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About those who misuse Jewish texts to support Christian theology and idolatry

May 27, 2014

Christians (including Jewish converts to Christianity, especially the J4J group) who practice using rabbinic texts to support Christian doctrines subscribe to a racist view of Jews, a view that holds that the “cursed” Jewish people are hypocrites who in their hearts of hearts believe one thing, but with their mouths and pens say quite another. In their hearts they hate what they see as idolatry and deny validity of Christian theology, reject deification of man, reject Trinity, but with their mouths and pens they can’t say enough to uphold all of those things. We are to believe that the sages and rabbis, being by nature “unbelievers” who supposedly didn’t believe in Jesus, Trinity and the New Testament, unwittingly wrote in support of those things anyway as if they actually DID believe, without even realizing it because of their “spiritual blindness”.

Christians who abuse Jewish texts to extract from them support for Christianity believe that the “blind” Jews are like a broken clock, mostly wrong but occasionally right, at least when what they say can be culled to support whatever Christian theology one wants to procure Jewish support for. A disgusting, reprehensible practice indeed.

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28 Comments leave one →
  1. Concerned Reader permalink
    May 27, 2014 12:57 am

    Gene, you never answered for Maimonides treatment of Moses. It’s ironic that it is scholars who draw connections between christian theology and Jewish mysticism, and not just these evil Christians you speak of. You are just as set in your views as any Christian missionary, and despite being given a proper understanding of Christian understanding (including the fact that the human being Jesus is not the divine,) you prop up that same old argument of yours.

  2. May 27, 2014 1:30 am

    CR, you protest too much that I don’t know or understand Christology, at least its most Orthodox view. As I explained to you already, from a Jewish point of view Jesus’ supposed dual natures, one human and one divine is a lie, a falsehood, making the Christian protestations that they are not commiting idolatry when worshipping “God the Son” Jesus, who in Jewish view was merely a man, irrelevant. To a Jew for whom Jesus is a mortal creature and not G-d in any way this is idolatry. Do you understand?

  3. May 27, 2014 2:01 am

    Gene, you let your Bias show and you right and answer comments like you campaigning for the Jews. I get it, are people suffered horrible thing in the hand of so called Christians and Christianity, but here we discuss Scriptures and our best scholarly way, but again and again you turn this into your gentile?Christian hate manifesto. Please try to stay on course, will you?

    Just like you say that Christian are guilty of distorting Jewish sources, you also are guilty of distorting the NT. Think about it.

  4. Clayton permalink
    May 27, 2014 2:06 am

    I have a question-

    If a “Christian” adheres to the Torah, specifically, then wouldn’t the only difference between Christian and Jew, and Jew and Jew, simply be a measure of interpretation of the teaching? In other words, what’s really the difference between Lawful “Christians” and slightly off-kilter sects and groups in traditional judaism?

    Take for example “Reformed Judaism…”

  5. Concerned Reader permalink
    May 27, 2014 2:40 am

    I understand your disagreement with Christianity. I understand that Judaism believes it is a lie, but an examination of history shows the argument is really a complex argument that boils down to, “don’t listen to their interpretations, ours are better and more honest.” What escapes me is how it is ok to relate to G-d through a created emissary like Moses who had full on contact with an “overflow from G-d,” or to believe that Enoch joined the ranks of the angels, but to say Yeshua has two distinct natures is wrong. There are even midrashim that say outright that “Moses was divine from the shoulders up, and human down to the ground.” As I’ve explained in depth, acknowledgement of G-d’s unity alone does not mean that we have a biblical picture of G-d. Muslims and Bahai believe in one god, Many Hellenistic philosophers also believed in one god, but that does not make monotheism, it makes monism. Christianity actually shares genuine second temple halachic and mytho-poetical content from Jewish sources, but its idolatry? Christians did not invent the Logos concept, they were not the first to apply it to a human, but they were the first to actually uproot most of old world paganism, but they are idolaters? do you see how Christians could find that slightly inconsistent?

