HOW TO ANSWER A CHRISTIAN MISSIONARY:

STEP-BY-STEP BIBLICAL REFUTATIONS by Rabbi Michael Skobac 1

STUDY GUIDE FOR

HOW TO ANSWER A CHRISTIAN MISSIONARY

STEP-BY-STEP BIBLICAL REFUTATIONS

By

Rabbi Michael Skobac

Education Director of JEWS FOR JUDAISM (Canada)

THE PROBLEM

Today, Evangelical Christians are aggressively targetting Jewish people for conversion. There are over 1000 different organizations operating in North America specifically working to bring Jewish people into the Christian faith. Many of these groups camouflage themselves to appear Jewish in order to lessen resistance to conversion. They may call their clergy “rabbis” and refer to their churches as “synagogues”. They often celebrate Jewish holidays with a Christological spin and wear traditional Jewish skullcaps and prayer shawls. Their goal is to create the impression that a Jew can become a Christian and still maintain his or her Jewish identity.

Aside from these groups specializing in reaching Jews, there are thousands of missionary organizations evangelizing all non-Christians. They operate widely over the Internet, broadcast television and radio programs, run large public events, send their field workers to distribute literature and visit people at their homes and places of work. Obviously, we Jews will also encounter this missionary threat, and all too frequently, the person asking us to embrace Jesus will simply be a Christian friend, neighbour or business associate.

This audio recording was created to provide you with a basic understanding of the issues most commonly raised by Christian missionaries. It is intimidating to be confronted with a barrage of Biblical quotations from someone intent on subverting your faith. This recording will help you learn that there is another side to the story that missionaries present. May you continue to explore and experience the profound wisdom, beauty and joy of Judaism.

MESSIAH

The Hebrew term “Mashiach” means “anointed”. In the Bible this refers to anyone initiated into G-d’s service by being anointed with oil. Every king and high priest was a Mashiach, (or “Messiah” in English). King Saul is called G-d’s Messiah (G-d’s anointed) in I Samuel 26:11. David is referred to as G-d’s Messiah in II Samuel 23:1. Sometimes, prophets or non-Jewish kings are referred to as messiahs (anointed ones) (I Kings 19:16, Isaiah 45:1).

HOW TO ANSWER A CHRISTIAN MISSIONARY:

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THE MESSIAH

The term “the Messiah” never appears in the Bible in reference to an anointed person who will come in the future. The Bible is replete with references to a future age of perfection: Isaiah 2:1–4; 32:15–18; 60:15–18; 66:23, Zephaniah 3:9, Hosea 2:20–22 [2:18–20 in Christian editions], Amos 9:13–15, Micah 4:1–4, Zechariah 8:23, 14:9, Jeremiah 31:33–34, Psalm 86:9, etc. Several of these passages speak of a king from the line of David who will rule Israel during this utopian age: Isaiah 11:1–9, Jeremiah 23:5–6; 30:7–10; 33:14–16, Ezekiel 34:11–31; 37:21–28, Hoseah 3:4–5, Zechariah 9:9–10.

The Bible never calls this king “The Messiah”. However, because he is the special future anointed one of history, we conventionally refer to him as the Messiah.

The Bible never speaks about believing in the Messiah, because we will be able to empirically verify who the Messiah is. The Bible speaks about a time when the knowledge of G-d has spread throughout the world, when all weapons have been destroyed, when there is an end to all conflict, when the Jewish people have been regathered to their homeland, when the Temple has been rebuilt in Jerusalem, and when Jews are sought out by the world as spiritual teachers. These dramatic utopian events will be plainly evident to every human and impossible to miss. The Bible tells us that the Messiah will reign as the king of Israel when this utopia is established. It is clear that Jesus, Shabbtai Tzvi, Bar Kochba, etc. failed to fulfill these Biblical criteria of the Messiah.

In response to the Christian claim that Jesus will fulfill the Messianic prophesies when he returns:

a) The Bible never speaks about a second coming for the Messiah.

b) All Messianic passages relegated by Christians as “second coming” prophecies have a “first coming” perspective; they speak about someone coming, not returning.

c) A “second coming” could be claimed for any failed Messiah, and gives no credibility to Jesus’ “first coming”.

d) The New Testament has Jesus promise his disciples that he would return during their lifetimes – he didn’t. Matthew 16:28; 24:34, Mark 13:30, Romans 16:20, Hebrews 10:37, Revelation 22:10,12,20.

THE PROBLEM OF ELIJAH:

Malachi 3:23–24 (4:5–6 in Christian editions) says that the prophet Elijah would return before the Messiah appears. Matthew’s Gospel says that John the Baptist was Elijah the prophet (11:13–14, 17:10–13). However, the Gospel of John 1:21 has John the Baptist denying he is Elijah.

Missionaries may claim that John came back in the spirit of Elijah, but:

HOW TO ANSWER A CHRISTIAN MISSIONARY:

STEP-BY-STEP BIBLICAL REFUTATIONS by Rabbi Michael Skobac 3

a) Malachi predicted that Elijah would return, not someone in his spirit. b) John didn’t claim any association with Elijah at all.

c) John didn’t fulfill Malachi’s prophecy that Elijah would restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers.

THE PROBLEM OF JESUS’ GENEALOGY:

According to scripture, the Messiah must be a descendant of King David (Jeremiah 23:5, 33:17, Psalm 89:35–37, etc.)

The Gospel of Matthew traces Joseph, the husband of Mary, back to King David, but then says that Joseph was not the biological father of Jesus. To the claim that he was the legal father of Jesus by adoption:

a) You can’t pass on genealogy by adoption.

b) Even if Joseph could pass on his genealogy by adoption, he couldn’t help Jesus because he descends from Jeconiah, whose line was disqualified from kingship as part of G-d’s curse (Jeremiah 22:30,36:30).

THE CLAIM THAT JESUS DESCENDS FROM DAVID VIA HIS MOTHER MARY (LUKE CHAPTER 3):

a) Luke 3 doesn’t mention Mary at all; it traces only Joseph’s genealogy.

b) Even if Luke were recounting Mary’s pedigree, family genealogy only goes through the father: Numbers 1:18. Jesus couldn’t trace himself back to King David through his mother. (Whether one is Jewish or not is determined by the mother, but tribal affiliation goes through the father).

c) Even if genealogy could go through the mother, Luke’s Mary descends from David’s son Nathan, and the Messianic line only goes through David’s son Solomon (II Samuel 7:12–14, I Chronicles 17:11–14, 22:9–10, 28:4–6).

d) Mary, as well, may descend from the cursed Jeconiah via Shealtiel and Zerrubabel: Matthew 1:12, Luke 3:27.

THE CLAIM THAT JESUS PERFORMED MIRACLES:

a) There is no reason to uncritically assume that the New Testament accounts are true; they were not written by historians or journalists, but by followers of Jesus to convince others to believe (John 20:31).

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b) Much of the New Testament has been shown to be historically suspect. For example, the accounts about Pilate in Josephus and Philo contradict the way he’s treated in the gospels.

c) Miracles don’t prove anything, and therefore, the Bible never tells us that we’ll be able to identify the Messiah by his performing miracles.

  1. Pharaoh’s magicians performed miracles: Exodus chapters 7 and 8.

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  • Note that none of the Gospel writers was an eyewitness.

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THE VIRGIN BIRTH PASSAGE: ISAIAH 7:14

  1. Mistranslation of “alma” as virgin, correct translation is “young woman” or “young maiden”. The male form “elem” is always translated as “young man,” I Samuel 17:56; 20:22, Isaiah 54:4.

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  • Circular reasoning: Christians may assume this chapter speaks about the death of the Messiah to atone for sin, yet there is no proof that Jesus is the subject of the passage. It could apply to anyone who suffers.

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G-D’S SUFFERING SERVANT IS ISRAEL:

a) Context of surrounding chapters is about the Jewish people who suffer at the hands of the nations, but are ultimately redeemed by G-d.

b) Isaiah identifies the servant as the Jewish people, 41:8–9, 43:10, 44:1–2;21, 45:4, 48:20, 49:3, 54:16–17.

c) Jewish nation is often identified as an individual, Deuteronomy 32, Hoseah 8:3; 14:5–6, Jeremiah 50:19, Exodus 4:22, etc.

d) End of Chapter 52: Jewish nation will be exalted in Messianic age, Isaiah 60:1–3,10,14–15; 61:6–9; 62:2–3, Zepheniah 3:19–20, Nachum 2:2.

