Focused Decision – Responsible Devotion

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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Thank You

Yisroel C. Blumenthal

 

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13 Responses to Focused Decision – Responsible Devotion

  1. naaria says:

    As a modern Christian song goes “…It’s all about Jesus …”. It’s not about God (not first nor even only), the focus is on Jesus first & foremost. The “way”, not the supposed “destination” of “the way”. The “son” & not “OUR Father”. The image of a created being or object; on a baby at times or a man suffering, on blood or nails or holy cross. Focus on flesh. Focus on blood. Continual focus & constant emphasis upon blood & upon body. Eat the bread as if a body & drink some wine as if blood; “as oft as you do this, do it in remembrance” of a man. Ignore the commandments of God in favor of the traditions of Man. So forget “kosher” & not drinking blood and rebel against not focusing on creations (like a gold calf, a copper snake, an asherah tree, a statue, or a cross, nor on a king or other man) for it is idolatry.

    And “lord have mercy” if you don’t choose the “right Jesus” from the countless versions of Jesus. Go to the “wrong church” and you will “go to hell”. You are “doomed” if your one God is not “Trinitarian” and your “doomed if it is”. Read from the “wrong bible” (ones were a few select words or verses are interpreted differently than in someone else’s favorite bible) and you are reading from the “devil’s bible”. Say “Jesus” and you are a “pagan” (whether or not you believed in Santa Claus as a child); say “Yeshua” and you are a “cultist heretic reverting back into the slavery of legalism” & you are an “anti-christ”.

    There are the modern day apologists, who like me have seen “error in the church”, but who then try to “hold on to Jesus” by several tactics or means: by criticizing other Christians or “believers”; by choosing to emphasis a slightly different set of favorite bible verses; by redefining old, familiar terms with obfuicatory new terms, including using different “sacred names”; by trying to appear more “Jewish” like they re-imagine Jesus & “all his early followers” to have been, while at the same time criticizing Jews for being Jewish; or by attempting to “re-write church history” or by ignoring parts of it or by failing to honestly deal with the theological difficulties or consequences of basic elements of the faith and belief systems.

  2. Yehuda says:

    Rabbi Blumenthal,

    The last thing I would ever do is question your approach to this dialogue. However I think your core question as posed here – while right on the mark – gives the Christian proposition far too much credit. Even by the Christian version of events there were only a relatively few people to whom Jesus himself presented this proposition. (And he seemed to enjoy playing mind games and word games even with them.)

    I would ask the question a little differently: For the overwhelming majority of the Jewish population in that generation and all people in all subsequent generations, the key question is this:

    If a man approaches me and claims that another person who neither he nor I ever met and is now dead, was/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?

    This is the proposition Paul was foisting upon the his audience in his process of creating Christianity. And to take Christianity’s word for was the ONLY means by which most people who would ever live – including the Jewish bearer’s of the Sinai tradition – would ever come to “know” Jesus.

    I’m not sure which formulation is the more preposterous.one.

  3. Yehuda
    There is no reason to hesitate to question my approach – I still didn’t get the sickness that would make me believe that I never make mistakes
    I think your approach brings out the question in a different way – and each way has its merit in bringing accross the point – perhaps I will write someting along teh lines you propose here
    Thanks for your thoughts

  4. Concerned Reader says:

    If a man approaches me and claims that another person who neither he nor I ever met and is now dead, was/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?

    This question is something that I’ve often considered and asked, and the answer is relevant even if a person holds to the Christian theology and traditional Christian beliefs. As you say, nobody has ever actually seen this physical man Jesus of Nazareth as we see other humans in our everyday life, except for the first generation of his students.

    The gospel record even tells us that Peter didn’t think Jesus should die at all, prompting Jesus’ rebuke, and it also clearly shows that his students apparently didn’t know he was the supreme deity until he rose from death. One thread that pervades the whole NT is that his followers are always asking, “what does Jesus mean when he says x? Where is he from? Where is he going to? Etc. in other words, the NT hypes the big secret of Jesus’ divinity throughout, but it doesn’t make this knowledge a point of certainty.

