We are looking at the thirteen principles of Judaism as has been offered by the Medieval Jewish theologian, Maimonides. This is how I choose to answer the question of “Am I Jewish.” This does not address the DNA factor, or the practices of any of a variety of Judaisms (of which there are many “denominations”).
For a good article of the thirteen principles, visit Hebrew4Christians.com. There are many helpful resources for Christians who are, frankly, a bit ignorant on things Hebraic or “Jewish.”
Why should a Christian be interested in learning about Biblical and traditional Judaism? Well, many people simply make judgments and theologies on pre-conceived notions with very little knowledge behind them. I can flip the coin and say that many Jews do not know true Christian doctrine. Much of what they have seen (depending on geography) has been very consistent to what Jesus received from the Roman soldiers who hoisted Him on the cross. Spitting, mocking, slapping… yes, you can go on. The fact is, two thousand years is a long time to be abused, discriminated, libeled, and murdered.
Yes, we can truthfully say that “real” Christianity is not like that. But people tend to make their discernment on what they experience. The last thing I will say about it is this: Next time you hear someone (possibly from the pulpit) say these words “the Jews” listen for the tone. Over and over, I hear a sense that is close to universal. I hear a preacher use Jews to contrast what we are supposed to be as followers of Jesus (the King of the Jews). Each teaching shows what we as Christians are supposed to do as opposed to what “The Jews” did. The Jews, in reality, include Rabbi Jesus (Yeshua at that time) and all his disciples, who became His missionaries to the world. The Savior himself said, “Salvation is from the Jews.”
It is my belief that much of the current “Gospel” carries a weird form of anti-Jew bigotry with it, that many will not readily admit. Honestly, can you tell me that you have not heard Jews as a way of NOT patterning our lives? Paul (the Jew) said “Follow me as I follow Messiah.” Yes, I realize I have not even gotten to Mr. Maimonides’ fifth principle yet, but I must say this. I am fully convinced that if the Jewish Messiah comes back (as all Christians believe) many people will not know what to do. They have been preaching that you must reject the Jew and be like Christ (Christ-ian), and when Christ stands before them in the flesh, He will be… well, Jewish.
If Christ came as the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Jew-dah), and we are to be like this Jew (and adopted by Him), why would we disdain Jewish thought, custom, or blood? Jesus thought and taught as a Jew. He was a Rabbi (and is really the only one who deserves this title) who taught in the Temple, and He was born Jewish. I would like to encourage you that there is an inheritance there. Please do not sell your birthright. And stop thinking that you have replaced the Jew for blessings in the family. I urge you to look at the prodigal son. He wanted his inheritance, but not the heritage. He did not want to live under the covering of his father. I wish for more of my brothers and sisters to see that there is more treasure under Dad’s roof than we realize?
The fifth principle of Judaism is: We are to pray to God alone.
“I believe with complete faith that the Creator, blessed be His name, is the only one to whom we should pray, and it is not proper to pray to any other.” – Maimonides
Can a believer in Yeshua/Jesus agree with this? By all means, Yes. As He is the Creator, we can pray to Him.
“He was in the world, and the world was made through him,” John 1:10
Does this mean that all Jews believe that Yeshua is Elohim/God? Of course not. But does it mean that believing in the deity of Jesus puts you at odds with Jewish belief? Nope.
“For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.” I Tim. 2:5,6 ESV
It is certainly hard to explain how the son of God is God at the same time, but that is for another time. I can tell you this. If you visit Notre Dame Cathedral in the lovely town of Paris, you will walk inside and you will see alcoves on the inside of the sanctuary. These are alcoves in which people are kneeling down. glance inside one of these little pockets and you will see a person, or people, kneeling, bowing, and praying before a statue. I have been told that they are not praying “to” the person (man or woman) that this statue represents, but that they are asking for mediation on their behalf.
To be frank, if you choose old or new Testament, and you bow and pray to someone who has passed away (or lives) for mediation between you and God, you are in violation of God’s instructions. So, if you are a “Christian” who prays to anyone other than God, the Father or God, the Son… well, you would disagree with Maimonides. You would not score a check mark next to the “pray to God alone” row.
But for those Christians who believe that we are to pray to the Creator and no one else, I believe we can mark this one as a “yes.” So far, in belief, I am pretty cool with the statement of faith. How about you? How Jewish are you in belief? If you would like me to rephrase that, how similar are your beliefs to the Jewish beliefs? Does this surprise you?