3 years ago, Yisroel Blumenthal had penned an article under the name of Judge Not which can be found here: http://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2011/05/08/judge-not/
I wish to go through each of the claims he makes and try to respond to them to the best of my ability.
Christianity claims to be the only path to salvation before God. Many individual Christian denominations take this claim one step further with the assertion that this path leads exclusively through membership in their particular church.
This claim is not unique to Christianity. Many religions lay claim to exclusive possession of the way to eternal reward. What is different about Christianity is that its claim is refuted through its own accusation against Judaism. Christianity’s claim to exclusivity is internally inconsistent and self-contradictory – in a word: hypocritical.
The "other" religions do not have the solution to the problem of human sin and man's fallen nature and all emphasise living a certain way before getting right with God. Christianity on the other hand however teaches God declares you righteous when you come to him in repentance and faith and then you carry out good works as GRATITUDE to him, rather than for your salvation.
What does Yisroel Blumenthal mean by Christianity's claims being hypocritical? He explains:
You see, Christianity acknowledges that before the advent of Jesus, the Jewish people enjoyed a unique relationship with God. Judaism does not claim that the path to God is limited to membership in the Jewish community. According to Judaism, any human being who acknowledges his or her debt to the Creator, and lives a life in line with the conscience that God planted into our hearts, will be rewarded by God. But Judaism does claim that the Jewish people stand in a special relationship with God as a chosen nation.
Christianity contends that the Jewish people forfeited this singular standing before God. I will allow Matthew’s Jesus to present the position of the Church.
“Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country:
And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it.
And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another.
Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise.
But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son.
But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance.
And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.
When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen?
They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.
Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?
Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” (Matthew 21:33-43)
The meaning of the parable is obvious. The owner of the vineyard is God, the husbandman is the Jewish people, the son is Jesus, and the “nation bringing fruits thereof” is the Christian Church. According to Matthew’s Jesus, killing the “son” warranted that the kingdom of God be taken from the Jews.
In the context of the parable, It refers firstly to the time of the TANAKH, where the OT Prophets were sent to the people of Israel by God and they were subject to either death or ridicule at the hands of their people and then the Messiah, the Son of God is sent to his people and is put to death by them (Not all I may add due to righteous remnants accepting heeding the warnings of the OT prophets and the Messiah). As for those who bare the fruits, while you can say it refers to the Church in principle, Jesus has in mind his own people. In other words he takes the kingdom from one group of Jews and gives it to another group of Jews, a set of Jews who are eager to receive his message. Any Gentile who comes to Jesus is grafted into the olive tree, only replace unbelieving Jews, NOT believing Jews.
Let us now see how Christianity fares according to the judgement it pronounced against Judaism.
We will note that there are many extenuating factors that mitigate the alleged guilt of the Jews in the death of Jesus;
Even according to the biased narrative of the Christian Scriptures, it was not the Jews who killed Jesus, it was the Romans.
The number of Jews that could have been involved in his death had to be minuscule. The majority of Jews that were alive then could not all have been in that place at that one point in time.
Even those Jews who might have been involved in his death could not be considered representatives of Judaism as a belief system. The core texts of Judaism do not preach hatred against Jesus. On the contrary, the Jewish Scriptures that were venerated by the Jewish people of the time, devote more space to the castigation of the Jewish nation than they do in criticism of her enemies.
At least Blumenthal acknowledges that not every Jew was not responsible for Jesus death, this is a point I have hammered home in my 9 articles responding to Uri Yosef on whether or not the New Testament teaches anti-Semitism which can be found in the following archives:
Regarding castigation of the Jewish Nation, that is what Jesus DID engage in as well as the prophets of the TANAKH. The NT does record Jesus chastising his own people, not encouraging hate against them.
The hateful and sinister motivations attributed by Matthew’s Jesus to the Jewish people (- “This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance.”) is contradicted by John. According to Matthew, the Jews recognize that Jesus is “the heir” and their motivation for killing him was to “seize on his inheritance”. According to John the Jews were motivated to move against Jesus because they considered him a blasphemer (John 10:33), and feared that his activities will provoke the Romans to take action against the larger community (John 11:48).
Even the Christians, who accept Jesus’ claims, must acknowledge there was no way that the Jews could have known, before the alleged resurrection, that Jesus was who he claimed to be. Matthew’s Jesus declares that the generation will be given no sign except for his pending resurrection (Matthew 16:4). Thus before his alleged resurrection, the people had no way of clearly and conclusively verifying his claims. (It is in place to note that according to the Jewish Bible, no miracle, not even a resurrection, can justify Jesus’ claims for divinity – Deuteronomy 13:2-6.)
Still and all, despite all of these mitigating factors, Christianity asserts that the Jewish people have had “the kingdom of God” taken from them because they killed someone who claimed to be God’s son.
The Pharisees in John 10:30 interestingly conclude Jesus is indeed claiming to be God, to which Jesus doesn't refute, but actually he goes on to confirm their conclusion, to which they react violently and try to stone him. I have written on this subject in my response to Tovia Singer: http://answering-judaism.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/response-to-tovia-singer-on-did-authors.html
Also with respect to the context of Matthew 16, we read:
16 The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven.
2 He replied, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ 3 and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.[a] 4 A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Jesus then left them and went away.
The Pharisees were demanding a miracle to get him to prove his claims. Jesus said that the only sign that would be given to them would be the sign of Jonah. Jesus refuses to perform miracles to them because of their unbelief, which is not an uncommon thing for Jesus to do in given contexts. As Blumenthal notes, it is a sign of Jesus' pending resurrection.
However, Resurrection IS actually an exception to Deuteronomy 13 when speaking of miracles and I speak on this issue in this article here:
For the sake of convenience, I will summarise here why the argument on the resurrection by Blumenthal and other Jews doesn't work.
1. God uses the scenario in Deuteronomy 13 as a means of testing Israel. Raising a false prophet from the dead whom Israel is already aware of and has warned future generations about is alien to the TANAKH.
2. A Resurrection would be used as a means of VINDICATION of a prophet, not as a means of using them for testing.
3. Christ exhorts people to return to the Father, not get away. Issues on the Mosaic Law I have covered elsewhere:
Let us now see how Christianity has dealt with the one who is explicitly identified by the Jewish Bible as God’s firstborn son. The Jewish Scriptures repeatedly and openly declare that the Jewish people are God’s children, His firstborn son (Exodus 4:22, Deuteronomy 14:1, Jeremiah 31:8).
I won't dispute Israel is God's firstborn son, the question is, how is the sonship defined? Being God's son can refer to being God's son by adoption, refer to the angels, etc. Israel was given birth to by God spiritually, as God is called the "rock who gave you birth" when Moses spoke to Israel. God throughout the scripture made it clear that Israel is his son and I won't dispute that.
Jesus by contrast is the Son of God FROM ETERNITY. Again, a spiritual begetting, not a physical one. While Israel is God's Son by virtue of being adopted by him, Jesus is the Son of the Father in a unique sense. Hence why in John 3:16 the claim of him being the unique son.
Any way moving on.
How did the Church treat God’s firstborn son?
A cursory glance at Church history reveals that the Church poisoned the minds of mankind against the Jewish people. They oppressed, tortured and killed millions of Jews from the days of Constantine until the holocaust.
None of the extenuating factors that mitigate the guilt of the Jews in the death of Jesus apply to the guilt of Christendom in the persecution of the Jew.
It was the Christians and the Church themselves who persecuted and killed countless Jews.
The number of Christians involved in these crimes reach the millions over the centuries.
The core texts of Christianity preach this very hatred of God’s firstborn son, and the greatest scholars in Church history understood the texts to mean precisely what they say – that the Jews are no less than the children of the devil.
The motive that the Church had to persecute the Jews is obvious to every student of history. The Church was attempting to seize the inheritance of the Jewish people. They wanted the blessings that God had promised to the Jewish people, and the fact that the Jews were still claiming those blessings, and the fact that their claim is more credible than the claim of the Church, was a thorn in their side.
The Church was in possession of all of the evidence that is necessary to prove that the Jewish people are truly God’s son; namely the Jewish Bible.
The fact that the killing of the Jews occurred from the time of Constantine to the holocaust is prima fachi proof that Early New Testament Christianity was not anti-Semitic in it's inception, even with the repeated misuses of Matthew 23, John 8:44 and other passages by counter-missionaries I have seen.
So, if the Jewish people had “the kingdom of God taken from them” because of the death of Jesus, what happens to the Church for the death of millions of Jews?
Oh, I forgot the excuses. “Those weren’t real Christians, those murderers cannot be considered true representatives of the Church, “real Christians” helped and saved Jews etc.”
All of these excuses, and more are applicable to the Jewish people in relation to the death of Jesus. But Matthew’s Jesus brushes all of these excuses aside and passes his harsh judgment against the Jewish people of all generations. If these excuses are not accepted by Matthew’s Jesus, they cannot work for the Church.
According to the Church’s own judgment, they cannot be the exclusive masters of the “kingdom of God”. If a one time act took the kingdom away from the entirety of the Jewish people, then 2000 years of widespread persecution should have done the same for the Church.
The judgment that Matthew’s Jesus pronounces against the Jewish people condemns the Christian Church and effectively nullifies her theological claims.
Err... The same "Matthew's Jesus" (The description Blumenthal uses for Jesus) says in Matthew 7:21-23 that not every one who claims to be his follower and calls him Lord will be saved and only those who do the will of the Father will be saved. Christians CAN say that those who killed Jews were NOT real Christians and Matthew would fully accept that considering he himself was Jewish, as was Jesus and the rest of the disciples and Matthew is only condemning those who didn't accept Yeshua's claims. The dilemma presented by the Rabbi is simply NOT there. There isn't any excuse on the Christian's part when they tell you true Christians are not anti-Semitic.
I will grant Yisroel Blumenthal this with respect to what he says with respect the replacement of the Jews with the Church, it's garbage. Replacement Theology is a foreign concept to the NT documents. Even Romans 2:28-29 and Matthew 21:43 don't prove that.
Furthermore if God replaced the Jews with the Church, how do we know the same thing wouldn't be done to church with someone else?
The Muslims themselves are replacement theologians, as are many Protestants though not all. Some Protestants who hold to this absurdity of replacement theology include men such as John Stott, John Piper and Stephen Sizer. I am glad that there are Protestants who recognise replacement theology as absurd, namely David Pawson.
Heretical groups such as Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and of course others such as Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons also hold to replacement theology to varying degrees.
The problem with replacement theology as a whole is how do those groups who hold to such beliefs know they haven't been replaced by another group that came after them?
Jacob Prasch of Moriel Ministries and the Messianic Drew also make this point that if God has to reject Israel because of disobedience, then the church has to be rejected for that reason too.
However, despite the fact that replacement theology doesn't exist in the NT, this wouldn't condemn the church, as they are grafted into the New Covenant made with the Jews. Both Jews and Gentiles need to be born again to be part of the New Covenant.
Hopefully this article has been a blessing, Thanks for reading.