Christianity According to Shmuley Boteach

According to pop rabbi Shmuley Boteach in his latest book about the late Michael Jackson:

I talked to him about one of the things that most distinguishes Judaism from Christianity. It is not the belief in Jesus as God or deity. Rather it’s the belief in the perfection of Jesus. When Christians ask, “What would Jesus do?,” they are using a model of perfection to guide their actions. And I think that makes a lot of people feel that they can never attain that high station of perfect action. I think in America we don’t like ourselves. We harbor a high degree of self-loathing because we are not realistic about, and we dismiss, our humanity.

Later, he adds:

In Judaism there are no perfect figures in the Bible. They are all flawed. The greatest of prophets, Moses, can’t get into the Promised Land because of sin. We all struggle to do the right thing amid a prediliction to do otherwise. Christians define righteousness as perfection; Jews define righteousness as struggle. We wrestle with our nature; we try to do better always. We acknowledge from the very outset the tendencies within us that are altruistic, that are greedy, that are giving, that are self-absorbed, and that are selfless.

I would only say that there is a difference between celebrating the struggle of humanity and idolizing human effort. The Hebrew Scriptures certainly acknowledge the struggle of human beings to love God and their neighbors as they keep the covenant with Almighty God. That we struggle is no shock. Of course we do; we are sinners. There is no one who does good, not one (Psalm 14:3). The power is not in the struggle but rather in the recognition of our limitation and weakness. Did not the Apostle Paul remind us in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10: “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Christianity, on the other hand—biblical Christianity, does not revel in the reality of human frailty and depravity so much as it glories in the perfection of the Lamb of God. Remember: the sacrificial system was a shadow of Christ’s work on the Cross for humanity. Did anyone quibble about the requirements for sacrificial lambs and other offerings? I doubt it. In addition, the bedrock of Christian theology celebrates the uniqueness of Jesus as Lord, Savior and yes, Yeshua ha Maschiach.

We who are Christ-followers and lovers look to Jesus because He and He alone did what no human being could do in his or her own strength: fulfill the Law, something no “good Jew” or well-meaning Gentile could do—then or now.


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