December 24th, 2011
10:00 PM ET

'What's Christmas without chopsticks?' How other faiths celebrate December 25th

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) -
Two days before Christmas, Imam Mohamed Magid, the executive director at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, preached about Jesus at Friday prayers.

"We live in a country with a majority of Christians, where Christmas is a major holiday... It's a reminder we do believe in Jesus. Jesus' position in Islam is one of the highest prophets in Islam," Magid said, adding that Muslims view Jesus as a prophet on par with Abraham, Moses, Noah and Mohammad.

Often when he says the name of Mohammad or Jesus in conversation, Magid adds the Islamic honorific "Peace be upon him" after his name.

"Jesus is a unifying figure, unifying Muslims and Christians," he said. The Quran, the Islamic scriptures, makes specific mention of Jesus and of his mother Mary. "It's very interesting that there are many places where the prophet (Mohammad) is quoting Jesus."

Christmas has a way of bleeding into other faiths in America.  The Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ in a manger in Bethlehem 2000 some odd years ago is ubiquitous across the country, even if the American tradition has leaned away from the sacred and toward the secular.

Christmas at every corner can be somewhat problematic for those who are not in the estimated 246 million Christians living in the United States.  But for some faiths, the season brings reminders of their own traditions.

CNN's Belief Blog – all the faith angles to the day's top stories

Magid said Muslims believe many of the same things about Jesus that Christians do: Jesus was born of the virgin Mary, he lived a sinless life, he raised the dead, and he preformed miracles. He also said many Muslim scholars believe that Jesus will one day return to the earth, using the Christian vocabulary of "the Second Coming."

Explain it to me: The Hajj

"Certain aspects of our theology are different," he carefully notes, pointing specifically to incarnation, the Christian belief that Jesus was divine. Muslims are perhaps the most ardent monotheists in the world, making them at odds with Christians theologically over not only the Christian doctrine of incarnation, but also belief in the Trinity, that God the Father, the Holy Spirit and Jesus are three in one.

The All Dulles Area Muslim Society is one of the largest Muslim congregations in the country with ties to 5,000 families in the Washington area. Some of the families do put up a Christmas tree and exchange gifts, which one member suspects is often more about cultural assimilation than religious observance.

"I think Muslims, although they believe in Jesus, they give respect to this as a Christian holiday, so they don't pretend to celebrate this in a religious way," Magid said. "A Muslim would not expect a Christian to celebrate his holiday."

My Take: Why we're skipping the Christmas roast

At the Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery three hours north of San Francisco, there is a small Christmas tree set up near the statue of the Buddha.

"Normally we just have flowers, incense and candles, but now we have a tiny Christmas tree. It's really cute," Ajhan Yatiko, a monk in residence who is originally from Canada, said. "It's more like a traditional thing, respecting and appreciating the culture of where we live."

During the holidays, Yatiko said, "The senior monk might give a talk to the lay people which might draw parallels between the Christian faith and the Buddhist faith, as well as the differences, because I think both of those are important aspects of interfaith harmony.

"Sometimes in the West these days there's a kind of tendency to clump all the religions together and say, 'We're all climbing the same mountain,' and I think the intention there is nice. There's a harmonious intention there. But I think it's much nicer to say, 'Let's respect the differences and love and appreciate the differences of the other faiths," Yatiko said.

For the monks at Abhayagiri, life is spent in meditation, community, celibacy and work. They practice Buddhism in the Theravada tradition or the Thai Forest tradition. In their faith tradition, monks cannot handle money, grow their own food or trade, so they live entirely off of the generosity of others.

That means every half moon, about once a week, they head into town for alms rounds, where they walk around in their saffron robes with alms bowls to collect donations. The new moon this week fell on Christmas Eve.

"Everyone we see is going to be wishing us a Merry Christmas, and we'll be doing likewise," Yatiko said a few days before Christmas.

"We don't touch money and live a very simple lifestyle, so the Christmas tradition of exchanging gifts doesn't work so well for us," Yatiko said.

Yet Buddhists are called to live generously at every chance, be it in material things or spiritual ones, so at Christmastime the monks bring a truckload of fire wood and a fruit basket to a neighboring Ukrainian Catholic monastery.

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"We do have some rather revered traditions for Christmas Day," said Rabbi Rick Rheins.  "I'm not sure if it was Talmudic or not, to visit the movie theater followed by a Chinese dinner," joked Rheins referring the collection of ancient rabbi teaching called the Talmud.

"What's Christmas without chopsticks?" joked Rheins who is the head of Denver's Temple Sinai, a Reform congregation of about 1,100 families.

"We acknowledge the importance of this day for our Christian neighbors and for my Christian colleagues. And so we don't celebrate Christmas as Jews, but we do thrill for our Christian neighbors," he said. Rheins said the celebration of Hanukkah simultaneously at Christmastime this year will mean he won't be bringing in any Christmas metaphors into services on Friday and Saturday.

As for the Christmas Day itself, including the popcorn and chopsticks, he said, "We encourage our members to do special volunteer work to relieve our Christian neighbors of their responsibilities, whether it's at hospitals or emergency services, to give them the opportunity to spend this time with their family and celebrate this sacred day for them.

"Christians and Jews, especially over the last generation, have really worked so hard to build bridges, not just of tolerance, but also have generated true mutual respect and cooperation," he said. He cited working to fight hunger and poverty together. "These are the expressions of a society where the differences in religion and the expressions of one's faith are less divisive than they are enriching.

"I don't think that was the case a generation ago," Rheins said.

Christmas has a way of seeping into Hindu traditions, as well. At least the tree and presents part.  "Because of the children," Uma Mysorekar, the president of the Hindu Temple Society of North America said.

"The children say, 'Oh, there's a tree in my friend's house.  Why not in my house?' So they will get a small tree, a symbolic tree," Mysorekar said.

"We do look up to Jesus as one of the deities of Christianity," Mysorekar said.

At the Hindu Temple Society of North America in the Flushing area of Queens, New York, Christmas Day will be filled with worshipers coming in and out.  Unlike other faiths, Hindus do not have a set day for communal worship.  The temple is a key part of Hinduism for prayer, worship and offerings.  Christmas will be busier because of the three day weekend, Mysorekar guessed.

Their temple even had a holiday party for the children.

Sacred Spaces: Inside a Hindu temple

"We have a holiday party for them, and we give them gifts and tell them what it's all about.  You know the Hindu festival of Diwali, it is more or less the same, where we give gifts and we meet with friends... So the custom is very easy to relate to."

During Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, lamps are lit in celebration of good triumphing over evil.

"Apart from the religious aspect of it - the concept, theme of Christmas - I think it's very much the same all over," she said.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Buddhism • Christianity • Christmas • Hinduism • Islam

soundoff (2,252 Responses)
  1. RaveDave

    The Christmas tree is about as Christian as the Easter bunny or the great pumpkin. It was originally the Yule tree, celebrating a pagan holiday, but was adopted when Christianity spread through Europe. Santa Claus has become so distorted (North Pole, reindeer, elves), that this really has nothing to do with being Christian either. In other words, these symbols are just celebrating a seasonal holiday. The Christian symbol for Christmas is the nativity scene.

    December 25, 2011 at 12:17 am |


      December 25, 2011 at 12:27 am |
    • GAW

      FYI The trolls will soon be attracted to a post like this.... Just sayin.

      December 25, 2011 at 12:28 am |
  2. American Citizen

    "but we do thrill for our Christian neighbors..."
    This is a very loving person that demonstrates that he values others. How admirable.

    December 25, 2011 at 12:16 am |
  3. racer x

    Without Paul's public relations and organizational skills, Christianity would have fizzled out.

    December 25, 2011 at 12:16 am |
    • PraiseTheLard

      You mean he was the Ron Popeil of his generation?

      December 25, 2011 at 12:22 am |
    • racer x

      Good one! Yes: "I'm not going to give you one Jesus story, or even two. No, tonight if you promise to tell a friend about Christianity, I'll give you FOUR different accounts of his life and ministry!" [Pan to wide-eyed audience members]

      December 25, 2011 at 12:30 am |
  4. Brian

    I am not religious so this seems like a childish joke to me.

    December 25, 2011 at 12:15 am |
    • evensteven

      Consider leaving religion out of it and enjoy the season as a time of appreciation and celebration . . .

      December 25, 2011 at 12:17 am |
  5. evensteven

    The holiday season is big enough for Santa Claus, Jesus, Muslims, Hindus, pagans, Atheists, solstice and Hanukkah. All of these faiths and traditions have something to offer during the season. All should be respected, none should dominate to the exclusion of others.

    Tolerance must become a binding tradition in our United States of America. We are not simply a Judea-Christian nation—we ideally are a nation tolerant of all faiths and beliefs as long as they support respect for their fellow man.

    December 25, 2011 at 12:14 am |
    • GAW

      I think you know by now that not everyone will agree with your desire to be tolerant. Such is the way of the extremist.

      December 25, 2011 at 12:31 am |
  6. matt houston

    May everyone have a happy Natalis Solis Invicti and a prosperous New Year.

    December 25, 2011 at 12:14 am |
  7. Chrisily

    Christmas is truly just about LOVE, John 3, 16 , For God so loved the world, that he gave us his only begotten son....so with that in mind, lets drop hate, and differences of religion, because when u come down to it, we each have a Supreme being that we believe in. If we all could just learn how to care for the next human being, that would change the world over. Merry Christmas everyone......

    December 25, 2011 at 12:14 am |
  8. marcr

    the highest proof of no true religion is the presence of many religions. What merciful god would allow all of the world's religions to exist with the burden upon we humans of limited intelligence to select the right one or suffer for eternity? My metaphor is god throws a party and invites all of his children to come. At the party is a table filled with all kinds of beautifully wrapped boxes. God says chose one. But what he doesnt say is that all but one has a bomb in it. All of the worlds religions are like the beautifully wrapped boxes. Chose the wrong one and suffer for eternity? Doesnt make sense to me. Is this the merciful god you want to worship?

    December 25, 2011 at 12:14 am |
    • evensteven

      All religions have pearls of wisdom and beauty they can be appreciated for . . .

      December 25, 2011 at 12:16 am |
    • Dan

      As a Christian, I believe the question isn't why there's only one path to God – the question is why there are any.

      December 25, 2011 at 12:19 am |
  9. Daleri Rileda

    Other beliefs are not true because only our Maker Himself alone is able to be our Savior because there is no one else who can be.

    December 25, 2011 at 12:12 am |
    • Relictus

      I could have been saved by love.

      December 25, 2011 at 1:17 am |
    • Death-Is-Inevitable

      How come so called savior cant just simply FOrgive, but has to kill himself or his son to forgive?

      December 25, 2011 at 9:31 am |
  10. Jasmine

    Yule is the original December holiday, at least in cultures derived from ancient Europe (which American culture is, even though its majority religions are from the Middle East). The Christians just put Christmas here to usurp Yule. It is actually on the day of the solstice, not the 25th. The tree, wreathes, and other such items are not only reminders of the coming spring, but of the continuous cycle of life, death, and rebirth that is central to many Pagan religions.

    December 25, 2011 at 12:10 am |
  11. MMKK007

    In Hinduism there is no problem of accepting ideas. Hinduism is so broad it can accommodate most religious concepts.
    The real problem is for those who believe that their way is the ONLY way!

    December 25, 2011 at 12:10 am |
    • racer x

      It's called "reality."

      December 25, 2011 at 12:12 am |
    • Fizzylift

      That is because Hinduism is not so much a religion but a collection of ideas embraced by people and changed by people of thousands of years. And, by people who knew how to meditate, make great food and had some serious drugs. Praise Ganesha!

      December 25, 2011 at 2:33 am |
  12. Yeah right

    @ John

    I hear you about Christians not accepting other beilefs as true. How can you have many truths when most of the teachings are not completly compatible. However, the process of canonizing the bible was not performed by politicians. This is an insult towards the formation of the bible. They were church founders and experts in the faith who were actually persecuted for their beliefs. They were not politicians and did not hold secular offices for their Christian faith. Please separate the propaganda from the truth.

    December 25, 2011 at 12:07 am |
    • JenniferinTX

      You forget that back in the day religion was very political, the Catholic church had soldiers and marched them off to war against those they wished "acquire" to increase their holdings and power. Celibacy became a part of the church so that monasteries and nunneries could not be inherited by the families that controlled them. Um, Inquisitions, Crusades, need I go on?

      December 25, 2011 at 12:16 am |
    • miscreantsall

      "the process of canonizing the bible was not performed by politicians"

      YOU are sadly misinformed! I suggest you delve much deeper into your historical research. Make sure your resources are varied (religious, historical, archeological, cultural, scientific, etc.).

      Your words reflect your naivety.

      December 25, 2011 at 12:35 am |
    • John

      Actually, most of the teachings of the major religions are very compatible. They all preach the same values, only with different aesthetics. The only difference is some religions (the Abrahamic ones) make it a point of saying that they're the only "true" ones and all others are "false". Hinduism and Buddhism don't do this because it is actually a religious principle that different paths exist. While Hindus and Buddhists may not believe in the Bible (for it is only a book written by and for humans), they do believe in the divinity of Christ and the divinity of the Christian God. The idea that religions are mutually exclusive is a childish one that has more to do with politics than actual divinity, thus the politics involved in assembling the Bible and the habit of taking the word of holy books literally to the point of idiocy. Christianity is quite young however, so perhaps it shall evolve to be more accepting as Hinduism and Buddhism have become throughout the ages.

      December 25, 2011 at 4:11 am |
  13. Daleri Rileda

    I am a Christian and secular Christmas music can get real annoying because it usually has nothing at all to do with the real Christmas and it consists of everything contrary to Christian teaching. It is like a seducing spirit trying to take away Christmas.

    December 25, 2011 at 12:06 am |


      December 25, 2011 at 12:12 am |
    • Daleri Rileda

      Ha satan has no understanding.

      December 25, 2011 at 12:16 am |
  14. jasonda

    Who gives a damn what other religions think about Christianity. Christianity is not defined by what "other" religions think.

    December 25, 2011 at 12:03 am |
    • Answer

      Apparently christians do because they want to be accepted. Your lot want to be accepted by the muslims. The muslims want to remake their religious as "peaceful" .. and on and on. All playing the masses for acceptance otherwise you're saying "please I'm begging you – don't kill our religion."

      Too bad – we will kill them all.

      December 25, 2011 at 12:06 am |
    • matt houston

      Nobody said Christianity's definition was ever defined by how outsiders viewed it. Grow up.

      December 25, 2011 at 12:08 am |
    • WCatholic2

      Its not a question of being defined by others, but one of insight into the spirituality of others. Its important to remember that we are not the only game in town. While staying true to ones' own faith, entering into dialogue with other faiths is not only important, but in todays world unavoidable. The purpose of interfaith dialogue is to gain a broader perspective on ones' own faith by insight into the beliefs of others. In this way we can protect ourselves from the dangers of self-rightousness, self-centeredness,

      December 25, 2011 at 12:16 am |
    • Dan

      "Who gives a damn what other religions think about Christianity. Christianity is not defined by what "other" religions think."

      Clearly you know nothing about the origins of Christmas customs. Christmas is completely defined by what other religions think. They inherited customs from pagan worship to make Christianity more appealing. Look up the meaning of the tree, lights, December 25th, etc...

      December 25, 2011 at 12:34 am |
  15. Rev. Faughn

    What is funny is that the Bible doesn't even tell us what day Jesus was born on. But roughly 360 AD (somewhere around there) the Pope at the time was confronted by his bishops because the Pagans would not convert to christianty and contuniued their celbration on or around this time of year so the Pope declared Jesus's birthday to be the same time, hope to allow all to celebrate at the same time. So you go on and keep celebrating, using all the Pagan symbols and rituals that were stolen by the christians...I sure God doesn't mind

    December 24, 2011 at 11:59 pm |
    • belowme

      Do you like little boys, "reverend"?

      December 25, 2011 at 12:03 am |
    • Rev. Faughn

      Funny belowm, just cause I am a Revernd does not mean I am Catholic

      December 25, 2011 at 12:07 am |
    • Junius Gallio

      Friend,do yourself a favor and study a bit more history. While there are a few pagan elements in Easter, Christmas is all post-pagan.

      December 25, 2011 at 12:07 am |
    • Kramer

      Every word is true. Most scholars believe Jesus was born in the fall. And first century christians did not celebrate his birth.

      December 25, 2011 at 12:12 am |
  16. Ross Jacobson-Deeley

    Members of the Baha'i Faith also believe that Jesus Christ was a Prophet and messenger from God, similar in station to Abraham, Moses and Muhammad.

    December 24, 2011 at 11:57 pm |
  17. Paul

    It is very misleading for Muslims to say that they also believe in Jesus. They do not believe in the real and true Jesus. They only believe that He was a prophet like Moses, Noah, etc. That He was not God and Man, as Christians believe. They also believe that Mohammed is the greatest prophet. A faith built on one man's word, Mohammed.

    The Jews do not even accept Jesus as a prophet. But if anybody read the Old Testament, in a language they understood, they would see that Jesus was who He said He was! The Great I AM! Who stepped down from His deity, and was our sacrificial lamb, to be born a virgin, and die for our sins!

    Isaiah 7:13 – 14
    13 Then Isaiah said, “Listen well, you royal family of David! Isn’t it enough to exhaust human patience? Must you exhaust the patience of my God as well? 14 All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin[f] will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).

    Isaiah 9:6
    6 For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor,[d] Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

    Isaiah 53: 3-6
    3 He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. 4 Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows[a] that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! 5 But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. 6 All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.

    Isaiah was written 700 years before Jesus lived. Open your eyes and hearts, people. For Jesus is coming back soon!

    December 24, 2011 at 11:57 pm |


      AND MARK 9:1


      December 25, 2011 at 12:02 am |
    • Gadflie

      Actually, they called him Jesus, not Immanuel. Oops, prophesy failed.

      December 25, 2011 at 12:04 am |
    • Matt

      Jesus was a man, he died 2000 years ago, and he isn't coming back. And God isn't any more real than Santa Claus in my opinion. But Jesus' message of compassion, mercy, forgiveness, and generosity are worthy of respect and I enjoy celebrating his birthday.

      December 25, 2011 at 12:15 am |
    • Beth

      If you read the Jewish bible which is not the same as the Old Testament in key ways, you would see that Jesus did not fulfill any of the things that the Jewish bible said the messiah would fulfill and so could not be the messiah. Your bible was a rearrangement of the Jewish bible in order to make it seem that it was all leading to Jesus. You could read the Jewish bible and see this for yourself to be true. There is a reason Jews do not have Jesus in our religion.

      December 25, 2011 at 12:17 am |
    • jerryjupiter

      ha funny thing is jesus has many names, get out from behind your telescope.

      December 25, 2011 at 12:20 am |
    • Jubril

      The reason why I as a Muslim from a christian family don't believe that Jesus is God is in the bible Jesus said
      "Father Father why had thou forsaken me", he was crying to a higher power for help, he did not want to be crucified. He could not have been referring to himself, about miracles there are many prophets that performed miracles like Moses and almost all prophets faced suffering and death

      December 25, 2011 at 12:23 am |
    • Paul

      Gadfkie and Beth – Jesus fulfilled ALL of the prophecies of the Hebrew Scriptures, no matter what order us Christians switched them, as you postulate. The odds of fulfilling 48 of the prophecies is 1 in 10 to the 157th power, a number which we can't comprehend. The Messiah would come from the line of King David or the Root of Jesse, or the line of Judah. Jesus's line is given in the Bible, on both sides of his parents, Matthew (Joseph His legal Father) and Luke (Mary His mother).

      20 As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus,[i] for he will save his people from their sins.”

      22 All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:

      23 “Look! The virgin will conceive a child!
      She will give birth to a son,
      and they will call him Immanuel,[j]
      which means ‘God is with us.’”

      The great thing about our country, though, is we all have freedom to believe or not believe. I pray, though I know not who you both are, that the veil gets lifted and you see the light and the Truth about Jesus.

      Jesus means Yahweh saves in Hebrew. Immanuel means God with Us. Both names of of Christ our Lord.