    It is obvious to anyone who has read the NT that Jesus was mostly perceived by common people and civil authorities as merely an eccentric rabbi with very cryptic parable oriented teachings, that his students themselves didn’t understand. They apparently didn’t know he was G-d until their purported Aha moment at pentacost. In other words, The NT mainly puts faith first, empirical verification second.

    The problem is, the NT itself also clearly says that a false messiah will come (called by Christians the antiChrist) who himself claims to be G-d. (2 Thessalonians 2:4) So, the question is, how does the NT itself say you can truly recognize the “true” messiah when he comes?

    Revelation 14:12 “here is the patience of the saints, THEY WHO KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS OF G-D AND THE FAITH OF (as opposed to belief in) JESUS.

    The New Testament itself says that a LAWLESS ONE, a false Christ will come who will work miracles, raise the dead, and claim he is G-d, even that he will deceive many, (even among the saints)

    THE WAY YOU KNOW WHO THE MESSIAH IS, IS BY HIS SUBMISSION TO G-D’s mitzvoth. IT IS NOT BY CLAIMS OF DEITY OR MIRACLES THAT YOU WILL KNOW THE MESSIAH ACCORDING TO BOTH JEWISH AND CHRISTIAN BIBLES

    If you read revelation’s letters to the seven Churches, Paul’s epistles, Acts 15, etc. there is a common thread. The way you recognize the true way and root out the false way is by examining and living out

    LAWFUL conduct through DEEDS AND FAITHFULNESS.

    In other words, according to the New Testament itself, the true messiah is not known by his miracles, claims to be divine, claims to prophecy, or by resurrection from death, or by his popularity among nations, but because he is faithful to the commandments found in the Torah. Jude 1:11 tells us a chief sign of the false teachers and false messiahs.

    Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion.

    Cain was a murderer (thou shalt not murder.)

    Balaam enticed ISRAELITES with forbidden food, forbidden sexual relations, and idol worship (do not commit idolatry, do not eat things strangled, or blood, and do not practice fornication. Acts 15)

    Korah sought to usurp Moses hashem’s appointed Lawgiver. (Respect the authority of those appointed to sacred offices by G-d. Mathew 23.

    Jesus is teaching the Christians an AWESOME secret. His people ( The JEWS) who say an emphatic NO! to the worship of any man, or any creature, who also keep G-d’s law in its particulars, and (funny enough) are the only people alive today who can describe to us ( and live their lives by the same religious code of conduct that JESUS HIMSELF LIVED BY) are the ones we should listen to. JESUS HIMSELF SAYS THIS.

    Some may say “but Jews rejected Jesus.” What did Jesus pray on behalf of those who said no to him?

    Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

    I would amend this statement and disagree. JEWS NEVER REJECTED JESUS in and of himself, THEY REJECTED The Christian Necesity of BELIEVING HIM TO BE G-D. This is because this was not in any way a valid berometer to determine his legitimacy as a messiah. MIRACLES, POPULARITY, AND DIVINITY DO NOT PROVE A MESSIAH EVEN IN THE NEW TESTAMENT!

    • mansubzero says:

      “said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.”

      But in the earliest accounts like Matthew and mark the Jews do know what they are doing. Marks battered and forsaken jesus gets mocked while he is on the cross and then finally asks his god why he has been forsaken. You aren’t going to get Luke’s converted and ready to face death jesus from marks account. Just read Matthew and ask why was it more important for Matthew to quote the Jewish responsibility from Jewish mouth if Matthew had in front of him message of forgiveness? Was it more important for Matthew to say “his blood be upon and our children” ?

      • Concerned Reader says:

        Yeah, I was making a point man. I know the accounts are different, they were written at different times, by different authors, with different contexts.

  5. cazastro says:

    The thing with what we call chritianity is that it is devided in dictrine. Others dont believe in the existance of the trinity, others keep sabbath while others do not, others believe in the speaking of tongues while others do not. So in effect you have many instances of christianity. Jesus prayed that his followers be one as he and the father are one.
    Therefore knowledge of sound doctrine is essential.

    • Concerned Reader says:

      Cazastro You find the same in every religion, (even in Judaism, though not to the same degree.)

      However, as you are probably aware, Christian diversity can and has historically been so explosive and dangerous (read historic Christian sectarianism like Foxes book of Martyrs) precisely because the foundations rest primarily on people believing in a certain set of premises about Jesus that rest at Christianity’s theological base, as opposed to an emphasis solely on the moral imperatives of Jesus. Something to consider asking yourself is this. Why is allegiance to the work of the cross more relevant (or at least more emphasized) by all the Churches and denominations than Jesus’ own moral imperatives?

      In other words, I know that Many many Christians truly believe that for the cross to be truly efficacious for you, you have to live life as he did, to be clothed with Chist, but this isn’t really often emphasized, but Why not?

      The answer I think is actually a deceptively simple one. The Church emphasizes the cross and not only the moral ethic of Jesus, because the moral reasoning and ethics of Jesus Christ are already found in and elucidated fully within the religion that Jesus himself believed in and practiced while he lived, (and I do mean all of them,) namely Judaism. These ethics of Jesus do not require him at all, and this poses a problem.

      As an example, Can you imagine a gospel scenario where Jesus wasn’t crucified by Romans at all, and the people had actually listened to his moral imperatives and then followed them? Imagine if Jesus raised Lazerus and said, ok, there is a miracle for you, but this doesn’t make me special, and you can do it too. if Jesus had said, “yeah I’m moshiach all right, but please don’t emphasize belief in me as a person, don’t focus on me, just follow by my example as long as the life of the kingdom of G-d is being lived among you.” Imagine if Jesus had said this to Peter when they conversed saying “who do you say that I am? You are the Christ!”

      If Jesus had said, “who am I that anyone should believe in me?” He would have been just like Moses who said the exact same directly to G-d in Exodus 3.

      To think of it another way, what does the text say Jesus’ death actually did?

      Parallel Verses
      New International Version Acts 2
      When the people heard this, (about Jesus’ crucifixion and ascension) they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “REPENT and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

      Peter’s message to the people is essentially one of repentance taught before Jesus and after him. Jesus’ death is supposed to offer an opportunity at repentance, not an end solution. Jesus himself told his students while he lived, “you will do greater things than I have done if you have faith,” but we all know that would only work if we lived by his example.

      Many people believed in Jesus, indeed had first hand knowledge of him and his daily life, but they accomplished nothing because his example, his deeds, his practical teachings on life were not emulated. The Church focusses on his death, on the cross, on baptisms, on hymns, on the person from Nazareth, but not on what his life and death was supposed to accomplish and inspire in people, namely repentance and godly living.

      Jewish people do not (and won’t ever ) believe in praying to, singing hymns to, adoring, or even acknowledging Jesus, baptizing, etc. but every year of their life, they actually live out his actions of recommended conduct, (and they do it without even looking at him for anything, rather they just talk directly to the father.)

      Jesus was like the good prince who taught the people how important the king was, but then people were so inspired, they focussed on him, more than the message he preached, thereby losing touch in the process.

  6. Concerned Reader says:

    So I take it that you understand why Jews say no to it?

    • Concerned Reader says:

      Would you say that as a result of the information I’ve shown above about AntiChrist etc. that believing in a messiah’s divinity and apparent miracles is not really a sound basis on which to determine his legitimacy as a messianic claimant?

      • Concerned Reader says:

        Cazastro, just in case you feel like I’m not being fair in my analysis here, I want to say that you may check any number of my posts on this very blog to see my views on what Christians historically teach vis Jesus’ deity and other points of doctrine. My intent is not to be unkind, over reaching in bounds, or divisive. My intent is to Show people that (even the NT) makes the berometer for “knowing” who messiah is, his faithful adherence to the commandments by the messiah himself, and his people, not resurrections, miracles, not a massive number of nations or prophets following, or believing in him etc.

        The reason these facts are important, is because many people did miracles in the Bible, worked signs, etc. but they were clearly not from G-d. Many like Pharoah’s magicians, the emperor Nero, etc. claimed to be a god, Simon Magus claimed it, Judas was a disciple, yet he betrayed Jesus, etc. The point is crystal clear from scripture. It means nothing if a guy says he’s G-d and illustrates some proofs with miracles. The thread the narrow path, is adherence to the commandments.

  7. Dina says:

    Following.

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