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As I am approaching the completion of gerus, HaShem has brought me a new wave of challengers. Old friends who were drawn to Christianity have began contacting me. A conversation was initiated about a point or two about the Tanakh, which one grossly misunderstood. So I begin spending time responding to some of his claims using Torah sources.

I remember an injunction in the Torah that Jews should know how to respond to heretics, which Christians admittedly are not. As far as I know, heretics have to be Jewish. Christians are mainly gentile idolaters according to Rabbi Moshe Weiner's Divine Code.

I can win these arguments but I fear that there is a prohibition to speak to them. I read from an earlier post here that poskim ruled that we are not allowed to teach idolaters Torah. What are your thoughts on what I should do? Should I ignore them and move on with my life or get the last word in and eliminate all accusatory doubts.

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    You are remembering the Mishna in Pirkei Avot (2:14) "Rabbi Elazar would say: [...] Know what to answer a heretic [...]" On teaching Torah to Christians, see here and here on MY. My personal experience is that very few challengers of Torah really want to learn and are open to changing their beliefs. In most cases, one is simply wasting time by responding beyond the basics. So, even if permitted, there is likely more to be gained by you using that time to learn more Torah – mbloch Mar 25 at 7:12
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    By the way, the source of our faith is not the internal consistency of Tanakh (since there are indeed apparent inconsistencies) but rather the uninterrupted transmission from Mount Sinai. So fighting over details in Tanakh doesn't really challenge anything – mbloch Mar 25 at 7:15
  • The fact of the matter is most if not all of these people contacting you don't actually seek truth. It's better not to engage simply because you'll waste your time. That being said we have plenty of resources on debunking Christianity here on Mi Yodeya, for example see here. – ezra Mar 25 at 7:28
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    Christians are raised to inquire about the Tanakh, in an effort to understand Matthew 5:17. - Although church services / sunday schools study translations of the Tanakh called the "Old Testament" in their congregations / ministries, the effort to help clarify the context of Hebrew verses like Hosea 11:1 from the Tanakh will be difficult (based on the Christian belief in Matthew 2:15). Discussing Israel being HaShem's figurative first-born son in Exodus 4:22 vs. a literal son in John 3:18 can be difficult. When discussing the Talmud, Christians often do not accept Halakah (based on John 19:11). – חִידָה Mar 25 at 12:05
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    Christian here; why do you consider Christians idolators? Considering that in Christianity, Jesus is considered to be God incarnate, not a creature, how can we be accused of idolatry? That is, if we are as opposed to worshipping anyone other than God as you are, how can we be called idolators. Shouldn't you be arguing Jesus isn't HaShem incarnate, rather than 'you are idolators?' Trust me - we are as horrified about worshipping a creature as if a God as you are. That I can assure you. If you worship anyone other than God, you will go to hell unless you repent of it, according to Christianity. – SolaGratia Mar 27 at 23:41
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According to the Talmud, the injunction to know what to respond to the heretic is specifically referring to non-Jewish heretics:

תנן התם ר"א אומר הוי שקוד ללמוד תורה ודע מה שתשיב לאפיקורוס אמר ר' יוחנן ל"ש אלא אפיקורוס (של) עובדי כוכבים אבל אפיקורוס ישראל כ"ש דפקר טפי
We learned in a mishna there (Avot 4:4) [sic: should be 2:14] : Rabbi Eliezer says: Be persistent to learn Torah, and know what to respond to the heretic [la’apikoros]. Rabbi Yoḥanan says: This was taught only with regard to a gentile heretic, but not with regard to a Jewish heretic, as one should not respond to him. All the more so, if one does respond he will become more heretical. His heresy is assumed to be intentional, and any attempt to rebut it will only cause him to reinforce his position.

That does not mean you need to waste your breath, but you should show them that you did not come to your positions out of ignorance. Here is a link you might find useful: https://www.aish.com/sp/ph/Know-How-to-Answer-Christian-Missionaries.html

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  • Thank yo very much. – Kenny Xiong Apr 1 at 18:46
  • You're welcome. (If you really like the answer, please click the check) – N.T. Apr 1 at 20:25
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If done in a friendly manner, I don’t see any reason to refrain. Christians should know the truth that there is only one G-d. We can respect their beliefs but do not worship idols.

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    "Christians should know the truth that there is only one G-d." A truth Christians would whole heartedly agree with. So as you engage and respond to Christians, make sure you are both accurately understanding and representing the beliefs of each other lest you just end up talking past each other or arguing against straw men. – curiousdannii Mar 28 at 1:28
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    'Christians don't believe in one God and worship idols' is a strawman. You won't get anywhere by beginning with a strawman. Jesus taught the most important commandment is: "Hear O Israel: the Lord is our God, the Lord is one." The Creed begins, "I believe in one God." The Apostles say, "we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one. For though there be many that are called gods ... for us there is but one God." In other words, "Little children: keep yourselves from idols. Amen." (J Jn 5:21). – SolaGratia Mar 30 at 21:42
  • @curiousdannii Thank you for your comment. I agree that many Christians accept that there is only one G-d. However, I never understood the concept of the trinity. Maimonides criticized Christianity strongly. He felt that the notion that there are three gods is philosophically impossible. The only exception I can think of would be the Unitarian Christians or the kind of Christianity like Leo Tolstoy in his “The Gospel in Brief,” Isaac Newton, and Thomas Jefferson in “The Jefferson Bible.” – Turk Hill Mar 30 at 22:13
  • @SolaGratia Thank you for your comment. I agree that Christians accept that there is only one G-d. The Nicene creed says as much, "we believe in one G-d." However, how do you square this concept with the trinity? Unless you mean to say that Jesus was only a prophet? Additionally, Jesus never called himself G-d. And were places he did, it can be reinterpreted to make him say otherwise or are parables. Jesus liked parables. If Christians dislike idols, why do Catholics pray to them? They parade a statue of Mary in holidays. Martin Luther, as bad as he was, seemed to have a point there. – Turk Hill Mar 30 at 22:16
  • @TurkHill Feel free to come to Christianity if you'd like to ask those questions :) – curiousdannii Mar 30 at 22:19
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Don’t waste too much time on them. If they want to hear your defense you can explain to them but most of them would not listen or they come with hate! You can perhaps start your own website to explain. Some Gentiles might learn something from you.

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The prohibition on teaching Torah to non-Jews does not apply to the mitzvot incumbent upon them (Sanhedrin 59a). The issues under dispute between Jews and Christians fall almost entirely into this category, so it would certainly not be prohibited to discuss these issues with them. As you seem to think that you have a high likelihood of success, in my view it would be a positive step. Although it is not directly related, you may enjoy my post Yerushalayim and the World

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It is not prohibited to speak to a Christian about faith, and it is important to note that while there are aspects of practiced Christianity that are considered heretical (such as bowing or worshipping icons, more common in certain Orthodox Christian churches), Christianity as a whole is considered in line with the Noahide covenant. Menahem Meiri notes that even in the case that Christians believe in multiple beings, such is permitted by Torah to goyim (See here). This is the concept of shittuf. A Christian of course would argue that Jesus is not a separate God or even being for that matter; instead He is a separate manifestation of a singular G-d. Despite that, one is not prohibited in any case in speaking to someone unless they have turned away from the faith.

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  • "A Christian of course would argue that Jesus is not a separate God"–this is a Trinitarian view. A non-Trinitarian would say Jesus different from God. – agarza Mar 31 at 17:13
  • If they believe in the trinity then they are idol worshippers. That removes them from the category of shituff into full avoda zorah. See the Divine Code. – Kenny Xiong Apr 1 at 18:41
  • @KennyXiong this would only be the case if they believe in three separate gods, not in one G-d who manifests himself in multiple ways. – Jackson Dunn Apr 1 at 20:52
  • Not according to the source I am holding. Can you bring your source please. – Kenny Xiong Apr 2 at 2:45
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    Absolutely! Athanasius Creed (Orthodox Christian creed) states: "...and the...faith is this: that we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Essence." In other words, one God in three manifestations. To my understanding the bone of contention is/should be that Christians believe that G-d was himself the Moshiach and manifest as a man, not that he was a different god. And then that's a question of fact not heresy. – Jackson Dunn Apr 2 at 14:01

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