      December 25, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • Beth

      Paul, try with an open mind reading some Jewish sources and you will see that to the Jews, looking at the Jewish bible (the Tanach, which is different than your Old Testament) Jesus did not fulfill any of the things he should have if he were the Messiah. According to Jewish scripture the Messiah would be an observant Jew descended from the house of King David, be an ordinary human being (as opposed to the son of god), bring peace to the world, gather all Jews back into Israel, rebuild the ancient Temple in Jerusalem and unite humanity in the worship of the Jewish God and Torah observance. He didn't do any of these. Jews therefore do not think he was the Messiah. Jesus is not a part of Judaism at all. I'm glad you feel so inspired by the story of him and by your religion but please try to understand that not everyone shares your beliefs. Nothing you said convinced me in the least.

      December 25, 2011 at 10:39 pm |
    • paul

      Beth – Jesus was an observant Jew and a descendant from King David (on both sides – through Solomon and Nathan). The Hebrew Scriptures speaks of the Messiah as the Suffering Servant, that would be rejected by those who He came to save. After the times of the Gentiles (the past 2000 years), He will come again and bring peace finally to the world. The lion will lie down with the lamb.

      Isaiah 45:23 –
      23 I have sworn by my own name; I have spoken the truth, and I will never go back on my word:
      Every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will confess allegiance to me.

      And the Suffering Servant from Isaiah 53 –

      3 He was despised and rejected— a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We (Israel) turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care.

      4 Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows[a] that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins!
      5 But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.
      6 All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.

      I was raised with many Jewish families. Have been to over 25 Bar/Bas Mitvahs when I was a kid. My sister-in-law is Jewish. She does not believe in Jesus, but my family loves her as our own! I have a heart and love for Jews and for Israel, which is rightfully land given to the Jews. I myself, am a spiritual Jew. Completed by Jesus's life and death on the cross.

      2 Corinthians 4:3-4
      3 If the Good News we preach is hidden behind a veil, it is hidden only from people who are perishing. 4 Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.

      Hope this helps, Beth.

      Shalom! Chag Sameach!

      December 26, 2011 at 10:54 pm |
    • Beth

      Again, you are using *Christian* sources that prove your circular logic argument. Jewish scholars do not agree. At the time of Jesus's supposed birth and supposed life there had been various others who falsely claimed to be the Messiah. There were others who claimed to be the Messiah and who people did not follow. There were some who people did follow and then after their death they realized they could not have been the messiah because the temple was not rebuilt and there was not lasting peace.

      You are ignoring the fact that Jesus did not fulfill the requirements of the Jewish bible (rebuilding of the temple, bringing peace, etc) and picking and choosing things to prove your point. It is very obvious at the least that Jesus did not fulfill the requirement of bringing peace to earth. He certainly didn't rebuild the temple. He could not be the 'son of God' as Christians claim and be the Messiah because the Messiah was to be an ordinary person. He could not be the Messiah as required in the Jewish bible. Your bible was written differently and so you think he was the Messiah. You might want to check out what Jewish sources say on this if you truly want to know why Jewish people do not believe Jesus was the Messiah. But I think you are just trying to convert. Your methods won't work. We just hear you as someone with a made-up mind who isn't really examining this issue.

      Going to any number of Bar and Bat Mitzvahs is not the same as studying Judaism. you don't know Judaism. You are not a Jew and your religion is not a "fulfillment" of my religion. Your religion is a different religion. It is offensive to tell people that your religion is the fulfillment of yours, but that's just what Muslims would tell you about your religion–that yours is the partial one and theirs is the complete. They would site tons of scripture to prove their point. You would not believe them any more than I am convinced by a thing you have to say. You are not having a conversation with me. You are spouting off with a CLOSED mind that is not open to learning.

      From Aish's we bsite

      'hat is the Messiah supposed to accomplish? The Bible says that he will:
      Build the Third Temple (Ezekiel 37:26-28).
      Gather all Jews back to the Land of Israel (Isaiah 43:5-6).
      Usher in an era of world peace, and end all hatred, oppression, suffering and disease. As it says: "Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall man learn war anymore." (Isaiah 2:4)
      Spread universal knowledge of the God of Israel, which will unite humanity as one. As it says: "God will be King over all the world ― on that day, God will be One and His Name will be One" (Zechariah 14:9).
      If an individual fails to fulfill even one of these conditions, then he cannot be "The Messiah."'

      Because no one has ever fulfilled the Bible's description of this future King, Jews still await the coming of the Messiah. All past Messianic claimants, including Jesus of Nazareth, Bar Cochba and Shabbtai Tzvi have been rejected.
      Christians counter that Jesus will fulfill these in the Second Coming, but Jewish sources show that the Messiah will fulfill the prophecies outright; in the Bible no concept of a second coming exists.

      December 28, 2011 at 10:10 am |
    • Beth

      2) Jesus Did Not Embody the Personal Qualifications of Messiah
      A. Messiah as Prophet
      The Messiah will become the greatest prophet in history, second only to Moses. (Targum – Isaiah 11:2; Maimonides – Yad Teshuva 9:2)
      Prophecy can only exist in Israel when the land is inhabited by a majority of world Jewry, a situation which has not existed since 300 BCE. During the time of Ezra, when the majority of Jews refused to move from Babylon to Israel, prophecy ended upon the death of the last prophets ― Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi.
      Jesus was not a prophet; he appeared on the scene approximately 350 years after prophecy had ended.

      B. Descendent of David
      According to Jewish sources, the Messiah will be born of human parents and possess normal physical attributes like other people. He will not be a demi-god, (1) nor will he possess supernatural qualities.
      The Messiah must be descended on his father's side from King David (see Genesis 49:10, Isaiah 11:1, Jeremiah 23:5, 33:17; Ezekiel 34:23-24). According to the Christian claim that Jesus was the product of a virgin birth, he had no father ― and thus could not have possibly fulfilled the messianic requirement of being descended on his father's side from King David. (2)
      C. Torah Observance
      The Messiah will lead the Jewish people to full Torah observance. The Torah states that all mitzvot remain binding forever, and anyone coming to change the Torah is immediately identified as a false prophet. (Deut. 13:1-4)
      Throughout the New Testament, Jesus contradicts the Torah and states that its commandments are no longer applicable. For example, John 9:14 records that Jesus made a paste in violation of Shabbat, which caused the Pharisees to say (verse 16), "He does not observe Shabbat!"
      3) Mistranslated Verses "Referring" to Jesus
      Biblical verses can only be understood by studying the original Hebrew text ― which reveals many discrepancies in the Christian translation.
      A. Virgin Birth
      The Christian idea of a virgin birth is derived from the verse in Isaiah 7:14 describing an "alma" as giving birth. The word "alma" has always meant a young woman, but Christian theologians came centuries later and translated it as "virgin." This accords Jesus' birth with the first century pagan idea of mortals being impregnated by gods.

      B. Suffering Servant
      Christianity claims that Isaiah chapter 53 refers to Jesus, as the "suffering servant."
      In actuality, Isaiah 53 directly follows the theme of chapter 52, describing the exile and redemption of the Jewish people. The prophecies are written in the singular form because the Jews ("Israel") are regarded as one unit. Throughout Jewish scripture, Israel is repeatedly called, in the singular, the "Servant of God" (see Isaiah 43:8). In fact, Isaiah states no less than 11 times in the chapters prior to 53 that the Servant of God is Israel. When read correctly, Isaiah 53 clearly [and ironically] refers to the Jewish people being "bruised, crushed and as sheep brought to slaughter" at the hands of the nations of the world. These descriptions are used throughout Jewish scripture to graphically describe the suffering of the Jewish people (see Psalm 44). Isaiah 53 concludes that when the Jewish people are redeemed, the nations will recognize and accept responsibility for the inordinate suffering and death of the Jews.

      December 28, 2011 at 10:12 am |
    • Beth

      4) Jewish Belief is Based Solely on National Revelation
      Throughout history, thousands of religions have been started by individuals, attempting to convince people that he or she is God's true prophet. But personal revelation is an extremely weak basis for a religion because one can never know if it is indeed true. Since others did not hear God speak to this person, they have to take his word for it. Even if the individual claiming personal revelation performs miracles, there is still no verification that he is a genuine prophet. Miracles do not prove anything. All they show ― assuming they are genuine ― is that he has certain powers. It has nothing to do with his claim of prophecy.
      Judaism, unique among all of the world's major religions, does not rely on "claims of miracles" as the basis for its religion. In fact, the Bible says that God sometimes grants the power of "miracles" to charlatans, in order to test Jewish loyalty to the Torah (Deut. 13:4).
      Of the thousands of religions in human history, only Judaism bases its belief on national revelation ― i.e. God speaking to the entire nation. If God is going to start a religion, it makes sense He'll tell everyone, not just one person.

      Maimonides states (Foundations of Torah, ch. 8):
      The Jews did not believe in Moses, our teacher, because of the miracles he performed. Whenever anyone's belief is based on seeing miracles, he has lingering doubts, because it is possible the miracles were performed through magic or sorcery. All of the miracles performed by Moses in the desert were because they were necessary, and not as proof of his prophecy.
      What then was the basis of [Jewish] belief? The Revelation at Mount Sinai, which we saw with our own eyes and heard with our own ears, not dependent on the testimony of others... as it says, "Face to face, God spoke with you..." The Torah also states: "God did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us ― who are all here alive today." (Deut. 5:3)
      Judaism is not miracles. It is the personal eyewitness experience of every man, woman and child, standing at Mount Sinai 3,300 years ago.

      1. Maimonides devotes much of the "Guide for the Perplexed" to the fundamental idea that God is incorporeal, meaning that He assumes no physical form. God is Eternal, above time. He is Infinite, beyond space. He cannot be born, and cannot die. Saying that God assumes human form makes God small, diminishing both His unity and His divinity. As the Torah says: "God is not a mortal" (Numbers 23:19).
      2. In response, it is claimed that Joseph adopted Jesus, and passed on his genealogy via adoption. There are two problems with this claim:
      a) There is no Biblical basis for the idea of a father passing on his tribal line by adoption. A priest who adopts a son from another tribe cannot make him a priest by adoption;

      b) Joseph could never pass on by adoption that which he doesn't have. Because Joseph descended from Jeconiah (Matthew 1:11) he fell under the curse of that king that none of his descendants could ever sit as king upon the throne of David. (Jeremiah 22:30; 36:30)
      To answer this difficult problem, apologists claim that Jesus traces himself back to King David through his mother Mary, who allegedly descends from David, as shown in the third chapter of Luke. There are four basic problems with this claim:
      a) There is no evidence that Mary descends from David. The third chapter of Luke traces Joseph's genealogy, not Mary's.

      b) Even if Mary can trace herself back to David, that doesn't help Jesus, since tribal affiliation goes only through the father, not mother. Cf. Numbers 1:18; Ezra 2:59.

      c) Even if family line could go through the mother, Mary was not from a legitimate Messianic family. According to the Bible, the Messiah must be a descendent of David through his son Solomon (II Samuel 7:14; I Chronicles 17:11-14, 22:9-10, 28:4-6). The third chapter of Luke is irrelevant to this discussion because it describes lineage of David's son Nathan, not Solomon. (Luke 3:31)

      d) Luke 3:27 lists Shealtiel and Zerubbabel in his genealogy. These two also appear in Matthew 1:12 as descendants of the cursed Jeconiah. If Mary descends from them, it would also disqualify her from being a Messianic progenitor.

      December 28, 2011 at 10:15 am |
    • Paul

      We both can agree that we come to the table with certain biases. As always, in any discussion, these biases can cause a problem in seeing the other person’s point. You are a Jew because your parents are Jewish, therefore you do not believe or even regard Jesus as anything other than a historical figure, who possibly did not exist. And if He did, He was like the many other so-called False Messiahs. I am Christian because my parents were Christian, and was told as a child that Jesus was God and the Messiah. But Jesus did say that one must be Born Again to see the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of which the Jews of Jesus’s time were waiting for, as you refer to, overcoming foreign rule (Romans), Rebuild Temple, Peace to the world, etc. But what Jesus was saying was, that it was not by physical birth, but by a spiritual birth.

      Zecharaiah 4:6

      6 Then he said to me, “This is what the Lord says to Zerubbabel: It is not by force nor by strength, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

      The Hebrew Scriptures, which are part of my scriptures, speak of two Messiahs, Messiah ben Joseph (Suffering Servant) and Messiah ben David (Conquering). The first time Jesus came, He came to Save and fulfill the Law, not abolish it. The second time He comes, it will be to judge, and set up His Kingdom.

      December 30, 2011 at 7:00 am |
    • Paul

      Your mention above of what the Messiah will do, is only centered on the Jewish people. This is a very non-inclusive approach. But in Isaiah 14:26 it says that God has a plan for the WHOLE earth, a hand of judgment upon all the nations. Earlier in the same chapter, it says in verse 2 that the nations of the world will help the Lord’s people to return. On May 14, 1948, the United Nations voted in Israel as a nation! In Isaiah 66:7-8 it is written –

      7 “Before the birth pains even begin, Jerusalem gives birth to a son. 8Who has ever seen anything as strange as this? Who has ever heard of such a thing? Has a nation ever been born in a single day? Has a country ever come forth in a mere moment? But by the time Jerusalem’s birth pains begin, her children will be born.”

      God’s plan of salvation is for the WHOLE world. Not just Israel. Every knee will bend and every tongue confess allegiance to me (Isaiah 45:23). Deuteronomy 32:21 says that I will rouse their jealousy through people who are not even a people; I will provoke their anger through the foolish gentiles! (I am one of those foolish gentiles who now worships and loves the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob!).

      Jesus opened up God to the foolish gentiles. Romans 11:25 Some of the people of Israel have hard hearts, but this will last only until the full number of Gentiles comes to Christ. Verse 30 goes on to say, Once you Gentiles were rebels against God, but when the people of Israel rebelled against him, God was merciful to you instead.

      The last thing to mention is your challenge of Jesus’s lineage. Which is amazing in the first place. That He is descended from both parents (Joseph being the adopted Father of Jesus). And there is a reason Jesus was not a physical descendent of Joseph. This goes back to the curse of Jehoiachin in Jeremiah 22:30 –

      29 O earth, earth, earth!
      Listen to this message from the Lord!
      30 This is what the Lord says:
      ‘Let the record show that this man Jehoiachin was childless.
      He is a failure,
      for none of his children will succeed him on the throne of David
      to rule over Judah.’

      If Joseph had been the physical father of Jesus, Jesus could not have been the Messiah. Jesus is the son of Mary, not the son of Joseph and Mary. If Jesus had been a physical descendent of Joseph and not virgin-born, He would have been disqualified because of this divine curse.

      Jesus descended from Mary, who also was a descendent of King David through the lineage of Nathan, He had a legal claim to the throne. The two lines of David focused on the Messiah. No one else could ever bring a legitimate claim to the throne of David. Luke presented the physical line of Jesus through His mother who descended from David through the line of Nathan (Luke 3:31). in this way Jesus escaped the curse of Jehoiachin.
      If Jesus is not the Messiah who has descended from David according to the Old Testament prophecies, there will never be a Messiah. For Jesus had no human children, and each of his brothers (who are the only other possibilities through whom another messiah might descend) had the curse on him and would have passed it on to his children” and Jeremiah’s prophecy would thus be fulfilled.
      Jesus Christ is the legitimate descendent from two lines of King David. He is the King announced in the Jewish prophecies. He is the King Messiah who was also the Son of God. He is the “King of Kings and Lord of Lords.” No one else can make that claim. He is the only possible legitimate Messiah. There can absolutely be no other.

      In Deuteronomy 6:5 we are instructed to 5 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. 6 And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today.

      How do we do this? Well God showed us the Way. By dying for us while we were sinners. He saved us because He knew that we could not save ourselves.

      I John 4:19 states that We Love because He loved us First.

      Hope this helps.

      Please take a look at the following two articles.


      December 30, 2011 at 7:04 am |
    • Paul

      And regarding your mention of other Messiahs, please read the following –

      Acts 5:33-39
      33 When they heard this, the high council was furious and decided to kill them. 34 But one member, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, who was an expert in religious law and respected by all the people, stood up and ordered that the men be sent outside the council chamber for a while. 35 Then he said to his colleagues, “Men of Israel, take care what you are planning to do to these men! 36 Some time ago there was that fellow Theudas, who pretended to be someone great. About 400 others joined him, but he was killed, and all his followers went their various ways. The whole movement came to nothing. 37 After him, at the time of the census, there was Judas of Galilee. He got people to follow him, but he was killed, too, and all his followers were scattered.
      38 “So my advice is, leave these men alone. Let them go. If they are planning and doing these things merely on their own, it will soon be overthrown. 39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You may even find yourselves fighting against God!”

      December 30, 2011 at 7:07 am |
    • Paul

      Beth – I did not address your comments on Isaiah 53. This is certainly is not referring to the suffering as Israel but to the suffering of the messiah! In verse 3 it states We (Israel) have turned our backs on Him and looked the other way. in verse 4 it says, Yet it was our weaknesses He carried; it was our sorrows that weighed Him down. And we thought His troubles were a punishment from G-d, a punishment for HIS OWN sins! But He was PIERCED for OUR (Israel and the world) rebellion, crushed for OUR SINS!

      Isaiah 26:18-19 says –
      18 We, too, writhe in agony, but nothing comes of our suffering. We have not given salvation to the earth, nor brought life into the world.
      19 But those who die in the Lord will live; their bodies will rise again! Those who sleep in the earth will rise up and sing for joy! For your life-giving light will fall like dew on your people in the place of the dead!

      Isaiah 53 is speaking of Jesus.

      December 30, 2011 at 8:12 am |
    • Paul

      Beth – Three more passage to share with you. One speaks of the veil that is on the minds and hearts of unbelievers. The other speaks of God making salvation available to the Gentiles. Before Jesus, only the Jews worshiped the One True God!

      2 Corinthians 3: 11 – 18

      11For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious. 12Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech—13unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. 14But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. 15But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. 16Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

      Romans 11:5-24

      5 It is the same today, for a few of the people of Israel[c] have remained faithful because of God’s grace—his undeserved kindness in choosing them. 6 And since it is through God’s kindness, then it is not by their good works. For in that case, God’s grace would not be what it really is—free and undeserved.

      7 So this is the situation: Most of the people of Israel have not found the favor of God they are looking for so earnestly. A few have—the ones God has chosen—but the hearts of the rest were hardened. 8 As the Scriptures say,

      “God has put them into a deep sleep.
      To this day he has shut their eyes so they do not see,
      and closed their ears so they do not hear.”[d]

      9 Likewise, David said,

      “Let their bountiful table become a snare,
      a trap that makes them think all is well.
      Let their blessings cause them to stumble,
      and let them get what they deserve.
      10 Let their eyes go blind so they cannot see,
      and let their backs be bent forever.”[e]

      11 Did God’s people stumble and fall beyond recovery? Of course not! They were disobedient, so God made salvation available to the Gentiles. But he wanted his own people to become jealous and claim it for themselves. 12 Now if the Gentiles were enriched because the people of Israel turned down God’s offer of salvation, think how much greater a blessing the world will share when they finally accept it.

      13 I am saying all this especially for you Gentiles. God has appointed me as the apostle to the Gentiles. I stress this, 14 for I want somehow to make the people of Israel jealous of what you Gentiles have, so I might save some of them. 15 For since their rejection meant that God offered salvation to the rest of the world, their acceptance will be even more wonderful. It will be life for those who were dead! 16 And since Abraham and the other patriarchs were holy, their descendants will also be holy—just as the entire batch of dough is holy because the portion given as an offering is holy. For if the roots of the tree are holy, the branches will be, too.

      17 But some of these branches from Abraham’s tree—some of the people of Israel—have been broken off. And you Gentiles, who were branches from a wild olive tree, have been grafted in. So now you also receive the blessing God has promised Abraham and his children, sharing in the rich nourishment from the root of God’s special olive tree. 18 But you must not brag about being grafted in to replace the branches that were broken off. You are just a branch, not the root.

      19 “Well,” you may say, “those branches were broken off to make room for me.” 20 Yes, but remember—those branches were broken off because they didn’t believe in Christ, and you are there because you do believe. So don’t think highly of yourself, but fear what could happen. 21 For if God did not spare the original branches, he won’t[f] spare you either.

