Blog Archive


Come Reason's Apologetics Notes blog will highlight various news stories or current events and seek to explore them from a thoughtful Christian perspective. Less formal and shorter than the Web site articles, we hope to give readers points to reflect on concerning topics of the day.

Powered by Blogger.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Is Christianity Simply a Corrupted Form of Judaism?

Recently, more and more atheists are offering the objection that Christianity stole from ancient religions like Mithraism. They paint Christianity as plagiarized from other faiths, but as I've pointed out here and here; their similarities are more imagination than reality.

However, I recently received a question from a person that took a different tact on Christianity as a borrowed belief. She explains:
I am having a hard time explaining the difference between Judaism and Christianity. I have an ongoing argument with an atheist that goes like this:

He thinks Judaism precedes Christianity and therefore is the correct religion and way of thinking (he doesn't believe in either). He is claiming that Christianity came along later and changed the whole story and that makes Christianity false. "Since Judaism was one of the first religions why am I not following that way of thinking?" he asks.

I have been a Christian my whole life but I still have a lot to learn myself and also how to explain my faith to an atheist. I feel I am always defending my faith and it's very frustrating at times. I am very thankful for finding this ministry and all that you do! I am very blessed to be able to reach out. Thank you for everything! Any advice on how to tackle this argument?
Does the atheist have a point? If Judaism preceded Christianity by thousands of years, does it make sense that someone can be OK if they become Jewish instead of Christian? Did Christians "change the whole story" and is therefore a less reliable belief system than Judaism? The answer to all of these questions is no, and for a very simple reason: today's Judaism is not the same as the Judaism outlined in the Bible.

Destruction of the Temple Destroyed Biblical Judaism

Before Judaism was an established religion, they were an ethnic group. When Moses delivered the Jewish people from their slavery in Egypt, he also delivered to them a system of worshiping the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in a specific way. Even today, observant Jews recognize Moses' instructions given in the first five books of the Bible, known as the Torah, as the key texts defining what the Jewish faith is. Even the highly influential 12th century Rabbi Maimonides when listing his thirteen principle of faith underlined the central nature of these texts, declaring the prophecies of Moses are true, the Torah that exists today is the same Torah that Moses delivered, and the Torah cannot be changed.1

Yet the Torah poses a problem, even for Maimonides, because it outlines a sacrificial system of worship that places the Jewish priests and their service at the Altar of God right at the heart of the faith. The Israelites in the desert received this law and quickly built the Tabernacle to execute the commands of God. Later, David and Solomon erected the Temple in Jerusalem as a more permanent structure for Jewish worship. After the Jewish captivity by the Babylonians, another Temple was erected then expanded, but the Jewish faithful always had a temple where they could observe the laws Moses wrote down. That ceased in 70 A.D. when the Romans destroyed the Temple, just as Jesus had prophesied (Luke 21:6).

Rabbinic Judaism Cannot Offer Sacrifices

Given the destruction of the Jewish Temple, the priestly class was lost in the second dispersion of Jews around the world. In order to maintain their identity and hold on to some semblance of their faith, the local synagogue, which was a local house of worship and study, became the new spiritual center for faithful Jews, and the office of Rabbi (teacher) replaced the priest as the primary authority on how to live a devout life. As Dr. Rich Robinson writes, "It is best, however, to use the term 'Judaism' to refer to the religion of the rabbis that developed from about 200 B.C. onwards and crystallized following the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. In this way, Christianity is not described as a daughter religion to Judaism, but more correctly as a sister: both branched out from Old Testament Faith."2

This is a fair assessment, as the central commands of Moses concerning both the sacrifice and the Temple worship are not being practiced by any Jewish person today. Even the most orthodox follower cannot be orthodox in the key elements of their faith. Given this understanding of Judaism as it is practiced today, it is not older that Christianity. It formed at the same time as Christianity with both faiths anchoring their beliefs in the Old Testament.

Christianity as the Fulfillment of Judaism

However, there is a big difference between the two faiths. Another principle of Faith that Maimonides wrote was "I believe with perfect faith that all the words of the prophets are true," referencing not simply the Torah, but the entire Old Testament of the Bible. Those prophets clearly and repeatedly, promised a Jewish Messiah that would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), he would be "cut off" during the Temple period (Daniel 9:26), he would be rejected by his own people, (Psalm 22:6), and ultimately be the final sacrifice that takes away the sins of the people (Isaiah 53:5,8). In other words, Christianity is the logical outworking of the Jewish worship taught by Moses. While Rabbinic Judaism reduces the need for sacrifice to a symbolic act of self-denial, Christianity took the Jewish sacrificial system so seriously, the sacrifice of Jesus becomes the center of the Christian faith. As the Book of Hebrews, explains, Jesus fulfills the need for sacrifices and only this fulfillment explains why God would no longer require a temple whereby atonement for sin may be made.

