Childishly Easy – An Open Response to Charles

Childishly Easy – An Open Response to Charles

This article is in response to Charles Soper’s comments:

https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2014/11/09/excerpt-from-a-written-debate-with-dr-brown-3/#comment-15693

https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2014/11/09/excerpt-from-a-written-debate-with-dr-brown-3/#comment-15735

https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2014/11/09/excerpt-from-a-written-debate-with-dr-brown-3/#comment-15897

Charles

You define the “watershed” between us as a debate about God’s nature. Your assessment has no basis in reality. At no point in the Bible is idolatry defined as an incorrect belief about God’s nature. Idolatry is not about beliefs, it is about worship.

The Bible is very clear when it comes to worship. The Bible reports that God did not rely on a book to teach His people who it is that they ought to worship. The Bible also reports that God did not rely on a prophet to teach His people who it is that they ought to worship. The Bible makes it abundantly clear that God did not rely on these two mediums (the book and the prophet) to teach His people who it is that they ought not to worship.

The Bible reports that God imparted this lesson to Israel Himself. The Bible also reports that God appointed the living people of Israel to pass on this central message to the future generations of His covenant nation.

The teaching that God imparted to our ancestors, as our ancestors preserved that teaching and as the Bible affirms, does not allow us to direct our hearts toward one who walked God’s earth and breathed His air. The teaching that God imparted to us makes no exceptions. No “belief” can redefine an act of idolatry.

It is that simple.

P.S. – I have taken the trouble to articulate my beliefs. Please read what I have written on this subject in order to learn what I believe. Do not quote books to which I attribute no authority (such as Jewish Encyclopedia) assuming that they describe my beliefs.

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58 Responses to Childishly Easy – An Open Response to Charles

  1. Dina says:

    Yup, it’s childishly easy. You don’t need to understand Greek philosophy or use polysyllables to explain it.

  2. Thanks. I know Michael Brown(MB) agreed with you about this distinction between worship and belief, but it’s a mistake to enlarge the distinction into a separation.
    The Messiah said to a Samaritan enquirer, ‘Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.’ There is a distinction between belief and worship, it is possible to worship in ignorance, but it’s dangerous and may be wrong.
    The Apostle to the Gentiles also challenged the wordsmiths of Athens very simply, (4 syllables max), ‘For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown God’. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.’ Real worship doesn’t require perfect knowledge, but true worship is defined by accurate belief. It matters what we believe, wrong worship is often described as idolatrous – even if it doesn’t involve an image. Belief is the conceptual form of the One we adore. Faith is sight of the invisible. Rabbinic Jews and Muslims often claim Messianic Jews and Christians are idolators – do they not? Is the charge, even if well founded, only illegitimate when reversed?

    I am genuinely curious to read the claim that ‘The Bible reports that God did not rely on a book to teach His people who it is that they ought to worship.’ This is not my understanding at all: faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word. To the law and to the testimony, if they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them. Correct faith is not primarily a mystical and direct experience, which might well be dangerously illusory, it is validated and tested by conformity to God’s revelation.

    I’m sorry if I offended you or others by quoting the Enc. Judaica, I knew well that the liberal contributor would not represent you, as the context of his quote shows, and I did not intend to convey the impression these were your views. However the fact is it would be a very strange and improper to say even in a Roman Catholic or unbelieving liberal encyclopaedia of Christianity or Islam for that matter (despite their manifold respective idolatries) – and it is reported that in some kabbalistic circles what the writer describes is true of some ‘mainstream’ Jews, namely a blurring of the absolute distinction between The Almighty and His creatures. This is just what one might expect for teachers who believe that the Memra, the Angel of the Lord was created, and that the Council of Creation included angels. I understand Sefer Raziel, from the Geonim, for example, includes invocations of angels – again I respect you abhor this concept as much as I do, but can you not see it is a logical corollary of what you believe? What too of the Sabbath greeting, ‘Peace be unto you, Malachai HaSharet, Angels of the Most High’ or the common bedtime prayer “To my right Michael and to my left Gabriel, in front of me Uriel and behind me Raphael, and over my head God’s Shekhinah” Dangerously close to prayers are they not?

    Finally, there is an important distinction between comprehension and knowledge, not sufficiently observed in your dialogue with MB. It also applies in human matters, I think know my wife quite well… The Divine, a fortiori.

    In all good conscience, I hold that the watershed between us is exactly as claimed – the true nature of God, ‘He who has the Son, has the Father, he who has not the Son has not the Father…’

    Sorry, my inbox is bursting, I shall not follow this posting too by email notifications, but I will try to catch up with your response.

    • Charles
      It is not I who distinguishes between worship and belief, it is the word of God in His holy Bible that makes the distinction and the separation. Throughout the Bible idolatry is never described as a mistaken belief but as a worship that is misdirected.
      The idolatry charge against Christians is not because of their belief but because of their misdirected worship of one who walked God’s earth and breathed God’s air.
      You are genuinely curious concerning my claim that it was God Himself who taught Israel who to worship and He did not use the medium of a book or a prophet. Read Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 4 and 5 to satisfy your curiosity.
      You still insist on your version of the “watershed” that separates us. I will not take it up with you at this point since you seem to be ignorant of the Bible’s record of how it is that God taught Israel who it is and who it is not that they ought to be worshiping.
      So please answer this question – what was the purpose of the national revelation at Sinai according to your understanding of Scripture? And how was the impact of this revelation supposed to be preserved in the heart of Israel according to your understanding of Scripture?

      • Sorry for the delay.
        I understand the distinction you’re making, between misdirection and false doctrine, but I don’t see its validation.
        Perhaps to make this clearer you could provide some examples of situations where these is no false doctrine but misdirected worship, or no misdirected worship but a fundamental false doctrine of God? I can think of none in scripture except where the defect in belief is small.

        My curiosity lies not in what happened at Sinai, but in what happens now. How can modern day rabbinic Jews claim they have an infallible and safe guide to God, outside of the scripture. Traditions and oral law seem highly dangerous guides when the scripure a/ warns to use it only as the measuring stick (Ps.19.7-14, Isa.8.20) b/ warn us that other measuring sticks may be hazardous (Isa 29:13).

        My very brief answer to your question to ground the revelation of scripture. I’m being called away.

        • Charles
          Your reply underscores the weakness of your position. Your selective reading of Scripture is obviously flawed to all but yourself. The reason I asked you the question I did in my previous comment was to help you see through the cloud of your confusion and read what God actually wrote in His book and not what you would like to see – please go back and answer my question. Thank you.

          • So I will try to answer your question more fully, now I have a little time spare. However I’d be grateful for an attempt to answer mine.
            What was the purpose of the national revelation at Sinai according to your understanding of Scripture? To safeguard and ground Divine revelation into the hands of its keepers, the Jewish nation.
            And how was the impact of this revelation supposed to be preserved in the heart of Israel according to your understanding of Scripture?
            By scripture – of course the traditions, the festivals, the sacrifices, the Tabernacle, the priesthood – all of these carried vital life or death lessons on holiness and atonement. However when all of them were stripped away or corrupted the acid test of truth remains God’s own written word.
            My questions again are:

            1/ Perhaps to make this clearer you could provide some examples of situations where these is no false doctrine but misdirected worship, or no misdirected worship but a fundamental false doctrine of God? I can think of none in scripture except where the defect in the understanding of God is small? If you can provide no examples, what validity is there to the force of the distinction you’re trying to forge?

            2/ How can modern day rabbinic Jews claim they have an infallible and safe guide to God, outside of the holy scriptures? What secure basis is there for that assertion?

          • May I press you on this?

    • Concerned Reader says:

      Charles, Jewish people believe in the written Torah (the first five books) Which were only given after the Exodus event, but they also believe in an oral transmission alongside or together with it. When rabbi B says G-d taught Israel without a book, he likely means pre mosaic tradition given by Abraham to his family. As for no form ascribed to G-d, the opinion is better expressed as no mediation. You just need G-d, not G-d plus. Not Moses, not Joshua, not David, everyone, including non Jews has direct access to G-d.

      • Dina says:

        Con, when Rabbi B. says that God taught Israel without a book, he means what the Torah itself testifies. Before the Torah was ever written, God revealed Himself to the Jewish nation and Sinai and taught them Whom and how to worship. Furthermore, Moses transmitted God’s laws to the people of Israel before he transcribed them. How many times does the Torah say that Moses spoke to the Children of Israel, followed by a list of laws? Quite a few!

