abandoned church

Christianity Without Christ

Why is that so many people think my affirmations are antithetical to Christianity? I think it is because Christianity has placed all of its eggs in the belief basket. We all have been trained to think that Christianity is about believing things. Its symbols and artifacts (God, Bible, Jesus, Heaven, etc) must be accepted in a certain way. And when times change and these beliefs are no longer credible, the choices we are left with are either rejection or fundamentalism.

I think of Christianity as a culture. It has produced 2,000 years of artifacts: literature, music, art, ethics, architecture, and (yes) beliefs. But cultures evolve and Christianity will have to adapt in order to survive in the modern era.

-John Shuck, Presbyterian minister
“I’m a Presbyterian Minister Who Doesn’t Believe in God”
Patheos.com

My first reaction to Mr. Shuck’s article when I saw it posted on Facebook was to write him off as a loon, but then in reading how he relates to Christianity, it occurred to me that there are some secular and Reform Jews who relate to Judaism the same way. That is, they both see Christianity and Judaism as primarily cultural without a basis in a supernatural, all-powerful creative being. You know…God.

I think Shuck has a problem though. A Jew who is an atheist is still a Jew based on ethnicity and heritage. Even if your distant ancestors converted to Judaism a thousand years ago, you, as a descendant, are fully Jewish. Even Jews who convert to Christianity don’t stop being Jewish. Sure, they may forsake the mitzvot, abandon the Torah, and deny the continuing authority of the Sinai covenant, but they are still Jews ethnically, by family heritage, and probably to some degree, culturally.

I’ve known some Jewish people who went to our local Reform/Conservative synagogue, not because they were religious in the slightest, but to connect with Jewish community. Boise, Idaho doesn’t have a large Jewish population. Heck, there are barely 1,500 Jews in the entire state of Idaho. There just aren’t many places to experience Jewish community that aren’t synagogue related. So it makes a sort of sense that even secular Jews would be seen entering a synagogue on Friday evenings.

But none of that applies to Christians.

John Shuck, Presbyterian minister
John Shuck, Presbyterian minister

No one is born a Christian. There’s no such thing as an “ethnic” Christian, since Christianity in its broadest definition, is inclusive of all ethnicities. Admittedly, Christianity can be a culture. I happen to think that individual churches can be self-contained cultures. But this isn’t something that one is born into.

The sort of Christianity that Shuck is describing is like joining some long-standing social group. You can come. You can go. You can choose to belong. You can choose to dissociate. Nothing ties you to being a Presbyterian other than what you desire to experience at a wholly human level. There’s no shared ethnicity and no shared history as a people group. It’s all based on practices and traditions that Shuck calls “human constructs”. Might as well be a political party.

It is said that Judaism is based on what you do, that is, performing the mitzvot. In Christianity, it’s all about what you believe. But can you have a “beliefless” Christianity?

Shuck continues:

I believe one of the newer religious paths could be a “belief-less” Christianity. In this “sect,” one is not required to believe things. One learns and draws upon practices and products of our cultural tradition to create meaning in the present. The last two congregations I have served have huge commitments to equality for LGTBQ people and eco-justice, among other things. They draw from the well of our Christian cultural tradition (and other religious traditions) for encouragement in these efforts. I think a belief-less Christianity can be a positive good for society.

Belief-less Christianity is thriving right now, even as other forms of the faith are falling away rapidly. Many liberal or progressive Christians have already let go or de-emphasized belief in Heaven, that the Bible is literally true, that Jesus is supernatural, and that Christianity is the only way. Yet they still practice what they call Christianity. Instead of traditional beliefs, they emphasize social justice, personal integrity and resilience, and building community. The cultural artifacts serve as resources.

But what about belief in God? Can a belief-less Christianity really survive if God isn’t in the picture? Can you even call that Christianity anymore? In theory, yes. In practice, it is a challenge because “belief in God” seems to be so intractable. However, once people start questioning it and realize that they’re not alone, it becomes much more commonplace.

broken-crossFrom Shuck’s perspective, Christianity has evolved to the point where God and Jesus Christ (at least a Jesus Christ that has any sort of Divine nature) have been left behind. I’ve actually heard some “progressive” Jews say similar things about Judaism, that the mitzvot are just human constructed moral codes and that Jews don’t really believe in the Exodus except at Passover. Kind of like how some Jewish people only go to synagogue during the High Holy Days. Kind of like how some “Christian” people only go to church on Easter.

The Presbyterian Church (USA) has devolved and morphed to the point where, except for a few superficial rituals, their values, beliefs, and practices are absolutely no different from those of the progressive leftist social and political movements in the western nations. It’s “religion lite” and God non-existent. At some point, and I must contradict Shuck here, without a traditional view of Christ, there is no Christianity. The PCUSA becomes decoupled from the central tenets of faith and is reduced to a social club masquerading as a church.

Someone quipped that my congregation is BYOG: Bring Your Own God. I use that and invite people to “bring their own God” — or none at all. While the symbol “God” is part of our cultural tradition, you can take it or leave it or redefine it to your liking. That permission to be theological do-it-yourselfers is at the heart of belief-less Christianity.

Or perhaps a meaningless “Christianity”.

I understand some Christians may react with hostility and panic to this idea — they already have — but it deserves an honest discussion.

Yes, and I’m honestly discussing it. I momentarily became a little hot under the collar when reading Shuck’s article but I realize that Shuck and the PCUSA have so removed themselves from anything taught by Messiah (Christ) that they aren’t even in the ballpark of a theological discussion, themselves being without theology. The world is full of human organizations that have nothing to do with religion, God, faith, or spirituality. The PCUSA is just one more of them.

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57 thoughts on “Christianity Without Christ”

  1. James why not try it out as a month long case study. Practice christianity without christ, and see if you notice a difference with or without him being a constant in your life.?

    Try a purely Tanach approach to living for 90days.? Discovering where G-d views the gentile and Jew in the Tanach.

    I’m not trying to case a ruckus here by suggesting this… Nor am I telling you to deny your god jesus, I’m just saying why not give it a try? Don’t mention or think about the NT for 90days and see if a christian can live a life unto G-d without jesus standing in the middle. And report back your struggles or revelations.

  2. Lost, lost…all lost to people who turn their backs on YHVH, and refuse his Mashiach. The Presbyterians just decided to marry same sex couples as well. It is no wonder that Mr. Shuck doesn’t recognize G-d’s existence, since they are obviously not teaching about Him, or what He desires, but only what man desires.

    Mr. Shuck is quite right…he is of a Christian Culture rather than a system of belief that although flawed and turned away from its beginning in Judea has many people within it walking out their lives in good deeds and loving kindness. And he calls himself a minister? Of what? Chitchat?

