Sins of Confusion II – Response to David
In response to comments –
First of all let me thank you for taking the time to write these lengthy and thought out comments. Discussions such as these that are centered on the word of God will only bring us all closer to the truth.
Second of all let me say up front that I agree with you that the most important distinction in the realm of sin is the distinction that exists between intentional and unintentional. Let me further state that I believe that the sin of the golden calf at Sinai, the idol of Micah, and the golden calves of Jeroboam were all intentional sins. The only point that I was trying to make is that this intentional sin is no worse than the idolatry of modern Christians. Both modern Christians and the worshipers of those idols mentioned in the Bible know what they are doing. It is only confusion that assuages their conscience but the sin in all of these cases is intentional and I believe that you put down very solid criteria for defining intentional sin. I do stand corrected on my usage of words. In a comment I mistakenly used the word “unintentional” (in describing Christian idolatry) when I should have used the words “confused.”
In your classification of intentional sin you wrote that the subject needs to know that the commandment originates with God. And Christians do know this. They know that the Jewish Bible originates with God. They know that the Jewish Bible is the standard by which the claims of Christianity ought to be measured and this according to the admission of the founders of Christianity. In other words, Jesus clearly accepted the authenticity of the Jewish Bible. Therefore Christians should realize that all of his claims need to be analyzed in light of the Jewish Bible.
Christians also knowingly violate God’s commandment when they worship Jesus. They understand full well that worshiping a man is prohibited by God. It’s just that they were tricked by the smoke and mirrors of the Christian Scriptures into thinking that this man is somehow different from other men. But this does not make the sin “unintentional” only “confused.”
I also find your illustration of the two altars at Sinai to be illuminating. This illustration of yours is one of the most powerful condemnations of Christianity that I have ever read. God made a covenant with Israel and He put the terms of that covenant down in the Jewish Bible. In this book He also speaks of the new covenant but He never speaks of a new law. Along come the teachers of Christianity and introduce a dichotomy between the “Old Testament” and the “New Testament.” This clearly demonstrates that the Christians realize that they are not worshiping the God that created heaven and earth as described in the Hebrew Bible. If they would be worshiping that God they wouldn’t turn to a Greek Testament. They would recognize as did the prophets that the Law of God is perfect. The fact that they turn to a new book tells us that although they may be confused but this is still a rebellion against God.
I will comment on some of the points you made, I do agree with most of what you wrote. I never classified the worship of the golden calf as “unintentional” so the majority of your comments are addressing a straw man.
You argued and you continue to argue that the failure of most Israelites to gather to Moses as did the Levites indicates a continuation of the rebellion (Exodus 32:26). I pointed out that this is not likely being that the calf was already destroyed in verse 20. I believe that the more likely explanation is that the people understood the purpose of Moses’ call, which was to kill the violators, and that was something that was too difficult for them to join. I don’t see how any of your words mitigate my point.
I agree with you wholeheartedly that the primary function of the sacrificial system was to deal with unintentional sin and not to deal with intentional sin. It seems though that most Christians disagree with us. Just read the force of the comments on this subject.
You claim that I made the “classic error” of attributing a modern mindset to the ancients in the time of Moses. I would ask you how are you confident that you understand this ancient mindset? I read the Bible and other ancient books and I see that people were capable of thinking back then just as they are today. I believe that the question that I asked (how could the calf have taken them out of Egypt) is a question that is valid then as it is today.
Your assessment of the distinction between the Baal and the golden calves of Jeroboam is the weakest part of your argument. You claim that worship of the Baal came along with the assassination of God’s prophets while worship of the golden calves did not. Exactly! Did you stop to think why this was so?
You also claim that worship of the golden calves was “confined” to the two locations in which the calves were situated. This is unbiblical. Indeed the calves were limited to these two locations but their worship was something that all of the Northern tribes participated in – 1Kings 1:12:30.
Finally, your most serious error relates to Deuteronomy 4:15. You claim that the verse does not prohibit representative worship but only prohibits making statues of created beings. But if you read the verse you will see that this prohibition to make statues of created beings is a prohibition against representative worship. God is saying that Israel saw no image at Sinai therefore they are to make no image. This is not talking to someone who has no interest in worshiping the God of Sinai. Why would such a person care if God did or did not show his ancestors an image at Sinai? This is talking to someone who wants to worship the God of Sinai but is being persuaded that this statue will somehow represent the God of Sinai and it is to such a person that God is addressing when he says – you saw no image.
In conclusion I will thank you again for bringing clarity to this subject. The idolatry of Christianity is not an “unintentional” sin. It is perhaps a sin of confusion but it is not unintentional. After all, Christians know that God prohibited the worship of a man and they knowingly worship a man. Not only that but they worship by the book attributed to the followers of this man rather than by the book of God. This is rebellion. Perhaps confused rebellion, but still rebellion.
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal