Judaism & Christianity


(Cameron Kufner) #1

I wanted to get others thoughts about these recent interviews between Pastor John MacArthur & Ben Shapiro, and also Michael Shermer and Ben Shapiro. Mainly, focusing on the points that Ben is making as to why he doesn’t accept the divinity of Jesus, his take on eternity, etc.

I’m trying to think of some good rebuttels, but can’t think of any. I wanted to see what others would say as a rebuttel. Thanks to all who contribute! God bless!


(SeanO) #2

@CamKufner What is the specific argument / set of arguments Shapiro makes to which you cannot think of a rebuttal?


(Cameron Kufner) #3

I can understand the comparisons to statements Jesus made that sound like things that were said in the OT. His arguments about God coming in the flesh and how Christians say that it was prophesied (which it was - Isaiah 53 for example), the rest of what he said I had no rebuttel to. These statements would need apologetics, and I am by no means an apologist, lol. There’s a lot of what he said that made me confused in those videos. I just don’t know how to respond.


(SeanO) #4

@CamKufner In those two videos Shapiro made 4 basic assertions:

  • the idea of an afterlife was not present in Judaism until much later in history (near the time of Jesus)
  • a Jew would never be able to conceive of the idea of God becoming a man - the incarnation is completely foreign to Judaism
  • the Messiah foretold by Judaism and the Messiah of Christianity are two completely different characters (he claims superior knowledge of Hebrew to justify his divergence on passages such as Isaiah 53)
  • Jesus’ teaching was not that different from other Jewish prophets / rabbis - in other words, Jesus’ teaching was not unique

A Brief Response

  • we see in passages like Genesis 25:8 that Abraham was ‘gathered to his people’ or ‘joined his ancestors’. The Zondervan Bible Background commentary and NET Bible both indicate that this phrase may point to the notion of an afterlife, though my understanding is that the ancient understanding of the afterlife was not like our understanding today. In Daniel 12, we see clear evidence of belief in both eternal life and resurrection.
  • yes, the incarnation was shocking to the Jews, as was the fact that Jesus referred to God as Father. But there may be hints of this in passages like Isaiah 9:6 - “And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”
  • the book below on the Messianic nature of the Old Testament defends the assertion that these prophetic passages do indeed point to Jesus - who is both the suffering servant and the victorious King
  • as John MacArthur pointed out, what made Jesus unique was not that He departed from the moral teaching of the OT (because God is the same yesterday, today and forever), but rather that He Himself was God in the flesh, who came to reconcile us to the Father. Jesus in fact elevated the law - thou shalt not commit adultery became do not lust and do not murder became do not hate.

None of these are new claims and are quite standard arguments.

I find Shapiro’s view of the afterlife very odd indeed - perhaps it is the result of some more recent strands of Judaism? But it sounds very mystical - the idea that we are absorbed back into deity. It was hard for me to make sense of that bit.


(ThomasHeld) #5

Hi Cameron,

@CamKufner I’m always impressed by John MacArthur and by Ben Shapiro, but the normally sharp John MacArthur missed an important opportunity here.

Apparently, Ben has the parable of the Good Samaritan mixed-up with Jesus’ teaching on Sabbath healing. John did not point that out - and that was the crux of their conversation at this point.

Ben said that Jesus just exaggerates to make a point that is already Jewish law. He said: “For example, Jesus said, 'You can’t leave a guy to die in a ditch because it’s the Sabbath.” Then he goes on to say, “That’s black letter Jewish law - you can’t leave someone to die in a ditch just because it’s the Sabbath - that’s nothing new…”

Ben did not give a reference, so which Jewish law he’s talking about is unclear.

But in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10), there’s no mention of the Sabbath and in the Sabbath healing discourse (Matthew 12), it’s a sheep that falls into the ditch not a man.

John makes a general statement here but he doesn’t hone-in and ask for clarification at this point. Pulling a dying man out of a ditch and pulling a sheep out of a ditch that merely fell into it, are two very different experiences.

It’s easy to talk in generalities, not so easy with specifics.

Ben talked about, “In Jewish thought…” but there are as many different schools of thought in Judaism as there are in Christianity. Don’t Messianic Jew’s thoughts count? Even in Jesus’ earthly time there were Sadducees and Pharisees.

The fact that Ben reads Hebrew is not a truth claim as he suggests. The same is true for a Christian who reads Greek. Reading in the original language is helpful not definitive.

I only watched the clip that you posted, did Ben say something in the rest of the hour long conversation that bothered you?

Jesus never claimed to do away with the Law, He came to fulfill it. So when Ben talks about the fact that Jesus brought nothing new to the law he’s correct. Jesus’ ministry is of the Spirit.

As John said, “Jesus was the most perfect Jew.” God bless.