On Israel National News' new forum "Torah Spirituality for the Nations," people from varying backgrounds and religions are engaged in raging debate about the universality of the Torah of Moses and the question of its being a one-stop source of spirituality for the non-Jew.
In his most recent post, forum co-manager Adam Pensteel, a declared Noahide who follows the seven Noahide laws that the Torah commands non-Jews, tells of his encounter with a Christian missionary, an encounter that he tried to avoid. The story follows:
I just wanted to let you know that I got mugged tonight. That's right, it was a Missionary Mugging. I was walking home in preparation for Shabbat and noticed some Missionaries had set up a little table on the sidewalk and were accosting people as they walked by. I didn't feel like dealing with them and attempted to pass by unnoticed. I failed. One of the Missionaries handed me something that looked like money.
Missionary: "Here's a million dollars just for you, and you can put it in the bank".
Adam: "huh, what is this?"
Missionary: "Read the back."
Adam: I flipped it over, and it said "If you died today would you go to heaven?" I immediately made a face and handed the money back to him. "No thanks, I'm not a Christian," I said, trying to move on.
Missionary: "Well, that's why I'm giving it to you. Do you believe in heaven, or are we reincarnated or do you just not believe in anything?"
Adam: I thought to myself, that the Missionary had lost his chance to walk away. Since he was forcing the discussion, I would have to respond, which is usually an uncomfortable experience for Christians for they are rarely expecting to speak with someone like me.
"No", I replied.
Missionary: "No, you don't believe in anything," he asked.
Adam: "No, I don't believe in heaven, but I do believe that we go somewhere."
Missionary: "Where do you believe we go," he goaded.
Adam: "According to the teachings of Israel, those who earn it are allowed to take their place in the world to come. The world to come is much different than the Christian idea of heaven."
Missionary: "What religion are you"?
Adam: "I am a Noahide, it is the path of non-Jews according to the revelation at Sinai."
Missionary: Looking puzzled he then asked me, "What category would you place your religion?"
Adam: Clearly he was trying to put me in a box that would better aid his missionizing. "I would place myself in the category of a non-Jew who follows the Noahide Laws. The Noahide Laws being named after Noah, who survived the flood and who, through his children, repopulated the world."
Missionary: "Where did you find this," he asked bewildered.
Adam: "In the Talmud of course, there, they list the Seven Noahide Laws. These are the laws that every person, unless they are Jewish, are expected to follow. We should follow the Seven Laws not the Ten Commandments."
Missionary: "What are these Seven Laws?"
Adam: "The Seven Noachide Laws are:
1. The prohibition against idolatry
2. The prohibition against blasphemy
3. The prohibition against theft
4. The prohibition against murder
5. The prohibition against illicit relations
6. The prohibition against eating the limb of a living animal
7. The commandment to establish courts of justice
Again, these are the basic expectations G-d places upon those not commanded to fulfill the 613 commandments given to Israel at Mount Sinai."
It was clear that this was new territory for my mislead mugger, and he was struggling to both get his mind around this thing that he had heard for the first time, and the need to spread his "good news." I've always felt no news is good news, but I was never a very good Christian even before I left the flock.
Getting the conversation back on track he asked:
Missionary: "Where does Jesus fit into this?"
Adam: "Nowhere, Jesus has nothing to do with the Noahide Laws. Jesus has nothing to do with Judaism in any way."
Missionary: "What is your opinion of Jesus, do you think he really existed?"
Adam: "Maybe, I see no problem with that."
Missionary: "Do you believe he was nailed upon the cross?"
Adam: "It's possible, I have no problem with that either."
Missionary: "Do you believe he rose from the dead?"
Adam: "No, I don't believe that story, but I can tell you that even if he did rise from the dead, this would prove nothing. Judaism is not a religion of miracles. Miracles are not to be relied upon as proof. In fact, we are told in Deuteronomy that a person could come and perform miracles and tell the future, but if he tells us to follow other gods, then he is a false prophet. It is possible for Jesus or anyone to perform incredible miracles and still be a false prophet. What matters the most is whether or not he upholds the laws of Sinai."
Missionary: "How long have you studied this?"
Adam: "About ten years."
Missionary: "Were you always a Noahide"?
Adam: "No, I grew up as a Christian, but eventually rejected Christianity."
Missionary: "What do you mean you were a Christian?"
Adam: Almost every time I reveal this to a Christian, they immediately assume that I was probably a Christian in name only. It seems impossible to them that a serious Christian could ever turn away from Christianity.
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