Sola scriptura - Solely scripture. Scripture alone and nothing else. This is the rallying cry of Protestant Christianity. Protestant Christianity accepts no divine message other than the one that they believe to be recorded in the Jewish and Christian scriptures. Consequently, Protestant Christianity rejects any component of the national Jewish tradition that is not recorded in the books of scripture.
Earlier in this work we articulated the Jew’s rejection of this position. The same medium that informed the Jew that the Jewish scripture is an authentic document also informs him that there is more to the teachings of Moses. If God expected us to accept one portion of the testimony of our ancestors, there is no reason to assume that He wants us to reject the other portion of that same testimony. Furthermore it is only by means of the unwritten teachings of Moses, that the Jewish scriptures were canonized. So the Protestant insistence on rejecting any unwritten message from God is not very rational.
The missionary activity of Protestant churchmen belies the Protestant’s loyalty to the axiom of Sola scriptura. If the missionaries truly accepted the principle of “Sola Scriptura”, their methodology would be entirely unlike the methods they actually use. If scripture is truly the only authorized divine communiqué as the missionary would have us believe, they would limit themselves to distributing copies of scripture and would do nothing more. If the principle of “Sola Scriptura” is the factual basis for Protestant Christianity, a plain reading of scripture should teach the reader everything there is to know about Christianity. All one would have to do is to pick up a copy of the scriptures, and read them from cover to cover. The fact that the missionaries find it necessary to go beyond the distribution of Bibles, tells us that they feel that something is lacking in the axiom - “Sola Scriptura.”
One who fully accepts the Protestant position, that God chose the books of scripture to transmit His message to the future generations, to the exclusion of every other medium of communication, should educate his children accordingly. He should teach his children Hebrew and Greek, and hand the child the two books of the Jewish and Christian scriptures. Any other educational tool should be forbidden. After all, the Protestant argues that God did not authorize the usage of any method to communicate His message outside of scripture.
The obvious absurdity of the aforementioned proposal brings to light one of the obvious faults of the Protestant position. If we were to take the Protestant principle “Sola Scriptura” to its logical conclusion, no one could begin a relationship with God until they have covered the 30,000 verses of the Hebrew scriptures. This is surely untrue. Scripture clearly indicates that its message is relevant to a living nation, and is certainly not limited to an elite group of scholars. It is obvious that God expects natural human interaction to play a role in the transmission of His words to the future generations.
It is not only the child who requires a human connection to help him grasp the message of scripture. The wisest scholar also requires living human interchange in order to approach the scriptures. In order to begin to comprehend scripture, one must have a working knowledge of the language of scripture. We must appreciate that language is more than a collection of words. Language in general, and the language of scripture in particular, will take an abstract and intangible concept and express it in a single word. A necessary prerequisite to comprehension of scripture is the understanding of concepts such as: God, Israel, holiness, prayer, commandment, Temple, law, prophecy, and much more. We all acquire our perception of these concepts through interaction with fellow man. The man who will read scripture without previously possessing an understanding of these concepts, has yet to be born.
Each individual society has its own perspective, and its distinct understanding of God, Holiness, law and Prophecy. These words have one meaning for the Jew, another meaning for the Christian, and yet a different connotation for the Moslem. Each society will read scripture using their own particular dictionary.
A child who was taught that the Church is the new Israel, will read scripture differently than the child who knows that Israel is the name of the Jewish people. The very nature of man tells us that each society will be reading a different scripture. (The fact that the early Protestants read the scriptures with a Catholic bias, is plain and obvious to everyone today. It never occurred to them to doubt the replacement theology of the Catholic Church although scripture is abundantly clear on this subject. Yet these people lived and died with the motto “Sola-scriptura". By her own example, Protestant Christianity demonstrates the impracticality of her own foundational principle (Sola scriptura).
The fact of the matter is that God presented the Jewish scriptures to the Jewish society. In these books God directly addresses the Jewish nation. All others who read this holy book must bear this simple fact in mind. Any non-Jew reading the Jewish scriptures is reading a record of God’s directives to the Jewish nation. The only dictionary to be used when reading this book is that of the society to whom the book is addressed - the Jewish people. The true language of scripture, is the language of the Jewish people. When scripture says the word “God”, it is referring to the Jewish concept of God. When scripture makes reference to concepts such as holiness, Temple, prayer, or Sabbath, these abstract ideas must be understood in a Jewish context. The scriptures are directed at the Jewish people, it was obviously written in their language.
The Protestant missionary would protest. The missionary would argue that one should clear his mind of all preconceived notions, and approach scripture with a blank slate. The Jew would point out that God never expected scripture to be read that way. God Himself taught the Jewish people the concept of “God” before He gave them scripture. Were the Jewish people to erase from their minds everything that God had taught them before they began to read scripture? Moses directed the nation for forty years before he gave them his Five Books. Were the Jewish people to forget all that they had learned from Moses before they began reading his books?
The Jew cannot accept the missionary approach to the Jewish scriptures. It is clear to the Jew that God expected the scriptures to be read in light of the previous teachings. Still, the Jew was always willing to meet the missionary on his own turf. The Jew saw clearly that if one were to read scripture without the benefit of the unwritten teachings of Judaism, they would still recognize the errors of Christian doctrine. As long as one manages to free oneself of Christian influence, they will find that scripture clearly supports the Jewish belief system.
In the following chapters we aim to present the scriptural evidence that supports the Jewish belief system. We will also analyze the scriptural quotations that missionaries submit in their effort to validate the Christian belief system, and the Jewish response to these arguments.
When scripture is being quoted as an arbitrator between the Jewish and Christian belief systems, it would be helpful to become acquainted with the framework of discussion. We must bear in mind that Christianity is the accuser and Judaism is the defendant. The burden of proof rests solely and squarely upon the shoulders of the missionary. If an analysis of scripture proves inconclusive, then Judaism is vindicated and Christianity is refuted. Unless the missionary presents conclusive evidence that scripture unequivocally supports every Christian doctrine, Christianity must be a false belief system. This is true for several reasons.
a. It is the missionary’s contention that scripture is the sole guide that God provided in order to teach people the doctrines of Christianity. According to the missionary, a plain reading of scripture is all that is necessary to convince someone to accept Christianity. What the missionary is in effect saying is that if one reads scripture and is not convinced that Jesus is the Messiah, there can only be two explanations. Either scripture was not read with an honest heart, or Jesus is not the Messiah. There is no middle ground. If someone honestly believes that scripture is not absolutely supportive of Christian dogma, then this person has concluded that Christian dogma must be false.
b. The status quo is with Judaism. Christianity acknowledges that before Jesus was born he was not a prophet, nor had he fulfilled any of the messianic expectations. Christianity likewise recognizes that before Jesus was crucified there was no atonement for sin through the nailing of a human body to some old boards. Judaism believes that these simple facts never changed. The fellow from Nazareth is still neither a prophet nor the Messiah, and until today there is no expiation of sin in the crucifixion of a human being. Until conclusive evidence is presented to support the argument that these facts changed, the assumption must be that they did not.
c. Judaism was here first. According to the missionary, Judaism was the forerunner of Christianity. The missionary would have us believe that God only established Judaism in order to lay the groundwork for Christianity. If this contention is true then the sole purpose of the Jewish scriptures (which the missionary claims is all there is to Judaism) is to proclaim the alleged messiah-ship of Jesus. If an honest reading of scripture reveals that scripture does nothing of the sort, then the missionary contention must be wrong.
d. If Jesus was not who the Christians claim he was, then worship of him would have to be idolatry, and loyalty to him would be loyalty to a false Messiah. Until the missionary presents conclusive evidence to support his claims, then it is immoral to commit oneself in worship to a human being. The morally correct attitude is to wait and see.
The truth is that scripture is not all that ambiguous. A plain reading of scripture will reveal that the missionary arguments have no basis in the word of God. It is not merely a matter of Christianity standing in contradiction to various isolated verses (although that would be bad enough). Reading scripture from the beginning of Genesis to the end of Chronicles will uncover that Christianity stands in violation of the major scriptural themes. Christianity runs counter to the very spirit and soul of scripture.
Our analysis of scripture will begin with the very basis of Protestant Christianity. Sola Scriptura. This principle that rejects any unwritten directive from God, has no scriptural foundation. In fact, an examination of scripture will reveal that God truly does use instruments of communication, outside of the written words of scripture.
Probably the most important difference separating Christianity from Judaism, is the Christian assertion that one Jesus of Nazareth ought to be worshiped as a god. Judaism considers the Christian deification of Jesus to be a form of idolatry. Christianity considers this same activity to be the highest moral imperative. The basis of the Jewish position is the revelation at Mt. Sinai. The revelation at Mt. Sinai revealed to the Jewish people whom it is they are to worship. At the same time the Jewish people were taught whom it is they should not be worshiping. The revelation was all-inclusive. God showed them that there is no other divine entity. “To you it was shown in order that you know that the Lord is the God in the heavens above and on the earth below, there is none else” (Deuteronomy 4:35). The fact that the Jewish people do not report seeing Jesus at Mt. Sinai, tells us that he is not deserving of worship.
Protestant Christianity refuses to rely on the Jewish nation’s report of that momentous event. The fact that the Jewish nation’s understanding of God was impacted by that event means nothing to the Christian. The Protestant rejection of the national Jewish testimony stands in direct contradiction to the words of the Jewish scriptures.
Scripture records that God directed the Jewish people – “you should make it known to your children and to your children’s children. The day that you stood before the Lord you God at Horeb (another name for Mt. Sinai)” (Deuteronomy 4:9,10). It is clear from the words of scripture that God expected the Jewish people to preserve the message of this revelation. When God talks to the later generations, He uses the revelation at Mt. Sinai as a point of reference. Scripture identifies a false god by a negative comparison to this national revelation. God uses the terms “that which I have not commanded” (Deuteronomy 17:3) or “those that your fathers did not know” (Deuteronomy 13:7) in order to make reference to a false god. God is directing the later generations that they look to their father’s testimony in order to recognize the false gods.
The words of scripture clearly testify to the fact that God uses the collective memory of the Jewish nation as a medium of communication. Scripture tells us that God trusts the testimony of the Jewish nation, and that God requires of us to do the same. The Church position that would have us ignore the testimony of the Jewish nation, is clearly refuted by the words of scripture.
The living legacy of the Jewish nation is commissioned by God not only to preserve the basic understanding of God’s oneness. God also utilizes the national Jewish testimony to deliver to the later generations many details of the Law that Moses did not record in the Five Books. It is only through the living testimony of the Jewish nation that we can understand the spirit of Sabbath, the practical application of the laws of kosher, as well as a host of other scriptural directives. Christianity refuses to acknowledge the legitimacy of the Jewish nation’s testimony concerning any of these matters. The Church would have us believe that in the forty years Moses lived among the Jewish people, he said not a word more than was recorded in the Five Books. Again, it is the scripture that the Christians revere, that testifies to the falsity of the Christian position.
Scripture records the divine directive to observe the holiday of Passover. Any Jew who eats leaven during this seven-day holiday is threatened with the heavenly penalty of having his soul cut off from the midst of his nation. Scripture tells us that this holiday takes place, from the fourteenth day until the twenty-first day of the first month. Scripture does not tell us when this first month is supposed to begin. In fact, scripture says nothing about the construction of a calendar. If we assume, as the Church proposes, that Moses taught nothing more than the words he recorded in the Five Books, we will find ourselves facing a serious problem. How are we to know when the holiday of Passover is to begin?
Similar questions can be asked concerning most of the scriptural commandments. At what age is a person considered responsible for the practice of the Law? What exactly is meant by the term “betrothal” mentioned in Deuteronomy 22:23? What is the court procedure to be followed in a case where capital punishment is to be applied? What are the necessary qualifications required of the judges presiding over such a court, and who elects these judges? The scriptures provide no information on these matters, yet it is obvious from the words of scripture that these laws are to be observed by a living nation. Could it really be as the Christian argues? Is it possible that Moses said nothing more on these matters? How could a nation be held accountable to a Law that is so vague and ambiguous? How could people be threatened with divine penalties for violation of a Law that leaves so much unsaid?
It is quite evident that Moses did provide instructions outside of scripture’s terse terminology. Clearly Moses guided the people in the practical application of the Law. God expected that these instructions be available to the last generation. The only medium that God provided for the transmission of this information, is the living testimony of the Jewish nation. This living chain, which travels along the generations, father to son, teacher to disciple, is the means through which God elected to transport His holy Law to the end of time.
Christianity refuses to acknowledge the legitimacy of the rabbinical courts. The Church position is then, that no man is authorized to render judgment in matters relating to the divine directives of Moses. Scripture explicitly repudiates this Christian contention.
Chapter 17 of Deuteronomy records Moses’ injunction to the people that they consult with the judges and the priests. The verse goes on to say that the decisions of these men are to be followed. One who blatantly ignores the court’s decision is to be put to death. Chapter 19 of second Chronicles vividly describes how the righteous King Jehosaphat established courts throughout his kingdom. Jehoshaphat makes reference to two leaders to whom the judges can turn to with their questions. One of these leaders was to direct the courts in matters pertaining to the Laws of God, while the other officer guided the judges in matters relating to civil law. Scripture leaves the reader with no doubt that these men were authorized to pronounce judgment in the application of the Law of Moses.
Chapters 13 and 17 of Deuteronomy document Moses’ directives to the people in regard to idolaters. If a comprehensive investigation reveals that an individual or a community is truly guilty of idol-worship, the transgressors must then be killed. Scripture directs the entire nation to participate in the execution of these idolaters. It is obvious from the context of these passages that the guilt of these men was determined by a court of qualified judges. Still, all the people must take part in the implementation of their decision.
It is abundantly clear that not only does God authorize people to make decisions in the application of his holy Law, but God also commands His people to abide by those decisions. Scripture openly contradicts the Christian assertion that no human is authorized to render judgment in matters concerning the divine Law. The Christian position is not based on the words of scripture. Instead the Christian doctrine stands in direct conflict to the clear words of scripture.
The Jew equates worship of Jesus with idolatry. A Jew sees no room for discussion of this issue. A man cannot be God and that’s all there is to it. The missionary effort to present scriptural quotations as evidence to support his devotion to Jesus, is wasted on the Jew. God gave the Jewish people an understanding of Himself before He gave them the scriptures. The Jewish people read scripture in light of their understanding of God. It was God Himself who gave the Jewish people their conception of God, and it is through the lens of this fundamental teaching that we understand all subsequent revelation. The words of the prophets do not have the power to alter that which God Himself has taught us. The exact opposite is true. Our conception of God is the criterion by which the prophet’s words are evaluated.
God is a living reality in the Jewish world. The Jew who follows the ways of his fathers will mention God’s name more than one hundred times in a day. The ongoing relationship that the Jewish people have with God is the path through which each subsequent generation of Jews is introduced into a personal relationship with God. Jews recognize God as the Creator of all, and as the One who constantly sustains all of existence. God is all-powerful and all knowing, and it is to Him and Him alone that our devotion belongs. There is no room for devotion to any other entity, for we receive everything from God. There is no need to worship another being, because everything resides with God. The Jew is missing nothing in the worship of God, and by its very definition, nothing can be missing in the worship of God.
The missionary is not satisfied with the Jew’s worship of the God who revealed Himself at Mt. Sinai. The missionary encourages the Jew to devote himself in worship towards a fellow who died some two thousand years ago. All of the missionary’s convoluted arguments are meaningless to the Jew. If the Jewish worship of the Creator is not good enough for the missionary, then the missionary is advocating idolatry.
Since Christianity has been around for some time, worshiping Jesus while decrying idolatry, much confusion has been generated on this subject. People equate idolatry with the activity of bowing down to a clumsy wooden statue, and that is where it ends. People fail to realize that by scriptural definition, idolatry includes much more.
Idolatry consists of the adoption of an attitude of self-negation and subservience (of the type appropriate only to the Creator) toward any entity other than the Creator. This attitude of total submission toward anyone but God, or any act that expresses this submission, is idolatry. It is irrelevant if the one being worshiped is real or imaginary, a physical object or a spirit. As long as it is not the God who revealed Himself at Sinai as the only sovereign over every facet of existence - it is idolatry. It is only toward the Creator, and the One who is constantly sustaining all of existence, that one should bare his soul in recognition of total dependence. It is only toward Him that we should devote our hearts, souls, and might in the fire of all-encompassing love. And it is only toward Him that we pledge total submission and subservience, for these belong to no one else. To direct such devotion toward anyone else is the height of moral corruption.
Jewish scripture compares idolatry to adultery. Just as the adulterous woman, by giving her heart to another man, violates the very core of the relationship she shares with her husband. So it is with the idolater. By baring his soul in submission to another being, the idolater violates that aspect of his being that connects him to God. No other sin strikes at the heart of one’s relationship with God, as does idolatry. Every other sin involves the denial of connection to God. Idolatry is a violation of that sacred connection.
Idolatry is not limited to the worship of an entity that is perceived by the worshiper as independent of God. The sin of idolatry includes the worship of any being that stands as representative, or as symbolic of God. By inviting a foreign entity into the sacred realm of a soul bared in devotion to its Creator - one has polluted that devotion. Love of God should be an all-encompassing experience, an experience that leaves no part of one’s being untouched. There should be no room left for anyone else to enter into this relationship.
This concept, which prohibits the usage of another being to represent God in our devotion to Him, is clearly stated in scripture. Deuteronomy 4:15,16. “Take heed exceedingly for your souls, because you did not see any image on that day that the Lord spoke to you from the midst of the fire. Lest you corrupt yourselves and make for yourselves an idol, the image of any symbol, be it the likeness of a male or female, the likeness of any beast of the earth.” God is addressing the Jewish people. He is warning them not to use any image as a representation of the One who revealed Himself at Sinai. God is telling us, that had He wanted us to use an image to represent Him, He would have shown it to us at Sinai. God is stating in no uncertain terms that no being may be used to represent Him in our devotion. The usage of such a being is the corruption of idolatry.
Christianity’s worship of a long deceased resident of the Upper Galilee, is not worship of an image as representative of God. It is worship of a being as a god itself. According to Christian doctrine, Jesus is “co-equal” to God.
To its credit, Christendom does not deny the existence of the God of Israel. This is a source of confusion for many people. Many people equate idol-worship with denial of God. This is a mistake. Idolatry and denial of God, are two separate sins. To underscore this point, we ought to go back to the scriptural equation that idolatry is equal to adultery. A married woman, who denies that her husband exists, is certainly ignoring her relationship with her husband. But as long as she does not enter into a relationship with another man, she has not defiled the essence of her marriage. Conversely, a woman who acknowledges the fact that she is married to her husband, but does not hesitate to have relations with other men, has violated the essence of her relationship with her husband.
The same concept applies to a created being’s relationship with his Creator. It is possible to deny the Creator’s existence and not be an idolater, and it is possible to worship idols, while openly acknowledging God’s existence. The aforementioned verses (Deuteronomy 4: 15) made plain, that even if one worships any being as a representative of God, he is guilty of the sin of idolatry. How much more so is this true when one worships someone seen as “co-equal” to God? One who denies God, but doesn’t commit himself in worship to another being, is not an idolater. He is certainly sinning in the sense that he is ignoring his connection to God, but he hasn’t violated that connection. It is only the idolater, by submitting his inner being in devotion to another god, who contaminated that aspect of his being which is his connection to God. So although Christianity’s acknowledgment of God’s existence is commendable, it cannot absolve them of the guilt of idolatry.
Another confusing factor relevant to the worship of Jesus, is the fact that for many years now, Jesus was not visible in a physical sense. Many people assume that the idolatry condemned by the Bible is limited to the worship of a physical body. Since Christianity worships an invisible being, these people fail to identify it as idolatry. This too, is a mistake. When condemning idolatry, God uses the simple term “other gods” (Exodus 20:3). Worship of any being other than the One who revealed Himself at Sinai, is idolatry. It makes no difference if the idol is tangible or not. But in any case, Christianity does advocate worship of a physical body. While Jesus was still alive, Christian dogma contends that he was worthy of the worship, adoration, and devotion that is appropriate for God - worship of a physical body. Would modern day Christians picture in their minds, people prostrating themselves on the ground, in religious devotion to a human being standing there in front of them, they would find no difficulty in identifying the scene as raw paganism. Yet it is this very scene that lies at the core of Christian doctrine.
