SPECIAL NOTE: This post was originally written in 2008; however, I am bringing it out as a commenter recommended this book as a good response to Christian missionaries. Actually, this book is not very well written and is easily debunked; however, I am taking the time to bring it back out for discussion. Additionally, the first re-post of P1 apparently touched a nerve with a particular anti-missionary; however, we will only pray for her…
Despite the best of intentions, it is necessary to have one final rebuttal to the prefatory material written by Asher Norman in his work, Twenty-Six Reasons Why Jews Don’t Believe in Jesus. Part one of the rebuttal is available here and the introductory post about the book is available here. We are going to follow the same pattern as #P1 of quotation/paraphrase and rebuttal. If you have a better idea, please let me know.
- Asher Norman provides an interesting statement about the fact that God gave the Jewish people a particular mission that was critical for the “spirituality” of everyone (p. xxix, xxxiii, xxxiv).
Norman is absolutely correct, although he will disagree with my interpretation, and Walter Kaiser discusses this mission in his work Mission in the Old Testament: Israel as a Light to the Nations. But just what should this mission look like? Should it appear as Norman describes as a requirement for Gentiles to follow the Noahide Covenant which is impossible for those who affirm the divinity and deity of Jesus? Or should it appear as Norman advocates that he is not attempting to denigrate the Christian faith? If Jesus is not the Messiah for the Jewish people he is not the Messiah for any of us? And if Norman truly believes that he is not, the mission that he advocates should be to warn the rest of us of our folly.
In an interesting twist, one of the reasons for the captivities by the Assyrians and Babylonians in Old Testament times was because the Jewish people had failed to be a light to the nations and to the call the world to monotheism and true faith. Surely Norman does not wish to be guilty of the same sins as his forefathers? Obviously the answer is no. But Norman would not agree that true obedience to this call in Isaiah is found in sharing the truth of Messiah Jesus with all peoples (but first to the Jewish people) of the world. The writer of this work is attempting to straddle the fence on the issue but ultimately just demonstrates that truly one cannot have it both ways without a lot of awkwardness.
- Norman states that God only demands that the people keep the law to the best of their ability (p. xxx).
Interesting argument, and one that truly has a great deal of appeal, but is that what God and the Torah state in Leviticus or Deuteronomy? Leviticus states six times (11:44; 11:45; 19:2; 20:7; 20:26; and 21:8) that we are to be holy because God himself is holy. The word holy (Kadosh) is the same in reference to both humanity and God. We are to strive not for what is acceptable but for holiness.
As a corollary to this demand for holiness, that is impossible for humanity to achieve through our own efforts, God recounts the 613 Torah Laws in Deuteronomy. There is not an option about which laws to fulfill or to do so to the best of our ability. They are all demanded to be kept and the consequences of failure is punishment … unless a sacrifice is given that assuages God’s wrath. This sacrifice was Jesus on the cross who came not to abolish but to fulfill every aspect of the Law (Matthew 5:17-20).
More could be written regarding the author’s attempt to split hairs and create nuances where none exist. However, it is time to develop a counter-argument to the 26 reasons. It is important to do so not only to defend the faith of Messiah Jesus but also to provide support for Jewish people who are discovering the freedom of grace in which they do not have to give up their Jewishness but also receive who Jesus is.