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Differences Between Judaism and Christianity
Religion has shaped people's lives throughout history and forms a critical component of humans well-being spiritually. Even though several religions implicate faith in a supreme being, their other components differ significantly. Some of the differences are fundamental to the beliefs of the faithful, which creates disagreements on various issues. Christianity and Judaism are some of the religions with both similarities and differences. The two religions would be expected to have minimal differences since they have a common origin, but this is not the case. This essay will highlight the differences between Judaism and Christianity and argue that Judaism uses more reasonable practices than Christianity.
The first difference is the universal versus national concept (Wilken 23). Judaism views itself as a national religion of the Jewish people. The national approach that Judaism takes highlights the reason it does not actively seek to convert people. According to Judaism, other people can access God through other means apart from conversion to Judaism. The Seven Laws of Noah provide access to God to non-Jews, without conversion. The Jews position themselves as the light of the world through God's manifestation in their lives. On the other hand, Christianity has a universal view of its role, which is to preach the gospel to all nations. Christians believe that Jesus Christ was the fulfillment of the covenant God made with Abraham and that he would bless all nations through Israel.
The second difference arises from how both religions view God. Judaism sees God as one, singular and undefinable. Numerous phrases in the Hebrew Bible, such as Ground of All Being and Unfolding Reality, depict the perception of the religion of God (Seidman 112). The unitary entity of God in Judaism is so essential that Judaists teach their children the phrase, God is one when they start speaking. On the contrary, Christians view God as one in three beings: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The manifestation of God in Christianity is within the context of the trinity. For instance, when Jesus came on earth as a human, he did so as God the son. When he was resurrected, the role of guiding the disciples was taken over by the Holy Spirit while he ascended to be with the Father.
Another difference relates to the way people in both beliefs view the scriptures. According to Judaism, God revealed two Torahs to Moses: one that was written and the other that was presented orally (Boustan, Janssen, and Roetzel 65). Jews regard both of them as inseparable fundamental for understating the scriptures. In contrast, Christians do not regard the oral Torah as holy and do not ascribe to its teachings. Additionally, the Christian Bible has extra books that are not in the Torah. A significant perception is evident in the application of the laws by both religions. Judaism insists that all the commandments in the Torah are binding and should be followed to the letter. Christians apply the scriptures selectively and ignore most of the Old Testament writings in favor of the New Testament. Christians explain that the partial observance of the law was made possible by the coming of Jesus who completed the Law of Moses. They argue that following Jesus' teachings in the New Testament amounts to observing the Mosaic Law indirectly. Such defense is contested by Judaists because there were conflicts between the Pharisees and Jesus when they accused him of breaking the Law of Moses. In some instances, Jesus and his disciples worked during the Sabbath. When confronted, Jesus would answer that the law was made for man and not man for the law. Judaists do not see Jesus as completing the Law of Moses.
The concept of the Messiah is controversial and creates one of the greatest disagreements between Christianity and Judaism. The teachings of Judaism assert that the Messiah will be born of human parents and will not have any supernatural powers (Hirshman 43). He will deliver Israel from their oppressors, build the third temple and establish a kingdom characterized by peace and adherence to God's law. Christians await Jesus to come for the second time to judge the world and separate the sinners from the chosen. Christianity considers Jesus as God. Judaism detests the notion of a woman conceiving through God and views it as blasphemous and unacceptable.
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The Christian faith requires adherents to transform their lives so that they can reach holiness and salvation. Most Christians consider earthly life as an obstacle to attaining holiness (Seidman 21). They are in a constant struggle to balance between their faith and routines. Christianity insists that believers should change their lives to become holy. Judaism perceives the Torah as guidance on how to act in God's way as people live their lives. Judaism sees faith in God as essential but not sufficient for Jewish life. As such, people must not remove themselves from their daily lives to become holy but rather to live according to the Torah and consequently achieve holiness.
Both religions concur that there is some form of judgment. However, the difference emerges in how the final judgment will be conducted. Christians believe that the judgment will be after the second coming of Jesus Christ. When Jesus comes for the second time, people will be resurrected. Those who got saved through Jesus will go to heaven while the rest will be thrown into hell (Gorman-Thelen 87). Judaists believe that God judges people daily, but persecutors of the Jews will be judged when the Messiah comes for the first time. In addition, God will later Judge the Jews based on their observance of the Torah.
Hell as a real place is a point of contention between the two religions. Christians believe that there are places called hell and heaven where the bad and the goodwill going. However, Judaism scriptures do not clearly depict a hell as a real place for torment. The Pharisees believed that once people died, they rested until the coming of the Messiah when they would resurrect. Once resurrected, their souls would dwell within them for eternity. Judaism describes `heaven as a place where the angels and God debate the law and where the Jews live eternally studying the Torah (Hirshman 97).
In conclusion, Judaism has a more practical approach than Christianity for various reasons. First, Christianity insists that people should shun things in the current world in search of holiness as the gateway to heaven. Judaism encourages people to observe God's commandments as they continue with their daily lives. Secondly, observing Christian beliefs is challenging because of its universal approach. Since its teachings are affected by the Jewish culture, its holistic adoption by other cultures becomes challenging. Judaism does not require people to convert as it recognizes the difficulties in doing so. It offers them an alternative to reach God through the Seven Laws of Noah while maintaining their unique cultures. Christians ignore most of the Old Testament teachings despite believing that the Bible is holy in totality by claiming that the New Testament came to strengthen the Old Testament. Such a claim may be interpreted to mean that Christians choose the scriptures that align with their lives and ignore those that challenge them. Judaism insists on observing the Torah as a whole.