You Take Jesus, I’ll Take God: How To Refute Christian Missionaries. Samuel Levine. Los Angeles: Hamoroh Press, 1980.
As a Christian, it is difficult not to be offended by the presentation of Levine’s book. As a Jew, it is difficult not to be embarrassed by Levine’s lack of integrity. It’s not that his material is so much different from other refutationists, it’s that he chooses to use it in a degrading and demeaning manner. He states that his audience is Jewish and that is my consolation. I think that many Jewish people would disregard this book simply because of its snide and superficial treatment of Christianity. My hope is that most Christians would never open it so that they would not think Levine’s attitude is typical of Judaism.
Levine outlines his intentions clearly in his introductory pages and his overall structure is simple and accessible. He is consistent in maintaining his premise and every argument he presents, whether faulty or not, is thrust toward this purpose. He uses ample scriptures, whether twisted or not, to support his thesis. Although Levine’s basic suppositions are false, he supports them unwaveringly throughout his book. He wants to give Jewish people a guide for handling Christian arguments and he is faithful to his task. I must say that Levine is one of the refutationists who gives a bit of room for Christian arguments, even though they are poorly presented, in his pages. I think that is all I can say that is good about this book!
What tears down Levine’s integrity as a writer, and I certainly cannot contend that he is a scholar, is his superficial, facile and contradictory logic and the use of false information and pointless insults (referring to Jesus as a “furry pet lamb” and “a man hanging on the wall with his arms stretched out” is entirely unnecessary) throughout his refutation. I know many people who would not read past the sweeping generalization in his preface: “Since all of them [Jewish Christians], without exception, did not know the Bible or their Judaism before they were introduced to Christianity, they were easily manipulated by Christian missionaries.” He warns readers that they should “be aware that you are most probably dealing with brainwashed people” who “accepted Jesus into their lives for psychological reasons.”
Samples of faulty logic are laced throughout his book. When discussing Zechariah 9:9 and Matthew 27:1,20 he states, “Thus, if Matthew is correct, the Jews did not feel that Jesus was their king. If Matthew is not correct, then the New Testament is false, and the theory of the second coming and the entire Christian religion is also false.” He tries the same method of argument in disposing of the virgin birth interpretation of Isaiah 7:14, “If the Christians are correct, then God is an idiot, for he is promising a sign to Ahazâ€¦and this sign will appear 500 years later!” Levine can hardly contain his nastiness when he proposes that any prophecy Jesus did not fulfill in his first coming proves that he was not the Messiah: “â€¦it becomes almost incredible that one could accept Jesus as the Messiah (unless one needs to, for psychological reasons, but that is a different story altogetherâ€”I am dealing here with theological and historical truths, not neuroses.)” In the final analysis, Levine hopes that his logic and lurid language will dispose of the Christian religion entirely and entice Jews away from Jesus. This seeps throughout his book and immerses it in fallibility.