Archive for the ‘Christian’ Category

Iran’s Religious Minority Persecution — Christians, Jews … – National Review

The Iranian government continues to persecute religious minorities, including groups supposedly given special recognition by the countrys constitution: Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians. According to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedoms (USCIRF) annual report for 2017, Irans government engaged in systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom, including prolonged detention, torture, and executions based primarily or entirely upon the religion of the accused. Because of its failure to respect religious minorities, Iran has been considered a country of particular concern by the State Department for close to two decades.

Hundreds of Christians have been arrested since 2010. As of December 2016, approximately 90 Christians were in prison, detained, or awaiting trial because of their religious beliefs and activities. Over the past year, reports the USCIRF, there were numerous incidents of Iranian authorities raiding church services, threatening church members, and arresting and imprisoning worshipers and church leaders, particularly Evangelical Christian converts.

The most recent International Religious Freedom report by the State Department corroborates the information gleaned by the USCIRF. Muslims who convert to Christianity place themselves at severe risk of government retaliation. Armenian and Assyrian Christians, who have deep roots in Iran and the surrounding region, are also subject to persecution at the hands of the government:

The authorities required all churchgoers to register with them and prevented Muslim converts to Christianity from entering Armenian or Assyrian churches, according to UN Special Rapporteur Shaheed. According to Christian community leaders, if the authorities found Armenian or Assyrian churches were baptizing new converts or preaching in Farsi, they closed the churches.

Estimates of the total number of Christians in Iran vary. The USCIRF and State Department suggest there around 300,000, of which most are of Armenian origin. Other estimates place the number closer to half a million, or even one million.

The story of Armenian Christians goes back to the earliest days of the Church. A valuable, though certainly not exhaustive, summary of their history can be found in David Bentley Harts The Story of Christianity.

According to Hart, the Armenian royal family adopted the Christian faith some 13 years before the Christians of the Roman empire were granted the right to practice their faith by the Edict of Milan. The latter was instituted in a.d. 313. Yet Christian tradition traces the roots of Armenian Christianity even farther back in time, to the apostles Bartholomew and Thaddeus, who established the Christian faith there. The acknowledged founder of Armenian Christianity, Hart notes, was St. Gregory the Illuminator, who converted King Tiridates III.

It is not only Christians who suffer from persecution in Iran. Members of the Bahai faith face severe repression because they are viewed as heretics from Islam. Since 1979, authorities have killed or executed more than 200 Bahai leaders, according to the USCIRF, and more than 10,000 have been dismissed from government and university jobs. The State Department reports that the government has continued to prevent Bahais from burying their dead in accordance with their religious tradition, and continued demolition of the Bahai cemetery in Shiraz, where authorities had already destroyed over 400 of the 950 graves.

The USCIRF recommends several ways for the U.S. to respond to Irans persecution of religious minorities. The U.S. should, it suggests, continue to identify Iranian government agencies and officials responsible for severe violations of religious freedom, freeze those individuals assets, and bar their entry into the United States. Furthermore, the U.S. government should ensure that violations of freedom of religion or belief and related human rights are part of multilateral or bilateral discussions with the Iranian government whenever possible.

The latter suggestion is especially important as the U.S. seeks ways to check Iranian aggression in the wake of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, more commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal. As the UCIRF report notes, notwithstanding the JCPOA, the United States continues to keep in place and enforce sanctions for Irans human rights violations, its support for terrorism, and its ballistic missile program.

It is no secret that President Trump dislikes the nuclear deal, having called it the worst deal ever negotiated. Despite his reservations, he recently recertified, albeit reluctantly, that Iran is complying with the provisions of the agreement. Temporarily, at least, the deal is here to stay. As part of a comprehensive strategy to check Irans regional ambitions, Trump could consider applying new sanctions for violating human rights in this case due to the persecution of religious minorities. For these sanctions to be more effective, he should consult with leaders from the other nations who signed on to the nuclear deal to try to get them on board.

New sanctions could have the dual effect of improving the situation of religious minorities and forcing Iran to, at least for a time, rein in its efforts to project power in the Middle East.

Jeff Cimmino is an editorial intern at National Review.

See more here:
Iran’s Religious Minority Persecution — Christians, Jews … – National Review

Fair Usage Law

August 11, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

On Christian Birthright, Israel Reawakens Biblical Faith for Disillusioned Millennials – Breaking Israel News

I will make of you a great nation, And I will bless you; I will make your name great, And you shall be a blessing. Genesis 12:2 (The Israel Bible)

Christian students in Israel with Covenant Journey in July 2017 to experience the Holy Land and connect to their Biblical roots. (Facebook)

While young Jews making pilgrimage to Israel in order to reconnect with their religions roots has become a commonplace phenomenon, a new trend has emerged which is anything but: young Christians are traveling to the Holy Land in larger numbers than ever for the very same purpose.

Patterned after Birthright, a not-for-profit educational organization that sponsors ten-day trips to Israel for young Jews, Covenant Journey began bringing groups to Israel in 2014. Every year five groups of 45 Christian students aged 18-25 join the program. According to Mathew Staver, the organizations devout Christian founder, their generation faces specific spiritual challenges. Thats where Israel comes in.

Following an eye-opening 2007 trip with his wife, Staver realized that he had found a unique solution to questions of faith. Like every typical Christian, I wanted to see where Jesus walked, he said of his trip. But very quickly, The dots started to connect. My wife and I realized that we are not just tourists. We are being drawn to Israel, we are being drawn to something greater. God was drawing us back for a greater purpose: to help Israel.

He saw that there was a need for young Christians, who often distance themselves from their religion in their college years, to have this experience. Bringing students to Israel gives them a chance to see and feel their own history, a tactile experience Staver feels will help them be better Christians.

As they disconnect from their faith they disconnect from Israel and can even become anti-Semitic, he explained.

The trip to Israel, he continued, revives and invigorates the students Biblical connection.

It impacts their Christian faith, he said. Oftentimes Christians only look at the New Testament. This trip emphasizes the [Hebrew Bible] roots of Christianity. They realize these are real people, real places, it brings the Bible to life for them.

Staver believes that lack of love for Israel is quickly becoming an existential crisis for Christianity at large.

I think that what we find is the Church denominations that dont side with Israel are exhibiting a symptom of weakening of their faith, Staver said. He quoted the Biblical reward for those who stand with the nation of Israel, a verse that many of the programs participants cite as their motivation.

I will bless those who bless you And curse him that curses you; And all the families of the earth Shall bless themselves by you. Genesis 12:3

For Staver, blessing Israel is not just a friendly gesture, but it is a proven method of survival.

History has clearly shown this to be true, Staver said. Nations that go against Israel tend to disappear.

At first glance, the Covenant Journey trip appears to be like so many other Christian tour groups, taking participants from the Golan in the north to the Negev in the south and focusing on the sites with special significance to Christians. They visit Capernaum, the Mount of Beatitudes, the town of Magdalena, Caesarea Philippi, and are baptized in the Jordan River. The trip culminates in Jerusalem where they visit the Garden Tomb and walk the Via Dolorosa.

But the participants are also introduced to sites with a uniquely Jewish aspect, like Masada and Yad Vashem, two sites which offer somber reminders of how volatile interfaith relations can become and why it is so important to maintain Israel as a protector of the Jewish People.

In addition, the students meet Israeli political leaders, Holocaust survivors, and IDF soldiers who help them understand the reality in a region frequently misrepresented in the media. Staver told Breaking Israel News that these meetings have a major impact on the participants.

The personal touch is essential, Staver said. We want participants to really experience modern Israel, and the only way is to meet real people.

Staver says that though Jewish-Christian relations have not always been positive, he has witnessed a change in this in the few short years of the program. He is optimistic this trend will continue.

The connection between Jews and Christians is strengthening. More and more Christians want to stand with Israel, he said. There is growing atmosphere of gratitude and appreciation from the Jewish world. In both Israel and America I have seen this connection be received with arms wide open.

The Covenant Journey is a step towards strengthening these relations even more. Essentially, it creates Christian advocates for Israel, both spiritually and actively.

It brings to life the geopolitical issue, Staver explained. They go back to campus knowing far more about the reality than the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) people. They see that Israelis are trying to live in peace. They visit the Holocaust museum and speak to a Holocaust survivor.

Suddenly, it is not theoretical and they get very passionate about it.

He pointed to an outstanding example of the programs success in Jennifer Sullivan, the youngest member of the Florida House of Representatives. Sullivan came to Israel on Covenant Journey in 2016. This year, she was a key player in passing anti-BDS legislation in her state.

Sullivan is not the only participant deeply affected by her Israel trip. The most common reaction Staver hears at the end of the nine-day trip is that it was life-changing.

We routinely hear from all of our participants that Israel is so much more than they could ever imagine. They all emphasize that this was the most impactful experience they have ever had in their lives.

Continue reading here:
On Christian Birthright, Israel Reawakens Biblical Faith for Disillusioned Millennials – Breaking Israel News

Fair Usage Law

August 11, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Evangelical leader calls for boycott of Roger Waters’ concert – The Jerusalem Post

ROGER WATERS performs at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on June 20. . (photo credit:MARIO ANZUONI/REUTERS)

All Jews, Christians and people of conscience must protest the weekends Roger Waters concert in Nashville, a leading evangelical Christian said Thursday.

Roger Waters is a global symbol of Jew hatred that should not be welcome in Nashville or anywhere else in the United States of America said Laurie Cardoza-Moore, president of Proclaiming Justice to the Nations, a non-profit organization established to educate Christians about their biblical responsibility to stand with their Jewish brethren and Israel.

Known for his role in the British rock band Pink Floyd, Waters has become one of the global ambassador of the movement to boycott, divest and sanction the State of Israel.

The British musician has paraded on stage in a mock Nazi uniform and hoisted an inflatable pig emblazoned with a Star of David above his stage in concert. In addition to spreading lies about Israel and comparing the Jewish state to Nazi Germany. Cardoza-Moore, whose organization is based out of Tennessee, said that there would be no way that he would be welcomed in the state.

Roger Waters is the poster boy for BDS, its time to give him a taste of his own medicine and send a strong message that antisemites arent welcome in Tennessee, she said.

Cardoza-Moore, who is also the World Council of Independent Christian Churches special envoy to the UN, said that BDS is being raised up by those interested in the destruction of the Jewish state.

The BDS movement has been hailed by Hamas, they both seek the total destruction of the Jewish State, she said.

Furthermore, BDS are responsible for an increase in antisemitism and violent attacks on Jewish students on campuses in America and around the world. Tennessee was the first state to pass legislation to publicly condemn the BDS movement. The BDS global brand ambassador should not be able to peddle his lies and conspiracies onstage within the city of Nashville. She said that in accordance with the State Departments guidelines, the BDS movements activities are clearly antisemitic. They seek to delegitimize, demonize and apply a double standard toward Israel, while remaining silent on real atrocities taking place worldwide.

In order to stop the trend, Cardoza-Moore produced a docu-tainment called Boycott This with conservative Christian comedian Brad Stine to show that the Jewish people are not a people who have hatred in their DNA.

These are a people who are constantly creating to make the world a better place, to actually fulfill what it says in the Scriptures, that they would be a light to the nations. And [we want] to present that story to Christians, she told The Jerusalem Post prior to the film’s release last year. sign up to our newsletter

Share on facebook

Read the original here:
Evangelical leader calls for boycott of Roger Waters’ concert – The Jerusalem Post

Fair Usage Law

August 10, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Teaching the Bible as Literature in Public High School (Part 16) The Hellenization of Christianity – HuffPost

Another theory which students considered was the Hellenization of Christianity advanced by Adolf von Harnack (1851-1930), who revolutionized the understanding of the historical context within which the New Testament developed. This theory maintains that during the first four centuries of the Christian era the original Jewish nature of Jesus and his message was so radically altered by being preached to the Greek-speaking world that the Christianity which emerged at the end of the process had virtually nothing to do with the original Jesus or his teaching.

What had begun as a belief among a small group of Jewish Christians about a Jewish Messiah, a human being who expected the imminent end of the world, was gradually transformed into a divine redeemer, a savior God, whose purpose it was to save all mankind from its sins, a notion completely alien to both Judaism and the original Christian community. According to this theory, the original teaching of Jesus was totally transformed into a Greek mystery religion, the beliefs and practices of which were similar to those of other mystery religions popular throughout the eastern Mediterranean world.

After the Early Church abandoned its efforts at converting the Jews and concentrated its missionary activities on the Gentiles of the Greek-speaking world, the Church encountered difficulty in convincing prospective converts. The two arguments used to persuade Gentiles that Jesus was the long-awaited Jewish Messiah — his miracles and fulfillment of the Old Testament messianic prophecies — proved ineffective.

The miracles of Jesus did not impress the Gentiles because they, too, had miracle workers and exorcists who did the same things as Jesus. The fact that Jesus could perform wondrous deeds and drive out demons was nothing extraordinary since all ancient peoples had such individuals. With respect to the messianic prophecies, the Gentiles were unfamiliar with or dismissed them as either untrustworthy or fraudulent.

What did prove surprising to these Christian missionaries, however, was their encounter with the Greek mystery religions. These religions had been popular for centuries because they addressed the spiritual yearnings of Greek-speaking peoples not satisfied by the official Hellenistic and Roman cults, which were public in nature and invoked the help of the gods in matters of state importance.

These public rituals failed to address the personal needs of their onlookers, who found religious comfort and emotional fulfillment in the mystery religions, which promised the forgiveness of sins, salvation by a savior god who had died to redeem them, and a life of bliss in the world to come. Among the more celebrated of these mystery cults were the Eleusinian (Demeter and Persephone), Orphic (Orpheus and Eurydice), Dionysian (Dionysus), Mithraic (Mithra), and those of Isis-Osiris, Cybele-Attis, and Aphrodite-Adonis.

It is conjectured that the religious expectations induced by these religions determined how the Christian message was understood by this Gentile audience. Preconditioned by centuries in these cults, the Hellenized world could not help but view Jesus as another savior god because this was the only way its population could understand him and the message preached in his name.

However, what is significant is that this understanding of Jesus as a savior god was completely foreign to both Judaism and the way in which Jesus was viewed by the original Jewish Christians who were impatiently awaiting the imminent coming of the Kingdom of God. A number of explanations have been offered to account for this altered view of Jesus and his message.

1.) Many of the early Christian missionaries had themselves once been members of these mystery religions and were preconditioned to understand and preach Jesus as a savior god.

2.) Early Christian intellectuals and apologists, as well as the Greek Church Fathers, were themselves steeped in the Greek philosophical tradition, which predisposed them to view the nature of Jesus in Greek philosophical and theological terms similar to those pertaining to other savior gods.

3.) The Early Church may have consciously or unconsciously borrowed features from the mystery religions in order to make its new religion more attractive and competitive with these other cults in attracting converts.

4.) The destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 CE caused the virtual disappearance of the Jewish Christian community, whose understanding of Jesus as a Jewish Messiah was also virtually lost. As a result, the Apostle Pauls Hellenized view of Jesus as a savior god who had redeemed mankind was the only view of Jesus which survived this catastrophe because of the many Hellenized churches Paul had already founded throughout Asia Minor and Greece.

Although a remnant of the original Jewish Christians, the Ebionites, continued to survive a few centuries longer, they were nevertheless viewed as heretical, perhaps even persecuted, by the Greek-speaking Christian Church, only to finally die out. According to this view, the irony is that these Jewish Christians may have been the only community which preserved the original understanding of Jesus and his message intact and remained faithful to it, whereas Pauls Hellenized view was the only view of Jesus which survived and thereby became official church doctrine as a result of an historical accident the destruction of Jerusalem!

This Hellenized understanding of Jesus and his mission continued to develop during the next few centuries until the nature of Jesus with his redemptive role was transformed into the divine Logos, the Word of God, pre-existing from all eternity, consubstantial with the Father, the second person of the Trinity, the divine redeemer, whose purpose it was to save all mankind, as finally delineated in the solemn pronouncements of the Councils of Nicea (325 CE) and Chalcedon (451 CE).

Early Christianity assimilated the legacy of the Hellenized world by expressing the nature and role of Christ as a divine redeemer and savior in Neo-Platonic terms. The various mystery religions that had predated Christianity and continued to evolve during the Christian era were finally suppressed in the late fourth century by the Emperor Theodosius, when Christianity then became the official state religion. Such was the historical understanding of what happened to Christianity as set forth by Harnack in the first volume of his History of Dogma in (1886) and The Mission and Expansion of Christianity in the First Three Centuries (1902).

An alternative explanation of what happened is the theory of Propaedeutic or Preparatory Instruction, advanced by the Christian Apologist, Justin Martyr (c. 100 c. 165 CE), who maintained that God used Greek philosophy and the mystery religions to facilitate the acceptance of Christianity by the Mediterranean world. According to this view, divine Providence inspired the Greek philosophers and the creators of the mystery religions with partial revelation of what was later to come in the full revelation of Christianity. The doctrines of Greek metaphysics about the nature of God and ultimate reality, the ethical system of the Stoics, and the role of a savior in redeeming an erring humanity in a broken world were already providentially in place for Early Christianity to use in spreading the Gospel message in the ancient world.

This theory explains the similarities between Christian doctrine, Greek metaphysics and the mystery religions, which made the Hellenistic world more responsive to the new Christian religion toward which the mystery religions were unwittingly leading. Moreover, after the glorious century of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and their immediate successors, God let Greek philosophy run its course until conflicting disputes later convulsed its rival schools, causing the philosophical enterprise of the ancient world to self-destruct. The inadequacy of reason was thereby exposed as a faulty way to Divine Truth, for which the ancient world was now ready and yearning to receive with the advent of Christianity.

To the human eye, this version of events may seem like blind chance or accident, as Christianity simply borrowed and adapted Greek philosophy and the mystery religions for its own needs to survive and flourish, but, to the eye of faith, this was all part of Gods mysterious Plan that providentially guided events in bringing the Mediterranean world of that time into the fold of the one and only true Mystery Religion, Christianity.

It goes without saying that the Hellenization of Christianity has generated enormous controversy over the past 130 years, during which time it has been both accepted and rejected either completely or partially in various quarters. It is a classic example of how a theory, whether true or false, can open up new fields of scholarly inquiry. It is also a textbook case that can show students how scholarship works as a continually evolving collective endeavor that uses the critical-historical method to deepen understanding of New Testament times.

A scholar makes his or her case and then defends or modifies it in light of the critical reactions of other scholars who may agree or disagree by pointing out what they see as historical or methodological flaws in the argument. Scholars must also be prepared to defend themselves against scholars who disagree not on historical or methodological grounds, but rather for theological, confessional, or apologetical reasons. The stakes involved, as seen by these guardians of religious tradition, may be so momentous and far-reaching that they see it as their appointed task to defend traditional doctrine threatened either directly or by implication by the new theory.

In such exchanges, the historian and theologian represent two different realms of concern: the historian, for an objective historical understanding of what, how, or why something happened without regard for how the theory might challenge traditional doctrine; the theologian, for safeguarding traditional doctrine as part of divine revelation or for pastoral reasons lest the theory gain currency and unsettle the faithful.

Students learn to see such critical exchanges between scholars as the inevitable process through which theories pass in being refined in the fire of controversy as both sides play their respective parts in the unfolding drama that may lead to a more accurate understanding of the issue in question.

This interplay can perhaps be best understood in terms of Hegels celebrated triad of dialectical development. One starts with the status-quo theory or thesis, which over time generates its own inherent doubts or recognition of its weaknesses. These weaknesses are, in turn, taken up by later scholars who develop them into an opposing position or antithesis, which over time consolidates itself and, in turn, realizes its own weaknesses. Finally, both thesis and antithesis resolve themselves into a higher synthesis, that, in turn, becomes a new thesis, and so forth in a never-ending search for truth.

What works as truth for one generation may be rejected as falsehood for the next as each generation sees things differently as a new paradigm is born that explains what happened in a new way. Each generation or century builds on and critiques the past, feeling entitled to its own way of seeing truth rather than being dictated to by the previous generations or centurys perception of truth, seen as culturally-conditioned by its time or, as the Roman Aulus Gellius succinctly put it, Veritas filia temporis or Truth is the daughter of time.

The Morning Email

Wake up to the day’s most important news.

Visit link:
Teaching the Bible as Literature in Public High School (Part 16) The Hellenization of Christianity – HuffPost

Fair Usage Law

August 10, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Response to Donny Fuchs ‘Snakes in the Vineyard’ – The Jewish Press – JewishPress.com

Photo Credit: Hayovel.com

The recent op-ed by Donny Fuchs (Snakes in the Vineyard, Aug. 7) accuses HaYovel, a non-profit organization that brings Christian volunteers from all over the world to serve Jewish farmers in Israel, of being a missionary organization attempting to convert Jews to Christianity. From personal experience, interviews as the chief reporter for Breaking Israel News and my own research, I feel Fuchs article reeks of a form of xenophobia that was appropriate to galut (exile) Judaism, but that now holds Eretz Yisrael Judaism back from its higher, global purpose.

Fuchs writes that accepting non-Jewish volunteers to work in Israel violates halacha (Torah law), but he fails to cite which halacha this violates. If he is referring to the section of halacha dealing with avoda zarah (idol worship), then he is bringing up a very complex issue and an issue about which many rabbinic experts disagree. You can compare Fuchs statement, for example, to the simple and blunt assertion that a kosher-eating Jew cannot consume pork. It seems obvious, but this statement is not entirely accurate, as it discounts the sections of halacha dealing with taarovet (when a non-kosher mixture inadvertently occurs) or yavesh byavesh (when pieces of kosher and non-kosher foods are mixed). I am not a great rabbi. As such, I rely on the opinion of Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, a globally accepted halachic authority, who has welcomed HaYovel and founder Tommy Waller with open arms. Rabbi Melamed wrote a halachic ruling on the subject in which he states that the litmus test is a love of Israel. The rabbi instructed Jews to welcome Christians who love Israel, and to consider them allies in geula (redemption).

This op-ed accuses Torah observant farmers and vintners of selling out their beliefs for free labor.

If you cannot afford the cost of running such an enterprise, dont do it, writes Fuchs. He then suggests using Jewish volunteers. Doesnt his initial admonishment still apply? Israeli industry, especially the wine industry, was built on foreign largesse.

His solutions include imported labor from Thailand. It is no less immoral to import cheap non-Jewish labor than to rely on non-Jewish volunteers. In fact, Fuchs points out himself that this could be halachically problematic.

Fuchs accuses Waller of being a missionary. At one point, early in Wallers career, this may have been true. But myself and my colleagues have come to know Waller and HaYovel well through our work. Waller and his family are far along a path that has led them outside of the church they grew up in. They do not seek to be Jewish, nor do they seek to influence Jews. They have come specifically to connect with Jews who are strongly connected to Israel to help them find their way. But not as Jews.

I challenge Fuchs to find one Jew who has been converted or influenced by HaYovel. I personally believe Fuchs has redefined missionary as any person who comes close to Judaism but who does not want to convert. This is incorrect. A Christian who does not preach and who does not convert anyone is, by definition, not a missionary.

The Jewish people became xenophobic out of necessity in the exile. Today, when we merit to have the State of Israel, there is not the same need. The real issue is not whether HaYovel is a missionary organization or not; converting Jews is not their stated intention. The question is whether Jews and Christians can have a meaningful dialogue without trying to convert each other or prove that their God could win in some bizarre divine cage match. I believe the answer is yes.

The creation of the modern State of Israel has been enormously transformative for Judaism, but perhaps it was even more so for Christianity. It has strengthened Judaism, but it has annihilated Replacement Theology, the very basis for the Catholic Church and some branches of Christianity. Waller and many others, have turned to Judaism and Israel to be their beacon in uncharted theological territory. It is our Biblical mandate to accept them.

Moreover, with the founding of the State of Israel, Jews returned to our nachala, our inheritance, and we are once again a nation that serves Hashem. We are not a loose matrix of minyans, each trying to stand firm as a speck of light in an ocean of darkness. In the exile, the Jews forfeited most of the Torah, limiting themselves to a small fraction of the mitzvoth.

Returning to the land challenges us to redefine the Torah, making it large-as-life once again. We must move forward to the next stage: Eretz Yisrael, Beit HaMikdash and Moshiach. This will require a willingness from Jews to take their role in the world, guiding the nations through the crises they are facing today. This will require rabbis who are experts in agricultural Judaism, purity laws, Temple laws and laws of commerce. This will require the reappearance of Torah concepts that became fossils, such as ger toshav, a non-Jewish resident in the Land of Israel. This will require rabbis who can relate to non-Jews through something other than a dysfunctional conversion process. This will require a Sanhedrin, and not a Chief Rabbinate.

As the Prophets wrote: The temple was and will be a House of Prayer for all Nations.

View post:
Response to Donny Fuchs ‘Snakes in the Vineyard’ – The Jewish Press – JewishPress.com

Fair Usage Law

August 10, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

A Christian Spin on Birthright Brings Faith-Based Millennials to Israel – Algemeiner

I applied to Birthright, but was rejected due to the fact that I was a Christian, he said. A few weeks later, my friends told me about Covenant Journey. Instantly I knew I wanted to apply for a chance to experience Israel. Something about it just felt special to me.

Dobrow, who now works for NBCUniversal in New York City, described Covenant Journey as life-changing.

One thing I loved about Covenant Journey was that there was a dynamic range of lectures from people who were Christian, who were Arab Muslims and who were Jews. It was incredible to learn from so many different people, and hear about the country and all of the miracles and conflicts surrounding it, he said.

Joy Randazzo, a recent graduate of Floridas Pensacola Christian College who visited Israel with Covenant Journey in 2015 and 2017, told JNS.org that before the trips, her understanding of Israel was unfortunately very limited.

I knew from the Bible that Israel was Gods chosen nation, but other than that, I didnt know how recent it had been that Israel became a modern country, and the opposition they faced from around the world, she said.

Randazzo, who now works for OneBlood, Floridas largest blood bank, said that her favorite part of the trip was learning modern Israeli history and connecting with regular Israelis. She said that this helped her understand why the people take so much pride in their country, and why I should stand in support for Israel as well.

In particular, Randazzo said that her conversations with Israeli soldiers contributed to reshaping her perception of the country from what she had previously known, especially from mainstream media coverage.

We were able to talk to two IDF soldiers, and we asked them what they would want American college students to know about Israel, and their response was to not believe everything they read in the news, she said.

Randazzo added that throughout the trip, we heard several examples of different terrorist attacks that had taken place in Israel, but how the media spinned it to look as if Israel was the attacker and not the victim. So my perception changed in that unlike what the media may say, Israel is a nation of defense, not offense.

Dobrow said that his most memorable experience was a spontaneous stop at an IDF post near the Golan Heights.

It was amazing to hear from [soldiers] in an impromptu exchange about their journey, and what Israel means to them and why they serve, he said. It had an impact on my life seeing their faithfulness to Israel. This is something that I probably would not have been able to experience if it werent for Covenant Journey.

As someone who now works in the media industry, Dobrow said that he strives to address some misconceptions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

As a recent college graduate, there are many conversations I have with other students about the conflict, and how its easy to hear or believe something thats being said to you via mass media or online articles, he said. Yet going to Israel and seeing it for yourself may change your perspective.

Read more from the original source:
A Christian Spin on Birthright Brings Faith-Based Millennials to Israel – Algemeiner

Fair Usage Law

August 9, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Christian-Jewish Group Applauds Israel’s Aid Increase to Venezuelan Immigrants – Algemeiner

Email a copy of “Christian-Jewish Group Applauds Israels Aid Increase to Venezuelan Immigrants” to a friend

Venezuelan Jews arriving in Israel last month. Photo: The Fellowship.

JNS.org The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship) praised the Israeli government for its increase in aid to Venezuelan Jewish immigrants who recently fled the South American countrys rampant violence and instability.

Israels Ministry of Immigration and Absorption announced an increase in aid every six months to Venezuelan olim (immigrants) by an additional $4,170 per family and $1,668 per single person. In total, the benefits now amount to $9,700 for couples; $8,200 for single-parent families; $5,100 for singles; $3,000 for children up to age 4; $2,200 for children ages 4-18; and $2,600 for immigrants ages 18-21.

We are profoundly grateful to the Minister of Aliyah and Absorption Sofa Landver for agreeing to increase this critical support for these new olim, said Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder and president of The Fellowship. This additional aid will go a long way toward helping the Jews of Venezuela as they begin new lives in Israel and incentivize others to come on aliyah as well.

The Fellowship said it provides $800 per adult and $400 per child on top of the Israeli governments support for the immigrants. Additionally, the group conducts follow-up visits to assist families with needs such as food, appliances, furniture, day care, vocational training and dental care.

In late July, 26 Venezuelan Jews arrived in Israel. An additional 138 Venezuelan Jews have made aliyah during the last 18 months. The South American nation has recently been rocked by political upheaval and violence as President Nicholas Maduro has destroyed the countrys remaining democratic institutions and economy, essentially establishing himself as a dictator. The oil-rich country has seen skyrocketing murder rates, nearly continuous anti-government protests, and widespread food and medicine shortages. Around 10,000 Jews are believed to remain in the once-prosperous country.

Visit link:
Christian-Jewish Group Applauds Israel’s Aid Increase to Venezuelan Immigrants – Algemeiner

Fair Usage Law

August 9, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

‘Anti-Israel comments from Christians must be put in Mideast context’ – The Jerusalem Post

Muslim women at the Lions’ Gate, Jerusalem, July 2017. (photo credit:MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

The West must understand that Middle East Christian leaders anti-Israel comments come within the context of a dominating Muslim majority, an Egyptian-American human rights activist said.

It is dangerous for the West to accept Arab antisemitic propaganda voiced by some Christian leaders in the Middle East, said Nonie Darwish, the author of Wholly Different; Why I chose Biblical Values Over Islamic Values.

They are held hostage by the Muslim majority around them. Since the age of the Internet, even many Arabs have stopped buying Arab propaganda.

Writing for the right-wing think tank Gatestone Institute, Darwish, who was born a Muslim and lived in Egyptian-occupied Gaza Strip, was referring to a statement made on MSNBC by retired American Col. Lawrence Wilkerson during the recent Temple Mount crisis.

The former chief of staff to secretary of state Colin Powell said that Jews pose the biggest threat to Christians in the Middle East. He came to this conclusion based on a conversation that he had with a Catholic bishop while in Ramallah 15 years prior on a trip to meet with Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat.

It is most unfortunate that a former high-ranking State Department official decided to blame Israel during the recent crisis, in which Jews were the obvious victims, said Darwish, who moved to the US in 1978 with her husband, later becoming a citizen and converting to Christianity. It is more than unfortunate that Wilkerson took the bishops statement at face value instead of recognizing the complexities of the Middle East, where no and yes rarely mean no and yes.

The fact that Israel is the only country in the world that has full freedom of religion and allows Christians to practice their faith as they wish, was completely ignored by Wilkerson.

Darwish, founder and president of the Arabs for Israel group, said that Wilkerson showed that he was completely disconnected from the reality of Israel and the Middle East.

Despite the glaring truth that there is oppression of Christians in the Middle East, Wilkerson evidently does not know that the flock of the Ramallah bishop lives in an Arab city, speaks and prays in Arabic, and in an era of Arab nationalism, many believed they were Arab first and Christian second, she said.

This is most clearly seen in the education system, where Arab Christians are fed the same propaganda as are Muslim Arabs. The end result of having anti-Israel and antisemitic Christian Arabs should not be surprising then, Darwish said.

Christian children are fed the same education, filled with hatred of Jews, in Arab schools; they teach lies such as, Jesus was a Palestinian, Jerusalem was an Arab city conquered by Jews, Jews are behind all the ills of Arab society, Yasser Arafat was poisoned by Israelis… and so on; the variations are endless, she said.

Sadly, Christians in the region, instead of recognizing that Jews are probably their natural allies, have ended up falling into the Middle Eastern trap of trying to appease the Muslim majority around them, and subscribing to its sweeping antisemitism.

Ultimately, the Islam critic said that the onus lies on the West to reveal the truth behind the comments, and not to be satisfied with taking the statements as is.

Even though accusations in the Arab media against Israel are false, the Western media are not interested in exposing them, she said. sign up to our newsletter

Share on facebook

See the rest here:
‘Anti-Israel comments from Christians must be put in Mideast context’ – The Jerusalem Post

Fair Usage Law

August 9, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Was country legend Glen Campbell Jewish? – Jewish Journal

Country music legend Glen Campbell, famous for his 1975 hit Rhinestone Cowboy, died Tuesday, August 8, after a long battle with Alzheimers. Campbell hailed from humble beginnings, growing up Baptist in rural Arkansas. According to a 2008 article published in Reuters, Campbell and his wife Kim were practicing Messianic Jews. Although not considered part of the Jewish religion, Messianic Judaism incorporates Jewish elements into an overall evangelical Christian theology.

Messianic Judaism, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president emeritus of the Union of Reform Judaism, told the Journal in 2012, is built on a lie. They are lying about us and lying about themselves; they distort both.

Campbell and his wife celebrated Jewish holidays such as Passover, Rosh Hashanah and Hanukkah, but they also celebrated non-Jewish holidays such as Christmas. His wife, apparently, cooked a mean brisket (although, the article mentions her matzo balls needed some work). Inside his Malibu home, he kept a menorah on his mantle and a Hebrew book on his coffee table.

