On the Roshpinaproject site, I (Bography) have been in dialogue with Yash613 (613 Torah Mitsvos “Laws”) who runs “True Messianic Judaism.” The springboard for our dialogue was a debate between Rabbi Tovia Singer and the Messianic leader David Rosenberg. Yash613 and I were discussing how someone comes to faith and belief in the scriptures.
The sapplings of our discussion got sucked into the forest of other related discussions under the same rubric of “Rabbi Tovia Singer Debates Messianic leader David Rosenberg.” There are two parts to the discussion: a short exchange followed by “The logic of faith.”
Bography to Yash613:
I think a large part of the problem is related to what the NT says the Tanakh said.
Yash has up to now not replied to my last post. Instead of sinking into a deep depression over his silence, I thought I’d write the following piece relevant to the discussion:
THE LOGIC OF FAITH: A wish-you-were-here-Yash- all-613-of-you monologue
You asked me to go to your site to see how a human mind should work. I’m not sure where to find the stuff you mean. I did, though, come across your “Do They Really Want us to Think for Ourselves?”
You say that Jews for Jesus don’t want people to think for themselves; they want other Jews to play dead so that they (Jews for Jesus) can pervert Jewish minds to Jesus Christ.
People are dead in sin and unable to believe in Christ unless He first turns their MINDS to understand what they are not able to understand by themselves. The Bible is very clear – many Christians don’t get it – that the reason why someone doesn’t understand (God, Christ) is because they can’t (are unable to).
You would say that no one’s MIND can really be dead. Catholics agree. Here is Aquinas’s view of the Fall of man, which represents the Catholic position:
“[Thomas]Aquinas had an incomplete view of the Fall. He thought that the Fall did not affect man as a whole but only in part. In his view the will was fallen or corrupted, but the intellect was AFFECTED [SIC]. Thus people could rely on their own human wisdom, and this meant that people were free to mix the teachings of the Bible with the teachings of the non-Christian philosophers.”
The writer meant to say that the will was corrupted but the INTELLECT was UNaffected! A Jew would possibly deny that he is mixing hisTorah logic with non-Christian (Greek) philosophy. The Greeks, though, didn’t have a patent on philosophical thought. For example, what could be more Jewish (AND more Greek) than the LOGOS of John’s Gospel (John 1).
Rey at the RoshpinaProject has written an interesting and well-researched article in which he says:
(“Memra” means the “WORD” which is equivalent to LOGOS. Memra is an Aramaic word used in the Targum, See Rey’s article).
“The interpretation of the meaning of the words logos and memra shows that Judaism and Christianity hold some of the same theological tenets. The following study, although brief, bears out the fact that both persuasions have followers who believe that these two words mean the Word of God who is a Person.
Although the Greek word logos, which originated as a concept of the Stoics, can have different meanings, when John uses it in his gospel and epistles it takes on a distinct spiritual meaning, as in the following:
In the beginning was the word [logos] and the word was with God, and the word was God [John 1:1].
In this opening verse of the Gospel of John, logos is shown as both eternal and pre-existent. It is at the same time introduced as one with God the Father—”was God”—and also distinct from God the Father—”with God.”
John also uses the word logos in his first epistle as follows:
That which was with us from the beginning… of the Word of life [1 John 1:1].
…the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost … [1 John 5:7].
Logos in the above two verses of the Gospels and Letters has the same meaning as it has in John 1:1 when context is considered.”
Jews are ostensibly very logical and always have ostensibly been so from the day God called Abraham out of Ur. A Jew will probably say that Abraham saw the urgency; that it was not some sudden urge but rather a lucid appraisal of what he was – an idol worshipper, and what he could be – a worshipper of the One True God. Among some of the great promises God made to Abraham and his descendants was this irresistible one: “And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed” (Genesis 12:3b). To fulfil this role for the nations, Abraham had to be not only holy but also wise. And what was the very Jewish (and Greek) supreme maxim of metaphysika? It was that logic is “wisdom of the first kind” (Aristotle), that is, logic is the mother of all wisdom.
Did Abraham’s faith emerge from a lucid appraisal? The Bible doesn’t say that about Abraham’s faith. It’s all about God, and little about Abraham. It’s Torah logic. Yash, you talk more like a Mordecai Kaplan (the founder of Reconstructionist Judaism) than a Torah Jew. The Reconstructionist is – deep in his tripes – a rationalist; an Aristotelian. And, as you probably know, Reconstructionists reject the pivotal Torah doctrine of chosenness. They hold the view that the Torah, indeed God, is a mental construct, the greatest mental construct of all time; and it is the brilliance of that construct that places the Jew above the goyim.
What is the Orthodox doctrine of chosenness? “Why were the Jews chosen? (asks the JewishVirtualLibrary) Because they are descendants of Abraham. And why were Abraham and his descendants given the task of making God known to the world? THE TORAH NEVER TELLS US [My capitals]. What God does say in Deuteronomy, is that “it is not because you are numerous that God chose you, indeed you are the smallest of people” (7:7). Because of the Jews’ small numbers, any success they would have in making God known to the world would presumably reflect upon the power of the idea of God. Had the Jews been a large nation with an outstanding army, their successes in making God known would have been attributed to their might and not to the truth of their ideas.”
Where did “the truth of their ideas” come from? To answer that question, we need to make more of the term “smallest” of the people – by making less of its literal meaning of “not many.”
כִּֽי־אַתֶּם הַמְעַט מִכָּל־הָעַמִּֽים׃ – “because you were the least מְעַט “m’at”
I prefer Young’s LITERAL translation, which, ironically (HOW ODD OF GOD – TO CHOOSE THE JEWS), emphasises the figurative meaning of “smallest”, namely, the “least” of all the peoples.
“Not because of your being more numerous than any of the peoples hath Jehovah delighted in you, and fixeth on you, for ye are the least of all the peoples” ( Deut. 7:7; Young’s literal translation).
This figurative meaning seems to be the best, because human beings associate size with significance – as they do today: the biggest house, the biggest muscles, the biggest brain, the biggest wedding furniture. Why did God choose the Jews? Because he wanted to. Why did He want to? Because it pleased Him. And that is the grand Torah logic of chosenness (election, predestination), which continues on into the New Testament. Chosenness does not depend on foreseen faith or good works, or anything else outside of God, but exclusively on God’s sovereign good pleasure. If God “foreknows” you it means He “foreloved” you. This description of chosenness is at odds with all forms of Judaism, which I find odd, seeing that Deuteronomy 7:7 can mean nothing else. Most people believe that man ultimately chooses God, Deut 7:7 says no. Christ, continuing in the same vein, shed his blood for the truth that “I have chosen you, you haven’t chosen me” (John 15:16). But, doesn’t Deuteronomy also contain passages where we are commanded to choose God if we want God’s blessing. Yes that is true. The point is this: God chooses the ends (results) and the means. His end here is salvation of his elect, which is entirely of the Lord. Goes this mean that those who are saved do nothing, don’t exercise their will? Of course not. The point is that the means the Lord uses to gather his elect is faith out of which flows obedience to his law. The Lord makes us free to love and obey him, that is, he releases us from the bondage of our (reprobate) wills.
Here is a rhetorical question that applies to both Torah Jew and Messianic Jew, and all who believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God. It’s a question asked by the Jew Matityahu Glazerson (in his Philistine and Palestinian, p. 90): “What does a Jew have other than his faith.” The pillar of that faith is the “Ten commandments.” The base of that pillar is the revelation of God in the fire and the cloud. It was Faith, not logic, that came to lodge in the hearts and minds of a people, that came to dwell. But the Jew has never – in spite of his interminable sabbaths – been able to enter his rest. The writer of the letter to the Hebrews explains why: “And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.” Although the writer to the Hebrews ascribes this restlessness to those who rejected the LORD of Glory in Jewish history. his brief, extends far beyond the past and into the present and future – to those who reject the LORD of Glory who was made the perfect sacrifice for the atonement of sin.
Where’s the logic in all this? My Christian brethren ooh and aah when I tell them I’m a Jew. They tell me – it’s hard to stay humble – how clever Jews are. I presume that if you’re clever – or crafty – you’re ipso facto logical. There is no doubt that Jews are clever, but there is also a select (if not elect) spread of shlemiels. The cleverness comes from God. And the shlemielkeit? It seems to come from nowhere but themselves. But, then isn’t it God who stops up the ears and blinds the eyes as well. You can’t win.
Jews think that all Christians are shlemiels because they believe in a man who says He is God (or because they believe – I’m catering for those whose bent is not history – in men who say that another man said he was God). Now where did I read about shlemiels in the Bible?
“And he (Jesus) said to them, “O shlemiels, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken…” (Luke 24:25).