Christianity and Judaism Thesis

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Christianity and Judaism have close ties to one another through their common history and theology. . This paper describes the origin of Judaism and the major beliefs of this religion. Judaism's beliefs regarding overcoming the presence of evil, and the manner in which individuals are set free from evil, are specifically addressed. A detail list of steps Judaism uses to enlist new converts is presented, as well as the worldview regarding this religion. The known objections that Judaism has towards Christianity and Islam are overviewed. Lastly, how I would share Christianity with members of the Jewish faith so that they may accept Christianity will be explored.

Christianity and Judaism

Christianity and Judaism have close ties to one another through their common history and theology. . This paper describes the origin of Judaism and the major beliefs of this religion. Judaism's beliefs regarding overcoming the presence of evil, and the manner in which individuals are set free from evil, are specifically addressed. A detail list of steps Judaism uses to enlist new converts is presented, as well as the worldview regarding this religion. The known objections that Judaism has towards Christianity and Islam are overviewed. Lastly, how I would share Christianity with members of the Jewish faith so that they may accept Christianity will be explored.

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Thesis on Christianity and Judaism Assignment

Judaism is the religious system of beliefs and practices originally based on the Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible. In Jesus' time, there were four primary groups of Jewish people. These included: the Pharises, the Sadduccees, the Zealots, and the Essenes. Each of these distinct groups, according to Ergun (2005), followed their own doctrine and practices. In addition, each group had their own specific view regarding God and humanity, resulting in a lack of cohesiveness in the Jewish faith. Today this disparate nature continues and may be said to have increased. Ergun concludes that there are "seven major sects of modern Judaism" (p. 105) in today's modern Jewish religion. These modern sects include: Secular Judaism, Kabbalah: Hindu-Judaic Mysticism, Reconstructionist Judaism (Evolutionary Judaism), Reform Judaism, Conservative Judaism, Orthodox Judaism, and Ultraorthodox Judaism.

Secular Judaism are those who have very little connection to the Jewish community or faith, as Ergun (2005) surmises. The members of this segment of Judaism do not attend synagogue or a Jewish center, nor do they typically celebrate shabbats, or follow the practice of a kosher diet. Secular Jews are Jewish by birthright and use their relationship with Judaism to preserve their Jewish heritage more than utilizing it to facilitate their relationship with a God or to come to salvation.

Kabbalah is based on medieval mysticism and was founded hundreds of years ago, with a movement called Qabalah, which is Hebrew for receiving. Huss (2007) notes that the emergence of Kabbalah coincides with the upsurge in New Age and other spiritual movements. This Hindu-Judaic form of Judaism is one of the most culturally popular forms of Judaism today, according to Ergun (2005). "The current popularity is due to the centers founded by Philip Berg. Kabbalists call Rabbi Berg the Rav, and many consider him the 'living conduit between the light and the creator'" (p. 106). Kabbalists are very superstitious. They run their hands over texts to understand the deeper meaning of it. They wear a red thread as a bracelet. In addition, Kabbalists drink blessed waters to cure diseases. There is a mixing of Hindu mysticism with Jewish texts and prayers making the concept of God indistinct.

Reconstructionist Judaism was founded by Mordecai Kaplan as an alternative for secular Jews, with his writing Judaism as a Civilization (Fusch-Kreimer, 2006). Reconstructionists embrace their heritage, but focus on spiritualism as opposed to doctrine. Sin is undefined, the Torah is studied along with modern philosophies, and "God is seen as the Life, Love and Intelligence of the universe" (Ergun, 2005, p. 106).

Founded by Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise, in 1873 (Friendenberg, 1986), Reform Judaism is the largest sect in North America, according to Ergun (2005). Rabbis David Einhorn and Emil Hirsch, as Wolf (1999) notes, would further the Reform movement in America. Although this sect focuses on the central beliefs of the Torah, it has very liberal stances on issues such as: feminism, homosexuality and agnosticism. In contrast, Conservative Judaism serves as a bridge between orthodox and liberal sects. Followers work to preserve the traditional and historical practices of their faith. Some Conservative Jews hold a strong biblical understanding of God, yet others lean more towards their Reform brethren.

The two sects that most closely follow traditional and biblical understanding of Judaism are the Orthodox and Ultraorthodox sects. Demanding a conversion and a belief in the covenant with the God of Israel (b'rit), Orthodox Judaism is a very academic sect, as Ergun (2005) notes. These followers explicitly follow the Torah, observe shabbat weekly, and study the teachings intensely. Ultraorthodox Jews, the Hasidic sect, are often the most easily recognized, with their black or grey suits and yarmulke. However, the Hasidim are more mystical than those in the Orthodox sect, often studying Kabbalah. Yet, despite this element of mysticism, they are devoutly committed to the traditional doctrines of Judaism.

In general, according to Ergun (2005) the Jewish faith believes that people are inherently good, due to the fact that they bear God's image. Despite not having a sinful nature, humans do have the ability to choose sinful and evil acts. Sin is thought of in terms of nearly criminal behavior. Typically, Jewish people do not consider themselves sinners, as they don't believe they have a sinful nature. They do not realize the need for the restoration of humanity, and as they "don't believe that people are separated from God, they don't see the need for the good news" (p. 108).

Conversion Process:

The conversion process to Judaism is a multi-step process. It begins, according to Epstein (2009) with the individual considering becoming Jewish. From there, the individual must find a rabbi to explore the conversion process, in the sect they are interested in. Some rabbis adhere to an ancient practice of turning away a candidate three times, before accepting them, in order to test their sincerity in wanting to convert to Judaism. It is the rabbis who act as gatekeepers and decide who can enter into Judaism. Once a rabbi has accepted a convert, they must study Judaism, for up to a year, by working directly with the rabbi and formal Judaism classes that cover topics including: beliefs, practices, Jewish history, the Jewish home, holidays, the Holocaust, Israel, and Hebrew. During this period, often the convert is asked to begin to practice Judaism.

A religious court -- Bet Din -- typically consists of three people, at least one of which must be a rabbi, and oversees the formal conversion. One requirement of conversion to Orthodox or Conservative sects is male circumcision. If the man has already been circumcised, a drop of blood may be drawn as a symbolism of the circumcision, in the Hatafat Dam Brit ceremony. Reconstructionist and Reform movements do not require circumcision of their converts (Epstein, 2009).

Both male and female converts are required to be immersed in a ritual bath, called a mikveh, for the Conservative and Orthodox sects. Converts brought sacrifices to the Temple, in ancient times. This is no longer a requirement, but Orthodox Jews use the tradition as an opportunity to donate money to charity as a symbolic offering. Often after the Bet Din a Hebrew name is chosen by the convert. If the convert's parent aren't Jewish, typically ben Avraham Avinu (son of Abraham, our Father) is added to the name for men and ben Sarah Imenu (daughter of Sarah, our Mother) for women. Lastly, a public ceremony announcing the conversion that is popular among Reform Jews, according to Epstein (2009).

Known Objections Judaism has towards Christian and Muslim Faiths:

The primary contention Judaism has towards the Christianity centers on Jesus. Although predicted in the Jewish Bible, those of Jewish faith do not recognize Jesus as the Messiah. With this objection, Judaism does not acknowledge the resurrection of Jesus. As mentioned earlier, Judaism also doesn't acknowledge Original Sin, or the need for forgiveness. In addition, Judaism doesn't acknowledge the triune nature of God (Ergun, 2005). Interestingly, the Muslim faith acknowledges Jesus as a prophet of God, where Judaism believes Jesus was a false prophet.

How I Would Share Christianity with a Member of the Jewish Faith:

As Ergun (2005) notes, many Jewish people are wary of Christians, due to a history of persecution and forced conversion to other religions. Movements under the guise of Christianity, such as the Crusades and the Inquisition, subjected those practicing Judaism to brutal torture. For this reason, Ergun suggests reminding those of the Jewish faith that it's unfair to equate modern evangelism with medieval Roman Catholics.

I would also begin with the similarities between the Jewish and Christian faiths, when witnessing to a Jew. In this way, a bridge between the two faiths could be built, making Christianity more familiar. I… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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