Focused Decision – Responsible Devotion
When you need to make a decision you don’t want to be distracted. You certainly don’t want to be intimidated by ridicule or by fear. You also don’t want to be confused by complicated argumentation. You want to be able to cut through the confusion and focus on the question at hand clearly and calmly so that you can arrive at your decision on the basis of the relevant factors.
From the standpoint of religion the most important decision that you could possibly make is the decision to whom to direct your worship. If you direct your worship correctly then you are developing a relationship with the one true God. If you misdirect your devotion then you are engaged in idolatry. If you have a question about directing your devotion you want to remain focused on the one relevant issue – does this entity that demands my devotion deserve it or not.
The key difference between Judaism and Christianity revolves around this question. Judaism insists that all worship and devotion ought to be directed to the One Creator of heaven and earth while Christianity insists that our devotion should be directed towards one Jesus of Nazareth.
In order to arrive at a decision on the basis of the facts it is important that we clearly see both sides of the question in their stark reality. The 2000 year old missionary campaign of the Church has exerted itself so that people cannot examine this question with clarity and serenity. The purpose of this humble article is to help you cut through the confusion and see this question as it is.
The Church is using many tactics that serve to confuse the person faced with this question and we aim to expose some of them. By gaining an awareness of the tactics and strategies of the masters of persuasion it is easier to see through the mist of confusion and evaluate the question for what it is.
One strategy employed by the missionaries is that they attempt to obfuscate the question itself. The Churchmen would rather that you do not see two clear opposing positions. Yes; the Church acknowledges that there is opposition to their belief system but the opposition is painted in a way that the core issue is obfuscated. Instead of presenting a question about idolatry and directing worship the Churchmen would rather that you ask yourself the question; “is this man the Messiah?” or: “how do you achieve forgiveness for your sins?”.
In order to see this question in the terms of reality all you need to do is ask yourself: “if a man approaches me and claims that he is the incarnation of the Divine and as such is deserving of my worship – what would it take for me to be convinced if this is at all possible?” To put this question in a Christian format we could ask: “if a man were to approach me and claim that he is an incarnation of the Christian Jesus and as such is deserving of worship – what would it take for me to be convinced if this is at all possible?”
In order to approach this question clearly you need to see on the one side the possibility of worshiping God without directing an iota of devotion to Jesus and on the other side you need to see a man demanding your devotion.
The questions about Messiah and about forgiveness of sin are completely irrelevant in light of the real question; namely: is this worship that is being demanded of me idolatrous or not?
In order to further obfuscate the question the missionaries employ language that serves to confuse and obfuscate the issue at hand. The arguments of the trinity and the incarnation are complicated and intricate and the more complicated they are the further they serve their purpose – to confuse. People get lost in the reasoning of the Christian theologians and they are discouraged from searching out the root of the question.
In order to cut through the smokescreen of these arguments I encourage you to go back to the original question. If a man approaches you and claims that he is an incarnation of whoever it is that you already worship would it make a difference to you if he pulls out several thick volumes filled with complicated arguments and tells you to read them?
The wording that Christianity uses, fusing Jesus together with God, is also confusing. People that are brought up in a Christian setting often have these two separate entities: Jesus and God; fused together in their minds. This makes it difficult for them to see the question as it is. Again; to help you see through the confusion I encourage you to imagine a man (not Jesus) attempting to convince you that he is one and the same as the Creator of heaven and earth – just see the two sides of the question. Is it appropriate for me to direct my devotion towards this fellow who looks, walks and talks like a man, or is it wrong for me to direct my devotion towards this man?
Another strategy employed by the Church in preventing people from arriving at a balanced and focused decision is intimidation. This is accomplished several ways. One method that is used is that those who reject Jesus are demonized by the masters of persuasion. The position of those who do not accept Jesus’ claims is painted in the terms of spiritual blindness, inherent wickedness and association with the devil.
Ridicule and derision is also used by the Church to throw the person faced with the question of Jesus off balance. Those who doubt Jesus’ claims are called hypocrites, legalists, are accused of being motivated by pride and are described as people with a shallow understanding of spirituality.
The Church also employs the fear of eternal hell-fire to further confuse the person faced with this question.
All of these tactics of persuasion were elevated to the level of religious virtue by means of infusing the Christian Scriptures with the same authority and reverence that the books of the Jewish Bible enjoy. By placing the Christian Scriptures side by side with the Jewish Bible the Churchmen hoped to hide the fact that the Christian Scriptures is a work of propaganda directly and consciously aimed at influencing people’s opinion about Jesus.
The Jewish Scriptures were not written to convince anyone of anything. They were written to encourage the nation that already believes in the God of Israel and in the agency of His prophet Moses to be loyal to God and to obey His law as set down through Moses. The Christian Scriptures on the other hand were written in an atmosphere where the opposition to belief in Jesus was very strong and the authors all exerted themselves to counter that opposition. Even Paul, who is addressing the internal community of Christians, is writing to counter and to dispute other versions of Christianity that were popular in his time.
A book that is written with the express purpose of persuading people cannot be granted the same level of credibility as a book that is not trying to convince anyone. Anyone reading the Christian Scriptures must realize that this book was written with the conscious desire to persuade people to believe a certain way.
So let’s recap. A man approaches you and demands your devotion – will you give it to him? Will you be convinced by a series of book written by people who are already devoted followers of this man? Will you allow your decision to be influenced by the followers of this man when they invalidate anyone who opposes the devotion they are demanding with ridicule and contempt? Will you allow yourself to be distracted by issues other than the question of idolatry?
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal