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Common Misconceptions about Judaism, Christianity, and the Holy Scriptures

To those on the outside, it can be difficult to understand Judaism as a religion, or how it forms the foundation upon which Christianity is built. Both are based largely on the same collection of Holy Scriptures which today is often described as a 'hate Book' by those that don't understand.

   Even for many Jews and  Christians, the religion that they follow can be confusing, especially how the two religions are inextricably joined as one. That is to say, one cannot properly understand the Christian Gospel, unless they first understand Judaism, and the churches don't teach it. Because of this difficulty in understanding the religion, it is not surprising that there are misconceptions, both from Christians, and Jews, as well as the rest of the world. 

   The following is an amalgamation of questions, comments, and rumbles of libelous allegations, from around the vast and voluminous make-believe world of the internet. We will make an attempt to clarify some of the issues, and clear up some of the confusion. C’mon people, we can make an effort to understand each other without all the acrimonious ill will. 

   Perhaps the first of many common misconceptions, of Judeo-Christianity has to do with the authorship of the Holy Scriptures. Many people believe that the Bible is the end all - be all, of Judeo-Christian teaching, and that it was written by God Himself. Thus, there are those that believe, every word must be taken literally. This is not true, and what most people do not understand is that the books that make up the Bible were written over some 3500 years and by some 40 different authors. In fact, the Bible that we know consists of only a small, select number of the many books that were created by Jewish and Christian prophets and elders. 

   The people that wrote the books of the Bible came from many different walks of life. Some names, such as Moses, Jonah, Paul and Peter are well known to those who follow the Christian faith, but there were also many other authors. These authors came from three different continents and wrote in several different languages. In addition, culturally, these authors wrote over hundreds of years.  

   So how did the Bible come to be? It took many years to compile the Bible that we know of today, and many modern Christians would be surprised to know that there were several versions of the Bible over time. Essentially, high church officials picked and chose books to put into the Bible, sometimes adding one or two, while taking one or two out.

   There are many published copies of books that did not make it into the final version of the Bible, but were instead placed in a collection known as the Apocrypha. These were written works deemed 'not inspired', though some contain important historical material. The process by which which it was decided which works they considered inspired or not inspired has led critics of Christianity to point out that the Bible was just created on a whim, and was created by the capricious partialities of man, not by God. 

The Torah forbids eating pork because, when untreated, it can cause trichinosis.

   Many Jews still believe the Jewish Dietary Laws to be primitive health regulations. This theory is supported by the fact that eating only kosher food offers many health benefits. Some are obvious: rodents and insects are notorious as disease-carriers, and a discovered carcass is likely to be rotting and unsanitary. Some benefits have only come to light recently: the parasitic disease trichinosis has been linked to untreated pork. Based on this theory, some late-19th Century Jewish Reformers suggested that now that we know how to treat pork, the Torah law prohibiting it is no longer applicable.

   Of course, the real reasons for keeping kosher as commanded in the Torah go way beyond health measures. As Dennis Prager and Joseph Telushkin brilliantly wrote in their (original) book Eight Questions People Ask about Judaism: "The assumption that Kashrus [the Jewish Dietary Laws] is a health measure raises an interesting question. How do the people who believe that the prohibition of eating pigs saved Jews from death by trichinosis account for the Jews anticipating the negative effects of eating pig thousands of years before physicians knew about it? They must concede that either the Bible was written by G-d or by veritable supermen who made medical discoveries thousands of years before anyone else. In either case, persons holding such beliefs should adopt a more respectful attitude towards the laws of Kashrus, insofar as they might be based on other medical knowledge that the modern world does not yet know. We, of course, do not look to Kashrus as a source of medical benefits but as laws leading to moral sensitivity and holiness."

Kosher food is food that’s blessed by a Rabbi 

   No, kosher food isn’t food that’s blessed by a Rabbi. That’s probably the first misconception people have. The second is that kosher means clean - which sometimes I can only wish were really so. Actually the word kosher in Hebrew means “fit” or “suitable by Jewish law.” It doesn’t have to be applied only to food either; it can refer to almost anything else as well. Immodest dress can be not strictly kosher and a man who steals from his employer is doing something that’s definitely not kosher. In the realm of food it’s what’s accepted in Jewish law as permissible. Hopefully it’s also clean, but what makes it kosher is that is prepared according to the dictates of the Highest Authority.   

   And interestingly enough, nowhere are we told that the laws of kashrut for food are based on matters of health and are meant to prevent disease and sickness. Instead, the Bible explicitly says these laws should be followed so that “you sanctify yourselves and be holy” (Lev. 11:44). We are to be concerned with what we eat not for the sake of the health of our bodies but for the sake of our souls. How can observing dietary laws make a person more holy? How does the way we eat affect the spirituality of our souls?   Perhaps the best answer is that the laws of kashrut impose the need for self-discipline. We all know how hard it is for people to stick to a diet. The dietary laws are even more demanding. To learn to control cravings, to say, “This I can eat and this I can’t because God said so”, is to become holy - because holiness means to learn how to conquer our own passions, so that we control them and they don’t control us.   

   The very first law God ever gave humankind had to do with food: “From all the trees of the garden you may surely eat, but from the tree of knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat of it” (Genesis 2:16 – 17). God didn’t give Adam and Eve a reason. Maybe that was the very meaning of the commandment. Do it even though you don’t understand it to prove you acknowledge that God has more knowledge than you. That’s why disobeying meant they ate of the “tree of knowledge” - they felt they knew better. To refrain from eating something just because God commanded it is to demonstrate that we will accept what he says even if we don’t know the reason. And that, too, makes us holy. It is first, a question of  'obedience'.

Jews believe in a God of law; Christians believe in a God of love

   Christianity has long claimed that the difference between it and Judaism is that Christianity is a religion of love and mercy, while Judaism is a religion of law. The comparison was meant to put Judaism in a less favorable light. This came about as the early church was trying to distance itself from the Jewish religion. Jews, however, accept this analysis not as criticism but rather as a compliment. For Jews, a religion that stresses God’s love even for those who continue to sin too readily takes for granted that men and women can’t be better. It emphasizes humankind’s great faith in God but diminishes God’s faith in human kind.

   A God of law forces people to recognize that their blessings impose obligations, that privileges carry responsibilities and that obeying rules is the rent we pay for the gift of being allowed to live here on earth. For Judaism, the Lord our God is a God of love who shows mercy towards imperfect people even when they don’t get it 100 percent right – but at the same time he is a God of law who has enough confidence in us to believe we can live up to our responsibilities at least for a passing grade.

The Old Testament is the Jewish Bible

   Many people incorrectly believe that the Old Testament of the Christian Bible is the Jewish Bible. In truth, Jews follow the teachings of the Talmud and Tanakh, which are made up of the Torah, Nevi’im, and K’tuvim (Teachings, Prophets, & Writings). It is true that many of these books are found in the Old Testament of the Christian Bible, but the Old Testament is only made up of parts of these books as a textual source. The Tanakh (Mikra) & Talmud offer guidance for the practices of Judaism and can be considered a compilation of sources that make up the Hebrew Bible.

Jews cannot work on the Sabbath

   Shabbat (The Sabbath) falls between sundown on Friday and an hour after sundown on Saturday. During this time, a Jew is not supposed to do any “work,” which can mean a variety of things. As mentioned previously, not all practices are observed by everyone, and working on the Sabbath is likely the least-followed practice for Jews. In the United States, nearly 96 percent of all Jews surveyed indicated that they worked on the Sabbath.

   The Torah forbids field labor, treading a winepress, loading animals, doing business, carrying, traveling, and kindling fire on the Sabbath. In modern times, rabbis have further interpreted work to include activities such as turning on a light switch, answering the telephone, and tearing paper (yes, even toilet paper).

If you have a tattoo, you can’t be buried in a Jewish cemetery.

   If you could collect a dollar for every time you heard a Jew repeat this line, you could be a very wealthy fellow. We have researched this claim, and there is absolutely no source for it in Jewish law. The Torah certainly prohibits getting a tattoo (see Leviticus 19:28), but this has absolutely no bearing on burial, and a Jew with a tattoo may be buried in a Jewish cemetery. We are not sure of the origin of this oft-repeated myth, but it could be a distortion of the Jewish law that says that we don’t bury a ‘wicked’ person next to a ‘righteous’ person (see the Code of Jewish Law in Yoreh Deah 362:5 where this law is discussed). Of course, if we used this rule to restrict anyone who has ever gotten a tattoo, then we could never bury anyone who is not perfectly righteous in a Jewish cemetery!

Jews are a race

    To speak of a Jewish race is to perpetuate a myth propagated by Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime. In their fanatical quest to carry out the final solution, the total extermination of the entire Jewish people, the standard was “Jewish blood” going back countless generations. Even the smallest trace of Jewish ancestry was sufficient to warrant deportation to one of the death camps.
   In fact, over the course of centuries and as a result of migrations around the globe, Jews developed a multitude of different physical characteristics because of their fusion with other racial blends wherever they lived. Although, unlike Christianity they never actively engaged in the missionary work as evangelizers, Jews readily accepted sincere converts into their fold. Ruth, born a Moabite who voluntarily chose to enter into the covenant, is not only a biblical hero but also - by way of blessing for her noble deed - the ancestress of King David. From David will eventually come forth the Messiah whose mission is to bring the entire world together as children of one God.
   No one can change their race but people can and have, through the ages, chosen to share their lot with the Jewish people. Which means quite clearly that the Jews are not a race. They are people who share a religion whose ideal is to perfect the world and make all human kind worthy of God’s care.
   Human races are somewhat loosely defined, but many people believe that Jews are a separate race. However, a person of any race can be or become a Jew. If Judaism could be set apart as anything, it would be an ethnicity, but a person does not need to be an ethnic Jew to become a Jew. 