The country artist was featured in the documentary, Hava Nagila, What Is It? where he and his wife perform their own rendition of the Israeli folk song [Watch below].

If a traditional service is observed, the Mourners Kaddish will be recited at Campbells funeral.

See the original post:
Was country legend Glen Campbell Jewish? – Jewish Journal

Fair Usage Law

August 9, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Iran’s Religious Minority Persecution — Christians, Jews … – National Review

The Iranian government continues to persecute religious minorities, including groups supposedly given special recognition by the countrys constitution: Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians. According to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedoms (USCIRF) annual report for 2017, Irans government engaged in systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom, including prolonged detention, torture, and executions based primarily or entirely upon the religion of the accused. Because of its failure to respect religious minorities, Iran has been considered a country of particular concern by the State Department for close to two decades. Hundreds of Christians have been arrested since 2010. As of December 2016, approximately 90 Christians were in prison, detained, or awaiting trial because of their religious beliefs and activities. Over the past year, reports the USCIRF, there were numerous incidents of Iranian authorities raiding church services, threatening church members, and arresting and imprisoning worshipers and church leaders, particularly Evangelical Christian converts. The most recent International Religious Freedom report by the State Department corroborates the information gleaned by the USCIRF. Muslims who convert to Christianity place themselves at severe risk of government retaliation. Armenian and Assyrian Christians, who have deep roots in Iran and the surrounding region, are also subject to persecution at the hands of the government: The authorities required all churchgoers to register with them and prevented Muslim converts to Christianity from entering Armenian or Assyrian churches, according to UN Special Rapporteur Shaheed. According to Christian community leaders, if the authorities found Armenian or Assyrian churches were baptizing new converts or preaching in Farsi, they closed the churches. Estimates of the total number of Christians in Iran vary. The USCIRF and State Department suggest there around 300,000, of which most are of Armenian origin. Other estimates place the number closer to half a million, or even one million. The story of Armenian Christians goes back to the earliest days of the Church. A valuable, though certainly not exhaustive, summary of their history can be found in David Bentley Harts The Story of Christianity. According to Hart, the Armenian royal family adopted the Christian faith some 13 years before the Christians of the Roman empire were granted the right to practice their faith by the Edict of Milan. The latter was instituted in a.d. 313. Yet Christian tradition traces the roots of Armenian Christianity even farther back in time, to the apostles Bartholomew and Thaddeus, who established the Christian faith there. The acknowledged founder of Armenian Christianity, Hart notes, was St. Gregory the Illuminator, who converted King Tiridates III. It is not only Christians who suffer from persecution in Iran. Members of the Bahai faith face severe repression because they are viewed as heretics from Islam. Since 1979, authorities have killed or executed more than 200 Bahai leaders, according to the USCIRF, and more than 10,000 have been dismissed from government and university jobs. The State Department reports that the government has continued to prevent Bahais from burying their dead in accordance with their religious tradition, and continued demolition of the Bahai cemetery in Shiraz, where authorities had already destroyed over 400 of the 950 graves. The USCIRF recommends several ways for the U.S. to respond to Irans persecution of religious minorities. The U.S. should, it suggests, continue to identify Iranian government agencies and officials responsible for severe violations of religious freedom, freeze those individuals assets, and bar their entry into the United States. Furthermore, the U.S. government should ensure that violations of freedom of religion or belief and related human rights are part of multilateral or bilateral discussions with the Iranian government whenever possible. The latter suggestion is especially important as the U.S. seeks ways to check Iranian aggression in the wake of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, more commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal. As the UCIRF report notes, notwithstanding the JCPOA, the United States continues to keep in place and enforce sanctions for Irans human rights violations, its support for terrorism, and its ballistic missile program. It is no secret that President Trump dislikes the nuclear deal, having called it the worst deal ever negotiated. Despite his reservations, he recently recertified, albeit reluctantly, that Iran is complying with the provisions of the agreement. Temporarily, at least, the deal is here to stay. As part of a comprehensive strategy to check Irans regional ambitions, Trump could consider applying new sanctions for violating human rights in this case due to the persecution of religious minorities. For these sanctions to be more effective, he should consult with leaders from the other nations who signed on to the nuclear deal to try to get them on board. New sanctions could have the dual effect of improving the situation of religious minorities and forcing Iran to, at least for a time, rein in its efforts to project power in the Middle East. Jeff Cimmino is an editorial intern at National Review.

Fair Usage Law

August 11, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

On Christian Birthright, Israel Reawakens Biblical Faith for Disillusioned Millennials – Breaking Israel News

I will make of you a great nation, And I will bless you; I will make your name great, And you shall be a blessing. Genesis 12:2 (The Israel Bible) Christian students in Israel with Covenant Journey in July 2017 to experience the Holy Land and connect to their Biblical roots. (Facebook) While young Jews making pilgrimage to Israel in order to reconnect with their religions roots has become a commonplace phenomenon, a new trend has emerged which is anything but: young Christians are traveling to the Holy Land in larger numbers than ever for the very same purpose. Patterned after Birthright, a not-for-profit educational organization that sponsors ten-day trips to Israel for young Jews, Covenant Journey began bringing groups to Israel in 2014. Every year five groups of 45 Christian students aged 18-25 join the program. According to Mathew Staver, the organizations devout Christian founder, their generation faces specific spiritual challenges. Thats where Israel comes in. Following an eye-opening 2007 trip with his wife, Staver realized that he had found a unique solution to questions of faith. Like every typical Christian, I wanted to see where Jesus walked, he said of his trip. But very quickly, The dots started to connect. My wife and I realized that we are not just tourists. We are being drawn to Israel, we are being drawn to something greater. God was drawing us back for a greater purpose: to help Israel. He saw that there was a need for young Christians, who often distance themselves from their religion in their college years, to have this experience. Bringing students to Israel gives them a chance to see and feel their own history, a tactile experience Staver feels will help them be better Christians. As they disconnect from their faith they disconnect from Israel and can even become anti-Semitic, he explained. The trip to Israel, he continued, revives and invigorates the students Biblical connection. It impacts their Christian faith, he said. Oftentimes Christians only look at the New Testament. This trip emphasizes the [Hebrew Bible] roots of Christianity. They realize these are real people, real places, it brings the Bible to life for them. Staver believes that lack of love for Israel is quickly becoming an existential crisis for Christianity at large. I think that what we find is the Church denominations that dont side with Israel are exhibiting a symptom of weakening of their faith, Staver said. He quoted the Biblical reward for those who stand with the nation of Israel, a verse that many of the programs participants cite as their motivation. I will bless those who bless you And curse him that curses you; And all the families of the earth Shall bless themselves by you. Genesis 12:3 For Staver, blessing Israel is not just a friendly gesture, but it is a proven method of survival. History has clearly shown this to be true, Staver said. Nations that go against Israel tend to disappear. At first glance, the Covenant Journey trip appears to be like so many other Christian tour groups, taking participants from the Golan in the north to the Negev in the south and focusing on the sites with special significance to Christians. They visit Capernaum, the Mount of Beatitudes, the town of Magdalena, Caesarea Philippi, and are baptized in the Jordan River. The trip culminates in Jerusalem where they visit the Garden Tomb and walk the Via Dolorosa. But the participants are also introduced to sites with a uniquely Jewish aspect, like Masada and Yad Vashem, two sites which offer somber reminders of how volatile interfaith relations can become and why it is so important to maintain Israel as a protector of the Jewish People. In addition, the students meet Israeli political leaders, Holocaust survivors, and IDF soldiers who help them understand the reality in a region frequently misrepresented in the media. Staver told Breaking Israel News that these meetings have a major impact on the participants. The personal touch is essential, Staver said. We want participants to really experience modern Israel, and the only way is to meet real people. Staver says that though Jewish-Christian relations have not always been positive, he has witnessed a change in this in the few short years of the program. He is optimistic this trend will continue. The connection between Jews and Christians is strengthening. More and more Christians want to stand with Israel, he said. There is growing atmosphere of gratitude and appreciation from the Jewish world. In both Israel and America I have seen this connection be received with arms wide open. The Covenant Journey is a step towards strengthening these relations even more. Essentially, it creates Christian advocates for Israel, both spiritually and actively. It brings to life the geopolitical issue, Staver explained. They go back to campus knowing far more about the reality than the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) people. They see that Israelis are trying to live in peace. They visit the Holocaust museum and speak to a Holocaust survivor. Suddenly, it is not theoretical and they get very passionate about it. He pointed to an outstanding example of the programs success in Jennifer Sullivan, the youngest member of the Florida House of Representatives. Sullivan came to Israel on Covenant Journey in 2016. This year, she was a key player in passing anti-BDS legislation in her state. Sullivan is not the only participant deeply affected by her Israel trip. The most common reaction Staver hears at the end of the nine-day trip is that it was life-changing. We routinely hear from all of our participants that Israel is so much more than they could ever imagine. They all emphasize that this was the most impactful experience they have ever had in their lives.

Fair Usage Law

August 11, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Evangelical leader calls for boycott of Roger Waters’ concert – The Jerusalem Post

ROGER WATERS performs at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on June 20. . (photo credit:MARIO ANZUONI/REUTERS) All Jews, Christians and people of conscience must protest the weekends Roger Waters concert in Nashville, a leading evangelical Christian said Thursday. Roger Waters is a global symbol of Jew hatred that should not be welcome in Nashville or anywhere else in the United States of America said Laurie Cardoza-Moore, president of Proclaiming Justice to the Nations, a non-profit organization established to educate Christians about their biblical responsibility to stand with their Jewish brethren and Israel. Known for his role in the British rock band Pink Floyd, Waters has become one of the global ambassador of the movement to boycott, divest and sanction the State of Israel. The British musician has paraded on stage in a mock Nazi uniform and hoisted an inflatable pig emblazoned with a Star of David above his stage in concert. In addition to spreading lies about Israel and comparing the Jewish state to Nazi Germany. Cardoza-Moore, whose organization is based out of Tennessee, said that there would be no way that he would be welcomed in the state. Roger Waters is the poster boy for BDS, its time to give him a taste of his own medicine and send a strong message that antisemites arent welcome in Tennessee, she said. Cardoza-Moore, who is also the World Council of Independent Christian Churches special envoy to the UN, said that BDS is being raised up by those interested in the destruction of the Jewish state. The BDS movement has been hailed by Hamas, they both seek the total destruction of the Jewish State, she said. Furthermore, BDS are responsible for an increase in antisemitism and violent attacks on Jewish students on campuses in America and around the world. Tennessee was the first state to pass legislation to publicly condemn the BDS movement. The BDS global brand ambassador should not be able to peddle his lies and conspiracies onstage within the city of Nashville. She said that in accordance with the State Departments guidelines, the BDS movements activities are clearly antisemitic. They seek to delegitimize, demonize and apply a double standard toward Israel, while remaining silent on real atrocities taking place worldwide. In order to stop the trend, Cardoza-Moore produced a docu-tainment called Boycott This with conservative Christian comedian Brad Stine to show that the Jewish people are not a people who have hatred in their DNA. These are a people who are constantly creating to make the world a better place, to actually fulfill what it says in the Scriptures, that they would be a light to the nations. And [we want] to present that story to Christians, she told The Jerusalem Post prior to the film’s release last year. sign up to our newsletter Share on facebook

Fair Usage Law

August 10, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Teaching the Bible as Literature in Public High School (Part 16) The Hellenization of Christianity – HuffPost

Another theory which students considered was the Hellenization of Christianity advanced by Adolf von Harnack (1851-1930), who revolutionized the understanding of the historical context within which the New Testament developed. This theory maintains that during the first four centuries of the Christian era the original Jewish nature of Jesus and his message was so radically altered by being preached to the Greek-speaking world that the Christianity which emerged at the end of the process had virtually nothing to do with the original Jesus or his teaching. What had begun as a belief among a small group of Jewish Christians about a Jewish Messiah, a human being who expected the imminent end of the world, was gradually transformed into a divine redeemer, a savior God, whose purpose it was to save all mankind from its sins, a notion completely alien to both Judaism and the original Christian community. According to this theory, the original teaching of Jesus was totally transformed into a Greek mystery religion, the beliefs and practices of which were similar to those of other mystery religions popular throughout the eastern Mediterranean world. After the Early Church abandoned its efforts at converting the Jews and concentrated its missionary activities on the Gentiles of the Greek-speaking world, the Church encountered difficulty in convincing prospective converts. The two arguments used to persuade Gentiles that Jesus was the long-awaited Jewish Messiah — his miracles and fulfillment of the Old Testament messianic prophecies — proved ineffective. The miracles of Jesus did not impress the Gentiles because they, too, had miracle workers and exorcists who did the same things as Jesus. The fact that Jesus could perform wondrous deeds and drive out demons was nothing extraordinary since all ancient peoples had such individuals. With respect to the messianic prophecies, the Gentiles were unfamiliar with or dismissed them as either untrustworthy or fraudulent. What did prove surprising to these Christian missionaries, however, was their encounter with the Greek mystery religions. These religions had been popular for centuries because they addressed the spiritual yearnings of Greek-speaking peoples not satisfied by the official Hellenistic and Roman cults, which were public in nature and invoked the help of the gods in matters of state importance. These public rituals failed to address the personal needs of their onlookers, who found religious comfort and emotional fulfillment in the mystery religions, which promised the forgiveness of sins, salvation by a savior god who had died to redeem them, and a life of bliss in the world to come. Among the more celebrated of these mystery cults were the Eleusinian (Demeter and Persephone), Orphic (Orpheus and Eurydice), Dionysian (Dionysus), Mithraic (Mithra), and those of Isis-Osiris, Cybele-Attis, and Aphrodite-Adonis. It is conjectured that the religious expectations induced by these religions determined how the Christian message was understood by this Gentile audience. Preconditioned by centuries in these cults, the Hellenized world could not help but view Jesus as another savior god because this was the only way its population could understand him and the message preached in his name. However, what is significant is that this understanding of Jesus as a savior god was completely foreign to both Judaism and the way in which Jesus was viewed by the original Jewish Christians who were impatiently awaiting the imminent coming of the Kingdom of God. A number of explanations have been offered to account for this altered view of Jesus and his message. 1.) Many of the early Christian missionaries had themselves once been members of these mystery religions and were preconditioned to understand and preach Jesus as a savior god. 2.) Early Christian intellectuals and apologists, as well as the Greek Church Fathers, were themselves steeped in the Greek philosophical tradition, which predisposed them to view the nature of Jesus in Greek philosophical and theological terms similar to those pertaining to other savior gods. 3.) The Early Church may have consciously or unconsciously borrowed features from the mystery religions in order to make its new religion more attractive and competitive with these other cults in attracting converts. 4.) The destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 CE caused the virtual disappearance of the Jewish Christian community, whose understanding of Jesus as a Jewish Messiah was also virtually lost. As a result, the Apostle Pauls Hellenized view of Jesus as a savior god who had redeemed mankind was the only view of Jesus which survived this catastrophe because of the many Hellenized churches Paul had already founded throughout Asia Minor and Greece. Although a remnant of the original Jewish Christians, the Ebionites, continued to survive a few centuries longer, they were nevertheless viewed as heretical, perhaps even persecuted, by the Greek-speaking Christian Church, only to finally die out. According to this view, the irony is that these Jewish Christians may have been the only community which preserved the original understanding of Jesus and his message intact and remained faithful to it, whereas Pauls Hellenized view was the only view of Jesus which survived and thereby became official church doctrine as a result of an historical accident the destruction of Jerusalem! This Hellenized understanding of Jesus and his mission continued to develop during the next few centuries until the nature of Jesus with his redemptive role was transformed into the divine Logos, the Word of God, pre-existing from all eternity, consubstantial with the Father, the second person of the Trinity, the divine redeemer, whose purpose it was to save all mankind, as finally delineated in the solemn pronouncements of the Councils of Nicea (325 CE) and Chalcedon (451 CE). Early Christianity assimilated the legacy of the Hellenized world by expressing the nature and role of Christ as a divine redeemer and savior in Neo-Platonic terms. The various mystery religions that had predated Christianity and continued to evolve during the Christian era were finally suppressed in the late fourth century by the Emperor Theodosius, when Christianity then became the official state religion. Such was the historical understanding of what happened to Christianity as set forth by Harnack in the first volume of his History of Dogma in (1886) and The Mission and Expansion of Christianity in the First Three Centuries (1902). An alternative explanation of what happened is the theory of Propaedeutic or Preparatory Instruction, advanced by the Christian Apologist, Justin Martyr (c. 100 c. 165 CE), who maintained that God used Greek philosophy and the mystery religions to facilitate the acceptance of Christianity by the Mediterranean world. According to this view, divine Providence inspired the Greek philosophers and the creators of the mystery religions with partial revelation of what was later to come in the full revelation of Christianity. The doctrines of Greek metaphysics about the nature of God and ultimate reality, the ethical system of the Stoics, and the role of a savior in redeeming an erring humanity in a broken world were already providentially in place for Early Christianity to use in spreading the Gospel message in the ancient world. This theory explains the similarities between Christian doctrine, Greek metaphysics and the mystery religions, which made the Hellenistic world more responsive to the new Christian religion toward which the mystery religions were unwittingly leading. Moreover, after the glorious century of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and their immediate successors, God let Greek philosophy run its course until conflicting disputes later convulsed its rival schools, causing the philosophical enterprise of the ancient world to self-destruct. The inadequacy of reason was thereby exposed as a faulty way to Divine Truth, for which the ancient world was now ready and yearning to receive with the advent of Christianity. To the human eye, this version of events may seem like blind chance or accident, as Christianity simply borrowed and adapted Greek philosophy and the mystery religions for its own needs to survive and flourish, but, to the eye of faith, this was all part of Gods mysterious Plan that providentially guided events in bringing the Mediterranean world of that time into the fold of the one and only true Mystery Religion, Christianity. It goes without saying that the Hellenization of Christianity has generated enormous controversy over the past 130 years, during which time it has been both accepted and rejected either completely or partially in various quarters. It is a classic example of how a theory, whether true or false, can open up new fields of scholarly inquiry. It is also a textbook case that can show students how scholarship works as a continually evolving collective endeavor that uses the critical-historical method to deepen understanding of New Testament times. A scholar makes his or her case and then defends or modifies it in light of the critical reactions of other scholars who may agree or disagree by pointing out what they see as historical or methodological flaws in the argument. Scholars must also be prepared to defend themselves against scholars who disagree not on historical or methodological grounds, but rather for theological, confessional, or apologetical reasons. The stakes involved, as seen by these guardians of religious tradition, may be so momentous and far-reaching that they see it as their appointed task to defend traditional doctrine threatened either directly or by implication by the new theory. In such exchanges, the historian and theologian represent two different realms of concern: the historian, for an objective historical understanding of what, how, or why something happened without regard for how the theory might challenge traditional doctrine; the theologian, for safeguarding traditional doctrine as part of divine revelation or for pastoral reasons lest the theory gain currency and unsettle the faithful. Students learn to see such critical exchanges between scholars as the inevitable process through which theories pass in being refined in the fire of controversy as both sides play their respective parts in the unfolding drama that may lead to a more accurate understanding of the issue in question. This interplay can perhaps be best understood in terms of Hegels celebrated triad of dialectical development. One starts with the status-quo theory or thesis, which over time generates its own inherent doubts or recognition of its weaknesses. These weaknesses are, in turn, taken up by later scholars who develop them into an opposing position or antithesis, which over time consolidates itself and, in turn, realizes its own weaknesses. Finally, both thesis and antithesis resolve themselves into a higher synthesis, that, in turn, becomes a new thesis, and so forth in a never-ending search for truth. What works as truth for one generation may be rejected as falsehood for the next as each generation sees things differently as a new paradigm is born that explains what happened in a new way. Each generation or century builds on and critiques the past, feeling entitled to its own way of seeing truth rather than being dictated to by the previous generations or centurys perception of truth, seen as culturally-conditioned by its time or, as the Roman Aulus Gellius succinctly put it, Veritas filia temporis or Truth is the daughter of time. The Morning Email Wake up to the day’s most important news.

Fair Usage Law

August 10, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Response to Donny Fuchs ‘Snakes in the Vineyard’ – The Jewish Press – JewishPress.com

Photo Credit: Hayovel.com The recent op-ed by Donny Fuchs (Snakes in the Vineyard, Aug. 7) accuses HaYovel, a non-profit organization that brings Christian volunteers from all over the world to serve Jewish farmers in Israel, of being a missionary organization attempting to convert Jews to Christianity. From personal experience, interviews as the chief reporter for Breaking Israel News and my own research, I feel Fuchs article reeks of a form of xenophobia that was appropriate to galut (exile) Judaism, but that now holds Eretz Yisrael Judaism back from its higher, global purpose. Fuchs writes that accepting non-Jewish volunteers to work in Israel violates halacha (Torah law), but he fails to cite which halacha this violates. If he is referring to the section of halacha dealing with avoda zarah (idol worship), then he is bringing up a very complex issue and an issue about which many rabbinic experts disagree. You can compare Fuchs statement, for example, to the simple and blunt assertion that a kosher-eating Jew cannot consume pork. It seems obvious, but this statement is not entirely accurate, as it discounts the sections of halacha dealing with taarovet (when a non-kosher mixture inadvertently occurs) or yavesh byavesh (when pieces of kosher and non-kosher foods are mixed). I am not a great rabbi. As such, I rely on the opinion of Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, a globally accepted halachic authority, who has welcomed HaYovel and founder Tommy Waller with open arms. Rabbi Melamed wrote a halachic ruling on the subject in which he states that the litmus test is a love of Israel. The rabbi instructed Jews to welcome Christians who love Israel, and to consider them allies in geula (redemption). This op-ed accuses Torah observant farmers and vintners of selling out their beliefs for free labor. If you cannot afford the cost of running such an enterprise, dont do it, writes Fuchs. He then suggests using Jewish volunteers. Doesnt his initial admonishment still apply? Israeli industry, especially the wine industry, was built on foreign largesse. His solutions include imported labor from Thailand. It is no less immoral to import cheap non-Jewish labor than to rely on non-Jewish volunteers. In fact, Fuchs points out himself that this could be halachically problematic. Fuchs accuses Waller of being a missionary. At one point, early in Wallers career, this may have been true. But myself and my colleagues have come to know Waller and HaYovel well through our work. Waller and his family are far along a path that has led them outside of the church they grew up in. They do not seek to be Jewish, nor do they seek to influence Jews. They have come specifically to connect with Jews who are strongly connected to Israel to help them find their way. But not as Jews. I challenge Fuchs to find one Jew who has been converted or influenced by HaYovel. I personally believe Fuchs has redefined missionary as any person who comes close to Judaism but who does not want to convert. This is incorrect. A Christian who does not preach and who does not convert anyone is, by definition, not a missionary. The Jewish people became xenophobic out of necessity in the exile. Today, when we merit to have the State of Israel, there is not the same need. The real issue is not whether HaYovel is a missionary organization or not; converting Jews is not their stated intention. The question is whether Jews and Christians can have a meaningful dialogue without trying to convert each other or prove that their God could win in some bizarre divine cage match. I believe the answer is yes. The creation of the modern State of Israel has been enormously transformative for Judaism, but perhaps it was even more so for Christianity. It has strengthened Judaism, but it has annihilated Replacement Theology, the very basis for the Catholic Church and some branches of Christianity. Waller and many others, have turned to Judaism and Israel to be their beacon in uncharted theological territory. It is our Biblical mandate to accept them. Moreover, with the founding of the State of Israel, Jews returned to our nachala, our inheritance, and we are once again a nation that serves Hashem. We are not a loose matrix of minyans, each trying to stand firm as a speck of light in an ocean of darkness. In the exile, the Jews forfeited most of the Torah, limiting themselves to a small fraction of the mitzvoth. Returning to the land challenges us to redefine the Torah, making it large-as-life once again. We must move forward to the next stage: Eretz Yisrael, Beit HaMikdash and Moshiach. This will require a willingness from Jews to take their role in the world, guiding the nations through the crises they are facing today. This will require rabbis who are experts in agricultural Judaism, purity laws, Temple laws and laws of commerce. This will require the reappearance of Torah concepts that became fossils, such as ger toshav, a non-Jewish resident in the Land of Israel. This will require rabbis who can relate to non-Jews through something other than a dysfunctional conversion process. This will require a Sanhedrin, and not a Chief Rabbinate. As the Prophets wrote: The temple was and will be a House of Prayer for all Nations.

Fair Usage Law

August 10, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

A Christian Spin on Birthright Brings Faith-Based Millennials to Israel – Algemeiner

I applied to Birthright, but was rejected due to the fact that I was a Christian, he said. A few weeks later, my friends told me about Covenant Journey. Instantly I knew I wanted to apply for a chance to experience Israel. Something about it just felt special to me. Dobrow, who now works for NBCUniversal in New York City, described Covenant Journey as life-changing. One thing I loved about Covenant Journey was that there was a dynamic range of lectures from people who were Christian, who were Arab Muslims and who were Jews. It was incredible to learn from so many different people, and hear about the country and all of the miracles and conflicts surrounding it, he said. Joy Randazzo, a recent graduate of Floridas Pensacola Christian College who visited Israel with Covenant Journey in 2015 and 2017, told JNS.org that before the trips, her understanding of Israel was unfortunately very limited. I knew from the Bible that Israel was Gods chosen nation, but other than that, I didnt know how recent it had been that Israel became a modern country, and the opposition they faced from around the world, she said. Randazzo, who now works for OneBlood, Floridas largest blood bank, said that her favorite part of the trip was learning modern Israeli history and connecting with regular Israelis. She said that this helped her understand why the people take so much pride in their country, and why I should stand in support for Israel as well. In particular, Randazzo said that her conversations with Israeli soldiers contributed to reshaping her perception of the country from what she had previously known, especially from mainstream media coverage. We were able to talk to two IDF soldiers, and we asked them what they would want American college students to know about Israel, and their response was to not believe everything they read in the news, she said. Randazzo added that throughout the trip, we heard several examples of different terrorist attacks that had taken place in Israel, but how the media spinned it to look as if Israel was the attacker and not the victim. So my perception changed in that unlike what the media may say, Israel is a nation of defense, not offense. Dobrow said that his most memorable experience was a spontaneous stop at an IDF post near the Golan Heights. It was amazing to hear from [soldiers] in an impromptu exchange about their journey, and what Israel means to them and why they serve, he said. It had an impact on my life seeing their faithfulness to Israel. This is something that I probably would not have been able to experience if it werent for Covenant Journey. As someone who now works in the media industry, Dobrow said that he strives to address some misconceptions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As a recent college graduate, there are many conversations I have with other students about the conflict, and how its easy to hear or believe something thats being said to you via mass media or online articles, he said. Yet going to Israel and seeing it for yourself may change your perspective.

Fair Usage Law

August 9, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Christian-Jewish Group Applauds Israel’s Aid Increase to Venezuelan Immigrants – Algemeiner

Email a copy of “Christian-Jewish Group Applauds Israels Aid Increase to Venezuelan Immigrants” to a friend Venezuelan Jews arriving in Israel last month. Photo: The Fellowship. JNS.org The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship) praised the Israeli government for its increase in aid to Venezuelan Jewish immigrants who recently fled the South American countrys rampant violence and instability. Israels Ministry of Immigration and Absorption announced an increase in aid every six months to Venezuelan olim (immigrants) by an additional $4,170 per family and $1,668 per single person. In total, the benefits now amount to $9,700 for couples; $8,200 for single-parent families; $5,100 for singles; $3,000 for children up to age 4; $2,200 for children ages 4-18; and $2,600 for immigrants ages 18-21. We are profoundly grateful to the Minister of Aliyah and Absorption Sofa Landver for agreeing to increase this critical support for these new olim, said Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder and president of The Fellowship. This additional aid will go a long way toward helping the Jews of Venezuela as they begin new lives in Israel and incentivize others to come on aliyah as well. The Fellowship said it provides $800 per adult and $400 per child on top of the Israeli governments support for the immigrants. Additionally, the group conducts follow-up visits to assist families with needs such as food, appliances, furniture, day care, vocational training and dental care. In late July, 26 Venezuelan Jews arrived in Israel. An additional 138 Venezuelan Jews have made aliyah during the last 18 months. The South American nation has recently been rocked by political upheaval and violence as President Nicholas Maduro has destroyed the countrys remaining democratic institutions and economy, essentially establishing himself as a dictator. The oil-rich country has seen skyrocketing murder rates, nearly continuous anti-government protests, and widespread food and medicine shortages. Around 10,000 Jews are believed to remain in the once-prosperous country.

Fair Usage Law

August 9, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

‘Anti-Israel comments from Christians must be put in Mideast context’ – The Jerusalem Post

Muslim women at the Lions’ Gate, Jerusalem, July 2017. (photo credit:MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST) The West must understand that Middle East Christian leaders anti-Israel comments come within the context of a dominating Muslim majority, an Egyptian-American human rights activist said. It is dangerous for the West to accept Arab antisemitic propaganda voiced by some Christian leaders in the Middle East, said Nonie Darwish, the author of Wholly Different; Why I chose Biblical Values Over Islamic Values. They are held hostage by the Muslim majority around them. Since the age of the Internet, even many Arabs have stopped buying Arab propaganda. Writing for the right-wing think tank Gatestone Institute, Darwish, who was born a Muslim and lived in Egyptian-occupied Gaza Strip, was referring to a statement made on MSNBC by retired American Col. Lawrence Wilkerson during the recent Temple Mount crisis. The former chief of staff to secretary of state Colin Powell said that Jews pose the biggest threat to Christians in the Middle East. He came to this conclusion based on a conversation that he had with a Catholic bishop while in Ramallah 15 years prior on a trip to meet with Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat. It is most unfortunate that a former high-ranking State Department official decided to blame Israel during the recent crisis, in which Jews were the obvious victims, said Darwish, who moved to the US in 1978 with her husband, later becoming a citizen and converting to Christianity. It is more than unfortunate that Wilkerson took the bishops statement at face value instead of recognizing the complexities of the Middle East, where no and yes rarely mean no and yes. The fact that Israel is the only country in the world that has full freedom of religion and allows Christians to practice their faith as they wish, was completely ignored by Wilkerson. Darwish, founder and president of the Arabs for Israel group, said that Wilkerson showed that he was completely disconnected from the reality of Israel and the Middle East. Despite the glaring truth that there is oppression of Christians in the Middle East, Wilkerson evidently does not know that the flock of the Ramallah bishop lives in an Arab city, speaks and prays in Arabic, and in an era of Arab nationalism, many believed they were Arab first and Christian second, she said. This is most clearly seen in the education system, where Arab Christians are fed the same propaganda as are Muslim Arabs. The end result of having anti-Israel and antisemitic Christian Arabs should not be surprising then, Darwish said. Christian children are fed the same education, filled with hatred of Jews, in Arab schools; they teach lies such as, Jesus was a Palestinian, Jerusalem was an Arab city conquered by Jews, Jews are behind all the ills of Arab society, Yasser Arafat was poisoned by Israelis… and so on; the variations are endless, she said. Sadly, Christians in the region, instead of recognizing that Jews are probably their natural allies, have ended up falling into the Middle Eastern trap of trying to appease the Muslim majority around them, and subscribing to its sweeping antisemitism. Ultimately, the Islam critic said that the onus lies on the West to reveal the truth behind the comments, and not to be satisfied with taking the statements as is. Even though accusations in the Arab media against Israel are false, the Western media are not interested in exposing them, she said. sign up to our newsletter Share on facebook

Fair Usage Law

August 9, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Was country legend Glen Campbell Jewish? – Jewish Journal

Country music legend Glen Campbell, famous for his 1975 hit Rhinestone Cowboy, died Tuesday, August 8, after a long battle with Alzheimers. Campbell hailed from humble beginnings, growing up Baptist in rural Arkansas. According to a 2008 article published in Reuters, Campbell and his wife Kim were practicing Messianic Jews. Although not considered part of the Jewish religion, Messianic Judaism incorporates Jewish elements into an overall evangelical Christian theology. Messianic Judaism, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president emeritus of the Union of Reform Judaism, told the Journal in 2012, is built on a lie. They are lying about us and lying about themselves; they distort both. Campbell and his wife celebrated Jewish holidays such as Passover, Rosh Hashanah and Hanukkah, but they also celebrated non-Jewish holidays such as Christmas. His wife, apparently, cooked a mean brisket (although, the article mentions her matzo balls needed some work). Inside his Malibu home, he kept a menorah on his mantle and a Hebrew book on his coffee table. The country artist was featured in the documentary, Hava Nagila, What Is It? where he and his wife perform their own rendition of the Israeli folk song [Watch below]. If a traditional service is observed, the Mourners Kaddish will be recited at Campbells funeral.

Fair Usage Law

August 9, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed


Fair Use Disclaimer

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

Under the 'fair use' rule of copyright law, an author may make limited use of another author's work without asking permission. Fair use is based on the belief that the public is entitled to freely use portions of copyrighted materials for purposes of commentary and criticism. The fair use privilege is perhaps the most significant limitation on a copyright owner's exclusive rights.

Fair use as described at 17 U.S.C. Section 107:

"Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phono-records or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.

In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include:

  • (1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for or nonprofit educational purposes,
  • (2) the nature of the copyrighted work,
  • (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole, and
  • (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work."