Strickened and quickened. (My) Love wins: Arminianism in a nutshell

When Calvinism is contrasted with Arminianism, what first comes to mind is God’s role and man’s role in coming to faith. The Calvinist says that man plays no cooperative or contributive role in coming to faith, while the Arminian says that man cooperates with God in that man turns his heart to God, that is, exercises his will to come to faith. This faith is God’s gift to man but man’s gift to God. In Calvinism, God first regenerates the sinner and then gives the sinner the gift of faith, while in Arminianism, regeneration follows the sinner’s acceptance of God’s offer of salvation. Faith, for the Arminian is something the believer does, not something God gives, as Calvinism understands it.

Ephesians 2:1-9

1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

In the above passage, the Arminian says that grace is God’s gift to all people without exception while faith is a person’s gift to God. In the above passage, the Arminian introduces an intervening step. After being quickened (raised up), one can say yes or no.

“Do you want to remain quickened or return to being strickened?

”Strickened, please.”

“Ok, but I’ll never give up on you; I’ll be prodding you corpse come eternity in case you change your mind.

“What love is this! I can come forth like Lazarus if I want. Love wins!” My love.

Love, the enemy? Reconciliation in the Bible

 

A member of the Messianic congregation Maozisrael tells of his “saddest day in Israel” – the occasion: a Jewish demonstration in Ashdod, Israel against Messianic Jews in Israel:

Growing up as a Jew, I never in my life would have thought that I would one day be compared to Hitler. But that’s just what happened tonight. II was informed that there would be a ‘rally’ against Messianic Jews (Jews who believe that Yeshua is the promised Jewish Messiah) in the town of Ashdod, Israel…I honestly didn’t know what to expect. Maybe a few demonstrators? I was shocked by what was in place when I arrived. The Ashdod police had the entire street closed off. Police check-points stopped cars that wanted to enter the area. In front of the congregation were police barricades, a stage with a podium, a long table, with banners and signs that read: ‘Yad L’Achim’ (“The Hand of the Brothers”). I soon realized this was going to be some well organized hate-fest. Within half an hour the entire street was packed with hundreds and hundreds of ultra-orthodox men and boys dressed in black. Soon, ‘rabbi’ (I use that term very loosely) after rabbi took to the stage to condemn the plague that is Messianic Judaism. Missionaries, they called us. Then came the comparisons to Hitler. We’re here to destroy the Jewish people, to steal Jewish souls to lead all Jews away from Judaism and on and on and on.”

In the above event, hatred of Yeshua/Jesus is obviously the enemy. Harrowing and sad as such a situation is, one great advantage is that each side is clear about who the enemy is. What is often more inimical than hatred from outside is love from within – a very attractive love but a false love. Over the years I have had many conversations with “men of the cloth” on the Bible and Christian love. I summarise their views under relevant topics.

The inspiration of scripture

Much of the Bible is a record of primitive man’s progressive understanding of God, starting with a God of wrath and vengeance and culminating in the mercy and love of Jesus. The expression “Thus says the Lord,” which appears more than four hundred times in the Old Testament, is usually not the Lord speaking because, they argue, a God of love would never threaten or curse. Here are examples from the book of Jeremiah where “Thus says the Lord appears more than 30 times): Jeremiah 11:3 You shall say to them, Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Cursed be the man who does not hear the words of this covenant.” Jeremiah 13:13 Then you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord: Behold, I will fill with drunkenness all the inhabitants of this land: the kings who sit on David’s throne, the priests, the prophets, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem.” Jeremiah 14:15 Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the prophets who prophesy in my name although I did not send them, and who say, ‘Sword and famine shall not come upon this land’: By sword and famine those prophets shall be consumed.

With regard to the New Testament, these men say that Jesus definitely said:  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:16-17). But , they also say that although Jesus, being love incarnate, might have said  “Whoever believes in him is not condemned” (John 3:18a), he could not have said something so unloving as “but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (John 3:18b).

Jesus, they say, probably never said verse 3:18a either because love is not about believing in a set of abstract doctrines but about loving others. And Jesus definitely couldn’t have said 18b, they argue, because a God of love doesn’t condemn anybody.

Sacrifice

The idea that God would sacrifice Himself and in such a bloody manner is a primitive way to show His love. The idea that the Father would plan – even if with the Son’s cooperation, if there was such a person as the “Son of God” – that His Son would suffer such cruelty and anguish to propitiate the Father’s wrath against sinners who purportedly deserve eternal damnation; well, this is something that not even Old Testament barbarism ever conceived of. (Many of these men do not believe in God as a Trinity of persons). What, though, would these men make of God smiting, wounding, crushing his “suffering servant” (the Messiah) because of the sins of his people?

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? (Isaiah 53:4-8 ESV).”

The core of the Gospel

These men reject the core of the Gospel, which is:

  1. Christ taking upon Himself the punishment we deserved (His substitutionary death) and His bodily resurrection from the dead: “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4 ESV).
  2. Christ will justify those who have faith (trust) in Christ “Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). Those whom God justifies become reconciled to Him.
  3. Those who are reconciled to God will lead a holy life permeated with love for others. “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:11-14 ESV).

Relationships

Jesus came into the world, these men say, to smash through the barriers of animosity that separate human beings. The key biblical term “sin” is eschewed as another one of those man-made terms that are largely responsible for the division between human beings. The Bible, in contrast, does not say that the main point of Jesus’ incarnation is to smash through the barriers of human strife and, in so doing, reconcile man to man.

This is what the Bible says: “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:17-19 ESV) – (“their,” of course, refers to anyone in the world who is in – believes in – Christ).

The Bible also teaches that those who stand up for the Gospel will be thought foolish. And no one was more aware of that than the Apostle Paul:I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me! For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. Indeed, I consider that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles. Even if I am unskilled in speaking, I am not so in knowledge; indeed, in every way we have made this plain to you in all things” (2 Corinthians 11:1-6 ESV).

“Men of the cloth” titter: “Paul, though it is true that you can stand proudly next to “these super-apostles,” it matters little because they, like you, think they have super-knowledge, but in truth all you have are super-imaginations.”

Final thoughts

Jesus says that the law can be summed up in two commandments:Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. [38] This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:36-40 ESV). And:Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes” (1 John 2:9-11 ESV).

Many of these “men of the cloth” are products of liberal theology, which moved away from the vertical relationship between man and God to the horizontal relationship between man and man. Many of them emphasise the horizontal relationship because they observe that Christians are so devoted to the vertical relationship that they neglect the commandment that they should love others as much as they love themselves. They agree with the Apostle John (he must have really said this!): “If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother (1 John 4:20-21 ESV). In other words, these men of the cloth say that love of God without love for man is love for an abstraction. No Christian worth his savour will disagree. If the only complaint of these liberal men of the cloth had to do with keeping the right balance between the two great commandments of love, then that’s very good. But it’s not just that – at all. It’s about intellects that consider themselves superior to the “imaginative fabrications” of not only the Old Testament and New Testament writers but also superior to the ratiocinations of Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, and a Calvin. In a nutshell, it is they who will decide what is from God and what is from a Prophet or an Apostle. So, if God is not mainly about healing human relationships, they say, then such a God, cannot exist. Such a view of love is not in the Bible; it’s man-centred, world-centred, therefore man-made, and thus an enemy of the “Gospel of God” (Romans 1:1).

 

Universalism, Love, and the Mystical Desertion of the Gospel

In Christian theology, there are two kinds of “universal salvation.” The first kind  is described in one of the documents of the Second Vatican Council, “Nostra Aetate,” which is the Declaration on the relation of the Church to non-Christian religions proclaimed by Pope Paul VI, October, 1965. Nostra Aetate rejects the papal (infallible) bulls of previous centuries by stating that salvation can be attained in other religions if adherents remain faithful to their beliefs and follow universal moral laws of love (See my Buddhism, Judaism and Catholic Nostra Aetate).

The second kind of universal salvation states that every human being will be reconciled to God, no matter what their beliefs or non-beliefs or their (im)moral behaviour. This was the belief of Carlo Carretto. Carretto was the leader of the Italian post-World War II youth movement known as Catholic Action. In 1954, He resigned from that position and joined the Little Brothers of Jesus at their novitiate in the Sahara desert. The Little Brothers of Jesus movement was inspired by the life and writings of Charles de Foucauld.

In 1983, five years before his death, Carretto wrote “I sought and I found,” which was a response to Augusto Guerriero’s (Ricciardetto) “I sought and I did not find.”  When Ricciardetto died, Carrretto said of him, “Now he is in the light.” Carretto writes:

Word of his death reached me in Japan one sunny Sunday while I was visiting the temple of Kamakura, some hundred kilometres from Tokyo. It was a marvellous morning. And for the Japanese it was the day the birth of life was celebrated. Prospective bridegrooms were escorting their brides-to-be before the great Buddha…I was enchanted by all this beauty, and by such throngs of people at prayer. And if Ricciardetto had been there with me, he too would have been moved to behold such vitality, such hope. Look how many ‘are finding,’ I would have told him! How many have found! See how they love one another! See how they hope! Don’t be afraid! God is the living one!” (Carlo Carretto, “I sought and I found, Orbis Books, 1985, p.7 – Translation of the Italian edition published in 1983).

I spent more than 20 years in the Catholic Church (age 19 to 41) and all the relatives on my wife’s side are Catholics. My impression, after wide exposure to Catholics and reading modern Catholic literature (like Carretto), is that a large number of Catholics believe, with Carretto, not only that God is love but that love is God, that is, if you are loving towards another, you are a child of God, a child of the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. These Catholics regard the following papal Bulls – ex cathedra (infallible) declarations – as a mystical heresy:

We declare,say, define, and pronounce that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.” (Pope Boniface VIII, the Papal Bull ” Unam Sanctum”, 1302 A.D.)

The most Holy Roman Catholic Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics, can have a share in life eternal; but that they will go into the eternal fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels, unless before death they are joined with Her. ( Pope Eugene IV, the Papal Bull ” Cantate Domino”, 1441 A.D.).

Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus, outside the (Catholic) Church there is no salvation.”The Catholic Church is the Vine , you the branches: he who abides in the Catholic Church, and the Catholic Church in him, the same bears much fruit, for without the Catholic Church you can do nothing. If anyone is not in the Catholic Church , he shall be cast forth like a branch and wither, and they shall gather him up and cast him him into the fire, and he burneth” ( John 15:5-6).He who is not with the Catholic Church is against the Catholic Church; he who gathers not with the Catholic Church scatters” ( Matt: 12:30).Neither is there salvation in any other. For there is no other name – than the Catholic Church – under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved  (Acts. 4:12).

In a loving nutshell: “Love and all becomes logical, easy and true.” (Carlo Carretto, “I sought and I found, 1985, Orbis Books, 1985, p. 64). This view of love (for others) fills much modern Jewish thought as well; for example, Gerald Jampolsky and Jerry Weintraub whom I discussed elsewhere. Towards the end of his book, Carretto says: “The grandest thing I can say about God is that he is merciful, and I believe in universal salvation” (p. 133). What, however, does the Lord Jesus say?

16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:16-17).

Carretto would say, like the majority of professing Christians, that “world” means everyone in the world. But then come the verses that contradict Carretto’s “universal” salvation view.  “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God (John 3:18).

I mentioned above that when Ricciardetto died, Carrretto said of him, “Now he is in the light.” Not so, according to the next verse: “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light… (John 3:19).

About Jesus loving universally (everybody in the world), Jesus prays in his “unity” prayer:

“[6] I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. [7] Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. [8] For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. [9] I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours (John 17:6-9 ESV, my italics and emphasis).

God’s love and mercy – and light, – infuriatingly, for universalists and many others, are only for those the Father gave (from eternity) to Jesus out of the world. These are those who “believed in the name of the only Son of God.”

There is the further question of how those whom the Father gives the Son come to believe. Simple – for God, but not simple for the human ego:

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:44). And those who come will certainly be sanctified and glorified and raised on the last day:

For those whom he foreknew (which means “foreloved,” of course) he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified” (Romans 8:29-30 ESV). Now, “do not grumble among yourselves” (John 6:43) over God’s sovereign choices.

Universalism finds its greatest supporter in the “mystical” experience of being close to God. One of the greatest mystical heroes in Roman Catholicism is Thomas Merton. Carretto was, like Thomas Merton, a Catholic mystic who believed that other religions such a Buddhism was a valid path to salvation (See John 17 and Catholic Universalism: That they may be One – (Reformed) Protestants need not apply). Indeed, Buddhism to Merton was not merely another way to union with God.

There is a growing number of contemporary Catholic monasteries and parishes that hold Buddhist retreats and workshops. A Jesuit priest come Zen master, Robert E. Kennedy, holds Zen retreats at his “Morning Star Zendo”. Kennedy asks “students to trust themselves and to develop their own self-reliance through the practice of Zen.” ( I’m not recommending Kennedy’s Zendo, but merely citing my sources, which  I like to do not just now and zen, but often).

Some of the things that Thomas Merton said make it very difficult to understand how he can reconcile his Catholicism with Buddhism. Merton wants to be both a Buddhist and a Catholic. He says: “I see no contradiction between Buddhism and Christianity.”It’s difficult to understand how one can be both a good Zen Buddhist and a good Catholic. It seems Kennedy was more interested in converting Catholics to Buddhism than in Catholicism itself. “The future of Zen is in the West,” he says.  And the future of Catholicism? That was too limited in scope, too Roman; not universal enough, not catholic enough. The future lay in the emergent union to be born out of the merger between East and West. Merton had the backing of his illustrious and saintly predecessor, St Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, who proclaimed: “All that is true, by whomever it has been said, is from the Holy Spirit.” Could we also say “all that is deep, by whomever it has been said, is from the Holy Spirit.” Merton was influenced by Gandhi who advocated that the way to finding the deeper roots of one’s own religious tradition is by  immersing oneself in other religions, and then returning “home” to see one’s own traditions and beliefs in a clearer light.

The Catholic Church, since Vatican II (1961), has radically changed its attitude towards inter-religious dialogue. Merton and other Catholic devotees of Eastern thought had a significant influence on changing Rome’s attitude to non-Christian religions. The papal encyclical Nostra Aetate (“In Our Time”) states: (Nostra Aetate is the Declaration on the relation of the Church to non-Christian religions proclaimed by Pope Paul VI, October, 1965)The Church therefore has this exhortation for her sons: prudently and lovingly, through dialogue and collaboration with the followers of other religions, and in witness of Christian faith and life, acknowledge, preserve, and promote the spiritual and moral goods found among these men, as well as the values in their society and culture” (Nostra Aetate 2). (See Buddhism, Judaism and Catholic Nostra Aetate).

Mother Teresa, another universalist, would never have dreamed of bringing the Gospel to the sick and the dying:

We never try to convert those who receive [aid from Missionaries of Charity] to Christianity but in our work we bear witness to the love of God’s presence and if Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists, or agnostics become for this better men — simply better — we will be satisfied. It matters to the individual what church he belongs to. If that individual thinks and believes that this is the only way to God for her or him, this is the way God comes into their life — his life. If he does not know any other way and if he has no doubt so that he does not need to search then this is his way to salvation.” (Her Life in the Spirit: Reflections, Meditations and Prayers, pp. 81-82).

In the biography Mother Teresa: Her People and Her Work, she is quoted by Desmond Doig as follows: “If in coming face to face with God we accept Him in our lives, then we are converting. We become a better Hindu, a better Muslim, a better Catholic, a better whatever we are. … What approach would I use? For me, naturally, it would be a Catholic one, for you it may be Hindu, for someone else, Buddhist, according to one’s conscience. What God is in your mind you must accept” (Doig, Mother Teresa, Harper & Row, 1976, p. 156).

At the beginning of this piece, I mentioned that Caretto joined the Little Brothers of Jesus at their novitiate in the Sahara desert. Carretto writes:”The desert – the real desert, the one made out of jackal howls and starry nights – was the place of my encounter with God…No longer did I wish to discuss him. I wanted to know him…I sought the God of all seven days of the week, not the God of Sunday…It was not hard because he was there ready waiting for me. And I found him. And this is why I say with joy, and dare to testify to my brothers and sisters in the Spirit: ‘I Sought and I Found’” (p. 10).

The desert is a favourite locus for mystical encounters of universal love, where one can become so absorbed into that love that it is easy to forget – or to ever consider – that “whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son”(John 3:18) – a forgetfulness that is a desertion – of the Gospel.

Jerry Weintraub on Love for God and Love for Man: A Christian view

Wordsworth’s Ode (Note 1) to “Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood “ is divided into three parts: the first part describes the poet’s anxiety at losing sight (a sense of appreciation) of the beauty of the world; the second part describes the progressive – from childhood to old age – loss of sight of the divine. The third part affirms the hope that the memory of the divine will never be lost because the divine lies deeper than tears.

The Ode ends with these words:

          Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
          Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,
          To me the meanest flower that blows can give
          Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.

For Wordsworth, what makes us human is the divinity found in the beauty of “the meanest flower,” the beauty of nature. For the Christian (and the Torah Jew),  “[e]ternal truth, says F.W. Robertson, is not perceived through sensation. ‘Eye hath not seen the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.’ There is a life of mere sensation. The degree of its enjoyment depends upon fineness of organization. The pleasures of sense arise from the vibration of a nerve, or the thrilling of a muscle – nothing higher.The highest pleasure of sensation comes through the eye. She ranks above all the rest of the senses in dignity. He whose eye is so refined by discipline that he can repose with pleasure upon the serene outline of beautiful form, has reached the purest of the sensational raptures.” Wordsworth would counter that our immortality, if only an intimation, lies in eternal truth expressed through Nature. This is a central belief in Eastern religion.

Joshua Liebman (1907-1948) the famous rabbi-psychiatrist also speaks of an intimation of immortality. Whereas in Wordsworth “love” was the substantial relationship between God and Nature, where both shared the same substance (essence), in Lieberman, “the chief intimation of our immortality is our unique human power for loving our fellow man.”

There are four “objects” of love: love for God-Nature (the pantheism of Wordsworth and Eastern religions), love for oneself, love for others, and love for God-Creator-Personality (distinct from creation). The last three loves are, of course, encapsulated in the first two Torah commandments: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and love your neighbour as yourself. The big question is: how should I love God, myself and my neighbour? (Of course, if you’re a Darwinian, there’s no reason why you should do anything).

In this article, I shall focus on human love: love for others and love for God as Creator-Personality, that is, the God of the Bible.

A key term in Jewish thought is relatedness: the relatedness between human beings and between human beings and God. Joshua Liebman (his “Peace of mind,” chapter 4) warns us to “love or perish” and admonishes us (quoting Emerson) to “give all to love.” Judaism, for Liebman, is a religion of relatedness, of which love is the greatest expression.

What was characteristically Jewish about the power of love was its “civic virtue” (Reinhold Niebuhr). In this regard, it would be hard to find a more illustrious example of civic virtue than Jerry Weintraub, who will occupy a large portion of this discussion. Weintraub is an American film producer (“The Karate Kid”) and former chairman and CEO of United Artists. he also “brought Elvis to the masses.” He is one of America’s most prominent Jewish philanthropists; but let Jerry speak for himself. Here he is in an interview on Larry King Live where he talks about his close philanthropic involvement with the Chassidic movement, Chabad, and the influence of the Lubavitcher Rebbe in his life. The Rebbe is the seventh leader in the Chabad-Lubavitch dynasty. Many of his followers believe that he is the Messiah and will rise from the dead. Here is my transcript of the Larry King interview (2010).

Larry King: “What has been your involvement with Chabad?

J.W. – I’ve been with Chabad for 29 years…I’ve been the chairman of the telethon since that time, 29 years. I have a very close bond with the “Revve” (he alternates between “revve: and “rebbe”) Schneerson. I see the Revve every day, and I pray to the Revve every day. (The Rebbe was born in 1902, the same year my father, Israel, was born, in Osvei, Belo-Russia. The Rebbe died in 1994)

L.K. – You’re not a religious man, per se, right?

J.W. No, I’m spiritual, I believe in God , but I’m not an Orthodox Jew nor a Lubavitcher, but as (Meneachin) Begin said to me (former Prime Minister of the State of Israel) when I met with Begin, he said to me, “You’re not a Lubavitcher, Jerry, I know you’re not a Lubavitcher.

J.W. I said to him: “You know what I do think and I do believe and I do know that the programs we’ve done at Chabad, the drug programs, the food programs, the schools, everything we’ve done over the last 29 years of community work has done a lot of things, great things for a lot of people, and not just for Jewish people, it’s non-sectarian.” If it was just Jewish people I wouldn’t do it…I don’t go a day without thinking about the Rebbe, and I don’t go a day without talking to him. There are pictures next to my bedside. I believe that he is the reason I have survived, that I didn’t die when I was ill…He spoke to me when I was a kid…When I was on my way to Russia for George Bush. I turned on the television in the middle of the night on some obscure cable channel, and on came Revve Schneerson from Brooklyn. And he was talking to all the rabbis, and he said in that speech…that there was a man leaving for Russia tomorrow, and he’s going to do somethingfor the refuseniks…he’s going to meet with Eli Wiesel, he’s going to do this, he’s going to do that, but he shouldn’t worry about that; we are going to take care of that, we’re going to get the Jews out of Russia…he talked to me, and I hadn’t met him at that time. I was lucky enough to see him many times after that…I took my Dad to Chabad House in Brooklyn (his father was very sick and crippled, after the Rebbe prayed, his father stood up and was healed).

L.K. – Do you think he (the Rebbe) was sent here for some special reason.

J.W. – Yes.

L.K. But you’re not a religious man.

J.W. No…I’m spiritual, and I believe in God, and I believe that there is a higher power. I believe that Rebbe Schneerson was close as I will ever get to God….

L.K. Why do you think the world doesn’t know more about Chabad?

J.W. …its an interesting question. The problem with Chabad is that there are a lot of Jews who are Orthodox Jews, Conservative Jews, Reform Jews who are ashamed of Chabad?

L.K. Because?

J.W. Because they (Chabad) are still European, and they still wear the long black coats, their yamulkes.

L.K. Do you get as much satisfaction out of this than as you would out of Karate Kid.

J.W. More. I get more satisfaction out of it. I’m very invovled in philanthropy, and have been all my life. Not just Chabad, and not just Jewish charities but everything, hospitals, Jewish hospitals, not just Jewish hospitals, schools. I give away a lot of money. I believe in giving away money. It’s much better to give than get…it all just makes me feel good.

L.K. …Jerry Weintraub, one of the good guys.

(End of interview).

Weintraub’s “God” is a transcendent force, or power, which has much in common with Emerson’s “transcendentalism.” Emerson, who,like Weintraub, didn’t believe in formal religion, was greatly influenced by Buddhism and Hinduism. Emerson’s “transcendentalism” is defined as a movement where – in Emerson’s words – “each believes himself inspired by the Divine Soul which also inspires all men.” I hear echoes of Wordsworth and the Jewish psychiatrist, Gerald Jampolsky, whose philosophy I described here. I consider Victor Frankl (founder of Logotherapy) and Mordecai Kaplan (founder of Reconstructionist Judaism) to be in the same transcendental mould.

The Torah Jew and the biblical Christian, in contrast, would consider a “transcendentalist” transcendentalost. Whether one is transcendentally lost or found, most people believe in a “greater power,” and also that this greater power is closely associated with love. Love in essence is captured in the the Apostle Paul’s injunction, “I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts, 20”33b – 35); (Note 2). Recall Jerry Weintraub’s “I believe in giving away money. It’s much better to give than get…it all just makes me feel good.” Gerald Jampolsky expresses the same sentiment in his “Love is letting go of fear,” which is about “self-fulfillment through giving” (p. 13). Elsewhere in his book, he says: “To give is to receive is the law of love.” (In other words, when you obey the law of love, the greatest kind of receiving is giving). From a Christian view, the greatest act of giving, of loving, the greatest good work was God, the Father sending His beloved Son into the world to suffer and die for sinners (John, 3:16).

Let us compare Jerry Weintraub’s belief about good works with Rabbi Tuvia Bolton’s view (in his comment on God in Viktor Frankl’s Logotherapy). Rabbi Bolton is a Chassidic rabbi, who, like Jerry Weintraub, and all Chabadniks, venerates Rebbe Schneerson. (The upper case letters are the Rabbi’s; the underlining is mine):

It seems to me that Frankl was not talking in terms of absolutes but rather what ‘works’. His god is very similar to the one realized by addicts in the seconds of the 12 steps of AA; god as we understand him. A Meaningful god works to fill man’s need for meaning. But Frankl seems to have discovered a need much greater and more basic than that of the addicts…. and correspondingly a much ‘greater’ more ‘infinite’ god to satisfy it; man NEEDS ABSOLUTE meaning that only an absolute, totally meaningful god (or G_d) can produce, as evidenced by the several times he mentions the Ten Commandments as the absolute value. But again; Frankl only seemed to be interested in what works to supply man’s needs; not the Jewish (Chassidic) idea of supplying G-d’s needs (Nachat Ruach l’mala).”

The last sentence “But again….supplying G-d’s needs (Nachat Ruach l’mala)” applies to Weintraub, as well, a typical Jew, for whom WORKS is the name of the “spiritual” game.

As I said in my response to Rabbi Yisroel Blumenthal on this typical Jewish view of works:

The first followers of Yeshua were all Jewish and undoubtedly Torah observant, as much as you are today. They also had problems with the relationship between the Law and Faith. And the problem has never gone away for Jewish believers in Yeshua. Yeshua said that faith in Him rather than works was central.”

When I say that “faith” is central, I mean that without faith no one can please God, no one can be righteous. Indeed, faith is counted as righteousness, as we learn from Abraham. What did Abraham have to DO for God to forgive his sins and count him as righteous? Simply this: “He believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.” (Gen. 15:6). Everything that Abraham subsequently did was based on the foundation of faith. It is important to note that it was not his works, but his faith, that made him righteous. And works? What’s the point of works if it is faith that makes you righteous? The point is that we live in bodies and bodies do more than just doo doo doo doo; they’re – when they’re not asleep – constantly on the move, doing this and doing that. And the most important thing in all this doing is – in Christian terminology – making your body a temple of the Holy Spirit.

The ramifications of this doctrine is that believers need to spread their branches to make shade for one another, and to raise those branches up to heaven in praise and worship. Unless the branches are grafted into the Tree of life, they whither and die. That Tree of Life is the same for Abraham as for the Christian, indeed, for Moses as well and all the great men of biblical history: faith in the Living God; the same Living God as the Torah’s Living God. The great men of faith (Hebrews 11) were all nourished by the sap of faith, and proved through deeds that they were righteous (right with) God. They grew in HOLINESS, which – wonderful as it is – is nothing more than the seed of faith blossoming forth. The Christian is reminded that he can boast of nothing, not even his works, for though we are commanded to “…work out your salvation with fear and trembling,” we must not ignore what follows: “for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12b-13). No one will admit to boasting about himself.

Jerry Weintraub, the paragon of philanthropy (philos “love” anthropos “mankind”), the ideal Jew, sets the benchmark for works. And what if he boasts a little, or even a lot, or even all the time about it. He’s doing far more than singing “I believe in Jesus.” How noble – most Jews, indeed almost the whole world would say – to supply man’s needs. But what does Yeshua/Jesus say:

Luke 10
38 Now as they (Jesus and His disciples) were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. 40But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” 41But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; 42 but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

I’d now like to return to the inspiration behind Jerry Weintraub’s prodigious generosity: Rebbe Schneerson. After reading Rabbi Bolton’s comment, I went to his web site and found his latest “Weekly Torah Portion” where he tells the story of a religious Jew in prison who had a dream about Rebbe Schneerson. Not only did he have a dream about the Rebbe, but so did the non-Jewish prison warder (who had confiscated his Pesach matzos and wine).

As a sola scriptura (scripture alone) person, I don’t believe that Chassidic, Roman Catholic or any other kind of praying to the dead, or apparitions from saints, ancestors or any other deceased human being is from God. As we saw above, Jerry Weintraub prays and talks to the Rebbe every day,

I am also a sola fide (faith alone) person. This following comment from a Jew is what the typical Jew (and Roman Catholic) understands “faith alone to mean”:

(The comment appears after my Amish goes Heimish: We’re here in Israel to say we’re sorry).

According to G-d, an unreprentant sinner will be brought to account, and justice, by G-d. But you say that since Jesus died for your sins, G-d is going to look the other way if you decide to cheat on your wife or commit a murder. That program of belief invites a standard of immoral conduct that is anathema to the direction G-d provided us in His Torah.”

And here is the typical Roman Catholic view (from one of my relatives, a university professor):

Works are absolutely necessary. Without them fiery judgement and wrath awaits.” My relative quoted the following verses in support of this view:

Let us be concerned for each other, to stir a response in love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24).”

So,  (I continue in the same chapter) “26 If, after we have been given knowledge of the truth, we should deliberately commit any sins, then there is no longer any sacrifice for them.  27 There is left only the dreadful prospect of judgement and of the fiery wrath that is to devour your enemies.”

My well-educated relative is merely following his catechism:

In the treasury, too, are the prayers and good works of all the saints, all those who have followed in the footsteps of Christ the Lord and by his grace have made their lives holy and carried out the mission the Father entrusted to them. In this way they have attained their own salvation and at the same time cooperated in saving their brothers in the unity of the Mystical Body” (Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994), par 1477). (My italics).

This Jewish and Roman Catholic appraisal is, of course, a caricature of the doctrine of “faith alone.” It shows as much understanding of the Bible as those who believe that the New Testament is a fabulous fraud concocted by Constantine, among others.

The Bible teaches that you cannot, for one, attain your salvation (through works); for two, cooperate (wih Christ) in saving others. For if this were true, the following scripture must be wrong: “for by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). These verses from Ephesians fit perfectly with “Let us be concerned for each other, to stir a response in love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24). If you have been born again (saved by grace and given the gift of faith), the evidence of being born again is love and good works. Salvation is an ongoing process. This does not mean that you are saved by your works, but that while you’re living on the earth and growing in the knowledge of God, you do good works, because that is what – as I said earlier – bodies do: they work. Believers work out their salvation like a shoot of a fruit tree growing up through the soil and into the sunlight to grow into a tree that produces good fruit. If you produce bad fruit, this shows that the seed was bad.

So, whether one believes that God’s needs come first (Rabbi Tuva Bolton) or man’s needs come first (Weintraub), both views, I believe, are wrong. Having said that, I always feel it deep in my solar plexus that when I “attack” my fellow Jews, it’s like plucking from my body one more of my precious Jewish roots. Which makes me feel a bit of what Paul felt when he said:

I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh,  who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises,  5whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen” (Romans 9:1-5).

Abraham Twerski, a Chassidic rabbi (like Rabbi Tuva Bolton) adapted the originally Christian 12-step AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) method and made it Jewish. Judaism preaches that man is essentially good, where people are regarded as “much better than we think we are” (Twerski), and “knowing that they are able to enjoy a more productive life” (Twerski). So, the solution to inner turmoil for Twerski, for Frankl, for Joshua Liebman, and indeed most Jewish psychologists was to learn how to get rid of one’s negative self-image.

In modern Christian evangelism, the popular gimmick is “if this world doesn’t work for you,try God”. I regard this as a “humanistic” approach, which is foreign to both the Tenach and the NT, whose main themes are God’s glory and holiness (which you agree with). The NT also emphasises His wrath against sin (which most Jews would probably not agree with) and His love in providing salvation. The Jewish idead of “salvation” is radically different from the Christian view. In both the Tenach and the NT, man’s needs are second to God’s requirements.

The Jew and the Christian should not regard God as a servant, who’s job is seen as help in time of need, but rather as the Holy One. The Christian view is that we have offended God’s justice, but, in his infinite grace, He redeemed us by paying for our sins; much more, He destroys the believer’s Sin nature (which does not mean that he no longer struggles with sins). As you know, for a Jew, man sins but does not have a Sin nature. In the NT, first the bad news (the first three chapters of Paul’s letter to the Romans), then the good news of God’s grace – that we might be “justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24). Without an understanding of grace, there can be no understanding of the incarnation, the suffering, the death, the resurrection and the glory of the Son of God, Jesus/Yeshua, the Christ/Mashiach, who is  the gift of the Father, first to the Jew,  and then to the Gentile. This understanding can only come with the gifts of grace and faith in Christ. Christians must, however, not become too occupied with grace that they ignore love for their fellow man, which is not the same as love for the “world” (system). I’d like to end on this related note:

“The fact that Jews have been rather more creative than Christians in establishing brotherhood with the Negro may prove that ‘saving grace’ may be rather too individualistically conceived in Christianity to deal with collective evil”  (Reinhold Niebhur).

But I can’t end yet, for Niehbur then goes and spoils it all by saying – this is where the frum (pious) Jew and I agree – that:

“Christian attempts to proselyte Jews are not only futile, argues Niebuhr, but wrong, because the two faiths are “sufficiently alike for the Jew to find God more easily in terms of his own religious heritage than by subjecting himself to the hazards of guilt feeling involved in a conversion to a faith, which, whatever its excellencies, must appear to him as a symbol of an oppressive majority culture.”

Niebhur is wrong on two counts:

First; he says: “Christian attempts to proselyte Jews are…futile.” No, they’re not futile, far from it. “Some time ago, Jacob Prasch writes, the American college of Rabbis issued statement saying more Jews have come to believe in Jesus as their Messiah in the last eighteen years than in the last eighteen centuries (“Israel, the Church and the Jews, 2007, 21st Century Press, p. 15).”

2. Second; the two faiths – whatever the famous Christian theologian and some Messianic Jews may say – are far from “sufficiently alike.” The great divide, for the Jew, is the Trinity and the Incarnation. The New Testament says: “Moses said (in Deuteronomy 18:18), ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. The vast majority of pious (frum) Jews don’t believe anything in the New Testament that refers to Jesus, because they believe he never existed. That is one reason why they grind their teeth every time Paul opens his mouth, especially here:

Corintthians 3:

12 Since we have such a hope, j we are very bold, 13 not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. 14 But l their minds were m hardened. For to this day, when they read o the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. 15 Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. 16 But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.

As Prasch says (above), some pious Jews do come to faith in the Messiah, and are not squeamish about calling Him by His Greek name, Jesus. God has opened their eyes to the deep meaning of relatedness.


1  An Ode is: “a poem characterized by sustained noble sentiment and appropriate dignity of style.” (1913 Webster) .

2  Acts 20:35 the words of the Lord Jesus. This saying from Jesus is not recorded in the Gospels and was no doubt passed on to Paul by those who heard Jesus teach. On Christian generosity, see 2 Cor. 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. (Note of English Standard Version).

Wordsworth’s Ode1 to “Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood “ is divided into three parts: the first part describes the poet’s anxiety at losing sight (a sense of appreciation) of the beauty of the world; the second part describes the progressive – from childhood to old age – loss of sight of the divine. The third part affirms the hope that the memory of the divine will never be lost because the divine lies deeper than tears.

The Ode ends with these words:

            Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
          Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,
          To me the meanest flower that blows can give
          Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.

For Wordsworth, what makes us human is the divinity found in the beauty of “the meanest flower,” the beauty of nature. For the Christian (and the Torah Jew, says F.W. Robertson, “Eternal truth is not perceived through sensation. ‘Eye hath not seen the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.’ There is a life of mere sensation. The degree of its enjoyment depends upon fineness of organization. The pleasures of sense arise from the vibration of a nerve, or the thrilling of a muscle – nothing higher.The highest pleasure of sensation comes through the eye. She ranks above all the rest of the senses in dignity. He whose eye is so refined by discipline that he can repose with pleasure upon the serene outline of beautiful form, has reached the purest of the sensational raptures.” Wordsworth would counter that our immortality, if only an intimation, lies in eternal truth expressed through Nature. This is a central belief in Eastern religion.

Joshua Liebman (1907-1948) the famous rabbi-psychiatrist also speaks of an intimation of immortality. Whereas in Wordsworth “love” was the substantial relationship between God and Nature, where both shared the same substance (essence), in Lieberman, “the chief intimation of our immortality is our unique human power for loving our fellow man.”

There are four “objects” of love: love for God-Nature (the pantheism of Wordsworth and Eastern religions), love for oneself, love for others, and love for God-Creator-Personality (distinct from creation). The last three loves are, of course, encapsulated in the first two Torah commandments: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and love your neighbour as yourself. The big question is: how should I love God, myself and my neighbour? (Of course, if you’re a Darwinian, there’s no reason why you should do anything).

In this article, I shall focus on human love: love for others and love for God as Creator-Personality, that is, the God of the Bible.

A key term in Jewish thought is relatedness: the relatedness between human beings and between human beings and God. Joshua Liebman (his “Peace of mind,” chapter 4) warns us to “love or perish” and admonishes us (quoting Emerson) to “give all to love.” Judaism, for Liebman, is a religion of relatedness, of which love is the greatest expression.

What was characteristically Jewish about the power of love was its “civic virtue” (Reinhold Niebuhr). In this regard, it would be hard to find a more illustrious example of civic virtue than Jerry Weintraub, who will occupy a large portion of this discussion. Weintraub is an American film producer (“The Karate Kid”) and former chairman and CEO of United Artists. he also “brought Elvis to the masses.” He is one of America’s most prominent Jewish philanthropists; but let Jerry speak for himself. Here he is in an interview on Larry King Live where he talks about his close philanthropic involvement with the Chassidic movement, Chabad, and the influence of the Lubavitcher Rebbe in his life. The Rebbe is the seventh leader in the Chabad-Lubavitch dynasty. Many of his followers believe that he is the Messiah and will rise from the dead. Here is my transcript of the Larry King interview (2010).

Larry King: “What has been your involvement with Chabad?

J.W. – I’ve been with Chabad for 29 years…I’ve been the chairman of the telethon since that time, 29 years. I have a very close bond with the “Revve” (he alternates between “revve: and “rebbe”) Schneerson. I see the Revve every day, and I pray to the Revve every day. (The Rebbe was born in 1902, the same year my father, Israel, was born, in Osvei, Belo-Russia. The Rebbe died in 1994)

L.K. – You’re not a religious man, per se, right?

J.W. No, I’m spiritual, I believe in God , but I’m not an Orthodox Jew nor a Lubavitcher, but as (Meneachin) Begin said to me (former Prime Minister of the State of Israel) when I met with Begin, he said to me, “You’re not a Lubavitcher, Jerry, I know you’re not a Lubavitcher.

J.W. I said to him: “You know what I do think and I do believe and I do know that the programs we’ve done at Chabad, the drug programs, the food programs, the schools, everything we’ve done over the last 29 years of community work has done a lot of things, great things for a lot of people, and not just for Jewish people, it’s non-sectarian.” If it was just Jewish people I wouldn’t do it…I don’t go a day without thinking about the Rebbe, and I don’t go a day without talking to him. There are pictures next to my bedside. I believe that he is the reason I have survived, that I didn’t die when I was ill…He spoke to me when I was a kid…When I was on my way to Russia for George Bush. I turned on the television in the middle of the night on some obscure cable channel, and on came Revve Schneerson from Brooklyn. And he was talking to all the rabbis, and he said in that speech…that there was a man leaving for Russia tomorrow, and he’s going to do somethingfor the refuseniks…he’s going to meet with Eli Wiesel, he’s going to do this, he’s going to do that, but he shouldn’t worry about that; we are going to take care of that, we’re going to get the Jews out of Russia…he talked to me, and I hadn’t met him at that time. I was lucky enough to see him many times after that…I took my Dad to Chabad House in Brooklyn (his father was very sick and crippled, after the Rebbe prayed, his father stood up and was healed).

L.K. – Do you think he (the Rebbe) was sent here for some special reason.

J.W. – Yes.

L.K. But you’re not a religious man.

J.W. No…I’m spiritual, and I believe in God, and I believe that there is a higher power. I believe that Rebbe Schneerson was close as I will ever get to God….

L.K. Why do you think the world doesn’t know more about Chabad?

J.W. …its an interesting question. The problem with Chabad is that there are a lot of Jews who are Orthodox Jews, Conservative Jews, Reform Jews who are ashamed of Chabad?

L.K. Because?

J.W. Because they’re (Chabad) are still European, and they still wear the long black coats, their yamulkes.

L.K. Do you get as much satisfaction out of this than as you would out of Karate Kid.

J.W. More. I get more satisfaction out of it. I’m very invovled in philanthropy, and have been all my life. Not just Chabad, and not just Jewish charities but everything, hospitals, Jewish hospitals, not just Jewish hospitals, schools. I give away a lot of money. I believe in giving away money. It’s much better to give than get…it all just makes me feel good.

L.K. …Jerry Weintraub, one of the good guys.

(End of interview).

Weintraub’s “God” is a transcendent force, or power, which has much in common with Emerson’s “transcendentalism.” Emerson, who,like Weintraub, didn’t believe in formal religion, was greatly influenced by Buddhism and Hinduism. Emerson’s “transcendentalism” is defined as a movement where – in Emerson’s words – “each believes himself inspired by the Divine Soul which also inspires all men.” I hear echoes of Wordsworth and the Jewish psychiatrist, Gerald Jampolsky, whose philosophy I described here. I consider Victor Frankl (founder of Logotherapy) and Mordecai Kaplan (founder of Reconstructionist Judaism) to be in the same transcendental mould.

The Torah Jew and the biblical Christian, in contrast, would consider a “transcendentalist” transcendentalost. Whether one is transcendentally lost or found,

most people believe in a “greater power,” and also that this greater power is closely associated with love. Love in essence is captured in the the Apostle Paul’s injunction, “I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts, 20”33b – 35). 2 Recall Jerry Weintraub’s “I believe in giving away money. It’s much better to give than get…it all just makes me feel good.” Gerald Jampolsky expresses the same sentiment in his “Love is letting go of fear,” which is about “self-fulfillment through giving” (p. 13). Elsewhere in his book, he says: “To give is to receive is the law of love.” (In other words, when you obey the law of love, the greatest kind of receiving is giving). From a Christian view, the greatest act of giving, of loving, the greatest good work was God, the Father sending His beloved Son into the world to suffer and die for sinners (John, 3:16).

Let us compare Jerry Weintraub’s belief about good works with Rabbi Tuva Bolton’s view (in his comment on God in Viktor Frankl’s Logotherapy). Rabbi Bolton is a Chassidic rabbi, who, like Jerry Weintraub, and all Chabadniks, venerates Rebbe Schneerson. (The upper case letters are the Rabbi’s; the underlining is mine):

“It seems to me that Frankl was not talking in terms of absolutes but rather what ‘works’. His god is very similar to the one realized by addicts in the seconds of the 12 steps of AA; god as we understand him. A Meaningful god works to fill man’s need for meaning. But Frankl seems to have discovered a need much greater and more basic than that of the addicts…. and correspondingly a much ‘greater’ more ‘infinite’ god to satisfy it; man NEEDS ABSOLUTE meaning that only an absolute, totally meaningful god (or G_d) can produce, as evidenced by the several times he mentions the Ten Commandments as the absolute value. But again; Frankl only seemed to be interested in what works to supply man’s needs; not the Jewish (Chassidic) idea of supplying G-d’s needs (Nachat Ruach l’mala).”

The last sentence “But again….supplying G-d’s needs (Nachat Ruach l’mala)” applies to Weintraub, as well, a typical Jew, for whom WORKS is the name of the “spiritual” game.

As I said in my response to Rabbi Yisroel Blumenthal on this typical Jewish view of works:

The first followers of Yeshua were all Jewish and undoubtedly Torah observant, as much as you are today. They also had problems with the relationship between the Law and Faith. And the problem has never gone away for Jewish believers in Yeshua. Yeshua said that faith in Him rather than works was central.”

When I say that “faith” is central, I mean that without faith no one can please God, no one can be righteous. Indeed, faith is counted as righteousness, as we learn from Abraham. What did Abraham have to DO for God to forgive his sins and count him as righteous? Simply this: “He believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.” (Gen. 15:6). Everything that Abraham subsequently did was based on the foundation of faith. It is important to note that it was not his works, but his faith, that made him righteous. And works? What’s the point of works if it is faith that makes you righteous? The point is that we live in bodies and bodies do more than just doo doo doo doo; they’re – when they’re not asleep – constantly on the move, doing this and doing that. And the most important thing in all this doing is – in Christian terminology – making your body a temple of the Holy Spirit.

The ramifications of this doctrine is that believers need to spread their branches to make shade for one another, and to raise those branches up to heaven in praise and worship. Unless the branches are grafted into the Tree of life, they whither and die. That Tree of Life is the same for Abraham as for the Christian, indeed, for Moses as well and all the great men of biblical history: faith in the Living God; the same Living God as the Torah’s Living God. The great men of faith (Hebrews 11) were all nourished by the sap of faith, and proved through deeds that they were righteous (right with) God. They grew in HOLINESS, which – wonderful as it is – is nothing more than the seed of faith blossoming forth. The Christian is reminded that he can boast of nothing, not even his works, for though we are commanded to “…work out your salvation with fear and trembling,” we must not ignore what follows: “for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12b-13). No one will admit to boasting about himself.

Jerry Weintraub, the paragon of philanthropy (philos “love” anthropos “mankind”), the ideal Jew, sets the benchmark for works. And what if he boasts a little, or even a lot, or even all the time about it. He’s doing for more than singing “I believe in Jesus.” How noble – most Jews, indeed almost the whole world would say – to supply man’s needs. But what does Yeshua/Jesus say:

Luke 10
38 Now as they (Jesus and His disciples) were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. 40But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” 41But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; 42 but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

I’d now like to return to the inspiration behind Jerry Weintraub’s prodigious generosity: Rebbe Schneerson. After reading Rabbi Bolton’s comment, I went to his web site and found his latest “Weekly Torah Portion” where he tells the story of a religious Jew in prison who had a dream about Rebbe Schneerson. Not only did he have a dream about the Rebbe, but so did the non-Jewish prison warder (who had confiscated his Pesach matzos and wine).

As a sola scriptura (scripture alone) person, I don’t believe that Chassidic, Roman Catholic or any other kind of praying to the dead, or apparitions from saints, ancestors or any other deceased human being is from God. As we saw above, Jerry Weintraub prays and talks to the Rebbe every day,

I am also a sola fide (faith alone) person. This following comment from a Jew is what the typical Jew (and Roman Catholic) understands “faith alone to mean”:

(The comment appears after my Amish goes Heimish: We’re here in Israel to say we’re sorry).

“According to G-d, an unreprentant sinner will be brought to account, and justice, by G-d. But you say that since Jesus died for your sins, G-d is going to look the other way if you decide to cheat on your wife or commit a murder. That program of belief invites a standard of immoral conduct that is anathema to the direction G-d provided us in His Torah.”

And here is the typical Roman Catholic view (from one of my relatives, a university professor):

“Works are absolutely necessary. Without them fiery judgement and wrath awaits.” My relative quoted the following verses in support of this view:

“Let us be concerned for each other, to stir a response in love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24).”

So,  (I continue in the same chapter) “26 If, after we have been given knowledge of the truth, we should deliberately commit any sins, then there is no longer any sacrifice for them.  27 There is left only the dreadful prospect of judgement and of the fiery wrath that is to devour your enemies.”

My well-educated relative is merely following his catechism:

“In the treasury, too, are the prayers and good works of all the saints, all those who have followed in the footsteps of Christ the Lord and by his grace have made their lives holy and carried out the mission the Father entrusted to them. In this way they have attained their own salvation and at the same time cooperated in saving their brothers in the unity of the Mystical Body” (Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994), par 1477). (My italics).

This Jewish and Roman Catholic appraisal is, of course, a caricature of the doctrine of “faith alone.” It shows as much understanding of the Bible as those who believe that the New Testament is a fabulous fraud concocted by Constantine, among others.

The Bible teaches that you cannot, for one, attain your salvation (through works); for two, cooperate (wih Christ) in saving others. For if this were true, the following scripture must be wrong: “for by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). These verses from Ephesians fit perfectly with “Let us be concerned for each other, to stir a response in love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24). If you have been born again (saved by grace and given the gift of faith), the evidence of being born again is love and good works. Salvation is an ongoing process. This does not mean that you are saved by your works, but that while you’re living on the earth and growing in the knowledge of God, you do good works, because that is what – as I said earlier – bodies do: they work. Believers work out their salvation like a shoot of a fruit tree growing up through the soil and into the sunlight to grow into a tree that produces good fruit. If you produce bad fruit, this shows that the seed was bad.

So, whether one believes that God’s needs come first (Rabbi Tuva Bolton) or man’s needs come first (Weintraub), both views, I believe, are wrong. Having said that, I always feel it deep in my solar plexus that when I “attack” my fellow Jews, it’s like plucking from my body one more of my precious Jewish roots. Which makes me feel a bit of what Paul felt when he said:

“I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh,  who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises,  5whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen” (Romans 9:1-5).

Abraham Twerski, a Chassidic rabbi (like Rabbi Tuva Bolton) adapted the originally Christian 12-step AA method and made it Jewish. Judaism preaches that man is essentially good, where people are regarded as “much better than we think we are” (Twerski), and “knowing that they are able to enjoy a more productive life” (Twerski). So, the solution to inner turmoil for Twerski, for Frankl, for Joshua Liebman, and indeed most Jewish psychologists was to learn how to get rid of one’s negative self-image.

Rabbi Tuva Bolton said (above) Frankl’s “god” goes beyond what works to an “absolute” meaning. I think his god is merely one that absolutely WORKS. As I said in my last two paragraphs of the article:

In 2000, an update to Frankl’s “Man’s search for meaning” appeared, called “Man’s search for ultimate meaning.” What is the difference between “meaning” and “ultimate meaning”? Here are two quotations from Frankl’s “Ultimate meaning.”

“… God, is not one thing among others but being itself or Being (capitalized by Martin Heidegger).” (P. 147). So Did Frankl, ultimately, come to belief in a transcendent Being called God? But wait. “… whenever you are talking to yourself in utmost sincerity and ultimate solitude — he to whom you are addressing yourself may justifiably be called God” (p. 151). Oops, God is, ultimately, me – and you.

Frankl’s “God is self” (my term) has much in common with Gerald Jampolsky’s (Yogic) “transformation of conscioussness” that leads to inner peace. (see my Love, Fear and the Foundation of Inner peace: Gerald Jampolsky’s “Love is letting go of fear.”

In modern Christian evangelism, the popular gimmick is “if this world doesn’t work for you,try God”. I regard this as a “humanistic” approach, which is foreign to both the Tenach and the NT, whose main themes are God’s glory and holiness (which you agree with). The NT also emphasises His wrath against sin (which most Jews would probably not agree with) and His love in providing salvation. The Jewish idead of “salvation” is radically different from the Christian view. In both the Tenach and the NT, man’s needs are second to God’s requirements.