  6. Concerned Reader permalink
    May 27, 2014 2:55 am

    I’ve heard it said many times by rabbis that Christians take literally in the Tanach what they should read allegorically, and vice versa, and that this is why they err. But it never occurs to anyone that we too understand allegory, we too have books not meant for the laypeople, we too are not stupid. And for the record, we are not all fundamentalists who believe everyone goes to hell without direct knowledge of Jesus. Orthodox doctrine is not a protestant once saved cure all Jesus loves you worldview. As I’ve mentioned before, I was raised unitarian, which just goes to show the inconsistency of the axiom that Christians are idolaters according to majority rabbinic standards. It also seems inconsistent to have ideas that smell like the trinity, or the son of G-d (like those of the Zohar,) but to then say “oh, your just twisting it! Moshe Idel Ben: Sonship in Jewish Mysticism (great book.)

    Maybe there isn’t a twisting so much as a group that developed under a different set of circumstances than its sister faith.

  7. May 27, 2014 7:38 am

    Clayton, welcome to the blog.

    A Christian who adheres to the Torah is the one for whom Jesus is only a mortal man. As soon as a Christian worships Jesus as G-d, he ceases to adhere to Torah, even the Noahide part, and crosses into idolatry.

    As far as Reform Judaism goes, their rejection of Torah as divinely revealed and binding on Jews makes them a “non-Judaism” by definition from a point of view of traditional, ie. Torah observant Orthodox Judaism. In the 3,000 years of Jewish history Reform’s 200 years is but a blip on the Jewish radar.

  8. May 27, 2014 9:24 am

    “What escapes me is how it is ok to relate to G-d through a created emissary like Moses who had full on contact with an “overflow from G-d,” or to believe that Enoch joined the ranks of the angels, but to say Yeshua has two distinct natures is wrong. There are even midrashim that say outright that “Moses was divine from the shoulders up, and human down to the ground.”

    CR, what you need to understand (although I doubt that you were not aware of this) is that individual thinkers in Judaism can express many “ideas”, some seemingly “out there”, without getting automatically anathematized. (There are limits to this and one limit is approving of idolatry). This is because things you listed above are merely opinions of individuals and are not enshrined as mainstream “doctrines” of Judaism, “statements of faith” that all Jews must subscribe to. Talmud is full of differing opinions, with one sage disagreeing with another, often strenuously and, on occasion, severely. Judaism, as you know, follows the majority opinion, a consensus and not the individual views and thoughts of this or that rabbi. You will not find the strange views you listed in that consensus, but as you know, all of “mainstream” Christianity believes the Jesus is G-d and worships him.

    Another distinction of Judaism is the difference between having a private opinion/belief about something vs practicing something. For example, in case of shituf (associating another being with G-d) some rabbis of Judaism had said that because Gentles have never received the Torah, they may be permitted – for leniency sake, not because it’s true – to believe that G-d has a “helper” (e.g. Jesus), even though it’s still a falsehood from the Jewish point of view. It’s only when they start worshiping that helper, a non-deity, that they cross into the actual idolatry.

    “As I’ve mentioned before, I was raised unitarian, which just goes to show the inconsistency of the axiom that Christians are idolaters according to majority rabbinic standards. ”

    Unitarians would not be considered idolaters according to “rabbinic standards”, unless of course they actually worship Jesus, even while knowing and believing that he is NOT G-d.

  9. Concerned Reader permalink
    May 27, 2014 2:22 pm

    Yeah, it makes sense. I was never raised to worship Jesus, and I’m aware that every rabbis opinion doesn’t equal Judaism. I’ve read Nachmanides’ disputation, and a great many books, as i’ve mentioned I have a degree in comparative religions. The issue for me, was that Philo, Maimonides, Nachmanides, and Saadia Gaon all have ideas bordering on the Christian notion of the Logos, at least as it pertains to Moses, without off course ever calling him G-d. What struck me though, was the fact that these thinkers are not on the fringes, not “out there” they are in fact pillars of Judaism. On another note, we get caught between a rock and a hard place in exegesis when it comes to G-d’s transcendence vis his immanence. Meaning, we relate to him by means of creation (Saadia Gaon’s Kavod Nivra, the ten sefirot, etc.) That suggests to me that the “two powers” issue arose in antiquity, and developed further in the middle ages, from this very dichotomy of how G-d relates to the world, and the world relates to G-d. Groups like Gnostics and kabbalists were just dealing with that issue of how we know what we know about G-d through exegesis, and the answer was through angels which are the embodiments of divine decrees. Eventually the dichotomy became seen as Hashem, and some created glory, or angel, or both. (Metatron and shekinah for Judaism, and the Logos and holy spirit of Christianity respectively.) The issue from here when it comes to dialogue with polytheists, is that they already accept a notion of transcendent unity, or monism, expressed by means of angelic creation or manifestation, which they call gods. This is why Christians took that step from saying the word had a beginning, to say that the “word is G-d.” In order to stress the uncreatedness of G-d in all instances of interaction, and solve the dichotomy by allowing hashem the possibility of indwelling creation, without becoming a creation. You don’t even have to bring the human being Jesus into the equation for the roots of their trinitarianism to be established. We have hashem, Metatron who bears his name, and the shekinah. Three by means of relation, but there is only one singular essence that is hashem, one will of hashem. From the standpoint of Pagan interaction with Judaism, Jewish theology would be seen as compatible, with a common pagan model, with the exception that Judaism claims a unique knowledge and experience of the divine will, which off course the pagans and their metaphysics couldn’t grasp.

  10. May 27, 2014 2:57 pm

    Concerned Reader, as is probably obvious to most well read thinkers and I know to you as well, Christianity didn’t arise in a vacuum, but arose out of first century Judaism. Its beginnings and its initial growth before it gathered a Gentile momentum via Paul were nurtured within Judaism, at first the Pharisaic wing of it, later to be joined by the Hellenistic one.

    With that being the case, OF COURSE there are elements within Christianity (by which I mean the gospels, and not so much the later Christian theology) that reflect some of the thinking of the first century Jewish world. How could it have been otherwise? Gentiles had no concept of “messiah” in any form. However, to draw from this that since Christianity has had its Jewish beginnings (which is not news to most people) that ALL of the concepts it drew upon from the first century Jewish milieu were somehow part of the mainstream (more likely Hellenistic Judaism) and not isolated ideas that were already dangerous/heretical at the time and later rejected completely (e.g. “two powers in heaven”), is a mistake that Christians often make. But perhaps what is more important is how Christianity has developed those ideas further, including admixing some well-worn pagan ones (e.g. G-d impregnating a virgin, resulting in a demigod superhero savior.)

  11. Concerned Reader permalink
    May 27, 2014 8:52 pm

    “Concerned Reader, as is probably obvious to most well read thinkers and I know to you as well, Christianity didn’t arise in a vacuum, but arose out of first century Judaism. Its beginnings and its initial growth before it gathered a Gentile momentum via Paul were nurtured within Judaism, at first the Pharisaic wing of it, later to be joined by the Hellenistic one. ”

    “later to be joined by the Hellenistic one.” Many “Hellenistic innovations” that people commonly speak of aren’t even really Hellenistic at all when one reads the ideas in light of the Targums, the Dead Sea Scrolls, Sirach, Proverbs, and other literature. My Judaism professor called it the phenomenon of the Tiger and the marsupial Tiger. Ideas and creatures which bear similarity (such as being a tiger of sorts) can develop independently, but nonetheless bear striking similarity to each other Most modern biographers of Philo for instance are fairly certain that Philo borrowed from the rabbis, more than he did from hellenism, or stoicism in his case.

    Its literally the dogmatic formulations (more in line with a Roman academic method) that set Judaism and Christianity apart, but what are we to do when gentile Christians had little halachic content with which to establish a system like the rabbis did in the case of the mishna? The theological ideas borrowed from pre christian Judaism are quite extensive, they are just not expressed in terms consistent with halachic culture, which isn’t surprising. I think this more than anything is what separates communities. That is also professor Lawrence Schiffman’s view of Jewish Christian separation.

  12. May 28, 2014 9:41 am

    “I think this more than anything is what separates communities.”

    CR, I think that there is a lot more (and far more important) to what has separated the two communities than the lack of proper “halachic content”, among them are things like:

    1. The centrality of Jesus, a mortal man, and Christian adoration and worship of him as G-d.
    2. Seeking forgiveness of sins and eternal life through Jesus, who to Christians is “G-d who became man” (but who in Jewish understanding is nothing but a man like any other and not even a prophet authorized by G-d)
    3. Deeply ingrained Christian view that G-d has replaced the “Old Covenant” with the “New”, obsoleting Jews and their Torah.
    4. The pervasiveness of Replacement Theology, where the “earthly” Israel has failed and was morphed into the Church and the true Israel are those who are “in Christ”.
    5. Christological appropriation, rereading and mistranslation of Jewish scriptures by the Church.

    One can try to make a case the the above issues were not yet present in the earliest strata of Christianity, that is during the period when it was but a small marginal movement within greater Judaism (one among many), with little to separate it from the faith and practice of other Jews other than the candidacy of Jesus as the Messiah. Then again, we are often left to speculate about what was it like for those “Christian Jews”, as little solid data is available. We do, however, know very well what has become of Christianity after Paul and his efforts at establishing his churches, or during the decades after Paul, when the gospels were written.

    Also, one more thing that made the two religions drift apart. The Book of Acts’ boasting of “myriads of believers” aside, the “Jewish” part of the Jesus movement was not large, and like other messianic movements at the time, like the Essenes for example, it was marginal within greater Judaism. Later it came to be viewed as schismatic and heretical. Talmud, even before it was censored by the Church, spends precious little time dealing with Christianity. In the end, the movement didn’t represent the Jewish people or their leaders. With prophecies of Jesus’ speedy return unfulfilled and the arrival of the Christian Messianic Age a broken promise, the Jesus movement was exposed as another failure. Its followers were either reabsorbed into the mainstream Jewish community or eventually assimilated into the Gentile Church.

  13. Concerned Reader permalink
    May 28, 2014 11:29 am

    http://www.catholic.com/tracts/god-has-no-body

    Notice from the sources in the above article that the dates on most sources higher on the page predate the “romanization” of Christianity. That’s the 100s CE. We have sources for Christianity that date from the 60s-80s CE which reflect orthodox doctrines. When we are speaking about earliest strata of Christianity, it doesn’t get much earlier in terms of the literature we have from the period. I’ve already mentioned texts from the DSS which have trends that anticipate, some, but not all Christian theological speculations (such as the self glorification hymn in the DSS.) We even have contemporary movements today that bear similarity. If this is idolatry, it was Jewish and not gentile idolatry. Although you know, that I disagree that it is idolatry, because there is so much evidence that places this theology outside of a polytheistic, Greek, or Roman frame of reference in terms of how the divine is to be understood, ethics, etc. as we have already discussed.

    The incarnation, is not about impinging on the unchangeable, infinite, absolutely simple unity of G-d. Nor is it saying that G-d ceased to be G-d in heaven, or that G-d is exclusively accessible only through Jesus. In truth, the deity of the Son did more to establish a concept of the image of G-d in man, amongst polytheists, for whom such concepts were foreign. In traditional christian doctrine, Jesus is a full human with a beginning in terms of his existence as a human being. He as a human possessed limited knowledge, a human mind, will, rational soul, and struggles. The human nature and condition of Jesus as human is not, not divine! The life he lead, his conformity with G-d’s will and wisdom, and the character he showed forth in his teaching and life, reflected the manifestation of G-d which spoke to Moses on Sinai, and which is identified by both of our religions as the Logos, Memra, Shekinah, etc. It is that which is considered divine in Christianity. Yes the personality of Jesus is said to be divine, but none of those things which are in any way related to his humanity are called divine.

    If for the sake of argument we treat Yeshua merely as a fully human messiah claimant and Shaliach, who was appointed to speak in hashem’s name, we have the problem of an intermediary arise in dialogue with polytheists. They would and don’t have a problem with Jesus as a teacher, but you can’t get either the Jewish or Christian notion of G-d, IE of the transcendent being who exists beyond the material, intervenes, and loves his people, from a teacher alone. There needs to be a basis to revelation. Sinai for Judaism, Jesus’ resurrection for Christianity. If you would like to know the orthodox position on the salvation of non Christians according to the Church may I recommend the book, The Non-Orthodox: The Orthodox teaching on Christians outside the Church. Notice the title dispels any notion of protestant faith only teaching, and reflects genuine early sources. The book deals also with non Christian religions, and the official teaching is that G-d is judge, and we can barely judge the state of our own souls, much less someone Else’s.

    You know I respect your Judaism gene :) I just hope you realize that not all of Christianity can be boxed into the categories commonly set up.

  14. May 28, 2014 11:50 am

    “You know I respect your Judaism gene :) I just hope you realize that not all of Christianity can be boxed into the categories commonly set up.”

    CR, can anything so diverse be boxed into one category, especially a religion like Christianity, with its 40K+ denominations by latest count, spanning 2 billion people. The most we can do is to try to generalize and focus on some of the most commonly shared doctrines.

  15. May 28, 2014 12:03 pm

    “Yes the personality of Jesus is said to be divine, but none of those things which are in any way related to his humanity are called divine.”

    CR, for Jews, it truly is a distinction without a difference. Let me illustrate:

    Imagine worshiping a rock, singing its praises, “Rock, your name is above all names”, exclaiming “Rock, you are my lord and savior,”, or “Rock, you are god”, but then turning around and claiming that you don’t really worship the rock bits themselves, but actually the god that goes by another name and lives up in heaven, but that has become inseparable from that rock. Yeah…

  16. Concerned Reader permalink
    May 28, 2014 4:24 pm

    That thing about the rock Gene, was literally a problem that the Mitnagdim had with the Hasidim and with their mystical doctrines. They identified everything with godliness, rocks, trees, sparks of human souls, etc.. With Christianity, its more like, “uniquely revealed personality of G-d we worship and praise you.” you are not attributes, a force, a physical object, or an abstract principle. The human being Jesus, bush, rock, storm, any physical thing is really irrelevant except that it happened to be the way G-d chose to reveal himself. Like say, in the Bush. What if tzipporah had asked Moshe what he saw when he met hashem? He would have said, “yeah I saw a bush that was on fire yet was not consumed, and I heard a voice coming from it.” Now, that is no normal bush, it illustrates the presence of the almighty in a unique, one and only sort of way. Moses would always have to describe that account exactly like that. He would then have to clarify, to say that hashem is not a bush, but that this particular bush (in contrast to all others) operated outside the bonds of normal nature in that moment. In this sense, this bush illustrated a full on manifestation of G-d. Moshe would have to make this clarification for all of the miracles of the exodus, and it wouldn’t make the natural phenomenon G-d. What then do all these manifestations have in common? The still small voice, which was the word, will, and revealed personality of G-d, speaking to the prophet. It was this, which the early Christians said was revealed in the man Jesus, in a unique way at that point in time. I agree with you, that undue appreciation given to Jesus (such as saying G-d cannot operate without a human knowing the Galilean carpenter from 2,000 years ago (otherwise known as Jesus only doctrine) is heretical, and the normative mainline churches all agree on this. This is why, I think you are placing Christianity in an incorrect category. Its like if Moshe tried to explain the exodus miracles to you, and you kept throwing up “why do you talk about bushes, and seas splitting? This is how gentiles talk about the divine, not Jews.” You are only letting yourself hear part of what Christians have to say, and refusing to accept the distinctions which they themselves make in how they worship.

  17. May 28, 2014 4:45 pm

    “That thing about the rock Gene, was literally a problem that the Mitnagdim had with the Hasidim and with their mystical doctrines.”

    Actually, it’s nothing like the Hasidim issue at all – I’ve spoken with a Hasidic rabbi at length about that very thing. While in the Hasidic thought being omnipresent by nature G-d permeates absolutely everything and there’s no place where G-d is not (which does makes sense), Hasidic Jews would say that directing any worship to a rock, a creation, would be gross idolatry.

    You, on the hand (and certainly Trinitarian Christians, if you are still the Unitarian of your birth), seem to think that directing worship to Jesus (in whom you say G-d resides like in the bush), who, like that rock, is also a creation, should be an exception. If Christians said “we praise you G-d”, and they never said “we praise you Jesus”, if they only prayed to G-d and never to Jesus, you would have point. But you know that they sing praises to Jesus, that they pray to him and call him “lord and savior”. When Christians call Jesus “G-d the Son” (and remember, Jews reject the notion of a special divine son of G-d and considering Jesus merely a human), it’s really no different than saying “god the rock”. Jews never called G-d “G-d the bush” after Moses’ encounter, and they certainly never worshiped the bush out of which G-d spoke to Moses, nor was there any sign that Moses thought that the bush was to be worshiped. If Jews did with the bush what Christians have done with Jesus, it would have been idolatry.

  18. May 28, 2014 4:53 pm

    From Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America: http://www.goarch.org/ourfaith/ourfaith7119

    Rev. Thomas Fitzgerald

    O Come, let us Worship and bow down
    before our King and God.

    O Come, let us worship and bow down
    before Christ, our King and God.

    O Come, let us worship and bow down
    to Christ Himself, our King and God.

    This invitation marks the beginning of each day for the Orthodox Church.

  19. Concerned Reader permalink
    May 28, 2014 5:10 pm

    “That thing about the rock Gene, was literally a problem that the Mitnagdim had with the Hasidim and with their mystical doctrines.” Clearly you haven’t read moshe ben chaims’ articles at mesora.org he deals with this very problem quite a few times. He refuses to respect the distinctions in hasidic philosophy, just like you and others are not respecting distinctions made by Christianity.

  20. May 28, 2014 5:25 pm

    Concerned Reader, Moshe is “Misnagish” – last time I checked, for all the bluster in their early history vs. the Hasidim, when the dust settled, Mitnagim accepted the fact that the Hasidim were not idolatrous and the old momentous animosity faded once the facts became clear. As Moshe notes on his site, he regularly avails himself of Chabad (a Hasidic group) hospitality when he travels, an unthinkable act had he considered them idolatrous. There’s really no comparison when it comes to the worship of a man as G-d as in case of Christianity. This is crossing into gross idolatry territory. And if there was a problem and there may indeed be stuff that goes uncomfortably too far (in my own estimation as well) , Moshe would be right to condemn the Hasidim, or anyone else and I would too. Indeed, there are tiny, ostracized cells of renegade Chabad (or former Chabad) groups that consider the Rebbe as G-d. This is idolatry, plain and simple, and other Hasidim want nothing to do with them and don’t allow those idolatrous Jews to be counted in a minyan or to consider their food kosher.

    In other words, idolatry has consequences.

  21. Concerned Reader permalink
    May 28, 2014 5:45 pm

    “Indeed, there are tiny, ostracized cells of renegade Chabad (or former Chabad) groups that consider the Rebbe as G-d.”

    Yeah, I’ve heard of them. What do you make of that in light of the fact that these Jews obviously reject Christianity, and in fact have such little exposure to it?

  22. Concerned Reader permalink
    May 28, 2014 5:56 pm

    Also, the site you posted that credal statement from also reflects the distinctions I have raised.

  23. May 28, 2014 6:17 pm

    I think the idolatrous dendencies will crop up in human beings if allowed to go unchecked. Those individuals who came to believe that Rebbe was G-d I believe have been exposed to Christianity. Most rabbis I speak with are NOT ignorant of what Christianity teaches – after 2K years together one can’t speak of such ideas originating in a vacuum. In the Bible Israel was specifically susceptible to idolatry of surrounding nations and warned against following the nations into idolatry. Should we be surprised that this is still the case, with some lost Jews worshipping either Jesus or the Rebbe?

  24. May 28, 2014 6:46 pm

    Distinctions or justifications?

  25. Concerned Reader permalink
    May 28, 2014 7:07 pm

    The problem with your theory is that we have little real evidence of christian theological influence on Judaism, as sites like yours prove, that such is and has been bitterly opposed. The rebbe himself was openly hostile to Christianity. That’s right that nothing exists in a vacuum, but similarity does not always mean derivation. A marsupial tiger is a tiger of sorts, but is not a Tiger in the conventional sense. Similar ideas can arise amongst peoples who have zero contact with each other. Look at the Mayans and the Egyptians. They both had pyramid-like structures, it doesn’t mean they had brunch regularly. I’m not trying to beat a dead horse, really I’m not, but you keep following a polemical logic which you have conceded on several occasions doesn’t do justice to the diversity in the sources and development of Christianity. Is it at least possible that diverse theological views could arise in Judaism, just as diverse ideas about G-d exist in the Talmud? Is it possible that these distinctions which you seem to think are so trivial like the distinction of natures in Jesus, are things which polytheists wouldn’t bother with and didn’t understand? If Christianity arose in a polytheistic worldview, something like the hypostatic union simply would not exist, as those kind of distinctions between human and divine would be ultimately absolutely irrelevant in a worldview of many gods, pantheism, or pantheon. A pagan Jesus, would just be a philosopher, the divine element in man, or a spirit with special wisdom among many.

  26. May 28, 2014 8:33 pm

    Concerned Reader, I don’t understand, for all your defense of Trinitarianism, are you still Unitarian or did you “convert” to Trinitarianism at some point? In one of your comments you said that you have never worshiped Jesus and that you were born into an Unitarian family. If you at some point changed to Trinitarianism, can you explain why and what did it change for you, practically speaking?

  27. Concerned Reader permalink
    May 29, 2014 12:39 am

    No, I have never worshipped Jesus. I have family that is both Protestant and Catholic, but I was raised Protestant. My defenses of trinitarianism as a monotheistic approach come not as a matter of personal faith, but as a result of studying comparitive religions. As I’ve mentioned, there are no real parallels between Christian theology and polytheism, that don’t collapse in on themselves when subject to real scrutiny and scholarship. Central aspects of Christian doctrine have roots, though not the unique elaborations, in pre Christian Jewish literature, and those unique notions and distinctions of incarnation and hypostatic union serve to differentiate Christianity from polytheism, not to embrace it. For most polytheistic religions, nature and some degree of relativism/pluralism in terms of ethics and metaphysics are the default position. Monism, deism, panentheism, pantheons, pantheism, animism, etc. therefore can entertain a notion of one G-d, but in the vast majority of cases, not a divinity that is active in the sense of mitzva, covenant, or providence, in other words personally invested. And the nature of gods is more akin to angels, not a notion of biblical literature, meant for G-d himself. Christian doctrine makes G-d personally relevant and approachable, yet unique, and differentiates G-d from creatures. The incarnation is in many ways a stepping stone. The point is not to make acceptance of Jesus the man the only way to G-d. I had a few posts on RPP that mentioned this. The difference for me practically speaking, was just how many known gentile polytheists would actually qualify as monotheists in Halacha, just because their philosophy accepts a monistic first cause. Plato and Aristotle are the prime examples of known polytheists who would be considered monotheists because of monism. The fact that the rabbis consider Christianity idolatrous because of Jesus,, (who himself upheld the Torah,) but they can hold up other faiths which have no real relationship to Judaism in the way Christianity does as ok, is somewhat troubling. I can understand a ruling of minut, but not idolatry. Do you see the dilemma? Abstract and totally immanent notions of divinity do far more to advance idolatry than Christianity, due to the simple fact that they are so pluralistic. For instance, I once saw a lecture where Hindus were asking “who is the true god.” Jesus was on their list, but as a sage with a kind of abstract divine awareness or knowledge, not in line with Christian teaching. What was more interesting was the outcome of the panel. They said they were all true. Christ, Krishna, Hashem, etc. making the central premise of scripture of Hashem as unique and active creator utterly moot. My issue is that Hashem is not merely unity, he has identity, will, intention, action, and all trinitarians uphold that central aspect.

  28. May 29, 2014 9:45 am

    Concerned Reader… later today, I am going to publish as a post a parable I just wrote that would help explain why Jesus, as Christianity sees him, is an idol as far as Jews are concerned.

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