Bible 819 has been commenting on this blog for a while now. He/She has not engaged in dialogue, but has been preaching with his/her ears closed. Here is one of Jim’s enlightening responses to this closed-minded commenter.
You present us with an interesting choice. You say that one cannot trust the judgment of the Jewish people. You claim that they have been unfaithful to their mission. You claim that they are no longer the witnesses of God upon the face of the earth. But of course I know that these claims do not originate with you. Of course not; they originate with the Church. And against the claims of the Church, we have the appointment of the Jewish people by God. So now we must consider the claims of these two parties, that of the Church and that of God.
According to the Church, the Jewish people rejected the prophets, as if universally. This claim is obviously exaggerated, because it was those same Jewish people who preserved the words of the Prophets. In fact, there were extended periods of faithfulness among the Jewish people to God. This is evident by reading Kings and Chronicles. While it is true that some of the Jewish people, at times even the majority perhaps, turned away from HaShem and His Torah, always some have remained faithful to Him and preserved His Message.
The exaggerated claim of the Church is necessary, of course, to establish its own authority (having been granted none by God). It is incredible, however, that the Church would so readily cast aspersions upon the Jewish people for failing to live up to the Torah. First, inasmuch as the Church considers it an impossible task to keep the Law of God, they have no business condemning those who failed to do it. One cannot be condemned for failing to do the impossible. Second, the Church is guilty of great crimes itself. What a bloody history the Church has! From nearly the beginning it was a schismatic body. The members of one sect resent the existence of another sect and they are at war. And we cannot overlook their massive oppression of the Jewish people. It is bad enough the way the Church has maligned the Jewish people, but they have done far worse: expelling them from their homes, burning their Torah scrolls, and at times even killing them. Those that live in stained-glass cathedrals…
Considering the fragmentation in the Church it is astounding how they will brag about their numbers. Even though many sects do not consider many others actual Christians, still they will claim their numbers to bolster their position. So many protestants revile the Catholic Church as antichrist, but that does not mean the numbers of the Catholic Church cannot be used to establish the authority of the Church. No, for that they count. Surely these inflated numbers cannot be proof of anything.
The Muslims are not far behind the Christians number wise. When they surpass the Church (if they do) will that mean that Islam is the true religion? Will their judgment then be supreme? Will the Church turn to them and say that Islam must be fulfilling the prophecy that the knowledge of God will fill the earth? Doubtful, which means that numbers do not indicate anything.
And in fact, the claim that the Church has spread the knowledge of God is rather specious. Certainly, much of the world is Christian. And yet, horrible acts of violence and robbery continue unabated, and on a terrific scale. The Christian ‘King of Peace’ has not ushered in peace; rather wars have continued and have been raged in his name. The last decade saw millions killed in horrific ways as the number of Christian continues to grow. It is clear that the Church has not brought the knowledge of God to the world.
Certainly Jesus did not. One of the strangest claims that Christians make is that Jesus was a light to the gentiles, bringing to them the knowledge of God. Actually Jesus largely avoided gentiles. According to the NT, he was sent to the lost sheep of Israel. He did not come for the gentiles. Others, later, in his name, taught something nominally connected to the God of Israel. But that understanding was distorted. The authors of the NT frequently, nearly always, misrepresented the teachings of Torah and the Prophets. They gave the gentiles a bad understanding of God and turned their attention to a man rather than God. Still, if one were to hold that the Church was teaching truth, it would be Paul who served as a light to the gentiles, not Jesus. Paul, according to the NT, spent much more time instructing the gentile world than Jesus did and in many more places.
But in the end, the real question is only who did God entrust with the truth? The scriptures the Church holds to be true tell us that it was the Jewish people. As much as the Church might like to usurp that authority, they cannot remove what God gave to another people. God made the Jews his witnesses. This can be seen in Deuteronomy, especially chapter 4. The last half of Isaiah is also full of it. God appointed the Jewish people to tell people about God.
And he never replaced them. Look in the prophetic books you reference. Zechariah writes that 10 non-Jews will grasp the hem of the Jew, looking to learn about God from them. Some of us are asking for their wisdom and knowledge already. Isaiah says that the law will come from Jerusalem. People are going to come to the temple in Jerusalem, and it will be a house of prayer for many nations. It is clear from the prophets that the Jewish people have not lost their mission. And though many have failed at it, thankfully we have people like our Pharisee Friend to keep the knowledge of God alive in the world. For this we must surely be grateful. Had it been left up to the Church, that light would have been extinguished before now.
The Church can make for itself whatever claims it wishes. But I am not fooled, and neither should you be. The Church has no authority to set itself up as the Witness. The One with that authority set up the Jewish people. To establish itself, the Church ignores the beam in its own eye and draws everyone’s attention to the speck in the eye of the Jewish people. It makes grandiose claims about its own enlightening of the world, even as they are great perpetrators of violence and as we have seen horrible acts of violence grow. But even if the Jewish people were entirely wicked and the Church entirely good, it would be presumptuous of the Church to usurp the mission of the Jewish people. God appointed His witnesses. Let us listen to what they have to say.
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal
I always enjoy your posts, Jim. They are considerate, respectful, easy to read, to the point and well articulated. I am better for having read them.
Thank you very much, Eleazar.
It’s interesting that bible819 is talking about the number of Jews just like Balak and the pharaoh. He disagrees with the teaching and in a way like pharaoh doesn’t know who this God is. At the same time like Balak does believe in God but wants things his way.
Considering the fragmentation in the Church it is astounding how they will brag about their numbers. Even though many sects do not consider many others actual Christians, still they will claim their numbers to bolster their position.
I hear what you are saying here Jim, but all the monotheisms do this disservice to each other, including Judaism.
I have heard more rabbis than i can count say, “the christians and the muslims believe in our Torah, ” in an effort to bolster credibility.
I think to myself, “great! A bunch of liars believe your claims are true.” I agree, its an unhelpful thing.
RwspectfulIy, I still disagree with your saying that it was Paul and not Jesus who brought a semblance of knowledge. Even though Paul was the preacher, Jesus was the main focus. There is no pauline christ without a historical Jesus.
I mean that many scholars recognize that their is a meta narrative between NT writings illustrating that Jesus’ own self understanding reflected a sense of suffering.
He saw himself as imparting knowledge and suffering for others.
Paul’s letters also illustrate that he drew from Jesus traditions that were already forming/existing. Even Jewish ebionite followers had a proto christological component despite their clear hatred of Paul.
One thing I have noticed is there is meta narrative wherein Jesus does interact with gentiles, but always highlights their subservience to and reliance upon Israel, whereas Paul emphasizes the exact opposite.
There is thus a marked difference between Jesus’ approach, (a very Jamesian approach to gentiles,) and a pauline one. A tension within the core narrative that shifts from Mark until John.
We further notice from later history that there was always a tension between the replacement theology bent of orthodoxy, and an older more ambivalent approach.
What i mean is, even if you read an anti semitic Church father’s literature, his target is first and foremost the “Judaizer,” and a Jew is a rhetorical construct. Many Church fathers had no actual interactions with Jews, accept to learn Hebrew from them. Sad and ironic.
Take Chrysostom’s homilies against Jews as an example of an interaction. He is so virulent and upset in his hommilies because there were Christians in his Church who (while having faith in Jesus) attended Jewish services, asked rabbis for advice, sought health advice from them, asked blessings, etc.
What I’m saying is, Christian narrative shows a between the lines complexity that shows it wasnt solely Paul who influenced non Jews.
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