Where to Go from Here?

For the atheist, he may or may not find any reason to rethink his objection to Christianity. However, the way the objection is phrased is problematic in itself. One doesn't discern the truth value of a belief by its age. To prove this, all you have to do is point out that a lot of what we believe about the world has been known only relatively recently. Science is learning new things all the time. Even atheism as we see it today is a very new point of view, only coming about in the past couple of centuries. It isn't the age of a proposition that makes it true, it's whether it fits the facts we do know. Christianity fits the prophecies and the need for sacrifice that are clear in the Old Testament. It fits the facts of why there is something rather than nothing, it fits the facts that good and evil are real things, and it fits the historical evidence we have for what happened after Jesus's death. "What fits the facts" is a better question to answer than "how old is it." Perhaps you can begin there.


1. Daum, Ahron. "Maimonides' Thirteen (13) Principles of Faith.", 24 Oct. 2013. Web. 10 Aug. 2015.
2. Robinson, Rich. "Judaism and the Jewish People: A Religion Profile from International Students, Inc." Jews for Jesus. International Students, Inc. 1995. Web. 9 Aug. 2015. 1.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

How Archaeology Confirms the Bible: Hazor, Joshua, and Solomon (video)

Did Joshua really exist and conquer the Canaanite lands? Were King David and King Solomon myths invented to encourage returning Israel exiles to look for a glorious united kingdom that never existed?

Watch this short video where Lenny explains how more and more of the biblical accounts are confirmed by evidence discovered with the archaeologist's spade.

Image courtesy Ian Scott [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Top Five Apologetics Blog Posts for July 2015

Things heated up at the blog over July. Our visitor traffic hit its highest point, with over 35,000 pageviews. The most popular articles focused on both Internet-based topics as well as issues on how to Christians should live in a post-Christian culture. A post written at the end of the month ("Six Errors Jesus Mythicists Repeatedly Make") was so popular it not only made the top five, but became the most popular post ever!

The release of the Center for Medical Progress's undercover videos catching Planned Parenthood casually selling of dismembered baby parts brought a lot of new readers to the blog as well. Without further adieu, here are the top five apologetics blog posts for July:
  1. Six Errors Jesus Mythicists Repeatedly Make
  2. Planned Parenthood is Selling Body Parts. Here's What You Can Do.
  3. How Did the Early Christians Influence Their Culture?
  4. How Should Christians Engage Others Online?
  5. How to Spot Impostor Christianity

Friday, August 07, 2015

Looking for More Like Caleb

The Book of Numbers tells of Israel at a crossroads. God had rescued them from the slavery of Egypt and demonstrated His power by wiping out the Egyptian army. Now, they faced a new challenge. Now, they stood at the edge of the Promised Land, scared to enter due to the giants living there.

It was then that the faithfulness of Caleb shone so brightly. Caleb sought to rally God's people, telling them not to be afraid. With God's help, they could defeat the giants and have the future the Lord desired for them.

We live in a day where Christians fell a lot like those Israelites. We've seen the blessings of God on our land and in our culture. But that past has faded as the giants of secularism, compromise, and immorality have overwhelmed the Christian in the pew. We are standing at a crossroads and God is waiting for his faithful to take up His cause and face those giants with knowledge and compassion.

The reason Come Reason Ministries exists is to equip and strengthen God's people to answer that call. My mission is to provide a thoughtful, attractive articulation of Christ to an increasingly hostile world. As the culture shrinks into darkness, by God's grace I desire to help Christians to confidently engage those seeking to undermine His truth.

Walking in Caleb's Footsteps

I want to see more Christians have the strength of Caleb to face the battles of today. Those who oppose the Gospel are grabbing the limelight and it's time to step up our efforts. We want to use the gifts that God has given, including this ministry, to serve his body and make an impact that cannot be ignored. We need to grow more Calebs for Christ.

Caleb made his mark on both the believer and the unbeliever and he provided a legacy for his descendants. Likewise, Come Reason's specific strategy focuses on three key areas of engagement: strengthening the Christian—especially the youth—in their ability to defend stand for their faith, reaching the lost, and ensuring the next generation of believers have the necessary tools to face their giants with confidence.

