What Was (and Is) The Original Faith?
People today are perplexed by the plurality of religious faiths in the world.  They see a
bewildering array of eastern religions like Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Islam.  Then
there are the shamanistic tribal religions of the remote and primitive peoples.  We know
of ancient mystery religions of nations like Egypt, and religions that came into being by
the work of modern day so called prophets and apostles.
In the West we are mostly concerned with Christianity and its cognate Judaism.  Some
are also becoming aware that Islam has a great deal in common with Christianity and
Judaism, all having a common origin.  In the US Christianity is dominant, so most people
couch all their religious inquiry in terms of Christianity since that is what they know. 
They seem to think that all religions are just different versions of the Christian mind set. 
Their naivety often prevents the slightest understanding of other faiths.  And Christianity
itself is hopelessly divided into thousands of conflicting denominations, each touting its
own particular interpretation of truth.
I realize that I am writing primarily to an audience from a Christian background, so I will
address issues in this article primarily from that perspective, but I will try to address
issues from the Judaic and Islamic perspectives as well.  Most Christians believe that
their faith superseded Judaism, but they are unaware that Muslims believe that Islam
superseded both of them.  What superseded what is not at issue in this article, however. 
My purpose in writing is to discover to my readers where all three faiths began.
Where did it all begin?
So what really came first?  What was before the prophet Mohammed began to hear what
he believed was the voice of God and set about to bring his fellow Arab peoples out of
centuries of polytheistic religious practices, to spread the faith of the one God and to
conquer nations in the name of Allah?  
What preceded the massive spread of the Roman sponsored faith called Christianity
under the heavy hand of the Emperor Constantine.  He greatly altered and paganized
the primitive faith practiced by Jesus and his apostles in the first century, leaving a
mongrel mix of Mithraistic pagan practices and beliefs dressed up in biblical language
that persists to this day?
What preceded the work of Jesus and the apostles and their primitive group of
followers?  A movement that sprang from the Judaism of their day.
And what preceded the rabbinic Judaism that grew from the traditions of the first century
Pharisees in the throes of the destruction of the Temple, making it impossible for the
Jews to practice much of the elements of their religion that had persisted over a
thousand years?  
Indeed, what preceded the great covenant at Sinai when God singled out a particular
ethnic group and gave them a unique responsibility - the preservation and perpetuation
of Torah?
Let us put the question another way.  Of what faith was Abraham and Isaac?  What
about Shem and Eber, who are said to have operated a house for study of the ways and
knowledge of the creator?  This was at a time when apostasy was first springing up
under the influence of Nimrod, who sought to set himself "before" or "in the place of"
God.  The practice of idolatry seems to have been introduced by Nimrod justify his
ambitions in the name of divine right and to distract the people from the knowledge of
the creator, so that he could exercise political control over them.  Few realize that control
of the people has been the motive behind nearly every religion since that time.
What about Adam and Enoch and Noah?  What were the principles of their faith?  
These men, though called righteous men, could not be called Christians because Jesus'
ministry began centuries later.  They could not even be called Jews or Isrealites because
the nation of Israel did not exist at that time and the covenant at Sinai was yet centuries
in the future.  They long predated Mohammed and so they were not followers his
teachings.  Curiously, Muslims would say that those patriarchs, who were their ancestors
as much as were the Jews, were indeed Muslims, because the word Islam means "to
surrender to God". They view those earlier prophets as followers of the way of God. 
Mohammed merely continued that tradition and reintroduced the true faith in his time
adding the new scriptural revelations (the Koran) given to him by God.  Many of them
will say that Abraham was the first Muslim.  But names by which they might have been
called are not the issue at hand.  I do not wish to debate that point, because it is not
germane to the issue I am discussing.  What is important is the principles of their faith
and the behavior they espoused.  By the time you finish this article,  I hope to make it
clear just what was that original faith?
A question of covenants
Years ago, when I was doing research for a commentary on the book of Genesis that
I was writing, I came across an interesting passage in the ninth chapter of Genesis that
I had read many times before, but never with the same focus that I had at that time.  In
order to fully explain that passage I had to understand it clearly myself.  Noah had just
come out of the ark and was making a sacrifice of thanksgiving to God for the
deliverance of his family.  I had been focusing at length on the subject of sacrifices and
their significance.  On occasion, sacrifice accompanied the sealing of an agreement
between two parties, such as the Laban - Jacob agreement in Genesis 31.  The sacrifice
was intended to invoke God as a witness to the transaction.  In some cases one of the
parties was God himself.  
I was struck by the fact that here in Genesis 9 was a major covenant taking place
accompanied by a sacrifice, but to my knowledge no one had paid the slightest attention
to it since.  The traditional religions are greatly concerned with the matter of covenants. 
Judaism is completely based on the covenant at Sinai along with prophecies predicting
a time when there would be a new covenant written on the hearts of Israel.  Christians
appropriated the concept of a new covenant to themselves apparently forgetting that the
new covenant was between God and Israel as well.  But both beliefs seemed to
completely ignore the covenant God made with Noah and his descendants.  I kept this
matter in the back of my mind for a long time.
Some others knew
As it turned out there were those who were aware of this covenant and who were
teaching about it.  Some months later I read a short article in the Jerusalem Post.  It was
about a small but growing movement of non-Jews who were becoming interested in
Torah.  They had become disillusioned with traditional Christian teaching because of the
pagan practices and beliefs that were imbedded in it and because of glaring
inconsistencies in doctrine.  The article centered of the Emmanuel Baptist Church in
Athens Tennessee, that had removed the designation  Baptist  from their name and
started down the path to an independent study of the scriptures.  Their study eventually
prompted them to also remove the designation  church  from their name as well. They
also tore down their steeple realizing that it too was a relic of ancient pagan phallic
symbols.  They came to be called simply  The Emmanuel Congregation  and later  The
Emmanuel Study Center.
Their studies taught them that they should embrace the covenant of Genesis 9 and the
seven laws of Noah founded on that passage, as the foundation of their belief and
practice.  Here to my surprise was a group of people who were endeavoring to get back
to the original faith.
They also realized that God had given a special assignment to the Jewish people to be
a kingdom of priests among the nations (Ex. 19:5-6) and to preserve and uphold Torah
to the nations.  So it seemed sensible for these Noachides to begin to seek teaching
from Jewish sources and to search out Jewish Rabbis who would be willing and able to
teach them.  
They had come to realize that the Torah dealt differently with Jews as opposed to non-
Jews, and that even though many Jewish leaders they spoke with did not know how to
deal with them, there were a some few rabbis who understood the matter and were
willing to help them understand Torah.  As it happened, sometime earlier the
Lubavatcher Rebbe Schneerson had been predicting to his followers that the time would
soon come when 
Ten men out of all the languages of the nations (the gentiles) ... shall
take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you, for we have heard
that God is with you  (Zechariah 8:23). 
So even though other segments of Judaism seemed not to be willing or able to help them,
the Lubavatchers began to help them.
Further investigation
I was intrigued by this story because it was then that I realized that I was not the only
one who had noticed the importance of the covenant in Genesis 9.  I began to search
for information about this and other such groups of people.  I began to request literature
to explore the teachings of those groups and the notion of the seven laws of Noah. 
These folks commonly called themselves B'nai Noach, meaning the sons of Noah.  This
article is my attempt to explain of what I learned of the B'nai Noach movement.
Judaism is not known to be an evangelizing religion.  It usually does not seek converts,
though a non-Jew can convert if he is tenacious enough.  This stance is largely a
cautious one that has been adopted because of the persecution that Jews have often
been subject to.  They have chosen not to openly seek converts rather than risk the ire
of the Christians.  In fact they will often discourage conversion of non-Jews because they
regard it as unnecessary.  It may come as a surprise, but in the Jewish world view, it is
not their goal to make the world Jewish.  They see their faith as a calling specifically for
Jews, not gentiles.  The covenant at Sinai was made specifically with the nation of Israel
and Israel alone.  The ten commandments and the 613 commandments given at Sinai
were intended specifically for them.  They were never required of other nations.  We
often refer to the Jews as the chosen people, but not one person in a thousand can tell
you what they were chosen to do.  A Jew realizes that he was chosen to preserve and
perpetuate Torah and to practice it in every aspect of his life, even down to minute
details that remind him of the particulars of Torah.  This is the nature of Judaism.
God has given the Jews the mindset that it is a great privilege to live in this manner for
a divine purpose.  They serve with joy.  Frankly though, there are not many gentiles who
would be inclined to choose that way of life.  Not many would care to wear the kippah
and the teffilin and to eat only kosher foods, and to cease all work on the seventh day
and all the minutiae of Judaism.  But a gentile may choose to convert to Judaism and
take on all it's accoutrements if he wishes.  Even if he chooses not to convert, it would
be permissible to take on certain elements of that faith if one chooses as something
beyond what is required of a gentile.  But God never required that all the world live in
this fashion.  I once heard a Rabbi say that Jews need the gentiles to run the world while
they study Torah.  For example, in a modern world, someone needs to be working on
Shabbat to keep the public utilities running, to provide emergency services, to provide
police protection, etc. at the very least. 
What we need is peace
I once asked a Jewish friend what Judaism sees as the role of gentiles in the world.  His
reply was simply "to live in a peaceable manner with all his neighbors including the
Jews".  I said that I notice that Jews tend not to paint elaborate scenarios of the
messianic age as Christian teachers tend to do.  I then asked him to describe his
expectations of the messianic age.  His reply was quick and to the point.  "Torah will go
forth from Jerusalem and all men would live peaceably with their neighbor."  That's it,
pure and simple -PEACE.  In contrast we live in a world where peace eludes us,
personally, nationally, and globally.
It's ironic that modern Christianity, which claims to be the religion of the Prince of Peace,
has evolved a doctrine that teaches the ultimate failure of peace for our planet. 
Christians expect to be raptured away at the time of the end, leaving the world to fester
in it's problems and descend into oblivion.  
Such teaching would not be recognized by Jesus and the apostles.  It is not genuine
New Testament teaching. It can be clearly shown that the followers of Jesus and the
Apostles believed in a messianic kingdom to come to the earth in the future rather than
the saints being wafted away to an idyllic existence in heaven.  They believed in the
same messianic vision that the prophets of the Bible had taught for centuries, a kingdom
of peace and justice, centered in Jerusalem, a kingdom that will ultimately engulf the
entire world.  Of course, Judaism and the early church diverged on the issue of who was
the messiah.  That rift eventually became a chasm as the church drifted away from its
original beliefs.
What, then, is the basis of peace?  What is the code of conduct by which all men should
live in order to have peace?  The answer in the concept of Judaism is "the seven laws
of Noah".  That body of law. laid down just after the great flood, is the original code of
morality and conduct which God required of all men.  It is the very basis for any peaceful
and orderly society.  Only by following its principles can we have peace among all men. 
At the end of this article I will enumerate what are those seven laws of Noah for the
benefit of those who do not know them, but I will have to leave a detailed explanation
of them for a later article.    
It may come as a surprise that, in the beginning, God never required that man worship
Him, He never required that man pray to Him; He never required elaborate rituals or
ceremonies. He never required keeping the sabbath, paying tithes or going to church. 
God did not require man to practice religion.  But he did require that man
treat Him with respect, and that all men live peaceable with one another and he gave
specific instruction about how to accomplish it.  Those two great principles ultimately
became part of the Law of Sinai and later they were reiterated by Jesus as what he
called the two great commandments.  Those requirements are detailed further into what
ultimately became known as the seven laws of Noah.  So what does Judaism see as the
role of the gentile?  It is nothing more than   to live by the seven broad Noachide
principles and live in peace.  
Fact finding
To return to my story, I was sure that something very important had taken place in the
ninth chapter of Genesis and I intended to understand what it was.  The answer was
some time in coming.  And it is still coming.  Over my years of independent study, I had
learned that a great deal could be learned about biblical issues by consulting Jewish
sources - commentaries, rabbinical works, and books by and for Jews.  They seemed
to have real and convincing answers to biblical questions when Christian scholars
responses ranged anywhere from ignoring the question to simply blowing smoke.  I
realized that Christian scholars often simply ignored available exegesis from Jewish
sources and consequently they remained in the dark on so many issues.  I began to fill
my personal library with as much of Jewish exegetical material as I could find.  I
undertook to learn to read Hebrew and I began to read the Bible in Hebrew.  I even
subscribed to the Jerusalem Post.  In time I began to marvel at the growth of my
understanding of the scriptures.  And, of course, I gradually became aware of some very
serious issues that separate Christian and Jewish teachings. 
By chance I met a few individuals who called themselves   Noachide.  They had no
association with the groups I previously spoke of.  They had a loose association with a
local Jewish congregation.  Some had taken Noachide classes.  Some were preparing
in this way for eventual conversion to Judaism, though that was not necessarily the case. 
I learned that this kind of activity, a sort of Jewish outreach, is beginning to take place
among some Jewish groups, especially among the orthodox.  I found that a number of
Noachide organizations were represented on the internet, some Jewish, some not.  The
basis of the teaching was always the seven laws of Noah.  The presentation and the
development of teaching varied considerably from group to group.  Jewish groups stuck
mainly to Torah and teachings of rabbinical authorities.  Because Noachides usually
came from Christian backgrounds, questions about christological issues would inevitably
arise.  Jewish teachers tactfully but firmly assert that traditional Christianity is a devolved
form of ancient teaching that grew out the work of Yeshua the Nazarene as expanded
by the apostles, especially Paul. The church eventually began to worship Jesus as God. 
Put simply that Christianity has made an idol out of Jesus.  
The non-Jewish groups vary considerably.  Though they recognize Jewish teaching, and
they have long known that traditional Christian teaching is loaded with paganism in its
practices and doctrines,  there are those who are more cautious about totally rejecting
New Testament teaching.  Many feel the issue deserves more objective study.  They are
clearly re-evaluating what they have been taught all their lives.  They are especially
concerned with the status of Jesus and who he was.  Frankly, there is not unanimous
agreement among Noachides on this issue.  
The issue of the textual integrity of the New Testament is also an important issue.  There
has always been a rigorous and careful process in place for the faithful preservation of
the Jewish scriptures.  By contrast no such process has ever existed for the New
Testament.  It can be shown that many insertions and changes have been made over
the centuries by well meaning although biased copyists.  Over half the text is in dispute. 
So some wonder how much they can depend on it to reflect the first century movement
of Jesus and the apostles.  Some have begun to see a different understanding of the
New Testament than is common in Christianity, becoming aware of Noachide issues and 
even deeper Jewish and Kabalistic material that has long been there, though it has eluded 
the Christian community.  There is no single consensus about these issues, but it is clear 
that everyone considers what is happening to be a learning experience.  There is little or no 
effort in the movement to dogmatize or to unite to form a new organization. Indeed, they 
make it clear that they are not a new religion. One congregation that I visited does not pray 
or sing songs or anything that would be considered worship, presumably to avoid the 
impression of practicing a new religion.  They simply open their meeting and introduce their 
speaker,  who expounds some facet of Torah teaching. There follows a brief period of 
questions and answers. The atmosphere is friendly, informal and educational.
A new phenomenon - an old concept
So the Noachide movement is a grass roots movement.  I like to refer to it as an
unorganized unreligion.  Most of the groups are aware of each other.  Some of the
groups have a very loose sort of cooperation and association, but there is no central
authority and no apparent desire for one.
It is a new phenomenon in modern times, though it seems to echo the situation in the
first century, when a great many God fearers, non Jews, associated themselves with the
Torah and the Temple.  The New Testament accounts seem to reflect that what is often
referred to as the beginning of the church in Christian circles, was in reality the sudden
appearance of an earlier grass roots Noachide movement that was associated with the
teaching of Jesus and the apostles.  This is a controversial issue.  At some point that
new movement drifted away from its first principles, allowing pagan influences to be
introduced, until the fourth century, when the Roman emperor Constantine, adopted the
fledgling church and totally corrupted it with the practices and teachings of Mithraism
(sun worship) while still calling it by the name of Christianity.  The primitive movement
of Jesus and the apostles was changed forever.  Whatever it was in the beginning has
been replaced with a mongrel religion built around the personage of Jesus,
appropriating pagan ritual and observances, while retaining biblical language in it's
So what will become of this 20th century God-fearers movement only time will tell.  There
are those who believe there is prophetic significance to it.   Most feel they are embarking
on a new adventure in truth.  There is much very exciting scriptural study and teaching
taking place, and some very informative and educational literature being circulated.  The
depth of study into the issues is very impressive.  I am satisfied that as the baggage of
traditional Christianity is examined objectively, a great deal of new insight will emerge. 
Many feel this is destined to change the world.  
I have for many years simply called myself an independent student of the Bible.  I have
not been a part of any religious organization for over twenty years, and I have come to
like it that way.  I value my spiritual independence very highly.  I find that I am much
more free to study the Bible objectively.  I do not have to defend the doctrines of some
organization by virtue of belonging to it.  Belonging means that it owns you and you owe
your loyalty to it.  You obligate yourself to support it's teaching.  
I am part participant and part observer.  I have come to think of myself also as B'nai
Noah because I believe in the concept and support it.  It is not a matter of belonging to
some man made organization.  Though I speak highly of these groups and I feel good
about what they are doing, I am not personally a part of any of them.  It is partly
because there is not much of this activity in the area where I live,  but it is also partly
because I value my autonomy as an independent student of the Bible.  It is easy to
become spiritually lazy as a part of a group, and allow the group to do your thinking for
you.  The churches are full of this kind of thing.  Few church members question the
doctrines of their denomination.  They simply believe what their church teaches.  
I find it is not a handicap that I do not often have an opportunity for fellowship.  In our
age, when communication is so easy and quick, I have access to virtually any
information and teaching that I could get in person.  I can read the comments of the
great sages of Judaism in print, without having to be taught in person.  I can read the
Christian commentators objectively.  I can even read Islamic literature or that of eastern
religions without someone scrutinizing me.  I am completely free to make value
judgements about what I read.  There is no pressure from any quarter, no one that
approves or disapproves what I study and what I conclude.  This is a level of academic
freedom that I could never have as a part of any religious organization.  
There are educational resources concerning such issues available in libraries and via the
internet.  Many B'nai Noach organizations are represented on the web.  There is e-mail
for quick and cheap communication with others when I wish to discuss scriptural
teachings.  Mostly, I find that by writing articles such as this one, and making them
available for others, I gain a great deal of personal satisfaction.  There is nothing like
explaining something to someone else to crystallize understanding for oneself. By
placing these articles on the web, they can be read and downloaded by any one who
has an interest, but no one is pressured to read it or accept my views.  No one answers
to me and no one has to believe me.  If I cannot write in a clear, compelling and logical
manner then no one should pay me the slightest attention.  If I cannot convince my
readers that I have touched on the truth, then they should not believe what I say.  
I realize that my level of independence is not for everyone.  There are those who feel
they need to be a part of a church or some such group.  Everyone must follow his own
heart and mind on that issue.  Everyone has different needs.
So I have reported what I know about the B'nai Noach movement as objectively as I am
able.  I have shown you where the original faith started.  I have also shown you a
modern manifestation of it.  It is in a state of flux and self realization.   Hopefully it will
remain that way rather than lock itself into a fixed set of doctrines that limit the learning
of newer and more complete insights into Torah.  
The Seven Laws Of Noah
For those of you who are still wondering just what these seven laws of Noah are, I
promised to briefly list them, according to my understanding.  They are much like the
ten commandments although they are not similarly enumerated in a single body.  In fact,
the ten commandments are an expansion of those principles for the nation of Israel.
     1.   Do not blaspheme God.  This means not to speak evil of Him, nor to
     misappropriate His name, nor to quote Him when He has not spoken.
     2.   Do not practice idolatry.  Do not worship anyone or anything other than the
     Creator, the God of Israel.  Do not assign deity to any other being, human or
     otherwise.  Do not use images or pictures as objects of worship.
     3.   Do not steal.  This refers not only to property rights. It also incorporates
     kidnapping and slavery.
     4.   Do not practice sexual perversions, such as incest, bestiality, and adultery.
     5.   Do not murder.
     6.   Establish courts of justice to provide a forum to prosecute and execute
     murders, including any beast that becomes a mankiller, and to develop the rule
     of law in the various societies of man.
     7.   Do not eat the flesh of an animal with the blood in it.  This primarily means
     not to tear a limb from a living animal to eat as would the beasts of the field, but
     rather to practice humane slaughter.
These seven laws were given by God to all mankind early on as the minimum standard
for any orderly society.  Society would break down without any one of these laws.  Much
of natural law comes from these principles.  It would be difficult to argue against any of
them.  That this is a minimum standard for justice in the world. These principles are the
foundation for justice for all mankind.

A list of useful sources for B'nai Noach information:

Emmanuel has an extensive catalogue of tapes J.David Davis, Dr. James Tabor and
others including several Rabbis.  Printed literature and books are also available.
P. O. Box 442
Athens, TN 37371-0442

Vendyl Jones long career in persuit of B'nai Noah teachings predates most others. He
began his research as a Baptist minister.  He has an extensive library of taped material
outlining many biblical issues including B'nai Noach implications in the New Testament. 
Mr. Jones is now deceased but has been heavily involved in archeological projects in Israel.
Vendyl Jones Research Institutes
P.O. Box 120366
Arlington, TX 76012-0366
Many Noachides have gravitated to this organization for the purpose access of teaching and 
communications with other noahides. They offer online teaching and meeting opportunities.
The Temple Institute
A very useful resource to Jewish and Naohide teaching.  Organized around weeky Torah readings, 
Jewish Holy days and current events  in Jerusalem, it povides a weath of infomation.
Light to the Nations

A comprehensive listing of other B'nai Noach websites with links.
Other useful links:
The Jerusalem Post:    www.jpost.co.il/com/
Bar Ilan University:   www.biu.oc.il


(c) Copyright 1999 by Wayne Simpson
Distributed by the Biblical Research Foundation
629 Lexington Road, Sapulpa, OK 74066
Reproduction and distribution is permissible provided this copyright notice remains intact in each copy.

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