Response to Line of Fire 13 – Dispelling A Myth
On the July 18 2013 Line of Fire Radio show Dr. Brown explains to his listening audience why it is that he cannot respond to my arguments in written format. Amongst many other reasons Dr. Brown derides the entire method of written communication. He argues that when two people are communicating through e-mail and they realize that they are missing each other they pick up the phone to clarify the misunderstanding through direct verbal communication. Furthermore, Dr. Brown contends that written communication can go round and round for years while a face to face public debate can be settled in a matter of hours.
There are several flaws in Dr. Brown’s argument.
1. In a situation where two people are honestly and earnestly trying to understand each other perhaps it is easier for them to clarify misunderstandings with face to face verbal communication. But that is not the case here. Judaism and Christianity are mutually exclusive. Only one can be true. The one side is using logic and argumentation in order to bring sharper clarity to the issues while the other must be using logic and argumentation to obfuscate and to confuse. This process does not need to be a conscious process it could well be that both participants in the discussion sincerely believe that they are working for the truth. But one of them is not.
This being the case it takes careful and deliberate consideration to find the flaws in the arguments of the representative of falsehood and it takes even more deliberate consideration to weigh out the right words in order to articulate the findings with clarity and force. In order to find the truth in such a discussion it is necessary to use time and careful thought. Haste and impatience have no place in this discussion.
2. I have had several “written debates” and they do not go “round and round for years”. I have found that the arguments of the side that represents falsehood unravel rather quickly while the arguments of the side that represents truth only get stronger and sharper.
3. The discussion here is not about a “misunderstanding” between two parties and it is not about a “debate”. We are talking about two world-religions and the differences between them. Proponents of either religion encourage the adherents of the other religion to reconsider their commitment to their belief system. In order to make an honest decision people on either side of the fence need to have all the relevant information in front of them. If Dr. Brown is satisfied that he has placed all of his arguments on the table that is his prerogative. For my part I have pointed out that in all of his written and oral teachings he has not addressed some of the basic age old arguments with which Judaism has challenged Christianity. I have pointed out that some of his central arguments contradict each other and I have pointed out how he has seriously misrepresented some of the main issues that stand between Judaism and Christianity.
I appeal to the seeker of truth: Please do not take me on my word. Please study these matters diligently and carefully. But please do yourself an eternal favor and don’t take Dr. Brown on his word either. Study his writings, listen to his teachings, and study the works of the representatives of Judaism.
I trust that you will find the truth as so many have done before you.
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal
Really helpful and important points, all of them are worth taking quite seriously. Thank you for being a part of this conversation… it’s a blessing that you would invest in it.
I am still reading the first link in this post, the debate in the comments section of Dr. Brown’s radio show. Two things stand out. First is Dr. Brown’s double standard. He demands that Rabbi Blumenthal take the pains to understand his perspective but doesn’t feel that he has to try to see the rabbi’s. Second is his frequent refusal to counter a really good argument. In response to a devastating attack by Rabbi B., Dr. Brown often says that the rabbi doesn’t understand his beliefs, so now the only thing left to do is to pray for him.
It appears to me that the rabbi understands the doctor’s beliefs rather better than the doctor understands them himself. But be that as it may.
I’ve also been thinking more about the whole debate thing. While I still think my point about reaching Brown’s audience in any possible way is valid, I do want to make it clear that I fully agree with Rabbi B.’s take. It’s kind of like those people who decide whom to vote for based on the presidential debates. They end up voting for the better performer, who may or may not necessarily be the best man for the job.
Oh, and another thing that stands out is Dr. Brown’s oft-repeated excuse that he doesn’t have time for this discussion. I find that very interesting. I would bet that Rabbi Blumenthal is at least as busy a person as Dr. Brown. I suspect that in fact he is busier. Still he finds the time to patiently respond to every challenge and to explain and re-explain his arguments. That Dr. Brown gets so impatient and dismissive does not speak well for his side.
Dr Brown is a personal friend of mine. He was not being obnoxious, or exaggerating about being too busy to debate Rabbi Blumenthal in written form; he is just being honest.
He has a weekday live syndicated call in radio program, Line of Fire. He has a TV program which he writes and produces. He also has a teaching online for The Jewish Roots of Christianity, which he does live once a week. He teaches at Universities and travels world wide as a teacher and preacher. Dr. Brown is also an author – he is up many nights until 4am writing. He has published almost 20 books. He also writes magaine articles and is a sought after debater/apologist. He is a Hebrew and Greek scholar. His title Doctor is not for prestige, it has been earned in years of University studies. He also is the President of FIRE School of Ministry … not to mention being married, having children and grandchildren! I believe I have omitted some of his other major undertakings.
How is it that Dr. Brown found the time to write a five-volume tome refuting Jewish objections to Christianity but could not find the time to write a counter-refutation to the Jewish response to his book?
Rabbi Blumenthal is my rabbi, as it happens. He is hugely busy. He also stays up until the wee hours of the morning working. Yet he still finds time for the important things, like answering challenges.
At any rate, Dr. Brown’s busy schedule is not relevant. As a public figure, he is responsible for his work and he is responsible to keep his word.
He has promised a response but has maintained his silence for far too long. I’m sure he’s a nice guy, but that’s also irrelevant.
Since he’s your personal friend, perhaps you will encourage him to do what he promised to do and thus restore his credibility among those of us who don’t know him.
You hit it, Dina. Debates are what politicians use to persuade people to vote for them, and I do not think that we need to comment overmuch about what kind of results that gets! Debate is a setting where emotional appeal, glibness of the speaker and persuasiveness are the measure, and fact and truth are incidentals. Dr Brown does not do too well with facts presented in writing, but he knows how to play an audience, live or TV…. and since he likely will own the broadcast forum, he will have the last word without his opponent having a chance to respond…..most likely attached with an appeal for money! Christianity plays on emotions, not reason, fact or logic. I grew up in this stuff and have seen it from the inside out. So have many of you.
Thanks, David. Yet as true as that is, I still think it’s important to try to reach Dr. Brown’s Messianic Jewish audience in any way possible.
Yes… only always remember that for people who are trying so carefully to judge which path Hashem is calling them to take in truth, it can be difficult to tell what they are being influenced by in their perceptions. So always keep everything as transparent as possible, let them see fully into your method just as much as into your message, and provide the space for people to look at the perspectives of various sides even while you passionately guard and present what you hold to be valuable and important. That said, I think it is important to share as much as possible with as many people as possible, in any situation where there won’t be compromise of your values but instead respectful conversation and blessing.
Debates like everything else are a tool. They can be instructive if, “IF” they spur one on to do further research about questions and responses raised (or not raised). Or responses and claims which you believe were inadequate, etc. including those of your own point of view.
Yes…it is equally true that people need to carefully consider the verses beyond and around those quoted by individuals seeking to persuade people that Jesus is false. Alot is quoted as “proof” that Jesus isn’t the right way but ignores bible verses where God very clearly says His Beloved Jews were and continue to be headstrong, rebellious, refusing the truth, going after their own ways and killing His prophets as well as that a good number of their leaders were corrupt and misleading the people. People do need to search out the bible for themselves but not just the selected verses they are presented with – all of it. There is a lot of truth to live by there. Those who really seek Him will find Him and know HIm.
alide1, what do you have to show to you that *rejection of Jesus* specifically is an example of Jewish rebellion? Don’t you think the Tanach tends to mention that kind of rebellion in terms of ignoring the Torah or living hypocritical, surface-level faith?
In other words, if a Jew honours the Torah and honours their relationship with God in both their hearts and actions (I don’t mean anyone is perfect, but relying on forgiveness), then those verses about rebellion do not apply to them.
I agree in theory with you up to a point. But lets go back to a time before Jesus. Those Jews that did as you say, “honored the Torah, and honored their relationship with God” but actively rebelled against God’s prophet, some even to the point of killing them, then what? Can you follow God and rebel against His prophet and then say you are not in rebellion? Do you get to pick and choose which from God you follow. Why did Jews kill their prophets? Did they think they were honoring God?
About this prophet-killing thing. That comes up a lot, apparently, as a vicious charge against the Jews in Christian scripture. David and alide1, I’m curious to know how many chapter-and-verse citations you can find in Hebrew scripture of Jews killing prophets. It would be instructive to know exactly how many prophets were actually killed by their own brethren. Two? Three? A hundred? A thousand?
Please know that Hebrew scripture does not spend a lot of time talking about the periods when the Children of Israel were obedient and followed the Torah. Instead it highlights our sins is to drive home the importance of obedience to God. So if you read, for example, the Book of Judges carefully, you will note that it spans about 400 years, and if you are good at counting, you will see that the Israelites spent about 100 of those years rebelling. Following the Torah 75% of the time is not a bad record and is a far cry from the picture both of you are trying to paint of a constantly rebellious, prophet-killing populace.
Here is something else you should know. We revere a book that highlights our own faults. We study our scripture so we can learn from it what God wants from us. You, on the other hand, revere a book that slanders your theological enemies, so you can feel self-righteous and good about yourselves and know that you’re going to heaven while everyone else on the planet is going to hell. Your terrible history speaks for itself. Your scripture, which charges the Jews with being prophet killers, hypocrites, god killers, children of the devil, snakes, and other epithets, influenced Christians for nearly 2000 to carry out the worst sorts of atrocities on my people, finally culminating in the Holocaust and the wholesale slaughter of six million Jews (some in my own family).
Your religion promised to lead its followers down a superior moral path and failed spectacularly. And you have the gall to say that we are rebellious, headstrong, and disobedient?
Hmmmm, interesting you mention that…do you read Scripture? There are verses after verses that tell about the Israelites killing prophets, rejecting God’s ways, and that the true prophets where the ones that told Israel of their sin. Here are just a few.
Nehemiah 9:26, in a prayer of Israel’s confession to the LORD confesses that Israel has “killed Your prophets who admonished them to turn them back to You.”
Jeremiah chapter 7 clearly tells that He kept sending His servants and prophets, but Israel would not listen. Jeremiah chapter 29 tells the same things.
The entire Micah chapter 5. This chapter begins by clearly saying the One will come from Bethlehem whose origin is from of old, from ancient times, and then says He will leave them until she who is to bear has borne and the rest of his countrymen return to the children of Israel.
Earlier in chapter 3 of Micah, he also says he is filled with strength by the spirit of the LORD to declare to Jacob his transgressions and to Israel his sin (Micah 3:8) – as a true prophet of God. Then he tells this sin: rulers of the House of Jacob and chiefs of the House of Israel “detest justice and make crooked all that is straight” (Micah 3:9). They “build Zion with crime and Jerusalem with iniquity” (Micah 3:10)…yet they believe they do right (verse 11) even though it is because of them (rulers of Israel) that Jerusalem would become heaps of ruins and the Temple a shrine in the woods (verse 12).
Isaiah chapter 1 says that even though an ox knows its owner, Israel does not know, His people takes no thought (Isaiah 1:3). He further says they forsook the LORD and spurned the Holy One of Israel (Isaiah 1:4).
There are multiple similar declarations of God throughout the prophets; I do not mean this as an insult, but I am truly surprised that anyone who regularly reads and loves the Bible wouldn’t already know this. .
Alide, in the rebukes that you quoted from the prophets, Israel was taught a few things, like never to detest justice, but instead to live in it; and to turn in love to God rather than to turn away from Him. I think you would agree that these are the important messages of the prophets in those verses. So: if a Jew takes those messages to heart and loves God and loves justice, then they are not counted as rebellious. Accepting or rejecting Jesus isn’t a part of the prophetic idea there.
I think that the clearer meaning of the verse in Micah 5 is that it refers to King David, who came from Bethlehem (you can see references to it throughout the stories of David in the scriptures). David is the one from old times, the one from Bethlehem. And even though his kingdom was stopped for a time, God’s promise to him to have sons and descendants leading Israel was an eternal one and in the right time, God will bring it back to life. Jesus was not the only descendant of David so this verse hardly points uniquely to him. So look all through the rebukes in the prophets and see if there is anything, any warning or any rebuke or any commandment, about the messiah at all. There are only rebukes about not loving God and turning away from the Torah commandments. When Jews turn to God and His Torah they are truly responding to those prophecies and they do not deserve that rebuke.
You know what’s interesting, alide1? That you did not counter a single one of my arguments or answer Annelise’s question about what the rebellion of the Jewish people as described in the prophets has to do with rejection of Jesus. Instead, you restated your earlier position. You also completely missed the point, since neither of us denied that the prophets rebuked the Jewish people for their rebellious ways.
Do you not realize what your obsessive focus on those passages dealing with rebellious Israel while ignoring those that talk about her faithfulness, God’s enduring love for her, God’s promise that no matter how far she strays He will never abandon her, and the eternal nature of the election of the Jewish people looks like? From where I’m standing, it looks sinister. Very sinister indeed.
You love and read the Bible? Read the Book of Judges with a calculator in your hand if you can’t do simple arithmetic, for God’s sake! Count up the years of rebellion and the years of faithfulness and compare the numbers.
You love and read the Bible? Why then don’t you cite the passages that highlight Israel’s loyalty to God (Psalms 44:18; Isaiah 1:21)?
You love and read the Bible? Why then don’t you cite the passages that show God’s understanding of our human frailty (Psalms 78:39, 103: 10-18)?
You love and read the Bible? Why then don’t you cite the passages that say that the Jewish people will remain faithful to God, that we are appointed to be God’s witnesses (Isaiah 43:10-11, 26: 2,9,13; Psalms 44:18)?
You love and read the Bible? Why then don’t you cite the passages that say that God will take revenge on those who persecuted His chosen people for their loyalty to Him, bearing in mind that no one persecuted the Jewish people more than the Christians (Deuteronomy 32:43; Isaiah 34:8, 35:4; 61:2; 63:4; 66:14)?
You love and read the Bible? Why then don’t you cite the passages that demonstrate the eternal nature of the election of Israel (see the well over 100 sources cited in Rabbi B.’s article “1000 Verses” at https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2010/08/31/1000-verses/)?
You love and read the Bible? Why then don’t you cite the passages that say that God will never cease to love the Jewish people, no matter what (Psalms 89:30-37; Jeremiah 31:35-36; Leviticus 26: 44-45)?
If I sound angry, alide1, it’s because I am. You who come from a long history of bloodshed and persecution of God’s firstborn son have no right to lecture the Jewish people on their rebelliousness. Only the prophets of old and our own present-day leaders who love us and only want us to turn back to God and Torah observance have that right.
I agree entirely. When I encounter a Jew “on the edge” who perhaps has lost touch with the Community and his roots, it is sad to realize that he is so vulnerable to assimilation! But there are others who despite years in christianity sometimes by “accident” find out about their Jewishness and come back to the G-d of our Fathers! There was a 70 year old man at our shul last night just like that! Either way, let there be a return, by discovery or a “salvage” operation! May HaShem do as He has promised and gather us all together again as one, in our lifetime!
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