      • Concerned Reader
        I appreciate your concern to speak on my behalf and attempt to explain my position to Charles but you have demonstrated that you did not begin to understand my position.
        When I speak of God teaching Israel without a book or prophet – I am NOT speaking about a pre-Mosaic tradition that goes back to Abraham. I am speaking about the Sinai revelation itself which was God’s lesson to Israel for the explicit purpose of teaching them who it is that they ought to worship and who it is that they ought not to worship. The Bible records that God taught this to Israel directly without the medium of book or prophet – Exodus 20:2,3,19,20; Deuteronomy 4:9-15,35; 5:6,7.
        See also Deuteronomy 4:9 where God designates the living transmission of parent to son to preserve this teaching – not a book, but rather a living nation.
        Furthermore, when I speak of “no form ascribed to God” I am talking about worship. That we worship the One who is above and beyond all nature and not anyone or anything that can be represented by a form that exists within nature. – Deuteronomy 4:15; Isaiah 40:18.
        – At this point I want to point something out to you
        It is clear to me and it should be clear to you that you have failed to understand one of my core arguments – despite the fact that I repeated it many times in our conversations over the past several months and that it is the central argument in many articles on this blog. this tells me that you are not hearing me. It seems that you already “know” what I am going to say and my words will do nothing to change your opinion on my position. It seems that Charles suffers from the same problem.
        I think that this is a serious problem – and I want you to address it so that we can have a meaningful and fruitful conversation.

        • Concerned Reader says:

          Its not that I’m not not hearing, rabbi, its just the argument isn’t as clear to grasp, I’m not trying to ignore it, or cast it off out of hand, I promise you.

      • It’s a deadly error to believe God can be accessed without mediation – our God is a consuming fire.
        Without a worthy priest and sacrifice, we perish.

        • Dina says:

          Charles, can you find support in the Hebrew Bible for your assertion that “it’s a deadly error to believe God can be accessed without mediation”?

          Psalms 145:18
          1 Kings 8:46-51
          Hosea 14:3
          Proverbs 28:13
          Isaiah 55:6-7

        • mansubzero says:

          If guilt, sorrow and acknowledgement of wrong is required, then jesus,his blood and suffering seem useless. Can I repent better than a jesus,who according to you, doesn’t experience guilt after sin? Isn’t my repentance more important than any sacrifice? jesus nailing himself or slicing himself is an act which helped control gods anger, what does it do for one who felt guilty after he/she sinned? Shouldn’t the suffering caused on the real victim trump jesus temporary “sacrifice”?

        • cpsoper says:

          All these texts refer to God approached via sacrifice and a mediating priest – Ps.50.5, as symbolised by the now missing Temple 1 KI.8.29,30,33,38,42.
          That God in His absolute and unmediated Presence is a devouring fire of Holiness, see Deut.5.5, Exod.20.18-21, Exod.19.24, Exod.32.33, Exod. 33.20, Deut.9.19-20, Deut.11.28 (1 Ki.8.46), and even Moses’ mediation needed mediation itself, Exod.32.13-14, Deut.32.50-51, as the patriarchs also had before him. Job.19.25, Gen.48.16, Gen.15.17 (see Jer.34.18b),Gen.22.8. This bringing in a better covenant alone was what satisfied Daniel’s prayer when he understood that the Jerusalem Temple would be utterly destroyed, Dan.9.24, only afterwards to be desolated.

          • rambo2016 says:

            “All these texts refer to God approached via sacrifice and a mediating priest – Ps.50.5,”

            pagans thought that thier gods required the sacrifice of thier new born children. isn’t a child sacrifice a better fit for jesus’ temporary “sacrifice”? isn’t a child sacrifice a HARDER/difficult sacrifice than animal sacrifice? can you tell me why pagan gods required hurtful/difficult/hard sacrifices?

          • HaShem too has required human sacrifice – even though in the most famous instance He halted the act before its completion.
            Why should hardness be a gauge of lawfulness rather than the Law itself?

