Judaism 101: Humans’ Nature and Sin

Jewish baby

As an evangelical Christian, I believed that infants were born with a sin nature. Even before they did anything wrong, they were already tainted with sin and already in need of forgiveness. In the Judaism 101 conversation about sin and forgiveness, one strand of the conversation spun off to discuss human nature, whether humans are born good or evil, and the nature of sin. Once again, reading what the panelists had to say I was struck by how different and distinct the Jewish view is from the … [Read more...]

Judaism 101: Sin and Forgiveness

Yom Kippur

Growing up as an evangelical Christian, much of my beliefs about God revolved around forgiveness. I believed that as humans, we were all sinners, and that sin demanded forgiveness and that forgiveness could only come from God through the death of his son, Jesus, on the cross. Without Jesus' death to atone for our sins, I believed, we could not be forgiven for a single one of them and would still bear their blackness---the consequences of which were death. Of course, I was always taught that … [Read more...]

Judaism 101: The Messiah


Growing up as an evangelical Christian, I believed Jesus was the Jewish Messiah---I was taught that he fulfilled hundreds of Old Testament prophesies. I was also told that the Jewish people had missed the coming of their own Messiah. Even as a child, I always found this curious---how could they miss something so big and important? As I began to step outside of the world of evangelical Christianity and into a world of greater nuance, however, I knew that there was a part of the story I had never … [Read more...]

Judaism 101: Gehenna (Hell)


In this segment of my Judaism 101 series, the panelists discuss the Jewish view of hell---or to put it in Jewish terminology, Gehenna. While I was questioning my evangelical beliefs, I remember very clearly the day I suddenly asked my self "what does the Old Testament actually say about hell?" The answer, I concluded, was not much---or at least not much that resembled the Christian version of hell that I had grown up with. Ever since then, I've been fascinated by the differences between the … [Read more...]

Judaism 101: Born Jewish?

image credit

My Judaism 101 series will return in a couple of weeks, moving on to topics like the nature of God and the meaning of sin, but for the moment I want to post another rabbit trail that resulted from a previous Judaism 101 email thread. This time the panelists went off topic and discussed the issue of descent. We'll get back to the topic of what makes someone Jewish later, of course, but for the moment I found this discussion interesting because of how foreign it sounded.In my family and church … [Read more...]

Judaism 101: Thoughts on Passover


Given that this week is Passover, I decided to ask the Judaism 101 panel to share some of their thoughts on the holiday, and on what it meant to them. This post is the result of that conversation.(Judaism 101 involves ten Jewish readers of my blog answering questions about Judaism in a panel format. (I introduced this project and provided bios of each panelist here.) Feel free to ask questions or ask for clarification, but remember that the goal here is to learn more about other faith tra … [Read more...]

Judaism 101: The Torah and Other Sources of Holiness


What various sources do Jews consider holy? How they approach and use these various sources? How do Jews of various persuasions differ in their approach to and use of these sources? In this installment of Judaism 101, we'll be talking about the sources Jews consider holy and the various "denominations" within Judaism. Judaism 101 involves ten Jewish readers of my blog answering questions about Judaism in a panel format. (I introduced this project and provided bios of each pa … [Read more...]