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From : catmarek
To : saintly
User Comment : Extensive background on the question. Well formulated answer. Respectfully explored and delivered. This question has bothered me since high school -- 24 years ago-- and I never received any in-depth answer before this. I found what I was looking for. And learned a lot. Thank you.
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Message Status : Public

[08-25-2000] catmarek : Dear Expert,
I am a Christian who has a belief that I don't find much support for in members of my own religion. I have always beleived that Jewish people love and worship the same Heavenly Father as I do, and that the faithful of the Jewish religion are bound for heaven equally as are faithful Christians. I can't give chapter and verse, but I remember reading in the new testament that the Lord will judge the Jews according to The Law and gentiles by the grace of Christ Jesus. (To me, as not being born Jewish, Christ is my only way to the Father). My best friend in high school was Jewish and her family was beautiful. These people all had God's love in their hearts. I attended her little sister's Bat Mitzfah and felt so at home as the service contained many of the same elements and words as my Lutheran church services, such as the benediction. I could feel that it was truely God's house, as is my own church. When her mother told me that her neice was picked on by some Christian children who told her that she would go to hell because she was Jewish, I was shocked that any child would have to hear that from a Christian. The virgin Mary was a Jew. Jesus was born a Jew and taught in the temple. He threw out the merchants from the temple for defiling His Father's house. I know that, if you are of the Jewish faith, you don't share my belief in Jesus as the Messiah. But don't we have the same heavenly father? Doesn't he hear both our prayers equally when prayed with sincere and humble hearts? I have always believed that God is truely omnipotent and can reach a person in the most effective way for that individual. If that is through a synagog or a mass or a worship service, isn't it still God's house and the interaction between man and God valid when done in sincerity of faith? Please give your educated and experienced answer. Thank you.
[08-25-2000] saintly :
Your question has no unique "correct" answer. I'll try to answer as best I can, but in matters of religion it is difficult to say, even when you can get people to agree to use the same definitions and sources of authority, which the Jews and Christians don't. Many people (both Christian and Jew) would agree with your statements, many others would not. Even all Christians and all Jews do not believe the same things about Heaven and Hell. Liberal Christian groups believe that Hell doesn't really exist (a loving God would never intentionally torture people for eternity with no hope of redemption). Likewise, liberal Jewish groups believe similar things about the law. Both liberal groups tend to believe that if you sincerely try to be a good person and do the best you can, that you will be rewarded in the afterlife; REGARDLESS of your faith group. Buddhists, Moslems, Zoroastrians, whatever... Your question only makes sense if asked in the context of the conservative groups and their belief systems. You asked two questions about beliefs:

"Do Jews and Christians worship the same Heavenly Father/Supreme Deity?"
"Are the faithful of the Jewish and Christian religions are destined for the same heaven in the afterlife?"

Let's take a closer look at the problem:

The Jews use the Torah (Old Testament), Talmud (collections of laws) and their Rabbi (for interpretation of conflicts) as sources of authority.

They believe that G-d (Conservative Jews do not spell out the full name of their supreme deity, I'll use G-d out of respect for them) has singled out their ethnic group for special treatment. Provided they follow the law; the 613 commandments in Leviticus (of which the Ten commandments are sort of a summary) they are gauranteed health, happiness and all sorts of other goodies. Some time in the future the Messiah will show up to bring all the Jews to Israel, resurrect the dead and rebuild the Temple. Heaven and Hell aren't mentioned, and this deal applies only to Jews, not Gentiles. From a conservative/orthodox Jewish point of view, *YOU* aren't going to heaven. You fail to meet the basic criteria; this deal is ethnic-group based (Jews Only) and you don't follow the Mosaic (given to the Jews by Moses) Law religiously... If you believe in Jesus as part of the Trinity/God, the virgin birth, accept Christ as the Messiah and the New Testament in general, you don't worship the same concept of G-d they do. Likewise, their G-d has specific ways He wants to be worshipped. They are detailed in the Law. If you don't follow them, you aren't even worshipping Him at all, assuming you have the correct deity.

For more on Jewish history and beliefs, head to:

This entire site is a gold mine for religious topics. They research very well and present their info in a way that demonstrates what all the various beliefs are.

The conservative Christian perspective is totally different.

They pay lip service to accepting the Jewish Torah (Old Testament), but believe the deal applied to the Jews was revoked and turned over to anyone who wants to believe in Christ as the Messiah and saviour. An interesting note, if the Bible is correct in reporting the words Jesus spoke, *He* didn't believe that his words were intended for Gentiles; he intended for his teachings to only apply to Jews:

Matthew 15:22-28 and Mark 7:25-30 both descibe the same incident involving a Canaanite woman (Mark identifies her as Greek/Syrophenecian) One commentary on the Bible explains that "The inhabitants of this area were racially and linguistically connected with the ancient Canaanites." She pleaded with Jesus to cure her daughter who was possessed by a demon. He first ignored her, but then explained that he was sent only to bring the Gospel to the Jews, not to the Gentiles such as she. Jesus cruelly replied to the desperate mother that it was not right for him "to take the children's bread and to cast it to dogs." i.e. it is not appropriate to take the Gospel, which was intended only for the Jews, and offer it to Gentiles as well -- here described as sub-humans, as dogs.

However, ignoring that point and assuming that anybody can get in on the new deal offered by Jesus:

Hebrews 13:8 God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Since the Christian beliefs include the Old Testament, then from the Christian point of view (almost all of them, I think), Jews are worshipping the same deity the Christians are.

Depending on who you ask, the requirements for going to heaven differ drastically. Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons believe that everyone outside their group will be going to hell or getting destroyed. The Roman Catholic Church believes that in order to go you have to be free of Mortal sins, keep taking the church-supplied sacraments (being excommunicated means going to hell), and be baptized. Many protestant Christians believe you are going to Hell unless you are Saved.

The Bible contains various passages that indicated that a person will be saved and go to Heaven if they:

are baptized,
repent of their sins,
trust Jesus as their Lord and Savior,
do good works,
follow church rituals, and/or
avoid certain specific behaviors.

But there is no consensus on what precise minimum combination of these six factors are required to guarantee a person's salvation. In addition, there are continuing debates about the after-death destination of those who have never had a chance to hear the Gospel. Further, there is no consensus whether salvation is permanent ("Once saved, always saved") or can be lost.

However, despite the debate (more on the debate and who believes which particular criteria above) you could argue that Jews have a poor chance of fulfilling them.

Jews do not trust Jesus (Yeshua of Nazereth) as their Lord and Savior, or as the Messiah. Few are baptized, and very few take the Sacraments. None are members of the Jehovah's Witnesses or Mormons.

Jews *do* tend to be wonderful, faithful, honest and good hearted people. The Jewish faith (unlike the Christian one) believes that people are basically good and do not inherit a sinful nature. They take a pragmatic and practical approach; try to do their best and treat other people well, feel bad (repent) of the harm they do other people and try to avoid doing more.

So the answer to your question really depnds on whether you ask a Jew or a Christian for one. Then it depends on which one you ask and whether they are a liberal or not. A summary of answers to your question:

Liberal Jews and Christians: Both of you worship the same (the *only*, according to some people) deity/Heavenly Father/G-d.

Conservative Jews: They are destined for good things, but sorry - you aren't. Tough breaks for not being born in the right ethnic group. They worship the One True G-D. You aren't worshipping G-d correctly and probably aren't even worshipping the same one; they have no idea what you're worshipping.

Conservative Christians: Jews are worshipping the same G-d, but are misguided in how they do it, since they don't accept the teachings of Jesus. They may not be going to heaven: 50/50 chance depending on who you ask. If they have to be saved to go to heaven (Fundamentalists will say this, along with certain other Christian groups), then the Jews aren't. If they get to keep the old covenant (deal) that was intended for them, then they probably aren't going to hell (there is some debate about the status of whether the deal still applies).

By the standards of many Christian groups, other Christian groups are also going to hell, not just the Jews.

Does this help? The best I can do is provide an overview of what various people would tell you. There is no definitive answer that I can find, even according to the Bible. Of course, members of many faith groups will believe one interpretation firmly. Your best bet is to ask your minister (Priest, Elder, Pastor, Reverend, whatever) what your particular brand of Christianity believes.
[08-25-2000] saintly :
As another interesting note, some former Jews and conservative Christian faith groups believe so strongly that Jews are going to hell ("unsaved") that they actively try to convert them.

Is one such organization dedicated entirely to that cause. They have various scriptures and personal experiences to support their beliefs.

What it comes down to, is that the Bible supports both viewpoints depending on what parts you read. If you want to believe that Jews are going to Hell, you have to ignore the Old Testament and various New Testament passages that indicate that they aren't (or that todays "Christians" are the ones going to Hell instead). If you want to believe that nobody is going to hell, then you can make intellectual arguments to do that based on other scriptural passages.

I come from a background of (fairly conservative) Protestant Christian missionaries. That faith group would say that the Jews are "lost" and in need of salvation, along with anyone who hasn't had the fortune of hearing the gospel and being saved. However, that group also beleives that individuals have the power to interpret the Bible on their own. If you want to believe that the Bible says the Jews are going to Heaven, then you can probably find something there that allows you to believe that.

If you believe in a loving and honest God, and trust Him/Her/?? to do the right thing, then you don't even have to worry about it. Just let the diety make the correct decision in the afterlife. There is certainly NO excuse in any case for malicious, hurtful behaviour, teasing or picking on other people based on their beliefs!
[08-25-2000] saintly :
A few end notes to tie up some loose ends...

Only Some Jewish groups will not let you join them (ethnic-heritage based only), others, particularly Reform Judaism will allow you to switch faiths if you believe sincerely that Judaism is the correct belief system and wish to abandon Christianity.

One interesting way to look at things is that Judaism is the original "main" religion. Christianity started out as a small reform movement in the Jewish faith, just as the Protestants were a reform movement against the Catholic church (what the early Christian church ended up as).

I would expect that many Christians may have changed to Judaism after careful thought, prayer and examination of the Bible, just as some Jews convert to Christianity. One characteristic of all "reform" movements is that they believe the original movement has deviated from the true path and it is necessary to break away to assure themselves of happiness and reward. The old (original/main) group usually splits down the middle as far as deciding whether the reformers are doomed or not. Tolerant original groups believe that they still have the same basic beliefs, just that the new people want to add some extra requirements, so from their point of view the newcomers are still on the right track. Threatened members of original groups are scared of the reformers or for some other reason believe that they are doomed.

Consider this:
Jews start out as one religion
Split into Judaism and new Christianity

Christians believe the Jews are doomed, Jews split into two groups; "Orthodox" (Christians are doomed) and "Reform" (much later, Christians are probably OK).

Christians split into Catholic and Protestant

Protestants believe the Catholics are doomed, Catholics tend to split into two groups, "Mainstream" (Protestants are probably doomed) and "Liberal" (rare, but growing - Protestants are probably OK).

Martin Luther's Lutheran church splits into several new ones.

All the new ones tend to believe they are the correct group and that the others are misguided. Varying degrees of how doomed the others are. Each original group varies on how doomed the new groups are.

You'll probably find that the later your particular group split off from the main, the more extreme their views are regarding how doomed the rest are. A central control system can regulate and slow down the natural tendency of groups to accept others. Whereas the Catholics took thousands of years to stop persecuting non-Catholics, the Protestants tended to mellow in only a few centuries. Recent extremist or Fundamental groups tend to take a fairly harsh view of the rest (this is a natural step in the growth and evolution of any new religious group; if groups don't do this, then they are quickly reabsorbed or gradually disintegrate). If you belong to a new group, take heart... they may pick on Jews (or other outside faith groups) now, but given enough time, they will come to accept them too. You are among the first in your group to see and accept the reality of human existence.

We live in a wonderful amazing world. The more people interact with others and the more they know, the more willing they are to accept them. Only ignorance and fear (based on ignorance) are obstacles to working together. The people that picked on the jewish child probably didn't know that much about Judaism or even took the time to get to know the child.

With people interacting more and more, and the Internet slowly destroying ethnic and racial boundaries (one screen name is just as good as another)... and Most importantly of all, the huge dissemination of information and the ease it takes to get to know what other people think and believe are all contributing to making one big global network of PEOPLE, regardless of faith beliefs.

Isn't it great?

Hope that helps! Let me know if you have more questions on this topic, or need me to expand on something I said earlier.
[08-25-2000] catmarek : Wow! What a great answer! I love learning and your answer is quite an education. Fascinating history, and in-depth response. What you said about believing in a loving and honest "G-d" (out of respect--thanks for the lesson) and trusting that He (I'm not hung-up on gender as I doubt He needs to procreate, I'm used to using "He") will do the right thing, rings true to my heart. It also reminds me of a theory I have developed in regards to walking on faith. I often think that "G-d" is standing up there with His arms folded across His chest, tapping His foot and rolling His eyes, saying:
"What are all you silly people worried about? I've got it all covered! Hey, I even know how it all will turn out! Just trust me. I'll let you know when the time is right. Have faith."
I hope we can all remember to think of the consequences of what we tell our children. They do not have the same cognitive abilities adults do and are not as discerning with their audiences. Thank you, again for the great lesson.
[08-26-2000] saintly :
Always glad to help. I believe that matters of religion, philosophy and personal ethics are up to the individual to decide. No-one should be made to suffer or hurt because of their choice.

A missionary, pastor, or anyone wanting to share their faith and "save" others can best do it by leading a life of example and making their choice of philosophy known for others. Providing a way for others to access the beliefs and philosophies of their belief system; but not in a way that forces them to listen or prevents them from getting away if they don't want to hear it.

Violence, death, teasing, force and fear are unlikely to make real changes in other people's lives...

Children should be taught that other people have just as much right to believe what they want as they do. Being mean or hurtful will only make the other person want to get away and have as little to do with the religion that "allowed" the hurtful children to act that way. If that action would send them to Hell or whatever, then the mean and hurtful children would be partly responsible...

You're absolutely right about being careful with what we tell children. It's extremely dangerous to tell them things that help them see other people as inferior. Likewise... they may mean well as young "evangelists", but telling another small child "You're going to hell and you're going to burn and suffer forever" is much more likely to frighten them than make them want to change belief systems. They may not even intend to be hurtful, but they don't always know enough about human reactions to convert/proselytize to their friends and playmates... Too many parents and sunday school teachers encourage their children to try to convert other people without realizing what may happen. Some do it intentionally with a "well, if they hurt 100 people, but 'save' 1, then it's worth it...".

If we want children to be witnesses for the faith and give their friends a reason to feel good about the child's faith, we also need to teach them how to be comfortable doing it and what appopriate ways to share it are.

:) That's just my $0.02 anyway... Glad to help!
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