Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Choosing my religion: why I am not Jewish

I’ve decided to spend some time writing extremely short explanations about why I am an evangelical Protestant Christian instead of anything else.

I have two aims.

First, I want show how an honest person can evaluate rival religions using the laws of logic, scientific evidence and historical evidence. Second, I want people who are not religious to understand that religions are either true or it is false. Religions should not be chosen based where you were born, what your parents believed, or what resonates with you. A religion should be embraced for the same reason as the theory of gravity is embraced: because it reflects the way the world really is.

Why I am not Jewish

  1. Jewish persons can’t believe that God raised Jesus from the dead.
  2. There are historical criteria for determining what parts of historical biographies are true.
  3. If we apply the historical criteria to the Gospels and Paul’s letters, a set of minimal facts about Jesus’ death, (and what happened after), can be extracted.
  4. Among these facts are the burial, the empty tomb, the post-mortem appearances and the early belief in the resurrection.
  5. There are no good naturalistic explanations for these minimal facts.
  6. The best explanation of these minimal facts is that God raised Jesus from the dead.
  7. Therefore, Jewish persons are mistaken in their beliefs about the resurrection of Jesus.

It’s interesting to note that Pinchas Lapide, an Orthodox Jewish New Testament scholar, accepts the resurrection of Jesus as a historical event. But, he thinks that only Gentiles are saved by Jesus’ atoning death. He believes that Jews must still attain salvation by the law.

I would like to see more formal debates featuring Jewish scholars and Christian scholars on the resurrection.

Filed under: Polemics, , , , , , , , , , ,

14 Responses

  1. James says:

    If you haven’t, I’d recommend going and reading the link in #3. WL Craig really did a bang up job defending the resurrection FROM the resurrection, with out of this park research and sourcing.

    I’ve neither seen nor heard any arguments that touch it.

  2. MC says:

    …on the other hand:

    http://jewsforjesus.org/

  3. ECM says:

    There are no good naturalistic explanations for these minimal facts.

    I guess you haven’t read Tipler’s “The Physics of Christianity”, yet, have you? ;)

  4. Fromt he point of view of a Jewish person (ethnically), the most naturalistic explanation is that the stories about the resurrection of Jesus are legends. False stories circulate all the time. Nor were there journalists or bloggers back then to debunk them.

    If you don’t believe me, then how come so many people believe in the book of Mormon?

  5. Terry Finley says:

    There is plenty of evidence
    for Jesus’ resurrection.

    • LCB says:

      I’ve always found the atheist objection “Jesus never existed” pretty odd.

      Early Jewish sources never objected saying “Jesus never existed” they objected saying “He wasn’t the Messiah”

  6. trickseee says:

    yup u r right about the blessed trinity. jews dont get it. now the next step is to grasp the power of the seven sacraments and become catholic.

    good luck on ur journey 2 our father in heaven! u r on the right track.

    EVERY knee shall bend… that includes jews, muslims, buddists, atheists, etc.

    • James says:

      One thing I find interesting is that the language and evidence foundational to a trinitarian god are already built into OT Scripture.

      The primary objection you will hear from Jews about the Christian concept of God, is, “Hear Oh Israel, the Lord our God is *one*.” But there’s something special about that word for “one”. It’s the same word that appears in the Genesis account of marriage, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”

      Built right into the mosaic scriptures is the idea that “oneness” can come from “twoness”. Why not from “threeness”?

      Additionally you hear, occassionally, people object to the physical pressence of God in the peron Jesus. Of course God Himself takes on many physical forms in the OT: burning bush, cloud, pillar of fire. When Moses “sees” him, he sees but a shadow, but that shadow, whether metaphorical for something insubstantial, or a shadow of a physical pressence, was visible to Moses.

      Ezekiel, which depending on your branch of Judaism may or may not be considered inspired and scripture, has a trinitarian presentation and a strong presentation of Jesus himself. See chapters 40-47, and especially 43:4-6.

      • James says:

        Oh, additionally, “one” doesn’t necessarily mean “one”… Hebrew doesn’t have cardinal numbers, so they use that some word both for “one” and for “first”.

        That becomes critical to this objection, and is worth knowing.

      • LCB says:

        The biggest issue with Jews not acknowledging the trinity is that the trinity really only makes sense and really can only be well articulated with the aid of Greco-Roman philosophy. Scripture hints at it, but the development of the doctrine of the trinity the Church Fathers and Ecumenical Councils taking what is said in Scripture to the fullness of its conclusion (gosh, this Catholic Tradition thing makes more sense…)

        Anywho, the Jewish objection on those grounds makes sense if one lacks that sort of philosophy. It’s only in continuity with Tradition, and not picking and choosing the doctrines and truths we like as if we are adam and eve pretending to be ‘gods who know’ that things like the Trinity really make sense.

        • What I want to know is how come so few Jewish people are willing to debate these matters to see what is true.

          What I understand from listening to Dennis Prager and Michael Medved is that Jews judge religions as true or false based on whether the adherents are “good” and do good works. So they probably think that Mormonism is as true as Christianity, since Mormons are so good.

          That’s one of the reasons why I chose Christianity – I refuse to treat religion as different from any other area of knowledge, and I think the Bible underwrites that. Come let us reason together, says the Lord.

  7. I think that most Jews–and most atheists–figure that Jesus existed, and that the New Testament contains some historical information. But thinks like walking on water, virgin birth, etc. reflect legends that accumulate around real historical figures. See

    Against Mythicism: A Case for the Plausibility of a Historical Jesus

    http://www.butterfliesandwheels.com/articleprint.php?num=378

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