“Andy Blowers” writes:
I recently have come across your book “Leaving The Fold” and started reading it last night. I have been a fundamentalist for almost 12 years, and after years of reading the Bible, have had to admit that clearly some things just donʼt add up. Exhausted at blaming myself for not rightly understanding the text and even more exhausted at being mad at God for leaving just enough inconsistency to give me doubts, I have finally started to entertain the idea that perhaps, some things were not Godʼs ideas after all (I still consider myself a Christian, but I am not sure what category yet).
Anyhow, my question for you is this: how did you deal with the multitude of prophetic passages in the OT about Israel, Christ, etc that seem to have had clear fulfillment?
If you have the time and donʼt mind,
Pleased to meet you. And thanks for writing. I feel what youʼre going through. Since you have my book in hand, might I suggest that you turn to the footnote in my testimony in Leaving The Fold that lists about ten books that helped put the “prophecy” question into perspective for me. I do not know if you are concerned most about alleged prophecies concerning the modern nation of Israel or prophecies concerning Jesus being the Messiah, either way, the books I list in that footnote helped me immensely.
I view the coming together of the nation of Israel to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Europe despised and hated the Jews and wanted to get rid of them, move them out. Lord Balfour suggested they go back to their “home” which he read in his Bible meant “Palestine.” Apparently Balfour was so ignorant he thought Palestine was not even occupied at the time. Anyway, Britain, and then the League of Nations passed a declaration around the 1920s that provided safe free passage to any Jews in Europe who wanted to emigrate to Palestine. After a few decades the unrest began over there and the League of Nations passed another law that forbade any more Jews from entering Palestine due to the escalating unrest. But by then it was too late. Centuries of Christian anti-Semitism in Europe, along with Lord Balfourʼs “Biblical” solution to what Europeans called their “Jewish problem,” along with the Europeanʼs reliance on the Bible, and their ignorance of the presence of the highly devout Muslims already living in Palestinian is what created modern day Israel and all of our modern day problems. Oh yes, of course the anti-Semitic actions of the Russian Czars and later of Hitler, also helped propel the birth of modern Israel. But the fact remains, European Christians were simply not comfortable around orthodox Jews, not for centuries. And the Europeans were also ignorant of the affairs of Palestine. Pushing Jews there was hardly a wise thing to do as we know now in retrospect.
For a frightening look at “end times loving Christians” and the possible self-fulfilling prophecy of destruction in the Middle East that they are actively pursuing, please read, Grace Halsellʼs books, Militant Evangelists On The Road To Nuclear War (which I think was later renamed, Prophecy and Politics), and her other book, Forcing Godʼs Hand: Why Millions Pray for a Quick Rapture … and Destruction of Planet Earth. She is a very interesting lady in her own right judging by the synopses of the other books she has written.
Modern day Israel by the way is also lacking fresh water and growing polluted and overpopulated as I was reading in Pollution in a Promised Land: An Environmental History of Israel — Alon Tal
This book provides a moderate Christian look at the history of Palestine/Israel and the Biblical interpretations being used to support modern day Israel. Whose Promised Land? /Israel or Palestine? What Are the Claims and Counter-Claims? Are the Ancient Promises of the Bible Relevant Today? Is There a way — Colin Chapman
And oddly enough modern Israel seems to be one of the few places in the Middle East with little or no oil beneath it. Though itʼs interesting how many evangelical Christians have been swindled into investing in oil drilling in Israel: The North American Securities Administration report, Preying on the Faithful: The False Prophets of the Investment World, reports about the scams and cons by “religious” entrepreneurs. One outfit cited the blessing of the tribe of Asher by Moses in Deuteronomy that “the feet of the people will be bathed in oil” as the basis for drilling for oil. More than 15,000 Americans have lost over $450 million in the last 5 years due to promotions using Old Testament prophecies.
Concerning prophecies related to Christian claims of Jesusʼ Messiahship, I suggest seeing what Jews have said about the Christian usage of Old Testament verses by New Testament authors.
Visit Jews for Judaism on the web
And see the books they offer for sale. I personally found Gerald Sigalʼs book helpful
Thomas Paineʼs Examination of the Prophecies
Paine was one of Americaʼs founding fathers, having written Commonsense, and spurred the American Revolution. His examination of the prophecies is rife with his wit and commonsense wisdom. Along with Sigalʼs book and Priceʼs I recommend it.
Lastly, hereʼs something I wrote thatʼs part of a much larger article on the web.
McDowell cites the testimony of Manny Brotman, a Jew who “saw all the prophecies which identified…the Messiah,” and thereby became convinced that “Jesus” was that Messiah. But of all the religions on earth, members of the Jewish religion have had to live among Christians intent on converting them for two thousand years, yet only a small percentage of Jews have ever converted. Why is that? One reason is that Jewish rabbis have known for all that time that Jesus did not “fulfill all the prophecies.” The authors of the Christian Gospels misinterpreted, misapplied, misquoted and/or misunderstood the Hebrew passages they cited.
Two recent works by rabbis who point out the flawed understanding that Christian evangelists have of the Hebrew Bible, include Gerald Sigalʼs The Jew and the Christian Missionary: A Jewish Response to Missionary Christianity, and, David Berger and Michael Wyschogrodʼs, Jews & Jewish Christianity.
(Moreover, the pagan Roman scholars who composed the earliest critiques of the Christian Gospels, as well as eighteenth-century Deistic Bible critics, and, twentieth-century Bible scholars who teach at mainstream theological seminaries, all agree with generations of Jewish rabbis who dared to point out what was wrong with the New Testamentʼs use of the Old.)
And speaking of Jews who accept Jesus as their Messiah, not all of them keep their new found faith. Ellen Kamentsky, whose smiling face appeared in a “Jews for Jesus” advertisement in Newsweek magazine (Dec. 7, 1987), later wrote a book explaining why she entered and exited that “Messianic Jewish” organization: “I handed out thousands of pamphlets and gathered hundreds of phone numbers praying that God would send open victims across my path. I was a religious fanatic. I believed all people who did not accept my truth were going to Hell. Mine was no nine to five calling. I was always on call, praying, preaching, looking for converts…Members of Jews for Jesus are masters of disguise. They hide their true nature (sometimes even from themselves) and present a carefully contrived image to the world. Groups like them work by preying on our religious doubts and exploiting our insecurities. They seek simple answers to complex questions. They use dogmatism to produce certainty. Today, I revere reasoning and celebrate my Jewishness. I hope this book encourages people to find and celebrate their own truth. Know yourself, discover your own truth, so when someone approaches you hawking God, you can say, ‘Thank you very much, but Iʼm finding my own way.’
There is also a national organization, called, “Outreach Judaism,” that specializes in countering the efforts of Christian groups and cults who specifically target Jews for conversion.
Outreach Judaism is led by Rabbi Tovia Singer, who has lectured on college campuses and synagogues throughout the country. “Through his stimulating and provocative appearances, Rabbi Singer has been an inspiration to thousands. He is the author of numerous articles, a frequent guest on television and radio shows, and a consultant to the Jewish Community Relations Councilʼs Task Force on Missionaries and Cults.” He has also produced a 21-part audio tape series and study guide that has been described as “a fascinating exploration of the Bible and its historic message as well as a refutation of the Christian conversionists…At first, the tapes are simply very enjoyable to listen to, but as Rabbi Singer covers the specific topics in detail, they become truly riveting. Each tape in the series whets our appetite for the next one,” according to Dr. Lawrence H. Shiffman, Professor of Hebraic & Judaic Studies at NYU. It sounds to me like Rabbi Tovia Singer is a “Jewish” Josh McDowell!
Furthermore, not only are there Jews who convert to Christianity (like Manny Brotman), and Jews who convert to Christianity then back to Judaism (like Ellen Kamentsky), but there are also former fundamentalist Christians who abandon their prior belief in Jesusʼ divinity and get hooked on Moses. Members of that last group have formed what they call the “B’nai Noah movement,” and they no longer call themselves “Christians,” but “God-fearers,” or, “Noachides.” Jesus is revered by “Noachides” as a great prophet, but not worshipped as “God.” They are convinced that the early Christian deification of Jesus was an error, due to pagan influences creeping into Judaism at that time and place in history. Instead of believing in the deity of Christ, the Trinity, and the saving power of Jesusʼ sacrifice; they believe in the “one God” of Israel, repentance for forgiveness of sins, and following the moral commands that God gave to Noah for all mankind. Members of this movement get along famously with orthodox Jewish rabbis who preach at their conferences and help them study “The Torah.” They also sell books and tapes that defend their beliefs and point out errors in orthodox Christian beliefs.
Skip Porteus, who became a Pentecostal Christian minister, then left Christianity to become an anti-Religious Right activist (and author of Jesus Doesnʼt Live Here Any More: From Fundamentalist to Freedom Writer), has recently returned to the faith of his fathers, Judaism.
Thereʼs always more to read and say as you well know. Hope some of this helps. I may be putting up articles on my website concerning some of the alleged prophecies in Isaiah, but donʼt know when Iʼll have time to do so, so I canʼt predict when they may appear there. But hereʼs the web address for my homepage www.edwardtbabinski.us
On August 10, 2003 “Ken Daniels” wrote:
Subject: Your recent post to Ed Babinski
I donʼt normally write messages like this to those whom I havenʼt met, but I was struck and encouraged by the frankness and pain of your recent post to Ed Babinski. I commend your thirst for truth and trust youʼll have the courage to go wherever it leads.
From your brief message, it seems youʼre at the point I was at some three and a half years ago. I grew up the son of evangelical Christian missionaries and later became a missionary myself. It was in Africa while reading the Old Testament that I began having serious doubts about the inerrancy and inspiration of the Bible. Reading Robert Priceʼs “Beyond Born Again,” written from a liberal Christian perspective, was a heavy broadside to my tidy evangelical faith.
By way of introduction, I no longer consider myself a Christian, but my wife continues as a strongly committed believer and I regularly attend church with her and our three children. Itʼs somewhat of a challenge to walk this road, but at least I no longer have to try to force square pegs into round holes. If youʼre interested, you can read my rather lengthy testimonial.
Take care, and donʼt give up your quest!