Jewish psychologists and the God within

 Rabbi Joshua Liebman says in his “Peace of mind” that religion is “at its best” merely “the announcer of the supreme ideals by which men must live and through which our finite species finds it’s ultimate significance.” If people were honest, says Liebman, “they would admit that the implementation of these ideals should be left to psychology.

Psychology can say much, obviously, about the psyche, but nothing about the God of the Bible. For Liebman, part rabbi, part psychologist, the ultimate aim of religion is peace of mind, which results from the discovery of ”ultimate significance.” To whom must a Jew run to find this ultimate meaning? No, not to the rabbi, says Liebman, but to the psychologist, preferably a Freudian psychologist. Oh the irony! Freud, the Jewish atheist is going to tell us how to find ultimate meaning.

The heart of religion is, says Liebman, “something outside ourselves.” I understand by that the existence of a transcendent being greater than ourselves. Alas, Liebman brings us back us back to earth that it is the job of psychology to make this something (someone?) outside ourselves incarnate. If that is so, religion then has little to do with the Bible, and everything to with the “Varieties of religious experience” (William James). Whereas the Scripture (Hebrew and New testament) says ”look up” Liebman says, “look within, because without’s within.”

If Liebman had been a Messianic Jew, he, firstly, wouldn’t have shackled religion to psychology, and second, he would have said that this making something outside ourselves incarnate is not the psychologist’s job but God’s; and this something made incarnate would be Someone, not something. (Some Messianic Jews, sadly, do not believe that God had a divine Son; so they don’t believe in THE incarnation)

 Gerald Jampolsky’s (Yogic) “transformation of consciousness” leads to inner peace. 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.”

Liebman says go within to find your true self, the real you; but not before you go outside – to Freud. For Jampolsky, in contrast, look within, and that’s good enough to find inner peace.

 

Messiah will/has come: Jewish, Messianic Jewish and Roman Catholic positions

Why is there no other name but Jesus that matters? Because Jesus Christ is what salvation means (Jesus means salvation”). This is the central doctrine of the Gospel, and used to be the central doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church until Vatican 2 (1962), which introduced the idea of universal salvation (Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, and others – EXCEPT Protestants). Here is an anecdote that expresses an opinion I (a former Catholic) and Catholics I knew held. Roy Schoeman, a Jew, relates his interesting journey to the Catholic Church. Here is the part of his story when he spent a week at a Carthusian monastery: 

One day when I was working alone in the fields, an elderly monk came out to speak with me. He approached and shyly asked, “Tell us, if you don’t mind ­ We couldn’t help noticing that you do not receive communion, so you must not be Catholic. What then are you?” When I replied “Jewish”, he grinned and with a deep sigh said “That’s a relief! We were afraid you were Protestant!”. At the time I had no understanding at all of the difference between Protestants and Catholics they were just meaningless words describing Christians ­ yet I was deeply struck by the fact that in some mysterious way this monk identified with Jews as opposed to Protestants. I later realized that in his eyes Jews were “elder brothers in the Faith” who had not yet received the grace to recognize the Messiahship of Jesus, whereas Protestants had once had, but then rejected, the fullness of the truth.” (John 17 and Catholic Universalism: That they may be One – (Reformed) Protestants need not apply).

There is another Jew, who believes the Messiah has already come. He is Messianic Rabbi Michael Schiffman who writes that MessianiZc Judaism and Christianity share the same Messiah but are different religions. He says:

While traditional synagogues don’t acknowledge Yeshua, nevertheless, He is there. For me, He is the Messiah of Israel. As the brothers of Joseph did not recognize him when they stood before him, because all they saw was an Egyptian ruler, he remained their brother. He fed them and took care of them, and would not take their money for the grain they bought, because he remained their brother. When he revealed himself to them, he comforted them, and told them to come near, because they were his brothers. Joseph is a picture of Yeshua. As Joseph acted toward his brothers, so will Yeshua act toward his. He loves them, and will comfort them, and take care of them, which, after all, is the job of the Messiah.” 
z
Here is a comment on the Rabbi’s post from “ProclaimLiberty.” (My italics): 

I believe Dr.Schiffman hinted at a theological concept that might be called “the hidden messiah” (or “the unseen/unrecognized Yeshua”), which is a means to view an implicit relationship between Jews who reject the “Jesus” of the Gentiles and this hidden messiah who is the salvation of HaShem (“Y’shu’at HaShem”). Thus, when they approach HaShem, they too are coming to the Father through the auspices of Yeshua. As for the “remnant” problem, Jewish history is also replete with Jews who chase after other values and do not approach HaShem with any kind of faith at all. The judgement that may fall upon these individuals in the end of days will be nuanced by all that they have done and by all that has been done to them. It remains to be seen how zthat will effect the definition of the term “all” in the reference that says all Israel will be saved. But it is not accurate to limit this remnant to only those Jews who explicitly and religiously acknowledge Rav Yeshua as the Messiah.” 

With regard to the salvation of Ïsrael,“ ProclaimLiberty maintains that two kinds of Jews will be saved: 

1. Jews who have faith (and are faithful) to the Holy One of Israel,

and

2. Jews who will be judged by “all that they have done and by all that has been done to them.” Rabbi, Schiffman, in contrast, says “He loves them, and will comfort them, and take care of them, which, after all, is the job of the Messiah.”

I infer that “them” means all (Jews) without exception. In this regard, the Rabbi appeals to Romans 11:1: “I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew [fore loved].” Like the Apostle Paul, the Rabbi has great sorrow for his Jewish people but notice the exception Paul makes:

Romans 9

The sorrow of the Apostle

1 I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit— 2 I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, 4 the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. 5 Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.

God’s Sovereign Choice

6 It is not as though God’s word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. 7 Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children. On the contrary, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”8 In other words, it is not the children by physical descent who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring.”

It is clear that only a remnant of Jews will be saved. According to ProclaimLiberty, “it is not accurate to limit this remnant to only those Jews who explicitly and religiously acknowledge Rav Yeshua as the Messiah.” This view, according to many scriptures, is wrong. For example, John 8: (My emphasis)

So he said to them again, “I am going away, and you will seek me, and you will die in your sin. Where I am going, you cannot come.” So the Jews said, “Will he kill himself, since he says, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’?” He said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.” So they said to him, “Who are you?” Jesus said to them, “Just what I have been telling you from the beginning. I have much to say about you and much to judge, but he who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.” They did not understand that he had been speaking to them about the Father. So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.” As he was saying these things, many believed in him.

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”
Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.”

They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. You are doing the works your father did.” They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

These were “Jews who had believed him.” This belief was obviously not in whom Jesus said he was but in what these Jews wanted to believe Jesus was. In sum, according to Jesus, they were sons of the father of lies. 

Christ says “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (John 8:12). Christ is the light. No human being has any light in himself waiting to shine forth. 

As for ProclaimLiberty’s “The judgement that may fall upon these individuals in the end of days will be nuanced by all that they have done and by all that has been done to them,” this radical kind of “works” salvation is also wrong – terribly wrong. In this schematic, not even faith is required, which theRoman Catholic system does require. This works salvation reminds me of one of Art Katz’s talks, where he describes a movement within Lubavitch-Chabad who drive round New York in specially outfitted vans to pick up Jews on the street and get them to put on tefillin. If enough Jews did it the critical mass, whatever that was Messiah would come. Talking of critical mass, here is a comment on a Chabad article Who is Mosiach? the basics. [My square brackets].

It seems that on a scale it only takes 1 grain of sand to tip two equal portions to one side or the other. When the scale tips it tips completely to one side or the other. I think the critical mass is simply 50.000001% of the Jewish population keeping Shabbos for instance. Possibly 1 of 2 of the greatest gifts Hashem gave us. Those who keep Shabbos understand the value of this gift clearly. Why then aren’t we creating an International Shabbos day and selling it like we sell the Superbowl. With Jewish celebrities promoting it in all corners of the Earth. Chabad is trying this but it needs to be on a much much bigger scale. How can we promote this idea to give all of those who have strayed from the path after all of these generations in gullus [galut – “exile”] – a taste of Gad [Gan – “garden”?] Eden? 

The Lubavitcher Rabbi Schneerson (the Rebbe) expressed the “critical mass” idea differently: “”the Moshiach is waiting for that one tiny act of lovingkindness to tip the scales, then he will come.” (Saved by .000001% and a slight movement of the chest: Jewish and Islamic views of redemption). 

I return to Roy Schoeman’s story of his conversion to Roman Catholicism: “I was deeply struck by the fact that in some mysterious way this monk identified with Jews as opposed to Protestants. I later realized that in his eyes Jews were ‘elder brothers in the Faith’ who had not yet received the grace to recognize the Messiahship of Jesus.” 

The modern Roman Catholic position (since Vatican 2) is far more pliant – I would say obsequious -to these “elder brothers.” No more talk of the Jews not yet receiving the grace to recognize the Messiahship of Jesus. Indeed, there is no longer any conflict between the Jewish expectancy of a first-time Messiah and the New Testament expectancy of a second-time Messiah. The Roman Catholic Church says the Messiah’s come already, the Jew says, He’s still to come. “Why all this fuss over chronology? After all, the Messiah must be the same Messiah for both Jews and Christians/Messianic Jews,“ some may ask. The New Testament, alas, states otherwise as we read in John 8 above where Jesus says to the Jews who reject his claims that they are not of God. The upshot, without faith in Jesus/Yeshua as the (suffering) Messiah, their future expectation is in vain. No, says the modern Roman Catholic Church: 

Jewish messianic expectation is not in vain. It can become for us Christians a powerful stimulant to keep alive the eschatological dimension of our faith. Like them, we too live in expectation. The difference is that for us the One who is to come will have the traits of the Jesus who has already come and is already present and active among us” (The Pontifical Biblical Commission statement (2002), entitled “The Jewish People and their Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible”). 

How could such an expectation be not vain, given that they refuse Christ, the only Messiah, who has already come? This means, if taken to its logical conclusion, that the refusal of the mystery of the Incarnation, of the birth of our Divine Savior in the flesh, is no longer a sin of infidelity, is no longer a grave sin against God. If this were the case, how could it still be true for the already-come Messiah to say: “I am the way, and the truth and the life. No man cometh to the Father but by me” (John 14:6)? 

Paul says “all Israel will be saved” what is the context of “all?” Paul means all Israel “of the promise,” which are the ones who believe (abiding in belief – the “believing”ones) Jesus/Yeshua is the Christ/Messiah. Paul says in Romans 9, which he reaffirms in Romans 11 that only a remnant of (ethnic) Israel will be saved, and the reason that they will be saved is not that they’re “ethic” and dedicated to repairing the world. The reason is that God has mercy on those he wants to have mercy, which has stones to do with how many Jews do tefillin or how many acts of kindness they do.

 

The Jew’s role in salvation and the future of ethnic Israel: Give John Piper his Jue.

 

Illustration from The Pied Piper of Hamelin

Illustration from The Pied Piper of Hamelin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many Jewish Christians/Messianic Jews protest when they feel that they have been cast aside in the plan of redemption. Judah Gabriel is outraged at John Piper’s tweet on his (Piper’s) sermon, which Judah claims, sidelines, indeed, casts off, ethnic Israel. The sermon is entitled “I’m not sure whether Judah read John’s sermon, “How the Offspring of Isaac Blesses the Sons of Ishmael,” which is based on Romans 9:1-13.

And here is Piper’s offending tweet: “Isaac not Ishmael. Jacob not Esau. Israel not the Nations. Jesus not Israel. In Jesus all who believe.”

In the Tanach (Old Testament) the elect is ”Israel not the nations” (Piper). What appears to be Piper’s offensive bit is the next sentence: ”Jesus not Israel.” The reason why Piper says ”Jesus not Israel” is ”explained” (actually tweets are dangerous for your health) in his next and last ”tweetbit”: ”In Jesus all who believe.” What I’d like to do here is see how Piper’s tweet relates to his sermon, and if nothing more is gained than the discovery that tweets can cause scaries, I’d feel content, if not enriched.

The gist of Piper’s sermon is that ethnic Israel serves no other divine purpose than being the fleshly door for the Messiah. There’s more, which Piper did not mention, and that is, as the Talmud says, “All the world was created for the Messiah” (Talmud, Sanhedrin 98b). The New Testament says it this way; 16For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Col. 1:16-17). And at the end of the three chapters on the role of the Jews in redemption (Romans 9 -11), we read:

For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.” So, the New Testament is clear: ”for him are all things,” which includes ethnic Israel.

Here is Judah Gabriel:

“The promises of God belong to Israel. They didn’t disappear when Jesus showed up.”

I would like to show that in Judah’s desire to restore the Jew to what he considers his (Judah and other Jews) rightful place in the plan of redemption, he downplays the role of Jesus – unwittingly, of course.

Here is Judah’s comment (above) within the larger context of his complaint:

“But he (Piper) speaks of election only to suggest that God’s choosing of Israel was done in order to elect Yeshua. Thus, Israel’s election is made irrelevant because God’s purposes for Israel are fully carried out in Yeshua. Roll the credits, because in Jesus, it’s Israel: The End. Though he cited Romans 9, it’s as if he didn’t read it at all.”

Judah quotes Romans 9:3-4:

3 I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Messiah for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel. 4 Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises.

“To Israel, says Judah, belongs these things. Not belonged. Belongs. The promises of God belong to Israel. They didn’t disappear when Jesus showed up.”

By “Israel” Judah means, of course, Israel of the flesh (the Jewish race), which Paul reiterates in Romans 9:5, “Theirs are the (the promises of the) patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry (of whom as concerning the flesh) of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.

The role of the Jew in the redemption story can be compared in some way to the Pied Piper of Hamelin but with a – for the Christian, but not for the Jew – a noble twist: Jesus “showed up.” What Judah hates is Piper’s idea that the reason why the the Jew (Israel) was elected (which the “nations” goyim were not) was for one reason only, namely, to be the fleshly door through which the Messiah was to enter this world of human corruption in order to save the children of the promise. The argument of most Messianic Jews, Judah, for example, is that Romans 9 is fundamentally about the election of Israel.

We place Judah’s excerpt from Romans 9 ( verse 4 of Piper’s sermon) in its larger context.

”4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. 5 To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.”

Judah says, correctly, “belongs” and not “belonged.” But the “but” that follows explains what Paul means by “Israelites.”

”6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 8. This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated” Romans 9:6-13).

As Piper explains in his sermon, the reason why the younger Isaac, both of whose parents were Hebrews, was chosen over the elder Ishmael had nothing to do with the fact that Ishmael’s mother, Hagar, was not a Hebrew. This is proved by the fact that both the younger Jacob (the deceiver, the heel – all deceivers are heels) and the elder Esau had the same Hebrew parents – they were both, anachronistically-speaking, Jewish. So Paul has bent over backwards to make it as clear as crystal that “it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring (verse 8).

 What Jewish believers in Jesus, who generally are Arminians (a few might be Armenians as well) do not get – as is true of all ArminiansNOTE1 – the plain sense of Romans 9:13-16:

”As it is written, Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated. 14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. 15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion. 16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that hath mercy.”

This has nothing to do with the Israel of the flesh, but of the Israel of the promise, who are the children of faith, that is, the children of Abraham.

What about the future nation of Israel? Both Judah and I would agree with the following admonition: ”To suggest, says Chris on the Roshpinaproject, that God has finished with Israel is an insult to God’s faithfulness and integrity.  If God can break his promises to Israel, he can break his promises to any of us as he cannot be trusted.”

God, as both Judah and I vehemently hold, has not finished with Israel. The point that Piper makes in his sermon, however, is that the Jew’s role in the plan of redemption has been fulfilled in Jesus; ”It is finished” (fait accompli). The (orthodox) Jew who rejects Jesus, in contrast, claims that he is the suffering servant of Isaiah 53, who is to bring redemption to the world. From a New Testament view, this is one of the evidences of the insufferable servant’s distortions of scripture. Although it is true that the world needs a saviour, no Jew (no matter how much he obeys the mizvot) or no Gentile can contribute a thing to their or somebody else’s salvation. Only Jesus the Messiah can do that. And that is Piper’s persistent point.

Where, though, does John Piper stand on the issue of the future of ethnic Israel, for he doesn’t mention it in his sermon. What would Piper make of Romans 11:28-29 ”As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies for your sake; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, 29 for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.”

Here is Piper on the future of ethnic Israel, which is a minority Christian position:

”One of the problems for gentile Christians like us is how a book full of promises to Jerusalem and Judah can be a help to us today. Let me try to sketch very briefly the principles that guide my interpretation of prophecies like this. First, I think these prophecies are aimed primarily at the ethnic people of Israel. They were the audience; and when they heard Zechariah refer to “the house of Judah and the house of Israel” they would naturally understand the Jewish people not the church of Christian gentiles. These prophecies are aimed at the ethnic people Israel. Second, I think there is a glorious future for Israel even yet when she repents. It is too simple to say that since the time of Christ the church has replaced Israel as God’s chosen people, even though that is true, in a sense. The reason it is too simple is that in Romans 11 Paul teaches that God is not finished with ethnic Israel. In verse 1 he says, “Has God rejected his people? By no means! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin.” Paul insists that God has not finished with the Jews, first of all because he is a Jew (of the tribe of Benjamin!). Paul does admit that the Jews are temporarily rejected through their unbelief, but this is for the benefit of us gentiles; and when the full number of gentiles is complete the remaining Jews, too, will repent and be saved. Romans 11:12,15, “Now if their (Jews) trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean! … If their (Jews) rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?” Here Israel is distinct from converted gentiles and is promised a glorious future. So a few verses later in verses 25,26, Paul says, “A hardening has come upon part of Israel until the full number of the gentiles comes in, and so all Israel will be saved.” In the context of Romans 11:12,15 it is unwarranted to interpret “all Israel” here to mean anything other than corporate ethnic Israel. So one of my guiding principles in reading Old Testament prophecy about Israel is that there is a glorious future ahead when Israel will repent, turn to Christ and be saved.”

So, it is true that (Romans 11:28-29) ”as far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies for your sake; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, 29 for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.”

Not to forget, though, the next verses that explain the ultimate meaning of the election of Israel:

”30 Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, 31 so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you.”

And the clincher, which hopefully will demolish any pride or protest:

32 For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.”

As far as salvation is concerned, Jew and Gentile have, at best, fallen short, and thus are at God’s mercy. And what a mercy that is!

1 Arminianism is founded on the assertion that human dignity requires an unimpaired freedom of the will, which implies that the one who ultimately decides salvation is the believer. In contrast, the Reformed (Calvinist) position states that salvation is totally of the Lord.