Thanks again for your willingness to engage in this discussion.
I would however appreciate it if you would directly address the issues that stand between us.
In the context of what we are discussing it is almost frivolous to discuss matters that do not bear on the central issue. I hope to address your errors about prophecy and sin only so that you don’t take my silence as agreement – but first I’d rather clear up the main issue.
We are discussing idolatry. You seem to be under the impression that I am opposed to the concept of the incarnation because it might LEAD TO idolatry.
No! That is not what disturbs me about the incarnation claim at all.
The incarnation claim IS idolatry. Claiming that a man is somehow divine and thus worthy of worship is idolatry itself.
You state that you have no desire to “compel” people to worship Jesus – “Suffice” it that they worship the Father “This pleases the son” – you say. You do however condone worship of the son. You consider worship of the Father “sufficient” – and you swallow it because it pleases the object of your adoration – namely “the son”.
This is idolatry.
In response to this charge you presented several statements
1) That if man could become like God than God reciprocated with the “counter reality of becoming like man”
2) Then you argue that if God could create man in His image why would He despise the qualities of man.
3) You state “While we know the concept is not an impossibility.”
There are two different tracks that I could utilize to demonstrate your error. I could demonstrate to you why saying that God “became man” is as impossible as saying that a square is a circle, that sin is righteousness, that up is down and that cruelty is kindness. In the context of worship; God and man are more contradictory than any of these. (In other words the concept IS an impossibility.)
But I will not choose that track now (I have written extensively on this subject on my blog). Instead I will approach the issue from the angle of Scripture.
The purpose of the Sinai revelation was to teach us who to worship and who not to worship (Deuteronomy 4:15). This is explicitly declared in Scripture.
So how can you condone a worship other than the one our ancestors were taught at Sinai? Is this not the most direct violation of the covenant that was sealed with the Jewish people at Sinai?
And on what basis do you want to condone this worship? On the basis of your own imaginative piecing together of some Scriptural concepts (none of which are introduced by the Author of Scripture as teachings on worship). How could you pit your own speculations against the explicit word of God?
Note: God did not say that He will become like man – it is you who decided to read that idea into Scripture. Note: When Scripture says that man has become like God it is not giving legitimacy to worship of man (– I hope you agree), so this whole comparison of God to man or vice versa is completely unrelated to worship – for you to decide that these concepts have a bearing on the matter of worship is again – your speculation.
I read your comments to Annelise on your blog explaining your position. Your argument about Jesus not being a prophet because he never claimed to be one – then using this as a loophole to thus bypass the duty of Israel to apply the Scriptural criterion for a prophet to his claims – is fallacious for several reasons. I will state one here.
The point of Deuteronomy 13:2 is not that when someone wants the specific title “prophet” then we are instructed to apply certain criteria to him or her. If that were the case then your argument that Jesus said (or implied over a long period of time): Aha! I am not claiming to be a prophet so Deuteronomy 13 doesn’t apply to me! – would perhaps be something to talk about. But you seem to have missed the point about Deuteronomy 13. It is not about the title “prophet”. It is about loving God. The point of the passage is that no miracle no matter how spectacular can move that love. God set us on a path at Sinai – and no miracle should budge us from that path. This is the point of Deuteronomy 13 and it is a directive to reject anyone who would condone worship of one that we did not encounter at Sinai.
Your argument that since the resurrection of Jesus was performed by Jesus himself so this sets it apart from any other miracle – is without Scriptural foundation. Deuteronomy 13 does not qualify the miracle that we are to disregard. It is your own reasoning that produced this distinction. The human mind is agile enough to produce such distinctions for any miracle – rendering the commandment meaningless.
(This aside from the fact that the argument itself is meaningless – if a false prophet can pull off the resurrection of someone other than himself so who said that Jesus wasn’t working with someone else who resurrected him? Furthermore; Matthew throws in a whole bunch of unaided resurrections at the time of Jesus’ death – were they all gods?)
The criteria that you are willing to apply to Jesus and Paul is that their message be aligned with the message of previous prophets. The mere fact that their message condones worship of a man tells us that their message does not align with the heart and core of the Jewish Scriptures – so they would have to be discounted even according to your own standard.
Even putting the issue of worship aside – their message conflicts with so much of Scripture – so even if you don’t understand how Jesus’ message contravenes the first two of the Ten Commandments – but don’t you see how it contravenes the general message of Scripture on the issues of atonement, observance of the Law and on the issue of the Messianic era?
In closing – I will again respectfully request that you stick to the central issue – idolatry. Again, to reiterate. God Himself taught our nation who it is that we are to worship and who it is that we are not to worship. This was done clearly and openly. This is by definition the core of our covenantal relationship with God. How then can you expect us to consider a teaching which condones a worship that God Himself instructed us to avoid?
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal
I assure you I am quite interested first and foremost in addressing your objections and charges of idolatry concerning Jesus. It may not seem that way because I am not given to the back and forth of “he is too”, “he is not” ad nauseam. It is equally meaningless for me to cite the New Testament to one who does not regard it as authoritative.
So, I rely on the Torah. I realize my explanations from that source are not what you expect or would accept, but I prefer to work from that from which you are familiar.
Yes, I agree that the declaration in scripture that man became like God is in no way to give legitimacy to idolatry.
I will refer you to Abraham.
The place and value of the firstborn in the life of Jews is prominent and it is as God commanded.
However, the story of the firstborn in the history of Israel prior to Moses is hardly one of the blessing and abundance from the father of the firstborn. Two examples of this figure prominently in Israel’s history. The first of these was when God called Abraham to offer up his firstborn. This was the child, the firstborn, whom Abraham had longed for and which in his old age God promised and delivered.
Then, what does God do? He calls on Abraham to offer up his only son who he loved in a sacrifice to God. It is not implausible to consider that Abraham was troubled by this request for human sacrifice, yet, he was obedient.
The second instance involving the firstborn was what resulted in the liberation of Israel: The death of the firstborn in Egypt.
Lest anyone misconstrue the point here this was not to legitimize worship through human sacrifice. However, do the deaths of these firstborn amount to such an insignificance in Israel so as not to examine the meaning of these things? Again, lest anyone wonder: Seriously, would anyone argue Isaac was as well as dead or would they argue he was full of life?
The NT comment on Isaac is that he was offered. Yes, we all know the angel stopped Abraham’s hand just short of piercing Isaac with the knife in his hand.
It is glib to distort the point and to merely shout accusations of idolatry and human sacrifice when neither one of those were what God was conveying through these two instances. Both of these predate the law or the calling of God’s firstborn out of Egypt.
How is it 1) the firstborn example of Isaac, 2) the offering of that firstborn, and 3) the resurrection of that firstborn have remained completely nullified by Jews with respect to the Jesus, 1) the firstborn, 2) the sacrifice, and 3) the resurrection. No, Abraham was not directing worship away from God as some might be quick to retort. I repeat: Anyone who smirks saying ISAAC WAS NOT SACRIFICED and can say Isaac was full of life deceives themselves. The sacrifice of Isaac does not represent a conflict with what the Torah states as it predates the Torah with respect to the birth of Israel as a nation. Having said that I will repeat: This was not a legitimization of human sacrifice, but a portend of what was to come. As much as Israel can retell the offering of the sacrifice of Isaac as a wonderful story of the dedication and devotion of Abraham while simultaneously overlooking that sacrifice and that of the thousands of firstborn dead in Egypt there is absolutely there is no surprise concerning the rejection of the sacrifice of Jesus himself as he said he was his purpose in this life. All true claims to the effect God instructed and admonished Israel against idolatry sound as good as they are true, but they do little to reflect an understanding of the sacrifice of the firstborn. This may have been even more removed from the conscience of Israel when sacrifice in the law concerned an animal. Clearly, it would seem, nothing much to thing much about really.
I understand your reasoning for rejecting Jesus as a prophet in light of Deuteronomy 13. I reject him as a prophet in light of Numbers 12. This is not my attempt on my part, as you have misconstrued, to absolve Jesus of your charges of him as a false prophet.
As to your new found contention that Jesus acted in collusion working with a second party to raise him from the dead you are completely on your own there, Yisroel. Yes, Matthew does mention there were several resurrections after his resurrection. You pose the question which, despite my prior replies appear to have been insufficient: The fact those individuals were raised from the dead no more makes them god than Jesus himself rising from the dead proved he was God. Since you went to this text I will explain. The resurrection of those individuals is attributed to the power of the resurrection which Jesus said he himself is the resurrection. So, the point is they were not exactly unaided as you have inferred.
Peace to you. Gil
Trust is more important than “love”. It must be earned & is not given. Love everyone, trust only a few. When we read words out of context or read stories as simple tales with a message and each as isolated from the rest of the Tanach and the history of Israel, we err and don’t get the message. In the Tanach and look for the patterns of words and of events. Hineni, 3 times we hear “Here I am”. Abraham trusted God, but he could not trust himself; he made quite a few mistakes in his life, when his self-interest dominated. Could he trust God when it conflicted with his self-interest and his “human understanding” (see Job)? Isaac trusted his father, like Abraham trusted God; they walked “hand-in-hand” with a single-minded purpose. Yes, Isaac was “full of life”. They WILL return. But, “Where is the sacrifice?” “Elohim yireh- God will See” to the sheep. And so God did and Abraham named the place, “Adonai yireh- The Eternal One will see…”. The meaning of naming the place is unmistakable. God didn’t & doesn’t need a sacrifice, no blood. God is not like the “other gods”. There will be no human sacrifice (there is an later opposite example in the Tanach when a man “not hearing from God” sacrifices his daughter). God does not want nor require the sacrifice of an innocent . Abe might have been “tested”, but he payed NO price; nor did God “sacrifice”. It is utterly absurd and ungodly to believe that God “sacrifices”. Sacrifice is a means whereby powerless or impotent Man tries to show God how much they love and trust God.
Even the NT gospels show that “the father” is willing to take the “son” back without a sacrifice, without blood or grain or money OFFERING (which might appear as a bribe), and even without the “son” wanting or expecting to be received back as a “son”. The 1st born son (rebellious, like Jesus was) only wanted to be an anonymous stranger, but the fact was he did “turn back” and was accepted regardless of the motive. Turning to God or Teshuva, like the Hebrew Bible says & Jews believe, is what God wants, more than sacrifice or blood.
In the Tanach, the second-born is often the hero and the eventual victor, while the 1st born often represents the arrogant one, the one who falls and fails, the rebellious one, and the one who is not “the true first-born”. Cain loved God and offered an offering from his heart (Abel’s offering was almost like a “copy-cat” offering). Is Cain the “portend”, the model son that some people try to make of some later day “1st born son”?
My point about the 2nd born (or 4th born) vs. rebellious 1st born son was to show that a superficial reading of the Tanach can lead one astray. Not all “first born” are alike or we might read the Egyptian “first-born sons” as a “sacrifice”. Or see Abel as a sacrifice (for whose sins? If for Adam & Eve’s, than there was no “fall”), just as much as Jesus was supposed to be. Abel’s offering was “pleasing” to God, but that did not protect him from a man, a brother, who “knew” and who “spoke with God” and who was warned, but freely decided to “take a different path” because of his feelings and because he “didn’t think”. The main messages in Genesis (which I see more and more as a “literary” masterpiece and the foundation of a “religion of reason”) is a foundation for Torah and is consistent with the rest of the Tanach. But there are several basic teachings in the NT which is not consistent with the basic messages and teachings in Tanach. In fact, there are some that are opposing beliefs. That’s why some talk of the occasional (& subjective) “portends”, “hints”, “clues”, “prophesies” (most of which can not be truly defined as prophesies) or “foreshadowings” in order to draw a connection to the earlier Hebrew scriptures. Those are closer to speculations or philosophizing or “inventions”, as some early church fathers, such as St Augustine, would admit. Some would say that all of the Hebrew Scriptures should be read as allegory. Some, like Bishop Marcion (whose father supposedly knew Paul) rejected any or all “connections” to the Jewish Holy writings, because the God of Jesus and the God of the Jews were 2 “different Gods”. If the Marcionites had prevailed, we would have a different Jesus today. Or if Constantine had not prevailed. Or after many long centuries of church error, the Jesus of the Protestant reformation might not have been “born again”. A popular belief today is that Christians have been wrong for 2000 years and (based upon non-existent texts and primarily speculation) belief in “Yeshua” is the real way. A house divided means something is quite wrong someplace. But where?
Obedience is better than sacrifice. Jeremiah 32:35, Jeremiah 19:5. God is true to His word. I believe God all the way, when He uttered these words and I have not seen in the Hebrew scriptures where God has gone back on these verses quoted above.in the Hebrew scriptures. If God never retracted these words, I wonder why I used to believe He did according to the New Testament. God Himself never said John 3:16.
I am so glad that I have stopped believing these lies. God help me to live a life of continuous repentance and Him drawing me to true repentance.