Third Response to Dalton Lifsey

Originally posted on 1000 Verses - a project of Judaism Resources:

Third Response to Dalton Lifsey

http://thecontroversyofzion.com/2012/02/my-second-response-to-yisroel-blumenthal-the-judicial-hardening-of-israel/

Dalton

Thanks for your response. I appreciate the opportunity you give me to articulate my position yet again. As I said in my original post, education is a long drawn out and tedious process, but I know of no other process that is more rewarding.

About nasty responses from my fellow counter-missionaries, I can sort of sympathize with them. After all, you did attack me after having read only a fraction of what I’ve written and you presented no substantive arguments to back up your attack. Some of the arguments you have put forth are perceived by some to be anti-semitic. My intention is to respond to your arguments because I think I understand where you are coming from. I appeal to my fellow activists who strive for the honor of Israel’s God to be patient with my patience.

You contend that my message of…

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Without Preconceived Notions

Originally posted on 1000 Verses - a project of Judaism Resources:

Without Preconceived Notions

In one of my articles (entitled Messianic Expectation https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2010/08/31/the-messianic-expectation/  ) I wrote: “When we read the scripture without any preconceived notions about the Messiah, when we read God’s promises for Israel’s glorious future age, we can readily see why the Jewish people cannot accept the claims of Christianity.”

Gil Torres commented by saying that the missionary could respond with the exact same argument: “When we read the scripture without any preconceived notions about the Messiah, when we read God’s promises for Israel’s glorious future age, we can readily see why the Christian people accept the claims of Christianity.”

So it seems that Gil Torres is under the impression that reading the Jewish Scriptures “WITHOUT ANY PRECONCEIVED NOTIONS” will lead us to the Christian description of the Messiah.

In this humble article I set out to demonstrate how it is that I know that Gil’s assertion is…

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Inheritance – Deuteronomy 33:4, by Jim

To those Christians who find it outrageous to consider that the Jewish people have a special understanding of Torah,

One of you, David I believe, misrepresented the Jewish position on this matter. He made the Jewish position out to be one of racial superiority. This misrepresentation is egregious and serves only to malign others, but David feels like this is justified. He believes he is only fighting fire with fire, and that is his business. I am only interested in the facts, here. In a moment, I will show why this mischaracterization, besides being ugly, is false.

But first, let me mention that at least one other of you has protested the idea that the Jewish people are particularly well suited to read Torah. Eric was quite incensed with the idea that he would need to go to the Jewish people to understand Torah. He does not like the idea that he would have to rely upon someone else to understand the Word of God.

I can understand Eric’s feelings, but they must be put aside. We must only consider the facts. Examining them will give us all the reason in the world to look to the Jewish people for our understanding of Torah and the whole of Tanach.

First, let us state the exceedingly obvious. Torah is written in Hebrew. It is in a language with which most of us are not familiar. And for those of us who do know Hebrew, from where did that understanding come? It came from the Jewish people, those who do know Hebrew. One of the Church fathers, his name is escaping me right now, studies with rabbis to make his translation of Torah. He could not read the original text on its own.

Most people recognize that a translation is not the same thing as the original writing. Meaning is lost. Sometimes languages do not even share concepts. Translations are rough approximations. One who reads a translation can get an idea of what Torah teaches but will miss nuances and, sometimes, larger ideas. Sometimes the prophets made puns that are not apparent in translations.

Moreover, as we all know, Torah is not vowelized. The non-Hebrew speaking world relies on the Jews to tell them how the words should be pronounced, which can alter the meaning at times. Without the Jew to guide us, even once we learn Hebrew, Torah will not be clear to us. We rely upon the Jewish people.

It is not only the language, however, that makes us reliant upon the Jewish people, not at all. We rely upon them for context as well. The book is part of their history and culture. They understand its terms and meanings, not just as bits of vocabulary, but contextually. The prophets rely upon this understanding, referencing fasts, for example, that are not mentioned in Torah. Only the Jewish people, whose fasts these were, understand the reference, and those who have learned from the Jewish people.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the understanding of the shema. The Jewish people were given this Torah with the idea that there is none beside God. They were instructed on how to worship Him. It is a part of their heritage. Later, people who were not part of the culture, who were not part of the tradition, reinterpreted the shema. They made God three instead of one, because the concepts of Torah were foreign to them.

But they must acknowledge, that the Jewish people were appointed, according to Torah, to be God’s witnesses. They were to be a kingdom of priests. It is upon the knowledge of the Jewish people, regarding Torah, which we must rely. The Christians who adopted the Hebrew Scriptures recognize that the Jewish people were given the prophets and appointed to keep the knowledge of God alive in the world.

Now, David wants to pretend this is a racial argument for his own reasons. But it is not. Clearly, it is not just any Jew who is qualified to teach Torah. Unfortunately, many Jews did not study Torah, did not practice it, nor cling to it. Some have abandoned it. We cannot turn to these to teach us Torah. It is not their genetic structure that makes them teachers of Torah. Those who separated themselves from it clearly cannot teach it. Those who have gone after other gods have disqualified themselves from being Torah instructors. Those who never learned it, whose parents abandoned it and did not pass its knowledge along, do not have the proper qualifications just because they descend from Abraham. (And in fact, one can attach himself to the Jewish people, though never born to it.)

We must not be afraid to recognize our limitations. God has given the world a great gift in the Jewish people. He gave them Torah and made them our teachers. Let us not be afraid to come to them to learn. Without them, we know that we could not decipher one page of Torah. But with them, we may learn how to serve our God. Blessed is HaShem who gave us the Jewish people, so that we might know His ways.

Jim

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Revised Messiah – Excerpt from Critique of Vol. 4

Originally posted on 1000 Verses - a project of Judaism Resources:

IV. 5.Objection 5.15

Brown presents an objection to Christianity:

“When Jesus failed to fulfill the prophecies, his followers invented the myth of his substitutionary death, his resurrection, and finally his second coming, which, of course, they completely expected in his lifetime.”

Brown responds on behalf of Christianity:

“In order to make this claim, you virtually have to rewrite the entire New Testament, since a central theme of those writings, from their earliest strata on, is that Jesus had to go to the cross and suffer and die and then rise from the dead.”

Brown’s response does not begin to address the objection. The New Testament was written after the disappointed followers of Jesus had already developed a semi-coherent theology to explain the death of their leader. No one claims that any part of the New Testament was written while Jesus was alive. The fact that the New Testament claims…

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Starting Points – by Concerned Reader

4 Reasons Christians come to accept Jesus so emphatically, can’t understand why others don’t, AND WHY ITS A PROBLEM.

1. Christians often have a “conversion experience.” Dr. Michael Brown is a perfect example. He says he was an addict and an agnostic, though he attended synagogue sporadically as a child on high holidays. After an experience of Jesus, he purportedly became devoutly religious. Christians ask themselves, “how can a seemingly godly outcome come from something thats not of G-d?”

2. Christians presently percieve that they live in a “monotheistic” culture that used to be profoundly polytheistic. Nobody worships Zeus, thor, Hercules, etc. anymore. The change from western polytheism to monotheism purportedly came about with Christianity’s ascendance, Christians see “fulfillment” of passages to their mind, like Isaiah 42:4.

3. Before Christian theology becomes a meaningful factor for new converts, Christians (as Neophytes) are exposed first to the ethics of Jesus, ie the golden rule, love, the rules found in Acts 15, and Jesus’ rules for ethical living found throughout the gospels. They appear to most people to be Torah based ethics, based off of the ethics for G-d fearers, even according to scholars.

4. When Christians approach the question of theology, for validation and checking of their ideas and beliefs, they often examine the mytho-poetical aspects of Jewish traditions (midrash and mysticism) of the past to see if they can find some paralells that would possibly account for a Christian-like theology in Judaism of the past. They ask, “can I find Jews in the past who accepted ideas like mine while remaining religious Jews?”
-philo’s Logos
-Rambam’s active intellect, and his descriptions of Moses as having a unique prophetic connection.
-traditions of Ascent of the righteous to heaven (enoch and Elijah) and their angelic transformations.
-Saadiah Gaon’s Kavod Nivra as vehicle and expression of Prophetic inspiration.
– Traditions of a possible dying, (or suffering) messianic figure.
-an examination of the history of messianism

When all these ideas appear to be found in Judaism in some form, Christians feel that their faith and experiences can be reconciled with the Hebrew Bible even if they can’t work out all the details, they feel vindicated. IT IS USUALLY TRUE THAT EVERYONE IS LIKELY TO BELIEVE THEIR OWN EXPERIENCES OVER THE WORDS OF OTHERS.

