What Would It Take?
Belief systems generally provide their adherents with a complete world-view. Followers of various belief systems tend to look at the world in a way that fits with their religious beliefs. This basic fact presents a serious obstacle to a meaningful discussion between the adherents of two different belief systems such as Judaism and Christianity. Since each of these people look at the world so differently, there is little common ground upon which to base the discussion.
One of the factors adding to the confusion is the fact that these two belief systems use the very same words to refer to two different, and sometimes even opposite concepts. Take the words: “relationship with God”. For the Jew, the concept of a relationship with God absolutely precludes devotion to Jesus, while to the Christian; devotion to Jesus is part and parcel of a relationship with God.
One way of overcoming this communication barrier is by transposing concepts from one system to the next. In other words, instead of talking about concepts from the standpoint of your own belief system, try to find a parallel concept in the belief system of the person you are trying to communicate with and talk about that.
Let me provide an example.
As a Jew, you see the arguments that the Christians present for devotion to Jesus as inconsequential. This should not surprise you, because these arguments are inconsequential to the Christian as well. If you noticed, the Christian expects you to submit to Jesus just because he is Jesus and if you reject him – well you are rejecting Jesus! In other words, the Christian believes in Jesus first, and the arguments only come to justify his or her belief.
Instead of trying to argue with Christian about the merit of the arguments presented by the Church to justify her devotion, try to get the Christian to see the entire scope of the argument from your perspective.
Here is how you are going to do it.
Ask the Christian the following question: “What would it take?” – What it would it take to convince you to put your faith in a person aside from Jesus? How much evidence would you demand before accepting the claim that someone, who lives today, is a reincarnation of Jesus? What would be the quality of proof that you will want to see before believing that someone is the fourth person in the god-head? What would it take to convince you that your faith in Jesus is dead without faith in another person? What it would take to get you to believe that you are going to hell if you don’t believe in the new incarnation of Jesus?
So what would it take? – What is the quality of the evidence that you would demand?
Some Christians will tell you that their relationship with Jesus doesn’t allow for devotion to another person that can be considered equal to their devotion to Jesus. Others will tell you that the belief system of Christianity doesn’t allow for a fourth person in the god-head or for a new incarnation of Jesus, much less for a philosophy which preaches that faith in Jesus is meaningless without faith in another person as well. Other Christians will argue that if the Scriptures were to explicitly and directly teach such a doctrine, then they would accept it, but it would need to be explicit, clear, consistent and direct.
Now that the Christian understands how difficult it would be to introduce a new devotion into his or her own belief system, you can turn and ask if they could appreciate how difficult it is to introduce a new devotion into our belief system, the belief system of Judaism. Perhaps the Christian would then understand that our relationship with God, doesn’t allow for devotion to Jesus. Perhaps the Christian could understand that the God-given belief system that preceded Christianity, doesn’t allow for a trinity. And perhaps the Christian could understand that if the Biblical evidence is less than direct, explicit, consistent and clear – it is no evidence at all.
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal