Definitions must be consistent. There is a way to circumvent the confusion and controversy over what it means to be a Jew.
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The Hebrew Scriptures pinpoint who is a Jew and why the Jewish people exist. Jews who believe in Jesus accept the Scriptures as the authoritative source of Jewishness. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you. The Lord reiterates that promise through Isaac Genesis , 24 and again through Jacob Genesis The promise concerns the descendants of those to whom it was made.
But though that is how one becomes a Jew, being Jewish should be more than race, religion or nationhood. We were meant not only to be a people of promise but also a people of purpose. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests [ mamlekhet kohanim ] and a holy nation [ goy kadosh ]. God describes what will be, but allows people to decide if they want to participate in the purpose. A Jew is part of the people of Israel in any case, but some do not know or care what it means. Nevertheless, neither apathy nor even apostasy makes one cease to be a Jew.
The Jewish Bible cites case after case of both. God dealt with his people but never withdrew the promise or the peoplehood from the descendants of Jacob. Even though a Jew undergoes the rites of admission to another religious faith and formally renounces the Jewish religion, he remains—as far as the halakhah is concerned—a Jew, albeit a sinner Sanh.
A goy, or gentile, is simply anyone who is not a Jew. To say that a Jew who believes in Jesus is no longer a Jew is the same as saying he or she became a gentile, which is impossible. There are no formerly Jewish gentiles. A person must be born a gentile. Would it surprise you to know that someone who goes to a church all his or her life nevertheless must be converted in order to be a Christian? Jews and gentiles are what they are because of how they were born, but people become Christians because of what they believe.
Who, then, are Christians? The first Christians were Jewish followers of Jesus, and they were not known as Christians. It was not an appellation they chose for themselves. They were called Christians probably by gentiles because they were always talking about and trying to be like Christ, which is simply the Greek translation for Messiah. The name might well have been meant to mock them, but it has become a badge of honor for people who love Jesus and want to obey his teachings.
Christians were and are Jews and gentiles who, of their own free will, chose to trust in Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, as the one who offered himself as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. John has often been described as the gospel in a nutshell. These universal terms include Jews and gentiles.
Everyone who chooses Jesus is a convert, whether gentile or Jew. To convert means to turn, not from being a Jew or gentile, not from history or heritage, but from sin.
Sociology Through the Eyes of Faith
At the point of turning to God, or conversion, everyone must experience the same thing according to Jesus:. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. The reconciliation with God that Jesus offered cannot be conferred by birth, but only by rebirth. Therefore, being born Jewish or gentile has no bearing on whether one is a Christian. Confusion over why we believe in Jesus causes confusion over why we insist on maintaining our Jewish identity.
The accusation of self-hatred stems from the idea that we want to identify with those who have persecuted us.
It would be a mistake to evaluate Jesus on the basis of those who profess him as Savior but practice hatred in opposition to his teachings. Besides, why would a self-hating Jew accept Jesus and then insist on calling himself or herself a Jew? Others seem to think we chose Jesus to avoid persecution. It was never our intention to be cut off from Jewish family, friends or heritage. We chose to be open to discover. And it happened. When it happened, we admitted and committed based on the discovery that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah foretold in the Jewish Bible.
Further, we value our Jewishness. It is exciting to be a part of the people whom God promised would bring blessing to the whole world! It is awesome to read the Jewish Bible and know that these are our ancestors. Nor is our only tie to our people a matter of ancient history. We believe that God continues to have a purpose and a plan for the Jewish people.
Fraser , Anthony Campolo. Colorfully written by two popular and respected sociologists, this volume shows how sociology has evolved, how it became divided from Christian faith, and how Christian sociologists can make sense of this branch of social science. Read on your iOS and Android devices Get more info.
Sociology Through the Eyes of Faith is currently not available. See System Requirements. Available on PC. Capabilities Text to speech. Additional information Publisher HarperCollins. Publisher HarperCollins.
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Seller name HarperCollins. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Elliott, John Hall, Feldman, David P. Chaos and Fractals: An Elementary Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Fraser, David A. Sociology Through the Eyes of Faith. New York: HarperCollins Publishers. Gaddis, John. New York: Oxford University Press.
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