Second Response to Dalton Lifsey
Dalton (I hope its O.K. that I use your first name), I want to thank you for writing. You will find out that many Jewish people reading your words will see in them seeds of hatred, but I will not go there. I sincerely appreciate your writing. By putting your cards on the table, I know where you stand – and we can talk. As long as we can talk, there is hope that we can reach some level of understanding.
I intend to respond to your 3 points and to your challenge.
You contend that our message is inadequate and our skills are not up to par.
I will not comment on my skills – I would be the first to agree with you that they are not up to par. I will however disagree with your assessment of the message I bear. It is not my message. It is the message that God Himself imparted to our nation (Deuteronomy 4:35). That message is not inadequate. That message is the hope of all mankind – Jew and Gentile alike (Isaiah 54:5).
You contend that our “resistance” to the message of Jesus is part of a long historical continuum of hard-hearted Jews.
We don’t “resist” Jesus. We insist on remaining loyal to the God who loved us first. This is what we were chosen for and it is for this loyalty that we will be vindicated as the prophets promised (Isaiah 26:2).
You contend that I had argued that Jews were somehow endowed with superior skills which give them an edge over the Gentiles in evaluating the claims of Jesus.
It is here that you most seriously misunderstood my point, and I thank you for pointing out to me how my point can be misunderstood.
When I say that the only ones qualified to evaluate the claims of Jesus were the Jews, I was NOT referring to superior skills that the Jews may or may not possess. I was referring to a social context – and let me explain:
All of Christendom agrees that before Jesus came on to the scene, God had already imparted truth to the Jewish people. All of Christendom acknowledges that it was the moral duty of the Jew to examine the claims of Jesus in light of the truth that had already been granted to them. All of Christendom agrees that as long as the Jew sees the claims of Jesus as contrary to the truth that God had already granted to them – then it is their holy and moral duty before God and man – to reject those claims.
What were those truths granted by God to the Jewish people before the advent of Jesus? My guess is that you would say: The Jewish Scriptures (and please don’t hesitate to correct me if I am wrong).
Here is my challenge to you. Try to read the Jewish Scriptures as a Jew would have read them before the advent of Jesus. Try to read those holy words as a personal message from a loving Father to His firstborn son – because that is what the Jewish Bible is. Try to develop a complete world-view on the basis of the Jewish Scriptures alone. And then, and only then, evaluate the claims of Jesus in the light of that world-view.
It is not impossible for a Gentile to do this. In fact, I know of many courageous Gentiles who have found the God of Israel by following this basic exercise. I believe that there are many more sincere truth seeking Gentiles that would take this step too. However, it would help if their teachers would be more willing to help them in this process rather than hinder them.
As part of a response to the June 9, 2011 Line of Fire radio show, I wrote the following appeal to Dr. Brown: “The myth of the “blindness of the Jew” is an ugly stain in the history of mankind. Dr. Brown, instead of working to perpetuate this myth, I appeal to you to educate Christians of the fallacies of this myth. Explain to your audience that as long as the Jew sees the teachings of Christianity as a contradiction to the Scriptures with which we were entrusted by God – it is the moral duty of the Jew to REJECT those teachings. Encourage your audience to try to read the Jewish Scriptures as a Jew would have read them before the advent of Jesus. Encourage your listeners to attempt to acquire a complete world-view on the basis of the Jewish Scriptures alone – and ask them – how would they view the doctrines of Christianity in the light of the Jewish Scriptures.”
As part of his response, Dr. Brown wrote:
“I don’t see the rationality of your proposal as you see it. Furthermore, for Christians here, they know the Tanakh is true because of Yeshua. If your arguments against him were true and he was neither Messiah nor Savior nor Son of God, they would have no reason to continue to believe in the Tanakh either. They have come to know the God of Israel through him, they have received forgiveness of sins through him, their lives have been transformed through him, and if he was not who he claimed to be, then for them, the Tanakh would be another book of myths and fairy tales. I might as well tell you, “The Torah is true but there is no God, so follow the Torah.””
