COMMUNION: WHAT SHOULD UNITE US DIVIDES US

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.

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WHY SOME JEWS BECOME MESSIANIC JEWS

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.

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WHY A MULTITUDE OF CATHOLICS BECOME BIBLICAL/EVANGELICAL CHRISTIANS

In the past 40 years, unlike anytime dating back to the 16th century, legions of folks who were raised Roman Catholic have decided to become Biblical/Evangelical Christians.  This does not mean these Christians never become Catholic but the volume of those leaving Catholicism for Biblical/Evangelical Christianity has been to such an extent that many Evangelical Churches are comprised of up to 40% members who were raised in the Roman Catholic Church [RCC].  There are many reasons for this and those reasons range from disillusionment to a quest for spiritual growth.  There are those who have had bad experiences in the Church to those who began to read the Bible and discovered variances between the Biblical text and what they were taught.  Undoubtedly the sexual scandals [and associated failed cover-ups, lawsuits and admissions of guilt] affecting the credibility of the priesthood alienated many Catholics. According to a 2004 research study by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops 4,392 priests committed acts of molestation against 10,667 victims between 1950 and 2002. 81% of those victims were male and over 50% of those acts were committed against children 11-14 years old. The Associated Press estimated the settlements of sex abuse cases from 1950 to 2007 totaled more than $2 billion. Bishop Accountability puts the figure at more than $3 billion in 2012.

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UNDERSTANDING PERSPECTIVES

Often in life people of good will find it very difficult to understand or even tolerate the other let alone find areas of agreement.  Upon closer analysis when one understands the core beliefs of people their opinions and actions become far less perplexing. This is important because once understood we can more easily anticipate certain views even those views that are in opposition to what we may hold as being true. Let’s categorize and extrapolate some conclusions.

Those who claim to need more proof to believe in God, don’t believe in God or are against those who espouse a belief in God conclude the following:

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ISRAEL: Does the Hebrew Bible indicate the Messiah, the Anointed One of the House of David, is divine?

Job 19

 

25 But I know my living Redeemer,
and He will stand on the dust at last.
26 Even after my skin has been destroyed,
yet I will see God in my flesh.
27 I will see Him myself;
my eyes will look at Him, and not as a stranger.
My heart longs within me.

Analysis: Before the advent of the prophets Job posed an interesting question. Will the Lord actually stand upon the earth?  Will those who have died be resurrected to see the Lord?  It was clear from the prophetic books of the Tenakh [but not from Torah] that there would be a resurrection of the [“righteous”] dead in the Last Day, and that God would again be among the people as He was in Eden. The Pharisees accepted this, as do modern or rabbinical Orthodox Jews, though they often add to this the belief that only after the Jews “clean up the world” and become more faithful will Messiah come.  [This is not too different from Muslim beliefs about the Mahdi, which are probably drawn from this.]

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ISRAEL: ACCORDING TO THE HEBREW BIBLE DID THE LORD EVER BECOME A MAN?

For over 2000 years Jews and the followers of Yeshua have disagreed concerning Yeshua’s claim of divinity.  The events concerning Yeshua’s words and actions coupled with the reaction of contemporary Jews gives us some great insight into the tension these claims caused 2000 years ago.

Matt. 9 …When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, “This fellow is blaspheming!”4 Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” Then the man got up and went home.

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BIBLICAL CHRISTIANS AND ALL MUSLIMS: The Great Divide

There is a difference in worldview between Biblical Christianity and Islam. The major difference at its core is deeply spiritual. This variance is as deep and drastic as the teachings and lives of Jesus and the Apostles as compared to Muhammad and his immediate successors.

All Muslim groups, including the Jihadis, see themselves as good Muslims. This is a most important point. Even the most violent Muslim groups see themselves as good Muslims. They believe they are being obedient to the words in the Qur’an and the traditions of Muhammad. Therefore if any Muslim group, Sunni or Shi’a, deviate or attack another Muslim group then that Muslim group must be bad. If you are a pious and practicing Muslim and other Muslims disagree with your group or attack your group then they must be bad or takfir. This perspective incentivizes the “good Muslims” to attack the bad Muslims. This helps explain how a Sunni Jordanian pilot was burned to death by ISIS. Since ISIS adherents see themselves as good the Jordanian pilot who bombed them could not possibly be a good Muslim. He was then treated as a heretic. Since Muslims who disagree with another Muslim sect are viewed as bad/misguided then this assures unending conflict between Muslims and with non-Muslims. This also helps explain why many Muslims feel they must defend Islam despite the facts. The quote below is often repeated.

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