Strengthening the Church

The first group of Israelites failed to enter the land of promise God had given them. They failed to reason that the God who delivered them from Pharaoh could also deliver them from the giants. Today, the church has grown soft intellectually. People don't know the reasons why they believe what they believe, making them afraid to share their faith.

We need to strengthen Christians in the pew. This means pastors need to discuss how to better defend one's faith more often from the pulpit. Youth groups need to discuss the hot-button issues and offer a regular Q&A time where students can anonymously ask about things bothering them. Apologetics classes and conferences need to be more prominent. The Church needs to help the Christian who is afraid of the giants in the land by showing them the power of God's word and his equipping.

Reaching the World

Caleb not only encouraged his brothers, he also was a man of action. The Book of Joshua reports that when entering the land Caleb asked for the hill country, some of the most difficult terrain to conquer. Yet, he was wildly successful because he trusted in the Lord.

I want to reach the world with the message of the Gospel. That's why we leverage digital media so much at Come Reason. Our blogs, podcasts and YouTube channels are visited by thousands and thousands of people seeking answers to the big questions of life. I find myself regularly engaged in online debates with atheists and others using Twitter or Facebook. But we do it all in faith, asking the Lord to grow our efforts.

Providing for the Future

Joshua 14:14 declares “Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite to this day, because he wholly followed the Lord, the God of Israel.” Caleb provided a future for those who followed after him.

It's no secret that the church is hemorrhaging its youth. Without a specific effort to reach kids in junior high and high school, we risk losing them forever. Let's treat our youth not merely as those who seek to be entertained, but as individuals seeking to understand their faith and their world for the first time.

As an organization that has been at the forefront of the struggle for truth since the 1990s, Come Reason is uniquely poised to make a significant impact for the Kingdom. We have a vision to spread convincing Christianity across the globe by stirring the hearts and minds of the lost and the church. We've done this through our teaching, our youth training initiatives, our on-campus engagements, and our publishing efforts, each of which has been very successful given our modest budget and limited resources.

I'd like to ask you to consider supporting Come Reason in our efforts to create more Calebs. All the materials we offer free of charge, but they do cost money. Will you consider partnering with us? To help support this blog as well as out other efforts, click here to give securely. All gifts are fully deductible as allowed by law.

Let's pray for more Christians to be like Caleb. And then let's get to work making it happen.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Attention Media: What an Evangelical Is Not

Although as I write this the vote is over a year away, we have come into the election cycle once again in the United States. Pundits will be discussing and over-analyzing the various groups and constituencies they believe are key to the race for the presidency. Certainly the terms "Evangelicals," "Fundamentalists," and "Religious Right" will be bandied about quite a bit in debates and opinion pieces, but many in the press are sloppy in their distinctions. In this excerpt from a piece on his Web site, J.P. Moreland offers some points that would define what a Christian evangelical is and isn’t.  He writes:
Frequently, Evangelicals are identified with Fundamentalists and the Religious Right. This identification is false and harmful to the spirit of civil public discourse. Since I am an Evangelical, it may be helpful for me to explain what the term means. Two preliminary points are important. First, Evangelicals, just like anyone of commonsense, reserve the right to define who they are and what they stand for and we Evangelicals resent the media’s superficial and misleading characterization of us. Second, Evangelicalism is not primarily a social, political, or cultural movement. At its core, it is to be defined theologically.

...As Roger Olson has noted, an Evangelical is one who satisfies five characteristics: (1) biblicism (adherence to the supreme authority of the Bible regarding everything it teaches when properly interpreted); (2) conversionism (belief in the essential importance of radical conversion to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior); (3) the centrality of the cross of Jesus and the forgiveness it provides in attempts to grow in character and spirituality; (4) persuasive, respectful evangelism and social action on behalf of the poor, oppressed, and powerless, including the unborn; (5) a respect for but not slavish dependence on the history of Christian tradition and doctrine.1
Moreland goes on to quickly contrast why Evangelicals are different from Fundamentalists and why they cannot be considered the Religious Right. You can read the short article here and be ready to explain the differences before the onslaught of media misrepresentation begins.


1. Moreland, J. P. "Defining "Evangelical" in Public Discourse." J.P. Moreland, 3 Mar. 2008. Web. 6 Aug. 2015.

Come Reason brandmark Convincing Christianity
An invaluable addition to the realm of Christian apologetics

Mary Jo Sharp:

"Lenny Esposito's work at Come Reason Ministries is an invaluable addition to the realm of Christian apologetics. He is as knowledgeable as he is gracious. I highly recommend booking Lenny as a speaker for your next conference or workshop!"
Check out more X