Many of the worshipers of Jesus, who sense the corruption inherent in the adoration of a mortal, take comfort in the assurance that “Jesus and the God of Israel are one and the same.” These Christians are not alone. Other idolaters also use these same empty words to justify devotion to their idols. This is true both of Buddhism and Hinduism. These idolaters and many others claim that the image they worship is the “physical incarnation” of the one true God. But these words are meaningless drivel. If the Jewish worship of the Infinite Being, who is the Creator of all, and upon whom all of creation is constantly dependent for their very existence - if worship of this God is not considered “one and the same” with worship of Jesus, Buddha, or Krishna, then how can worship of these idols be considered worship of the one true God? To illustrate the hollowness of this claim, picture the following: A woman runs off with a man who is not her husband. She justifies her action by claiming that this stranger and her husband are partners in a trinity that makes them “one and the same.” She tells us that this man is the “incarnation” of her husband. Is this not adultery?
With all of this in mind, the missionary would have us believe that scripture itself advocates worship of Jesus. Nothing could be further from the truth. A perfunctory reading of scripture will reveal that idolatry is the greatest abomination in God’s eyes. The term scripture uses to identify an idol (in the context of “idol-worship”) is simply “other gods.” Other than who? - other than the Creator of heaven and earth, other than the One whom Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob placed their trust in, other than the One who revealed Himself to the Jewish people at Sinai, other than the God of Moses, David, Isaiah, and Jeremiah. Can anything be more clear? Did these people worship Jesus? Did Jesus create the world? Was it a trinity that revealed itself at Sinai? Of-course not! So scripture is clearly telling us that belief in the trinity is paganism, and worship of Jesus is idolatry.
One of the verses that the missionaries are fond of using to deflect the heavy accusation of idolatry is found in Isaiah 55:8. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts nor are my ways your ways says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts (are higher) than your thoughts.” Missionaries teach that the message here is - that although to the human mind, worship of a person appears to be an unforgivable absurdity - one should not be so confident with the human assessment of the situation. God operates on a higher, mysterious plane. We should not be holding God to our standards of logic.
When the verse is examined in context, the irony is inescapable. The verse is not talking about the correct method of worship, nor is it discussing the true essence of God’s being. This verse is talking about repentance. As we find in Ezekiel 28:29 and 33:20, people express disbelief when the prophet presents God’s simple method of atonement for sin. Even today, people (Christian missionaries) attempt to use all sorts of semi-logical arguments to discount the efficacy of repentance as a method for atonement of sin. But God tells us - don’t judge Me by your yardstick. You may not understand how sin can be erased so completely, as if it were never committed without someone paying the price (through blood sacrifice). But that is how it is. If you repent, God assures you that He will forgive. As long as your sense of honesty is satisfied that it is indeed God speaking, then it is not for you to ask questions. God’s ways are not our ways nor are His thoughts our thoughts. That is true as far as repentance is concerned.
Conversely, when scripture does speak of the correct method of worship, it makes reference to human logic, and sometimes scripture even appeals to the human sense of humor to point out the evil of idolatry. (Jeremiah 10:11) “Tell them, gods that did not create heaven and earth should go lost from this earth and from under these heavens.” Scripture is pointing out the inherent absurdity of idol-worship. Since no one ever claimed that their idol or “god-incarnate” was the creator of heaven and earth - so get them out of here. A god that operates in an arena that he did not create, is no god. Similarly we read in Isaiah 2:22. “Cease yea of man that has breath in his nostrils, for of what worth is he.” This verse demonstrates the silliness of worshiping a human being. What worth can he have if he is dependent on a constant supply of oxygen for his own mental and physical well-being? (Daniel 5:23) “- and to the God who holds your soul in His hand, and all your ways belong to Him, you did not attribute glory.” Again we are being taught how foolish it is to direct worship towards anyone other than the One who is constantly sustaining all of existence. It is very clear that if one reads scripture in context, he will find that God expects the human mind to be able to identify idolatry. If this type of worship is an abomination to your conscience, then it is idolatry in