I had no intention of burning down the church.

It was an accident — pure and simple. The fire was small, and Sister Mary-Mark, my teacher, quickly stomped it out. Not to imply she snuck up on me, but nuns are inherently quiet. She startled me and I dropped the match. That’s it. End of story. No real harm done, except perhaps to my reputation.

Although it’s doubtful many of the nuns were saddened when my parents pulled me out and placed me in the public system, I’m thankful for my time with them. In spite of all the traditions and trappings of a Catholic school, they managed to instill in me more faith than religion.

Half-jokingly, I refer to myself as sort of a Christian mutt: raised Catholic, saved as a teenager in the “Jesus movement” of the seventies, walked an aisle in the Lutheran church, then baptized years later in a house-church bathtub somewhere in Berlin, Germany. My gypsy past taught me to seek Christ and love people rather than doctrines.

In reading Shmuley Boteach’s Kosher Jesus, I’m downright embarrassed to admit that I’ve just now realized how oblivious to the history of Christian antisemitism I’ve been. Likewise, it’s becoming more clear just why so many Jews have a disdain for the very name of Jesus. Which has led me to another realization.

If American culture is founded on Judeo-Christian values, and that culture is crumbling around us, it’s time we understand the true genesis of those values.

Now’s the time to take a good look at our foundation.

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Boteach explains it this way:

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Jesus came into the world under the oppression of Roman rule and the wickedness of a pagan culture and corrupt politics. Boteach claims the New Testament must be read within the Jewish context and the political pressure of the time. In doing so, we risk our traditions and hold our theology up to scrutiny — it’s not a comfortable place.

Especially when he explains that a lot of our misunderstandings between the faiths arose due to politically motivated editing of the New Testament. The author claims that the edits are obvious once you understand Jewish tradition and history. The book promises to introduce us to the Rabbi Jesus, and teach us to read between the lines and see the shadows in the margins.

I don’t know that I will always agree with the author, but I do believe him when he writes, “American culture is less in accordance with Christian theology than many would think.” If we want to restore our culture, it’s time we ditch the blue-eyed, blonde European version of Jesus that no more represents a realistic image of the Savior than the Westboro Baptist Church reflects his teachings. We need the real deal.

You’re invited to join me over the next couple weeks as we discover the “Jewish Jesus and Jewish understanding behind the bedrock premises of Christianity.” In doing so, it’s my hope we will have a more complete look at what a Judeo-Christian culture really is and explore the concept of a Kosher Christianity. Then, perhaps we can unlock the truth and power behind 2 Chronicles 7:14:

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” New International Version