Second Response to Gil Torres
Dear Gil (I hope it’s OK that I am using your first name – if you have a problem with this, please let me know and I will stop. My first name is Yisroel.)
Thanks for taking the time to pen your respectful response. It is my prayer that this discussion leads the two of us only closer to the God of truth. I understand your desire to have our discussion limited to one topic and I agree with you that it is indeed wise for us to deal with one topic at a time. Still, you have made points about the incarnation (in your comments to me) and about the context of Scripture (in your comments to Annelise). I will therefore attempt to respond to both of these in this article (- these two issues are in fact related to each other.)
You spoke of the burning bush, the pillar of cloud and fire, the bronze serpent and the Ark of the Covenant. You seem to see in these some precedent to the Christian doctrine of the incarnation. Do you believe these were “incarnations” of God? Do you believe that the pillar of cloud was part of the trinity?
Did you ever ask yourself, if these narratives were put into Scripture for the sake of teaching us how to direct our worship, why then were they not presented as such? In other words; I am sure that you recognize that Deuteronomy 4 describes the Sinai experience as a teaching that was presented to Israel for the explicit purpose of teaching them towards who it is that they are to direct their worship. The text makes this abundantly clear. Why are these narratives (the bush, cloud, serpent and ark) not described by the text as teachings that have a bearing on the direction of worship?
Do you realize that the arguments that you are using to justify worship of Jesus could just as easily be used to justify the worship of another person (or animal, plant, rock, angel)?
How would you respond to someone who claims that he or she found a fourth person in the godhead? What would it take to convince you that there are more persons in the godhead than the three that you already believe in?
Before Jesus came to the earth the Jewish people already stood in a relationship with God. This relationship is compared to a marriage bond. What was that relationship based on? What was the reason that the Jew’s heart should have been devoted to God and to God alone? Did that relationship allow for the inclusion of other entities into the relationship?
It seems that you have misunderstood Annelise’s comments about the context of Scripture. I will try to articulate the point from another angle.
Do you believe that Israel is to discover their God only through a scholarly study of Scripture? Did God not provide a more direct teaching to Israel concerning this matter?
What method did God set in place so that we can realize that Scripture is truly His word?
One last question. Do you think that we disagree with each other because: A) One of us knows that Scripture supports the opposite position but the position is maintained out of rebelliousness towards God. B) One of us is spiritually blinded. C) One of us just happens to be reading Scripture carelessly. D) One of us is approaching Scripture with the wrong set of preconceived notions.
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal
Yes, I’m fine with first name use, Yisroel. Back later, God willing.
Dear Yisrael and Gil;
The items you mentioned are symbols which they were familiar with. Being under Egyptian culture for many centuries, they came to understand what these symbols meant, and were used as a way to communicate with htem.
Reason I say this is based on the fct that they died out with time, and the more simple, correct way took their place.
All anceint peoples had symbols like these, and in some cases they represented gods. But the singularity of His way took over, and we still hold to it as being correct, becauase He said so.
Only Islem and it’s off-shots have anything close to His way, with Christianity close, but the Trinity is in the way. Later, I will share how i see the Trinity getting into the Book of Mark.
I agreed with the point that Gil made about the burning bush and other things to an extent. I think he was responding to the fact that both Jews and Muslims find the idea of God choosing to become human to be bizarre, humiliating, and irreverent. But Christians believe it was an act of grace and of staggering humility and closeness towards His people, which (although unexpected in its nature and proportion) they consider to align with His nature as described in the Jewish scriptures.
Gil was showing that even in the Jewish scriptures, God has made Himself known to human beings and present among us in ways that others might ridicule or consider small.
Of course, none of those manifestations were in themselves a person of God or the very self of God. To worship the cloud rather than the God who was making His glory known by it would have been plainly idolatrous. Christians do believe that Jesus was more than just the ‘image’ of the invisible God. They say the word of God became flesh and ‘tabernacled’ among humanity, but they see him as more than just a physical tent of God. In the end most believe that to exclude the human, created aspect of (their concept of) who he was from their worship of God would be disloyal. Christians definitely have a single relationship with God, but believing the God has relationship within Himself, that Jesus had a relationship with the one he called ‘Father’ and that believers have a distinct relationship with their messiah, it is complicated.
So, Gil’s thought was important to remember, but the qualifications in this blog post are very significant. Israel can’t reject a revelation claim simply because it seems unpalatable or unusual. But they can question a claim if it goes against the Biblical concept of, for example, the separate inherent roles of God and humanity in the relationship of worship. And they need to test everything according to the first revelation. The issue is that the Torah makes Jews incredibly cautious of idolatry, gives no hint or clear sign that God will expect one day to be worshipped as a man, and doesn’t even give a test for such a claim.
and even to worship the cloud as a part of God, rather than a part of creation through which He was revealing Himself, would have been wrong. I believe the distinction between God and His messengers/manifestation is made and kept resonantly clear in many parts of the Torah, being a central a part of the Israelite concept of their relational Creator.
Most Christians, who have read the Torah, at least, know the truth. There are some interesting happenings in “RoshPineProject; an Orthodox Jew returned to Judaism, for one and there is a stair-there; and a book showing some interestin items, again. I did not identify the receiver of this letter i wrote. I cannot post there because, as Yechiel, I came on to strong for them(?). I am re-posting this letter here so it can have some commuication on the subject of JC’s messiahship and divinity.
One item; what happened to the items the Moshiac is suposed to have brought into fruition, as Universal Peace, the temple built and functioning, and so forth?
Even if you can prove that G-d’s contention that He shall never be physical can be shown as “personally”, we have a divine human being?
Even though we can show how the Temple, promised to us and to Human-Kind, is not a “physical” Temple, as we have none, now.
Even if you can show that G-d got Mary pregnant, what about the other god-sons?
And even if the success of Christianity (by forced conversion and conquest, mainly) supports your contentions, we do not have the promised Moshiac-age! What we do have is where even “Hebrew-Christian sects” cannot be christian towards each other, so where is the Spirit of Moshiac?!?
Many books have been written using some of her line of reasoning, at least, if not more, and still the prophecy of the Messianic age has not been even started, much lest fulfilled. So where is you proff? As we look at the war between ISrael and her enimies, no one can say that we have the messianic age, and you have nothing to show but wishful thinking in a hybred sect that cannot share its ideas with others, unless they are what you think. I was a subscribber long enough to see that, as you chaced several away. I am on other threads, though, were civilized discussion is the rule, even though several of us may disagree-Jew or Christian with either one. I hope you realize that you can do more good as telling the truth about you being Christian and helping confused Christians to find their way.
I have written several letters by the reply, encouraging help for confused Christians, so they do not seek it outside of their birth-faith. But, this would take away from their selling their product to Jews who are not knowldeable about His way, so we get a tread off-each year, 10 thousand Christians in the good ol’ USA convert to Judaism, and more world wide, with thousands becoming IDed with the Noahide Movement.
I am not against converts to Judaism, just that if a person wants to, she or he should do so knowldgeable about their birth faith. Thats all
The modern categorisation of religion kind of confuses things. The fact that Jews have wanted to help gentiles along in seeking God according to righteousness by codifying some of the moral rules that apply to all humans (i.e. descendants of Noah) is helpful, but I wouldn’t call it a religion in itself. Surely we can just respond to our Maker in the way He asks, acknowledge the things we believe are important to Him or revealed by Him. But a lot of gentiles know that, and to some extent know the cost of choosing to be Jewish, and still want to be part of the Jewish community just like numerous people in Tanach did; part of the knowledge and service of God in that way, which is undeniably blessed. It’s really between them and God.
I’m not quite sure what you mean by one of the things you said, though. What do you mean by a person’s “birth faith”? Do you mean that gentile Christians should keep believing in Jesus and remain Christians even if they know it’s not from God? Or did you mean that gentiles should seek God in the way He made us, but not believe things that are false, according to what you are calling the ‘Noachide’ movement?
I also wouldn’t say that the Christians who interact on these kinds of websites are representative of ‘most Christians’. Everyone has a different background and story with God, but I don’t believe that most Christians choose to ignore aspects of truth that they ‘know’.
First, I am willing to engage and respond on all the elements of our discussion. It’s just that I thought we could take them one at a time. Also, I may respond to some of those elements as brought up in the participant comments where, of course, you too can engage.
Second, I know discussions, particular when these involve matters of faith, are often floodgates to our respective beliefs, understandings and practices. Your conclusion that my comments concerning the burning bush, serpent, etc., as precedents to the incarnation and worship is mistaken. It is equally mistaken to conclude that I was suggesting or believe these were teaching points for Israel as to how to worship God. My reference to those was merely to illustrate how vastly and radically diverse were the ways in which God revealed either himself, such as he did, or his will. When viewed at face value these would strike the human mind as absurd. Furthermore, I do not understand Israel to have regarded these as points on worship. These were, as you state and I agree, “teaching them towards WHO (emphasis mine) it is that they are to direct their worship.”
I have not received an indication from Annelise that I have misunderstood her on the matter of scripture and will leave it for her to address that matter.
I revere scripture as the authoritative revelation of the will of God. I stated in my comment to Annelise that both the meaning and meaningfulness of scriptures can be, is and has been preserved at various times through community in the physical absence of the scriptures. One instance of this was in the days of King Josiah when the book of the law was found after being lost for quite some time. Israel preserved a semblance of the meaning of the law as reflected by the meaningfulness in their lives weakened in spirit as was Israel in those days.
It is not a secret we have differing views and approaches to the scriptures. This, in itself, is of little or no significance for me in the context of discussion of the scriptures and hearing out ourselves respectivelly and respectfully. I do not expect, nor would want, a capitulation by anyone to their beliefs without understanding.
I know discussions, particularly when they involve matters of faith, often are skewed and driven by our respective biases and this too, in itself, is not like some heinous crime. It is so much of our plain and simple human nature. We tend to rush headlong with our replies based on our assumptions what what certain people believe or say, not what the individual across the table from us believes.
You credit me with an argument I never made concerning worship, worship of a human or worship of Jesus. Those, Yisroel, were your assumptions.
Peace be upon you.
Gil T, I will try not to add to the breadth of discussion between Rabbi Blumenthal and yourself, because points can expand so quickly by nature of a full picture needing to be built up.
Like I wrote in my comment, I think it was fair for him to clarify this matter because so many Christians do blur the lines between these exact same scriptural manifestations of God, and the Christians claims about Jesus. I’ve read and heard it in a number of contexts. It’s important to keep each concept clear. That said, I can see clearly that the argument you were in fact making was a different one. I believe it’s worth looking at this point further, to see where you as a Christian actually believe the similarities and differences lie between Jesus and those revelations of God’s presence, and how the two worldviews that the two of you bring to this claim do relate with what Tanach is and describes.
What Yisroel was referring to in our own conversation, I think, is when I wrote about the content of the scriptures being meaningful in the context of the community that they were addressed to. After your following comment, I tried to clarify by saying “I don’t think I wrote it clearly, but I was only trying to say that a Christian accepts the Jewish scriptures for a different reason than Jews do”- and writing some other things after that. Having said that, I’ll let you two discuss the point without confusing it further.
I am sorry if I confused you. I have studied some material many here do not even know about, because their interests go in a different way.
First of all, I believe He placed each soul where He wants it to be. Only the Jews, and Gentiles whose souls were with ours, at Mount Sinai, are bond by the vow; “I shall do; and i shall learn.”
For the rest, if you are born say, an Hindu, it does not bond you to be a Hindu if you find that you can serve the Divine more meaningfully as some other faith. Just that your birth faith shall be Hindu. OK?
I do not seek, or share with tose who wish to limit conversions to Judaism, but I think we serve HaShem better by first, respecting where He placed that person’s soul, then if He wants the person/soul to learn more, OK.
We all are human beings, and finint in what we can know and learn. He has given many decent ways to serve Him, the Infinate One, and eventually we all shall arrive at Torah.
i say this based on the Prophecy that in that day, people from all the nations (plural) shall worship HaShem. Meantime, accept that your friends are where they are, and help where you can. But, let HaShem be the one to guide them, Spiritually speaking. After all, the Soul is His.
Okay, I think I understand a little better. In my mind the categories of someone’s ethnicity, their religion, and their culture are all separable. A person can reject their religion without rejecting their ethnicity. They can also change their ethnic circle without giving up most aspects of their birth culture. All these things are deeply intertwined, it’s true, but there’s a day coming when God and His name will be one in the eyes of the world and yet the nations will still have their identities and cultures.
The point is that I would never encourage someone to stay in their ‘birth faith’ for reasons of tradition and family loyalty alone. Those things are important in relationship with God, but they’re not everything we can consider in seeking for truth. What I would encourage people to do is hold on to their own identity, which is formed by the ethnicity and culture of their family, even while seeking the truth about God and the places where He Himself wants to be known.
It’s interesting that you mentioned Hinduism, though. I don’t know a lot about this religion, but if I understand correctly, a lot of Hindus think that religion and family loyalty are inseparable; even if they feel that alternative beliefs are perfectly acceptable for other groups of people, it’s seen as a rejection of the whole community and culture for a person to seek truth elsewhere.
I might be wrong, but this is how it seems and how I’ve heard it to be.
With Judaism it’s similar and yet different. The revelation that God gave to the Jewish people was in a family and cultural context; He formed a nation and a culture, through the exodus, the Torah, and His promise, in which He would make His light known in this world. Relationship with God, religious observance, ethnic heritage, historical experiences, cultural identity, family loyalty… they’re impossible to separate in the Jewish mindset. But there is a sense that the truth of Judaism is a truth that pertains to the whole world, and that people from other groups need to eventually accept it.
I used Hiduism because they seemed to have their heads on stright, and a good example for others.
I would not be part of their religion, but I do respect them a lot, even though there are some snafus they need to work out.
We all have them, so no judgement.
You are right. My point is to help prevent confusion for the one who is uncertain. I want you to know you are right, then go ahead. (David Crocket).
Thank you for responding.
I am having interesting conversatioins on several blogs. In my research for material we all can use, I came across these items; on Judaism it self, and one from the website on what the Moshiac is. Instead of going back and forth, here, as I am on a couple of other blogs, i shall post the two items I mentioined;
There is more here than some would want to read, but I hope on a conservative line, I covered most bases.
Thank you and G-d Bless all.