Mike Tsottles Special guest presenter and beloved brother in Jesus our Lord
Christian Messianic Analysis and Apologetics
If I say that I had awakened or that I had learned, and that I came to an understanding on my own; these would all be false and misleading statements. I may not have been able to say this when I first ‘gave my life over to Jesus’, but now I can unequivocally state the following:
He – the One, True and Living God in all His love had awakened me, He had taught me and He gave me the understanding I needed to begin to realize; that His love for us and His promises toward us are so very much more than what I was taught within the Orthodox faith.
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.
For Christians, most of us were born into a Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and other Christian denominations. There are far more people who identify as Baptists and “mainstream” Protestant [Anglican-Episcopal, Methodist, Lutheran, Calvinist-Reformed] than there are Eastern Orthodox globally and in the US. The Roman Catholic is still the largest single faith community in the US, and within Christianity globally. Evangelicals are a large body, especially in the US, and growing in Latin America and Africa, but harder to put hard “boundaries” around. Most Baptists are evangelical, and there are Evangelical Lutherans whom most evangelicals wouldn’t acknowledge as evangelical. Then there are the Pentecostal or charismatic churches, which believe that all of the spiritual gifts manifested in the 1st century church still regularly manifest in true churches today – including healing, prophecy, speaking in tongues, etc. Many people lump Baptists, Evangelicals, and Charismatics in with the three main groups of “mainstream” Protestants as all being Protestants, but while they all do share some beliefs, they are as different from each other in practice and theology as Catholics, Orthodox, and Anglican-Episcopal are from each other. Then there are even more “unusual denominations” like the Seventh-Day Adventists.
Last week, I mentioned some of the Christian anti-Semitism that I encountered growing up, most, if not all, based on ignorance of what the Bible says about the Jewish people. It is also important to understand how I understood other Christians. Eastern Orthodox and Protestants were understood as being different religions, not different expressions, of the same faith. There was very little sense of other Christians who chose to worship differently. As for the Jewish people, they rejected Gesu plus they didn’t eat what we ate; a porchetta sandwich; prosciutto and provolone on Italian bread; sopressata; capicola; mortadella; Genoa salami; sausage and pepper sandwich, and pasta with crab sauce. Admittedly I was a bit confused that pastrami was theirs. It sounded like it should have been ours.
While browsing in 2005, I found myself attracted to the book “Why the Jews rejected Jesus.” I saw that it was written from a traditional Jewish point of view for a Jewish audience. After reading the book it became apparent to me that Jewish people were not encouraged to look at both sides of this issue. I then started to read the Talmud and other Jewish books to try to understand the Talmudic influence on the Jewish point of view. They were being told what to think by post-Temple rabbis, sages who lived during the Middle Ages and modern rabbinical scholars. Yeshua and the New Covenant scriptures were not to be considered or explored; They were to be outwardly rejected.
A traditional Jew who wanted to personally explore this issue could be guilty of idolatry and accepting Yeshua meant forfeiting one’s Jewishness. With this in mind I started to observe Jewish people in airports and on flights. I thought it quite interesting that they were never reading from the Tenakh (Old Testament). They carried and read from the Talmud or other Jewish prayer books. With all of this information in mind, I was fortunate enough to meet reform Jews who had their own misgivings concerning the ultra-conservative Jews and Messianic Jews who stood firm to their Jewishness while simultaneously accepting Yeshua as the Messiah. It was at this point that I decided to write this book.