  3. @Bruce: It’s been done. Oh, not by me, but I recall a Pastor who was struggling with his faith who decided to live like an atheist for a year. Guess what? At the end of the year, he was an atheist. I suppose he’d probably lost his faith before he even started the “experiment” but needed to go through with the year long process to finally accept his decision. You can’t live a Christianity without Christ. What I’d be doing, if I understand your suggestion correctly, would be attempting to live as a Noahide. Since I’m unfamiliar with all the halachic ins and outs of being a Noahide, I supposed I’d have to spend a lot of time at sites like AskNoah.org.

    I actually did consider the idea of adapting the “lifestyle” of a Noahide without necessarily abandoning my faith, reasoning that it would be a way for a Gentile to live in a manner more consistent with the intent of God for humanity, but as I record here, this idea turned out to be a dead end, at least for me.

    @Questor: There are literally thousands of Christian denominations in existence today, and yet most of them would have to agree on at least certain tenets of the faith. Once you throw those tenets under a bus, you can call yourself a Christianity but it doesn’t mean you are one.

  4. It is not that his brand of Christianity is free of belief; it has merely replaced religious doctrine with political liberalism, which some Jewish groups have also done. I’m willing to believe that a person who doesn’t adhere to social justice, GLBTQ rights, etc., would not be accepted or welcomed in his and like-minded churches. In the same way, these things would make me very uncomfortable in a Jewish setting too. It certainly would be far more honest (and who in religion is honest) to list these socio-political beliefs as your statement of faith.

    It is not necessarily true that Christianity is all belief-centered. His own Presbyterian tradition believes in, “covenant children,” that one is, “saved,” if the progeny of their brand of Christians. Catholics believe in infant salvation. Things aren’t so simple.

  5. This post reminded me of the book of Jude

    “For certain individuals, the ones written about long ago as being meant for this condemnation, have wormed their way in — ungodly people who pervert God’s grace into a license for debauchery and disown our only Master and Lord, Yeshua the Messiah”

  6. I have a question for the antimissionary Bruce, who is following a script proven to be successful just like the missionaries they so despise.

    While antimissionaries claim their market is Jews who are not their brand of good Jews (Orthodox) they appear interested in going after those in the evangelical right and HR types. Why seek to recruit on James’ blog, which has few Jewish readers and lots of HR readers. I have never seen them seek to evangelize the large population of BuJews or call them idolators. They also don’t seek to recruit among Catholics, Lutherans or the evangelical left. They may end up just like MJ, with far more gentiles than Jews, which they don’t welcome into Orthodox synagogues, since they wouldn’t be accepted or well-treated, and pretty much leave them nowhere, as Noahide communities are few and far between.

    Just wanted to add that I believe using a script on a person, and it doesn’t matter who does it or which brand of religion they follow, is dishonest and disrespectful, reducing a human being to a sales target like a used car salesman or MLM (multi-level marketing) distributor. I don’t hear these types share the beauty and meaning of their own religious practices. There is a reason for this: HR types left evangelicalism, most commonly Neo-Pentecostalism and have a negative and attitude of despising their former religious home. So, it follows, they are easily drawn into turning their attitude back upon HR. However, once they are sold into Noahidism, with a few converting to Orthodox Judaism, they will turn their attitude upon their new religious community. It doesn’t work when one’s belief is focused on what you are not rather than what you are. But, that is a population that is not used to thinking and challenging and really receptive to the appeal to authority logical fallacy.

    Few Christians have studied Plato, Aristotle and the philosophy of ancient Greece; the importance of perfect forms and right belief and ritual. One aspect of Plato that has unfortunately been jettisoned is that of challenging and attempting to disprove one’s own hypotheses, in addition to defending them, which is required for reputable science.

    I recommend the film, “Agora.” A female Greek philosopher was attempting to understand the orbits of the planets, and saw problems with the current view, but was bound by the concept that the orbits must be circular since the circle was the perfect form. She discovered, centuries before modern scientists, that the orbit were elliptical, which was only so difficult because this deviated from current religious assumptions.

    The recent Dialogues of Plato MOOC I took recently had a thought provoking assignment, and I wonder why this sort of thought isn’t used more widely. We were given a prompt to respond to, and then told to defend our thesis, later told to challenge and attack our thesis and then provide a conclusion. I suspect few people ever challenge their own beliefs, but rather look for ways to validate and strengthen them. Since we likely comprehend such a small portion of truth, given our vantage point in time, space and ability, it makes more sense to focus on practice.

    Another quick question: I heard a rumor that antimissionaries get bonuses for every Jewish person they convert from MJ. Now, that sounds rather ridiculous, but a Jewish agnostic family member was offered $300 to attend 12 kiruv sessions by a group called JAM, but changed her mind after the first was boring. I know that isn’t exactly the same thing.

  7. I just read a commentary at “The Daily Beast” on this issue called For Christians and Gay Marriage, It’s Culture Not Doctrine. As I said above, each religious organization down to the level of the individual church or synagogue has its own culture, but PCUSA has chosen to dispense with any recognizable doctrine and marry its culture to the liberal secular western culture, becoming yet another cell in the larger organism.

  8. It would follow that if one has no faith in a divine being, and only wants one’s religious business to grow and be successful, as I imagine the Presbyterian atheist minister does, that he is right that he needs to adjust to the market. Of course, he could also be successful in promoting an extreme right, rather than extreme left position. They can’t go around conquering territory and burning people at the stake now, can they? I would think a person of faith wouldn’t be concerned about numbers or financial viability.

  9. What I don’t get is why some former believers spend so much time (some make it a daily occupation) trying to tear down those who hold to their former beliefs. The fact that they just can’t just live their new faith in peace without trying to destroy the faith of others leaves me with no other alternative conclusion than that their motivation (unbeknowns to them) is satanically driven.

  10. I’m afraid, Merrill, that it is an all-too-normal feature of human psychology to try to reinforce a new set of beliefs by delegitimizing those who still represent former beliefs or unbelief. Logically, if one has become convinced that ‘A’ is wrong and ‘B’ is right, then those who are still of the ‘A’ persuasion must be wrong, right? And those newly of the ‘B’ persuasion are not going to be too sanguine about those of the ‘C’, ‘D’, or ‘E’ persuasions, either. It doesn’t require actual Satanic motivation to behave adversarially (humans are quite capable in this regard); and it requires a degree of gracious maturity gently to assist others to examine the reasons and bases of their beliefs or unbelief to recognize flaws and better alternatives.

  11. Yes, I understand that this is a normal feature of human psychology. But most people (at least in my experience) don’t go out of there way to try and dissuade others. They may wish to discuss their changes with others to gain clarity. This is normal. What isn’t so normal is the incessant hounding. This is the part I find satanically motivated. It’s an irrational obsession.

  12. Good post, James. This is a sad tale of the fall of the Presbyterian Church USA, of which I was affiliated in my college years. With their continuing move away from Biblical moorings including their anti-Israel stances including attempts to purge all mentions of Israel, Jerusalem, Zion from prayers, songs and readings to separate “Israel of the Past” from the modern State that they see as illegitimate and oppressive.

    You are correct that you cannot have a Christless or Godless Christianity, being a Christian is based on belief in Christ, unlike Judaism which one is defined by their descent from Jacob or conversion to Judaism, so sadly you can have an atheist Jew.

  13. @PL & @Merrill: I assume you agree that this works both ways, and we also need to continually examine our own beliefs and practices. You are probably also aware that converts are far more radical in their practices than those born into a religion. This works for everything, including politics, social concepts, diet…. We seem to have a need to convince others to join us/agree with us to validate ourselves in our own eyes? There is also the confirmation bias, that when we make a decision, we view it as a good decision because we made it. Evangelicals and MJ’s and certainly HR’s do the same in denigrating the beliefs of others and even being warned to not even explore them or listen to their adherents and view them negatively.

    We can be thankful we still have freedom of religion in the US, and nobody is being burned at the stake for heresy or apostasy here currently. I think there are some who would like to resume this practice. We can keep in mind that while Jews can brag that our ancestors have not been known to seek conversions by force or threat, Jew have murdered and persecuted other Jews for non-compliance with the majority, such as during the time of the Maccabees and the Bar Kochba rebellion.

    Personally, if I notice that a person or group feels the need to be dishonest, manipulative, cover up information, leads me to have issues with it. If something is true, nothing can destroy it and you don’t have to shield it from attack. Anyhow, behavioral psychology, moral psychology and the study of human irrationality is interesting. 🙂 Taking a MOOC on Behavioral Genetics now. Of course I need to convert everyone to MOOC-a-holism, since I am such a devout disciple.

  14. @james

    you could have just asked your local rabbi all your questions about noachide. in addition to the website. but i was just throwing out ideas.

    @chaya

    I was not attempting to recruit james. don’t be silly. G-d doesn’t need a “salesman or woman” nor is this required in the Tanach. In the commercial world …numbers mean everything and with your logic I’m sure the lack of in your face noachide means that it must be a pallid movement?

    That logic I’m sure works great for you. 😉

    And for clarity on your assumption, I’m not anti-missionary , I’m anti-jesus as being the messiah since he never fulfilled what the tanach’s requirement gives us. or to put it in christian bible lingo I’m a “anti-christ”.

    but if jesus is the only way you think you’ll feel connected to G-d then for the time being so be it. NO JEW should be practicing idolatry but this too will eventually be corrected by HaShem. And then gentile religions will wake up and see the error.

  15. Lol, Chaya! Yes, it is true, when we discover something new, it is natural to want to share it. But this should be to edify and not tear down. I agree with you that one crosses the line when they are being dishonest and/or manipulative. When one repeatedly imposes themselves on opposing blogs, they are doing so for a reason. And the reason is not to build up the community of the blog they are entering, but rather to tear it down. This is manipulation. They get their foot in the door of opposing blogs by doing things like “rekindling old friendships” but all the while they have the ulterior motive to destroy the “friends” belief system. Why don’t they just stick to their own blogs? Why come on opposing blogs other than to disrupt and cause enmity?
    Who is the author of confusion and emnity? You got it…. the adversary himself. Further aren’t we warned clearly that in the last days a “strong delusion” will come; it’s trademark being various forms of apostasy? I think it’s already here, and we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg.

  16. “Practice christianity without christ, and see if you notice a difference with or without him being a constant in your life.”

    That’s an impossibility, Bruce. If we cut ourselves off from Yeshua, we cut our ourselves off from YHWH. Yeshua is YHWH and YHWH is Yeshua. They exist together and cannot be separated. They are One. Our source of spiritual life originates in Yeshua and is sustained by Yeshua. Without him we have nothing.

  17. Well, after all, Chaya … who doesn’t like a nicely grilled stake? (Or is that steak?) [:)] But, setting aside the gruesome imagery, if one has been judicious about examining and choosing one’s beliefs in the first place, one probably doesn’t need to be re-examining them continually, except in the sense of comparing them rationally against proposed alternatives that one may encounter, along with deepening one’s understanding of them as one matures in them, for both of which I recommended the application of a good measure of graciousness. Thankfully, it is extremely rare to be faced with a choice that represents cultural extinction or survival, such as against the golden calf or the Ba’al of Peor or the prophets of Ba’al at Carmel or the pre-Maccabean apostacy. (The Bar-Kokhva rebellion probably should be classed with the fighting that preceded the first exile to Babylon, rather than as a cultural conformity enforcement.)

  18. @Merrill

    Well your reasoning has a leak in it because the prophets, Moses, The Patriarchs, King David, Adam, Noah, Cain, Able etc.. These individuals were completely removed from jesus and G-d never cut them off.

    and jesus cannot be G-d because then your ceding to the notion that G-d is a man [which contradicts deuteronomy 4], G-d died and was “away” for 3 days in “hell” getting “keys” [which contradicts the premise of genesis chapter 1], and your reasoning that the devil/satan had some type of power that could override the authority of G-d is flawed too [which contradicts the times we see how the satan is used in the Tanach].

    Also your reasoning has another leak because all that your saying can’t be proved in the Jewish Bible….. But whatever makes you happy Merrill, I’m not hear to convince you. I just try to encourage critical thinking, something your christian movement or practice of hellenistic judaism doesn’t promote, its no different than islam (which is also a gentile religion that loves jesus but doesn’t ascribe him to divinity like christianity or the hellenistic judaism in which you practice).

    everyone on this blog could be buddhist or islamist or sikhist for all I care. I just find it disingenuous to distort the jewish bible to promote your agenda, I say the same to muslims I dialogue with who say that there prophet is in our bible (the jewish bible)… Jews have rejected both yoshke and moohammed, and many other wanna-be leaders of the jewish people.

    I still say based off the evidence that you can follow the G-d of Israel without the need of the NT/jesus. And every individual will have a different experience with it.

    **PS please don’t bring chabad into this (as a bases for justification), they’re a 17th/18th century movement and if anyone has ever spent time with chabad in various parts of the globe, you’ll notice that they rarely bring up the rebbe and you’ll be blue in the face trying to find the ones that think he was the mashiach.

  19. @Merrill: In the world of religious opinion, many people spend inordinate amounts of time trying to convince others that they are right and everyone else is wrong. It seems to be a built-in dynamic of religious throught.

    @Bruce: The missus likes to keep me “segregated” from Jewish community, probably because it’s embarrassing having a Christian husband, so no, I don’t have access to the Rabbis in my little corner of the world.

    In response to your comment to Chaya, I can understand why you would be concerned about Jews practicing idolatry, but based on that, I can only imagine you’d have more of a message for religiously liberal and secular Jews than one goy who really is doing what a lot of goyim do.

    In response to your comment to Merrill, Christians choose to believe that the Apostolic Scriptures are part of the Biblical canon and that they are as “God-breathed” as the rest of the Bible. Obviously, you choose, like most religious Jews, to believe that only the Tanakh is from God. Anyone who has read some of your prior comments knows what you believe and you know what most people who regularly comment on this blog believe. Are you really going to re-hash all this again knowing the outcome will be no different?

    @PL: “Nicely grilled stake.” Cute.

  20. James no re-hash necessary sorry if i crossed the line. Please feel free to delete my post if it becomes a detractor to the topic. I won’t be offended and would genuinely understand.

  21. Since reason, truth, and faith are all interwoven in this conversation (and many others like it), I thought the following from Rabbi Tzvi Freeman was appropriate:

    Intelligence can map the journey to the palace of truth. But it dare not enter there. For within the blinding light of truth, intelligence is a nothingness, a void.

    Faith is prepared to throw itself into fire for the truth. But, on its own, it cannot find its way.

    Hand in hand, intelligence and faith, understanding and wisdom, find their way into the most inner chambers of truth.

  22. Bruce said:
    “I just find it disingenuous to distort the jewish bible to promote your agenda.”

    “Distortion” according to who? YOUR interpretation of Tanakh?

    Bruce said:
    “The Patriarchs, King David, Adam, Noah, Cain, Able etc.. These individuals were completely removed from jesus and G-d never cut them off.”

    Who says they were “cut off”??

    Bruce, You have a very distorted view of MJ theology. We aren’t all stuck in the theology of the middle ages. And Re: Deut 4: God is ” Echad” not “Yahid”. There’s a difference.

    And yes, I am a Jew who believes Yeshua is our Messiah and redeemer. He is YHWH come to us clothed in human flesh in order to accomplish our redemption. When he comes again all the Tanakh references to the reigning Messiah who ushers in the Millennial Age will be realized.

  23. James said: ” In the world of religious opinion, many people spend inordinate amounts of time trying to convince others that they are right and everyone else is wrong. It seems to be a built-in dynamic of religious throught. ”

    True, however we need to consider that there are outside spiritual dimensions which interplay with human psychology especially in matters of faith in God. Why else would we be spending so much time on the subject? There is no question that there is a battle taking place in the spiritual realm over the souls of human beings. I think Scripture is quite clear about this.

  24. How do we frame this penchant religious people have for attributing the practices and beliefs of others as demonic? Calvin claimed that anyone who believed the earth orbited the sun was demon possessed. I bet there are few Calvinists that are even aware of this. He lived around the same time as Copernicus. It seems intrinsic within religion that we cannot admit we are wrong – ever. This is even when evidence is right in front of our face. One recent example: I remember when Chuck Smith claimed AIDS was a punishment for homosexuality, brought about by (male) practices. I didn’t hear a retraction when the virus was identified.

  25. Can we say that it is impossible to approach even the seeing through a dark glass form of truth unless we are willing to admit this is so? The problem is people claim to have a corner on truth, and both their knowledge and character appears to indicate otherwise. In addition, we are talking apples and oranges as the ancient Jewish concept of truth is quite different from the Greek/Western one.

  26. I’ve been debating about whether to comment or not (and you might not publish my thought because it’s not very gentle) but…

    This is just stupid. You can’t be a Christian without God. That’s like me saying I’m an atheist who believes in God. It doesn’t work. It’s nonsensical. Another sterling example of what happens when society decides that words have no meaning and everything can be a ridiculous mish-mash and be “valid.”

  27. Chaya, what is the difference between the ancient Jewish concept of truth as opposed to the Greco/Roman/Western concept of truth?

    I have always believed there is only one truth, just as there is only what is fact and what is fiction. One can distort beliefs about truth, and end up with differing sects of even the same original adherence to truth, but the truth is not changed…only the peoples perception of it. Or am I not catching what you are trying to say?

  28. @Chaya: I think there are “acceptable” topics that different denominations disagree upon that don’t result in anyone being called “demonic”. I also don’t know that each and every Christian denomination believes demonic creatures are active in the world today (although Fundamentalists certainly seem to). I do believe that there are Christians who consider certain topics as outside of the scope of Christian doctrine and those topics/people tend to be labeled as “misguided,” “lost,” and yes, sometimes even “demonic.” To be fair, I don’t doubt that many or most of the people who are applying these labels to others sincerely believe they are “preaching truth” and “sound doctrine”.

    @Marie: That’s OK. People aren’t always “gentle” in these parts. 😉

    I agree. A Christian who doesn’t believe in God doesn’t fit the definition of Christian.

  29. Hi, Bruce. You said, “I’m not anti-missionary , I’m anti-jesus as being the messiah since he never fulfilled what the tanach’s requirement gives us.”

    Your description about yourself as not being anti-missionary is accurate, but I’m curious, what you mean by “what the tanach’s requirement gives US”? Who is “us” that the requirement is put upon?

    Does the us = Jews, since you follow up your statement with “NO JEW should be practicing idolatry but this too will eventually be corrected by HaShem” while you allow for (others?) “if jesus is the only way you think you’ll feel connected to G-d then for the time being so be it”?

  30. @marko and whoever wants to read:

    Lets strip away titles of religion and look at the core components… To which I would articulate that I believe that G-d, or what we humans call G-d is in many ways beyond the conception of ANY PERSON.
    That’s why he is called I Will Be What I will Be. (HE ALONE IS, HE ALONE KNOWS.)

    Because of that, I’m very weary of the claims made by any people on G-d’s behalf. What I’ve realized, is that whether you read the Tanakh, or the NT (Read only the Red Letters because only those are Jesus’ own known words, AND not those of his students WRITTEN ABOUT HIM.)
    You will quickly realize that the only constant GROUNDED barometer that scripture gives you to discern real truth value is adherence to godly conduct in terms of the commandments, ie the dos and dont’s. HOW TO BEHAVE, It’s the only unambiguous thing in the Whole bible.
    Everything involving miracles, claims to divinity, etc. Are all fake able by false teachers. (The anti Christ in the New Testament is said to claim divinity, to do miracles, and to lead the elect astray in 2 Thesalonians.) This means that these types of things cannot be relied on to know the truth.

    Everything else in scripture is based in Miracles and he said she said, and also on theological notions that cause arguing and rely on very subjective interpretations. Miracles, he said she said, and theology are all the major areas where humans historically argue and divide and behave foolishly causing violence and power grabbing.

    Consider carefully that If Jews,Muslims, and Christians only focussed on the ethics found in their books, and nothing else, there would be very little indeed for these communities to fight about.
    It’s only when a Christian makes Jesus’ person, and his purported divinity/messiahship the most Important Thing that Jews see a problem, because that conflicts with the unambiguous meaning of the mitzvot.
    I realize that Christians view Jesus as a redemptive figure, but if his person is made the central focus, you end up with endless sects arguing about who he is by nature, ie a prophet, the messiah, a god, The G-d, etc. In the midst of all this theology, how Jesus tells you to behave gets lost and de emphasized. I told someone once, “imagine that the whole world “believed in Jesus,” as all Christians want, but nobody lived as he did. Would they really be believers in that case? NO!
    Christians are so busy telling the Jews to leave the rabbis, the Mitzvot, etc. In favor of messianic and Christian beliefs about Jesus, that the Christians forget something.

    THE RABBINIC JEWS ARE THE ONLY ONES WHO STILL LIVE THEIR LIFE ON THIS EARTH EXACTLY THE SAME WAY AS JESUS LIVED HIS WHILE HE WAS HERE.

  31. G-d is the only one that the Jewish Bible describes as BEING. IN FACT HE IS THE BE ER, THE IS NESS, THAT WHICH IS.
    WE BY CONTRAST AND EVERYTHING ELSE THAT EXISTS HAVE BEING. WE EXIST AS A THING THAT IS, WE ARE NOT THE ESSENCE OF IS, ONLY G-D IS THE ESSENCE OF WHAT IS!
    This (as I understand ) is what we would call an exposition on Ein Od Milvado. THERE IS G-d, there is none else.

    This concept also explains (without violating reason and logic) and ironically, in a way how Jesus could have said “I and my father are one,” “the father is greater than I,” “father make them (his students) one as you and I are one,” and tell his students, “you will do greater things than I have done,” without contradicting the idea of simple divine unity.
    This is how he could say, “why do you accuse me of blasphemy when I say I am son of G-d? scripture says YE ARE ELOHIM, AND ALL OF YOU SONS OF THE MOST HIGH!

    Christianity/Messianic-Hellenism Judaism has made Jesus and claims about him the central focus, and they have expounded a theology around him, but they have ignored the culture and contextual frame of reference that he came from, lived in, and spoke from within. This has been an error that has caused serious harm.

  32. Lastly The point I made about ALL OF YOU ARE SONS OF THE MOST HIGH is supposed to illustrate that the Church errs greatly in saying Jesus is G-d or son of G-d in a unique way, making him a go between. When the church worships Jesus that is idolatry, as we are all Children of G-d. as scripture clearly calls ISRAEL as a nation, his son.

  33. @Marko specifically

    if you believe Jesus is the messiah, what is it about him to you that’s most important? If it’s not the commandments he taught, then it’s irrelevant, because there are so many beliefs that Christians hold in common and yet bicker about, or even which false teachers use to snare people. No offense. Have you ever considered how relative terms like old and New Testament are? The first time Christians used the term New Testament was Marcion of Sinope, the gnostic heretic who believed Jesus was divine, but was a libertine antinomian. If truth is by nature divisive, then we live in a reality sublimated to relativism.

  34. Bruce is an antimissionary and appears to repeat their same rhetoric and follows their script. Whether he is involved with any particular antimissionary organization, he hasn’t informed us.

    The Orthodox Jews I know mostly agree with what a Chabad rabbi told me recently: We don’t want to convert people to Judaism. (and I assume he means he doesn’t seek to convert people to Noahidism either) We want them to serve God where they are.

    Questions I’ve never received an answer to:

    1. If this idolatry issue is so important, why feel the need to go after the evangelical right, and not other Christians groups, non-monotheistic religions such as Hindism, Buddhism, etc.?

    2. Since Chabad is a large and proselytizing group, why is their belief in their rebbe as Messiah, praying to him, praying for him to intervene (as Catholics do with saints) inviting him to weddings and even some worshipping him as Hashem, putting his photo on the kotel in front of them so they can worship him, purposefully ignored?

    Let’s keep in mind that historically, the Jewish community, spurred on by respected leaders, did not do such a good job of choosing messiahs. The Bar Kochba rebellion led to half a million Jews slaughtered by Romans, with an equal or greater number dying of the resulting famine and disease. The Jewish followers of Yeshua were persecuted and murdered for refusing to accept the messiahship of Bar Kochba and support his rebellion. My understanding of the Shabbati Tsvi issue is that a respected rabbi, acting like R’ Akiva in the second century, was critical in his acceptance. Many among rabbis saw Shabbati Tsvi as a madman, who would likely be diagnosed with bipolar mania/psychosis today, but acknowledged that he led Jews to greater piety, and so remained silent. Many Jews in the early 20th century saw Marxism as the road to salvation and freedom from antisemitism, which proved a disappointment. Then there are the majority of Jews in the US today, who saw, and still perhaps see Obama and liberal politics as their savior. My take is everything has happened and happens for a purpose, whether to teach us or move the divine plot forward, even in ways we cannot now see.

  35. I don’t know many who carefully choose their religious beliefs, even engaging in the same due diligence one might in buying a house or car, getting married, etc. Most are either born into a religion/belief system, or choose it during the college years, based upon environmental availability. Once a choice has been made, we are bound up in the confirmation bias, endowment effect, and a whole slew of psych-socio-neurological factors come into play.

  36. @chaya

    I’m not an anti-missonary.. please stop saying that lie….. You can do whatever you want Chaya, I have no desire to convince you…. I’m all about critical thinking, and honest comparisons of the evidence. I don’t subscribe to circular reasoning like many christians/muslims/buddhist etc.

    Jews overall excluding converts represent .2% of the world population or 13mil (adding converts that jumps to 22mil) .. out of that .2% What percentage of that 13 million are Orthodox?

    Here we will use three divisions: (1) fully Orthodox in belief and practice; (2) Jews who identify with Orthodoxy but do not live up to Orthodox standards in their practice; and (3) Jews committed to non-Orthodox religion.

    Since most of the last group are in the United States, a generous estimate would be 4 million committed to non-Orthodox Judaism worldwide, divided as follows:

    2.5 million synagogue members in the United States.
    1.25 million sympathizers in the United States.
    250,000 in the rest of the world.

    This is a generous and probably a maximum estimate. It means that if there are only eight million Jews who identify themselves as religious, there is an approximately equal division between self-defined non-Orthodox and self-defined Orthodox. However, if there are as many as 13 million religiously identifiable Jews, 5.5 million of these identify with Orthodoxy whatever their level of personal observance, giving the latter a 40 percent margin. Many in both groups are nominal in their commitment. Indeed, when nominal observance is factored out, the strength of Orthodoxy is even greater. (Chabad is a small fraction of the greater orthodoxy they don’t represent the total sum of it).

    Jews both ethnic and converts are still by and large secular (which I’m not condemning just making reference) but they are still Jews.

    For you or anyone to sling Chabad around as a prop for justifying your religious practice is just wrong because christians by and large out number Jews as a people let alone from a religious aspect. And whether you like it or not your practice of what you do is called christianity (a person who believes jesus is G-d or is divine is a christian) if you believe he’s merely a prophet or rav then your following the islamic view of jesus, if you view jesus as a false messiah then your likely to fall into the judaism camp, your still jewish chaya (obviously) but your religion is christianity no different from a jewish male or female who’s religion is Islam.

    But please stop saying I’m anti-missonary, I don’t fit that description, I’m anti-christ (meaning jesus). Your bible writes about people like me, you know “Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.” [hint 1st John 2:18]. 😉

    I’m Pro-G-d/HaShem. Baruch HaShem!!!!! 🙂

  37. Bruce is, by my definition, not an anti-missionary. I associate an anti-missionary as one in the camp of Jews for Judaism, and Bruce is not Jewish. At least that is what he has confessed. This is why I was asking Bruce who “us” is in a previous post of his.

    On the same topic, Bruce does employ similar perspectives and arsenal as anti-missionaries.

    Don’t know why Bruce puts his name up in Hebrew text. That’s his choice. I’ll answer your question to me later, Bruce, as I have to go pick up my kids from school.

  38. @Marko

    I would fall under the convert to Judaism status. Though nonetheless still jewish.

    As far as my name in hebrew goes I enjoy the study of Semitic and some other languages. And that has any relevance to my post because…..?

    Will you read to much into my name since I now put it in Arabic?… I can put my name in any language but what would that have to do with my comment?

    الى اللقاء/שלום/au revoir

  39. @ברוס
    …..

    You will quickly realize that the only constant GROUNDED barometer that scripture gives you to discern real truth value is adherence to godly conduct in terms of the commandments, ie the dos and dont’s. HOW TO BEHAVE, It’s the only unambiguous thing in the Whole bible.

    ….Miracles, he said she said, and theology are all the major areas where humans historically argue and divide and behave foolishly causing violence and power grabbing.

    Consider carefully that If Jews,Muslims, and Christians only focussed on the ethics found in their books, and nothing else, there would be very little indeed for these communities to fight about.

    While I agree, Bruce, that Torah provides grounding, I disagree that there aren’t significant differences between the three “titles of religion” as opposed to looking “at the core components…” especially when you consider Islam.

    In the midst of all this theology, how Jesus tells you to behave gets lost and de emphasized. I told someone once, “imagine that the whole world “believed in Jesus,” as all Christians want, but nobody lived as he did. Would they really be believers in that case? NO!

    …..

    I agree with that.

    I wonder, though,
    are you meaning
    Jesus including
    his not having a
    family? Because
    there are plenty of
    arguments over that
    kind of topic, all around.

    Ending one of your posts, quote: THE RABBINIC JEWS ARE THE ONLY ONES WHO STILL LIVE THEIR LIFE ON THIS EARTH EXACTLY THE SAME WAY AS JESUS LIVED HIS WHILE HE WAS HERE.

  40. Bruce, by saying you are ‘anti-Christ’ are you saying you are anti-Yeshua, anti-messiah, or are you saying you dislike Yeshua’s teachings, or the use of the Greek word for messiah as a title and spiritual rank for a Tsaddik called Yeshua??

    Are you against the concept of a man so Righteous that he can redeem others by his deeds, when that concept exists in Jewish thought and concepts? All of Israel looks back to Avraham for salvation, because of the promises made to him by YHVH, just as they looked forward for salvation to Moshiach Yeshua ben Josef, and look forward still to Moshiach Yeshua ben David. That a soul can be reborn again into this world is not foreign to Judaism, nor is it unthinkable that a body and soul be rejoined together into something new after death. It has happened, and there were witnesses.

    I am often troubled by the Christian conflating of Yeshua with YHVH when Yeshua never claimed to be all of YHVH, nor do Christians ever say that Yeshua is all of YHVH, but I do not deny that G-d has the ability and right to put any part of Himself on this planet, within the universe that He created, and has done so…calling them Adam, calling them Angels, or Shekinah, or the Ruach haKodesh, or Moshiach.

    We are made by G-d, to be like G-d, in the image of G-d, and of G-d’s own essence in conjunction with YHVH’s purpose for us when He created us, and for what He created us…to become Righteous beings like Himself, and to act in righteousness, enjoying His creation as a gift. There is no unrighteousness in honoring Yeshua as Moshiach, and the King to Come, or as righteous enough to bear all of mankind’s un-righteousness.

    And if the Christians are a bit over the top in their delight in finding Yeshua that they can see only Yeshua’s radiance, and not be able to see the great Glory that it springs from…do you think that G-d did not expect such a reaction from those so untutored? Why else do we discuss these things but to bring out not only the wonder of the Gift, but the graciousness of the Giver?

    (Capitalisation fully intended)

  41. Well, you sound like a former evangelical, who had a glorious encounter with Tovia Singer or one of his buddies, and now you are either in the path of converting to Judaism, or are a Noahide. If you are really anti-Christ, do you visit Catholic, Lutheran, Greek Orthodox, etc., blogs to inform them they are all on the wrong path?

    As far as critical thinking, it is rare to meet a religious person who challenges and critiques their own religious beliefs and practices, rather than that of who they consider their opponents. Do you think Orthodox Jews don’t practice circular reasoning, and only everyone else does? Critical thinking is not spouting the memes of some rabbi anymore that it is spouting any other politico-religious doctrine.

    I don’t know of any data that there are 9 million converts to Judaism, and converts are counted as Jews anyway. If we are looking for data, I’m sure it is somewhere. I’m sure there are different factions as to what, “fully Orthodox,” means, and we have no way of knowing the distinction of Orthoprax vs. Orthodox. Not trying to “sling,” at Chabad, as they have lots of good stuff, just mentioning how what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

    Anyway, how can you tell me what I believe, aside from what I have written?

  42. Would you not better speak of Christendom with the trinitarian Christians, who worship a tri-une godhead and focus on Christianity with the real followers of the Nazarene Jew who still keep to the same faith as the son of man and his pupils, that there is only One God, the heavenly Father of Christ Jesus, the God of Abraham, without Christ could do nothing.

  43. Hello, I hope it’s not too late to join the conversation,
    or ask questions. I am not a scholar by any means of the
    imagination, but perhaps I could share a different perspective.
    I was brought up Catholic. In Catholicism, I was taught that
    Jesus IS God and vice versa, along with the Holy Spirit, thus
    forming the “Trinity”. I was never told I was a “Christian”.
    Perhaps if I had been, I might still be a catholic. I now consider
    myself a liberal Agnostic/Christian, as I do believe that Jesus was real
    and a great teacher. I don’t see how you could be a Christian without
    believing in Jesus, since there would be no Christianity without him,
    and there would be no New Testament. James, your comment
    “And when times change and these beliefs are no longer credible,
    the choices we are left with are either rejection or fundamentalism”
    feels very true to me.

    One of my questions that I hope someone can help with (or maybe
    point me somewhere that has some information I can use) is with
    regards to the current fundamentalist so-called Christian movement that
    strongly believes in arming one’s self and the belief that they have the right to discriminate against anyone they don’t like, thus the recent attempts at religious lawmaking in Indiana, etc. My younger brother (52) has gravitated towards this belief system, and it scares the “bejesus” out of me! (no pun intended!) His stance is “business owners should have the right to not serve a select group or individuals” (especially gays), and where’s their liberty to do so (which doesn’t seem very Christian to me). My first thought when he said this is “what a slippery slope”! Isn’t that what the Nazi’s started out doing first – discriminating against groups of people, especially Jewish people? And then where does it stop? The rest of the world had a hard time believing that the German people went along with the atrocities that happened before and during WWII, but fear-mongering can
    make groups of people do horrible things. Can anyone point me to something that I can share with him to explain this better than I can? It scares me that so many people are thinking this way!

  44. @Deb, I think I have shared this before here, but it might help regarding your brother. http://thetorah.com/psychological-mechanisms-that-protect-unreasonable-faith/ I am going to guess he is young, and young people tend to black and white thinking. He likely found a group that provides him with something he needs emotionally, which can be positive, although TNSTAAFL -There’s no such thing as a free lunch. Perhaps the best thing you can do is not criticize your brother’s new beliefs, and keep the communication going, encouraging him to focus on the positive aspects of his new community. Understand that much of fundamentalism arose as a polemical response to the rise of biblical criticism

    I believe that the choice of mindless fundamentalism vs. atheism/agnosticism is a false dichotomy, and there are more than two choices. One is to develop a relationship with God and understanding of sacred texts that is meaningful and spiritual for you, and to find imperfect persons you respect enough to learn from, without submitting to them. My take is one can believe in Jesus/Yeshua, without accepting any specific faith community’s interpretation of his teachings or of scripture in general.

    If you want my opinion regarding the gay cake issue, I believe there is a lot of spin on both sides, and as I mentioned in previous comments, evangelicalism is joined at the hip to conservative politics, although this wasn’t always so, and formed mostly during the Reagan years and shortly prior.

    If one examines the situation rationally, why does it matter if a handful of bakers do not want to make a cake or act as videographer for a same sex wedding due to an understanding that it conflicts with their religious beliefs? Why purposefully target Christians as a way of quashing discussion and dissent and forcing a person to choose between their religious belief and their livelihood, that is, unless one believes the government has the right to determine which religious beliefs are allowed and which are not. An Orthodox Jewish videographer would not be allowed to be present at any non-Orthodox wedding, whether it is Reform Jewish, Christian or same sex. Why not seek out businesses in your own religious or otherwise community to benefit those who share your ideology? My understanding is that many in the gay community do not agree to these tactics of activists, which just invite backlash, although this is the day of spin. The gay community cries, “discrimination,” and the Christian community cries, “persecution.” I don’t know if it would be helpful if the Christian business owner provided two references to bakeries that would be happy to have their businesses with, “These are the businesses we recommend for same-sex cakes. We don’t provide that service.” What would the response be, “No, we only want you to make the cake?” Or, if it wasn’t a large part of their income, a bakery could state that they do not make wedding cakes, which are a special order item. Nobody is being refused service, if, for example, they ask for a dozen cookies. It seems legal cases don’t offer that option, telling the business owners they must pay a fine and agree to bake the cakes in the future or face fines that will put them out of business. However, sometimes the tables get turned, and Christians had no problem when it was others who had their first amendment rights violated, and now they cry foul. I remember blue laws as a child, which are a violation of the establishment clause, and my parents were forced to list their religion when they applied for jobs or schools. According to law, there must be a compelling state interest to interfere with a person’s freedom of religion, for example, a parent who refuses to provide medical care for their children because they believe in faith healing. I don’t see where cakes or lack thereof are a compelling interest. If a baker told me that they didn’t bake cakes with a Star of David on top for religious reasons, I wouldn’t consider that a legal issue and would make sure I took my business elsewhere.

    I am a writer, although I currently don’t have any sort of formal business. It would be a problem for me if I was required to do, for example, promotional material for a group or cause I seriously disagreed with or risk lawsuit from a protected group.

  45. @Deb — The questions you asked about several current politically-charged issues give me an impression that you don’t quite understand what those issues entail. Some of what you asked is related more to the views of what may be called “Americanism” rather than those of biblical Christianity. These are often conflated because the founders of the American experiment were themselves by-and-large biblical Christians of one sort or another.

    Arming oneself is a reflection of fundamental Americanism, which aims to defend the rights outlined in the American foundational documents, many of which have been denigrated and even surreptitiously denied by recent governmental administrations. Notable among these are the freedoms of religious expression and the right to own, use, and carry weapons for the defense of those freedoms against all enemies who would deny them, both foreign and domestic. Some of the letters written by American founding fathers like Jefferson and Madison explicitly view an armed populous as a guard against an overbearing government — in effect, allowing for the possibility that civilians might need to defend themselves even against their own government. It envisions a rather severe circumstance, but offers another form of the checks and balances built into the American political system to prevent the conditions that prevailed in the American colonies under the British Monarchy.

    Another Constitutional right that has been infringed has been the freedom to practice one’s religion as best one understands its demands. The Indiana law you cite is intended to guarantee proper enforcement of a federal law that has existed for some 20 years already. Is is not a discriminatory denial of anyone’s rights, even when the rights of one group evoke a conflict with the rights of another. It is specifically intended to prevent one of these groups (e.g., gays) from suing another (e.g., biblical Christians) to force compliance with its own views. In the specific case of who does business with whom, it is not any sort of denial by Christians to provide any services whatsoever to gays because of their chosen identity as gays. The refusal in question is regarding a particular service that would foster a belief and a practice that is absolutely inimical to biblical Christians because it denies their own biblical beliefs. Christians may not be forced to deny their beliefs merely because gays demand it, which would be a denial of the Constitutionally-guaranteed freedom of religious praxis. The denial of such a service by any one establishment does not prevent gays from practicing their beliefs, but merely requires them to find some other means by which to do so without infringing the rights of others.

    We are not speaking here of Nazi-style atrocities or dehumanizations of entire categories of people. There is no “slippery-slope” here. There is a clearly definable legal conflict that is resolved by means of this law; and that is “where it stops”. It is not that “business owners should have the right to refuse service to a select group or individuals”, but rather that “business owners should have the right to choose the contracts or events for which they will or will not provide services”. We do not force a caterer to manage an event that intends to invite more people than the number for which the caterer has personnel and equipment to handle, and we cannot deny his right to decide which events he is equipped to manage. If he is religiously enjoined not to support a given type of event, then he is not “equipped” to do so and may not properly be forced to do so. No one has a right to force or contravene his decision which it is his right and his responsibility to make.

    I hope you find this explanation helpful, though it is rather divergent from the essay above (and would not likely change your brother’s outlook as you seem to think he should).

  46. @Deb: Interesting question. I must say that I attended a Fundamentalist Baptist church for two years up until last Fall, and I live in Southwestern Idaho, which is a pretty conservative place, pro-gun rights included. Turns out, I wasn’t a good fit for the Baptist Church. They are really nice people, but my theological and doctrinal views weren’t compatible with their’s.

    At least in America, religious people are also political people and people with a social conscience. Some church denominations are made up mostly of politically conservative people, and others of politically liberal people. Our nation shelters people with a wide variety of viewpoints, so no matter what religious and political stance any one of us has, we will find people who are going to disagree with us.

    I think the whole “Memories Pizza” incident was blown out of proportion. The owners, when asked by a news reporter, said the would always serve their customers, gay or straight. They only answered a hypothetical question as to whether or not they’d cater a same-sex wedding, and they said they’d decline based on their religious beliefs (the fact that their business is a dine-in only restaurant means that they’d never be in a position to do catering of any kind, so the actual question was moot).

    My wife, who is Jewish, brought up an interesting point. When you are planning a wedding, you usually want to have a good working relationship with those business people who will be providing various goods and services (flowers, music, food, and such). Even if the law is able to compel a business to provide a service to a same-sex wedding, as a soon to be married couple, would you want to work with people you know don’t want to be there? Wouldn’t you rather have service providers who are a “good fit?” for the event you are having and the people who will be attending?

    If I were part of a same-sex couple planning my wedding, I don’t think I’d choose a food service provider who I knew would be uncomfortable with my wedding regardless of their reasons. I’d rather choose one that was enthusiastic to have my business and be part of what’s supposed to be one of the happiest days of my life.

    Besides, who has pizza at a wedding reception?

  47. @James — I can’t answer the question about who might actually wish a pizza business to cater a wedding reception; but the issue also raised its ugly head on the outskirts of Jerusalem where a Christian kibbutz that rents a hall and catering services for weddings and receptions was sued and legally required to host a lesbian wedding despite its management’s attempt to refuse on religious grounds that ordinarily would be protected in Israeli law similarly to the protection supposedly guaranteed in American law by the first constitutional amendment. If the Indiana pizza case was hypothetical, I suspect that there are some very real cases such as the wedding-cake baker that has been cited also in this context.

    Your point, and your wife’s point, are nonetheless well taken, regarding the reasonable desire to work with compatible, cooperative service providers for any event such as a wedding. It is not reasonable to insist that an unwilling provider be pressed unwillingly into service.

  48. I think the only reasons you’d want to force an uncooperative service provider to cater your wedding (or any other event) is that they’re the only one in your area that provides such a service, or you want to show you can control those people who don’t believe the same way as you. Otherwise, just get a provider who has no issues with you or your event.

  49. My understanding is that they were fined for refusing to host the event, and as a result, will only rent out their facility to foreign groups. I would assume that in Israel one could label their facilities as an extension of their religious community, as I have never heard of a lawsuit in Israel where a synagogue or church is required to host events they choose not to. I dunno.

  50. There is also the 14th amendment, where no person can be forced to work, even if they have received pay prior. Being forced to work against your will is slavery.

  51. When we were considering ending segregation for instance at lunch counters, a lot of people claimed they should be able to refuse service to whomever they choose to refuse (by which they mainly meant black people and maybe foreigners if that were go come up). For this to be the law, police officers, and so on, would have to be available to enforce it (such as to come and pull people out the door or handcuff people or, obviously, potentially escalating). At this same level, we want people who are homosexual to be able to attend an ordinary street shop.

    The Memories pizza place said they certainly would serve homosexual people in such a capacity. Although they spoke hypothetically of what they would do differently if asked to cater a “gay” wedding, they also don’t cater or do weddings (something like that, which made the particular hubbub pointless). Another establishment, though, said they wouldn’t serve gays but would (emphatically, no mistake as to what was meant) serve adulterers, and other sexual sinners. It’s just different — and how they felt about it, they said.

    The governor in Indiana was a dingbat, as are most people who back religious legislation. They just get on a bandwagon and don’t know what is going on. Their ridiculous collective behaviour is creating (or affirming) a lot of agnostics, atheists, and so on. Yeshua did say behaviour would be proof of who people are. My youngest son’s girlfriend (and her mother) are inclined to reject religious talk due to the grandmother and her constant FOX news watching. So much ignorance and hatred is displayed.

    Pence could have explained that there is a difference between serving someone who comes into your shop versus agreeing to a contract to attend and serve at an event or enlist employees to do so. And then what about renting out a hall or some premises? And, again, all of that is a separate question from what are ways Christians should act, even if the government should protect their ability to choose to behave in such ways. Do you attend or provide for pay (as work)? Do you attend as a friend or as family not for pay if invited? All separate topics.

  52. In a positive light that I assume all would agree upon, religion freedom laws are being employed to fight against government regulations forbidding helping the homeless.

  53. http://www.inquisitr.com/2024348/fined-for-feeding-the-homeless-woman-chef-uses-controversial-religious-freedom-bill-to-one-up-the-law/

    I had heard, maybe a year ago, of people somewhere standing for a right or permission to continue feeding others who needed food. I had also heard, again, maybe a year ago, of an atheist/agnostic, who did an experiment, the results of which he thought he knew ahead of time. He gave a homeless man a hundred dollar bill and proceeded to video him. The experimenter was sure the man would waste the money, and he thought this was confirmed when he saw the man go into a liquor store and come out with big bags. Turns out it was food, and the man went and shared with acquaintances at a nearby park.

    I hadn’t heard, though, of this woman serving “restaurant quality” food to homeless people and planning to defend herself in court with a state religious freedom act. If the policemen in the photo are the actual ones who ticketed her, they look tickled by her idea. Thanks for mentioning that, Chaya.

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