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Switch to Forum Live View A friendly question from a Christian.
6 years ago  ::  Nov 10, 2008 - 12:22PM #1
mathaytace
Posts: 125
I am curious as to the various interpretations of the Noahide prohibition against idolatry concerning the worship of Jesus as Divine.

If I were not a Christian, and I did not believe that Jesus was the Incarnation of God, I would think it pretty clear that worship of Jesus would be obvious Idolatry.

However I know that some Jews do not consider (Gentile) Worship of Jesus to be Idolatry. I am Curious as to what arguments those Jews use to defend their point, because as i said, if I believed Judaism to be correct concerning Jesus, it would make no sense to me that worship of Him would be acceptable.

Thanks for any answers :)

God Bless
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6 years ago  ::  Nov 10, 2008 - 2:52PM #2
nieciedo
Posts: 5,617
This whole Noachide deal is really a pain :)

If you Google "Noachide" and visit some sites, you'll see people saying that Christianity is absolutely idolatry for everyone and bad, bad, bad -- and that to get on God's good side Christians should abandon Jesus and become Noachides.

Dollars to donuts, these are bitter resentful ex-Christians. ;)

A general rule is that idolatry is taken as the worship of something or someone else in place of God. Christianity, from an outsider's perspective is either the worship of a human being or of an additional god alongside the God of Israel. Such "association" of intermediaries or deities with God ('shittuf" in Hebrew) is prohibited to Jews, but is deemed OK for Gentiles -- because the commandments given to Jews are much more explicit and detailed regarding idolatrous worship than those applicable to non-Jews.

Kind of like pork. There's nothing inherently wrong with eating pork, and it's perfectly kosher for non-Jews to do so. Jews, however, are prohibited from eating pork and so we are forbidden to eat it. Likewise, there's nothing inherently wrong with a non-Jew worshipping Jesus, but if would be idolatry for Jews to do so.
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6 years ago  ::  Nov 10, 2008 - 3:19PM #3
mathaytace
Posts: 125
[QUOTE=nieciedo;885878]This whole Noachide deal is really a pain :)

If you Google "Noachide" and visit some sites, you'll see people saying that Christianity is absolutely idolatry for everyone and bad, bad, bad -- and that to get on God's good side Christians should abandon Jesus and become Noachides.

Dollars to donuts, these are bitter resentful ex-Christians. ;)

A general rule is that idolatry is taken as the worship of something or someone else in place of God. Christianity, from an outsider's perspective is either the worship of a human being or of an additional god alongside the God of Israel. Such "association" of intermediaries or deities with God ('shittuf" in Hebrew) is prohibited to Jews, but is deemed OK for Gentiles -- because the commandments given to Jews are much more explicit and detailed regarding idolatrous worship than those applicable to non-Jews.

Kind of like pork. There's nothing inherently wrong with eating pork, and it's perfectly kosher for non-Jews to do so. Jews, however, are prohibited from eating pork and so we are forbidden to eat it. Likewise, there's nothing inherently wrong with a non-Jew worshipping Jesus, but if would be idolatry for Jews to do so.[/QUOTE]

That's an interesting position I had not heard before. I had always thought that Idolatry was one of the few things forbidden for both Jew and Gentile.

If i understand what you are saying, it is a Jewish Teaching that although you believe our worship of Jesus to be incorrect, you do not consider it sin, because ultimately, due to our beliefs, our prayers are directed toward the God of Israel?

Is this a common belief? is it talmudic?

Sorry if i sound aggressive or disrespectful, but comparative Religion is a passion of Mine, and I love learning new things :P

Thanks for satisfying my curiosity.
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6 years ago  ::  Nov 10, 2008 - 5:02PM #4
nieciedo
Posts: 5,617
[QUOTE=mathaytace;885938]That's an interesting position I had not heard before. I had always thought that Idolatry was one of the few things forbidden for both Jew and Gentile.



Oh, yes. Idolatry is forbidden for both Jews and Gentiles. However, I'll return to the example of kosher food. Jews and Gentiles are prohibited from eating unkosher food -- but what is kosher for the two is very different. For non-Jews, the basic requirement is that the "lifeblood" of the animal not still be in the meat -- that the meat is not taking from a living animal. The rules for Jews are much more detailed. It's the same with the definition of idolatry: what is idolatrous for Jews is not necessarily idolatrous for non-Jews.

If i understand what you are saying, it is a Jewish Teaching that although you believe our worship of Jesus to be incorrect, you do not consider it sin, because ultimately, due to our beliefs, our prayers are directed toward the God of Israel?



Yes, but more to the point: from the perspective of Torah, you have not been commanded not to worship anyone or anything alongside God. Something is "sinful" if is violates a commandment. Since there is no commandment in Scriptures that forbids non-Jews from worshipping Jesus alongside God, it's not an issue. Moreover, it's not our place to determine whether anyone else is "sinning" or not. The Torah is binding on Jews and we're all responsible for one another in upholding it; it is not binding on non-Jews (unless they convert).

Is this a common belief? is it talmudic?



Yes, I'd say it's pretty common. "Talmudic" is a problem, though, as it suggests that the Talmud is somehow separate from Torah and less authoritative. There are two faces to Torah: the Written and the Oral. The Talmud is the primary basis of the Oral Torah as preserved to us from antiquity -- and it is added to and adapted by the Jewish people from generation to generation. The Oral Torah is essential for the proper understanding and application of the Written Torah, so it's all part of the same totality for us.

Sorry if i sound aggressive or disrespectful, but comparative Religion is a passion of Mine, and I love learning new things :P

Thanks for satisfying my curiosity.[/QUOTE]

No problem. You're quite welcome.

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6 years ago  ::  Nov 11, 2008 - 10:38AM #5
NahumS
Posts: 1,759
This issue came up in the Middle Ages. The Talmud doesn't systematically discuss the Christian faith, probably since Christianity had not developed a clear theology until later - or at least not within earshot of the rabbis of the Talmud.
One opinion does posit that "shituf" - associating other forces with the Creator is not idolatry for non-Jews. Others (including Maimonides) would not accept this. But even Maimonides speaks positively of the contribution of Christianity in spreading the belief in redemption and thus preparing the world for the arrival of the true messiah and the messianic age. Another medieval commentator, HaMeiri says that Jews should not treat Chrisitans like idol worshippers, since they believe in the Creator and accept the ethical precepts of the Torah.
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6 years ago  ::  Nov 13, 2008 - 3:37AM #6
Shlomo613
Posts: 131

...The Torah is binding on Jews and we're all responsible for one another in upholding it; it is not binding on non-Jews (unless they convert). ...



Except for the 7 laws of Noach. Those are binding on all, Jew or Gentile. They're already covered by Jewish commandments. While many Christians honor 'The 10 Commandments' it should be noted that some of those are only incumbent upon Jews, they are similar to but not identical with the 7 Laws. Some of the 7 would surprise many Christians, I think.

http://community.beliefnet.com/forums/f … .php?f=342

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6 years ago  ::  Nov 13, 2008 - 7:04AM #7
nieciedo
Posts: 5,617
[QUOTE=Shlomo613;891781]Except for the 7 laws of Noach. Those are binding on all, Jew or Gentile. They're already covered by Jewish commandments. While many Christians honor 'The 10 Commandments' it should be noted that some of those are only incumbent upon Jews, they are similar to but not identical with the 7 Laws. Some of the 7 would surprise many Christians, I think.

http://community.beliefnet.com/forums/f … .php?f=342[/QUOTE]

Yes, but interestingly enough the 7 Noachide laws are not explicitly included in our scriptures. We wouldn't know about them except through the Rabbis' deductions in the Oral Torah. While the Noachide laws are indeed binding on all descendants of Noah, we are not obligated to make sure non-Jews obey them. Chabad has turned this whole Noachide thing, which was originally nothing more than a legal category so ancient Jews knew who they could do business with and interact with socially, into a bizarre kind of cult.
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6 years ago  ::  Nov 13, 2008 - 10:52AM #8
NahumS
Posts: 1,759
[QUOTE=nieciedo;891836]Yes, but interestingly enough the 7 Noachide laws are not explicitly included in our scriptures. We wouldn't know about them except through the Rabbis' deductions in the Oral Torah. While the Noachide laws are indeed binding on all descendants of Noah, we are not obligated to make sure non-Jews obey them. Chabad has turned this whole Noachide thing, which was originally nothing more than a legal category so ancient Jews knew who they could do business with and interact with socially, into a bizarre kind of cult.[/QUOTE]

Most evolved cultures have internalized at least most of the 7.
Up until fairly recently, Jews had little influence on the broader society. Even now, I doubt that we can "make sure" that non-Jews observe these basic pillars of decency. But if we have influence, why shouldn't we use it to encourage moral behavior?
I understand your objection to turning "Noahidism" into an alternative religion for gentiles. But encouraging "ethical monotheism" (that used to be a by-word in the Reform movement once upon a time) - isn't that an important part of our mission in the world?
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6 years ago  ::  Nov 13, 2008 - 12:54PM #9
nieciedo
Posts: 5,617
[QUOTE=NahumS;892151]Most evolved cultures have internalized at least most of the 7.
Up until fairly recently, Jews had little influence on the broader society. Even now, I doubt that we can "make sure" that non-Jews observe these basic pillars of decency. But if we have influence, why shouldn't we use it to encourage moral behavior?
I understand your objection to turning "Noahidism" into an alternative religion for gentiles. But encouraging "ethical monotheism" (that used to be a by-word in the Reform movement once upon a time) - isn't that an important part of our mission in the world?[/QUOTE]

What I meant was that there is no halakhic obligation for a Jew to enforce observance of the Noachide laws. A Jew is not responsible if he fails to prevent a Gentile from violating a Noachide law the way he would be responsible if he failed to prevent a Jew from violating a mitzvah. See this examination by Rabbi Michael Broyde: http://www.jlaw.com/Articles/noach2.html.

Encouraging moral behavior by example, however, is indeed apparently our purpose in the world according to the Torah.
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6 years ago  ::  Nov 13, 2008 - 1:01PM #10
mathaytace
Posts: 125
[QUOTE=nieciedo;892459]

Encouraging moral behavior by example, however, is indeed apparently our purpose in the world according to the Torah.[/QUOTE]

Christianity agrees. Christians who actually read the scriptures, and don't insert their antisemitic crap into it, see it affirmed in both the Tanakh and the New Testament, that the Jews are not only blessed by God, but a blessing to the world. Before the Advent of Christ, many Gentiles who otherwise would not know God learned ethical precepts and morality from the Jewish people.
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