It is time for the weekly mailbag. This week there are only two questions, but the first has two parts: why (many) Christians are so pro-Israel and how can they be pro-Jewish and still worship Jesus. The second question involves how we know which letters of Paul were actually written by him. If you would like me to address any question you have, just add a comment here or at any other time on the blog, or send me an email
QUESTION: Why are Christians so Pro Israel? Seems like to me if they agree with Judaism they couldn’t be a Christian. Because of the first commandment.
RESPONSE: I’ll answer the second part of the question first. What the reader is saying (I think) is that since the first commandment is “You shall have no other gods before me,” then Christians cannot be pro-Jewish because they also worship Jesus – therefore two gods. I have two responses to that.
The first is that the commandment is *not* that: “You must believe that I am the only God.” The commandment instead is that: “Of all the Gods that exist, you cannot worship any of them ahead of me.” That was usually interpreted to mean “You cannot worship any of the other Gods.” It is not, in other words, a command to be monotheistic (to believe only one god exists). It is a command to be henotheistic (to worship only one of the gods). Jews eventually, of course, and then Christians after them, became monotheistic, as most are today, thinking that there are, in fact, no other gods other than the God who created the world and called Israel to by his people. But that’s not the commandment.
My second response: Christians do not think they are worshiping some other god ahead of God the Creator. When they are worshiping Jesus, they are worshiping the *same* God. The doctrine of the Trinity insists that Father, Son, and Spirit are One God, with one essence, one will, and one purpose. This one God is manifest in three persons, yes, and the persons are all distinct, in that there really are three of them. But the three are so wholly united in will, purpose, and essence, that they make up just *one* God, not three. And so worshiping Jesus does not, for traditional Christians, mean worshiping some other God. It is worshiping the same God. By worshiping Jesus one is in fact worshiping the Father; or rather it is *through* worshiping Jesus that one worships the Father.
So, on now to the other part of the question, the original one, “why are Christians so Pro-Israel?” It’s a complicated question and I’m not sure I have the definitive answer – or rather, I’m not sure that a definitive answer exists. But I do have two answers, one that should make sense to a lot of people and the other that most people would never have thought of.
First, most Christians who are pro-Israel are pro-Israel because…
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