The Jew and the Christian should not regard God as a servant, who’s job is seen as help in time of need, but rather as the Holy One. The Christian view is that we have offended God’s justice, but, in his infinite grace, He redeemed us by paying for our sins; much more, He destroys the believer’s Sin nature (which does not mean that he no longer struggles with sins). As you know, for a Jew, man sins but does not have a Sin nature. In the NT, first the bad news (the first three chapters of Paul’s letter to the Romans), then the good news of God’s grace – that we might be “justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24). Without an understanding of grace, there is no understanding of the incarnation, suffering, death, resurrection and glory of the Son of the God,Jesus/Yeshua, the Christ/Mashiach – the gift of the the Father to the Jew, first, and then to the Gentile. This understanding comes with the gift of faith in Christ.

1An Ode is: “a poem characterized by sustained noble sentiment and appropriate dignity of style.” (1913 Webster) .

2Acts 20:35 the words of the Lord Jesus. This saying from Jesus is not recorded in the Gospels and was no doubt passed on to Paul by those who heard Jesus teach. On Christian generosity, see 2 Cor. 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. (Note of English Standard Version.

Wordsworth’s Ode1 to “Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood “ is divided into three parts: the first part describes the poet’s anxiety at losing sight (a sense of appreciation) of the beauty of the world; the second part describes the progressive – from childhood to old age – loss of sight of the divine. The third part affirms the hope that the memory of the divine will never be lost because the divine lies deeper than tears.

The Ode ends with these words:

            Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
          Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,
          To me the meanest flower that blows can give
          Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.

For Wordsworth, what makes us human is the divinity found in the beauty of “the meanest flower,” the beauty of nature. For the Christian (and the Torah Jew, says F.W. Robertson, “Eternal truth is not perceived through sensation. ‘Eye hath not seen the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.’ There is a life of mere sensation. The degree of its enjoyment depends upon fineness of organization. The pleasures of sense arise from the vibration of a nerve, or the thrilling of a muscle – nothing higher.The highest pleasure of sensation comes through the eye. She ranks above all the rest of the senses in dignity. He whose eye is so refined by discipline that he can repose with pleasure upon the serene outline of beautiful form, has reached the purest of the sensational raptures.” Wordsworth would counter that our immortality, if only an intimation, lies in eternal truth expressed through Nature. This is a central belief in Eastern religion.

Joshua Liebman (1907-1948) the famous rabbi-psychiatrist also speaks of an intimation of immortality. Whereas in Wordsworth “love” was the substantial relationship between God and Nature, where both shared the same substance (essence), in Lieberman, “the chief intimation of our immortality is our unique human power for loving our fellow man.”

There are four “objects” of love: love for God-Nature (the pantheism of Wordsworth and Eastern religions), love for oneself, love for others, and love for God-Creator-Personality (distinct from creation). The last three loves are, of course, encapsulated in the first two Torah commandments: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and love your neighbour as yourself. The big question is: how should I love God, myself and my neighbour? (Of course, if you’re a Darwinian, there’s no reason why you should do anything).

In this article, I shall focus on human love: love for others and love for God as Creator-Personality, that is, the God of the Bible.

A key term in Jewish thought is relatedness: the relatedness between human beings and between human beings and God. Joshua Liebman (his “Peace of mind,” chapter 4) warns us to “love or perish” and admonishes us (quoting Emerson) to “give all to love.” Judaism, for Liebman, is a religion of relatedness, of which love is the greatest expression.

What was characteristically Jewish about the power of love was its “civic virtue” (Reinhold Niebuhr). In this regard, it would be hard to find a more illustrious example of civic virtue than Jerry Weintraub, who will occupy a large portion of this discussion. Weintraub is an American film producer (“The Karate Kid”) and former chairman and CEO of United Artists. he also “brought Elvis to the masses.” He is one of America’s most prominent Jewish philanthropists; but let Jerry speak for himself. Here he is in an interview on Larry King Live where he talks about his close philanthropic involvement with the Chassidic movement, Chabad, and the influence of the Lubavitcher Rebbe in his life. The Rebbe is the seventh leader in the Chabad-Lubavitch dynasty. Many of his followers believe that he is the Messiah and will rise from the dead. Here is my transcript of the Larry King interview (2010).

Larry King: “What has been your involvement with Chabad?

J.W. – I’ve been with Chabad for 29 years…I’ve been the chairman of the telethon since that time, 29 years. I have a very close bond with the “Revve” (he alternates between “revve: and “rebbe”) Schneerson. I see the Revve every day, and I pray to the Revve every day. (The Rebbe was born in 1902, the same year my father, Israel, was born, in Osvei, Belo-Russia. The Rebbe died in 1994)

L.K. – You’re not a religious man, per se, right?

J.W. No, I’m spiritual, I believe in God , but I’m not an Orthodox Jew nor a Lubavitcher, but as (Meneachin) Begin said to me (former Prime Minister of the State of Israel) when I met with Begin, he said to me, “You’re not a Lubavitcher, Jerry, I know you’re not a Lubavitcher.

J.W. I said to him: “You know what I do think and I do believe and I do know that the programs we’ve done at Chabad, the drug programs, the food programs, the schools, everything we’ve done over the last 29 years of community work has done a lot of things, great things for a lot of people, and not just for Jewish people, it’s non-sectarian.” If it was just Jewish people I wouldn’t do it…I don’t go a day without thinking about the Rebbe, and I don’t go a day without talking to him. There are pictures next to my bedside. I believe that he is the reason I have survived, that I didn’t die when I was ill…He spoke to me when I was a kid…When I was on my way to Russia for George Bush. I turned on the television in the middle of the night on some obscure cable channel, and on came Revve Schneerson from Brooklyn. And he was talking to all the rabbis, and he said in that speech…that there was a man leaving for Russia tomorrow, and he’s going to do somethingfor the refuseniks…he’s going to meet with Eli Wiesel, he’s going to do this, he’s going to do that, but he shouldn’t worry about that; we are going to take care of that, we’re going to get the Jews out of Russia…he talked to me, and I hadn’t met him at that time. I was lucky enough to see him many times after that…I took my Dad to Chabad House in Brooklyn (his father was very sick and crippled, after the Rebbe prayed, his father stood up and was healed).

L.K. – Do you think he (the Rebbe) was sent here for some special reason.

J.W. – Yes.

L.K. But you’re not a religious man.

J.W. No…I’m spiritual, and I believe in God, and I believe that there is a higher power. I believe that Rebbe Schneerson was close as I will ever get to God….

L.K. Why do you think the world doesn’t know more about Chabad?

J.W. …its an interesting question. The problem with Chabad is that there are a lot of Jews who are Orthodox Jews, Conservative Jews, Reform Jews who are ashamed of Chabad?

L.K. Because?

J.W. Because they’re (Chabad) are still European, and they still wear the long black coats, their yamulkes.

L.K. Do you get as much satisfaction out of this than as you would out of Karate Kid.

J.W. More. I get more satisfaction out of it. I’m very invovled in philanthropy, and have been all my life. Not just Chabad, and not just Jewish charities but everything, hospitals, Jewish hospitals, not just Jewish hospitals, schools. I give away a lot of money. I believe in giving away money. It’s much better to give than get…it all just makes me feel good.

L.K. …Jerry Weintraub, one of the good guys.

(End of interview).

Weintraub’s “God” is a transcendent force, or power, which has much in common with Emerson’s “transcendentalism.” Emerson, who,like Weintraub, didn’t believe in formal religion, was greatly influenced by Buddhism and Hinduism. Emerson’s “transcendentalism” is defined as a movement where – in Emerson’s words – “each believes himself inspired by the Divine Soul which also inspires all men.” I hear echoes of Wordsworth and the Jewish psychiatrist, Gerald Jampolsky, whose philosophy I described here. I consider Victor Frankl (founder of Logotherapy) and Mordecai Kaplan (founder of Reconstructionist Judaism) to be in the same transcendental mould.

The Torah Jew and the biblical Christian, in contrast, would consider a “transcendentalist” transcendentalost. Whether one is transcendentally lost or found,

most people believe in a “greater power,” and also that this greater power is closely associated with love. Love in essence is captured in the the Apostle Paul’s injunction, “I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts, 20”33b – 35). 2 Recall Jerry Weintraub’s “I believe in giving away money. It’s much better to give than get…it all just makes me feel good.” Gerald Jampolsky expresses the same sentiment in his “Love is letting go of fear,” which is about “self-fulfillment through giving” (p. 13). Elsewhere in his book, he says: “To give is to receive is the law of love.” (In other words, when you obey the law of love, the greatest kind of receiving is giving). From a Christian view, the greatest act of giving, of loving, the greatest good work was God, the Father sending His beloved Son into the world to suffer and die for sinners (John, 3:16).

Let us compare Jerry Weintraub’s belief about good works with Rabbi Tuva Bolton’s view (in his comment on God in Viktor Frankl’s Logotherapy). Rabbi Bolton is a Chassidic rabbi, who, like Jerry Weintraub, and all Chabadniks, venerates Rebbe Schneerson. (The upper case letters are the Rabbi’s; the underlining is mine):

It seems to me that Frankl was not talking in terms of absolutes but rather what ‘works’. His god is very similar to the one realized by addicts in the seconds of the 12 steps of AA; god as we understand him. A Meaningful god works to fill man’s need for meaning. But Frankl seems to have discovered a need much greater and more basic than that of the addicts…. and correspondingly a much ‘greater’ more ‘infinite’ god to satisfy it; man NEEDS ABSOLUTE meaning that only an absolute, totally meaningful god (or G_d) can produce, as evidenced by the several times he mentions the Ten Commandments as the absolute value. But again; Frankl only seemed to be interested in what works to supply man’s needs; not the Jewish (Chassidic) idea of supplying G-d’s needs (Nachat Ruach l’mala).”

The last sentence “But again….supplying G-d’s needs (Nachat Ruach l’mala)” applies to Weintraub, as well, a typical Jew, for whom WORKS is the name of the “spiritual” game.

As I said in my response to Rabbi Yisroel Blumenthal on this typical Jewish view of works:

The first followers of Yeshua were all Jewish and undoubtedly Torah observant, as much as you are today. They also had problems with the relationship between the Law and Faith. And the problem has never gone away for Jewish believers in Yeshua. Yeshua said that faith in Him rather than works was central.”

When I say that “faith” is central, I mean that without faith no one can please God, no one can be righteous. Indeed, faith is counted as righteousness, as we learn from Abraham. What did Abraham have to DO for God to forgive his sins and count him as righteous? Simply this: “He believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.” (Gen. 15:6). Everything that Abraham subsequently did was based on the foundation of faith. It is important to note that it was not his works, but his faith, that made him righteous. And works? What’s the point of works if it is faith that makes you righteous? The point is that we live in bodies and bodies do more than just doo doo doo doo; they’re – when they’re not asleep – constantly on the move, doing this and doing that. And the most important thing in all this doing is – in Christian terminology – making your body a temple of the Holy Spirit.

The ramifications of this doctrine is that believers need to spread their branches to make shade for one another, and to raise those branches up to heaven in praise and worship. Unless the branches are grafted into the Tree of life, they whither and die. That Tree of Life is the same for Abraham as for the Christian, indeed, for Moses as well and all the great men of biblical history: faith in the Living God; the same Living God as the Torah’s Living God. The great men of faith (Hebrews 11) were all nourished by the sap of faith, and proved through deeds that they were righteous (right with) God. They grew in HOLINESS, which – wonderful as it is – is nothing more than the seed of faith blossoming forth. The Christian is reminded that he can boast of nothing, not even his works, for though we are commanded to “…work out your salvation with fear and trembling,” we must not ignore what follows: “for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12b-13). No one will admit to boasting about himself.

Jerry Weintraub, the paragon of philanthropy (philos “love” anthropos “mankind”), the ideal Jew, sets the benchmark for works. And what if he boasts a little, or even a lot, or even all the time about it. He’s doing for more than singing “I believe in Jesus.” How noble – most Jews, indeed almost the whole world would say – to supply man’s needs. But what does Yeshua/Jesus say:

Luke 10
38 Now as they (Jesus and His disciples) were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. 40But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” 41But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; 42 but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

I’d now like to return to the inspiration behind Jerry Weintraub’s prodigious generosity: Rebbe Schneerson. After reading Rabbi Bolton’s comment, I went to his web site and found his latest “Weekly Torah Portion” where he tells the story of a religious Jew in prison who had a dream about Rebbe Schneerson. Not only did he have a dream about the Rebbe, but so did the non-Jewish prison warder (who had confiscated his Pesach matzos and wine).

As a sola scriptura (scripture alone) person, I don’t believe that Chassidic, Roman Catholic or any other kind of praying to the dead, or apparitions from saints, ancestors or any other deceased human being is from God. As we saw above, Jerry Weintraub prays and talks to the Rebbe every day,

I am also a sola fide (faith alone) person. This following comment from a Jew is what the typical Jew (and Roman Catholic) understands “faith alone to mean”:

(The comment appears after my Amish goes Heimish: We’re here in Israel to say we’re sorry).

According to G-d, an unreprentant sinner will be brought to account, and justice, by G-d. But you say that since Jesus died for your sins, G-d is going to look the other way if you decide to cheat on your wife or commit a murder. That program of belief invites a standard of immoral conduct that is anathema to the direction G-d provided us in His Torah.”

And here is the typical Roman Catholic view (from one of my relatives, a university professor):

Works are absolutely necessary. Without them fiery judgement and wrath awaits.” My relative quoted the following verses in support of this view:

Let us be concerned for each other, to stir a response in love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24).”

So,  (I continue in the same chapter) “26 If, after we have been given knowledge of the truth, we should deliberately commit any sins, then there is no longer any sacrifice for them.  27 There is left only the dreadful prospect of judgement and of the fiery wrath that is to devour your enemies.”

My well-educated relative is merely following his catechism:

In the treasury, too, are the prayers and good works of all the saints, all those who have followed in the footsteps of Christ the Lord and by his grace have made their lives holy and carried out the mission the Father entrusted to them. In this way they have attained their own salvation and at the same time cooperated in saving their brothers in the unity of the Mystical Body” (Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994), par 1477). (My italics).

This Jewish and Roman Catholic appraisal is, of course, a caricature of the doctrine of “faith alone.” It shows as much understanding of the Bible as those who believe that the New Testament is a fabulous fraud concocted by Constantine, among others.

The Bible teaches that you cannot, for one, attain your salvation (through works); for two, cooperate (wih Christ) in saving others. For if this were true, the following scripture must be wrong: “for by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). These verses from Ephesians fit perfectly with “Let us be concerned for each other, to stir a response in love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24). If you have been born again (saved by grace and given the gift of faith), the evidence of being born again is love and good works. Salvation is an ongoing process. This does not mean that you are saved by your works, but that while you’re living on the earth and growing in the knowledge of God, you do good works, because that is what – as I said earlier – bodies do: they work. Believers work out their salvation like a shoot of a fruit tree growing up through the soil and into the sunlight to grow into a tree that produces good fruit. If you produce bad fruit, this shows that the seed was bad.

So, whether one believes that God’s needs come first (Rabbi Tuva Bolton) or man’s needs come first (Weintraub), both views, I believe, are wrong. Having said that, I always feel it deep in my solar plexus that when I “attack” my fellow Jews, it’s like plucking from my body one more of my precious Jewish roots. Which makes me feel a bit of what Paul felt when he said:

I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh,  who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises,  5whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen” (Romans 9:1-5).

Abraham Twerski, a Chassidic rabbi (like Rabbi Tuva Bolton) adapted the originally Christian 12-step AA method and made it Jewish. Judaism preaches that man is essentially good, where people are regarded as “much better than we think we are” (Twerski), and “knowing that they are able to enjoy a more productive life” (Twerski). So, the solution to inner turmoil for Twerski, for Frankl, for Joshua Liebman, and indeed most Jewish psychologists was to learn how to get rid of one’s negative self-image.

Rabbi Tuva Bolton said (above) Frankl’s “god” goes beyond what works to an “absolute” meaning. I think his god is merely one that absolutely WORKS. As I said in my last two paragraphs of the article:

In 2000, an update to Frankl’s “Man’s search for meaning” appeared, called “Man’s search for ultimate meaning.” What is the difference between “meaning” and “ultimate meaning”? Here are two quotations from Frankl’s “Ultimate meaning.”

“… God, is not one thing among others but being itself or Being (capitalized by Martin Heidegger).” (P. 147). So Did Frankl, ultimately, come to belief in a transcendent Being called God? But wait. “… whenever you are talking to yourself in utmost sincerity and ultimate solitude — he to whom you are addressing yourself may justifiably be called God” (p. 151). Oops, God is, ultimately, me – and you.

Frankl’s “God is self” (my term) has much in common with Gerald Jampolsky’s (Yogic) “transformation of conscioussness” that leads to inner peace. (see my Love, Fear and the Foundation of Inner peace: Gerald Jampolsky’s “Love is letting go of fear.”

In modern Christian evangelism, the popular gimmick is “if this world doesn’t work for you,try God”. I regard this as a “humanistic” approach, which is foreign to both the Tenach and the NT, whose main themes are God’s glory and holiness (which you agree with). The NT also emphasises His wrath against sin (which most Jews would probably not agree with) and His love in providing salvation. The Jewish idead of “salvation” is radically different from the Christian view. In both the Tenach and the NT, man’s needs are second to God’s requirements.

The Jew and the Christian should not regard God as a servant, who’s job is seen as help in time of need, but rather as the Holy One. The Christian view is that we have offended God’s justice, but, in his infinite grace, He redeemed us by paying for our sins; much more, He destroys the believer’s Sin nature (which does not mean that he no longer struggles with sins). As you know, for a Jew, man sins but does not have a Sin nature. In the NT, first the bad news (the first three chapters of Paul’s letter to the Romans), then the good news of God’s grace – that we might be “justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24). Without an understanding of grace, there is no understanding of the incarnation, suffering, death, resurrection and glory of the Son of the God,Jesus/Yeshua, the Christ/Mashiach – the gift of the the Father to the Jew, first, and then to the Gentile. This understanding comes with the gift of faith in Christ.

1An Ode is: “a poem characterized by sustained noble sentiment and appropriate dignity of style.” (1913 Webster) .

2Acts 20:35 the words of the Lord Jesus. This saying from Jesus is not recorded in the Gospels and was no doubt passed on to Paul by those who heard Jesus teach. On Christian generosity, see 2 Cor. 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. (Note of English Standard Version.

Love, Fear and the Foundation of Inner peace: Gerald Jampolsky’s “Love is letting go of fear.”

Is it possible to have peace without letting go of fear? Is it possible to love without letting go of fear? This question is from the title of Gerald Jampolsky’s, “Love is letting go of fear,” which is based on “A course in miracles” (published by the Foundation for Inner Peace). Jampolsky’s thesis is that once we learn to love without fear, we will find inner peace. But first we have to find our inner selves; we have to look within. Before, I comment on Jampolsky’s solution to spiritual illness, let us get more acquainted with him. Here are a few excerpts from his “Love is letting go of fear,” (1981 Edition, Bantam books):

“We have been given everything we need to be happy now. To look directly at this instant is to be at peace now (p. 7).”

“Today there is a rapidly expanding search for a better way of going through life that is producing a new awareness and a change of consciousness. It is like a spiritual flood that is about to cleanse the earth. This transformation of consciousness is prompting us to look inward, and as we explore our inner spaces, we recognize the harmony and at-one-ment that has ALWAYS (Jampolsky’s emphasis) been there. As we look inward we also become aware of an inner intuitive voice which provides a reliable source of guidance…listen to the inner voice and surrender to it…In this silence…we can experience the joy of peace in our lives” (p. 11. my underlining).

Deep below the dark regions of discord and strife lies the treasure without price longing to find you, the real you. Transform your consciousness and you will find your true self. This “transformation of consciousness” is the “foundation for inner peace” (which is also the name of the publisher of “A course on miracles” on which Jampolsky’s book is based). The “transformation of consciousness” is, of course, also the foundation of Eastern thought systems such as Buddhism and Yoga, which has become a key ingredient in Western psychotherapy. “Hatha Yoga brings about the Unity of the mind, body and spirit. Through this practice, the body is toned, strengthened and healed so that a transformation in consciousness can occur.”

Jampolsky’s “Love is letting go of fear” has the same aim as the physical practices of Hatha Yoga and of the Buddha (“Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without”) of Mahatma Ghandi (“Each one has to find his peace from within. And peace to be real must be unaffected by outside circumstances”).

Jampolsky’s “transformation of consciousness” is not about, meditation, navels and third eyes. It’s about the singular goal of achieving peace of mind through giving:

“In brief, this is a book about self-fulfilment through giving (p. 13).” “To give is to receive is the law of love (p. 51).“Peace of mind as our single goal is the most potent motivating force we can have. To have inner peace we need to be consistent in having peace of mind as our single goal” (p. 23). These sentiments echo one of the biggest American best-sellers, “Peace of Mind” by another Jewish psychiatrist, Joshua Loth Liebman.

I am reminded of Philip Yancey’s remark about “peace through giving” on the radio programme “Unbelievable,” where he was discussing his book “What good is God”:“You don’t find your life by accumulating more and more; you find it by giving it away in service to others.”

Here is Jampolsky again: “To give is to receive is the law of love” (Jampolsky, p. 54). And what is the most important part of giving? Forgiving: “With peace of mind as our single goal, forgiveness becomes our single function ( Jampolsky, p. 24).

So far, I have described Jampolsky’s (moral) values. Next, I examine the philosophy on which Jampolsky bases those values. All values are based on a world view, on a philosophy. Whether the term refers to a world view, or an academic discipline, “philosophy” deals with three main questions:

    A. How should we treat one another? (moral values, ethics)

B. What are we and the world made of? And is there any “force” (or “God”) beyond the material world (Existence, or “being”).

B.What can we know and how do we arrive at what we know (principles of knowing).

How we treat one other depends on what we know about one another and about “God.” And what we know depends on the how we learn about it.

Jampolsky’s moral values of giving and forgiving are shared by all religious and psychological systems. What about his view of “God” on which he bases these values? For Jampolsky, love is another name for “God.” But “God” for him is not a personal God, which is the God of the Bible.

The source of love, for Jampolsky, is within the eternal inner man. When you discover that source – through transforming your consciousness – you will discover that your fear was a mere figment. Here is Jampolsky:

“…wouldn’t our lives be more meaningful if we looked at what has no beginning and no ending as our reality. Only love fits this definition of the eternal. Everything else is transitory and therefore meaningless…..fear can offer us nothing because it is nothing (p. 17)…all minds are joined…we share a common Self, and that inner peace and Love are in fact all that are real…Love is letting go of fear (.p.18)…we can choose our own reality. Because our will is free, we can choose to see and experience the truth (p. 21).”

Jampolsky’s God is the “Eternal common Self,” which is, of course, an Eastern metaphysic. “We can learn to receive direction from our inner intuitive voice, which is our guide to knowing (p. 28). The “inner intuitive voice” is the voice of the eternal common Self. And the essence of that self is love: “Let us awaken to the knowledge that the essence of our being is Love and as such are the light of the world (p. 131).The essence of God is also love. So, for Jampolsky God is the “Eternal common Self,” which resides in every human heart.

The nub of Jampolsky’s philosophy is this: Once we learn to love without fear, we will find inner peace. But first we have to find our inner selves; we have to look within. And here’s the rub – summarised by the Hindu guru, Swami Muktananda: “Kneel to yourself. Honour and worship your own being. God dwells within you as You.” As you transform your consciousness, you will begin to realise that you are God, and others are God, that “I” am “you”, which are sparks of the same eternal “I.” In this way you hone your giving, your forgiving, your love, and find peace.

Many of Jampolsky’s values are also Christian values. But the source of his values are not Christian at all. For one, ‘I know that in me, that is in my flesh, dwells no good thing” (Romans 7:18). Jampolsky says that “I” am the light of the world. But Jesus said that He is the light of the world. “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). The New Testament describes human beings as dead in sin, in need of a Saviour, a Saviour who is outside the inner man. (See Tony Pierce on “Yoga and new trends in Christianity”).

In the Christian world view, how does the light and the treasure without price relate to each other?

“But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. ” The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. “But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! (Matthew 6:21-23).

I understand this to mean that the source of true light comes from outside, from the Saviour, the Son of God. And so, if your eyes are clear, the Saviour will fill your  inner man with that light. If, however, you think that your inner man is the source of that true light, you are deceived, because this “inner light” is nothing but darkness, a darkness that your  fallen consciousness transforms into deeper darkness. But there is more, which is not spelled out in the above passage: all men are born blind.  It is the Saviour, Jesus the Christ, who opens the dead eye that it may see.

That Saviour is also the Creator, who creates out of nothing:

Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said, “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? “Now gird up your loins like a man, and I will ask you, and you instruct Me! “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding, Who set its measurements? Since you know (Job 38:1-5).

Finally, what about Jampolsky’s main thesis that the foundation of inner peace is love without fear? The Christian response is twofold, where the one response is balanced – by the grace of God – in constant tension with the Other.

The one response is: “In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33b).

And the Other (Psalm 111:10):

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; (with regard to fear)
A good understanding have all those who do His commandments;” (with regard to love)

and so I conclude with the end of verse 10:

His praise endures forever.

Boris Sidis, Stuart Chase and Friedrich Hegel on the language of love

Ever since Darwinism gained a hoof-hold onto many organs of academia, the gap between science and philosophy has been growing wider. And to such an extent that many modern scientists “drivialize” philosophy. In the last two decades, the most famous spokesman of this view is the swashbuckling biologist, Richard Dawkins. In the 1930-40s, it was the economist-sociologist, Stuart Chase who, arguably, wore the same mantle that Dawkins wears today. Here is Stuart Chase on the 18th century German philosopher, Friedrich Hegel. Hegel claimed that his philosophical system surpassed all previous systems of philosophical thought. Stuart Chase in his personal philosophy, “I believe”, writes:

“A correspondent has sent me a quotation; Hegel’s definition of love. “Love is the ideality of the relativity of reality of an infinitesimal proton of the absolute totality of the Infinite Being.” (in “I believe. The Personal Philosophies of twenty-three eminent men and women of out time,” 1952 (first published 1940), London, George Allen and Unwin, p. 56).

“This, said Chase, sounds alarmingly like nonsense, but the influence of Hegel is profound…Whatever he meant, he was unable to communicate it to me. I doubt if it has ever been communicated to anyone. The verbal structure itself forbids communication. I could spend my life contemplating this string of symbols and receive no more reward than in contemplating “X is the A of the B of the C of an infinitesimal portion of the D of the E.”

“So, Chase continues, I cease to contemplate it. I pass it up, I pass up all such talk, from Aristotle to Spengler. It saves a lot of time. But the talk of Einstein and Planck I do not pass up. I do not understand all of it , but I know by diligence I could come to understand it. The symbols connect with real things. The talk checks with observable phenomena. Nobody can do anything but obfuscate himself with Hegel’s symbols about love…In reading, in listening, I try to separate talk which goes round and round from talk which refers to something outside my head.”

In sum, science is useful, philosophy is useless.

Stuart Chase and many others heckle at Hegel’s “tyranny of words.” Boris Sidis, a contemporary of Stuart Chase, and one of America’s most celebrated psychologists of the 20th century (and Jewish, of course) thinks that Hegel warrants a good laugh and so includes Hegel’s definition of love in his “The Psychology of laughter,”

We saw that Chase quoted Hegel’s definition of love:

“Love is the ideality of the relativity of reality of an infinitesimal part of the absolute totality of the Infinite Being.”

Sidis also quotes this definition, but with not exactly the same wording:

“Love is the ideality of the relativity of reality of an infinitesimal part of the infinite totality of the Absolute Being.” ( Sidis or Chase have switched “infinite” and “absolute” in the definition).

Whatever the correct “Hegelian” definition, Chase and Sidis would regard either as nonsense. Actually, the first definition contains more nonsense than the second, because “absolute totality” (first definition) makes no sense in either philosophy or science, whereas “infinite totality” (the second definition) makes good scientific and philosophic sense.

But wait. There is a difference between Chase’s and Sidis’ criticism. Chase believes that he is bashing Hegel’s definition of love. Sidis, in contrast, is knocking merely a “semi-Platonic, semi-Hegelian definition of love”, in other words, something that Sidis thinks could have come from the right half of Hegel’s brain, but is, however, not in fact from Hegel. Here is an important point: before making judgments, we need to ensure that we have the required background knowledge. With regard to higher learning such as science, linguistics, history and philosophy, each discipline has its own technical language (“jargon” if you hate the “tyranny”of words – recall Stuart Chase), which you need to master. With regard to Hegel’s philosophy, the demands are even greater, because he coined many neologisms (new terms), and with it came a swathe of difficult concepts.

Hegel’s “Idea-lism tried to synthesise the relative and the absolute in such a way as to explain the totality of being. As love is part of that totality, one could say the “Hegelian” definition of love (of this discussion) might apply. For Hegel, the love that carries greatest weight is the love that is “outside of myself and in the other.” (Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion). The question whether love is merely an infinitesimal part of the totality of being as in the definition, to wit:

“Love is the ideality of the relativity of reality of an infinitesimal part of the infinite totality of the Absolute Being.”

If we accept Hegel’s definition of (the purest kind of) love, namely, the love that is outside of myself and in the other, then perhaps “infinitesimal” does apply, because (total) selfless love is a rare.

Boris Sidis was a behaviourist in the mould of John Watson (1878 – September 25, 1958). Watson is famous for this dictum:

“Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in and I’ll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select – doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief and, yes, even beggar-man and thief, regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations, and race of his ancestors. I am going beyond my facts and I admit it, but so have the advocates of the contrary and they have been doing it for many thousands of years” (Behaviorism (1930), p. 82).

Sidis believed that with the right upbringing, you could make a genius of any child. Sidis’ son William turned out to be the greatest child prodigy of his time. He ended up a misfit and a wreck, and died at the age of 46; a prodigiously wasted – seemingly loveless – life. And Hegel? Was he better off devoting his genius to the Absolute Idea, to pure Ethical freedom? Let Augustine of Hippo have the last word:

“My weight is my love. Wherever I am carried, my love is carrying me. By your gift we are set on fire and carried upwards: we grow red hot and ascend. We climb “The ascents in our heart” (Ps. 83:6), and sing “the song of steps” (Ps. 119:1). Lit by your fire, your good fire, we grow red-hot and ascend, as we move upwards “to the peace of Jerusalem” (Ps. 121:6). “For I was glad when they said to me, let us go to the house of the Lord” (Ps. 121:1). There we will be brought to our place by a good will, so that we want nothing but to stay there for ever” (Book 13 of the Confessions).