It is important for Christians to understand other cultures and religions. As we continue learning about other faiths, this post will aid in our understanding of Judaism. As stated before, I do not believe that all religions lead to the same end or that all religions are equally true. However, I do believe in Religious Liberty. This is the idea that people should be free to practice whichever religion they choose. While we may not agree with one another regarding our spiritual beliefs, we can seek to understand one another and treat one another with kindness and respect.
Judaism and Christianity in Conversation
Both Jews and Christians find the origin of their faith in Abraham. We share some of the same Scriptural texts, we have similar understandings with regard to the creation of the world, the plan and purpose of humanity, and the belief that one God is Lord over all the earth. Practicing religious Jews reject the belief that Jesus is the Messiah. Christians not only accept Jesus as the Messiah but believe he is God. This distinction leads to a single divine person in Judaism while Christianity embraces a Trinitarian view of God (one God essence shared by three distinct personalities – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). Both Christians and Jews believe that God has a moral plan or will for how we are to live. We both desire to walk in fellowship with God through prayer, fasting, reading Scripture, etc. Jews have learned much from Christians about the nature and benefit of having weekly sermons and gatherings. Christians can learn from Jews about the importance of community and the communal aspects of a shared faith. While both groups have serious distinctions, both also show a great deal of reverence for God. Both groups believe in loving God with our whole being and living under his authority and rule.
An Overview of Judaism
- Tanak (Equivalent to the Christian Old Testament)
- Torah (Law)
- Nevi’im (Prophets)
- Kethubim (Writings)
- The Talmud (Two Parts: This writing explains the process of redefining the Jewish faith after Temple was destroyed in 70 AD.)
- Mishnah (Repetition: A Codification of Laws)
- Gemara (Addition: A Commentary)
Articles of Faith:
- The Belief in the existence of the Creator, be He Blessed, who is perfect in every manner of existence and is the Primary Cause of all that exists.
- The belief in God’s absolute and unparalleled unity.
- The belief in God’s noncorporiality, nor that He will be affected by any physical occurrences, such as movement, or rest, or dwelling.
- The belief in God’s eternity.
- The imperative to worship Him exclusively and no foreign false gods.
- The belief that God communicates with man through prophecy.
- The belief that the prophecy of Moses our teacher has priority.
- The belief in the divine origin of the Torah.
- The belief in the immutability of the Torah.
- The belief in divine omniscience and providence.
- The belief in divine reward and retribution.
- The belief in the arrival of the Messiah and the messianic era.
- The belief in the resurrection of the dead.
- Orthodox Judaism
- Keep as close to Torah and Talmud as possible.
- Women and men do not sit together at worship.
- Men wear hats and prayer shawls.
- The service is performed in Hebrew.
- Other branches are considered to have less authority.
- Conservative Judaism
- Keeps close to Torah and Talmud.
- Knows change is inevitable.
- Changes after discussion. (An example of change is that there is no more animal sacrifice.)
- Reform Judaism
- Began in Europe.
- Sought to be more mainstream.
- Men and women sit together.
- Service in English and Hebrew.
- Other Forms
- Hasidic – maintain most ancient form of the religion.
- Zionist – political group, not religious in nature.
- Reconstructionism – emphasis on ethics.
- Pesach – (Passover)
- Shavuot – (Pentacost)
- Rosh Hashanah – (Jewish New Year)
- Yom Kippur – (Day of Atonement)
- Succoth – (Feast of Booths) Commemorates the Journey Through the Wilderness.
- Hanukkah – (Feast of Dedication) Celebrates redeication of Temple by Judas Maccabeus.
- Purim – Commemorates deliverance of Jews in Esther’s life
- Humanity is basically good.
- Humans are responsible for their own actions.
- Today’s problems are a result of Adam’s sin.
- God attempts to restore His relationship with humanity in history, but it is broken time and time again.