An Open Letter to “Concerned Reader”
Dear Concerned Reader; this letter is in response to your recent comment: July 26, 2014 at 3:59 am .
I will begin by thanking you for your respectful tone and for your sincerity in demonstrating that there are subtle nuances that get lost in the heat of discussion. I will point out however, that in the work of studying nuances, care must be taken that the broader picture doesn’t go lost.
You say that Jesus is important to you because he was the vehicle through which certain truths came to the gentile world. You acknowledge that these truths are present in authentic Judaism but your contention is that Jesus and his story brought them to the gentile world.
I will point out to you that there is a massive effort sponsored by believers in Jesus to bring Jews, who already accept these truths, to devotion to Jesus. This effort is not something new to Christianity; it has always been an integral part of devotion to Jesus. Something is wrong here. If Jesus is merely a vehicle to bring Judaism to the gentiles then why the effort to convert the Jews?
It would seem that for many Christians, belief in Jesus and devotion to him, are not merely a means to achieve an end, but rather these are an end unto themselves. To these Christians, worship of the Creator of the world as Creator of the world is not good enough. These people pour their energy and finances in order to get worshipers of the Creator to worship Jesus. These people see worship of Jesus as something integral to the human experience and with their activities they acknowledge that this experience cannot be found in worship of the Creator. There is something attracting them to Jesus that has nothing to do with “Creator.”
You speak of the Church teaching the sanctity of life and you see this in the fact that gladiator matches lost their popularity with the rise of the Church. I am not sure why the bull-fights in Catholic Spain are so much better than the gladiator matches, but those aren’t necessarily encouraged by the Church. But what do you say to the form of entertainment, not only encouraged by the Church, but invented by the Church? I speak here of watching human beings burn at the stake. There is a Catholic institution called “The Inquisition” which supplied the human fodder for such “entertainment” by the hundreds of thousands. I hope you understand why I don’t see the value of human life as something so deeply integral to the Church’s legacy.
Yes, the Church did bring the Jewish Scriptures to the gentile world and that book teaches the value of human life. But who is to say that the Church did what would have otherwise not happened? Had Jesus not been born it is entirely possible that the message of the Jewish Scriptures would have eventually seeped into the gentile world. After all, even with the Church’s missionary activity, it took the Reformation and the Renaissance, both of which were opposed by the Catholic Church, to get some of the basic principles of civilization to the masses. If the Church would not have taught the pagan to despise the Jew, perhaps the pagan would have more quickly seen the light? I don’t know that this would have happened but you don’t know that it wouldn’t have happened.
The Church is a tree of good and evil. The good is what it took from Judaism and this is what makes its teachings attractive to the human conscience. Just because the Church rode the light of truth for its own benefit doesn’t mean that anyone owes anything to Jesus. And it certainly doesn’t justify calling him the fulfillment of the hopes of the Jewish prophets.
The Jewish prophets foretold of a world united in worship of the Creator of heaven and earth to the exclusion of anyone else. They saw this as the ultimate climax of the history of man. The missionary effort to get worshipers of the Creator to give their hearts to another entity is a step backwards. And the effort to expose the falsity of the claims of this missionary campaign is a step in the direction of the prophets of the Jewish Scriptures.
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal