Foundation of Worship III

Foundation of Worship III

The discussion continues. Until the day that the knowledge of the Lord covers the earth like the waters cover the see, and beyond, more clarity can be gained by discussing and trying to arrive at a deeper understanding of our worship of God. May it be His will that these puny discussions lead us just a bit closer to that joyous day.

In this article we will attempt to address two questions that were presented on the heels of the previous articles:

1)      On what basis can I make the accusation that just because Christianity asserts that one man (Jesus) is “not created” that this is a denial of every man’s status of “created being”? Perhaps the case of Jesus is simply an “exception to the rule”?

2)      How does the argument that everything between heaven and earth must inherently owe their devotion to God apply to the inner soul/spirit of man? Finite, material articles are certainly limited in their existence and must be creations of the One God who is above and beyond all of nature. But how does this apply to the intangible and transcendent spirit within man? Perhaps Jesus was created in body and even in the outer aspects of his soul/persona, but maybe his inner soul/spirit could have been divine?

These questions go back to the foundation of worship.

The fact that we owe worship to God is not a happenstance; an aspect of life that is peripheral to our identity. Our debt of devotion to God is at the root of our very existence. Existence in God’s world means owing devotion to God. This applies to every aspect of our existence no matter how mysterious and intangible it is. If it exists in God’s world it owes devotion to God.

If I take one man and say: this one is an exception to the rule, then I have turned devotion to God into something that is merely peripheral to our existence. If one man can be an exception to the rule of owing devotion to God then existing in God’s world is not inherently tied into our debt of devotion. If one man can exist in God’s world and demand devotion himself, then there is no way that we can say that the debt of devotion that we owe towards God is intrinsic to our existence.

Just to elucidate. There are certain qualities that are integral to the article or activity in which they are displayed while other qualities are merely peripheral. The concept of movement is integral to the definition of transportation. If there is no movement then there is no transportation. The quality of movement is inherent in the existence of transportation and transportation cannot be imagined without movement. The combustion engine is not an inherent aspect of transportation. Transportation can be accomplished without a combustion engine. The combustion engine is only a peripheral aspect of transportation.

The quality of “owing worship to God” is a quality that is inherent to mankind. If one claims that there is one man who does not possess this quality then this claim has denied the intrinsic nature of our debt of worship to God.

I hope this shed some light on the first question.

Now we approach the second question. How do all of these arguments about man’s dependence upon God apply to the intangible, inner, spirit of man? Can it not be imagined that one man, who was “created” in body and in every outer aspect of his character, still be “Creator” in his mysterious inner spirit?

The answer is: “no”, and I will try to explain.

The short response to this argument is that the very fact that the possibility exists of Jesus not being “Creator” in any way tells us that worship of him is not equal to worship of the Creator. Or to state it in the reverse; the very fact that worship of the Creator is entirely possible without worship of Jesus tells us that worship of Jesus is not worship of the Creator.

The longer response simply spells out the shorter response with some more words.

Libraries of books have been written in the Christian attempt to explain the trinity. The focus of these books is the mystery of a human nature somehow integrated with the divine. These Church theologians spend their time talking about Jesus, and his supposed divine nature. It is very difficult to argue with these theologians on their own grounds because they begin and end these discussions with the argument that this is all a mystery that can never be fully understood.

I will not talk about Jesus or about the mystery of the trinity. Instead I will talk about the concept of worship, an activity that is familiar and practical.

All Church theologians acknowledge that before Jesus walked the earth it would have been entirely inappropriate to direct devotion towards any man. All Church theologians would also acknowledge that before Jesus walked the earth if one wanted to direct devotion towards the Creator of heaven and earth all that was necessary was to direct devotion towards the Creator of heaven and earth.

According to Church theology these simple facts changed with the advent of Jesus. According to these doctors of theology once Jesus appeared on the scene it is indeed appropriate to direct devotion towards this Jesus, who for all intents and purposes appeared as a man. Furthermore, these Church doctors assert that to withhold devotion from Jesus is somehow a denial or a rejection of worship of the Creator of heaven and earth.

In other words: before Jesus came on the scene if one were to somehow include or combine worship of a man together with the worship of God it would be idolatrous, while after the advent of Jesus it is inappropriate to exclude the worship of Jesus from worship of God.

Christianity insists that with the advent of Jesus something changed. Not in the mystery realm of the heavenly spheres but right here on earth, in the hearts and minds of the worshippers of God.

What brought about this cosmic change? According to the teachings of Christianity this change was brought about by the activities and qualities displayed in the setting of a human body.

The question is: how could anything change? On what basis did we owe our devotion to God before Jesus came along? Was there anything lacking in the foundational root of our worship? Was not every fiber of our existence already subject to the Master of heaven and earth? What activities or qualities manifested within the setting of a human being have the power to draw our devotion towards him? What activities or qualities manifest within the setting of a human being have the power to change the status of our worship of God and render it incomplete?

God was Master of heaven and earth before Jesus appeared on the scene and as such we owed Him every bit of devotion. Nothing could be added to God’s mastery of heaven and earth and nothing could be subtracted from it.

No theory, no matter how sophisticated or refined, can change the elemental truth that all of existence owes all of its devotion to the One who is above and beyond existence as we know it.

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Yisroel C. Blumenthal

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34 Responses to Foundation of Worship III

  1. Annelise says:

    The Hebrew scriptures are clear that being within creation carries the role of a worshipper. As you wrote, to be human is inherently to owe worship and obedience to God; it’s part of our identity. For Jews to be part of God’s covenant with the your nation is to live out that surrender even more visibly. (Psalm 148:7-13, Deuteronomy 8:10-11)

    The incarnation claim means that God personally identified with the experience of creation and the role of humanity. The New Testament speaks of Jesus’ human death and resurrection as the method of renewing creation and human nature. (Romans 5:17, 8:3-4, 1 Corinthians 15:21, Hebrews 2:14-15) Christians believe that the unity of human and divine natures within the one person brought God and humanity into a closer relationship of understanding: that humans would see God’s glory lived out, and Jesus would identify with human weaknesses. (John 1:18, Hebrews 4:15) This is understood as a merciful act of redemption, made possible by God’s infinite power.

    If God chose to become human, but that one human was not a worshipper, then He wouldn’t be really have identified with what it means to be human and created at all. On the other hand, if Jesus stood within creation as a human and a Jew and identified with that experience as a worshipper, he could not at the same time have been the God of Israel. You wrote in your earlier article that a single person can’t be both the master and the subject. One person’s role could not have been both lover and beloved, both king and servant, both father and son, in the relationships that God has with Israel, humanity, and creation. The New Testament does emphasise that the identity of humans and of Israel as God’s servants, dependent on Him; these qualities are sometimes attributed to Jesus. (Matthew 2:15, Luke 9:16, John 5:19, Hebrews 5:7) We can see that he owed worship to God from the core of his being, not merely by choice but because he was part of creation. To recognise this about Jesus and about everything and everyone else we know is to give glory to the maker of heaven and earth.

    I want to reply to the second point as well, but I’ll leave another comment.

    • David says:

      I am reminded that Jesus worshipped God and gave the glory to God in everything he did.

    • Larry says:

      This is what catholics believe
      •CCC 460, “The Word became flesh to make us “partakers of the divine nature”:”For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God.” “For the Son of God became man so that we might become God.” “The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods.”
      •CCC 795, “Christ and his Church thus together make up the “whole Christ” (Christus totus). The Church is one with Christ. The saints are acutely aware of this unity: Let us rejoice then and give thanks that we have become not only Christians, but Christ himself. Do you understand and grasp, brethren, God’s grace toward us? Marvel and rejoice: we have become Christ. For if he is the head, we are the members; he and we together are the whole man. . . . The fullness of Christ then is the head and the members. But what does “head and members” mean? Christ and the Church. Our redeemer has shown himself to be one person with the holy Church whom he has taken to himself. Head and members form as it were one and the same mystical person. A reply of St. Joan of Arc to her judges sums up the faith of the holy doctors and the good sense of the believer: “About Jesus Christ and the Church, I simply know they’re just one thing, and we shouldn’t complicate the matter.”

  2. Annelise says:

    To add to what I just wrote, if Philippians 2:7 is correct that Jesus took on the form on a servant and a human being, then for anyone to ask that he should be worshipped in that form is to send a mixed message. The Hebrew scriptures were designed to shape the way in which Israel should look at God, humanity, and the world, to make clear decisions from there. These definitive portrayals exist for the particular purpose that the audience, Israel, should know the way to avoid blurred lines and guard against idolatry. If anyone only looks up one of the verses I’ve referenced, make it Psalm 148.

    The second point you wrote is so important. Even according to the idea that God has been a trinity from eternity, nothing and no one who really was God was ‘missing out’ on worship in the times of Tanach. Why should that have changed after Jesus’ time? The only difference then is supposed to be that the eternal person of Jesus, who is seen as the fullness of God, took on a human nature. Anything that he ‘took on’ can not have been eternal; that human nature was created. The Christian idea seems to be that the ‘selfhood’ of Jesus allowed these two natures to be unified in a single self. But the reality is that no concept of an individual’s personhood is strong enough to allow an aspect of creation into a Jew’s worship of the eternal God alone. There is no way and no reason for them to turn their eyes to anything and anyone in a way different from what they were doing in the times of Tanach. Just like God would not become a created object, the eternal Divine Nature does not open Himself up to be one with any created/human nature… not even through the vehicle of an individual’s sense of selfhood. Though we were made in God’s image, there are things in our identity that can’t be said of Him. Through the miracle of creation, for the purposes of worship, the unity of God’s selfhood always excludes and will not be fused with all the created aspects of what it is to be human.

    Christians might suggest that our knowledge of God can actually change over time, and that to deny certain aspects of who God has revealed Himself to be is false worship. It’s true. God became the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and He became the God who had led His people out of Egypt. In the same way, to say you are worshipping the Creator of all existence and yet deny that He is just and righteous is to have a wrong concept of existence and a form of false worship. But this is a question of what God has done and the way He interacts with our world; it’s not a question of individual loyalty. Christians are not just asking people to believe that our Creator experienced life as a human being. They’re saying that to refuse personal loyalty to and relationship with that person, including his created human nature, and understanding the fact that he prayed to our Creator and Father just like all humans are meant to, is to have no loyalty to or faith in God Himself.

    • Annelise says:

      The implication is exactly what you’ve all been saying all along. Even though God created humans in His image, humanity has not existed eternally. It was something that God formed during creation. To be human is, by definition, to be created.
      When Christians say that two natures, divine and human, are unified in the ‘selfhood’ of one person, they are implying that God’s divinity is fused with aspects of humanity that are not eternal. To suggest that ignoring the human part from your worship is equal to ignoring God, however you describe the nature of that person, is a two-step process of idolatry.

      • David says:

        Idolatry is also the reliance on man made things like the Talmud and human traditions to the point that it diminishes our reliance on God.

        God said, “This my son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him”.

        God never commanded us to worship Jesus, but to listen to him.

        Many Christians “listen to Jesus, God’s Christ and the words of God he shared, similar to the same way many Jews listen to Moses and the words of God he shared.

        God’s Christ speaks the words of God and is 100% obedient to God. He was therefore exalted by God above every name given by God so they all in God’s created universe should one day confess before the name of Jesus that he is God’s Christ, to the Glory of God himself.

        Note, that the bible teaches us we will not confess that Jesus is God.

        You have to get out the bible and read it for yourself. Don’t just accept what someone tells you about the nature of Jesus, even if he’s a Christian or a Jew or anyone else for that matter.

      • Annelise says:

        I agree that it’s so wrong to rely on any tradition or teaching or anything else to the point where we focus on it *instead of* the reliance that belongs to God alone. I feel like you’re making an assumption, though, that the teachings in the Talmud are totally man made and have no connection to reliance on God.

        Even though no part of the physical/spiritual universe ‘is God’, our Creator hasn’t left us with no way to connect with Him. He has put a relationship with Himself into our hearts, which we can grow closer in by following Him in particular kinds of devotion and action that He Himself has given. He spoke of a particular city, a particular place, where His Name would dwell with Israel, and He gave them particular ways to give offerings to Him and praise Him, so that even without idolatry they could physically choose to come to Him. He’s put a message about Himself in the world, both in each person’s growing ability to discern truth about Him and in the things He has revealed (which you mentioned are contained in the scriptures).

        So, if the rabbinic tradition doesn’t have God’s authority, then you’re right… it’s distracting. If it does, and the Talmud is part of the way that the community that knows things about what He wants from them have found to teach those things to future generations, then it’s actually a way of drawing close to God through keeping the Torah. I think it’s important to see that the claim is that *some* of these living traditions go back to Moses’ generation, some of them are from authoritative rulings from Israel’s leaders, and some are traditions designed to help keep the spirit of the Law alive. But that’s a much bigger conversation, since your objections to where these laws come from would have to be addressed piece by piece 🙂

        The question I’m left with is this. You said to pick up the Bible and read it. Which Bible? The Christian Bible? Why should I listen to a group of people who are trying to tell me that that collection of books is true and from God? And when I see that the whole of the ‘Old Testament’ is addressed to a group of people other than myself, what should I do with that fact?

        Your thoughts are really interesting though, and I can tell you’ve thought through and worked through lots of things carefully before God. I’d love to understand more of that, thanks for talking here.

        • David says:

          I personally look at it like a chain or web of custody or chain of logic problem. The chain or web must be unbroken for an idea to be true. No two items can contradict the other. Each link must reference at least one other link in the chain, but can also reference more than one link simultaneously with another thus really making a web rather than a chain. I try to test the chain of custody, chain of logic of the bible (Old or Hebrew as well as New Testament) with anything, Jesus included, which is claimed by whomever, or whatever to be instituted by God to point us to God and bring us closer to God.

          We should be highly suspect of anyone or anything which claims to speak for God.

          I personally find the Hebrew bible or Old Testament to be completely consistent with the New Testament and vice versa and cross referenced and fulfilling in an unbroken fashion a central web of truths of things such as one God, and one Christ of God, and that one Christ was Jesus in the flesh and is now Jesus in the spirit.

          As you might have guessed from my previous writings, I find a logical explanation for the rise and dominance of Roman rule with regards to the usurpation and replacement of Christian truths. The Roman instituted trinity beliefs are not consistent with biblical truths. The Roman trinity belief and many other non- biblical practices and beliefs were instituted and maintained in force under threat of severe persecution, even death. The last believer to be officially burned at the stake for holding a non-Trinitarian, one God belief was in the 16 century. But that didn’t stop unofficial assaults, harassment of loss of livelihood, property, etc. of non-Trinitarian believers right up to about 50 years ago. Now that non-Trinitarian believers are a significant minority things are changing for the better.

          • Yedidiah says:

            I have a few questions. Where in the Jewish bible is “God’s Christ” mentioned, in fact where is a “Moshiach” or future messiah explicitly mentioned, much less defined? Don’t most trinitarians (at least all those that I know) believe in Christ and the “One God”? Isn’t the Coptic Christian Church in Eqypt (which existed before the 4th century and which was no “friend of the RCC” and is said to have been established by Mark of the Gospels) Trinitarian and believe in One God? Isn’t the Syriac Christian Church (which existed before the 4th century and which was no “friend of the RCC” and is said to have been established by Paul and by Peter who they greatly adore as their “rock”, because he was Jesus’ rock), trinitarian and they also believe in the “One God idea”? Isn’t the Eastern Orthodox Church (the 2nd largest Christian Church, which existed before the 4th century, is said to have been established by Paul in Antioch and was the “1st community to be called Christians,” and which was no “friend” of the RCC or western Orthodox Church – the great East-West schism), trinitarian and believe in One God? Are you suggesting that Arius of Alexandria Egypt lead a majority of Christians (or did he come from a long line of supposed “heretics”) that the “heretical, pagan, minority” church in Rome had to “get rid of” though a vote and establishment of a creed, that most Christians disagreed with but accepted because an emperor forced them too and then because the creed was written down, no later Christian church leaders could do anything about “un-Christian” beliefs? Did all the numerous and different “heresies”, like Gnostic Christanity, gnostic Ebionites, Marcionites, and those mentioned the NT (like the Roman Judaizers who wanted to make Christianity more “Jewish”), etc. not exist before the 4th century, and if not, why did they first start raising a fuss after Constantine? As non-trinitians, are we also Jehovah Witnesses, or are we of Later Day Saints, or “Oneness Pentecostals” or if we are not, should we join them?

          • Yedidiah says:

            Or is the RCC just a scapegoat for those who see major problems with traditional Christianity and are trying to hold on to their faith in a man who they want to yet see as more than a man? Is this just another attempt in a long line of attempts to try to rewrite history, reinvent the NT by selective reading (since the NT cannot be rewritten or edited like it could be & was more than 1600 years ago – other than by new translations and paraphrasing versions), and reimagine Jesus? One of the most current “new movements of God” that attempts to redefine Jesus is the “Hebraic Roots movements”, which is an offshoot of the messianic believer and messianic “Judaism” movement.

      • Annelise says:

        I think I agree that every verse in Tanach can be interpreted to fit with New Testament ideas. I also think that the New Testament can (and probably should) be interpreted to be more closely aligned to a 1st century Jewish way of thinking. But we’re reading the Hebrew scriptures through such different lenses, and seeing different stories in it. Same elements, but in a different picture. The question is, which framework is correct? Was there a context in which God designed this book to be given, read, understood, and lived out? Isn’t that why one nation out of the whole world was completely shaped by their experiences and by Torah observance? If so, what made that community context become irrelevant, as if anyone can pick up the book and pretend it is addressed to *their* nation?

        If you interpret Tanach with the framework of the New Testament, you’re surrendering *everything* to the opinion of a few leaders in a community that followed a particular man. And if you start with the opinion that the New Testament is part of the Bible and is infallibly true, you only know that because the community of the Christian churches (both its leaders and its members) have been saying so for almost two thousand years. Both the writers of the NT and those who have preserved it were individual people claiming to speak for God, so I don’t know why it’s acceptable to listen to them but not to other individuals/communities.

        How can you show those observant Jews, from the Torah, that not only does Christianity ‘not contradict’… but that in fact they’re not doing obeying God’s commandments unless they accept a particular person as messiah?

        • David says:

          I’d say that most of us on this blog can probably agree that there has to be a connecting line of history for someone or something to have credible truth. I happen to believe that truth is from God.

          Why did Abraham believe God? He was able to believe the one true God because he had a connecting “line”, meaning a chain of knowledge and familial experiences passed down to him which lead back to Noah and beyond. Of course he still made the “choice” to believe God rather than continue with his pagan beliefs which were also passed to him and his choice to believe God was credited to him as righteousness.

          We also read that Noah was the only righteous man alive in his generation. Again, Noah didn’t just wake up one day and decide in a vacuum that there is one real true God, He is truth and can be trusted and should be obeyed. He, Noah, as did Abraham, also had a foundation of historical facts and a connecting line which was passed to him from his ancestors concerning God and man’s historical relation with God.

          Moses benefited as well from the knowledge, the connecting line that was passed to him. And, of course he still had to make the choice to follow God. Why did the Israelites in Egypt trust Moses (at least initially)? Partly of course because he had a connecting line, was a descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as were they and partly because God himself confirmed in him through the miracles which God performed.

          My point in all this is that things don’t happen in a vacuum.

          For something to have credible truth today we follow the same process we’ve been following since the beginning.

          Moses said that God would rise up one like him and that we are to listen to him. So then the only question (assuming you believe Moses and those that came before him and after him) is who is the one Moses was talking about. Has he already come, or is he yet to come. The Christian believes that he has already come, AND, that he is Jesus.

          The one God Christian believes that all (and I mean all) of Christ’s authority is derived 100% from God the Father. The Trinitarian believes that Jesus carries with him his own authority by reason of his deity which they (erroneously) attribute to him.

          I’m not sure how the Jew sees God’s plan for humanity. But the one God Christian sees it this more or less this way. In a nutshell, God created a perfect universe with living things. And some of those living things he created with freedom of choice to choose Him or reject Him. The first created man, Adam, eventually, over time, rejected Him. Adam’s decision had consequences for himself his wife and descendants, including all of future mankind. Adam had the keys to the Garden and fellowship with God. He lost that. God knew that He would be rejected by man. God already had a plan (the first clue to God’s plan revealed in the bible is Genesis 3:15). God had everything already planned out and knew the problem and solution before he even created anything in His universe. The plan involved creating a history including the expulsion from the Garden, a chain of events including Cain and Able, the Flood, Noah and his sons, Abraham, the Israelites, Moses, the prophets and eventually leading all the way to the last Adam and most exalted of anything created or to be created in the universe.

          Christ is the answer as we see it. Not the law. All the rest including the law are interim but necessary steps. Christ could not have known what he knew, could not have done what he did, had he not had the required interim steps in his knowledge and cultural fiber including the knowledge passed to him that he was the Son of God. God chose the exact time, and circumstances so that his chosen Holy One would have the optimum opportunity and resources to make the right decision. Jesus had the freedom to fail. But, he chose God’s will rather than his own, he chose God, he chose to regain the keys to the “Garden” and fellowship directly face to face with God for all of humanity (and I mean all, not just the Israelites).

          Often there are arguments concerning the Hebrew bible about prophesies, whether or not they point to God’s Christ, IF they point to a Christ at all etc. This is because we all (Jew, and Christian) understand and believe the Hebrew bible is God’s revealed word and that if anything is to come from God to “change” or “fulfill” or augment or add to or take from something that was previously revealed by God, the change or fulfilling instrument must be found there first.

          Therefore there will always be arguments over these same prophesies, such as the two I mentioned above. It is pointless to go over all of the prophesies. However there is one point of faulty logic I often hear from Jews against the known prophesies of those Jews who believe the Messiah is yet to come. They argue more or less that all of God’s prophesies must be fulfilled simultaneously and they haven’t all been fulfilled yet so Jesus couldn’t possibly be the Christ because there are still prophesies yet to be fulfilled. But my response is God never instituted that rule so He is not bound by it. Jesus has fulfilled more than enough prophesies and physically and spiritually demonstrated his God given authorization to be God’s Christ through his time on earth and after, including his life before and after the crucifixion. The fact that some prophesies are yet to be fulfilled in Jesus does not disqualify him.

      • Larry says:

        I read the new testment my self and it clearly claims that Jesus is g-d.

      • Larry says:

        Of course david, it is what Christianity is founded on. I’ll be back.

      • Larry says:

        Here’s one for you
        a) Turn to John 8:56-58. Jesus is talking to the unbelieving Jews. “Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing My day; he saw it and was glad.” “You are not yet 50 years old,” they said to Him, “and you have seen Abraham?” “I tell you the truth,” Jesus announced, “before Abraham was, I AM!” Jesus was the great I AM from before the beginning of time; He existed before Abraham ever was. He is claiming here to be the I AM of the Old Testament. Verse 59 says the Jews picked up stones to stone Him, but the Lord Jesus slipped away. The reason they wanted to stone Him was because stoning was the death penalty for blasphemy. He was claiming to be Yahweh–Jehovah–Almighty God–I AM.

        • David says:

          Here’s my attempt at an alternative non-Trinitarian explanation of the passage.

          There is a translation argument and a contextual argument for why Jesus is not referring to pre-existence but rather to God’s plan since before the universe began.
          The translation argument:
          The same Greek for the term translated into English “I am” in John 8: 58 is translated to “I am he” and/or “I am the one” in John 6:20, 8:24, 8:28, 13:19, and 18:5,6,8 and possibly more. Taken in context Jesus is not referring to a pre-existence, he in fact is referring to God’s plan, or God’s prophesy which predates Abraham. God had a plan which even predates the creation of the universe. Abraham was an interim but necessary step in God’s plan. Jesus is “the one” “the Christ” planned by God and spoken of throughout scripture. It is he, the Christ, Jesus is the one, there is no other to come.

          The contextual argument:
          Go back to John 8:37. Jesus is debating with Jews who know in point of fact that they are Abraham’s seed. His point is that true, while they are “physically” Abraham’s seed in the flesh, they are “acting” more like children of the Slanderer because they are trying to kill him for simply repeating the things of God. In context, Jesus claims he is NOT God as follows:
          Verse: 38 “I speak the things I have seen with my Father…”
          If Jesus were claiming to be God he would have had inherent authority to say instead: I speak as God because I am God.
          Verse: 40 “You are seeking to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God…”
          Again, IF Jesus were claiming to be God he would have said something to the effect: you are seeking to kill me, God, who has told you the truth.
          Verse: 42 “…I came from God…I have not come on my own authority, but He sent me”
          IF Jesus were claiming to be God he would have said: I am God, and come on my own authority, no other sent me because I am God.
          Verse 49: “I honor my Father…”
          God does not have a Father to honor.
          Verse 50: “I do not seek my own glory; there is one (God) who seeks and judges.”
          Here Jesus again clearly states that there is a God and he is not IT.
          Verse 51: “Truly, Truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will absolutely not see death”
          Now, what is Jesus saying here? In context he just got done saying in verse 40 and others that he is simply repeating the truth which he heard from his Father (God) and throughout the 4 gospels Jesus says that he does and says NOTHING on his own authority, only what he sees and hears from his Father in heaven. Therefore the proper understanding of this verse should be that if you follow the teaching of Jesus you are following God, NOT because Jesus IS God himself, but because Jesus is repeating exactly the heart of God through word and deed. The last part about not seeing death is not referring to physical death but ultimate death (or the second death) on the day of God’s Judgment.

          So, the meaning of verse 51 then is as follows: By keeping the word of Jesus you are following the heart of God because Jesus is completely obedient to the heart of God, his Father in heaven, and by doing so you will attain life rather than death on the Day of Judgment.

          The Jews misunderstand Jesus (as often happened then and to we Christians now) and assumed Jesus is talking about physical death. They are also offended at the misinterpreted suggestion they are not children of Abraham and are also offended because they misunderstood that Jesus was implying that Abraham, their Father, was NOT RIGHTEOUS!! Due to the fact the he tasted (physical) death according to their misunderstanding because he, Abraham, didn’t follow the words of Jesus! A total misunderstanding; again, Jesus wasn’t taking about physical death and he wasn’t impugning the Godly righteousness of their father Abraham as we shall see.

          The discussion gets heated and the Jews respond in verses 52 and 53:
          To paraphrase: “… Hey non-Jew Samaritan Jesus with a demon (1st century insults) who claims to speak for God, Who do you think you are talking nonsense like that? Our Father Abraham was much greater than you by far and he died and all the prophets died and you say that you have the word of God in you and that because they died therefore they didn’t follow your word and are not righteous. Who do you think you are?

          To paraphrase: “… If I boast about myself it means nothing (because I am not God), but my Father, who IS God and whom I know because I do and say what I see and hear from him, He, God, glorifies me, (someone who is not God) because I follow after His (God’s) heart (not my will) and do his will completely (out of love not just superficially because of a physical connection to Abraham). Abraham rejoiced to see my “day” and saw it. (note, Jesus did not say: Abraham saw Jesus, but that he saw his “day”. The meaning of this is that through revelation God showed Abraham what was to come regarding God’s plan through the time of Jesus which continues by the way and is not completed, yet.)

          The Jews misunderstand again continuing to assume he is talking about the physical and ask pointedly if he, Jesus, has seen Abraham.

          And that brings us full circle back to John 8:58 where Jesus responds with:
          “Truly, truly I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am the one”
          Meaning: I am the one spoken of by God and the prophets and for which Abraham rejoiced to see my day which God has brought.

          We don’t even have to leave the gospel of John to get multiple profs from the mouth of Jesus that his claim is that he is NOT God but the Son of God.

          John 10:24 “If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus response with: ”The works that I do in my Father’s name, these testify about me.”
          In other words, he has no power on his own because he is not God; he is able to do God’s work and God is working through him because Jesus is acting in God’s “name” he is not God himself.

          John 10:31,32: “The Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, “Many good works have I showed you FROM THE FATEHR. For which of those works do you stone me?”

          John 10:33: “The Jews answered him, “We do not stone you for a good work, but for defaming words, and because that you, being a man, make yourself a god.”

          Note, that even the Jews are not suggesting that Jesus is claiming to be God the Almighty but that he is claiming to be “a god”. But even if they were, he, Jesus, sets them straight in verses 34 – 38. Note, that some versions with a Trinitarian bias mistranslate the last phrase of verses 33 to read: “make yourself God” to make it appear as if Jesus had claimed to be God when in fact he didn’t. In either case, again, Jesus sets the record straight in the following verses 34 – 38 where he emphatically denies divinity.

          34 – 36: Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, I said, you are gods? If he called them gods to whom the word of God came (and the scriptures are not able to be broken) , do you say of him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, “You speak defaming words,” because I said, I am the Son of God?

          !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THERE IT IS: I AM THE SON OF GOD !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          Jesus has bent over backwards time and again throughout the gospels to show he is NOT GOD, but is the Son of God!

      • Larry says:

        That’s the way you look at the scripture. That’s not what is taught by the churches. To Christians Jesus is god. That’s it. If you do not believe that, then your not a Christian.
        I do not agree with anything you write, you have written your own bible and all of it disagrees with Judaism. You spend a lot of time writing trying to convince people of your beliefs, but your beliefs are just another form of Christianity. Many call it a cult.

        • David says:

          I could give you links to churches that DO teach one God, to prove that yes indeed there are those out there that teach it and that’s how I found out the in fact the bible does teach one God. And does not teach the Trinity.

          I just go where the evidence leads me and claim only what the bible teaches. We all make up our own minds. I’m not trying to convince anyone of anything that is not proven in the bible.

          You claim that one God is a cult? In point of fact, approximately 10% of Christians are of the one God variety. In point of fact there is not one verse anywhere which states anyone has to believe in the Trinity to be saved, in other words: to be a Christian. The one and only requirement is belief that Jesus is the risen Christ of God; the Son of God, and NOT “God the Son”. Nowhere does the bible say anyone should believe that Jesus is God in order to be saved.

          So you are factually incorrect.

          As far as Judaism goes I don’t understand your point. If you mean that one God Christianity and Judaism are different then I agree. Christianity is an outgrowth of Judaism, including the one God type of Christianity. All of the first Christians were Jews and many if not most continued to practice Judaism to some degree which is why you find Peter at the Temple for example.

      • Larry says:

        Factually I said that to be Christian is to believe Jesus is god. I never mentioned trinity.
        Please list the Christian churches that do not believe that Jesus is god. I never said the belief in one god is a cult. I mentioned some believe that Christianity, again, the belief that Jesus is god, some believe that is a cult. You say ” The one and only requirement is belief that Jesus is the risen Christ of God; the Son of God, and NOT “God the Son”. Nowhere does the bible say anyone should believe that Jesus is God in order to be saved.” that is simply not true. Please list the churches that believe he, Jesus is not god himself. I say all of Christianity believes jesus is god. List the ones who don’t. If you get my facts as you say, mixed up with what I really said, how can you even think of rewriting the bible?

      • Larry says:

        I asked for christian only nothing else. And I’m talking main stream christian, not just any little group you can find out there on the internet. There are probably hundreds of cults out there. Or, can’t you find any main stream christians that do not believe christ is G-d?

        • David says:

          By main-stream you are speaking code for Trinitarian. I’ve already stated that Christians of the one God variety make up about only 10% of the overall population of Christians. So then by definition we are not the “main-stream” of the Christian population. So according to you, that’s a cult.

          Newsflash Larry, belief in the one God of the bible Is NON mainstream yes, but a cult, no.

          None mainstream doesn’t necessarily therefore mean cult Larry, as we use the term today. You keep using the term “cult” as some kind of derogatory epithet in referring to one God Christians or their theology of one God. It wasn’t too long ago that ALL non-Roman ruled Christians were considered cults and/or heretics of one kind or another. The Romans condemned non-Trinitarians to death, often by burning at the stake.

          Cults control their members through intimidation, physiological and/or physical. Cults seek to cut one off, to isolate one from one’s friends and family who may have opposing ideas from the cult. Cults suppress intellectual debate. To me that sounds more like the Romans. One God people encourage open debate on the bible. We seek truth and are happy to debate the issues.

          You seem to be obsessed with denominations. Big equals true doctrine, and small equals false doctrine according to your logic. Therefore, since belief in the one God of the bible is small in number and denominations as compared to belief in a Trinity of a Roman creed which has many members and denominations, because we are less in number, we must be a cult. At least according to you.

          Larry, define why non mainstream equals cult for you as the term cult is used today.

          Instead of spending so much time fretting over whether something is mainstream why not study the issue, then you could debate your beliefs.

      • Larry says:

        I will address the first paragraph only. I originally stated that the christian churches teach that jesus is g-d. you made a big point of telling me that how factually incorrect I am. You did mention the 10%. A number I greatly disagree with, since I stated that that the churches, mostly teach that jesus id G-d, and all you have come up with is a bunch of fringe websites, and blogs, you googled on the internet. I agree that there are alot of christians that disagree, but thats not what I was talking about. I was talking about what is taught. Whether their congreation agree with them or not. David, Here is a NEWSFLASH for you. Again, as I have stated before, I never said that the belief in One G-d is a cult. You seem to keep getting angry and and misunderstanding me, there is no need. One more thing, I do not frett over anything you say or think. To me, your about a fringe as they get. You have your own Bible, kind of like Thomas Jefferson, King James. You also continually missunderstand almost everything I say. My one comment I stated was that christianity teaches that Jesus is G-d, if you do not believe that then your not a christian. That is still true even if one agrees with your 10%. Have a great thanks giving. We’re done here!

        • David says:

          I know what mainstream Trinitarian Christianity teaches and doesn’t teach because I used to be a mainstream Trinitarian Christian. And not all mainstream Christians agree what qualifies to be a Christian but most “non Romans” agree that you simply have to believe that Jesus is our Savior, God’s risen Christ. Some do believe that you have to also believe in the Trinity to be considered a Christian some mainstreamers don’t hold that as an absolute requirement.

          I’ll debate ANY mainstream Christian bible version with you. Since you are into mainstream. Your choice; pick your bible version and show me chapter and verse where one has to believe that Jesus is “God” in order to be a Christian, or where one has to believe in anything resembling the Roman instituted Creed of Nicene which spells out the Trinity as 3 co-equal, co-eternal Gods in one Godhead.

          I’m willing to debate the issue with you if you want.

          What do “you” believe Larry, regarding God (trinity or not)?

          What do YOU believe Larry?

  3. Yedidiah says:

    Oh, God please forgive me. For years I’ve made you too small in my life. I was drunk in what I thought was worship; in what I thought was love of God, but it was love of self. I could only imagine God as a man who could love me because I was a man. I was a “sacral humanist”. In my narcissism, I could only imagine a god within a narcissistic god created in my own image. I had fallen in love not with my Creator, my Master, my Father, but only in the “beautiful words” of a preacher. I was moved by man and not by God. I see now in the drunken faces and the pitiful and empty souls of those around me in church, a “religious” people who shout they “love God”, but know not God, but only a small god. Oh, such sacrilegious religiosity.

    In these days it is coming to pass, that people will take hold of the tallit of him that is a Jew and say, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you. And the nations shall see that the teaching of their father and their father’s father was wrong; a “beautiful lie”, but a lie nonetheless.

    I heard the preaching about a powerless God, a half-awesome God, who while it was said that he could “count & know each strand of hair on the head of each person alive and of each person who ever lived or who will ever live”, he was ignorant of his creation; a god who could not know the “heart of any person” unless he also first become a man and feigned love or understanding. That is not a God of Power or of Glory that I could truly worship. I seen that if God “chose to become human”, but that human was not a sinner, then he couldn’t, after all, really identify with what it means to be a human and created at all. An elaborate trick, whereby the man supposedly knows that he is not really human and who can’t stop being non-human long enough to fully know the real anxiety and pain and suffering of people that he supposedly had loved, created, guided, and protected each day. Those around him often were unaware that he was supposed to be God. His magic and works, that might have fooled us simple-minded folk 2000 years later, often surprised his followers little. Yet we are pretenders too; we pretend to know him more than those who were taught by the man, or who seen him and heard him and yet they found it easy to ignore him or reject him because they favored the God they knew. Even the many Gentiles in the Galilee and the many Romans in Judea at the time who seen or heard of him, were not impressed by him. Not until over 100-200 years later when his story was written by those far removed from the man. Their story is that, God so loved the pagan world that he became a part of it?

    GOD, though they make you so small, please forgive them, for they know not Who You are.

    • Annelise says:

      I know that God will hear your prayer and heal your heart in this regard. This is why Rabbi Yisroel asked in his article that these conversations would bring us closer to the knowledge of God. I hope that this will never be just words to us but the fruit of a desire to worship and honour our maker as He deserves. The thoughts on this blog are not merely about how *not* to relate to God; they seem to be written to deepen in our hearts the obedience and closeness that we *should* bring to Him, only, and the way to see that more clearly in nature and history.

      Many Christians have an actual and close relationship with God, even though to define Him in that way is to make Him small. Thankfully, even when we’re wrong about Him, God can reach to our hearts. The thing is that the New Testament claim is modelled so closely on the imagery of mercy and redemption in Tanach that to a Christian mind, the fact that God would do a thing like the incarnation is actually an extension of His glory rather than a limitation of it. Every beautiful thing, promise, and intricate image from the prophets finds a place in the Christian vision, and the way it is all rearranged seems to be held together by mercy. But however it is all explained and decorated, the reality remains that this claim about the person Jesus cannot be tested and accepted within what was given before. So we know that it’s false; it therefore hides the places where God *has* revealed Himself, the way He *does* want us to relate with Him, and those are the things that 1000 Verses is working to uncover and restore to us in our relationship with God.

      I’m really thankful, not only to be able to see that certain things are illusions and must be avoided, but also to have those illusions dismantled. May God teach us how to worship Him in the righteousness and thankfulness that He deserves and that are in themselves an expression of closeness to Him.

  4. Yedidiah says:

    Prayers are not meant to be primarily petitional, but are an assent to God’s will, to God’s “plan for us”. It is worship. It is agreement and it is an acknowledgement of our relationship with God. And prayer is for us, God already knows our heart, so God need not “hear my prayer”. And do not imagine that it is MY heart that needs to be “healed”. My words are more of an understanding or an empathy of what others may think, when they think that they have a close relationship with God, but are confronted with disturbing challenges to their faith. Those challenges may be great or small, but they must at some point be confronted. Those people who are most comfortable with their “illusions or delusions”, are those who need the greatest amount of challenge. Truth can not be achieved by suppressing the will to doubt, by refusing to seek truth, or by building “strong fortresses” around their “absolutist” beliefs. To know God, one needs first to know what God is not. In fact, we really can’t “know” undefinable God, except by what God is known as “not being”. Mystics, gnostics, and those who rely upon “mysteries” to explain God or their faith, usually wind-up “creating God” in their own image.

    The “fact” that God would do a thing like incarnation is not increasing God’s Glory, but limiting it. Incarnation (as is seeing nature (sun, moon, etc) as your god) is among some of the most primitive of ideas. One of the major, teachings of the Torah/Tanach (which is not only a foundation for Jews, but should be for Christians -unless you are a Marcionite-type Christian who rejects all of the “Old Testament”) is that of the prohibition of idolatry. This is one of the most important revelations in the bible. It is part of the Christian’s 10 commandments. It is primarily our desires and our prejudices that causes us to misunderstand God’s word and causes us to reject this commandment and God’s revelation to us. Manifestation of a “spirit of a god” in an object of nature, whether it is a totem pole, a gold calf, a sacrifice, or a man or king is an abomination to God, not because it might just be a poor attempt by ignorant, but sincere, man to try to show worship or praise or to glorify God, but because it de-glorifies God, it restricts God to man’s limited imagination, and makes God small; it insults God.

    God may reveal more to us through time, but foundational beliefs remain foundational. Eve & Adam accepted what they thought was a “new revelation from God” through His “servant”, the serpent. It seemed a “beautiful” and a “good” revelation, but it was only a necessary learning experience for “babes in the woods”. God had mercy & understood we make mistakes.

    A small God might seem more approachable and our desire to humanize God might erroneously seem to us to make His love more attainable, but it limits God’s love in our life. Don’t worry, the OT also emphasizes that God is Just and Merciful. But we can’t all plead ignorance before God “on Judgement Day”, and although a Loving God would not say “I never knew you”, when we have a chance to grow up, we need to put aside our “childish” ideas. Put your trust not in some other “child of God”, you/we are the only child that God needs. Some say sin separates us from God, but no, it is a “proxy”, a “representative”, an “intermediary” that stands in between us and a direct relationship with God. A person, who is not us, that is the “curtain” that must be torn, so that we can enter the “Holy of Holies”.

  5. Annelise says:

    Okay. Thanks for explaining where you were coming from, I think I hear you.

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  7. David says:

    The Trinity was a non-Christian invention which originated in part from Greek philosophy and Roman paganism and was imposed by Roman rule in the 4th century. During the times leading up to and after the Nicene Trinity Creed, Rome drove Christians of the one God belief underground under threat of execution.

    The Creed itself was invented and found necessary by Rome because the New Testament itself did not and does not support the Trinity theology. On the contrary, it supports a one God and his Christ theology. Nor could the Roman Church find anywhere in the New Testament where believers are supposed to worship God’s Christ as if he were God himself. There is always a distinction made between God’s Christ and God himself in the bible. These two facts made the Creed absolutely necessary to enforce a consistent Trinitarian belief system throughout the Roman Empire.

    Rome created its own church, the “Roman Catholic Apostolic Church” to replace Christianity and usurp more control over the empire and beyond. However, Christians continued meeting secretly in homes; they continue today, no so secretly in homes as well as in traditional churches. Many Christian congregations today all over the world contain a mixture of Trinitarian and non-Trinitarian believers.

    The Roman Catholic Church would have the most Trinitarians, non-Romans, meaning non Catholics the fewest.

    Those Christians who do not believe in the Trinity do not use creeds or other extra scriptural material or outside authorities apart from the bible to support their one God theology.

  8. Annelise says:

    Whether or not they try to ‘define’ God as a trinity, the majority of non-Catholic Christians I’ve met do believe that Jesus deserved the worship of God, that he wasn’t created, and that he was/is in a relationship of some kind with the Father. That he ‘was God’ and ‘was with God’ (John 1), the ‘beginning and the end’ (Revelation 22:13, compare with 1:8). I think that most of the Evangelical Christians with whom a lot of Jews are coming into contact would say that anyone who doesn’t believe Jesus is God isn’t even within the circle of the church, because obviously it’s an absolutely central issue to be wrong about.

    I think that this blog post was written to address trinitarian Christians, not people who believe Jesus was only a human Messiah.

    That said, I think that there are problems in accepting the New Testament message, even besides the idolatry issue. Paul said in Romans 9-10 that the Jews who wouldn’t accept Jesus were pursuing their goal without faith, not attaining righteousness, and ignoring the real meaning of the Law (believed to be Jesus) despite their ignorant zeal. In 2 Corinthians 3 he said that when the Torah is read, a veil covers their hearts and they can’t understand that it’s actually about Jesus. Numerous writers in the New Testament wrote about Jesus’ death and resurrection, and faith in these things, as the only way for a person to receive forgiveness and avoid the judgment to come. The New Testament beliefs therefore discourage, confuse, alienate, and endanger Jews who are trying to pass on what they had always been given to pass down, with real faith, love, and commitment to God.

    I got an email yesterday from my younger brother who has just gone with his friends to help in an orphanage in Bangladesh, to celebrate finishing High School a couple of weeks ago. He wrote, “We had some weird experiences at Dhaka airport with a man telling us we had to give someone $50 each (there was no reason for us to have to)…”, and this experience is similar to what Jews are being told about Jesus. They are being told that the way they understand and have been preserving the Torah and the knowledge of God in their nation needs to be rejected, even though the Torah itself is true, and a new testimony should be adhered to: that of Jesus and his followers. In Jewish eyes there is a lot at stake here, and no reason for them to think they have to give it up. Just like Mordecai who would not bow to the supremacy of Haman, and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who wouldn’t bow to the king’s statue that represented Babylon’s endless reign in the earth, Jews believe that a time is coming when the kingdom will be restored to them and God alone will be in focus; salvation will come from aligning with His righteousness as taught to them already, not by allying with a messianic claimant who has so far not shown that he is God’s anointed. For Christians to say otherwise, if they are wrong, is to deny that the testimony of God really is in the midst of this nation, even though in fact that’s where His message is to be found. It’s to ignore the firstborn son and messenger of God, and put another individual (who isn’t God’s anointed) in their place.

    If there really is a reason to say that Jesus was Moshiach, even though most of his followers who chose and passed down the New Testament and the idea that he’s important have been idolising him, then very well. But there is a lot at stake, even if idolatry isn’t involved, in the fact that Jews who ignore Jesus might have been slandered without cause in the New Testament; their important message from God in this generation might be being ignored. So I think it’s a claim to make with caution, with eyes open to what the Tanach and their experience of keeping Torah really teaches them to expect and to accept as revelation.

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