When I studied Mohammed's religion, I thought the insistence and enforcement of 7th century Arabian culture (e.g. diet, clothing, marriage, law) on the entire planet unreasonable, and evidence it was false. "The creator of the universe would not cause such diverse human experience only to insist that everyone adopt the culture of one region a millennia ago," I reasoned.

Yet I find Christianity doing basically the same thing: I sat in Mass today and realized the Japanese were reciting an Old Testament passage about 'the cedars of Lebanon' and the Israeli exile to Babylon (what, 587 BC?), despite the fact that likely no one in that church had ever even seen a Lebanese cedar, and likewise that exile more than 2,000 years ago has nothing to do with them today, or any relevance to the Japanese at any point in history.

I realized that the Catholic Church is pushing ancient Jewish culture on people worldwide in the same way that Mohammed's imams push Arabic culture on people worldwide. Why does God want us to fixate on that region at that point in time? How is that good for mankind? How is it relevant for us today? Why is it not evidence that the Christian faith is unreasonable and the Bible obsolete?

  • "Why does God ... ? How is that good ... ? How is it relevant ... ? Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty, instruct him ? Job 40:2.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jun 17, 2018 at 16:51
  • 2
    I'm not seeing how God making a promise using the imagery of ancient Israelis is somehow pushing their culture upon modern people. Wouldn't that be like saying by studying Socrates in a philosophy class and reading his analogies using plants, we are pushing ancient Greek culture upon modern people? In both cases, the relatable imagery of the day was being used. I'm not sure how lacking the foresight to predict plants from lands they didn't know existed is evidence that their teachings are far from the truth. If there is something I'm missing, you might need to explain it. Commented Jun 17, 2018 at 20:27

1 Answer 1


Christianity isn't fixated on ancient Israelite culture, Christianity is fixated on the history of God's dealings with his people.

You won't find in the Bible:

  • Ancient Israelite sports
  • Ancient Israelite childrens' games
  • Ancient Israelite recipes
  • Ancient Israelite fashion
  • Ancient Israelite hair and makeup styling
  • Ancient Israelite marriage rituals or liturgies
  • Ancient Israelite economic theory
  • The expectation that anyone adopt any aspect of Ancient Israelite culture except their worship of the true God

When you do see Ancient Israelite culture discussed, it's usually discussed only in passing, incidental details that we often now can't properly understand. The Ancient Israelites didn't need to write about their culture - they knew it! They needed to write, read, speak, and hear the words of God, which no one can know except by God revealing himself to them.

What you do find in the Bible is:

  • How God created the world and humanity
  • How humanity sinned and became separate from God
  • How God condescended to forgive and dwell with sinful people
  • How God prepared his people to understand his plan of salvation by,
    1. How he taught his people the seriousness of sin by instructing them to enact symbolic rituals in the sacrificial system
    2. How he taught his people of his great holiness by demanding that even while he lived amongst them, that none could approach his presence except the High Priest, once a year, and after an expensive and bloody animal sacrifice
    3. How he taught them that knowing what is right is not enough to overcome a human's tendency to sin
  • How God showed his patience and persistence as he repeatedly forgave Israel for their unfaithfulness to him as they worshipped false idols
  • How the ultimate solution to our problem cannot be found in sacrifices and the attempts to appease God by our own efforts, but only through God securing our salvation through the death of the Son of God, Jesus, and through our transformation as the Holy Spirit dwells within us

Without the theological history of Israel the cross doesn't make sense. It's not at all obvious that the wisest plan God could make is to send his only son to the earth as a human, to be abused by his people, and then to be killed by one of the most painful methods of execution humanity has ever invented.

It makes sense because the history of Israel shows us that promises, covenants, rituals, laws, sacrifices, temples, priests, theocratic rulers, and even God-appointed kings can't permanently solve the problem of sin's corruption of the human heart. God prepared Israel, and us, to understand and accept the cross through trying every alternative we could think of.

  • 2
    To add to your point, many of the laws God commanded upon the Israelites are considered obsolete in the New Testament (e.g. Jewish dietary laws). The key change though is that God changed them through Jesus' sacrifice, not in response to evolving cultural norms. Commented Jun 17, 2018 at 20:23
  • > Christian faith lacks the expectation that anyone adopt any aspect of Ancient Israelite culture except their worship of the true God -- This is not true, because the Catholic Church teaches as a dogma (not something that can be disagreed with) that the Jewish Kingdom has been implemented in heaven for all eternity such that the Virgin Mary is Queen of Heaven. There are other examples, such as blood sacrifice atonement being necessary for forgiveness. You mention Jesus as High Priest; that's another example. Baptism replacing circumcision is another; being adopted into a covenant is another. Commented Jun 17, 2018 at 21:46
  • 1
    @InternetUser I don't think those are examples of forcing Christians to adopt Israelite culture. The concept of queens, sacrifices, priests, and covenants are not exclusive to Israelite culture you know.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Jun 18, 2018 at 0:18

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .