Forms of Communication
There are different methods that can be used to communicate ideas from person to another. Some of these modes of communication are more effective than others. Some forms of communication are more prone to error and failure than are other forms.
Speech is one mode of communication. The written word is another, similar, form of communication. A living demonstration of the concept that is being conveyed is yet another form of communication.
These forms of communication can be further subdivided and categorized in varying measures of efficiency. A direct statement is a more effective way of communicating than is a subtle hint. A statement worded in the format of a command packs a more powerful punch than does a narrative.
One who communicates through the written word has several tools at his or her disposal to empower the communication and to make it more effective and less error-prone. Repetition of the same concept several times and with different words is one method that an author can use to accentuate and to clarify a communication. Another literary technique that an author may use to highlight a particular concept is by having the storyline build up towards the intended message.
We can imagine that a wise communicator will carefully consider his or her options as to which form of communication to use and which level of effectiveness to choose for the intended delivery of a message.
Now, both Jews and Trinitarian Christians see themselves as recipients of conflicting messages from the same God. According to the Jewish people, directing veneration towards one who walked God’s earth and breathed His air is the deepest violation of our relationship with God. Trinitarian Christians counter with the claim that a relationship with God demands veneration of one who lived and breathed as we do.
It is obvious that these claims are mutually exclusive. Only one of these belief systems can be right. In other words – at least one of these two groups of people have misunderstood God’s message. There HAD to be some failure in communication between God and one of these two groups.
Let us examine each group’s respective claim that they are the intended recipients of an accurate message from God.
I will begin with the Christian. The Christian points to the Jewish Bible and contends that it is through this book that God communicates to mankind that when one comes along and claims to be an incarnation of the divine; that he is to be heeded and to be worshiped. No, not exactly anyone, but one who fulfills certain ambiguous prophecies.
Let us step back and gauge the method of communication that was used and its relative effectiveness together with its tendency for error.
Here we have a book that contains about 30,000 verses. Not one of the passages that the Christian points to as a support for this doctrine is presented as a direct teaching on the correct method of worship. Not one of the passages that the Christian points to as a support for this doctrine is presented as a command. Even according to the Christian interpretation, the doctrine of the trinity is not spelled out anywhere in the Scriptures in a clear and comprehensive manner. It must be pieced together from bits and pieces from all over the Scriptures.
How much room is there for error? Is this the way God communicates something that is important to Him?
Let us now turn to the Jewish claim. According to the Jewish people, God utilized several forms of communication in order to impart the foundational truth of Judaism – that there is but One God and that all worship should be directed to Him and that no worship be directed to any inhabitant of the earth.
God spoke directly to the nation. He introduced Himself to them and warned them against worshiping any other entity. This teaching was presented directly and in the form of a command. This commandment was accompanied by a live demonstration as described in Deuteronomy 4:36. God also utilized the written word to communicate this message. Throughout the Bible God repeats and emphasizes that we are not to worship anyone aside from the God that we know from the exodus experience. God used every literary tool to highlight this teaching. These passages are direct. They are comprehensive. They are presented as the climax of the exodus story (Exodus 20:2) and as the core of our covenant with God (Deuteronomy 4:31-35). This concept is presented as the climax of all history (Isaiah 40:5-8, Zechariah 14:9) and the preservation of this truth is presented as Israel’s calling before God (Isaiah 43:10).
How do these two claims compare? The Jewish claim relies on the most direct and effective methods of communication while the Christian claim leans on the decoding of a complicated, indirect message from a lengthy series of books. Is there a comparison?
But, the Christian responds, there is no contradiction between these two claims. The Christian contends that Jesus is “one and the same” with the God of Israel.
My question to the Christian is: How did you come into possession of this earth-shattering knowledge? How do you know that a man who lived and died is “one and the same” with the God of Israel?
The Christian’s response? – “I got this information from the Bible”. How did the Author of the Bible communicate this information to you? Was it direct? Was it comprehensive? Is it highlighted in anyway? What is the room for error in this method of communication?
To illustrate the absurdity of the Christian claim I present the following parable.
You are brought into a room. Not just any room, but the room from which the nuclear ICBM missiles are launched in case of war. You are told – See the buttons on that wall? DON’T PRESS ANY BUTTON!!!! You are presented a book of instructions. Throughout the book you find the words; “DON’T PRESS ANY BUTTON” repeated again and again. The general in charge of the facility takes you on a tour of the wiring panels behind the buttons and you are given to understand the serious consequences that will result with the pressing of any one of the buttons.
Then one of your fellow soldiers takes the instruction booklet and tries to demonstrate to you that the general in charge of the facility actually wants you to press one of the buttons and that if you don’t, you will be dishonorably discharged from the army. The basis of his claim is that he has found some inferences throughout the instruction book which seem to indicate that one of the buttons is wired differently than the rest of them.
Would you consider this claim with any level of seriousness? If the general wanted you to press a button, he could have made it so much clearer. Why would he so strongly emphasize the seriousness of NOT pressing any buttons? The whole story doesn’t begin to make sense.
In case you didn’t get the meaning of the parable – here it is. God told Israel – DON’T WORSHIP ANY ENTITY ASIDE FROM ME. He repeated this message and emphasized it in so many ways. Now the Christian theologian comes along and wants you to believe that God really does want you to worship an entity that you see as separate from God on the basis of the theologian’s inferences from the very book which emphasizes the prohibition against idolatry.
The claim doesn’t make sense. The communication of the one message is loud, clear and commanding while the communication of the other is so vague, disjointed and prone to error.
If you were the soldier in that room filled with buttons – what would you do?
If you found this article helpful please consider making a donation to Judaism Resources by clicking on the link below.
Judaism Resources is a recognized 501(c) 3 public charity and your donation is tax exempt.
Yisroel C. Blumenthal