Q for Christian Dopers

A matter that was touched upon in the J4J thread brought me to this question…

Christians (and please correct me if I’m wrong) don’t keep the commandments (kosher eating, blowing shofar on Rosh Hashanna, etc.) because they believe that Jesus came and fulfilled the Law.

However, I have also noticed that Christians DO observe some of the Law. I don’t see anyone saying that murder or adultery is permitted. That led me to wonder who decided (or what was the criteria to decide) which laws stayed and which ones went.

My first thought was that the Ten Commandments might be what stayed and the rest went. However, upon further reflection, I realized that the prohibitions of witchcraft, incest, usury and others remained event though they aren’t in the TC.

So, what was the criteria? Which laws from the Torah still apply today to Christians and which ones don’t?

Zev Steinhardt

Each christian sect selects those parts of the bible that promote its own respective agenda and deems them truths, sweeping anything else–i.e., the bible’s internal contradictions–under the rug.


…that people retained some laws and dropped others according to their own whims. Just as many people today basically make up their own religion. They will identify themselves as belonging to some particular denomination of christianity, but they do not see themselves as obligated to believe everything that denomiation officially belives, or to follow every rule it espouses; they feel perfectly free to pick and choose what beliefs to hold, and what rules to follow.

Please take the following with a very large grain of salt:

I’m nowhere near a bible, and it’s been a years since I cared, but I believe there is is a passage in Acts in which somebody (Paul probably) had a vision which he intrepreted to mean a total revocation of many kosher restrictions. If nobody else finds it first I’ll try to look it up and post the reference tomorrow.

Whoops! Where’d the extra ‘a’ come from? How about “It’s been years…”

Here’s Paul’s vision, Acts 10:9-16:

The next day, as they were on their journey and coming near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour.

And he became hungry and desired something to eat; but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance

and saw the heaven opened, and something descending, like a great sheet, let down by four corners upon the earth.

In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air.

And there came a voice to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.”

But Peter said, “No, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.”

And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has cleansed, you must not call common.”

This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven.
There’s also Matthew 15:10-11, which goes:

And he [Jesus] called the people to him and said to them, "Hear and understand:

not what goes into the mouth defiles a man, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man."

Altogether they are generally taken to mean that Kosher laws were no longer in effect.

Whoops, Peter’s vision. Sorry.

Woohoo!!! Thanks for saving me some research. I try not to go near my bibles these days. I did remember the sheet, but thought maybe I had ingested too many experimental chemicals since the last time I read that passage to be sure.

Hmmm…maybe Paul had ingested similar chemicals that day? Maybe he just had the munchies.

OK, Peter, but at least I got the P right.

OK, that may explain kosher food. What about all the other commandments? How was it decided that, for example, witchcraft was still out, but working on Yom Kippur was okay?

Zev Steinhardt

Well, J.C. himself “violated” the sabbath by healing someone, so it’s not too much of atretch to extend that to other holidays. I think I would be correct in saying that the law was reduced to “love God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself,” (which pretty much excludes theft, murder and other nasties) yet at times Christians may have found it useful to embrace some of the OT laws. If a preacher is concerned about witches, haul out the verse in reference to them and don’t bother to tell your congregation that it’s part of the Law it’s OK to ignore–it’s in the Bible, good enough. However, if it’s something you want to do, like wear mixed fibers, then the Law doesn’t apply. All right, so I’m a wee bit cynical. :wink: Some of the violations of OT laws were mentioned in a negative light by the apostles, like the ones about homosexuality, sexual immorality and (I believe) usury, so they were at least at one time considered still in effect. But I am not a bible scholar, and you had better wait for someone more versed that I if you want an authoritative answer.

More big grains of salt please:

I could be way off here, I don’t know that much about observance of Jewish holy days in general, but part of the big idea with the Messiah is that it reconstructed the whole sin through atonement process. Catholics confess to a priest, while protestants confess/pray directly to god which sort of negates the whole need for a day of atonement.

John 3:16 - - For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have ever lasting life.

That’s what I remember from sunday school. I take that to mean christians don’t need to participate in Yom Kippur.

I have a related question, I believe there were various animal sacrifices mandated in the old testament, but I know most Jews no longer perform them. It’s the same thing; did somebody say you don’t have to do this any more?

Or, I could be completely wrong. For the record, I was raised protestant, recently found out my grandfather was Jewish, and am genuinely curious about the religion. So, please correct me if I make a stupid assumption at some point.

Sacrifices may be performed only in the (carefully purified) Temple. Since the destruction of the Temple in 70, there has been no place where the sacrifices may be performed. Since the retaking of all of Jerusalem in 1967, there has been an interest (somewhat conflicted) in rebuilding the Temple, but it would be extremely difficult to rebuild it right now with a mosque on the site.

Wow, thanks Tom. It’s nice to know that sometimes there is an easy answer.

While I’m here, it occurs to me that I’ve seen witchcraft banned under the “no false gods before me” commandment. I think the idea is that worshipping is not limited to what happens in church. If you believe that there is some other power out there that can grant you things or change the world in some way, it’s the same thing as worship to ask it to do so.

One thing I was taught in church was that if you think something is a sin, and you do it anyway, than it indeed was a sin, because you did something you thought god didn’t want you to do. You consciously did something you thought broke Gods law.

very few jews have been interested in rebuilding the temple, however. those who aren’t obersvant (of religious laws and traditions) realize the political and social factors that make it a virtual impossibility (i.e. shoving the muslims off the spot they believe mohammed ascended into heaven), while those who are observant (again, religiously) believe that no jew one can go up on the temple mounnt (the site of the holy spot mentioned above)because:

a) no one knows where on the temple mount the temple’s holy of holy (the holiest spot in all judaism and the center of the ancient israelite religion )lay; and

b) no jew has been ritually pure since the destruction of the temple (according to their own laws); and

c) only the high priest, in a state of complete ritual purity, can walk on or above the holy of holies. the truly observant believe that anyone else who tries to will blow up or catch fire or have the wrath of god fall upon them or something.

therefore, only the high priest could rebuild the temple (because only he can walk on the temple mount) and only in a state of purity (which isn’t happening anytime soon…)
this is currently an impossible situation.

recently, the real interest in rebuilding the temple has come from evangelical christians who want to help along the second coming by rebuiling the jewish religion (understood by scholars to be quite different from judaism.

this seems to me to be rather against the rules–but then again, i’m not christian. maybe i just don’t understand the rules.

on the subject of christianity condemning witches and homosexuals and other (gasp!) deviants, i think that the former has something to do with the fact that witches don’t follow christianity and therefore need to be stopped/fixed/chased, and the latter has something to do with and irrational fear. (not to mention picking and choosing what they want from the hebrew bible)

is this only a follower of the torah who is impure, or ** anybody** who is impure?

if it’s the latter, what about muslims who walk about the spot every day?


p.s.- huzzah! this is my first successful use of bolding! no more unneccesary caps for me!

zev: JC gave us only 2 “laws”, “do unto others…”, and “don’t be intolerant” (and love G-d). All the other laws are up to “Ceasar”, ie “do not murder”, etc. Thus, any so called “Christians” who pick & choose amoung the OT Laws is incorrect. NONE are “laws” anymore. That does not mean that the OT, and especially the 10C are not good "moral guidlines’, but Christians are not “condemned” for any violation of OT Law. However, “Do not murder” is covered by the “do unto others…”, as is “do not steal, covet, adulter, etc”. Gaudere is basicly correct. Thus, my postings in that “homosexuality” or gay sex is NOT a sin, but some aspects of certain practicioners (ie mass group sex in the baths) would be a sin.

Umm, about the “Holy of Holies”, isn’t is currently desanctified, as that is why sacrifices can be done there, thus anyone could ‘walk’ there until it was resanctified?

My understanding of this is that one of the reasons Jesus arrived where and when he did was the devotion of certain Jews to the letter of the law instead of to the spriit of the law, to the point of overlooking the reasons for the law in the first place. Many of the parables deal with people professing one thing, or acting one way in public, but believing another thing, or acting another way in private. See the parable of the man who prays in public versus the man who prays in private; the man who publicly gives great sums versus the widow who quietly gives all she has; and the Good Samaritan. In addition, Jesus underscored that adherence to the law was not as important as faith and belief by refusing to keep the law Himself when good reason existed for breaking it – such as when he allowed the disciples to pick grain to eat on the Sabbath, rather than make them go hungry, and when he sat down among the tax collectors, rather than withhold from them His message because of their profession.

IMO (and only MO), a great deal of Jesus’s acts and teachings deal with the importance of keeping faith with God in your heart, as opposed to just acting in a perfectly correct but completely “spirtless” way. That is why he compares the Pharisees to “whitened sephulcres” – just as a white-washed tomb appears clean on the outside but is decaying within, so too were the Pharisees. And, as Daniel said, I too was taught that the law according to Jesus superceded all the law of the OT. It’s just that the Ten Commandments, for example, remain effectual under the law according to Jesus – i.e., “doing unto others as you would have done to you” includes not killing them. Other laws, such as not eating pork, are not still effectual under the teachings of Jesus, who clearly did not concern himself with the minutiae of Talmudic law, although it is simultaneously pretty clear that he did consider Himself a Jew (keeping Passover, for example).

And nolt all of the TC remain. There are a few sects of Christianity (e.g. Jehovah Witnesses and Seventh Day Aventists, IIRC) that still observe the Sabbath, but the vast majority ignore it.