Where does Christianity come from?

That’s all fine and good but I’m not particularly interested in a Rabbi’s opinion of the law (as a “top dog” in his religion who has a vested interest in maintaining its reputation to the public, and to get converts if possible, it’s pretty much a foregone certainty what he will say to a gentile).

The question I’m interested in is what you think—whether you agree with Deborah Feldman’s opinion that Orthodox Judaism is oppressive. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems from your general comment above that you deny the validity of Deborah’s experience of oppression and think she has nothing to complain about.

I figured as much. Have you ever told a Jewish person what you think of the Law of Moses?

That’s not Deborah Feldman’s opinion at all! She found the SATMAR SECT of Orthodox Judaism in which she was raised oppressive. I know you don’t want to read the book, but you need to know that there are many varieties of Orthodox Judaism.

I don’t need to tell a Jewish person what I think of the Law of Moses, Jesus did it for me :wink:

And what do you think a member of the SATMAR SECT of Orthodox Judaism would say if you told him (well-meaning though you are) that there were “many other varieties”? He’d reply that its not true—that they are the only ones to be truly following the law of Moses. That other so-called-varieties are just false, watered down teachings, deluded people who are trying to escape the purest form of religious obligation. He’d ask why you–a gentile woman—(or Deborah Feldman or anyone else) have the audacity to suggest that you have the “objectivity” to state that he is not reading his own scriptures and the law correctly.

Speaking of “types of Judaism”, I was looking into Messianic Judaism. There’s some interesting testimonies of Jewish Christians online and some great youtube channels. Seems like Jews leaving following the Law of Moses to rather live in the grace of the Messiah is a thing!


Right now I’m enjoying reading through a “Tree of Life” (Messianic) version of the Bible. The original testament is put in a different order than what I’m accustomed. And in addition to familiarizing me with some Hebrew phrases, I’m also getting used to seeing different names … (e.g. ‘Mary’ is Mirriam and ‘James’ is Jacob.)

That seems to be an interesting way to read the OT with “fresh eyes”! The tone of the Messianic Judaism I was encountering was very much about reading the OT with seriousness and within a Jewish cultural context, and seeing Jesus (as Messiah) reflected and projected there.

I might have guessed the same but reading Barbara Brown Taylor’s Holy Envy made me realize that the expectation you describe is mostly a projection of an unfortunate tendency toward monopoly which isn’t present in all religions. @Mervin_Bitikofer shared many quotes from her book while he was reading it which led to my doing so too.

1 Like

Perhaps true that not every religious leader wants a monopoly…? Nonetheless, if someone is heavily invested in the “system” of one’s religion, especially as a leader in that system, do you think he will speak disparagingly of it, or criticize it? I guess that was my main idea there… that there is rarely objectivity when assessing the validity of one’s own system.

1 Like

Thanks for that reminder of those posts, Mark. And I’ll add a link to another post in the same thread where I included a longer quote from Green. Her work remains golden to me.


One has to wonder what a Puritan would say if we brought them forward in time and had them observe Christianity in the US today.

I suspect the person would not recognize much at all as Christianity. Openmindedness was not their forte.

Yeah, I think the tendency for humans to gravitate to a religious system of “righteousness through legalism” is pretty widespread.


J.I. Packer’s PhD thesis was on the Puritan Richard Baxter

It’s also important to note what a profound impact Puritan theology had on the early Packer:

“First, at something of a crisis time soon after my conversion, Nonconformist leader John Owen helped me to be realistic (that is, neither myopic nor despairing) about my continuing sinfulness and the discipline of self-suspicion and mortification to which, with all Christians, I am called. Without Owen I might well have gone off my head or got bogged down in mystical fanaticism, and certainly my view of the Christian life would not be what it is today.”

1 Like

(Regarding the Law of Moses, laws of love, our hearts, the fatherhood of God and our adoption):

        C.H. Spurgeon
(For higher resolution, click on the image or follow the link.)

Puritans in general get a bad rap because of a relatively few and because of anti-Christian literature and what we were taught in high school.

1 Like

“Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight.” Grace is the mother and nurse of holiness, and not the apologist of sin.
C.H. Spurgeon

That last sentence is especially notable (not that the first isn’t) and speaks against easy believism and the ‘license’ Christians have to sin that some say we have.

I will have to make room for this book in my reading list. Also, I wonder if there is a deeper meaning to God’s abhorrence of idol worship. More than the mere worshiping of a man-made object, could God be suggesting that we shouldn’t have fixed ideas about Him? So, the graven image might symbolize ideas that are fixed, as if in stone?

The way that Old Testament ideas were later re-interpreted by Christians seems to suggest that this is so. That isn’t to say the earlier ideas were wrong, but simply that there was a deeper meaning that would be uncovered at a time when we were ready for it.

1 Like

… as if in our possession and under our control? I agree.

If someone thinks Jewish traditions are oppressive, I’m willing to bet that they would have found life in a Puritan community just as oppressive.

1 Like


That kind of attitude led to centuries of Christian anti-Semitism.

Not at all. Jews have lively disagreements but they tend to stick together. It’s how they have survived centuries of persecution.

Messianic Jews are nothing new. I have been to a few Jews for Jesus services in NYC many years ago, and have heard their presentations in my old church. There were even a few Jewish converts in my old church.

The overwhelming majority of Jewish people reject Christianity and reject the idea that the Law of Moses is oppressive. Looking at history, who can blame them?