In the previous article, we looked at some of the common political myths of Christian Zionism concerning contemporary political issues. We noted that Genesis 12:3 does not apply to contemporary unbelieving Jews or the state of Israel, but rather applies to the faithful Christian Church. We also demonstrated the problems that the Christian Zionist interpretation of Genesis 12:3 has created. America, under the influence of Zionists, Christian or otherwise, has become entangled in an alliance with Israel that has not proved to be to our benefit. In this edition, we will investigate Christian Zionist myths about Jewish people and religion. We will discuss whether the so-called “Star of David” is suitable for Christians. We’ll also discuss the notion that the Old Testament saints practiced Judaism as we know it today, as well as the idea that Jews and Christians worship the same God.
Is the Star of David a Suitable Symbol for Christians?
The symbol referred to as the Star of David is the most consistently recognizable symbol of the Jewish identity, whether ethnic or religious. The Star of David is immediately identifiable to the general public as a familiar symbol for Jews in the same way that a cross or crucifix is a traditional symbol associated with Christianity. But most people, including most Christians, are entirely unaware of the symbolism and meaning of the Star of David. Today, many Christians actually have tried to adopt the Star of David as a Christian symbol, alleging that it identifies them with Jews, the “older brothers in the covenant” to Christians. In doing so, these Christians are betraying their own ignorance, both of the differences between Judaism and Christianity, and of the history of the symbol itself.
Far from being a symbol associated with the worship of the true God, this symbol can be argued to have origins with the Khazars. The historical association of the Star of David with religious Judaism likely derives from the symbol’s usage by the Khazars prior to their conversion to Judaism en masse.1 Once the Khazars converted to Judaism, the Star of David naturally became associated with Judaism. The Star of David’s Khazar origins seem to directly contradict the notion that the Star of David has any connection to the biblical David or any other prominent persons from Hebrew history.2 Yet, even if the Star of David could be shown to have a connection to ancient Israel – though any such connection is dubious at best – it would still be an inappropriate symbol for Christians to use. The symbol is unmistakably associated with Judaism, a false and idolatrous religion. Because of the association of the Star of David with Judaism, it cannot be dissociated from the murder of Jesus and the other Talmudic blasphemies
It is certainly possible for a non-Christian symbolism to take on a Christian meaning once the symbol passes into Christian usage. An example of this is how the pagan Celtic sun wheel was converted into the Celtic cross when the people of the British Isles were converted to Christianity. This is not what is happening, however, with the Star of David. Those professed Christians who wear a Star of David on their person or wave a Star of David flag are doing so, not because the symbol has historically been associated with orthodox Christianity, but rather because of its association with rabbinical Judaism. This is the kind of religious syncretism that is expressly condemned in the New Testament (1 Cor. 10:21; 2 Cor. 6:14-18).
While the hexagram isn’t necessarily a heathen symbol, its association with the Jewish Star of David definitely makes this symbol compromised. Unlike the sun wheel which was converted to the Celtic cross, the hexagram has not received any kind of conversion from its older meaning. The meaning of the hexagram is significant to Christian Zionists precisely because it is not a Christian symbol. The popularity of the Star of David among Christian Zionists should indicate to orthodox Christians that the loyalty of Zionists is not in the right place. From the standpoint of religious orthodoxy, Zionists are demonstrating loyalty to a false religion, and from the standpoint of politics, Zionists demonstrate their loyalty to a foreign country over their own.
Did the Old Testament Israelites Practice Judaism?
Most people today, including many Christians, assume that the ancient Israelites practiced the religion of Judaism. Because of this misconception, many people assert that Christianity developed out of Judaism. Consequently, it is common to hear people talk about the “Judeo-Christian tradition” or “Judeo-Christian morality.” But do Christianity and Judaism derive from a common source? Is it accurate to say that the Old Testament saints practiced Judaism? I believe that the answer to both of these questions is an emphatic no.
The common misconception of Judaism and Christianity is that both religions derive fundamentally from Old Testament revelation. The only divergence between the two faiths is their identification of the Messiah – Christians believing that the Messiah has already been revealed in the person of Jesus Christ, and Jews anticipating the coming of a future Messiah, yet to be revealed. This mistaken view is overly simplistic and lacks a historical basis, as both Jews and orthodox Christians know well. Jewish scholar Joshua Adler comments, “The differences between Christianity and Judaism are much more than merely believing in whether the messiah already appeared or is still expected, as some like to say.”3 The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia also confirms that Judaism is based much more on extra-biblical Pharisaic teaching than on Scripture: “The Jewish religion as it is today traces its descent, without a break, through all the centuries, from the Pharisees. Their leading ideas and methods found expression in a literature of enormous extent, of which a very great deal is still in existence. The Talmud is the largest and most important single member of that literature.”4 Finally, Rabbi Ben Zion Bokser frankly admits, “Judaism is not the religion of the Bible.”5 And Dr. Gordon Ginn, an American Christian scholar, makes a very valid point when he notes: “It is most interesting, indeed, that rabbis as well as Jewish scholars such as Mamlak and White agree with orthodox, historical Christianity that ‘Judeo-Christian’ is a contradiction in terms, even though that truth is yet to be discovered by contemporary evangelical and fundamentalist Christians.”6
The reality is that the Israelites of the Old Testament practiced what could be called pre-Incarnation Christianity. The Hebrew faithful were studied in the many prophetic predictions of the coming Messiah, fulfilled in the person of Christ. The visible Church at that time was generally confined to the nation of Israel, but in a different sense, covenantal Israel is not at all distinct from the Church (cf. Romans 9:6). In fact, before being martyred, the deacon Stephen called Israel the “church in the wilderness” while recounting the history of God’s dealings with His people (Acts 7:38). (He uses the word ekklesia, from which we derive words like “ecclesiastical.”) To make the same point, Paul taught that baptism makes us Abraham’s promised seed and heirs according to the promise (Galatians 3:29), and that ancient Israel shared in the sacraments of the Church (1 Corinthians 10:1-4). Paul also sent salutations to the Church as the “Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16). This is because the religion of the Old Testament is in full continuity with the religion of the New Testament, such that to reject Christ and the revelation of the New Testament is to reject the God revealed in the Old Testament.
The rituals of the Old Covenant clearly point to their future fulfillment in Christ. The Westminster Confession of Faith ably summarizes their close connection:
This covenant was differently administered in the time of the law, and in the time of the Gospel: under the law it was administered by promises, prophecies, sacrifices, circumcision, the paschal lamb, and other types and ordinances delivered to the people of the Jews, all foresignifying Christ to come; which were, for that time, sufficient and efficacious, through the operation of the Spirit, to instruct and build up the elect in faith in the promised Messiah, by whom they had full remission of sins, and eternal salvation; and is called the Old Testament.7
Hebrews is thoroughly cited in the prooftexts to this passage of the confession, since the book so clearly shows forth Christ as the fulfillment of the Old Covenant’s sacrificial system.8 Christ Himself is not just the High Priest of the New Covenant, but is also the Paschal Lamb that has been sacrificed for the sins of His people (1 Corinthians 5:7). The Old Covenant with its precepts was a schoolmaster to point us to our need for Christ (Galatians 3:24-25), and Christ is the goal and fulfillment of the precepts of the Old Covenant (Romans 10:4). Those Jews who would look to Old Testament rituals to save them, not seeing their clear culmination in Christ, lack an understanding of what these elements represented (Galatians 4:9). And not only are these Old Covenant rituals deficient for salvation, but since they have served their purpose of pointing to Christ, they are now no more. Modern Judaism has no temple, no sacrifices, and no priesthood, for Christ has destroyed them all. The religion which does not see their fulfillment in Christ cannot be said to follow the Old Testament, since the true followers of the Old Testament inevitably accepted the teachings of Jesus. “For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me” (John 5:46).
Do Rabbinical Jews and Christians Worship the Same God?
Because of the belief that Jews and Christians have a common religious origin in what is called Judaism, many conclude that Christians and Jews worship the same God. Yet it should be reiterated that rabbinical Judaism is a distinct religion from the religion of the ancient Israelites. This being the case, it is important to recognize that the reason Jews and Christians practice different religions is because Jews and Christians worship different deities, which is a central aspect of Christ’s message in the Gospels. The myth that Jews and Christians worship the same deity is typically one-sided, made only by Judeo-Christians desiring brownie points. Most Jewish people will readily acknowledge that Jews and Christians do not worship the same god, since this would mean that Jews would worship Christ as God, which they do not. Jewish scholar S. Levin comments:
‘After all, we worship the same God’, the Christian always says to the Jew and the Jew never to the Christian. The Jew knows that he does not worship the Christ-God but the Christian orphan needs to worship the God of Israel and so, his standard gambit rolls easily and thoughtlessly from his lips. It is a strictly unilateral affirmation, limited to making a claim on the God of Israel but never invoked with reference to other gods. A Christian never confronts a Moslem or a Hindu with ‘After all, we worship the same God’.9
Levin is correct that Jews and Christians do not worship the same god, and that the God worshiped by Christians is far different from the false deity worshiped in rabbinical Judaism. The true God of Christianity is one God who subsists in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. It is impossible for anyone, even a professed monotheist, to believe in the true God while denying the deity of one or more of the persons mentioned. Moreover, Christian theology unequivocally affirms that the second person of the Trinity, the Son, also became incarnate in the person of Jesus Christ. Since Jesus is the Son of the Father, he is properly called the Son of God10 while equally being affirmed as God manifest in the flesh.11
Jesus stated that He did not teach on His own authority, but that His authority was derived from His divine Father in heaven (John 5:30; 8:28; 8:38). Jesus insisted that His teachings were entirely in continuity with Old Testament revelation, and that those who rejected Him and His ministry necessarily rejected the Old Testament precepts revealed through Moses (Luke 16:29-31; John 5:45-47). Thus, to reject Christ is in essence to reject the same God revealed in the Old Testament. Now, some might argue that Jewish people have not rejected God the Father, since Judaism recognizes the revelation from God to the ancient Hebrews. But the problem with this view is that the rabbinical authority within Judaism has replaced the truth taught in the Old Testament with evil teachings and practices which void the word of God that they had received (Matthew 15:1-9; cf. Mark 7:1-13).
The New Testament consistently teaches that it is necessary to receive the Son in order to be received by the Father. Jesus said that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and that no one can come to the Father except through Him (John 14:6). There are many passages in the Gospels, as well as the epistles, that clearly indicate that God the Father only receives those who have received the Son.12 This teaching is especially emphasized by the Apostle John. In fact, the idea that one must be united in faith to the Son in order to receive the Father is so clearly expressed in the Bible that it is a wonder any professed Christian could ever mistakenly believe that someone could truly acknowledge and worship the Father apart from worshiping and acknowledging his Son Jesus Christ. The fact that so many Christians erroneously believe that Christians and Jews (and sometimes Muslims) actually worship the same God is manifest proof of the biblical illiteracy and failure to catechize that sadly typify the modern church.
In recent decades, much has been made of the mythical “Judeo-Christian” tradition as the basis for American morality. The idea that Jews and Christians share a common source of morality in the Bible is a recent innovation, and both Jews and discerning Christians know that this idea is a canard. Those who promote this myth the most vehemently are evangelicals who seek to lend a greater degree of legitimacy to their quest to turn America back in a more traditional direction. Not realizing that Judaism is based upon an alternative system of morality presented in the Talmud and that Jewish people consistently support liberal policies that evangelicals claim to oppose,13 evangelicals’ appeal to a mythical and nonexistent “Judeo-Christian” tradition has hit a dead end.
The promotion of this pernicious myth of the “Judeo-Christian” tradition is the result of more than just wishful thinking. The desire to merge the Jewish and Christian religions together into one tradition or common source of morality demonstrates the profound, willful ignorance of modern Christians. It is essential to understand that Judaism and Christianity are different religions that worship different gods. The triune God of the Bible is nothing like the unitarian false deity revealed in the Talmud. Worship of a false god inevitably yields false morality, so it is incorrect to assert that Jews and Christians have a common source of morality. Christianity is built on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets with Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20). Judaism is built upon the foundation of the Pharisees, who rejected Abraham, Moses, and the Law and the Prophets. The two religions are diametrically opposed to one another and cannot be unequally yoked without destroying the unique truth and character of the Christian faith (2 Corinthians 6:14). In the next installment of this series, we will discuss the false idea of two-covenant theology, which teaches that God has a physical covenant with the Jewish people and a spiritual covenant with Christians. We will also be correcting the myth of Jews as perpetual victims of Christian violence throughout the history of Christendom. Finally, we will discuss the outlandish notion that Jews actually did not reject Christ as the Messiah or bear any corporate responsibility for the crucifixion of Christ.
- For instance, the use of the image by the Khazars can be seen in this statuary depiction of the victory of Sviatoslav I of Kiev over the Khazars. ↩
- Further, some believe that it is possible that the Star of David is actually the Star of Remphan mentioned in the Bible in connection with the idolatrous worship of Moloch (Amos 5:26 and Acts 7:40-43). ↩
- Quotes are taken from “The Myth of a Judeo-Christian Tradition,” New Dawn Magazine, No.23, Feb.-March 1994. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article4803.htm ↩
- Qtd. in Ibid. The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol. VIII, (1942) p. 474 ↩
- Qtd. in Ibid. Judaism and the Christian Predicament, 1966, p. 159 ↩
- Qtd. in Ibid. Smyrna, August, 1993 ↩
- Westminster Confession of Faith, 7.5 ↩
- See Hebrews 2:17-9:25; 10:21; 13:11. ↩
- “The Myth of a Judeo-Christian Tradition,” New Dawn Magazine, No.23, Feb.-March 1994. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article4803.htm ↩
- Daniel 3:25; Matthew 8:29; 14:33; 16:16; 27:54; Mark 1:1; 3:11; 15:39; Luke 1:32-35; 4:41; 8:28; John 1:49; 3:18; 5:25; 6:69; 11:4; 11:27; 20:31; Acts 3:13, 26; 8:37; 9:20; Romans 1:4, 9; 5:10; 8:3; 1 Corinthians 1:9; 2 Corinthians 1:19; Galatians 2:20; 4:4-7; Ephesians 4:13; Hebrews 1:8; 4:14; 6:6; 10:29; 1 John 3:8; 4:9-15; 5:5-20; 2 John 3, 9; Rev. 2:18 ↩
- Exodus 3:14 (cf. John 8:24, 58; 14:6-7); Isaiah 7:14 (cf. Matthew 1:23); 9:6; 43:10-11 (cf. Revelation 1:17-18; 2:8); 44:6 (cf. 2 Peter 1:1), 24 (cf. John 1:3; Colossians 1:16); John 1:1-3; 5:17-18; 10:30-33; 14:9-11; 20:28; Acts 20:28 (cf. Revelation 1:5-6; 5:8-9); Philippians 2:5-7; Colossians 2:8-9; 1 Timothy 3:16; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 1:1-9; 2 John 7; Revelation 1:8, 22:13) ↩
- Matthew 10:32-33; 11:25-27 (cf. Luke 10:21-22); John 6:37-65; 8:16-56; 10:15-38; 12:26-50; 13:1-3; 14:1-31; 15:1-26; 16:3-32; 17:1-25; 20:17-21; 1 John 2:22-24; 2 John 9 ↩
- A classic example of this is the late Jerry Falwell inviting a pro-gay marriage Jewish rabbi to give a convocation at Liberty University in which said rabbi encouraged tolerance for gay unions. http://www.cjp.org/page.aspx?id=130636 ↩