(You could read all of this in context – http://www.lineoffireradio.com/2011/06/09/dr-brown-answers-the-rabbis-part-2/#comments)
In my humble opinion, it is this attitude of Christian leaders that makes it so difficult for the Gentiles to acquire the proper tools to evaluate the claims of Jesus.
To summarize; my point about Gentiles not possessing the proper tools was a point about the Gentiles failing to read the Jewish Scriptures in its proper context – I was not making any elitist claims about “superior skills” of Jews over Gentiles.
Now for your challenge: You ask me to give you one good reason why the prophecy of Isaiah (49:1-7) cannot be the words of Jesus.
I will give you two reasons.
a) You may have noticed that the words in 49:2 are directly parallel to the words in 51:16. If you read 51:16 in context (verses 12-16) you will see that God’s servant is the righteous of Israel.
b) The servant that Isaiah speaks of brings glory to the God of Israel. Jesus brings glory to himself – not to the God of Israel.
You assert that to “love Jesus is to be a true Jew”.
Please; don’t try to redefine Judaism. According to the Jewish Scripture being a true Jew means being loyal to the calling of our nation to bear witness to the world that there is but One God (Deuteronomy 4:35, Isaiah 44:8). Of all the Jews who ever lived, it is Jesus who represents the most extreme antithesis of Israel’s calling before God. There can be no greater conflict with Israel’s calling than to direct the devotion of men towards an entity other than the One that God Himself taught us to worship.
I recognize that you may have a problem understanding some of what I wrote, or perhaps even all of what I wrote. I encourage you to read my blog. Many of the concepts that I touched upon here only briefly are articulated more clearly in various articles.
But most of all, I encourage you to write again. As long as we can still talk, there is hope that we can reach some level of understanding.
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal
It’s interesting- I read this fellow’s responses, and while he’s trotting out the same old proof texts, one should object to his ‘challenge’ that we need to prove that Isaiah 49 cannot be Jesus. Firstly, he needs to remember that the onus is on HIM to show why the speaker is Jesus, and not on us to tell him why it’s not.
Secondly, as with so many other of these “proof texts,” few biblical scholars would identify the servant in Is. 49 as Jesus, so it’s unclear what exactly he is trying to prove.
“de Boer’s assessment still reflects a large number of interpreters as he concludes, ‘The word Israel [v. 3] is certainly fatal to any individualistic theory’…Because 49:1-6 and 50:4-9 are analogous testimonies to Isa 6 and Jer 1, a large number of interpreters understand this “I/me” to be a Second Isaiah.” Some also say the servant is a group of exilic Israelites, while only “a few” hold to a messianic interpretation (The performative nature and function of Isaiah 40-55 By Jim W. Adams)
“Most scholars in recent times have sought to find the identity of this individual in Deutero-Isaiah himself…” (Genesis, Isaiah, and Psalms By John Adney Emerton)
Interestingly, the commentaries of Rashi, Ibn Ezra and others say just that- that the servant in Is 49 is the prophet himself- just as most contemporary scholars say. I fail to see any evidence for Jesus in this text.
So if this man is trying to use Is. 49 as a proof text for Jesus, then not only is he dishonestly shifting the onus off himself, but if he is trying to use Is 49 as a proof of Jesus, then he would do well to know why most scholars think the subject is Isaiah (not Jesus or the messiah). Scholars may disagree whether the servant is Israel, or a remnant, or the prophet himself, but there’s no particular reason to think it is Jesus- unless, of course, one is engaging in eisegesis (forcing their own theological views into the text)- which is what this man accuses R. Blumenthal of doing, but what he is supremely guilty of himself.
I admire your self controll in not wanating to spend time highlighting the prejudice lurking in Mr. Lifsey’s words.
I, however, make no claims to possessing your virtues.
So Mr. Lifsey, if you are bothering to read this, let me get this straight. You read the following sentence from Rabbi B…
“The Gauls, the Romans and the Greeks, who did not have the necessary tools to evaluate the truth of these claims in their original Jewish context, were the ones who accepted these claims, while the Jews, who were in possession of the relevant information, have by and large rejected them”
..and came away convinced that the “tools” to which he referred were those of intelligence, thus invoking the ugly steryotype of the “dumb gentile” .
Please read that sentence again and tell me how anyone could have missed the point that the “tools” in question were those of “original jewish context” and “relevant information” rather than intelligence.
I’m not asking you to agree with the point. I’m simply asking if you really think that he meant what you said he meant.
Here are some other references I found re: Isaiah 49:
“Christians have found it convenient to suggest that the character in the poetry is Jesus in anticipation…More recent scholarship, however, has moved to a consensus that these four poems are not to be separated from the rest of the poetry, and are to be taken in context along with the rest of the poetry. The important implication of this critical judgment is the conclusion that the “servant” in these four poems, like the “servant” elsewhere in the poetry of Second Isaiah, is none other than Israel.”
An introduction to the Old Testament: the canon and Christian imagination By Walter Brueggemann
The servant as an individual:
“The typical Christian interpretation is that the Servant is Jesus, but here is another instance where people read the NT (e.g. Matt 12:15-21; Acts 8:30-34) back into the Old. A reading of the Servant poems in their context gives the impression that the texts are talking about a contemporary whom the exiles knew, not an unknown figure who would not come for centuries.” Introduction to the Prophets By Paul L. Redditt
Oservations of Daltons response: After looking around on his website and listening to a couple of sermons, he appears to be a bit self-absorbed. Oddly, when he covered 9 points regarding Romans 11, point number one is : “Gentiles have a Propensity to Arrogance”. This coming from a young man that certaintly lacks humility, I found ironic. And according to Dalton, “Jews are the hardest people on the planet to evangelize….but it brings about maturity”. Really Dalton? What is with the childish poker metaphor? And the cheesy “trailer” to your “new book”. That was frankly just bizarre. You’re not a movie star, you are a pastor.
Why does your response need a “backdrop”? The stoning of Stephen? You said: “The leaders in Stephen’s day tried to counter the apostolic witness in Jerusalem. They couldn’t. Their polemic was anemic. So they did some “educating.” They killed their Jewish brother for worshiping the Jewish Savior.”
This is again strange thinking. The event of Stephen, if it even happened, was a court, Stephen was accused of blasphemy. Acts says:13 They put forward false witnesses who said, “This man incessantly speaks against this holy place and the Law; 14 for we have heard him say that this Nazarene, Jesus, will destroy this place and alter the customs which Moses handed down to us.” and ” “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God.”
Well Acts says it was false witnesses but isnt it true Dalton that Jesus if FACT altered the Law handed down from Moses? And didnt Jesus teach or at least infer that he was god? So you wrongly assert Stephen killed for worshiping the Jewish savior…he was in fact killed for blasphemy. As you yourself said: “Christ is the end of the Law. And He is the fullness of God bodily” That is indeed blasphemy.
Then Dalton claims: “and the grafting in of the nations so as to galvanize their unbelief and provoke a remnant to jealousy. ” and offers two scriptures as support: So I will make them jealous with those who are no people;I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation. and ” I spread out my hands all the day,to a rebellious people,who walk in a way that is not goodfollowing their own devices… (Isaiah 65:1-2 ESV)
But Dalton stops short. Isaiah 65 continues:3 A people who continually provoke Me to My face,
Offering sacrifices in gardens and burning incense on bricks;
4 Who sit among graves and spend the night in secret places;
Who eat swine’s flesh,
And the broth of unclean meat is in their pots.
5 “Who say, ‘Keep to yourself, do not come near me,
For I am holier than you!’
These are smoke in My nostrils,
A fire that burns all the day.
