Letter from a Jew — and My Response

Message: Hi, I’m an observant Jew living in Jerusalem. I think that a lot of your experiences with Jews are with American ethnic but not religiously observant Jews, and that’s too bad. These people have lost their way, in the same way that American “Christian atheists” have lost their way. I’m sorry that they are the face of Judaism today. I hope that you will consider taking time to distinguish between observant Jews who are true to Godly principles and I believe have much in common with you and your beliefs and non-observant Jews that claim their Jewish status while totally ignoring everything that our religion teaches us. If you ever find yourself in Jerusalem, you are welcome at my Shabbat table. There is a place for both of us in this world.

Response:
Dear —–,

Thank you for such a kind and thoughtful email — permit me to address some of your points.

Yes, there are many apostate “heritage” Christians. Perhaps atheist Jews have much in common with them.

That said, my thoughts on Judaism have nothing to do with whether they, or Christians, are good and moral people. Even Saul (renamed Paul) was a perfectly observant Jew and, no doubt, morally superior to me, even before His conversion to Jesus Christ.

Nor is the issue one of acquaintances or associations. I am not a young man. I have lived all over the world, and I have more education that anyone ought to have. One of my office mates in grad school was a Jew who did his doctoral dissertation on pre-Columbian Jews in Latin America. My wife’s good friend is Jewish and we attended her son’s Bar-Mitzvah. My professor (for my PhD) is Jewish. This isn’t about any of that.

This is about Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Messiah. It is about His identity — His father is God Almighty, not Joseph, not a Roman, not a Samaritan. Mary was no immoral. Jesus was born of a virgin woman, and prophesied by Isaiah:

Isaiah 7:13-14. He said, “Listen, now, O house of David! It is too slight a thing for you to try the patience of man, that you would try the patience of God as well? Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call his Name Emmanuel.

This is what happened. Mary, a descendant of Adam and David, was a virgin. Luke 1:35: The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child will be called the “Son of God.”

Jesus Christ is the Son of Man by Mary, and the Son of God by his conception of the Spirit of God. Literally, Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

This Jesus Christ is “the stone which the builders rejected and has become the chief cornerstone.” (Psalm 118:22)

Saul (a Jew who studied under Gamaliel) was persecuting the Christians until he was accosted by Jesus himself (after His resurrection): “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” Saul responded “Who are you, Lord?” Jesus said, “I am Jesus who you are persecuting.”

Soon after, Saul/Paul was proclaiming that Jesus “Is the Son of God.”

Paul, of course, yearns that his fellow Jews be converted to Jesus, the Messiah. But let’s look at what Jesus Christ said to the Jews, to the Pharisees, and about Judaism:

To the Jews (John 5:39): You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life, it is these that testify about Me. And you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.

Again (John 5:45): Do not think that I (Jesus) will accuse you fore the Father; the one who accuses you in Moses, in whom you have set your hope. For if you had believe in Moses, you would believe Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?

Jesus: “Everyone who confesses Me before men, I will confess him before My father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32)

As you may be aware, the relationship between Jesus Christ and the Pharisees was terrible. The Pharisees (Jews) utterly rejected Him. It was their oral traditions that Jesus Christ took ought with — they elevated it above the Torah. If they had believed in what Moses wrote, they would have believed in Jesus. (See above, John 5:45).

This, of course, goes right to Genesis 3:15 (the words of Moses) when the Lord rebukes the Serpent after the Fall, and says that He will put enmity between the Seed of the Woman (Jesus Christ, born of Mary) and the Seed of the Serpent. Both John the Baptist and Jesus Christ identified the “seed of the serpent” when they rebuked the the Pharisees as a “brood of vipers” who were destined to hell. I have heard that Talmudic tradition suggests a similar hellish destiny for Jesus Christ. The point, I believe, is to accentuate the irreconcilable nature of their relationship. Repeatedly the Pharisees charged that Jesus had a demon. Jesus Christ countered telling them that “you are of your father, the Devil.” (John 8:44)

Now, the point is not to make people feel uncomfortable, nor to inspire odium, it is rather to state the simple facts as presented by Jesus Christ in the Holy Scriptures.

The identify of Jesus Christ is the issue. The Jews/Pharisees claim he was a demon possessed bastard child of Samaritan. (John, chapters 5 through 8 are especially illuminating). It appears that those Jews embraced the unforgivable sin of slandering/blaspheming the Holy Spirit; for Jesus Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit in a virgin and caste out demons by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus Christ is no mere man. His Father is God Almighty, directly and without intermediary. Blood lines in the Bible run only through the male (even Mary’s genealogy). The direct Father of Jesus Christ is God. Jesus Christ put it this way: “I and the Father are One.” (John 10:30) and so the Jews killed him for “blashphemy.”

John 5:18 is illustrative: “For this reason the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.”

This Jesus declared: “For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgement to the Son, so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.” (John 5:22-23).

This is not an issue that be be papered over in the name of “interfaith unity.” It is absolutely fundamental: Who is Jesus Christ?

Jesus is the Son of God because he ws born of a Virgin, conceived by the Holy Spirit. Born without Adam’s original sin, death could not hold Him, and He rose from the dead. That Virgin woman did not transmit to Him the sin nature.  Jesus, unlike David, was not conceived in iniquity — he was born sinless. Mary’s virginity, and Christ’s conception by the Holy Spirit, allowed for the sinless Sacrifice to be born, the Lamb of God whose blood was shed to atone for sin, once for all.

Mary’s virginity and the nature of Christ’s conception are fundamental to His identity as the Messiah and Son of God — He is the perfect sacrifice whose blood was shed to atone for sin. For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin.

In closing, permit me to point out a few other Scriptures that highlight this insurmountable divide.

1 John 2:22-23 Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the anti-Christ, the one who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confess the Son has the Father.

1 John 3:23. This is His commandment, that we believe in the Name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another.

1 John 4:2. By this you know the Spirit of God; every spirit that confesses Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the Anti-Christ, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.

1 John 5:11-12. And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He was has the Son has life, he who does not have the Son does not have life.

My issues are not whether Jews are nice or have good morals or good families — Saul was perfect in the Law. My issue is not the historical experience of the Jews.

My issue is faithfulness to the Son of God, Jesus Christ. And clearly He did not look kindly upon the Talmud (the oral traditions) nor it’s propagators — those people and that tradition were the one’s who murdered the Prophets and the Righteous One (Acts 7:52). Jesus Christ was born of Man through the virgin, Mary. His conception was from the Holy Spirit — Jesus’ Father is God Almighty. He is the Messiah, the Anointed One, the Christ, the only begotten Son of God.

This is the faith.

Fritz Berggren, PhD
Colorado
May 18, Anno Dominii 2021