What Are Judeo-Christian Values?
The term “Judeo-Christian values” is frequently used.
I am one who uses it.
I do so for the same reason the late great British prime minister Margaret Thatcher did:
“The truths of the Judaic-Christian tradition,” she said, “are infinitely precious, not only, as I believe, because they are true, but also because they provide the moral impulse which alone can lead to that peace, in the true meaning of the word, for which we all long… There is little hope for democracy if the hearts of men and women in democratic societies cannot be touched by a call to something greater than themselves.”
Mrs. Thatcher was a believing Christian. I am a believing Jew. While we have some religious beliefs in common, we have different theologies. But we have the same core values. And in societal terms, moral values are far more important than theologies.
That is why traditionally religious Protestants, Catholics, Mormons and Jews are aligned on almost every important social issue.
Here are 10 of those values.
No. 1: There is one God. That God is the God introduced to the world by the Hebrew Bible — the source of one universal morality.
No. 2: The Hebrew Bible (the only Bible Jesus knew and which he frequently cited) introduced the most revolutionary moral idea in history: that there are objective moral truths just as there are mathematical and scientific truths. Without God as the source of moral standards, there is no moral truth; there are only moral opinions.
No. 3: Because there are moral truths, good and evil are the same for all people.
No. 4: God — not man, not government, not popular opinion, not a democratic vote — is the source of our rights. All men “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,” declares the American Declaration of Independence.
No. 5: The human being is “created in the image of God.” Therefore, each human life is precious. Therefore, race is of no significance, since we are all created in God’s image and God has no race.
No. 6: The world is based on a divine order, meaning divinely ordained distinctions. Among these divine distinctions are God and man, man and woman, human and animal, good and evil, nature and God, and the holy and the profane.
No. 7: Man is not basically good. Christians speak of “original sin” in referring to man’s sinful nature; Jews cite God Himself in Genesis: “The will of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Genesis 8:21). They are not identical beliefs, but they are both worlds apart from the naive Enlightenment belief that man is basically good. And they come to the same conclusion: we need God-based rules to keep us from our natural inclination to do evil.
No. 8: Therefore, we must not follow our hearts. Both religious Jews and Christians are keenly aware of how morally dangerous it is to be led by our emotions. Those who reject Judeo-Christian values are far more likely to follow and promote the advice, “Follow your heart.”
No. 9: God gave us the Ten Commandments — the core of Judeo-Christian values. Therefore, to apply but one of the Ten Commandments to our morally confused secular age, you must “Honor your father and mother” even if they voted for someone you loathe — meaning, at the least, remain in contact with them and do not dare deprive them of the right to be in contact with their grandchildren.
No. 10: Human beings have free will. In the secular world, there is no free will because all human behavior is attributed to biology and environment. Only a religious worldview, because it posits the existence of a divine soul — something independent of biology and environment — allows for free will.
There is another important aspect to the term “Judeo-Christian.” The two religions need each other. Without the Old Testament, there is no New Testament. Virtually every Christian moral principle derives from the Hebrew Bible — not only the 10 Judeo-Christian values enumerated here, but such basic moral principles as “Love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus 19:18), “Love the Lord your God with all your heart …” (Deuteronomy 6:5), and “Love the stranger” (Deuteronomy 10:19).
At the same time, Judaism needs Christians. It was Christianity that carried the Torah and the rest of the Hebrew Bible to the world. This was acknowledged by the greatest Jewish thinker after Moses, Maimonides.
Thus, while people speak of “Judeo-Christian” values, people do not speak of “Judeo-Muslim” values. As the noted Jewish scholar David Novak writes, “Maimonides rules that Jews may teach the Torah to Christians but not to Muslims because Christians believe Hebrew Scripture in toto to be the revealed word of God, whereas Muslims believe that primary text to be the Quran; for them, Hebrew Scripture is a flawed revelation. Thus, Jews and Christians share a common revelation in a way that Jews share with no other religious community.”
The ultimate embodiment of Judeo-Christian values has been the United States of America. America’s Founders were Christians (some culturally, some doctrinally) who were rooted in the Hebrew Bible. America was founded not to be a replacement of Israel, but a “Second Israel.” Until recently, it was.
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Very good Dennis. You are right. Every Christian should be a friend of the Jew. But I am concerned about how both of them are viewed by the far left socialists. Attacks on places of worship of both Christians and Jews are happening at an alarming rate. I feel like Mordecai in the days when Esther was the Queen and there was an edict by the King to kill the Jews. But because of Esther’s bravery going before the King and risking her own life asking that the Jews could be given the right to defend ourselves. Except under Biden’s regime, we would not be given that right! Brothers of both Testaments have to stick together in this fight we are thrusted into and didn’t ask for. These are very troubling times. I am 68 years old and am coming into the sunset of my life and am very concerned for my children and grandchildren and of what they will face if things do not change. I am sure you would look forward to writing on “no one getting killed, robbed, raped or beaten” just one day! But I don’t think this will happen anytime soon. These days remind me of the days of Noah when violence ran unchecked. The Lord Almighty got tired of seeing it and did something about it. I believe this world’s wickedness has the cup full for God’s wrath that will be soon to come. The days of the Gentiles will be fulfilled and the time for the Jews will have a refreshing from the Almighty. I pray that the Jews will not forget their brethren when that time comes! Keep those truthful articles coming. We will need them more in coming days.
Dennis, I had just finished my weekly column for the Prescott enews, when I read your column today. I have been a fan of yours since we lived in San Pedro, CA and listened to your radio program regarding religion, usually with a rabbi, a priest and a Protestant minister. I still listen to most of your daily radio broadcasts today when I can. Anyway, I was surprised at how my column to be published on this Sunday seemed to parallel with yours. I know what a busy schedule you have, but if you find the time, please read it and tell me what you think. Please forgive any errors as my editor in chief, my wife, hasn’t seen it yet.
Reasons For Believing
by Buz Williams
There is a practical reason for believing in God. Religion should make us feel better most of the time. Religion gives one a reason for hope. It gives us a reason to do good things for others, to be thankful for what a person has and reason to be humble, knowing that there is a much greater power than one’s self. Logically, if there is no reward (heaven) for doing good, and no punishment, (hell), for doing evil, there is no practical reason for being moral and not doing whatever one wants for one’s own benefit, if you can do it without getting caught and punished criminally.
On a pragmatic basis, our society and culture should have fundamental Judeo-Christian ethics. That moral philosophy can be reduced in the simplest form to the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, and the Ten Commandments: Don’t lie, cheat or steal, don’t murder, don’t be unfaithful to your spouse, don’t be jealous of your neighbor’s wife or of his property or success, honor your parents, and be faithful to your God.
Until recently most Americans believed that a church offers a good foundation for honesty and morality, supplementing and enhancing what parents can teach their children. It also teaches kids that they are not the center of the universe. It gives them an entity to pray to in times of need and a God to give them solace in times of trouble. Religion also gives them a reason not to despair when confronted with the death of loved ones.
Many people state that they believe in God, but don’t believe in or belong to any organized religion. A look at the history of scandals in organized religions is often cited as a reason for this position, but this might be a bit of a cop out. There are so many different denominations in the Christian and Jewish faiths to choose from, that a search would find some more acceptable than others. Also, an all knowing God has to be well aware that his human creations were fallible and would break Commandments, laws and rules. It would be no surprise to God that churches in our earthy world have even the most egregious scandals. The point is that good churches reinforce family teachings and Judeo-Christian mores.
Knowing the imperfections of his human beings, a good and righteous God possesses two divine qualities that he would have us emulate: forgiveness and mercy. That is why King David could be forgiven for his adultery with Bathsheba and his arranging the death of her husband. That is why Jesus could demand that those who were sinless, should cast the first stone against the adulteress, and then tell her to go and sin no more. An all knowing God can be merciful and forgive those who are truly regretful and repentant. These are qualities that we should emulate.
That is not to say that a society should not punish crimes, but mercy sometimes requires that we look at extenuating circumstances before sentencing an offender for the crime. That is why we let convicts out of prison when they have served their sentence and why we are asked to “forgive those who trespass against us.”
If the history of the last century has taught us anything, it is that countries that base their societies on Judeo-Christian precepts with a foundation of Constitutionally limited government, have freer, safer citizens than those nations that are created on the discredited theory that the government is supreme. In other words, the atheistic theories of communism and fascism.