What Reform Jews Believe

Central tenets of this faith, based on the questions in the Belief-O-Matic quiz.

 




  • Belief in Deity
    Beliefs vary among adherents, including that of nonbelief or questioning belief, and all are welcome and considered personal, but the official stance is that there is one God Almighty--Creator, all-powerful, ever-present, and all knowing--formless, incorporeal spirit.

    Incarnations
    None, as only God is worshipped. Moses was the greatest of all prophets.

    Origin of Universe and Life
    Most believe that Genesis is to be understood symbolically. God created and controls all phenomena revealed by modern science.

    After Death
    Reform Jews believe in the world to come and a messianic age (but no individual Messiah). Personal beliefs in the details of afterlife are diverse, as there is no official position. Some believe in heaven and hell but only as states of consciousness; some believe in reincarnation; some believe God is all-forgiving; and some may not believe in an actual afterlife. Regardless, Judaism generally focuses on living a virtuous life, rather than working toward reward after death.

    Why Evil?
    No original sin. Most often, Satan is interpreted symbolically to represent selfish desires that are inherent within all. God gave people free will, and people are responsible for their actions.

    Salvation
    The main emphasis is on living the kind of life that God commands, which will surely be rewarded if there is an afterlife. Most believe God is forgiving of all; there is no hell to which some are condemned. Salvation is achieved through faith and prayer to God, good works, concern for the earth and humanity, and behavior that does no harm to others. The extent to which one follows Jewish Law is an individual decision.

    Undeserved Suffering
    God gave humans free will to feel pleasure and pain, and his purpose in allowing deep suffering of the innocent must be good even if mysterious. It is generally believed that God suffers along with the sufferer. More important than knowing why God allows suffering is to work to help those in need.

    Contemporary Issues
    Judaism holds that human life begins upon first breath, and Jewish law requires abortion if necessary to save the mother's life prior to birth. Most believe potential human life should never be terminated casually, but it is generally regarded as a personal decision, especially within the first 40 days of pregnancy. Homosexuality: Homosexuals are God's creation, and Jewish instruction is to love our neighbors as ourselves. Reform (and Conservative) Judaism have a long history of support for homosexual rights.


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