Most people throughout history believed or practiced their religion because they were raised to do so, made to feel guilty if they failed to do so, or coerced by social pressure to “fit in” with their family/clan/neighbors/local elites. Prior to the 20th century, there was generally little questioning of authority, and swift, vigorous punishment for those who dared to do so. What people learned in the home and school was also not all that demanding – it took an hour or so on a sabbath-day, or was the “price” for a feast day off from one’s work demands, or on fairly rare occasion required some self-denial for a fast day. There were always privileged, authoritative “religious” to obey: priests/monks/nuns on up through archbishops, or rabbis, or imams/mullahs, or the like, many of whom in turn had still higher human authorities to whom they were held accountable. These religious did not share their shortcomings, therefore many of the laity were convinced that they, unlike themselves, didn’t have any.
It is easy today to hear many things from various sources. One of the modern day mantras is that Islam is a Religion of Peace. Upon closer inspection neither Muhammad nor any of his early followers used this argument as they defeated the Polytheists, Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians, Buddhists, Hindus and Sub-Sahara African polytheists and animists on the battlefield. 20th Century Pakistani Muslim scholar Abdul Maududi stated the following:
“But the truth is that Islam is not the name of a ‘Religion,’ nor is ‘Muslim’ the title of a ‘Nation.’ In reality, Islam is a revolutionary ideology and program which seeks to alter the social order of the whole world and rebuild it in conformity with its own tenets and ideals. Islam wishes to destroy all states and governments anywhere on the face of the earth which are opposed to the ideology and program of Islam regardless of the country or the nation which rules it. The purpose of Islam is to set up a State on the basis of its own ideology and program.” [CMAA emphasis]
Back in the 7th century Muhammad had very limited success trying to convince others to adopt his new politico-religious ideology. From 610-622 his followers totaled about 100 when one considers those that earlier escaped to Abyssinia. It was from 623-632 that Muhammad swelled his ranks by practicing political and militant Islam whereby the possessions of his vanquished enemies [Jews, Christians and pagans] became the possessions of Muslims and where the slave trade became lucrative.
Muslims who apostatized were killed on Muhammad’s order and those who left Islam after Muhammad’s death were soundly defeated by Abu Bakr [the first kaliph] in the Ridda Wars which lasted from 632-634.
Christians believe that Jesus instituted Communion at the Last Supper. In fact Jesus had just taken the middle matzah called the Afikomen from the single stack of three matzah during the Passover observance. He broke that matzah and then equated that unleavened bread to His body and poured the wine and equated that to His blood.
Seems simple enough but not for many professing Christians. Catholics believe the bread and wine actually becomes the physical body and blood of Jesus and those Christians who do not believe that are denied Communion in a Catholic Church. A local Catholic Bishop may make an agreement with a local Orthodox Bishop to extend Communion to Orthodox Christians. However, Local Orthodox Bishops will not comply. The Orthodox Church does not permit non-Orthodox Christians to take Communion in an Orthodox Church and the Orthodox Church forbids Orthodox Christians from taking Communion in non-Orthodox Churches.
Likewise Catholics are forbidden from taking Communion from non-Catholic Ministers. The Catholic Church considers taking Communion in a non-Catholic or Orthodox Church to be a grave evil and mortal sin. The Catholic Church considers their Bishops and Orthodox Bishops to have a direct line succession going back to the Apostles. Since non-Orthodox and Catholic Pastors cannot claim that line of succession they are considered illegitimate to offer Communion according to the Roman Catholic Church.
No one has any control as to where they were born or to whom they were born. We are raised by parents who identify with a particular faith and that faith was transmitted to us. Some of us were then sent to religious schools where we were further indoctrinated into that faith. All faiths have variations within them. Movement within these variations can often cause at a minimum verbal conflict or shunning. In contemporary Christianity movement between Orthodox, Catholic, Traditional Protestant, Baptist and Evangelical occurs often without fear of physical repercussions. This cannot be said about Islam. Movement between Shi’a and Sunni groups can often end in violence. A Sunni who is a Salafi could never accept a relative or friend becoming Shi’a. This is so because Shi’ites are viewed as heretics. Judaism is extremely diverse. Rabbinical Judaism encompasses Ultra-Orthodox, Orthodox, Khabad Lubavitch, Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist. Khabad Lubavich is one of several kHasidic [or, more commonly, Chasidic or Hasidic] sects which are a branch within what would be considered ultra-Orthodox [kHeredim] Judaism. Khasidim have a different worship style [more music, more dancing, more spontaneity than other kHeredim], but equally strict social and lifestyle rules and similarly insular [avoiding contact with non-Kosher-keeping people who are viewed as ceremonially unclean]. Modern Orthodox Jews keep most of the same rabbinic laws, but will work and do business with, and to a large degree socialize with, non-Jews and secular Jews.