6 “Behold, it is written before Me,
I will not keep silent, but I will repay;
I will even repay into their bosom,
7 Both their own iniquities and the iniquities of their fathers together,” says the LORD.
Is this a picture of a people “grafted in”? Who have been given the truth? Who will keep the truth of G-d for 2000 years until the “fullness of the gentiles” is complete? Of course not, G-d says he will judge these filthy people!
The gentiles are NEVER given the truth. And this grafting is a fatasy of the church. There is not one scripture that says the gentiles are given the truth, are the righteous ones and that Israel comes to the gentiles for the truth. NOT ONE. It is a holy remnant of the Jewish people that keep the truth of G-d alive. And then in the messianic era the nations will come to learn of the law in Jerusalem. Is 2:2, Jer 16:19-21. And when HaShem does redeem his people from the gentile nations, the nations will be judged, not congratulated for being keepers of the truth.
Dalton is so far out of his element, it is sad really. I’d be curious to know where he got his ordination from. He is an obvious self-promoter and since he doesnt mention it, it must not have been a good school. Just a guess.
The Christian has to accept that the words of any thing that was written before Jesus are not the words of Jesus. Just like the Code of Hammurabi cannot reflect the words of Sherlock Holmes; since Sherlock Holmes was born well after the Code of Hammurabi, It therefore behooves every Christian to read the Book of Books like a 3rd Century BCE Jew with no concept of Jesus in order to appreciate and understand anything that a Jew approaches. Technically, from a Historical and Linguistic perspective, you cannot really do more than that because the Christian today is so unlike the Christian of Paul’s time or James’ time. The years from 80 CE until 325 CE at the close of Nicea (and to some extent Trent in 412 CE), have had such a radical and transformative effect on Christianity, there cannot be any definition of Christian at 40 CE. Proto-Mark/Proto-Matthew are the earliest of books, and already play prejudice to some extent on the eschatology of John and Paul (consider comparing the different virgin birth accounts). It is really unsurprising that the Church has undergone such transformations as the schisms between Peter and Paul, The separation from Eastern Orthodox (Byzantine), and the Protestant/Anglican Break and the current Methodist/Calvinist hybrids today. In any event the point is this: Christians need to break away from 2000 years of Polemics and Church rhetoric and return to the Bible before Jesus.
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“When I say that the only ones qualified to evaluate the claims of Jesus were the Jews, I was NOT referring to superior skills that the Jews may or may not possess. I was referring to a social context”
If all Jews rejected Jesus, we wouldn’t be talking about it now. The New Testament was written by Jews. It is estimated by the end of the first century, including the diaspora, about 20% of Jews believed Jesus was the Messiah of his time. If early rabbinical Judaism hadn’t forced these out, christianity would still be a sect of Judaism.
Shema On what basis do you say that 20 percent of Jews were followers of Jesus? And by the way – it was not the Rabbis who put an end to the tiny sects of Ebionites and Nazarenes it was the Church and they did so by the mouth of the sword
1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >
I read a from lot of different sources, I remember reading it, but not where. A quick google search in an attempt to find the article yielded these modern results rather than what I was looking for which are applicable to the council of a nation.
The survey found that 21 percent of Jewish millennials believe Jesus was “God in human form who lived among people in the 1st century.” And 28 percent “see him as a rabbi or spiritual leader, but not God.”. 34 percent said belief in Jesus as the Messiah was compatible with being Jewish.
A Pew Research Center study released in October reported that 34 percent of American Jews think believing Jesus is the Messiah is compatible with being Jewish. Thirty-five percent of ultra-Orthodox Jews agreed.
The Rabbis did play a part in putting an end to the sects of Ebionites and Nazarenes. They threw James their leader off the Temple wall, he wasn’t quite dead so they beat him to death with a club.
Please explain to me if the Rabbis had nothing to with driving out the early followers of Jesus then why the Talmudic allegory of the misunderstanding between Jesus and his Rabbi at the hotel, teaching to push with one hand and pull with the other rather than pushing with both hands?
Shema Which “rabbis” threw James off the wall?
1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >