Beliefs Culture

Why Michele Bachmann’s push to convert Jews is so retro (COMMENTARY)

(RNS1-JUL20) Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., left her Lutheran church six days before she announced her run for president. She now belongs to a mainstream evangelical Baptist church. For use with RNS-POLS-CHURCH, transmitted July 20, 2011. RNS photo courtesy Bachmann for President.
(RNS1-JUL20) Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., left her Lutheran church six days before she announced her run for president. She now belongs to a mainstream evangelical Baptist church. For use with RNS-POLS-CHURCH, transmitted July 20, 2011. RNS photo courtesy Bachmann for President.

(RNS1-JUL20) Then-Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., left her Lutheran church six days before she announced her run for president. She now belongs to a mainstream evangelical Baptist church. For use with RNS-POLS-CHURCH, transmitted July 20, 2011. RNS photo courtesy Bachmann for President.

(RNS) In Andrew Marvell‘s 17th-century poem “To His Coy Mistress,” the narrator addresses his reluctant lady saying, “And you should, if you please, refuse / Till the conversion of the Jews.”

It’s likely former Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann is unfamiliar with the poem. When she visited Israel earlier this month, she urged Jews to convert to Christianity as soon as possible because the end times were near.

While Bachmann has little political influence these days, her views about conversion remain prevalent within some Christian groups.

In a radio interview with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, Bachmann said her Israeli visit “… was about biblical prophecy in many ways. Events are speeding up quickly right now … literally day by day, we’re seeing the fulfillment of Scripture right in front of our eyes.”

“We recognize the shortness of the hour,” she said, “and that’s why we as a remnant want to… be faithful in the Kingdom and to help bring in as many as we can — even among the Jews — (to) share Jesus Christ with everyone that we possibly can because, again, he’s coming soon.”

In October, Bachmann said Hurricane Joaquin, which battered the Bahamas and Bermuda was divine punishment because the Obama administration continues to “turn its back on Israel.”

But Bachmann’s call to actively convert Jews has been rejected by many of her fellow Christians.

READ:  Marilyn Monroe, Liz Taylor were seriously Jewish, exhibit explains

In recent years the Roman Catholic Church and a number of Protestant denominations have rejected or abandoned missionary activities aimed at Jews. Leading that effort was the late American Protestant theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, who condemned all attempts to convert Jews. He believed such activity was theologically unnecessary and incompatible with Christianity, as well as spiritually insulting to Jews.

In a historic 1986 address at the Great Synagogue in Rome, Pope John Paul II, now a saint, declared: “… the Jews are beloved of God, who has called them with an irrevocable calling.”

In a 2002 speech at Boston College, Cardinal Walter Kasper, a German theologian who directed Catholic-Jewish relations at the Vatican, said: “… there is no organized Catholic missionary activity towards Jews as there is for all other non-Christian religions.”

Billy Graham, the world’s most prominent evangelist, criticized such attempts aimed at Jews. Forty-two years ago, he proclaimed: “I believe God has always had a special relationship with the Jewish people… In my evangelistic efforts, I have never felt called to single out Jews as Jews… Just as Judaism frowns on proselytizing that is coercive, or that seeks to commit men against their will, so do I.”

At the same time Bachmann was calling for the immediate conversion of Jews, all 120 members of the Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland, the top policy body representing Germany’s Lutheran, Reformed and United churches, repudiated the virulent anti-Semitism of its founder, Martin Luther.

READ: Archaeologists: Monks made up legends about King Arthur’s burial site

In 1543, Luther was bitterly disappointed that Jews had not heeded his attempts to convert them. In anger, Luther wrote “On the Jews and their Lies” in which he labeled Jews a “base” people and urged faithful Protestants to burn down synagogues and drive Jews from their homes. Luther also supported laws barring Jews from working or living in his region of Germany.

With the approach of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation in 2017, the statement read: “We cannot ignore this history of guilt.”

The EKD publicly expressed “sorrow and shame” for the German churches’ well-documented failures, especially during the Nazi period, to respect Judaism and protect Jews. It said German Christians have a special responsibility to oppose all forms of anti-Semitism, and to confront their own tragic past.

Rabbi A. James Rudin, the American Jewish Committee's senior interreligious adviser, is the author of "Cushing, Spellman, O'Connor: The Surprising Story of How Three American Cardinals Transformed Catholic-Jewish Relations." RNS photo courtesy of Rabbi A. James Rudin

Rabbi A. James Rudin, the American Jewish Committee’s senior interreligious adviser, is the author of “Cushing, Spellman, O’Connor: The Surprising Story of How Three American Cardinals Transformed Catholic-Jewish Relations.” RNS photo courtesy of Rabbi A. James Rudin

“Luther’s view of Judaism and his invective against Jews contradict our understanding today of what it means to believe in one God who has revealed himself in Jesus, the Jew,” the EKD statement declared.

Irmgard Schwaetzer, the head of the EKD and a former cabinet member in the German government, also announced her church’s intention to clarify its view on the mission to convert Jews.

While it is true that some evangelicals are still eager to convert Jews, Protestants in Germany are following in the footsteps of Reinhold Niebuhr, Cardinal Walter Kasper, Pope John Paul II, Billy Graham and many other Christian leaders who have publicly rejected calls for the conversion of the Jewish people.

Are you listening, Michele Bachmann?

(Rabbi A. James Rudin is the American Jewish Committee’s senior interreligious adviser. He can be reached at





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  • I’m no fan of Michelle Bachman, but having read and reread this article, it seems that its whole premise — that Bachman is favoring the targeting of Jews in particular for conversion — is incorrect. All she seemed to be saying is that Christianity should be shared with everybody, “even the Jews.” Although it’s a weird way of putting it, there’s really nothing there there…..She wants everybody to hear the Gospel, and it seems the only reason she mentioned Jews in particular is that she had just visited Israel.

    So it sounds like Rudin is looking for a story when there really is nothing…..The story reads, “Evangelical former congresswoman says everybody should hear the Gospel.”

    That’s not a story, unless you think that “dog-bites-man” is a story.

  • If Rudin spent half the time months ago pressuring Jewish Democratic bundlers to cut off all fundraising efforts for the Democrats until they voted down the Iran deal as he does here chasing a bogus story, he’d have done something constructive for the Jewish people and Mideast’s sole democracy.

    It’s about time that Rudin and folks like him stop playing political games and start getting serious about issues that really do matter, such as the threat of Iran getting nukes and threatening Israel with them.

    It is no wonder that so many Israeli Jews think some of their American counterparts are such clowns.

  • If a non-believer tries to convince a believer to question their religion
    he is called a bigot.
    But if a Christian does it, this is okay?

    It is a double standard.
    It shows how religion poisons everything it touches.

  • So Michelle Bachman wants a Jewish state with no Jews in it. Indeed if her goal of converting all Jews were accomplished, there wouldn’t be a single Jew left on the planet. I call that an attempt at spiritual genocide.

  • Turkey is a democracy, and has been since 1932.

    That fundamentalists of the Islamic variety are seeking to undermine that is unfortunate.

  • “that Bachman is favoring the targeting of Jews in particular for conversion — is incorrect. All she seemed to be saying is that Christianity should be shared with everybody, “even the Jews.”

    To a Christian these are two different things. To Jews it is not. The objectivity of Christians on this subject is non-existent.

    There is “nothing there” if you want to ignore centuries of forced conversion, persecution for failing to convert (Martin Luther’s sticking point) and centuries of blaming the Jews for the execution of Jesus and various pogroms. But to many a Christian, ignoring such bad history is important. It is this kind of tone deafness which typifies proselytizing efforts.

    To anyone outside of Christianity, “everyone should know Jesus” is a euphemism for saying one has no respect for the religious beliefs of others.

  • Nice try Mr. Rudin but a disciple of Yeshua HaMashiach does not get his instructions from men, but rather from God. The Word of God would be the place to make your case to us, not from the words of men. Let me help you out here. Messiah commanded us, just before He ascended back to heaven to the right hand of The Father: “Thus it is written, that Messiah would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be preached in His name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” Luke 24:47 Also it is written: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Gentile. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith as it is written, ‘the righteous man shall live by faith’ ” Rom 1:16/Hab. 2:4 Receive Yeshua/Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Turn away from sin, and know His peace. Shalom

  • Mark, you are assuming that Jesus is the Messiah. That is a false assumption. The Messiah’s coming was supposed to bring about universal peace. That certainly has not happened. Also, the idea that the Messiah will come to bring about individual salvation for one’s sins is also not a Jewish idea about the Messiah. Also, since Jews don’t believe in original sin, we don’t need Jesus. Don’t quote the “New Testament” at me. I don’t believe in it, and it contains numerous examples of anti-Judaism. Much of the “New Testament” is a polemic for the moral superiority of Christianity over Judaism.

  • Larry, the whole history of European Christendom’s treatment of the Jewish people is utterly despicable. It was so bad, Simon Weisenthal, the famed Nazi hunter, once put out a book which catalogued anniversaries of horrific atrocities for all 365 days of the year.

    I think it was Crosby Stills, Nash and Young who once wrote a song containing these words (if memory serves):

    “Open up the gates of the church and let me out of here, too many people have died in the name of Christ for anyone to heed their call, too many people have died in the name of Christ that I can’t believe it all.”

    During my rebel days, before I reviewed the overwhelming evidence in favor of the claims of the Gospel being true, that was my theme, although it was a little bit before my time.

    As for Bachman, like I said, I am far from a fan of hers. But accuracy matters, and it is inaccurate to turn her words into those which specifically target Jews as opposed to other groups.

  • I agree, Ben, but I’m not sure how that’s related to the story above.

    Actually, I believe Turkey has been a democracy even longer, since the 1920s. Wasn’t that when Ataturk took over?

    But…..there was a problem with Turkish democracy…..It took a hard-line, authoritarian view toward religious expression in public life. I believe Ataturk and/or his successors banned certain forms of Muslim garb being worn in public. While I do understand why some societies seek to ban the burqua (even though I disagree with them on that), the Turks went a lot farther than that.

    So, while Turkish democracy has been infinitely better than almost any other style of governance in the Muslim world, it had its serious flaws.

    And recall that when the Shah of Iran tried to replicate such bans in his country, it helped fuel the rise of Khomeini.

  • Not really, Atheist Max.

    It’s all about how it’s being done. Religious freedom includes the right to share one’s faith with others — it’s a basic human right guaranteed by international law.

    However, as Larry pointed out, the problem is when one group is sharing with another group that has known through a period approaching 20 centuries, nothing but bloodshed and bias at the hands of that first group….and when that first group has had for most of that time a theology of contempt for the second group.

    Given your anti-Semitism, Max, it’s obvious you don’t care. You are to the Jews what Rousseau was to human beings…..It was said that Rousseau loved humanity and hated people. You claim to care about the Jews in the abstract, while spending nearly all of your time on these boards lambasting everything that makes for Jewish identity for even the most secular of Jews.

  • Susan, if it were that simple, then what we now call Christianity wouldn’t have started in first-century Israel.

    You’re looking to put both religions into nice, neat little boxes, but the history of first-century Israel simply won’t let you.

    Yes, they are two separate religions today, and have been so for the better part of 20 centuries, but you are way oversimplifying things.

    The Judaism of today and the Christianity of today aren’t quite the same as in the first century. They are not static, immutable forces frozen across time and place. That is a cartoonish and somewhat polemical view that once served each community well, in terms of defining itself as differing from the other. But it’s not accurate and it’s time for both sides to grow up and face reality.

  • Actually, Susan, modern scholarship, much done in Israel, sheds new light on what the NT says about Jews & Judaism. Euro Christianity’s teaching that the church replaced Israel as God’s people, something that can be readily refuted even with older translations of the NT, has been demolished by serious scholarship.

    Also, the view that Paul preached that Jews should abandon the Torah has been challenged by several generations of modern scholars, from evangelical to Anglican to Reform Jewish.

    Finally, John’s Gospel, once thought to be an anti-Semitic book written more than a century after Jesus, is increasingly viewed as written by a first-century Galilean Jew, while its supposed anti-Semitism rests on what’s increasingly viewed as a mistranslation of a single Greek word in the text.

    Sadly, most people have century-old, outdated views on this. Scholars have done a poor job in circulating their findings, while old myths remain in people’s heads.

  • Too simple, Susan. You’re ignoring modern scholarship, much of it done in Israel, but also in the UK and US, which challenges views that the NT is anti-Semitic, regarding Jewish nationhood or religion.

    For nearly two millennia, European Christendom’s anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism clashed with what’s in the NT…..and both sides, church and synagogue, have viewed the NT from the warped perspective of Euro Christendom.

    Modern scholarship is taking apart the traditional view brick by brick.

    Three examples are the traditional church teachings that (1) God has rejected the Jews and replaced them with the church (2) Paul told the Jews to toss away the Torah and (3) John’s Gospel comes down on the Jews.

    All three have suffered serious body blows by the findings of 20th century scholarship. Those believing any of them are literally 100 years behind the times scholastically.

  • “it is inaccurate to turn her words into those which specifically target Jews as opposed to other groups.”

    Not at all. Especially when she says such words while in Israel. The country which declares itself “The Jewish Homeland”. She directed it at Jews specifically.

    As someone who pretends their religious faith is allegedly being based on evidence and well supported claims, you are hardly objective, nor will be honest when it comes to how the Gospel is received by those not of the faith.

    Bachmann’s acts were tasteless, disrespectful and tone deaf to the audience involved. Of course one should expect a Christian such as yourself to make excuses for such obnoxious behavior. It is sanctioned by the faith.

  • You are both only half-right.

    Turkey wasn’t a full out democracy until about the late 1960’s. It fluctuated between democracy and military dictatorship for about 40 years after Ataturk. The military took a hard line to religious politics for decades.

    When an Islamicist ascended to the presidency, of course his first political opponent was the military.

  • Susan has it right. Christians, especially the ones who want to claim that Jews must “find Jesus” as Mark claimed always like to frame Judaism as something which inevitably must fade away. That Christianity must be accepted as the inevitable end point of Abrahamic belief. It is fairly offensive from the Jewish perspective. Much like a Muslim explaining how your Christian belief must give way to progression towards Islam.

    “All three have suffered serious body blows by the findings of 20th century scholarship. ”

    All 3 were bedrock tenets of all Christian faith and practice for centuries. It was only after many Christians got wise to the idea that they can’t wipe out other faiths by force that such views changed.

    There is a large level of unstated backhanded support of Judaism from Christian Zionists. That the Jews exist only to make Christian theology work.
    “They just want the Jews around to keep the lights on for your Messiah”
    -Iris Bahr, The Brink

  • Yes Jack. The elect Jews will see and hear their Messiah. The others will keep trotting out the old anti Semitism mantras and manmade expectations of what Messiah would do, while rejecting what Messiah has already done. Keep fighting the good fight. God Bless

  • Mr. Rudin,
    So are you saying that the Apostle Paul was misguided when he said he wanted his fellow Jews to know Jesus?: “I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit—that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.” (Romans 9:1-3)

  • @Jack,,

    “Given your anti-Semitism, Max…”

    You always make personal insults with great ease.
    Where are you getting this unfounded accusation? Shall I accuse you of being a bigot of Indian citizens based on your objection to Hinduism? You are certainly a vicious bigot against non-believers of Yahweh.

    Fortunately, only the RNS censors read your comments.

  • The irony is that you decry antisemitism while making a clearly antisemitic statement. Your statement was that the Jewish faith and its adherents are doomed unless they convert to Christianity. Their religious faith is worthless compared to your own.

    Not unlike saying that Christian infidels will see the wisdom of Allah and his one true messenger Mohammed in time or face the wrath of divine judgment in the next world. 🙂

    Self-awareness is not a common trait among devout religious believers.

  • Larry, what I say, what you say, or what anyone says stands or falls on its own merits.

    For someone who imagines ad hominem fallacies lurking everyone, under every bed and in any criticisms of Your Highness, you’ve just committed it in classic fashion in your own words above.

    Sorry if my side comment about the overwhelming evidence for the veracity of the Gospel unnerved you. I realize from your various incarnations on this board that you’re a bit fragile, but you can’t expect everyone to walk on tippy toes when it comes to your own delicate psyche. That’s your problem that you can’t deal in a mature way with disagreements with other human beings on fundamental issues.

    As for Bachmann’s comments, they were borderline bizarre, since she’s an odd duck. But she wasn’t saying anything different from what the author praised Billy Graham for saying. I read and reread what she said, and I don’t see a dime’s bit of difference.

  • Bachman is a fool who tries to Convert everyone from gays to strIght and Jews to Christians -why the hell doesn’t she just go away!

  • Max, you have a classic tendency to make comments with implications that a child could understand, and then flee from those implications when someone points out the obvious.

    You are an anti-Semite, plain and simple. You admitted you were taught it. Mere criticism of the Hebrew Bible doesn’t make one an anti-Semite, as evidenced by Jewish skeptics who criticize what they see as normal human foibles masked as God’s words. A reasonable person can understand & appreciate that perspective without calling it anti-Semitic.

    The problem with your posts is that unlike honest scholarly skepticism, yours is laced with crude and vile distortions that are designed to degrade and dehumanize the Biblical writers. These low and dishonest techniques are well-known to those who are acquainted with hate sites, especially neo-Nazi, white supremacist, and radical Islamist sites. You use the same pattern that they use to defame the rabbis of the Talmud.

  • Wrong, Larry. Much of the best scholarship done on these issues was not by Christians, but by Jews. Much of the advance by Christians in this arena was the result of the influence by their Jewish peers who had a better understanding than they of the Jewish milieu of first-century Judea and Galilee, and hence the context under which the New Testament was written.

  • Mark, what I find ironic is how for 20 centuries, the leaders of both sides of the divide had a vested interest in believing the NT to be anti-Semitic.

    The revelations of modern scholarship which show otherwise are the proverbial skunk at the garden party. They’re about as welcome as, pardon the analogy, bumble bees in a nudist colony.

    Also, it takes a good while for academic findings to make their way into the popular mind and shatter old myths. But with the Internet, it is harder and harder to bottle things up.

  • Not sure what that means, Susan.

    Let’s say a Jewish person wakes up one morning and decides that Jesus is his people’s Messiah. According to you, that person is no longer a Jew.

    Okay. But what if five minutes later, he says, “you know, I think Jesus isn’t the Messiah.”

    Does that magically make him Jewish again?

    But let’s say he keeps going back and forth. One day, he is convinced that Jesus is his messiah; the next day he hotly denies it. One week he’s in temple refuting it; the next week he’s in church affirming it.

    Does this man keep gaining & losing his being a Jew with every twist & turn of his thoughts? Is God up there in the heavens, monitoring every twist and turn, and based on that, removing and restoring and then removing such a man from the “Jewish” column, sometimes multiple times per day?

    I knew someone who was literally that way and succeeded in driving both his Jewish and his Christian friends crazy.

  • Susan- Jesus is Jewish so you need to get your facts straight and Jesus
    wants us to live in peace but until He comes back again there won’t be a
    real peace but a false peace treaty set up by the antichrist to fool people.
    You don’t stop bein Jewish is you accept Jesus. Watch the Sid Roth show.

  • Larry, I do believe there were elections in which the Turkish army annulled the results, so you make a fair point.

  • It all depends on the old question of “who is a Jew” or how the word is defined. One reason a Jew who came to believe in Jesus was historically considered an ex-Jew was that in the pre-modern world, you were literally and physically either in the Christian community or the Jewish one. Thus when a Jewish person woke up one day and decided that Jesus was his messiah, he would be making a decision not only about religion but nationhood. He would be compelled by the time and place in which he lived to pack his bags and literally leave the Jewish community and journey to the Christian community.

    In that context, to call one’s self a Jew would probably not make any practical sense at all.

    But in our modern world, it’s a bit more complex… is less common to have religious communities, Christian or Jewish, that operate as virtually separate nations. You can change your belief, whatever it may be, without even leaving your house.

  • Typical Christian passive aggressive behavior towards calling out nonsense assertions.

    I can’t help it if you pretend faith is the same as reason. Anyone who claims their religious belief was based on evidence and reason is making stuff up. Its a given. Honesty is not a major component to supporting religious belief.

    All religious belief is based on faith (lack of evidence). Your remark is the kind of thing people typically say when they don’t trust the strength of their faith. Trying to pretend it is rational or must be accepted as such.

    Bachmann’s comments would be an amusing outlier if they were not so often spoken by fundamentalist Christians. Like those who lack the self-awareness to claim that they respect all faiths and beliefs, but go on to say if one is not Christian they deserve eternal torment.

  • Jack, you are incapable of being objective on the subject because it is your religious belief addressing those who believe differently. Of course you are not going to see offense. Those on the receiving end however have a much different and less cognitively obscured view altogether.

    Christians like Mark (and as you just did) only appreciate Jews as a concept, not as a group of actual people with their own beliefs.

    You do your own belittling of the Jewish faith by limiting their significant existence to just the areas covered by your scripture. Treating the group more of a museum piece for the furtherance of your religious faith than as a group with their own beliefs (which diverge wildly from your own in many ways).

  • What would be your reaction to someone who claims that your Christian belief is merely a stepping stone to the one true religion of Islam? That all Christians must accept the teachings of Mohammed if they are to avoid perdition? You would be offended as a matter of course.

    It is as offensive to your beliefs and sensibilities as Mark’s statement is to Susan. But this kind of argument requires a level of self-awareness which is sorely lacking in people stumping for the Christian faith.

    Oh right, Christian privilege. Christians can give as much offense as possible to others but never expect it returned. They can attack others but never expect to be called out on it.

  • Cute. So in LarryWorld, when Christians ground their faith in evidence, he accuses them of “not trusting the strength of their faith.”

    Now guess what Larry would do if they said, “okay, we trust the strength of our faith” apart from evidence?

    He would say it’s “irrational,” of course.

    Such is LarryWorld — heads he wins, tails they lose.

    In the real world, of course, evidence matters.

    And in the real world, across the centuries, world-class philosophers, scientists, jurists, and other luminaries have believed the Gospel precisely because they were impressed by the enormous weight of objective evidence surrounding its claims.

    They range from CS Lewis to the co-founder of Harvard Law School.

    But of course, Larry knows better than them all.

    This reminds me of a friend who had a baby hamster who, when disturbed, stood on his hind legs in a martial stance.

    Larry is to luminaries as hamster is to friend….

    No contest.

  • Way not to respond to my post, Larry, yet hardly a surprise.

    When Larry is refuted, he changes the subject (or invents a new name for himself). Since it’s a common occurrence, it’s second-nature to him.

    The immediate topic was whether the NT was anti-Semitic. Susan said yes, I noted that modern scholarship tilts the opposite way, Larry dodges with a non sequitur, I mention the contributions of modern Jewish scholars, Larry dodges with an elaboration on his previous non sequitur.

    And of course there’s the obligatory out-of-the-blue Larry accusation: Supposedly I care only about Jewish history and faith from biblical times.

    Larry, please enroll in a reading comprehension course. I believe exactly the opposite and have said so repeatedly. I believe Judaism remains a true and living God-infused faith in every sense of the word and hasn’t been replaced or superseded by anything. How much clearer can I be on that subject?

  • I must have struck a nerve, hence sudden turn towards personal insult. Youch!’

    You believe in your religion based on faith and evidently feel the need to 1ie about it so other people might be willing to take it more seriously than reality would permit.

    What you call evidence here is an appeal to empty authority at best. What believers say in public to impress others into belief when they lack the skill to inculcate faith in others.

    No more than excuses, apologia and contorted rational modes of communications in order to justify their faith. There is no such thing, nor will there ever be evidence or a rational argument for religious belief. As pointed out by philosophers, scientists, jurists, and other luminaries.

    The day you make an honest statement concerning religious belief will be your first.

  • Larry, as I told you long ago, you have a penchant for seeing other people as nameless, faceless blobs who fit readily into your own rigid categories and stereotypes.

    You really need to get over this shrunken view of humanity, because in the real world, each person is an individual and doesn’t fit into any of your silly little boxes.

    And the best way to get over it is actually to read other people’s posts. This way, you’ll avoid saying things that have no conceivable application to the person you’re addressing.

  • WA, Sid Roth is not the repository of the truth or of what Judaism is or isn’t. Yes, Jesus was Jewish, but that doesn’t mean that the people who follow Jesus are Jewish.

    Mark, my views are not man-made. They come from the Hebrew Bible and from people who know the Bible much better than I do and can read the Bible fluently in Hebrew.

  • “The immediate topic was whether the NT was anti-Semitic.”

    The practice of Christianity in past and present forms seem to point to its use in justifying antisemitic acts and language. Mark couldn’t help himself in that regard. You felt the need to make excuses for it as well.

    Not to worry, much of the NT is offensive to any believe outside of Christianity. Its the whole, “you believe as we do or you are going to hell” thing. Not something which inspires respect for other religious beliefs. Your notion that antisemitism is precluded by the NT is revisionistic, unsupported and hardly refutes how it is used to attack or minimize the Jewish faith, as Susan stated.

    Your own acknowledgement of Judaism is simply as progenitors, not as a present group with their own beliefs. Something that is mildly antisemitic, but largely unintentional on your part. It comes from a lack of perspective of beliefs outside your own.

  • Not addressing the point made.

    You would take offense to someone claiming your Christian faith is there to be supplanted by a new one. You don’t see how others would feel the same way if the situation is reversed. Of course not. 🙂

    Your nonsense reply made that all too clear.

  • Not that you deserve it, Larry, but I will assume that your prior post isn’t your cynical self at work, but a sincere misconception that I’m alluding to proofs for God’s existence, rather than historical evidence for Gospel claims.

    I’m referring to the latter. .

    What has most impressed many of the greatest minds of the past 20 centuries was precisely the quality of the evidence. That’s why people from Harvard Law School founders to leaders of human genome projects are Christians. They found the weight of the evidence to be surprisingly sturdy, and able to weather withering scrutiny.

    If you think you’re more intelligent than they, you are delusional. If you think you’ve figured out something that they haven’t, you probably have a lot more things wrong with you than an oversized head.

    The fact that they’re smart doesn’t mean they’re right. But it does suggest you’re bluffing as usual, feigning knowledge that isn’t there.

  • So in other words, Larry, whatever is in your head stays in your head, regardless of objective reality. It can be wise or foolish, true or false. It doesn’t matter. Once it’s there, it’s not leaving.

    I wonder how you ever unlearn anything. I suppose you don’t.

    Too bad.

    I wonder as well whether you have a reading disability, especially given what I just wrote and how you replied. As I said, I completely believe that Judaism is a living, breathing, going concern in every sense of the word, a religion that stands on its own, continues on its own, is blessed by God on its own, and has a destiny of its own. It is not superseded by anything, nor will it ever be.

    I’m not saying this to be nice, but because this is what I believe.

    I don’t know how to make it more plain. You couldn’t be more wrong about my beliefs. Either you’re dense as can be or are playing some cynical game.

  • Larry, I never said, nor do I believe, that Judaism has been “supplanted” by anything. I believe the opposite.

    It is you, not I, who seem to have an either/or view about Judaism and Christianity, believing that both can’t exist and be blessed at the same time in God’s economy.

    I’m not surprised that you view religion as a zero-sum game. You think the same way about economics. You’re wrong on both counts.

  • @Jack,

    “You admitted you were taught it”

    And I also admitted I was taught to love Jesus and Santa Claus.
    You seem to have missed the part where I grew up and stopped believing in those things.

    “Hate sites ….you degrade the bible writers..”

    I’ve never visited a hate site in my life. Clearly you have!
    ALL Holy Books: Christian, Jewish, Hindu and Islamic – degrade themselves. Not because of the ethnicity or nationality of the authors but because of their barbaric, primitive ignorance of the eras when these disgusting books were written.

    (Deuteronomy 25:11)

    I pity you if you see nothing disgusting in this primitive nonsense.

  • Three things: 1. Catholicism is not primitive Christianity. 2. Primitive Christianity is uniquely Jewish…& Jesus is Messiah!

  • Chris, the available historical evidence suggest you are correct on both counts.

    The earliest Christians were Jews and the earliest Christianity was a first-century sect of Judaism, built on the belief that the long-awaited messiah had come in the person of Jesus.

    In those days, the question wasn’t whether the thing was Jewish or not, since all the people involved, pro and con or otherwise, were Jews. Rather, it was whether the messianic claims on behalf a particular Jewish person named Jesus were true or false.

    And the strongest evidence that convinced many Jerusalemites of the time to believe it was true was the fact of the empty tomb and the fact that only his disciples had a ready explanation for what the heck happened to the body. All the other explanations fell apart logically and with time and the apostles claimed to have seen him in risen form.

  • Max, when people like you post hateful stuff, they often leave links behind. Typically, those links lead to anti-Semitic hate sites, usually run by neo-Nazis or white supremacists, and sometimes Islamist radicals.

    This is often true of your brand of hate, where Jews and their heritage are attacked by savaging the Torah and/or Talmud by wrenching words and sentences out of context. The obvious goal is to demonize and dehumanize the writers, and by extension, their fellow Jews. The goal is bring down Jews by bringing down the classical Jewish texts, making their writers look like monsters who hate humanity.

    Probably the worst example is by recirculating a grotesque mistranslation of a verse in one of Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians in the NT. It’s from the original King James Version…and the haters deliberately ignore the New King James Version which gets it right.

  • Being a scholar and Christian is not the same as proving claims that Christian belief is rationally and supported by evidence.

    The whole study of Christian apologia is loaded with irrational arguments and assumptions pretending to be evidence. Merely a way to supplement a flagging notion of faith. Every allegedly rational argument for the existence of God or for acceptance of Christianity is loaded with poor reasoning. Appealing to authority means nothing here.

    People want a substitute for faith because they don’t trust its inherent value. Arguments for religious belief are inherently weak and unconvincing to anyone outside of the given sect/faith. Even believers don’t take it seriously. It merely is a way to justify one’s faith to outsiders.

    Nobody has ever made a credible claim they converted to a religion based on rational argument. Ever.

  • Larry, obviously the legal, scientific, literary and other scholars who say they believed the Gospel precisely based on evidence would disagree with every word you’ve just posted. And many of them are demonstrably more intelligent than you, I, and probably several other people put together.

    So is there something you know that they don’t? Is there something you’ve figured out that all of them missed?

    Remember, the list of these people include people who are well-schooled on the rules of evidence, including legal and historical evidence. They know a good argument from a bad one.

    Your statement that “nobody has ever made a credible claim they converted to a religion based on rational argument” is readily refuted by the long list of people who claimed to do exactly that and who laid out their arguments for all to see and examine.

  • @Jack,

    “and by extension, their fellow Jews..”

    I don’t like Maya Angelou’s poetry. Most of it is nonsense. Therefore I hate – BY EXTENSION – all black people?? Or people from the south? Or…what?

    How do you therefor justify my $1000 contribution to Howard University?
    How do you justify my blood donor commitment which BY EXTENSION will very likely help save the life of a black person or a Jewish person?

    You hate Christopher Hitchens’ book “God is Not Great.”
    So BY EXTENSION (according to your logic) you must hate all Jewish Englishmen.
    Your bigotry against the Jewish Englishmen is duly noted.

  • It really comes down to the question of how hard we wish to dig our heels in to avoid the implications of certain historical facts.

    Thus, while the majority of biblical scholars — theist, agnostic, atheist — believe that Jesus not only existed but that his tomb was empty not long after he died and was lain there, nobody over the past 20 centuries has come up with a plausible natural explanation for what happened to the body. Given the facts surrounding the matter, every explanation offered thus is, when examined, wildly improbable, sometimes laughably so.

    An honest atheist will admit this and simply say we haven’t yet located the natural explanation, but it’s there somewhere, waiting to be found. A dishonest atheist like you will deny there is a dilemma and hope nobody calls you on it. A Christian will suggest that the only available answer as of today is a resurrection to which the disciples claimed to be witnesses.

  • Silly analogy, Max. It’s asinine to say that Maya Angelou is to the black community as the Hebrew Bible is to the Jewish community.

    It’s impossible to say anything about the origins or history, customs and traditions, world view and thought processes, of Jewry without some reference to the Bible. That’s why Jewish atheists and agnostics as well as theists have been nourished by the Bible as literature. Why do you think Jewish atheists go to Passover seders? The notable exception has been (some, not all) Jewish Marxists, some of whom reject both Jewish nationality and religion and thus have turned their backs on being Jewish altogether.

    Your flaw is in your belief that Jewish peoplehood exists in a vacuum. But every people has customs and traditions and in the case of the Jews, these are religious in origin, because there is no understanding of Jewish origins without the biblical story of Abraham. There is no competing story of origins.

  • So, Max, given that there is no reckoning of Jewish origins and little accounting of ancient Jewish history — either Jewish religion or Jewish peoplehood — apart from the biblical texts, and given that the writers of the texts or the oral transmitters that may have preceded them, are almost by definition the forerunners of the Jewish people, there’s no way you can tear the whole thing down without tearing down the Jews.

    And no, I don’t mean that disbelief in its divine origins equals anti-Semitism. One can appreciate the wisdom literature, for example, without believing in God. Ditto for many of the Psalms or the character lessons through many of the biblical stories — from sibling rivalry to loyalty among friends.

    But you’re trashing the whole thing, which goes far beyond atheism. And you’re doing so in a hateful, bigoted way, using the same techniques as haters do.

  • @Jack,

    I do not TRASH the “whole” thing. The Bible was written by people who had no choice but to expand on previous myths like Gilgamesh and Homer (which are themselves plagiarized from older myths) as they manufactured revenge fantasies with a god they invented for the starring role.

    I do not reject the Bible’s literary value as cultural MYTHS.
    I reject the fatuous claim that it is TRUE.

    If it ‘hateful and bigoted’ for me to declare Spiderman fictional then you better start believing in every single thing you read! I suppose I’m bigoted for not believing in UFO’s either? How did you decide to spin race into every argument? Do you think running that flag up the pole would shut down objections to your Jesus?
    Utter nonsense.

  • @Jack,

    “but it’s there somewhere, waiting to be found….”

    Nonsense. There is no reason to believe Jesus was any more real than Spiderman. The Gospel of Mark is a Greek plagiarism of Homer’s Greek story of Odysseus – scene for scene the story is identical.

    Paul and his cohorts constructed a Jesus from dreams and revelations from deeply searching the stories of the Old Testament “Christ is in the scriptures” and “is no man.”

    30 years later a fan magazine called “Gospel of Mark” created a living Jesus for the church of Paul and or the Marcionites. It was a ripoff of Odysseus right down to the woman who recognized Jesus and spilled oil on his feet!

    The other gospels were written from Mark and embroidered with new legends as Spiderman has been reworked many times.
    Jesus is a story and nothing more.

  • Of course they would continue appealing to such empty authority. But it does not mean they are even remotely correct, objective or honest about it. Which was my point.

    “So is there something you know that they don’t? Is there something you’ve figured out that all of them missed?”


    That those apologia and arguments for the existence of God have NEVER had the effect of inspiring religious belief in anyone. That NOBODY accepts such “evidence” and “arguments” as such. They are simply modes of self-confirmation for those predisposed to belief from the beginning.

    That they are simply self-satisfied spouting off for believers to feel better about themselves. Something various scholars, scientific and literary, whom you will never bother to familiarize yourself with, have said for centuries as well.

    You believe because you have faith. You look for ways to pretend otherwise.