Eighth Response to Gil Torres

Dear Gil

 

Let me clarify a basic contrast that seems to have escaped you.

 

On the one side you have the word of God – I refer here to the Jewish Scriptures which we both acknowledge as the words of the Living God. On the other hand you have the speculation of men. The fact that the speculation that these men engage in revolves around the words of God does not change the status of these theories – they remain speculation.

 

I will clarify.

 

We are discussing the worship of Jesus – a worship that you condone and one which I see as the greatest rebellion against God.

 

Wonder of wonders! We both point to the same Jewish Scriptures to support our respective positions!

 

The difference is that I am pointing to direct and explicit commandments from God while you are simply using Scripture as a springboard for your own speculations.

 

I pointed to the Sinai revelation. It was not me who decided that this passage is relevant to this discussion. The Author of Scripture made it abundantly clear that this event was His teaching on the subject of idolatry.

 

You pointed to the sacrifice of Isaac and the smiting of the firstborn. May I bring it to your attention that the Author of Scripture did NOT present these as a teaching on the subject of idolatry – it is YOU who decided that these narratives have a bearing on this discussion.

 

Furthermore – the Sinai revelation was a comprehensive teaching on the subject. The Author of Scripture Himself tied up all the loose ends. The doctrine He taught was simple, straightforward and complete – it was that we are to worship only the God who revealed Himself to our ancestors at Sinai as our ancestors preserved that revelation (Deuteronomy 4:9; Isaiah 43:10).

 

The theory that you are building out of the narratives in Genesis and Exodus are not spelled out in Scripture at all. These are your own speculations.

 

Do you not see the stark contrast between your own speculations and the explicit, direct and comprehensive word of God?

 

Furthermore – because my nation does not accept your fanciful speculations you then say that we “overlook” the sacrifice of Isaac?! Your condescending tone about Israel retelling the story as a “wonderful story of the dedication and devotion of Abraham” – as if this is the insignificant part of the story – the “sideshow” so to speak – speaks volumes. Perhaps you noticed that the Author of Scripture Himself calls our attention to this aspect of the story (Genesis 22:18).

 

Since you seem to be in the mood of some speculation about the role of the sacrifice of the firstborn let me share some of my own speculations on the subject.

 

Israel is God’s firstborn (Exodus 4:22; Jeremiah 31:8), His only one (2Samuel 7:23), that He loves (Deuteronomy 7:8) . Throughout our history we have been called upon to give up our lives in obedience to God’s voice that commands us to refrain from worshipping idols. Isaac’s sacrifice served as the model and the inspiration for tens of thousands of subsequent sacrifices of God’s firstborn. The inspiration generated by these sacrifices continues to illuminate the world in the very same way that Isaac’s sacrifice illuminated and brought blessing: By testifying that God alone is sovereign over every facet of existence.

 

When it comes to my remarks about the alleged resurrection of Jesus you chose to ignore my main point and instead you addressed the comments that I put in parenthesis.

 

To remind you – my main point was that the distinction that you made between the resurrection and other miracles (that it was unaided) – is a distinction that has no basis in Scripture. Scripture uses the broad brush “sign or wonder” to teach that no miracle can move us from the path God set us on when He took us out of Egypt. Yet you come with your own speculation and create a distinction and then you preach to me that I am “entirely on my own”. Gil, it is you who stand on your own against the plain word of God.

 

(I disagree with your arguments concerning my parenthetical statement but I fear that if I spell it out you will limit your response to this peripheral part of our argument and continue to avoid the main issue.)

I will go back now to your opening comments

You say that you are not given to the back and forth of “he is” “he is not”. If you noticed that has not been the style of our discussion. Yes, we both have misunderstood each other at times as is expected amongst people from such different world-views – but all in all our discussions have not been a matter of each of us attempting to state their opinion more emphatically but rather each of us attempting to bring more light, clarity and articulation to the basis of our beliefs.

You seem to be disappointed that you cannot bring the Christian Scriptures to support your position. This sentiment perhaps goes to the root of our differences. According to your own standard (that a claim for prophecy be measured in light of previous revelation) what you should have done is that you should have studied the Jewish Scriptures and the Jewish Scriptures alone, absorbed its spirit and allowed yourself to become saturated with its teachings – you should have developed a complete world-view on that basis and then and only then evaluate the claims of Christianity in that light. Do you not agree that this would be the proper approach?

If this would have been your approach – then you should be able to demonstrate from the Jewish Scriptures why it is that you accept the claims of Christianity.

Peace and light

Yisroel

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Yisroel C. Blumenthal

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8 Responses to Eighth Response to Gil Torres

  1. David says:

    Hi Yisroel,

    I haven’t been following the discussion and am aware I’m taking this out of context. You referenced in your latest (eighth) response to Gil, God’s commanded child sacrifice of Abraham’s child, Isaac (not to be confused with Ismael who actually came before Isaac). So Isaac is not really the first son, or only son, but the first son of the promise you might say. That makes me think of the relation between Adam and Jesus.

    “You pointed to the sacrifice of Isaac and the smiting of the firstborn…

    Isaac’s sacrifice served as the model and the inspiration…”

    I’m just curious, what is the general Jewish reasoning, if there is one, as to why God chose child sacrifice to test Abraham. In reading the Old Testament paganism is associated with child sacrifice among other practices such as worship of idols, witch craft, etc.:

    We know that Abraham was a pagan as were his father and brother, and that paganism continued or at least reappeared into the house of Jacob. We know that the Egyptians were pagans in the land of Ham, and that Moses was a prince of Egyptian pagans. We know that the Israelites while in the land of Ham in bondage were pagans too. We know that the Israelites continued their paganism into the desert and into the Promised Land.

    What is the connection there do you think with paganism, if there is one, as for why God chose the practice of child sacrifice to test Abraham?

  2. Larry
    I imagine that David is basing his point on the passages in Joshua 24 and Ezekiel 16 and 20. It doesn’t say that Abraham himself was a pagan – but I don’t think that that was the main thrust of David’s point.

  3. David
    Scripture itself doesn’t explicitly say why God chose child sacrifice to test Abraham – but the popular Jewish speculation on this is that Abraham had been preaching all his life about a God of kindness – a God who called the world into being and all of us are just recipients of His benevolence. Abraham taught that following in God’s ways means practicing kindness (Genesis 18:19). This was Abraham’s lifelong message.
    The test for Abraham was to acknowledge that everything he had including all of his life’s acomplishments – belong to God and to God alone – God could take them all away from him by having him do an act that would be seen by the public as a repudiation of all that Abraham had stood for – and God would not be “taking” anything from anyone – because everything belongs to God; be it Isaac’s life or Abraham’s life’s work of preaching – it all belongs totally and absolutely to God.

    • David says:

      Isn’t that kind of a stretch that Abraham did anything regarding God (whether for good or bad) for his “entire” life considering Joshua 24:2 if he was serving “other gods” at least part of his life?

      Isn’t it more likely that as a younger man and while under the influence of his father and extended family ties he served other gods due to cultural, familial and maybe even business ties for livelihood? It’s pretty clear that everyone around him including his own family were pagans isn’t it? But whatever the motivation for it, we know that he served other gods before God called him while he was still living with his father beyond the Euphrates as scripture reads. Isn’t it also true that the wives of his children, Isaac, and Jacob also came from pagan families? Or was it just Jacob’s wife?

      I’m not saying you don’t have it right as far as the Jewish speculation or position on the matter. And to be honest I don’t even know what the mainstream Christian position or speculation is on it.

      But I think it has more to do with God getting a two in one deal out of Abraham’s testing. In addition with reckoning the successful test to Abraham as righteousness, perhaps God wanted to also strengthen Abraham to make a clean break with paganism knowing that it would be hard to shake as evidenced in the continuing influences in his family and extended family and in the Israelites themselves during all of their captivity and intermittently thereafter.

      I’ll have to think about it because I haven’t formulated an opinion as of yet.

  4. Dear yourphariseefriend and David;
    Good discussion, but there are some items both have had not the space or time to include. I know I do not have all the space i need, but i shall try to clearify a couple of items from my studies.

    On Abram studied his culture’s way and was at first, on their culture is correct. Howeve, everything, even His Creation, has to start somewhere.
    He noted that there were several gods. How could they work in harmony and still have our loyalty? He tried an experiment; one night, he shattered all the idols his father (who was a sculpture and made idols) in his father’s shop, except Nimrod, the largest idol there.
    Next morning his father came into his shop and saw the mess. “Abram! What happened!”
    Abram looked around. “Oh, gosh father, they had a war. Look, Nimrod won. See; he is holding the hammer!”
    “Abram, how can this be so? They are only clay and brass.”
    “OK.” said Abram; “Then why do you worshhip them?”
    Terach saw Abram’s point (no knowledge of what happened to Abram, then). He accepted that if there is a G-d, only One could be in the Universe.
    The story does not end there. The King was not happy with what Abram was saying and doing. I think the Priests may also have had their word with the King. So according to this Mis-Rash, he gave Abrm a choise; recant or burn.
    Abram refused to recant, even with the promise of wealth, so he was thrown into the furnish. Of course, they expected that to be the end of it. But, the King saw—four men!
    “Did I not throw one man into hte furnish? then why do I see four?” (Could this be the origin of Daniel’s friends in the furnish? Anyway, Abram was released, and soon his family went towards our Promised Land.
    So mush on his form(s) of worship.

    Now, what about the offering of Isaac” We read in the Torah that G-d said to offer Isaac, not to sacrifice him. The Angel had to wristle with Abraham (as he was called then) to get the knife out of his hand.

    One more note, then I shall pause; HaShem spoke to Abraham only through an Angel after this incident. Abraham was expected to protest, and did not, so he slipped a little.
    Remember, we all have to start from some thing, time or place. What is important is what we do with what we have.
    Shalom;
    Yechiel

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