Monday, July 15, 2013

Judaism vs. Christianity

Here is a debate I did with the resolution, "Judaism is more logical than Christianity."  Usually, when people say "logical," I take that to mean "conforming to logic," but people often just mean "reasonable" or something like that.  I interpreted my opponent, who initiated this debate, to mean that Judaism was more reasonable to believe than Christianity or that it made more sense, or that it conformed better with reason and evidence, or something along those lines.

Here was my opening statement:

This sounds like a challenging debate.

I do not dispute that Judaism was logical in the past. I dispute that modern Judaism is more logical than Christianity. What I am going to argue is that in the present, Christianity is more logical than Judaism.

The problems with modern Judaism
Promises to Abraham

God promised Abraham that he would give the land of Palestine to his descendants forever.[1] Although he warned that he would exile them for their sins, he promised to always bring them back in fulfillment of his promises.[2] However, they have spent more time in exile than they have in their homeland, and to this day, they have not all been brought back. In fact, most Jews today have no desire to go back. The Judaism of today seems to have forgotten its past. Nobody even knows what became of the ten tribes of the northern kingdom of Israel after they were destroyed and scattered by the Assyrians in 722 BCE.

Law of Moses

Judaism, as a religion, was founded when God gave the law to Moses. That Law is what defined Judaism. But the Law of Moses is largely inoperative today due to the fact that there is no Temple. Besides that, many of the laws are outdated and impractical. There are few Jews living today, if any, who would advocate re-establishing the whole Law in practice. In fact, it seems impossible that it ever could be re-established because the Law stipulated that only the sons of Aaron and the Levites could serve as priests, but nobody today knows who is elegible. The original intention of the Law was for it to be kept forever.[3] But that has now become impossible.

The Temple

Before the first Temple was built, the ark of the covenant was housed in a tent where all the priestly functions were done. The Temple was meant to be a more permanent building. After it was destroyed in 587 BCE, there was a lot of anxiety about rebuilding it. Reconstruction on the second Temple began 50 or 70 years later. That Temple lasted until 70 CE when it was destroyed by the Romans. After 2000 years, it still hasn't been rebuilt, and the majority of Jews are not anxious about rebuilding it. The Temple represented the presence of God. The smoke represented his glory, and it filled the Holy of Holies. The Jews have gone longer without the Temple than they ever had it, and the ark of the covenant is lost.

The throne of David
God promised to always have a man on the throne of David.[4] David's dynasty came to an end during the Babylonian captivity, but the prophets said God would fulfill his promise by raising up a descendant of David to re-establish that kingdom.[5] However, it's been 2500 years or so, and still no fulfillment (unless you count Jesus, but Jews don't). Moreover, nobody living today can trace their geneology back to David, so it doesn't even look like it's possible for that promise to be fulfilled. If somebody claimed to be the fulfillment, and they became king in Israel, he wouldn't be able to prove his legitimacy. Besides, hardly any Jews living today even want a king in Israel. They're happy with their present form of government.

Sin and exile

Almost all of the promises God gave to Israel were conditional on their obedience to the law. What history proved was that Israel was incapable of keeping the law. That was the explanation of all the prophets for why they lost their land, their Temple, their king, and their prosperity. If, by some miracle, all the Jews were restored to their land, their temple was rebuilt, their messiah took the throne of David, and everything was hunky dory, what would there be to stop them from breaking the law again and repeating history? Judaism has no permanent answer for sin. When they had a Temple, they had a temporary solution for sin that did not succeed in preventing them from going into exile, etc. As you'll see in a minute, Christianity does have an answer for sin.

Conclusion

The Judaism of today has largely abandoned what it was originally all about, and it appears that God hasn't dealt with the Jews in thousands of years. There have been no new prophets, no new revelations, no new scriptures, no fulfillment of promises, the law is not fully kept, etc. Now let's compare that to Christianity.

The truth of Christianity

Jesus the risen messiah

My opponent makes a very good point. Although the primary expectation of the messiah was that he would sit on the throne of David, re-establish national sovereignty, reunite Judah and Israel, and usher in an era of peace and prosperity, Jesus did none of that. Instead, he died in apparent failure in a humiliating way by Israel's occupiers. It is perfectly understandable that Jews today would reject him as the messiah.

However, that raises a very interesting question. Why did Jesus' movement survive his death? All of his followers were Jews! His death should've proved to them that Jesus was not the messiah. At first, it did![8] There were dozens of people in the first and second century who claimed to be the messiah. Each one of them was killed, and none of their movements survived their deaths because a dead messiah is a contradiction in terms in Judaism.

There's only one thing that could've kept Jesus' movement alive, and that's if his followers had very good reason to think he was still alive. As long as he's still alive, he may yet fulfill all the prophecies. Moreover, if he claimed to be the messiah sent from God, then was raised from the dead, that would seem to prove that his claim is true. God vindicated him by raising him from the dead. Since that is the best explanation for why his movement survived despite his humiliating death, it's probably true. So Christianity is very logical.

The second coming

My opponent rightly points out that there's no explicit second coming mentioned in the Old Testament. But the Old Tesatment doesn't rule one out either, so this is a fallacious argument from silence. Moreover, if Jesus proved he was the messiah by rising from the dead, then we have good reason to think he will come again just as he said he would.

The solution to sin

Earlier, I mentioned that Judaism had no permanent answer for sin. If sin is not permanantly dealt with, there is no way for God's promises to be permantly fulfilled. If they are fulfilled at all, history shows that it will be short lived. Sin will reek the same havok as it did before.

But Christianity has a permanent solution for sin. Jesus died for sins once and for all.[6] The sacrifices do not need to be repeated. Moreover, each Christian is the Temple of God, and his Spirit dwells in each of them.[7]

The laws of Moses

My opponent faults Christians for breaking the law of Moses, but the Law of Moses was never intended to apply to anybody but Jews living in Israel. It was their constitution. God never faulted other nations for breaking Sabbaths, for eating pork, or for wearing clothes with mixed fibers. Those were laws that only applied to Jews. Almost all Christians are gentiles. Although all people everywhere are obligated to keep the moral law, which some of the laws of Moses represent, they are not obligated to keep the whole Mosaic law. They never were.

Conclusion

As we can see, Christianity is far more logical than Judaism. It solves problems that Judaism doesn't. Also, Christianity has better evidence in his favor. Jews have no evidence that God intervened in their history, but Christians have the evidence of the resurrection, which I made an argument for. If Jesus is the messiah, then that proves that God acted in Israel's history. So the truth of Christianity proves the truth of ancient Judaism. But modern Judaism can offer no evidence for its truth.


[1] Genesis 12:7
Genesis 13:14-15
Genesis 15:18
Genesis 17:8

[2] Deuteronomy 30:1-5
Ezekiel 20:42
Ezekiel 34:13
Ezekiel 36:24
Ezekiel 37:21-22
Jeremiah 16:15
Jeremiah 23:7-8
Jeremiah 29:14
Jeremiah 30:3

[3] 2 Kings 17:37

[4] 2 Samuel 7:16
1 Kings 2:4,
1 Kings 2:45
1 Kings 8:25

[5] Isaiah 9:7
Ezekiel 37:25
Jeremiah 33:14-22

[6] Hebrews 7:27

[7] 1 Corinthians 3:16

[8] Luke 24:21
John 20:25

5 Comments:

At 7/23/2013 3:29 AM , Blogger AARON SHELENBERGER said...

This is good.

 
At 12/01/2013 5:49 AM , Blogger Slacktide said...

Hello I was reading through some of your blog posts and I really enjoy reading your arguments. I hope you will keep posting more debates in the future.Thanks!

 
At 12/01/2013 6:05 AM , Blogger Slacktide said...

Also is there a place other than the comment section where we can ask questions? If not could you recommend a book that offers proof for Jesus' resurrection?I'm trying to strengthen my faith-sort of having a faith crisis because I am just asking more questions about my faith. Thanks so much Sam.

 
At 12/01/2013 9:01 AM , Blogger Sam said...

The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel

The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus by Gary Habermas and Mike LIcona

The Resurrection of Jesus by Mike Licona

and my personal favourite...

The Resurrection of the Son of God by N.T. Wright

 
At 12/02/2013 3:22 AM , Blogger Slacktide said...

thank you sir and God Bless.

 

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home