e) Nations and kings will be astonished when this happens, Micah 7:15–17, Isaiah 41:11, Jeremiah 16:19.

f) Chapter 53 is a continuation of 52; the nations express their shock, “Who would have believed what we are hearing?” The chapter continues with the confession the nations will make in the future when they are confronted with the true nature of their relationship to the Jewish people. They will admit that they had mistreated the Jewish people throughout history (Jeremiah 10:25). The nations will confess that the Jewish people suffered “from our sinfulness” (or “as a result of our sinfulness”). They thought that by using the Jewish people as scapegoats, their own problems would be alleviated. The nations will confess that throughout history, they based their mistreatment of Jews on their assumption that G-d had rejected Israel (Jeremiah 50:7).

g) Jewish people went through their suffering without rejecting G-d – Psalms 44:12–23. One purpose of Jewish suffering is a test, as in Genesis 22, to purify them and strengthen them.

h) By passing this historical test, the Jewish people will be fulfilling G-d’s purpose, and will bring about the transformation of the world.

  • Numerous non-Jewish and Christian commentaries to the Bible accept this understanding of the Suffering Servant as referring to Israel.

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4. I Kings 8:46–50 teaches if we don’t have access to the Temple, we pray to G-d and repent, and we will be forgiven. This applies today, as well as to the 70 years between the destruction of the First Temple and building of the Second.

5. The prophet Hoseah speaking to the 10 northern tribes who couldn’t get to the Temple in the south tells them that their prayers serve as sacrifices, 14:1–3.

6. Prayer and repentance are actually the primary means of atoning for sin in the Bible, II Chronicles 7:14, Ezekiel 18:21, Jonah 3:10, Daniel 4:24 (4:27 in some editions), Jeremiah 36:3, Proverbs 16:6, Isaiah 55:6–9, Psalms 32:5, 69:30–32, etc.

7. Christian insistence that without blood sacrifices G-d can’t forgive our sins, takes away from the power and mercy of G-d. The Bible says that sometimes G-d forgives us if we don’t repent properly, because He is merciful: Micah 7:18, Psalms 78:36–39, Isaiah 43:23–25.

8. The focus of the Bible is obedience to G-d as the primary way of coming to Him, not sacrifices. Hoseah 6:6, Psalms 51:14–19, Proverbs 21:3, Isaiah 1, I Samuel 15:22, Micah 6:6–8, Amos 5:22–24.

9. If missionaries insist on reading Leviticus 17:11 literally, then Jesus could never serve as a sacrifice. The verse says that only blood on the altar in the Temple served as an atonement, and Jesus’ blood was not offered on the altar.

10. Other problems with Jesus serving as a sacrifice were that he was not offered up by Priests, he was not burnt, and he was not unblemished.

11. The Christian assertion that Jesus was the final sacrifice is contradicted by the Bible’s prophesy of the future restoration of sacrifices when the Third Temple is built, Isaiah 56:7, Jeremiah 33:17–18, Zechariah 14:20–21, Ezekiel 43–45, Malachi 3:2–4.

12. The Hebrew scriptures don’t accept the idea of an innocent person dying for a guilty one, Exodus 32:32–33, Deuteronomy 24:16, Ezekiel 18:1–4, Proverbs 17:15.

13. The Hebrew scriptures strongly oppose the idea of human sacrifice, Genesis 22:12, Leviticus 18:21, 20:2.

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Rabbi Michael Skobac is Director of Education and Counselling for the Canadian branch of Jews for Judaism. This tape is a condensed version of The Jews for Judaism Counter-Missionary Survival Seminar, developed by Rabbi Skobac and now taught worldwide. A twelve-tape set of this seminar is available from Jews for Judaism.

HOW TO ANSWER A CHRISTIAN MISSIONARY:

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JEWS FOR JUDAISM is the only international organization exclusively dedicated to counteracting the efforts of evangelical Christian missionary and cult groups that target Jews for conversion.

JEWS FOR JUDAISM works to strengthen the spiritual vitality of the Jewish community and to win back those Jews who have been attracted to other religions. We work to achieve these goals through the following highly acclaimed programs and activities:

  • Lectures, Classes and Seminars

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