6. Only the unified, indivisible, unseeable God is Divine.
the Jewish position concerning Jesus is undoubtedly one of the most sensitive
areas that Jewish CPE students encounter. Many
non-Jews take offense when Jews say that Jesus has no theological standing for
Jews. For Jews, the historical Jesus was a Jewish man and a child of God in the
same way that each of us is a child of God. But, Jesus was no more than that.
For Jews, Jesus, was not, and is not, Divinity.
is an important point because while some Jews occasionally debate among
themselves who “really” is a Jew, there are a few points which all Jews
across the denominational spectrum accept as true: “God” always means the
totally unified, indivisible, unseeable God who possesses absolute sovereignty
and is supreme over the entire world. Individual Jews may differ in how they
understand God’s attributes or God’s Presence - and some may even choose to
deny God’s existence - but all Jews agree that God has never walked the earth
in human form and that we are still waiting for the Messiah to come – the
first time. Individuals who label themselves “Jews for Jesus”, “fulfilled
Jews”, “Messianic Jews”, “Hebrew Jews” or similar terms are mixing
religious systems; they are engaged in syncretism. Just because they call
themselves “Jews”, does not make them Jewish. We wonder how many Christians
would accept as “Christian”, individuals who called themselves “Christians
against Christ.” By accepting Jesus as the Christ/Savior, one is, by Jewish
definition, a Christian.
non-Jewish CPE supervisors or peers offer Moses as a parallel figure to Jesus,
and akin to Buddha or Muhammad. We
understand that - as the founders of their respective faiths, Jesus-as-Christ is
central to Christianity, Buddha is central to Buddhism, and Muhammad is central
to Islam. Without Jesus-as-Christ, there would be no Christianity, without
Buddha, there would be no Buddhism, and without Muhammad, there would be no
Islam. However, without Moses, there still would be Judaism!
Moses is not the parallel figure to Jesus, Buddha or Muhammad.
Certainly, Moses was a teacher and prophet par-excellence, but Judaism
would have existed and would continue to flourish even if we could prove that
Moses never actually existed.
important reality for Jews is the difference between Jesus, the “historical
man” and Jesus the “name”. We
accept that Jesus the “historical man” was benevolent and holy. However, for
nearly two thousand years, Jews have been persecuted, martyred, and murdered in
the “name” of Jesus. So, it is hard for many Jews to see representations of
Jesus (or other emblems of Christianity) and not associate it - consciously or
sub-consciously - with Jewish crisis and tragedy. This is driven home when we
continually hear: ‘Jesus loves you’ but you will be damned if you do not
accept Jesus as your savior.”
issue may be further compounded because even if the CPE supervisor understands -
or accepts - the significant differences in how Jewish students relate to
profound Christian symbols, too many CPE peers do not understand it and/or are
offended by it. Too often, it
creates a tension that exists as an unspoken and unresolved interfaith issue
that divides the peers from one another.
© 2004 , Bonita E Taylor & David J. Zucker
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