ANY astute reader of the above information should recognize the problem of method. Take a very careful note of the central factor that is MISSING in the Christian’s methodology for determining the truth of his faith claims, and answering this central question. HE DOES NOT EVER CONSULT HALACHA OR THE TERMS AND STIPULATIONS FOUND IN G-D’s COVENANT WITH ISRAEL! His faith is based on his perceived personal experiences of Jesus, some parallels that he sees in Jewish philosophy, mysticism, and history, and on the message received from his culture. HE LACKS the insider covenant perspective of the Jewish people who are born into an observant culture, with responsibilities to G-d’s Torah. He does not ask, “how does Christianity’s claim fit with the duty of the Jewish people to maintain scrupulous observance of all the commandments in Moses’ Torah forever?” Because the Christian is not asking the questions and seeking answers from the standpoint of Israel’s unique covenant obligations, he cannot really see why his faith doesn’t fit the Torah. In fact, to the Christians, their experience of Jesus seems to retroactively validate things in the Jewish Bible that they find too fantastic to be possible. They were brought in without consulting Torah, so they miss a crucial element in answering the question and getting the right answer.

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In the Image – by Jim

In the Image – by Jim

C. Paul,

You ask whether or not Buddhists are made in the image of God, “Hindus also”, “[a]nd on”. I should be surprised at this question, but I am less surprised than I would have expected.

In fact, if you pay attention carefully to Torah, or in fact at all, it does not require much in the way of care, it tells you that humanity was made in the image of God. See Genesis 1:26. It is not only the Jew who is made in the image of God, nor those from your particular sect of Christianity.

Every human being is precious, regardless of his religious errors. This is the reason given for the prohibition to murder: “Whoever sheds the blood of a human, by a human shall that person’s blood be shed; for in his own image God made humankind” (Genesis 9:6). Or do you think that you may murder a Buddhist or a Hindu? Do you deny that they are in the image of God?

In fact, God loves all people. Some do earn for themselves death. But God makes clear that He does not delight in the death of the wicked. He wishes, instead, that they turn from their wickedness and live. (See Ezekiel 18). Is this not clear from Jonah? God sent Jonah to the people of Nineveh, idolaters, with word that God was going to destroy them in forty days. This was a call to repentance, and it worked. The people repented and God relented. Now, if it is as you imply, that God has no concern for them, He would just destroy them. But as Jonah says, God is “merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing” (4:2).

It is true that Israel is God’s first-born son. That does not leave the rest of us in the cold. It implies that we are also his sons. The Jewish people have a special relationship with God and also greater responsibility. They are a light to the nations. They are a kingdom of priests. And if they are priests, they have a role to play to benefit the non-Jewish world. They are here to show the beauty and truth of serving God. They are to instruct us in their ways. You have acknowledged that they are witnesses, and so they are. They testify to the One God, beside Whom there is no other. They carry this light and testimony to the benefit of the non-Jew. They are a blessing to us.

The creation of Israel is a sign of God’s great love for the world. Solomon, when dedicating the Temple, prayed that if a non-Jew should hear about the good things going on in Israel and pray toward the Temple, that God would hear their prayer (I Kings 8:41-43). He hoped that by this the nations would know God and fear Him “as do your people Israel”. In the future, the nations will stream to Jerusalem to learn the ways of God. And they will be at peace.

It is clear that God has concern for the non-Jew. Torah does not claim that only the Jew is made in the image of God. Nor does it say that one who follows idols is no longer in God’s image. The Hindu must repent. He does himself a great wrong by bowing down to false gods. But he is still a special creation of the Creator. He is still in the image of God.

You have asked a good question. What does it mean to be made in the image of God? But you have jumped to hasty conclusions. Torah says nothing about the “Son of God”. This Christian invention does violence to the text and leads you to denigrate both Torah and your fellow human being. Whatever it means to be made in the image of God, we see from Torah that all human beings are made in the image of God, and they have intrinsic value. We see that God has concern for all human beings, not Israel only.

Jim

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Matthew’s Guards – by Jim

Eric,

Some time ago, you and I briefly discussed whether or not the Pharisees were trustworthy. You wrote that they are not, which started the conversation. If I recall correctly, one thing you held against them was that they covered up the resurrection of Jesus, according to Matthew. This proved to you just how treacherous they were. I pointed out that Matthew was not trustworthy, drawing as proof his abuse of the holy words of HaShem. You were unable to answer this charge. You wrote something about the other books of the NT being in existence as well and Matthew (and John) speaking for itself. This, of course, does not establish that Matthew is trustworthy. You found it outrageous that I would take your lack of defense as an admission that Matthew was not trustworthy. Meanwhile, without any evidence, you have determined that the Pharisees are not trustworthy, on the say-so of a man whom you could not defend. Now, as I mentioned before, Matthew does not write that the Pharisees paid the guards. It was the chief priest and elders, which I mention only for accuracy (because you and I both know that someone will claim that I do not know the story, if I get a detail wrong.) I propose that we briefly examine Matthew’s story and see if it is credible. Once we examine it, we will see that Matthew is untrustworthy, fabricating stories to malign his opponents.

When you read Matthew 28:11-15, you should notice something exceedingly strange about the entire story. A huge question should come into your mind when you read that they paid the soldiers to say that the disciples stole Jesus away. I do not mean the question that is so often asked, about how the guards would be able to admit that they fell asleep on duty without being killed for it, although that is a good question. I do not even mean how the guards could be expected to testify to an event that they are supposed to have slept through, although that is also good. No, there is a huge question that reveals how the whole story is a lie, that Matthew made it up. Think for a minute.

How did they know that Jesus was not going to show himself publicly?

Think about it. I’ll wait.

The chief priests and elders have just heard that Jesus is going to come back. They have no idea what he will do. They do not know that he is going to ascend to heaven in forty days. But the story shows that they expect never to see him. Why is that?

Well, the answer is obvious. This story was fabricated by Matthew much later. Jesus never made any public appearances. But the Jewish leadership could not know that was going to happen. Yet they did not worry at all what he was going to do. Instead, they somehow knew in advance that they could say the disciples took him. This makes no sense. They should have been expecting him to appear. They could not bribe the guards on the day that Jesus resurrected to say the disciples took Jesus, because nobody knew that he was not going to show up.

This story only makes sense after the disciples begin publicizing the resurrection but have no Jesus to prove it. It is only then that the accusation of the Jewish leaders that the disciples stole the body would make any sense. But according to the NT, this happened 47 days later than the plotting of the chief priests and elders. The Jewish leadership did not know that Jesus was not going to show himself, so the story they hatched does not make sense at day three after his death. The claim that the disciples took the body presumes that they know that there is no Jesus to show.

Matthew’s story is a fabrication. He overlooked the fact that the Jewish leadership would not know what Jesus was going to do. His story reflects the idea that the claim of his resurrection was made without evidence, without an actual resurrected Jesus. It is a neat trick he has pulled. He has made the Jewish leadership look like hypocrites and tried to establish them as witnesses to the resurrection. But he clearly invented this story, overlooking that their behavior is not consistent with those who believed that a man back from the dead could present himself. Their behavior is consistent with people who know that the disciples will claim he came back and then disappeared.

Let’s be frank. Matthew lied. He made up a story about the Jewish leadership to cover up the lack of Christian proof and malign critics of Christianity.

In fact, if you pay careful attention, you can see he has pulled another trick. He is trying to establish the timeline by attributing it to his critics. See, the disciples did not announce the resurrection until long after Jesus was supposed to come back. Now, I am not saying that the disciples stole Jesus’ body out of the grave, but they had much more than three days in which to do it, if they wanted to. They could have taken it at day 47. It is likely that he invented the story of the guards, to give the appearance that Jesus was back by day three, as he was supposed to be. It is a real problem that his resurrection is not publicized until day 50 and that he is not there to do it. So, Matthew invents a story about guards. He makes his opponents look like liars and hypocrites, while making them appear to testify to his story.

In fact, you can see how useless guards would be. The guards are only going to be posted for a few days. So, whenever they leave, that’s when you take the body (if you were going to.) And then you just make up a story about how the guards were paid off or whatever story you like. The guards are useless.

It is clear that Matthew is not trustworthy. His accusations against the Pharisees should not be trusted. His accusations against the chief priests and elders are obvious fabrications. His abuse of scripture shows that he is disinterested in truth and would distort even the words of Tanach if it suited him. His accusations are not to be believed.

Jim

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