An Open Letter to Dr. Brown

Dear Dr. Brown

I want to thank you for participating in the debate that we had about the Real Jewish Messiah. I feel that it was educational and enlightening. However, I was disappointed in the flippant disregard for truth that you displayed in your presentations. When I asked you how you feel about the truth level of your arguments you responded with: “I actually reviewed mine several times, which I rarely do, and felt very good about the content. I stand behind every word.” This being the case can you please answer the following questions:

1. Why did you put forth arguments that I have already addressed? How could you in good conscience tell the audience that I “ignored” your arguments when you know full well that I have addressed every one of them?

2. You crammed your first presentation with words as if our debate was a pancake eating contest. In your own book (Answering Jewish Objections) the ratio of question to answer is about 1 to 100 with a question consisting of one sentence and the answer taking up pages and pages. How then, for the sake of education do you expect me to answer your questions in the same amount of time that it takes you to ask them? And how in good conscience can you use the fact that it takes more time to articulate an answer than it takes to ask a question as an argument against my position?

3. In your first video you argued that the fact that Isaiah mentions Israel and Jacob fewer times in chapters 49 thru 53 than he does in chapters 40 thru 48 indicates that the focus of the prophet shifted from the nation to an individual. I demonstrated the emptiness of your argument by showing that the prophet actually mentions the nation in the later chapters (49-53) more times (proportionately) than he does in the earlier chapters (40-58). This being the case, according to your own Scriptural standard, the prophet is NOT shifting his focus away from the nation.

You used sleight of the hand/mouth in your third video to hide the fact that your argument was exposed as fallacious. If this is not deception, then what is?

4. You argued that the Messiah must function as a vicarious atonement on the basis of the fact that Scripture calls him a “priest.” Over 10 years ago I pointed out to you that Israel is also called a “priest.” This leads us to one of two conclusions, either Israel as a nation must also function as a vicarious atonement or the designation of priesthood does not necessarily carry the connotation of vicarious atonement. You have not responded to my argument. Instead you keep on repeating your own assertion without acknowledging that it has no foundation in reality. Again, this is not honest.

5. You accuse me of quoting Scripture out of context without substantiating your accusation. At the same time you quote the Scriptures out of context. You quote Isaiah as if he said: “the servant has done no violence,” despite the fact that the prophet is not saying that the servant never committed an act of violence. I pointed out that all the prophet is saying is that the servant is persecuted for no violence that he had done, i.e. he is innocent of the accusations that his persecutors are using to justify their persecution of him. You never refuted or responded to this argument, instead you continue to quote the prophet out of context. How do you justify this?

6. In objection 4.36 (of Answering Jewish Objections) you minimize the association between the Messiah and the Temple. You offer the belief that the Messiah will build a Third Temple as the third of three possibilities. Yet in this debate you declare that you believe that the Messiah will build a Temple just as I do. Did you change your position?

7. You make the claim that I agreed to your argument that Isaiah 53 cannot be talking about the nation as a whole. You give the audience to understand that I accepted your argument, going so far as to complain that I did not acknowledge to the audience that I accepted your argument.

But this is completely false. I never accepted any of your arguments. How do you justify your lying to the audience like this?

8. You build on this lie by telling the audience that the same reason which precludes the nation from being the servant of Isaiah 53 also precludes the righteous of Israel. But in your book and in your video presentation you gave two separate reasons, one reason to explain why you believe the nation is not the servant and another to explain why you believe it cannot refer to the righteous remnant. How do you justify this self-contradiction?

9. You accuse me of introducing a “new subject” into the debate, the adequacy of Israel’s trust. Yet you yourself tell the audience that your belief that Israel will be shamed for rejecting Jesus is part of your Messianic vision. And you describe acceptance of Jesus as “trust in the Messiah.” In your own words you are accusing Israel of a lack of “trust” in the Messiah. How do you justify your accusation that I introduced a new subject into the debate?

Furthermore, you accuse me of encouraging the audience to put their trust in the nation of Israel? When did I say such a thing?

10. I pointed out that your entire theology is built on your filling of various gaps in the Scriptural narrative. You dismissed this argument by asserting that your theology is built on systematic evidence. So please tell us where the Scriptures tell us to trust in the Messiah? Where is it stated that we need to believe in the servant to receive atonement? Where does it say that there is no other valid form of atonement outside of the sacrifice of your Messiah? Why did the prophet not tell us plainly that the servant of Isaiah 53 is the Messiah?

If you could answer these questions with chapter and verse then you could say that your theology is not built on gaps.

11. I provided several textual indicators that show us that the servant is Israel (nation and/or righteous remnant). You argued that the texts that tell us that Israel has sinned are textual indicators which tell us that Israel is not the servant.

Do you not know the difference between a textual indicator and a theological indicator? Don’t you realize that your argument is built on your understanding of the theology of the servant and is not related to the text? Your point is not textual, it is theological.

I look forward to your response.

Yisroel Blumenthal

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Yisroel C. Blumenthal

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8 Responses to An Open Letter to Dr. Brown

  1. Dina says:

    Very well argued. But in ten years from now we will all still be waiting for Dr. Brown’s response…

  2. Yehuda says:

    Rabbi B.

    Well done as usual.

    I’d like to offer a cynical devil’s advocate response to your first and second point for the benefit of any followers who might find it enlightening.

    Dr. Brown doesn’t give a rat’s patootie (pardon my language) about the fact that you’ve addressed his arguments in other places nor does he care that expecting every element of a crammed litany of points to be responded to in the same 20 minute time frame is not reasonable.

    I probably don’t need to explain that if Dr. Brown agreed to the debate format it’s because he still views a debate as propaganda tools. And his view of these tools is that just like most of a live debate audience is likely to judge the winner based purely on what they see and hear in those 60 or 90 minutes without in ever doing any further research, here too, his concern was simply about treating this “debate” as a disjointed event independent of any other interaction you have ever had entitling him to claim victory points if within the designated time frames any of his points remained unaddressed. In other words his approach is to target those (likely very few) people who might tune into this knowing nothing about any other interactions you have ever had. He would likely further claim that such is the appropriate perspective for such an interaction as the audience should be entitled to a self-contained interaction without having to read voluminous supplementary materials. That is why he objected to your posting supplementary notes as contrary to the “spirit of the debate” because in his view, the debate should be able to stand on its own as independent and self-sufficient. This enables him to disingenuously tell what is likely those very few Jewish followers of the exchange, who are otherwise unfamiliar with the history between the two of you “See? Rabbi Blumenthal finally agreed to debate me and he couldn’t even respond to half my arguments, in the designated format that he agreed to”. It is also the reason that he will respond to this letter around the same time he responds to Contra Brown and the The Elephant in the Suit.

    In the event you ever agree to have another such exchange I’m sure you will stipulate appropriate ground rules.

    Wishing you and everyone else a K’sivah Va’Chasimah Tovah and a Gut G’benscht Yahr. (a Good and Blessed year for the non yiddish speakers.) and keep up the good work.


  3. Yehuda says:

    Yawn…I’m shocked…shocked…that he’s not acknowledging my criticism. (Except he does) I am however, flattered that of all the thousands of criticisms he says he chooses to ignore he chose to respond to mine. Make of that what you will but nothing he says in those few minutes is substantively responses to me or Rabbi’ B’s above arguments above. And most importantly he admits to the charge of highlighting points that were not addressed in the exchange despite knowing that Rabbi B. has addressed them because “it’s not fair to say just read the book. You have to be fair to the viewers”. So in between his various deflections and story telling and talking about how he willing he is to debate in any format…1500 pages, blah. blah, blah, he basically admits to the tactic Rabbi B. accused him of…and he admits several times. All he does is just repeat that I’m wrong. He just says it several times with several different word choices.

    “So yes Yehuda, you got me all wrong..100% wrong…yeseree dead wrong.”

    I obviously hit a nerve.

  4. Yehuda says:

    If I may, having had a chance to listen to Dr. brown’s reaction to my comments, a few more thoughts.

    First, I really would like to know what I wrote to deserve the honor of his reply over all the things he acknowledges that he chooses to ignore (not the least of which are Rabbi B.’s writings). Oddly, its not the first time a random comment of mine got his personal attention. Some years back I posted a comment on his own website on a post for which there were hundreds of comments (maybe 5 or 6 of which were mine) whereupon he suddenly descended from on high saying something like “this demands response” and then let loose with a veritable fusillade of classic missionary arguments which had little to do with the direct subject I questioned. But something I said irritated him. Who knows.

    Second, he really truly isn’t responsive to me at all and not only does he actually concede my point – several times – he seems to misunderstand why I said certain things.

    Most importantly, it occurs to me that there was actually an honest way Dr. Brown could have responded to me and it could have consisted fully of things he already said in his actual response. He could have spared us all the extraneous stuff, the history lesson, the reminders of how many pages he’s written (is it 1500?) and focused on the minute or two where he basically conceded the point. He could have said. “Yes, I chose to summarize and highlight those elements of my arguments that Rabbi Blumenthal did not address within the confines of the agreed upon format because that is appropriate in an exchange of this sort. So we have to agree to disagree.” Instead he speaks out both sides of mouth, at once insisting he’s done nothing of the sort Rabbi B. said (and I seconded) and then within seconds acknowledging that such is fair an appropriate to the “debate” audience.

    The interesting thing is that that is exactly what I said he did in my criticism above and he even acknowledges that he did so for more or less the same reasons I predicted he would – supposed consideration for his audience. So I’m not sure why my comment bent him out of shape.

    Unless of course he realizes that if he truly wanted his audience to assess the content of the respective presentations, on their merits and without bias, then he would have trusted the audience to keep score of what was responded to and what wasn’t. And maybe, then, he realizes that providing them with a scorecard and using words like “Rabbi Blumenthal ‘ignored’ my arguments on A, B, or C”, IS, in fact, a disingenuous misrepresentation of topics he knows very well that Rabbi B not only responded to, but that on many of them responses came a long long time ago.

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