We’ve been looking at the difference between Christianity and other major religions – particularly their teaching about how to get to heaven. Today we look at contemporary Judaism.
Most Christians know a fair amount about Judaism. We study the Jewish Bible as our Old Testament. And when we study the New Testament we come across Jewish teaching again and again, particularly in those areas where it conflicts with the teaching of Jesus and his disciples.
But what is Judaism today? Is contemporary Judaism the same as we read in the Bible or has it changed? Firstly it is difficult to define contemporary Judaism as there are many movements in Judaism. But most Jews could be categorised as either: (i) Orthodox Jews who hold to a more literal interpretation of the Old Testament; (ii) Reform Jews who understand the Old Testament as important but not divinely inspired and are governed mostly by reason and experience; (iii) Conservative Jews who are roughly in the middle, accepting of the Scriptures but open to new views and change; (iv) Cultural/ethnic Jews who define themselves as Jews because of their cultural or ethnic relationship to Jews – these people may be atheists, agnostics or even Christians.
Now, if we leave aside those who consider themselves Jews based on culture and ethnicity, the big difference between Christianity and those who follow the teaching of the major branches of Judaism as a religion is their view of the Messiah (Christ). Contemporary Jews may believe there is a Messiah, but their Messiah has not yet come to save them. Whereas Christianity believes the Messiah has come in the person Jesus Christ. This means Jews do not believe in Jesus’ atoning death on the cross for their salvation and Jews therefore do not teach salvation by faith in Christ alone. This means they are on the wrong side of God and will be punished for eternity rather than rewarded for eternity in heaven. Jesus taught his disciples: ‘He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects me; but he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.” (Luke 10:16)’. When Jews reject Jesus as the Messiah they reject God the Father who sent Jesus.
Who is your saviour from your sins? One who is yet to come into the world? Or do you trust that Jesus is the Messiah and his death is the ransom for your sins?