          • Dina says:

            Hashem has never required human sacrifice. You missed the lesson of “the most famous instance.” It was to teach that Hashem does not require human sacrifice! In contradistinction to the culture at the time–so this was a radical departure from the norm. When has God ever required human sacrifice? Back this up with Scriptural support, please.

          • Charles
            God dwells in the consuming fire but he also dwells with the broken heart – Isaiah 57:15; 66:2; Psalm 51;19 – no mediator.

          • Dina says:

            Charles,

            I looked up your references and found most of them to be completely irrelevant to our discussion. Forgive me, I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but they seemed random. The few that are relevant prove my point rather than yours. For example, you brought Psalms 50:5; I recommend reading on to verses 8-15. Many of the examples you cited simply illustrate how very scary it is to encounter God face to face. But so what? This doesn’t prove that we can’t, nay, mustn’t, according to you, pray to God directly. Even your example of Genesis 48:16–you skipped the preceding verse, in which Jacob addresses God and basically is asking God to allow the angel to bless the boys. It’s the other way around, don’t you see?

            You wrote: “It’s a deadly error to believe God can be accessed without mediation – our God is a consuming fire. Without a worthy priest and sacrifice, we perish.”

            The Torah gives us clear direction on how to avoid deadly error. So you need to answer this question: why is there not a single prohibition on addressing God directly, without mediation?

            None of your citations are teachings on how to address God. Not a single one.

            Here are examples of people addressing God directly:

            Genesis 3:10,12,13; 4:9,13; 17:18; 24:12; 25:21–and so on and so forth. I stopped here because it’s too time-consuming to pick out every example among the numerous instances in the Torah.

            You failed to address the other examples in Scripture that I presented in a previous comment. Here they are again:

            Psalms 145:18
            1 Kings 8:46-51
            Hosea 14:3
            Proverbs 28:13
            Isaiah 55:6-7

          • Just one example of an atoning sacrifice:
            ‘Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, hath turned my wrath away from the children of Israel, while he was zealous for my sake among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel in my jealousy. Wherefore say, Behold, I give unto him my covenant of peace: And he shall have it, and his seed after him, even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement for the children of Israel.
            Now the name of the Israelite that was slain, even that was slain with the Midianitish woman, was Zimri, the son of Salu, a prince of a chief house among the Simeonites.’

          • Dina says:

            Your read is that Zimri was offered up as a sacrifice to atone for the sins of Israel. That is a far cry from what the text actually says, which was that Zimri was killed because of his terrible sin, and that this killing appeased God’s wrath. Nothing about sacrifice here.

            Do you not see difference between punishment and sacrifice?

            How about responding to my other points, and my other citations?

  3. More on Memra here – again I realise the source is not strictly rabbinic, but then it certainly isn’t Christian.
    http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/10618-memra

  4. Concerned Reader
    I wouldn’t be concerned if you would tell me that you didn’t understand my argument or if you told me that you thought it was wrong – what concerns me is that you assumed that I said something completely different than what I actually said.
    I never said anything about a tradition that goes back to Abraham – how did it fall into your head that that is what I meant? – if I direct Charles to Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 4 where did you see the idea of a “tradition going back to Abraham”?
    In any case I can’t fathom why you fail to see the simple point that I am making and that is that God utilized the miracles of the Exodus together with the national revelation at Sinai to teach us who it is that we ought to worship and who it is that we ought not to worship.
    What is so difficult to understand about this?

    • Dina says:

      Con, I’m wondering the same thing. This is an unbelievably simple argument. God said we are to worship Him ONLY as He appeared at Sinai. He did not appear in any form. Ergo, we cannot worship Him in any form. He did not appear as Jesus. Ergo, we cannot worship Him along with Jesus or say that He is Jesus somehow. Like I said, this isn’t rocket science! Or Greek philosophy! Or Comparative Religion class! What’s the problem with this argument?

    • Concerned Reader says:

      The way you are interpreting what is written in these verses is what makes things difficult to understand rabbi. I wouldn’t say your absolutely wrong, but I find the emphasis in your reading vis the centrality of the people Above the book to be hard to see based on the surrounding context. I’m writing a response, no worries.

      • Dina says:

        Con, this is what is so amazing to me: the rabbi isn’t interpreting the text; he’s merely pointing it out. The text speaks plainly for itself. What’s amazing to me is that you find this simple teaching in Tanach difficult to understand.

        It’s you guys who go around interpreting things in weird and twisted ways. We just discuss the plain meaning on this blog.

        • Concerned Reader says:

          Dina it has been explained to you numerous times that we accept the notion that G-d is not a form. We agree that G-d is incorporeal, as do our theologians. We too know how to read. The rabbis interpreting is in his emphasis. It’s not that we don’t agree that G-d is formless.

    • rambo2016 says:

      con, if before abraham i was in god’s mind then does that mean before abraham i am?

  5. Concerned Reader says:

    I’m reading, and I’m writing a response Dina, no worries.

  6. Con, I’m wondering the same thing. This is an unbelievably simple argument. God said we are to worship Him ONLY as He appeared at Sinai.

    We agree that G-d is not a form. His word manifested at Sinai Dina. You saw no physicality, but you heard the sound of words. When the disciples heard Jesus, they heard the word.

    • Dina says:

      Con, Moses spoke God’s words to the Jewish people and they did not somehow think that Moses needed to be included in worship. All of the Hebrew prophets spoke God’s words. They functioned as God’s mouthpiece, practically speaking. So your point is moot.

      Furthermore, Jesus did not relate God’s words even according to the NT. At least, in the first two and a half gospels, which is as far as I got, we don’t see “God spoke to Jesus, saying” or “Jesus said, thus said the Lord” or things like that.

      Finally, Jesus was not a prophet, failing the prophet test on all counts, as we have demonstrated to you previously.

  7. Furthermore, Jesus did not relate God’s words even according to the NT. At least, in the first two and a half gospels, which is as far as I got, we don’t see “God spoke to Jesus, saying” or “Jesus said, thus said the Lord” or things like that.

    Jesus says, this command I received from my father, he says the father is greater than I, he says not to follow him for his own sake, and he supports commitment of Jews to the Torah, what More need be said? People have followed messiah claimants on less sturdy ground than that. Moses’ words of clarification (the bulk of the passages that rabbi B!s argument employed) are deemed to have eternal weight despite Deuteronomy being a very long time after the national revelation occurred. In fact, Moses is reminding Israel after the fact exactly what they heard and saw during the event in Exodus, because the passage “you heard the sound of words” gives an impression of ambiguity. Why did Moses have to repeat? Did they not recall?

  8. Concerned Reader
    If someone were to ask you how God went about teaching the nation of Israel who it is that they ought to direct their worship to and who should be excluded – what would you answer? What would you have answered before you joined this conversation? Can you please answer these questions honestly?

  9. I can tell you honestly rabbi that I see what you are saying, and that if I just approached Torah alone without any traditions or explanations from either Judaism or Christianity, I would say that we wouldn’t know what to worship beyond a formless something that we call G-d. As I’ve said, I’m writing a response to what you wrote. I see what you are saying about not worshiping anything we can conceive of, I see that.

  10. The text says nothing above, nothing below, or an image of any shape. I understand that rabbi.

    • Concerned Reader
      You obviously did not understand my question. I did not ask you WHAT God taught Israel about direction of worship – I asked you HOW God taught Israel, what method of communication did He use? To simplify this I will put the question to you as a multiple choice.
      According to the text of the Bible, God taught the ancient Israelites who it is that they ought to worship and conversely who they shouldn’t worship by:
      a) giving them a book to read
      b) sending them a prophet who taught them the pertinent information
      c) miracles and national revelation
      d) none of the above

      Please tell me which of these answers you believe is true – and please also tell me how you would have answered this question before you joined this conversation

  11. C but not with the emphasis you lay upon it. Moses is more instrumental, as is the book in clarifying what exactly was experienced on Sinai.

  12. Concerned Reader
    Thank you for your answer. Can you please answer the second question I asked (what would have been your answer before you joined this conversation?)
    I also have another question for you if you don’t mind
    What method does the Bible tell us that God used to pass the lesson of Sinai on to future generations
    a) encouraged them to read about it in a book
    b) they will be granted further revelation
    c) the parents should pass the lesson on to their children
    d) none of the above

  13. Concerned Reader says:

    It’s interesting, because the way I see it, it’s a mix of A and C. The whole purpose of maintaining the text at all, is to be the testimony, and to remind people of priorities. You wouldn’t need the text, or even the prophets, if a direct encounter with Hashem was so clear. I’m still working on my response, hope all is well with you rabbi.

    • Concerned Reader
      Do you have a chapter and verse which explicitly states that the text is appointed to preserve the information learned at Sinai?
      All is well with me thanks for your concern I hope all is well with you and your family

      • Concerned Reader says:

        Yes, Deuteronomy 31:24-29 notes that the Torah was written down explicitly as a defense and witness against corruption.

  14. Charles
    Thanks for answering my questions.
    If you truly believed that the acid test for corruption is the Scriptures you would realize that your answers to my questions are inaccurate.
    The Sinai revelation did indeed seal God’s eternal covenant with Israel but according to scripture it also gave them an understanding of who it is that they are to worship – Deuteronomy 4:35
    The message of the Sinai revelation – according to Scripture – is to be preserved by the living testimony of the nation – Deuteronomy 4:9
    Some other relevant passages are Deuteronomy 33:4 and Psalm 78:5
    To respond to your questions
    The worship of the Golden Calf is an example of misdirected worship – with no false doctrine mentioned explicitly in the text. It is obvious that misdirected worship will ultimately lead to false doctrine – but the Bible emphasizes the misdirected worship and hardly ever mentions anything about false doctrine
    The way that Rabbinic Jews can claim that they posses God’s testimony is simply because they understand that God appointed our nation as His witnesses (Isaiah 43:10) – this does not stand “outside of Scripture” or apart from Scripture because the Five Books of Moses are also designated as God’s witness – but the witnesses confirm each other and work together – to listen to one of God’s ordained witnesses and ignore the other is to rebel against God.

  15. Charles
    How do you expect us to take you seriously? – You are arguing for “no approach to God without mediation” – I presented you passages from Scripture which demonstrate that God dwells with the broken hearted – without mediation. You respond by providing what in your Christianized reading of Scripture is an instance of mediation. How is that relevant? You are arguing for NO approach without mediation – an example of mediation won’t cut it – you will need to find a statement in Scripture that says what you believe – and explain the statements that I provided.

  16. Jim says:

    Charles,

    In response to your comment: https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2014/11/20/childishly-easy-an-open-response-to-charles/#comment-16422 .

    I am rather surprised at your employment of Phineas’ slaying of Zimri in support of the notion of human sacrifice. As Dina already mentioned, it was not a sacrifice, and it is a bizarre abuse of the text to make it out to be so. But even if it were a human sacrifice, nothing in the text would indicate that it was required.

    But neither of these is the real reason it is surprising. If you use Zimri as a precedent to show that God accepts human sacrifices, you will be drawing unwanted comparisons to Jesus. Zimri was wantonly sinning, flouting the Torah openly. In calling his death an atoning sacrifice, you assert that God accepts the death of the guilty to make atonement for the nation.

    If this is a precursor to the sacrifice of Jesus, then we must assume that Jesus was also a sinner, blatantly and openly violating the Torah, and leading others to do the same, just as Zimri. Indeed, the NT lends credence to such a charge, but I am surprised that you would like to draw such a comparison. If the “sacrifice” of Zimri is precedent and a parallel case, then we must draw the conclusion that Jesus was killed as an atonement, because he was a source of sin in Israel. His blatant violation of the Sabbath and teaching others to do so, his dishonoring his parents and teaching others to do so, and other open sins and desecration of Torah would be the reason he died. Calling upon people to worship him, a god unknown to their fathers, he led them down a path of idolatry. This too would be a reason that he died. Drawing on the parallel of Zimri, we would be forced to conclude that Jesus died for the sins he instigated, not the general sinfulness of the world. By the reading you propose, Jesus’ death served to end his corrupt teachings and their spread throughout Israel, thereby saving Israel. Jesus was not an innocent sacrifice, if his case is like Zimri’s. He was a sinner and caused the spread of sin.

    Moreover, by this interpretation, to which you have introduced us, the heroes of the story are not Jesus, or his disciples. They are the Jewish leadership that saw the threat he posed to the nation and ended it. They saw how he openly violated the Torah and taught others to do the same, and they knew something must be done. They were not so dramatic as Phineas, but then we can’t all be. Nevertheless, they had him arrested, and with the help of the Romans, saved the Jewish people. They turned them away from the idolatry Jesus urged when he told the Jews that he was divine. They turned them back to the God of Israel and His Torah.

    Is this the parallel you wish to draw?

    Jim

  17. Jim says:

    Charles,

    You argue that God required human sacrifices. Many laws regarding sacrifices appear in the Torah. Can you tell me what are the laws regarding human sacrifices? What parts are burned on the altar? What parts are eaten? For what purpose are humans brought as sacrifice: burnt offering, guilt offering, peace offering?

    Thank you. I’ve been having trouble locating the specifics.

    Jim

  18. Jim says:

    Charles,

    Continuing on the idea of human sacrifices:

    It is astounding to me how much Christians, such as yourself, ignore the plain teaching of Torah. Does God ever teach that the blood of an innocent human being is required to atone for the sins of the world? No.

    However, after the incident of the golden calf, when Moses offers himself as substitute for the guilty, God rejects such an offer. We must take note of the reason he rejects the offer, however. He does not tell Moses that Moses is not pure enough. He does not tell Moses that He “will provide the lamb.” The reason he rejects Moses as substitute is because God punishes the guilty, not the innocent: “The soul that sins, it shall die.”

    Reading your unfounded claims regarding human sacrifice, I am reminded of what another Christian said to me about six months ago. Quoting Micah 6.6, he asserted that the blood of animals was insufficient for atonement: “With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?” The Christian, seeking to bring me back to Jesus, implied that human blood was necessary for atonement. However, if he had only gone on to verse eight, he would have seen his error: “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah was not contrasting animal blood to that of an innocent human (or demigod). Rather, he was contrasting sacrifices to justice and kindness.

    The Christian assertion that God requires a perfect human sacrifice is without merit. I am utterly confounded by the ease with which Christians misrepresent scripture. It is troubling how readily you misrepresent the killing of Zimri, so single-minded that you did not notice the pitfall it would be to your own cause.

    What is truly astounding is how your reliance upon such scriptures proves that you have no case. If God required the death of a human to atone for sins, you would point to where he says outright that this is what is required. According to Christians, this is a central teaching of the Bible. However, you cannot find such an open teaching, and so you must read into incidents like the slaying of Zimri. This is an implicit admission that no such doctrine can be found. If it could, you would not force it into a passage having nothing to do with sacrifice.

    Jim

    • Dina says:

      Jim, what you wrote here is spot on, especially this: ” I am utterly confounded by the ease with which Christians misrepresent scripture. It is troubling how readily you misrepresent the killing of Zimri, so single-minded that you did not notice the pitfall it would be to your own cause.”

      Christians are so eager to find support for their doctrines that they too easily miss the surrounding context. Both Charles and Con pointed me to Genesis 48:16, where they say Jacob prayed to an angel as an intermediary (“May the angel who redeems me from every evil bless the boys etc.”). In so doing, they completely ignored the preceding verse, in which Jacob directly addresses God. If you read it in context, he is asking God to allow the angel to carry the blessing–the opposite of the point these two gentlemen are vainly attempting to support.

      • Jim says:

        Dina,

        The Christian will accuse you, as a Torah observant Jewish woman, of following the traditions of men. Yet they will ignore you as you quote a direct teaching of the Torah. Then they will take a passage that “hints” at their theology and claim that it supercedes your direct passage.

        Who follows the tradition of men?

        Jim

        • Dina says:

          Yes, good point. Who moved Sabbath observance to Sunday? That’s not a tradition of men?

          By the way, Christians justify this by saying that the resurrection occurred on a Sunday. They ignore the fact that Constantine established it as a day of rest. Here is a quote from Wikipedia. I know it’s not the most reliable, so if anyone cares to verify this I would appreciate it.

          “On the venerable day of the Sun let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed. In the country however persons engaged in agriculture may freely and lawfully continue their pursuits because it often happens that another day is not suitable for grain-sowing or vine planting; lest by neglecting the proper moment for such operations the bounty of heaven should be lost.”

        • Sharbano says:

          I have been told by Xtians the “traditions of men” uses a reference to Isaiah 29:13. It took quite a lengthy dialog to counter the premise.

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