Abraham is truly an exceptional man who completely surrendered his life to God’s will. However, while Abraham was a man of faith, he remained a man with flaws, asking God questions that implied confusions about the will of God and God’s omnipotence. For example, he laughed when God promised him that he will have offspring even in his old age. He also lied about Sarah being his wife for fear that he will be killed because of her and not trusting God will protect him. The greatest test, however, was when God asked him to sacrifice his only son.
Abraham was willing to sacrifice Isaac to prove his love of God, and this should not be a question regarding his faith. But what of God who made a covenant with him stating the He will make a great nation out of Isaac? There is no doubt that God was testing Abraham. But what if Abraham had refused to sacrifice his son? Would that change what God had promised to Abraham regarding Isaac? This, to me, is a disturbing question regarding God’s purpose, and it is not an appealing image of God reconsidering His promise when His subject failed His test.
On the other hand, if Abraham was doing the sacrifice out of faith, then he would already know that God would not let the boy get any harm. How would God then fulfill his promise if Isaac was sacrificed? Knowing this, it would not be God who is really testing Abraham but the other way around. The story of God’s covenant to Abraham and God’s test to him, to me, does not really establish the faith of the religion but poses contradictions to divine purpose and the faith of the people. Credit #6
Jews and Christians look at the Messianic Prophecies on different context, hence while the other promote Jesus to be the messiah, the other reject him as such. Examining these contexts would allow us to understand why Jesus is accepted to be the messiah or not. The Jews believed the messiah to be human—not a god or a demigod. That the early Christians claim that Jesus was the Son of God and indeed a God himself made most of the Jews not accept him as the messiah. The Jews believe in only one God, hence the introduction of another, and a mere man claiming to be God, is seen as a heresy to the Jewish faith.
The Jews believe that the messiah will unite all the Jews back to the land of Israel, reign in a time of world peace, and would be a great military leader. Jesus fulfilled none of these. However, the Christians believe that these prophesies will be fulfilled in Jesus’ second coming. On the other hand, the Jews believe that the prophecies will be fulfilled immediately and that there is no concept of a second coming. Hence, the Jews reject the idea of the second coming of Jesus.
Other Messianic Prophecies have been justified by Christians to have been fulfilled by Jesus. The evangelists claim that, through Joseph the carpenter, Jesus was descended from the line of David, of which the messiah is said to come from. However, this claim is contradicted with the Christian doctrine of the virgin birth from which, strictly speaking, Jesus could not have been a direct descendant of David. The Christians also believe that Jesus have restored the temple, which they believe to refer to Jesus’ body, by his resurrection.
On the other hand, the Jews believe that the messiah will be a strict observant of the Torah, which by all means and according to the accounts of the New Testament Jesus was not. Having said these, it is also important to note that the early Christians, as well as Jesus himself, were Jews. Accepting the teachings of the Apostles and disciples of Jesus depends on how one looks on messianic context. The fact that some Jews have accepted Jesus as their messiah while others clearly regarded him as a heretic and a threat to the Jewish faith proves this point.
Jesus’ challenge to the Jewish law earned the right of the elders to suppress the sect that is slowly emerging. Considering however that Jesus lived an extraordinary life, with teachings of peace instead of being a war-like messiah, deserves credit for the Christian faith. Credit #7 Monasticism throughout the world shares a similar purpose—the renouncement of worldly pursuit in search for spiritual growth. Images of gods and holy men are usually present in monasteries. The Greek Orthodox Christianity justified the use of these images as “windows” to heaven.
It is not these images that they praise, but those of which they represent, which are unseen. It is explained that the human body is comprised by two elements—the physical and the spirit—and that the physical part needs to see some representation of the divine and that the images are merely tools to help them in their journey. Monks practice strict compliance to the teachings of their religion, isolated from the city life, spending most of the day in prayer. Monks also have assigned chores they must perform.
They were also expected to forget the physical element of their body for a while—getting sufficient for the body to have its strength needed for daily tasks, no shower, no shaving. There is limited conversation between monks—they spend each day in silence and contemplation and prayer. Furthermore, monks are taught to pray from the heart. One could only wonder whether these prayers are repeated, as if being recited. Whether or not this is the case, monks believe truly in their heart that they have found their peace and satisfaction apart from the calling of worldly desires.