      22 Notice how God is both kind and severe. He is severe toward those who disobeyed, but kind to you if you continue to trust in his kindness. But if you stop trusting, you also will be cut off. 23 And if the people of Israel turn from their unbelief, they will be grafted in again, for God has the power to graft them back into the tree. 24 You, by nature, were a branch cut from a wild olive tree. So if God was willing to do something contrary to nature by grafting you into his cultivated tree, he will be far more eager to graft the original branches back into the tree where they belong.

      God's plan to SAVE all mankind, not just the Jews.

      Galatians 3

      23 Before the way of faith in Christ was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, until the way of faith was revealed.

      24 Let me put it another way. The law was our guardian until Christ came; it protected us until we could be made right with God through faith. 25 And now that the way of faith has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian.

      26 For you are all children[m] of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes.[n] 28 There is no longer Jew or Gentile,[o] slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children[p] of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.

      Very powerful stuff! G-d is a mighty God. Mighty to Save. Even me a sinner!


      December 30, 2011 at 10:26 am |
    • Beth

      You did not address *anything* I posted. You are merely posting what you already believe, showing you have not bothered to read anything I posted in any real way. You have no examined the valid reasons Jewish people do not believe in Jesus and why he isn't part of our religion. You do not impress me as the least bit open minded. YOU are the one who inquired why Jews do not believe in Jesus and YOU are the one who claimed it was proven he is the messiah and I proved *why* Jews do not believe in this. You did not refute even one thing I posted. You will not gain any Christian converts via this method of argument. I am not sure your motivation. Mine is standing up against your bigotry. You may think you love Jews but we do not feel the love from your posts.

      December 30, 2011 at 10:41 am |
    • Beth

      It comes down to this–your claim is that Jesus was obviously the messiah and your proof is Christian sources and Christian interpretation of the old Testament, which is NOT the same as the Jewish bible in some key ways. I posted the reasons why Jesus is not seem as the messiah by Jews. he did not fulfill ANY of the requirements of the messiah that are in the Jewish religious texts. My posts detail exactly why this is true, one requirement by one at a time. You did not respond to any of this. You are trying to convince Jews we are wrong.

      We Jews believe there are many paths to god. We do not need to try to convert others or to try to push our religion on them. I'm glad you feel Christianity helps YOU. I wish you would not attempt to convert others. It is offensive in many ways. I guarantee you that you do not know much of Judaism. Your posts will only be offensive to Jews and will put people off. Would you want to read tons of scripture from the Koran that proves you are wrong? probably not. Would you be convinced if the person posted more and more scripture? Probably not. What would you think of such a person?

      December 30, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • Paul

      Beth – OK. Your point is taken. I understand. Sorry.

      By the way, I have read the Koran, and am currently studying it now. And I do now Judaism. Not as well as you, but I do know a little.

      December 30, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
    • Beth

      I can agree with one thing–you believe this stuff only because you were taught it as a child. If you had not been taught it and not exposed to this stuff you would not believe in it. If you lived before the time Christianity developed you would not believe it.

      December 30, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • Paul

      Actually, you are 100% wrong there. I walked away from the faith of my childhood for many years, and only came back to it within the past 5 years. I knew nothing when I was a kid. I could not defend my faith, at all. It's my study of the Bible and The Holy Spirit that gives me my wisdom and knowledge. This last comment from you shows your bigotry and disrespect. I pray that one day the Lord reveals Himself to you too! Ask Him and He will!

      December 30, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
    • Beth

      I'm sorry. That's not how I meant what I said. What we believe is usually largely influenced by where we are born, who are parents are, what we are taught and our childhood religion and beliefs or lack thereof. If I had been born Christian chances are I would be Christian. You were born Christian and while you may have stepped away from your religion you returned. If you were born 2500 years ago you could not be Christian because it didn't exist yet. Not everyone sticks with their childhood religion but most do.

      I recommend if you want to study Islam or to truly understand why Jewish people are Jewish and do not convert to Christianity that you learn from Muslim sources and Jewish sources. If you only look at other religions through Christian sources you will never understand them. I'm not saying this to get you to alter your own religion or religious beliefs but because what I read from Christian sources is almost always off the mark when it comes to understanding of Islam and Judaism. If you are merely looking for sources that are going to superficially explore these other religions with the goal of making you feel that yours is best then many Christian sources will do that for you without really teaching you much. If you want to see what the world is like through a different lens then you will have to look for sources that are from those religions themselves.

      December 31, 2011 at 12:21 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Beth is not wrong – in fact, she is virtually 100% correct. What you believe is almost entirely a function of where your parents lived and what they believed, and which cult they susequently indoctrinated you into without your permission. Almost no one converts between cults.

      December 31, 2011 at 12:37 am |
    • paul

      I agree with the both of you. That is why Jesus said we must be born again. We are all born physically into our families, culture and religion, but we must be born into God's family, which is a spiritual birth.

      John 3:3-8
      3 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again,[a] you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”

      4 “What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?”

      5 Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.[b] 6 Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life.[c] 7 So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You[d] must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”

      I am reading the Koran. I am getting directly from the source. It says that Jesus, Son of Mary, is not the Christ. This is different than what the New Testament says. Yeah, I know. Maybe the New Testament is wrong. But they both can't be right. They can both be wrong, and there is no G-d. But they both can't be right.

      I have a personal relationship with G-d. I was just trying to share in this exchange. If you were my neighbor, I would respect your beliefs and have an open diologue.

      December 31, 2011 at 9:00 am |
    • Beth

      You should be able to find Muslim writings and interpretation of the Koran. Reading the Koran with this will make it a lot easier to see how Muslims interpret and understand the Koran. Reading it without this you may assume it means things that it does not.

      I personally do not think any religious text is 'right'. I think they offer some pears of wisdom and pointers toward love but that they are mostly ancient stories distorted by human retelling or often intended as metaphor. I do not take any of them literally.

      I'm glad you would be polite and kind if I were a neighbor. But you think I'm going to h ell unless I think the way you do and I would sense in you. I know that it is your belief sysmtem. I can appreciate the good part of your religion and the good people do who are different belief systems than I do but this is part of your beliefs that I can't respect and can't appreciate. I guess you may feel the same if someone was thinking your religion was wrong and you will go to hel l unless you believed what they believed. I'm guessing in real life you do not go around citing scripture.

      December 31, 2011 at 10:46 am |
    • Beth

      I would think that if Jesus really did exist and he really did say the things in your last post that Jesus (as a god) would have been sophisticated enough to show him/herself to other cultures in ways those cultures would be able to recognize and accept and that such a god would offer multiple paths to god. So, the Christians see god as Jeus and a trinity and Muslims call god, 'Allah' and etc.

      I'm curious what you think happened to all the souls of the peolpe who lived prior to Jesus.

      December 31, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • paul

      Beth – Ha ha No I don't. : – ) But I am ready to give an answer to those who ask of my hope. I don't know who you are. Why would I care to share a little of my faith with you. I don't want you to go to hell. And that is really between G-d and you. I try not to judge anyone. A colleague of mine, who led a very fast lifestyle (women, drinking, drugs, gambling, basically every vice) did not want me to share my faith with him. I respected that. And even with my Tim Tebow faith, we were still friends. I cared a lot about him. He committed suicide last year. His pregnant girl-friend found him dead in his apartment. Slit his own throat. This Feb will be his one year anniversary. I can cry just thinking about his life right before he spiraled out of control. I think about him a lot. Wish I was more bold to share with him the gospel. Maybe things would have turned out differently.

      Regarding your comment about scripture changing and getting altered, you should know the following verse from Isaiah. It is one of my favorite. And a great reminder!

      Isaiah 40:8
      8 The grass withers and the flowers fade,
      but the word of our God stands FOREVER.”

      And Jesus said in Matthew 5:18 –
      18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved.

      Sorry to quote scripture again, but I felt it was appropiate here.

      Have a good day. Happy Secular New Year! : – )

      December 31, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • paul

      Beth – To answer your one question, the NT in Hebrews states that people before Jesus were justified (made right before G-D) by Faith. Faith in the Messiah to come.

      Hebrews 11 –

      1 Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. 2 Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation.

      3 By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.

      4 It was by faith that Abel brought a more acceptable offering to God than Cain did. Abel’s offering gave evidence that he was a righteous man, and God showed his approval of his gifts. Although Abel is long dead, he still speaks to us by his example of faith.

      5 It was by faith that Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying—“he disappeared, because God took him.”[a] For before he was taken up, he was known as a person who pleased God. 6 And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

      7 It was by faith that Noah built a large boat to save his family from the flood. He obeyed God, who warned him about things that had never happened before. By his faith Noah condemned the rest of the world, and he received the righteousness that comes by faith.

      8 It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. 9 And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith—for he was like a foreigner, living in tents. And so did Isaac and Jacob, who inherited the same promise. 10 Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God.

      11 It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old. She believed[b] that God would keep his promise. 12 And so a whole nation came from this one man who was as good as dead—a nation with so many people that, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore, there is no way to count them.

      13 All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. 14 Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. 15 If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. 16 But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

      You should read the Book of Hebrews, especially Chapter 11.

      December 31, 2011 at 11:06 am |
    • Beth

      It sounds like your friend had some mental health issues that were not properly treated It's very unfortunate. I also have lost a friend to suicide. It might be nice if your friend shared your religious beliefs but I do not think it would have cured him of mental health issues without proper treatment.

      Our temple has 3 versions of our Jewish bible. One translates things into more modern language, one does not and the other is new and I haven't yet figured out how it is unique but it is. We sometimes read parts of it aloud and can see and hear that there are variations in how translators chose to write things. Sometimes these variations change the meaning just a little and sometimes a lot. All have footnotes in them that explain information about differences in translations. They say things such as, "some scholars translate the world (such and such) as x but others translate it as y." or "This is sometimes mistranslated as 'z' but it is really 'b' because such and such reason' (they give complete explanation). We all can see that we could not take the bible literally. Which version would be take literally? Even the Hebrew words in the Hebrew version change meaning with time. If you think about words in English in your life time there are many that changed meaning or added additional meanings. "That's sick, man!" would not have meant the same thing in the 70s as it does today.

      Not all people believe in a coming messiah. There were many types of cultures in the world before Jesus's supposed life time and certainly many had no notion of a coming messiah. Buddhists and Taoists do not even have the idea of god in their religions. What happened to all those people?

      I recommend you read Eckhart Tolle's 'The Power of Now'. He talks a lot about the topic of 'faith' in somewhat different language but the outcome is the same.

      Happy New Year!

      December 31, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
    • Paul

      Beth – Thanks. I will check it out. Happy New Year to you too!

      December 31, 2011 at 10:41 pm |
  18. JOHN

    It's funny, most other religions have no problem with Jesus. In fact, as far as I know, all of the major religions (including Hinduism and Buddhism, this I know for sure because I am Hindu) accept his divinity. I grew up a Hindu and had a picture of Christ in my house. Despite this, most Christians do not recognize the divinity of any other religion and will go so far as to call everything else false. Nevermind the fact that the Jesus story is a carbon copy of several other religious tales that preceded it (a Hindu example, the birth of Krishna). If most Christians knew the facts about Christianity and how it came to be (how the Bible was decided upon by a group of politicians at the Council of Nicea), perhaps they would stop taking their Bible so literally and have some appreciation for other faiths (the same appreciation other faiths have for the divine Christ).

    December 24, 2011 at 11:56 pm |
    • Answer

      "If most Christians knew the facts about Christianity and how it came to be (how the Bible was decided upon by a group of politicians at the Council of Nicea), perhaps they would stop taking their Bible so literally and have some appreciation for other faiths (the same appreciation other faiths have for the divine Christ)."

      That is the truth. Most ignorant religious people think outright that it was hand delivered by their deity in the book form all pristine like – instead of people cutting and gluing each page /each chapter to make the junk book what it was.

      December 25, 2011 at 12:01 am |
    • JenniferinTX

      I studied history in college and I must say I agree with you. I was raised Methodist and I think they are a little more tolerant than say, Baptists, for example. But the bottom line for me is that I believe in God, the creator, and leave judging, if there's any to be done, to God. It makes my life a lot simpler and me the time needed to get my own house in order. I also believe that love brings joy into one's life, hate...not so much.

      December 25, 2011 at 12:08 am |
    • Matt

      I know the facts of Christianity and take the Bible as literally as can be. Compiling the separate scriptures into the Bible does not change the fact that they were all God inspired in the first place.

      December 25, 2011 at 12:08 am |
    • Answer

      "they were all God inspired in the first place."

      The chief reason of why you can not think. It does not automatically deduce down to being "divine" in any way.

      December 25, 2011 at 12:11 am |
    • Beth

      I don't think you are quite right about Buddhism since Buddhism does not include a belief in god. Buddhism does not include a belief in Jesus, either. Read Buddhist texts. There is no mention of Jesus in them. I'm quite sure there is no mention of Jesus in Hindu texts, either. I studied about both religions in college. Buddhists and Hindus may be polite to Christians and say, "we think Jesus was divine" but that doesn't make him part of those religions. There are many world religions–hundreds, and the majority do not include any belief in Jesus.

      December 25, 2011 at 12:21 am |
    • Beth

      Sorry–replied too quickly. I re-read your post and I like your message. 🙂

      December 25, 2011 at 12:25 am |
  19. Newsraider

    Nobody cares.

    December 24, 2011 at 11:56 pm |
    • Collin

      Except people who choose to fill in their name, e-mail and post on this board

      Oh wait... that's you isn't it?

      December 24, 2011 at 11:57 pm |
  20. Just Me

    but just maybe some ones other religion has shown love better than I. then they will be followed. It is my faullt if my Jesus is not represented well enough. peace and love to all.

    December 24, 2011 at 11:55 pm |
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      March 4, 2012 at 2:40 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.