Jack E. Saunders
I am once again writing in response to one of the recent articles in the Jewish Times, Dialogue with a Missionary, Volume III, No.39...August 6, 2004.
Having once been a Christian myself and having heard and even been involved in trying to defend Jesus and Christianity, there is one thing that I came to understand that while Christianity is Debatable, it is not Defensible.
Christianity is a system based on belief and not knowledge. In some sense Christianity often prefers ignorance to knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. I realize that such statements for some of your Jewish readers who come from a system that is predicated on knowledge, wisdom, and understanding, this may sound strange. But that is the reality of the system that is based on simple belief.
Now I would like to address some of the issues that the Missionary has stated in his dialogue. Such as: the dependence on the miracles in Jesus' life either performed for him or by him to supply evidence for him being the Messiah; the destruction of the Temple that for him seems to indicate that there is no longer a place for the atonement for sin; the Christian belief that the New Covenant replaces the previous Covenant; and finally the Trinitarian doctrine, and Jesus being G-d in the flesh, G-d forbid.
From a Christian standpoint the whole idea of Christianity is based on the idea of Jesus' life that begins with a miraculous event, his birth. Then the miracles that he performs provide more evidence of him being the Messiah. Finally, his resurrection provides proof that he is indeed the Divine Messiah.
Jesus' birth is proclaimed as a miraculous birth.() Whereby, G-d in some miraculous way impregnates a man's wife who is a virgin and then must send angels to assure him that her pregnancy was not only all right, but that this was G-d's will and plan. Of course this is predicated from a passage found in the writings of the prophet Isaiah () that Christianity finds support for such a miraculous birth of the Messiah.
Also, all the miracles that he performs during his years on the earth such as, healing the blind, walking on water, changing water into wine, raising the dead all provide the Christian evidence that Jesus is the Messiah and even the possibility of being G-d in the flesh, G-d forbid.
His miraculous resurrection following his death is intended to provide more evidence and lend more validity to their claim of him being a divine Messiah. Although there have been other miraculous resurrections recorded in the Tanach and no one made any such claim to them being the Messiah.()
This is the one of the basic flaws of Christian theology, i.e., a complete dependency on miracles and miraculous occurrences to substantiate and solidify Jesus as the Messiah. According to Christian doctrine all of these miraculous events either performed on Jesus or by him can only point to one thing and that is; He is the Messiah and divine.
G-d knows the pull that the miraculous has on individuals and has stated so in the Torah.() Since there would be from time to time miracle workers who would be able to perform seemingly miraculous events to try and led Israel astray. He would use these to test Israel so that they could strengthen themselves and never be lead astray by those who just perform miracles.
Christianity fails to take into account the real evidence that is presented throughout the Tanach to validate the real Messiah, when he shows up and falls into the trap of falling for the miraculous that eventually leads one away from G-d and Torah.
The Sages of Israel have, over the ages, agreed upon certain criterion for establishing who the Messiah is, and performing miracles is not among them.()
The criterion () given by the Sages of Israel concerning the Messiah falls basically into two categories: 1) His Person; 2) His Performance.
First, let us address the category of His Person.
1) He is to come from the House of David i.e., a direct descendant of King David.
2) He is to be learned in the Torah and observance of the commandments as established by both the Written and Oral Law in the same way of his father David. This of course implies that his birth is through natural means and grows up and matures as a Torah Scholar careful to observe the commandments.
3) He is to be an influential person. His influence will be so great that he will be able to unite all of Israel in the service of G-d.
Now let us look at the second category, His Performance.
4) He is to fight and be victorious in the wars of G-d such as the war of Gog and Magog.
5) He is to rebuild the Temple.
6) He is to gather the dispersed of Israel.
All of these criterion can be clearly substantiated in the writings of the Torah, Prophets, and Writings. Which one of these standards does Jesus measure up to? According to Christian dogma concerning Jesus he does not measure up to any of this criterion that has been established by the Sages of Israel based on the information presented in the Tanach.
Remember: having a miraculous birth, performing miracles, and raising from the dead are not to be found in this criterion established by the Torah and the Torah Scholars of Israel.