   The term “anti-Semitic” has come to mean “prejudice or hostility toward Jews,” but more correctly it means someone who is Semitic comes from a culture that spoke a Semitic language. This includes people who spoke Hebrew, Arabic, and Aramaic (among others) with Hebrew-speakers being in the minority and Arabic being the vast majority.

Jews cannot marry a Gentile

   Jews believe that God offered the Torah to all the people of the world, but that only the Jews accepted it. As such, many believe that a Jew can only marry another Jew. This is not true for many Jews. Though highly conservative groups may be against the practice, the vast majority of Jews are allowed to and can marry a non-Jew if they so choose. In the United States, intermarriage is very common among secular Jews. Approximately 79 percent of secular Jews in America intermarry with gentiles (the number is much lower for conservatives, at approximately 36 percent). The numbers have risen over the previous half-century. Since 2000, nearly six out of 10 Jews have married a gentile.

The Jewish beliefs concerning the Messiah

   Christians believe that Jesus (Yeshua) is the Christ or Messiah (anointed of God) and have built their faith around Him, His resurrection, and His Gospel teachings. Jews do not believe that Jesus was the Messiah, but they certainly believe that a Messiah is a promise from God, not yet fulfilled. 

   Jews believe that the Messiah will come from the Davidic line (the familial line of King David) and will rule the Jewish people during the Messianic Age, which has yet to arrive. In the Torah, prophets, and writings there are a great many prophecies concerning the Messiah. While the Christian view is that Yeshua fulfilled them all, the Jewish rabbis refuse to recognize Him as the Messiah. The rabbinical denial of Yeshua as the Messiah is the core point of schism between Judaism and the grafted in, breakaway faith of Christianity. 

   Many in Israel today are looking forward to the construction of the 'third Temple', because that will constitute an event presaging the coming of the Messiah. There are organizations helping to prepare for the day when they will be allowed to begin construction, by preparing the outfits of the Temple priests, the Temple utensils, and even cutting stones to be laid when construction begins. Unfortunately, there is an Islamic shrine, and a mosque occupying the space on the Temple Mount need for the site of the Temple. This fact presents a problem for which no reasonable solutions have been forthcoming. 

   Christians on the other hand, with all due respect, see the Messiah Yeshua as the complete embodiment of everything the Temple was, or stood for. The prophesied third Temple won't be a building constructed by the hands of man, but rather it will be the return of the Messiah Jesus the Christ in glory. Then there will no longer be any need of animal sacrifices for the atonement of sins, as Yeshua has fulfilled them all in His own perfect sacrifice, once for all time. This obviously is a point of contention between Christians, and their brothers, the Jewish people. 

Jews are synonymous with Israelis 
   Not exactly. Israel was always “the promised land” – in Jewish tradition the holiest place on earth. But Jews long ago learned that their faith transcends boundaries, that with Torah they could find spiritual fulfillment even when they were in exile.
   Why, the rabbis asked, did God give the Ten Commandments in the desert of Sinai rather than in the holiest of all lands, Israel? So that, they explained, Jews would never be misled into thinking that the Torah is a Constitution meant only for the state of Israel or that God’s law is limited to a special place, no matter how holy and unique. 

    After 2000 years of separation in the diaspora, the Jews miraculously returned to the land promised them by the prophets. Calling the newly created state “Israel”, Jewish immigrants came and became modern day Israelis. But in a remarkable display of universal brotherhood, Israel was created as a democracy. Citizenship is open to all. You don’t have to be Jewish to be an Israeli.

   There have been 77 past and present Israeli Arab members of the Knesset (the Israeli Parliament) ever since the first Knesset elections in 1949 and one of Israel's Supreme Court judges is a Palestinian Arab. From it's founding in 1948, modern Israel has declared that it will provide citizenship to any Jew, from anywhere in the world. However, non-Jews can be Israelis. And Jews living outside of Israel are still Jews – as well as Israelis by way of their shared faith, culture, and heritage.

Some believe that being religious takes the fun out of life

   There's too many rules, and religious people have the feeling that some invisible presence is always looking over their shoulder. You're always being watched. Jews and Christians refer to God as our 'Father in Heaven'. Just like our parents want us to have everything that is good, the Almighty wants the same for us - to get as much out of life as we possibly can. God's rule book exists for our protection, and good health, both physically and spiritually. 
   The word "Torah" means 'instruction' because it contains the instructions for life. Cars and computers come with big, fat instruction manuals, and without them we'd be lost and confused. Life's a lot more complicated and if we want to make the most of it, a set of instructions can surely make a difference. 

   God doesn't ask us to pray because He needs an ego stroke. Or to skip the bacon because it makes Him nauseous. For over three thousand years the Torah has been teaching us how to build a meaningful life and realize maximum enjoyment. The Mosaic Law is a blessing, not a curse, as the so-called apostle Paul called it, even if one keeps the law imperfectly.

Some believe that religion is an escape

   "The opiate of the masses."

   "It's a crutch."
   "Once you're religious, you stop thinking rationally."
   "Being religious requires a leap of faith."
   Far from being an escape, Judaism teaches that we're responsible for the entire world. The Talmud says each person should feel that "the world was personally created for me and it's up to me to take care of it."   Our heroes are the righteous and the scholars because for thousands of years Jews have been having a love affair with learning about life and striving to grow. The Torah is a guide and standard for ethical conduct, but then comes the hard part - applying those moral principles and living up to them in the nitty-gritty of daily life.

   And that leap of faith? It's not Jewish. The first of the Ten Commandments is to know there's a God as opposed to blind acceptance. Be an honest intellectual, not a product of your society. Hear the evidence and start building a rational foundation for your beliefs, whatever they may be.   

   Clearing the air on some of these misconceptions is a good start in discovering what Judaism is really about. 

No. It's not true. Jews do not have horns

   In the Middle Ages, a widespread misunderstanding about a verse from the Torah resulted in false stereotypes and even murder across the medieval world. The myth came about through a Latin mistranslation of Exodus 34:35, which says, "And the children of Israel saw Moses’ face, that his skin became karan, and Moses put the veil back upon his face, until he went in to speak with God."

   The term karan, in the Hebrew language means “radiance,” was mistranslated by St. Jerome as keren, which means “horn” in Hebrew. Yipes!

   The translation ended up reading that Moses was horned, which actually worked its way into many pieces of art by artists like Michelangelo and Donatello. The statue that Michelangelo created is actually in a relief in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives today.   

   The outcome of this misunderstanding was artistic portrayals of Jews as devil-like creatures with horns, evolving into horns and tails. This played neatly into the replacement theology teachings of the church, that the Jewish people had been cursed by God, and the church was the recipient of God's promises to the Jews. These horned images were even used by the Nazis in their campaigns during the Holocaust to portray Jews as a debauched race.

Jewish people are very religious

   All religions have their faithful and those who see themselves as being reformed or moderately religious, but Jews have a large percentage of what are called secular Jews. These identify as ethnically Jewish rather than religiously Jewish. 42 percent of Israeli Jews consider themselves secular (that number is closer to 50 percent in the United States). This has led to the term “Jewish atheism” to describe people who consider themselves Jewish but not religious or who do not believe in God. This isn’t to say they abandon Jewish practices completely. Many still go to Temple on holidays. Orthodox Jews are a minority in the populations of both Israel (8–12 percent) and the United States (10 percent), indicating the number of very religious Jews to be very small.

   This more or less corresponds to large percentages of Christians, who, while they identify as Christians, rarely attend religious services except twice a year on Christmas or Easter. The clergy jokingly refer to these as "Chreaster" Christians.

Churches and Synagogues are safe places of sanctuary

   Although this should be the case, it's not. Unfortunately, we live in a fallen world where evil resides, often behind the most benign smiles. Not everyone who enters the church has honorable intentions, and even some who do come with good intentions can fall back into old ways of sin they may be struggling with. The run-away scandals of recent decades, where clergymen are found to be committing some of the most unspeakable sins and crimes against the most innocent and vulnerable of victims, is a case in point. One of the most dangerous places in Christian churches, if not properly guarded, is the children's, and youth ministries. Churches that don't implement background checks, team-led classrooms, and other security measures, leave themselves open to many dangerous threats.

   This point, however, doesn't even begin to represent the enormity of the threats that stack up against these houses of worship. Bombings, mass shootings, and other forms of attack are growing perils for Judeo-Christian worshippers around the world. Evil is a growing menace in this world of the End Times, but we've been forewarned, it has to be this way. 
   "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." (NKJV) 1 Peter 5:8

   "Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves." (KJV) Matthew 10:16

Once Saved, Always Saved

   This a controversial doctrine, which some Christians believe, but certainly not all. “Once saved always saved” is the position some people believe, that if a person accepts the Lord Jesus Christ as one’s personal Savior through the act of believers baptism, one is assured of 'eternal security'. Suggesting that when a person becomes a Christian he can never lose his salvation. Also called a 'license for immorality', its a popular expectation for the average 'low information' Christian. It crosses denominational lines, seeps between theological spectrums, and slips into everyday dogmas. The debate on this teaching has been raging within Christian circles for centuries.

   The curious thing about this misconception is that while many believe it is possible to lose one’s salvation, still others believe it is not, but both use the Bible to support their beliefs. 'Eternal Security' was an assertion of John Calvin, that while we are saved by God’s grace through the agency of faith in Christ, good works will naturally result from a true saving faith. Thus, good works are evidence of a saving faith. This is very different from saying that we are saved by being a good person.

   Its remarkable how this doctrine of eternal security shares similarities with Satan’s seduction of Eve in the garden of Eden. The serpent assured Eve, “…Ye shall not surely die (Genesis 3:4).” The satanic implication being that Eve could live in disobedience without fear of divine consequences.  

  In the book of James, chapter 2, we find a discussion of what constitutes a saving faith. It is a faith that is alive, not dead. A true Christian will repent of his sins continually and surrender his life to God. While we will never be perfect, or anywhere near perfect - and have our ups and downs - a Christian will continue to improve over time through a process the Bible calls 'sanctification'. So, while we are saved as a gift of God, available to all who trust in Christ, after being saved, a Christian, by the power of the Holy Spirit, will seek to conform his life to God’s will - as best he understands God’s will. We have to fight a hard internal struggle to achieve salvation. The Christian life is more about direction than perfection.

They believe the Bible was written by God

Beliefs about Heaven and Hell

   The concepts of Christian heaven and hell are described in great detail throughout the New Testament, but for Jews, it is very different. Jews do not believe in a hell as described by most religions. Some believe in Gehinnom, where a soul is cleansed for up to 12 months prior to being accepted into Heaven, but it is not a place for punishment. And many Jews do not believe even in Gehinnom.

   Heaven is also very different for Jews. There is no structural concept that can be easily pointed to like other faiths. Many do not believe in heaven or hell as a place but rather as a conceptual ladder of consciousness and simply call it “A world to come.” For a Jew, it isn’t about what you believe and where you might go after you die but rather how you have lived your life that is important.

The Bible promotes slavery

   While slavery was allowed in biblical times (Leviticus 25:44-46), that was not the end of this story. Both the Old and New Testaments specifically condemn the slave trade (Exodus 21:16 and 1 Timothy 1:10). The cultural aspects of the Old Testament seem foreign to us today, but from Egypt to Babylon, every ancient culture practiced slavery. Physical bondage set the stage for the enormous victory that Christ brought to the world. God allowed slavery as a foreshadowing, a precursor to demonstrate the need for a Savior--who was to set us free from SPIRITUAL BONDAGE. (See Romans 6:15-23, Romans 8:15, Galatians 3:28, 2 Peter 2:19-20.)

   Jesus turned everything on its head: "The greatest among you will be your servant." (Matthew 23:11) It must also be pointed out that much of what was described as “slavery” in the Old Testament was not forced racial slavery. Rather, it was voluntary servitude, in which people would commit themselves to work for someone else for a period of time in exchange for certain benefits. Many slaves seemed to have lived almost like free men, or lived with a family as quasi-family members. We should consider the restrictions in the Mosaic Law, like Leviticus 25:53-54 where indentured servants were to be "hired from year to year" and were not to be "ruled over ruthlessly."

   The Old Testament Hebrew laws also had rules about letting indentured servants become free after a certain period of time, namely 7 years (Deuteronomy 15:12-15) or at other intervals such as the so-called Jubilee. The Deuteronomy passage is instructive about the type of slavery that was practiced—not only that slavery could be a voluntary act, but also prescribes rules of aid for the slave. Life-long servitude was prohibited, unless someone loved the head of the household and wanted to attach himself to him as part of the family (Exodus 21:5).  

   Biblical indentured servitude was close to what we think of a sports player today who gets "traded" to another team, to which he "belongs." The Bible reminds the Hebrews that they were once slaves in Egypt themselves and they were not to treat people the way that they had been treated. Paul, in the New Testament, taught that a slave can be "a brother in the Lord" (Philemon 1:16). 

   In the New Testament church, the Christian slave was welcomed as a friend and brother, often holding a position of ministerial dignity, being emancipated in all but name. While the Bible may not condemn slavery as loudly as we might prefer, it also teaches that we are all equal in God's eyes (Genesis 1:26-27; Genesis 9:6; Colossians 3:11). These passages and others laid the groundwork for the abolition movement, which was a Christian movement. Instead of making a frontal assault against slavery, Christianity inculcated a spirit of love and consideration, which ultimately meant its abolition in Christian-grounded countries.

The God of the Bible is immoral

   This statement is occasionally made by certain vocal atheists who seem to have an ax to grind against the God who made them. It seems incredibly presumptuous of fallible man to think they know better than God. The charge comes about mainly in regard to God’s command to the Jews to take over the land of Canaan and kill the inhabitants, in which the Jews became the responsible agent to execute specific justice against an immoral indigenous society. 

The Bible demeans women

   In fact, the Bible elevates the status of women. Christianity has had a freeing influence for women, especially in comparison to other religions. Compare, for example, how women are treated in Islam. The passage that is sometimes pointed to that critics say demeans women is Ephesians 5:22-33. This passage, while it points out that men and women have different roles, husbands are to love their wives as their own bodies just as Christ loved the church. The example is Jesus, who treated women (as well as others demeaned in his culture) with mercy and respect.

Christians are not supposed to be judgmental 

   This is a classic case of taking the Bible out of context to support a particular viewpoint. It is based on Matthew 7:1 which says, "Do not judge, or you too will be judged." The immediate context of Jesus' statement here is hypocrisy. Jesus explains in verse 5 which follows, "You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."

   So Jesus is teaching that we must not judge hypocritically. Indeed, the entire Bible is about how to judge rightly-to determine truth from falsehood, right from wrong. The Bible says, "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight (Isaiah 5:20-21)."

   Christians are to "test everything" (1 Thessalonians 5:21), to "take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5). But we cannot judge someone's heart and we are instructed to avoid judging by appearances, but to judge rightly (John 7:24). And Christians are always to demonstrate love, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22), as well as gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15). Those who cite the Matthew 7 passage usually have something for which they do not want to be judged. The misuse of this passage is often in the context of the LGBTQ sexual rights debate.

Christianity has a long history of evil.

   Sadly. it can't be denied. This charge usually centers around the Crusades, the Inquisition, and such things as the Salem Witch Trials. Not to mention the numerous wars fought between different Christian religions over doctrinal disputes and claims of heresy. The problem has always been, that men, whether they are in the Christian religion or outside of it, have forever launched brutal campaigns against others they deem 'different,' or in possession of something one group wishes to take from another. Men are men, and we are all fallen, and have the blood of others on our hands.

   Sometimes, wars are fought simply to prove superiority, and perhaps to make slaves of the vanquished, a common motive among the Islamic crusaders in their wars of expansion. These were seen as justified attacks against 'infidels', and approved as jihad, or holy war.

   Still, Christianity's crimes against humanity pale in significance compared to the atrocities committed by communist, or fascist regimes, which have killed people on the scale of hundreds of millions.  

There are contradictions in the Bible

   Scholars, including skeptical ones, have been studying the Bible for 2,000 years. Scholars have gone through every detail and nuance of the Bible and a great deal of supposed contradictions are very easily explained. Remember that the Bible was written over some 1600 years by 40 different authors. You would expect a different perspective on things from these writers, which can, and does, introduce some confusion among those unfamiliar with God's word as presented in Scripture. Besides that, there are texts, especially in the Christian Greek Scriptures, which present decidedly erroneous statements that deviate from established truths, and create some confusion.

   Nonetheless, the fact that the Bible has retained some questionable books within the Christian canon, is evidence that they too have a place in the overall purposes of God. Let the reader use discernment.

Religious believers are illogical and anti-science 

   Judeo-Christianity is often stereotyped as being anti-science, anti-academic and anti-intellectual. Nothing could be further from the truth. The reality is that many Christians embrace science and the exciting discoveries that it includes, often entering professional scientific career fields. Additionally, many believers aren’t opposed to doctrines that heavily involve scientific data and research: physics, evolution, climate change, environmentalism, and particularly the healthcare professions. 
   To be a Jewish or Christian believer is to embrace knowledge, critical thinking, innovation, new ideas and the truths they reveal. Every aspect of the majestic universe God created presents a fearfully wonderous field of exploration, waiting for enterprising researchers to examine, and then re-examine.

The Bible predicts the end of the world

   Do not fear. Actually, the Bible predicts the end of the 'age' (Matthew 24:3). We are living in the time of the 'nations', which is an age that will draw to a conclusion with the coming of the Messiah, whereupon we will enter the Messianic Age. The earth will stand to time indefinite, and humans will continue to populate the world, even after Armageddon. Bear in mind that human beings were not created to be transferred to heaven, we were created to occupy the earth, and enjoy God's magnificent handiwork of creation. The Earth is our home.

Mary Magdelene was a prostitute 

   If you are a follower of Christianity, you likely have grown up hearing that Mary Magdalene, one of the apostles of Jesus, was a prostitute. Unfortunately, this is probably incorrect information. In fact, there is no evidence in the Bible whatsoever that supports the “fact” that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute. Instead, she was described as a financier, a witness to the death and burial of Jesus, and she was present at the resurrection of Jesus. Only western Christianity also adds that she was a prostitute. Other Christians, such as those in the east, do not believe this. What makes people believe Mary Magdalene was a prostitute? It has to do with the Book of Luke in the Bible, as well as some possible misogynistic views of the Medieval compilers of the Bible.

   First, let’s look at the Book of Luke. In Luke, Mary Magdalene is referred to being “released from the power of the seven devils.” However, this doesn’t necessarily mean she was a prostitute. This was a phrase often used to describe people who were down, depressed, or melancholy. Also in the Book of Luke, she was referred to as a “sinful woman,” but no exact sin was ever mentioned, and she was “taken in adultery.” Again, however, prostitution is never mentioned. So why is she described as a prostitute?

   It could come down to the misogynistic group of men who compiled the Bible during the Medieval era. In these days, they would not look kindly upon a woman holding a place of power among the apostles, which Mary Magdalene often is portrayed as having. To put her down a notch or two, they referred to her as a prostitute.

Is Israel a racist apartheid state, as claimed by some? Are Christians the biggest hypocrites in the world? Is the Bible a hate book as some insist?

Christians worship three gods

   This steps into the long-standing dispute over the Arian controversy, which after all these years remains within Christianity. The controversy is named after Arius, a presbyter of the Alexandrian congregation, who became the voice of dissent as the Trinitarian Doctrine was being debated at the Fist Council of Nicaea. The trinitarians would later murder Arius by poison. 

   The concept of the trinity (based on "the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost [or Spirit]) is difficult to explain to Christians of long standing, and even harder for non-Christians. The concept was invented at a time when Greek philosophical speculations had been getting increasingly entangled with Judeo-Christian tradition, yet it was ratified as orthodox doctrine at the First Council of Nicaea, in 325 AD.

   Essentially the trinitarian doctrine attempts to shoe-horn three separate deities into a single 'Godhead'. In this way they try to convince people that they are maintaining the monotheistic God of Jewish tradition. It is instead a false tritheistic teaching. Monotheism is a Jewish and Christian absolute. It is what Abraham believed, what Jesus and all the apostles believed, and the church tradition of trinitarianism stands in stark defiance of Scripture. 

   The more modern concept of 'modalism' is also decidedly false, as it is essentially a weak restatement of trinitarianism. Modalism simply alters some of the words and attempts to redefine the concept under slightly different terms. 

The Immaculate Conception refers to the virgin conception of Jesus

   Most Christians would recognize the term, “immaculate conception,” and when asked, they would say that the term refers to Mary, the mother of Jesus, becoming pregnant with him, though she was a virgin. This, however, is untrue. 

   Though it is true that the conception of Jesus was immaculate, this term doesn’t refer to him at all. Instead, it actually refers to Mary, his mother. According to Roman Catholic doctrine, the immaculate conception refers to the belief that Mary was protected from the original sin that all people, according to Christian belief, are born with. In other words, Mary was sinless. This too is a false tradition of the church.   

   The issue here, is simply, that this is not a concept found anywhere in the Bible. In fact, the Bible doesn’t describe Mary as anything other than a normal young lady who God simply chose to carry Jesus. Mary was described as a godly woman, a wonderful mother, devoted wife, and a woman who Jesus greatly loved, but not once was she ever describes as “sinless.” On the contrary, there are several passages in the Bible, including in the books of 1 John, 1 Peter, and Ecclesiastes, that refer to Jesus, himself, as the only one to ever walk the Earth who was truly sinless, born without original sin.

Jesus was born on December 25

   One of the two main Christian holidays, Christmas is celebrated to commemorate the birth of Jesus on the wrong date. There is no biblical nor scientific evidence that out-rightly states the birthday of Jesus. It is merely a matter of church tradition, which usurped the date from the popular ancient pagan celebrations of the winter solstice. A pagan tradition that incidentally, long predates the time of Jesus. Instead, scholars believe that Jesus was born in the fall, around September, or in the Spring (the lambing season). 

   Though there are no biblical nor other sources that give this information, we do know a few things that lead us to reject the December date. First, the shepherds, who were part of the story of the birth of Jesus would never be watching the flock outdoors at the end of December, as it would have been much too cold. Second, we know that Mary and Joseph, the mother of Jesus and her husband, came to Bethlehem for the census, another event that would not have occurred in winter.

Christianity is believed to be a source of prosperity

   This preposterous idea comes from what has come to be called the "Prosperity Gospel'. There are some shameless bejeweled preachers out there that pull people into their orbit promising that they have learned the secrets of gaining great wealth through the teachings of the Gospel. It's a sham distortion of the Biblical Gospel. It teaches that material prosperity and success in business and personal life is to be expected as external evidence of God’s favor. They convince people that anyone can treat Christianity as a cash cow, a way to become “blessed,” “rich,” and “successful.” But "raining cash" was never a teaching of Jesus. Only the charlatan  preacher seems to ever gain wealth from his corrupt and false manipulation of others.    

   Becoming a Christian doesn’t guarantee financial, relational, physical, intellectual, emotional or professional gain. Many have used the allure of “being blessed” and “getting rich” as an enticement to manipulate and motivate people into following Christ, while in reality they're only following some fraud televangelist. In reality, faithfully loving God demands giving of yourself, as well as your possessions. If you’re looking for peace, prosperity, success, fame, fortune and personal glory - Christianity isn’t for you.

   The Bible teaches an attitude about money and wealth that directly contradicts the Prosperity Gospel. In fact, one of Christ’s most quoted sermons (The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5) essentially assures a Christian that they will suffer hardships.

The Bible conflicts with science

   While the Bible was not written as a science textbook, a careful analysis of the Bible reveals that the Bible does not conflict with science at all. In fact, it was Christianity that supported and encouraged science, more than any other religion or worldview. Also of interest, it was the church, many centuries ago, that started and encouraged the university system, where rational thought and scientific inquiry got its start.

Christianity must be false because creation contradicts evolution

   We are persuaded, after much study, that not only is macroevolution not true (macro-evolution being the vertical evolution of higher life forms in which a greater quantity and quality of genetic material is introduced by pure chance) - it cannot possibly be true. While this may sound puzzling in this age, we back up this claim with the evidence. For a summary of the research and a discussion of the difference between macroevolution and microevolution.

All Christians believe that the earth is less than 10,000 years old

   Some do believe that. But many, if not most, believe that the Genesis account of creation contains much symbolism and literary content that is not inconsistent with the standard scientific model. They see no conflict between the Bible and the view that the earth is billions of years old. That is to say, Christians often hold to an old-earth view.

The Christian community has a sense of self-superiority

   Christianity is complex and doesn’t fit into a neat stereotypical compartmentalized formula, and it’s time we stop treating it like it did. Christians are sinners just like everyone else. If you’re expecting a perfect utopian environment of honesty, generosity, kindness, respect and inclusive love within Christianity - prepare to be disappointed. 
   Christian communities are far from ideal. Many enter churches assuming that everyone is going to be supportive, wonderful, and your new best friend - but the reality is quite different. There will be some of the sincere fellowshipping, but there are also gossips, and those that will look down on you with some manner of righteous indignation.
   Churches, Christian organizations, spiritual leaders and the people, and all things representing Christianity will eventually fail you. The congregation is made of humans, and humans fail each other. It’s going to happen, so prepare yourself for the inevitable letdown. Becoming a Christian doesn’t make you any better or more valuable than anyone else. Many falsely believe that identifying as a Christian elevates them above the rest of humanity - self-righteously judging, alienating and condemning others.   Ironically, Jesus says being one of His followers requires extreme humility and meekness - not necessarily attractive qualities within today’s society. Overall, Christianity is filled with many wonderful blessings, and there will be times of happiness, peace and encouragement. But we need to be careful not to stereotype our faith and turn it into something it’s not and was never meant to be. We don't want to communicate a false perception.

Christians have many misconceptions about their own faith

   Some people hear the word "church" and the first thing that comes to mind is a building that occupies a little bit of real estate. When we think of the church as place, we're stuck in believing that when we leave this center, we leave the church. The church is not a building. We are the church, and that means as you go, you take the church with you. In fact the word 'church' is a poor choice of words for what is meant in the original texts to convey 'congregation', 'assembly', or 'community'.

   Church was never meant to be a once-a-week experience that we attend to fulfill a religious or cultural duty. To be a Christian involves more than sitting passively through a one or two hour service, and a sermon. It's actually meant to be a way of life, every minute of every day, and every where. It's built around a grace-filled relationship centered around the Messiah. Not on organizations, places, or events.

Christianity is not a monolithic belief system

   Beyond a basic belief in Yeshua (Jesus) as the Messiah, or Christ, Christians hardly agree on anything. Common practices such as baptisms, communions, confession, and even worship styles are hotly debated, and Christians are divided into hundreds of denominations, thousands of churches and endless communities - each passionate about their own opinions.   Christianity is made up of different cultures, ethnicities, doctrines, traditions, practices, and theologies. Christianity is one of the most diverse religions in the entire world. Conformity and uniformity are uncommon, and the Christian community is distinguished by its variety.

Amen. Hallelujah.

Well . . .