Hope of Israel Ministries (ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
The Fundamental Flaw of "Christianity"
Through Moses and the Prophets the Creator God has definitively spoken -- often in the first person -- revealing Himself, His Way, and His Plan for all His people Israel. "Christians" have largely MUTED the testimony of these Scriptures through a misunderstanding and misapplication of the writings known as the New Testament. This article is intended for those of Israel who seek the TRUTH and are willing to HONESTLY hear and consider the message of these ancient Scriptures.
by Dr. James D. Tabor
"Christianity," while claiming to be thoroughly Biblical, seriously departs from the true Faith in many areas. Note how evangelist Billy Graham sums up his understanding of the uniqueness of Christianity:
"Christ was unique first of all in his person. The Bible's consistent testimony is that Jesus was not like any other person who has ever live -- because he was God in human flesh. Yes, that's hard to understand. But the Bible tells us that God loves us, and he expressed that love to us by coming down to earth. God took upon himself human flesh, walking on this earth to show his love and concern for us. Christ is unique also because of his mission. Yes, he did some of the things other religious leaders have done. But Christ came primarily to bring salvation and he did this by becoming the complete and final sacrifice for our sins through his death on the cross. Christ died for us and rose again to give us eternal life and to come into our lives right now to change us. My prayer is that you would understand who Christ is and what he has done for you -- and then that you would open your heart to him and become a Christian. Turn to Christ today."
From a Biblical perspective this typical expression of popular Christianity is off the mark at every point. First, it compromises the fundamental idea of the One God, which Yeshua himself constantly affirmed, and imports the pagan idea of the God-Man coming to earth. Second, it ignores the vital, dynamic, Biblical concept of the Kingdom of God on earth, which the Prophets always associate with the Messianic mission, and reduces salvation to an individual attempt to "save one's soul" and escape this world for heaven.
Finally, it tells people to "turn to Christ," compromising the clear Biblical teaching that we are to turn to YHVH [YEHOVAH] God alone. Is this the faith of Abraham? Was this what Abraham believed? The Bible says that Abraham put his faith in YHVH [YEHOVAH] God, kept His laws, commandments, and ordinances, and taught that Way to his children (Genesis 15:6; 26:5; 18:19). He relied on YHVH's [YEHOVAH's] promises that his descendants would become a great nation and a company of nations that would ultimately bless the entire earth. He is the "father of all the faithful," that is, those of Israel who share his Faith.
What a contrast to what Billy Graham presents as "the Faith." His summary contains nothing from the Hebrew Scriptures and ignores the great doctrines of the One God, the Law of God, or the messianic Plan of YEHOVAH God for His people Israel. I am sure that Dr. Graham would immediately respond that he does believe such things. But my point is this: when he sits down and writes a summary of the Christian faith this is what we are offered. And there is no question that this kind of "save your soul for heaven" idea is at the forefront of the minds of millions of "Christians." We truly need a restoration of Biblical Faith.
Classic Christianity, particularly in its Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox versions, is far, far, removed from the true Biblical Faith. By the end of the first century the battle was lost. Those original followers of Yeshua, who remained faithful to Torah and Prophets, had been completely slandered and marginalized.
To put it simply, Christianity is not the ancient Path. What emerged, particularly by the third century, was a new, almost wholly pagan, Hellenistic, quasi-Gnostic, anti-Judahite, amalgamation. Although Christianity held on to the so-called "Old Testament," fundamentally a great apostasy, or "falling away," occurred. There are three great pillars of Biblical faith: YEHOVAH God, Torah, and Israel. Christianity repudiated all three. It is no surprise, accordingly, that Judaism repudiated Christianity. How could it do otherwise?
The pure teaching of the One Creator God, whose Name alone is YHVH [YEHOVAH], was perverted in various ways: the Trinitarian idea of God in three Persons; the blasphemous idea that the Messiah was actually YHVH; the notion that Jesus [Yeshua] became God, and is now worthy of worship ("Two Powers in Heaven"). Obviously Noah, Abraham, and Moses knew nothing about such things, nor did Yeshua the Nazarene, for that matter. The historical Yeshua affirmed the Shema and rebuked those who even called him "good." All forms of the God-Man idea are rank paganism and have no place in Biblical faith.
The Torah [Law], which the Scriptures uphold as YEHOVAH God's eternal Way, spoken directly by Him to Moses, and affirmed by the Prophets, was declared to be null and void, abrogated, taken out of the way, and finished. David had written, "Oh how I love Your Torah, it is my meditation all the day," and millions of Christians were taught to actually despise the very Law of [YEHOVAH] God. It was characterized as harsh, restrictive, primitive, and wholly lacking in spirituality.
Yeshua had declared that not a letter of Torah would be abrogated, and not even the least of the commandments (mitzvot) would pass away, but his words were simply ignored. To keep the Commandments of YEHOVAH God was labeled -- horror of horrors -- as "Judaizing," a sin that would certainly damn one's soul to eternal Hell!
The "Old Testament" was relegated to inferior status, and in popular thinking did not remotely measure up to the higher ethical standards of the "loving Heavenly Father" of Christian imagination. The Christians lost touch with the Hebrew language and modes of thought, and with the long and fruitful history of rabbinic exegesis and understanding of Scripture. Greek methods of interpretation were applied to a Greek text of both Old and New Testaments. The Hebraic roots of the movement were totally severed.
The people of Israel, the beloved and chosen "apple of YHVH's eye," were totally displaced and replaced with the doctrine of the new "spiritual Israel," the largely Gentile Christian Church. All the promises of the Prophets about YEHOVAH God's Plan for the Restoration of Israel were now applied, through allegory, to the Christians. The teaching of the Kingdom of [YEHOVAH] God, so tightly bound together in Scripture with the fortunes of physical Israel, was made into a dualistic, Hellenistic, "hope of heaven" after death.
Unfortunately, it did not end here. Christianity took up every pagan way with a vengeance: holidays, customs, dress, habits, rituals, polity, and superstitions. The list is endless. Yeshua the Nazarene, the observant Judahite, was transformed into "Jesus," the Hellenistic, Serapis-like Savior God with long hair and effeminate features. The mikvah became "baptism," a mystical initiation into the cosmic body of Christ, The Kiddush became the mass, eating the body and blood of God. Churches became indistinguishable from the idolatrous temples of Greco-Roman culture. The Spring fertility festival became Easter, the Winter Solstice celebration became Christmas, and the Sabbath became Saturday and Sunday. YEHOVAH God's Holidays, such as Passover and Pentecost, were labeled as "Jewish" (now a "dirty" word), void of all relevance for the "new Israel." Humans were deified as "Saints."
By any Torah standard Christianity became hopeless idolatry and superstition, clearly an example of what is called the "way of the nations." To those with eyes to see, Christianity became "mystery Babylon the Great," incorporating into one unified system Western Paganism and Greek rationalism. Alexander Hislop's classic work, The Two Babylons had it essentially right. This Great Whore is drunk with the blood of all the saints of Israel. This is no pretty and innocent matter. The faithful Israelite followers of YHVH were killed, and likely will be again, over these very matters.
Those who take up Abrahamic Faith must come out of Babylon. Anyone who openly affirms God as One and no other, expresses love for Torah, and solidarity with the true Israelite people, will all too quickly be labeled as a heretic and a "Judaizer," despite the indisputable fact that in these areas Yeshua himself would have to be called the same.
The Evangelical Christians, through their Biblical orientation, have made a partial return to the Faith. Many of the most abhorrent elements of the great apostasy were rejected since the Reformation. But unfortunately, few positive elements of Truth, from the Hebraic perspective, have been recovered. As far as the fundamentals, the Christian evangelicals have them all wrong, largely based on a misinterpretation of the New Testament itself, now read through 1900 years of non-Israelite tradition. This is an extreme charge, but it can be substantiated.
Most of these churches continue to affirm the Trinity, with the Messiah and the holy spirit as God. Indeed, they often make this the test of the faith. They hold that the "Old Testament," or Torah has been replaced by the New, and though they give attention to it as Scripture, to actually follow the Torah, obeying and keeping the commandments of YHVH, would be seen as "Judaizing" or trying to "earn your salvation by the Law." Many hold that Israel has been replaced by the Church.
The message of the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God, so clearly proclaimed by Yeshua in the Lukan tradition, has been turned into a Hellenistic, dualistic, message of escape to heaven. Salvation has come to mean saving your soul, and as many other souls as you can, as quickly as you can. All who "receive Christ," which means asking him to come into your heart as personal Lord and Savior, have instant eternal life. Those who "reject Christ" are eternally doomed in Hell.
The figure of the Messiah, and what you decide about him, becomes the one great question of life, despite the fact that 99% of humans on this planet throughout history have never heard such a message -- before or since the time of the Messiah. The very concept of "Christ" was transformed from the Biblical view of the Messiah to a kind of instant "cipher" for personal salvation. And yet Enoch, Shem, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Elijah, and all the Prophets knew nothing of such ideas! Surely something has gone seriously wrong.
There are tiny segments and pockets of the evangelical spectrum which reflect views closer to the Truth of the Scriptures. Some have rejected, or seriously modified, the "Jesus as God" doctrine, but they are usually labeled as heretical and dangerous by the mainstream. Others affirm that YEHOVAH's promises to His people Israel continue to be valid, and that salvation belongs to only Israel. A few are beginning to seriously explore the Hebraic, Judaic, roots of early Christianity and are trying to purify their faith of certain elements of paganism and Greek dualism. Of course we must welcome all these trends. There are dear and wonderful people in all the Churches. They need to hear a clear presentation of the Biblical faith. They have grown hungry on the husks of the stripped down evangelical message.
Once distinguished from the Christian "Jesus," the historical Yeshua ben Yosef, the Nazarene, emerges as an unqualified supporter of YEHOVAH God, Torah, and Israel, the pillars of Biblical Faith. I often ask my college classes: were Jesus to return to our culture as an ordinary human, transported from the first century, would he feel more comfortable in a Sunday morning Southern Baptist worship service, a Roman Catholic mass, or at a Jewish synagogue on the true Sabbath? I hope the answer is obvious. Still, I realize that there are some who are so out of touch with what he was and what he taught, and how he lived and died as a faithful Judahite, that they would insist "Jesus" would prefer to worship (or even be worshipped?) in a typical Church service!
In the final analysis there is only one fundamental flaw of Christianity. It has cast all its doctrines in terms of the "other world." At the heart of it all is the heavenly Divine Christ (not the historical Yeshua), who deals with "spiritual" Israel, and seeks to save souls for eternal life in heaven. Biblical Faith has a heavenly dimension, but it is always cast in the opposite direction. The whole perspective and goal is that YEHOVAH's will be done on earth, and that His Plan for His people Israel is realized in time and space history. His Way is a way of life here and now, not a preparation for death.  As Moses told ancient Israel 3500 years ago:
"For this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, "Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear and do it?...But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it. See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil...therefore choose life that you and your descendants may live" (Deuteronomy 30:11-19).
Taken from syndicated daily
 I highly recommend the wonderful book by Rabbi Harold Kushner, To Life (Boston: Little Brown, 1993). It offers a positive and highly readable introduction to the Hebraic perspective.
-- Edited by John D. Keyser.
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