Dr. Brown’s failure to acknowledge Scripture’s emphasis of the Sinai revelation in connection to God’s teaching against idolatry is only the beginning of Dr. Brown’s misrepresentation of the Jewish position on this issue. As serious as this omission is, and in no way do I mean to diminish the weight of this omission, there is a flaw in Dr. Brown’s presentation that runs much deeper than anything I mentioned up until this point.
Dr. Brown addresses the issue of idolatry as if it were a legal exercise. He points to anomalies in the Scriptural text, and uses complicated word formulations in order to justify Christianity’s devotion to Jesus. But idolatry is not a technical legality or a philosophical abstract. Idolatry is a sin of the heart. Dr. Brown’s efforts can be compared to a lawyer who points to a quirk in the text of a marriage contract in order to justify an act of adultery. It is not necessary to respond to the legalistic argument of the lawyer. It is obvious to one and all that this lawyer did not begin to understand the concept of marriage.
The human heart is capable of submitting itself in total all-encompassing devotion to almost anyone and anything. One can allow himself or herself to be overwhelmed by the beauty of a natural object and engender in their heart the feeling of total submission towards this object. One can allow himself or herself to be carried away by the righteousness and self-sacrifice of another human being, and allow their hearts to be dragged along in a current of total devotion towards the object of their love and reverence. According to the Bible, these two devotions would be idolatrous.
The Bible teaches that everything in heaven and earth are but creations of the One Almighty God. Our hearts belong to Him as do the hearts of every fellow inhabitant of this earth. To allow one’s heart to be subject to a creation of God, is to confuse Creator and created. It is to give to created that which belongs exclusively to Creator.
The Jewish people are married to their Creator. They pledged their hearts towards the Maker of heaven and earth, and promised Him that they will not allow their hearts to be led astray by any of His subjects. We bask in the shine of God’s holy radiance. We are overwhelmed by the truth of God’s absolute reality, by His absolute Mastery over everything in heaven and earth, by the love God demonstrated in creating us, and by the tenderness of His holy embrace we sense in the benevolence of every facet of our own existence and in the existence of every fellow inhabitant of heaven and earth. What does the life and death of a mortal inhabitant of God’s earth have to offer to us? How meaningless are the activities of flesh and blood when contrasted with the all-encompassing love and truth of the Master of all?
The Jewish response to the Christian missionary is simple and straightforward: We are already happily married. We are not looking for another mate.