Monday, February 16, 2015

Finding Common Ground with Gene

At what point does an idol become an idol?

In Isaiah chapter 2, we read that in the day of Messiah's return, man's pride will be humbled and (consequently) all the idols will pass away (Isaiah 2:9-18).  

What is this connection between pride and idolatry?

The reality is that there are no other gods and so when man "makes" an idol he is fantasizing both the god and the worship of the god simultaneously--i.e. in the process of imagining a god receiving worship, man fantasizes about what it's like to receive worship.  

Idolatry is therefore a state of mind...that utilizes a physical object.

So what is it that G-d hates about an idol?

The reality is that there is nothing inherent in the object that is evil.  Rather, the evil arises when man infuses the object with false sanctity.

Can G-d become a physical object?  Can He become something palpable?  To my understanding, to be "palpable" means to be a physical object by definition.  

Yet Gene and I share some common ground:

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Gene Shlomovich February 15, 2015 at 11:59 AM
"It sounds like you're saying that G-d can never dwell in the Temple."

G-d doesn't literally dwell in the Temple - He cannot be contained either in the Temple, in a human body or any other physical place. Hashem is everywhere in the Universe at once because He's larger than all of His creation, and there's no place where He's not. However, His presence can come to be at a specific location in a way that is palpable to humans. How that works, I don't think we humans know that. However, with that said, Christianity went much farther than that - it claimed that a Jewish man was god who came down to earth as god/slash/man who was a different person from the Father and even prayed to the father and claimed the father to be greater (which is where your G-d in the Temple analogy breaks down). In that regard the man-god of Christianity followed in the footsteps of the previous demigods of history, as Justin Martyr illustrated in his defense of Christianity to his pagan critics.

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Gene,

RE: "His presence can come to be at a specific location in a way that is palpable to humans. How that works, I don't think we humans know that."

This is good common ground to us both then. We agree that He can become palpable and we agree that this is a great mystery.

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This may not seem like much common ground but I think it is.  If we both agree that G-d can become something tangible (i.e. a physical object)--as mysterious as that is--then the only thing preventing Gene from believing that Yeshua, a physical person, is G-d is some sort of presupposition that there is something inherently wrong about the human form.

Yet there is nothing wrong about the human form, in my thinking, given that it reflects the image of G-d.

Perhaps I'm being naive but I think the common ground of a palpable G-d is a good beginning.


25 comments:

  1. "If we both agree that G-d can become something tangible (i.e. a physical object)"

    Peter, I DO NOT believe that G-d ever became something tangible (especially a physical object) no do I believe that He would ever do such a thing, because He warned us about this very already in this Word. By "palpable" I meant that we can experience His presence as limited physical beings, i.e. when He speaks to us with a voice we hear (whether in a vision or audibly), when He sends a fire from heaven that consumes a sacrifice, when a mountain shakes and thunders beneath Him, when His presence is veiled in a cloud which goes before us.

    To claim anything else for G-d, but to especially to say that He has a human body and to idolize a creature with that body as G-d, that's the first prohibition against idolatry expressed by G-d when He forbade worship of physical forms.

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  2. Gene,

    To be transcendent is to be supra-physical (not palpable); to be immanent is to be physical (i.e. a physical object, palpable).

    You indicate He is both transcendent and immanent. Logically, you must think that G-d is both supra-physical and capable of becoming a physical object.

    Face it: if He is incapable of becoming a physical object then He is totally transcendent and cannot dwell in the Temple. Only something physical can dwell within the physical universe.

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  3. "Logically, you must think that G-d is both supra-physical and capable of becoming a physical object. "

    G-d created all matter, so he's perfectly capable producing and interacting with physical phenomena that we humans can perceive. But He Himself remains a non-physical spiritual being without a limit. G-d warned us that Israel saw no form on the mountain, even though they saw fire, heard thunder, felt earthquakes, and heard the sound of G-'d voice. If G-d warned is most sever terms that they saw no form and to not corrupt themselves by worshiping forms, why would I violate G-d's expressed words and imagine G-d as a physical being, especially as a fellow Jewish man from two thousand years ago? Why would I corrupt myself and bow down and worship a creature?

    "Only something physical can dwell within the physical universe."

    Peter, are you are telling me now that G-d CAN'T be within the physical universe as a spiritual being, that He who is infinite is limited by physical laws, time and dimensions? Whatever happened to your "G-d can do anything"?

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  4. Gene,

    RE: " His presence can come to be at a specific location"

    To be in a specific location rather than, say, every location is a limitation, is it not?

    RE: "Whatever happened to your "G-d can do anything"?"

    As you are aware, I never said that. G-d cannot do anything that is inconsistent with His nature. Don't mistake me for a foolish person. : )

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  5. "G-d cannot do anything that is inconsistent with His nature. "

    Well, Peter, NOW I think we finally found the common ground:)

    "Don't mistake me for a foolish person. : )"

    You are not, but just like I once did, you still believe in some foolish things. That's why I hope, as one rabbi once told me when I was still a Jesus-worshiper, that your sincerity may "save" you one day.

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    1. Gene,

      You didn't answer the question. If G-d can appear in a specific location then isn't that a limitation?

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  6. "If G-d can appear in a specific location then isn't that a limitation?"

    No, because it's only to us that it appears that He's in a specific location. However, as it says in Psalm 139:7-8 "Where shall I go from your spirit? or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend up into heaven, you are there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, you are there."

    So, G-d's spirit is everywhere at once. But when He talks to you directly, to YOU it appears that G-d is right there with you. He can talk to another person directly, and to THAT person, G-d will be right there with him or her at that specific location. That not a sign of His limitation, but quite the opposite of that.

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    1. Gene,

      RE: "it's only to us that it appears that He's in a specific location"

      So when G-d said He would dwell in the Temple, do you take that to mean that He did not and will not ever dwell in the Temple?

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    2. Gene,

      You're in a bit of a trap. : )

      For something to exist in a specific location (as you said) it must have limits (boundaries). If something has boundaries then, by definition, it has a form.

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    3. Peter, what "form" do you suppose the Israelites worshipped in the Temple?

      Do you have any scriptural evidence that the worship done in the Temple was directed toward a specific form?

      I can tell you one thing...There is no evidence that anyone prayed to jesus in the Tanach. So your entire argument does nothing for you concerning your belief that jesus is divine, let alone the Messiah...

      Shalom

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    4. "For something to exist in a specific location (as you said) it must have limits (boundaries). If something has boundaries then, by definition, it has a form."

      That's because you are making G-d into a limited physical being bound by physical laws, e.g. Jesus. It's quite clear you do this since you just claimed that G-d has to be physical to interact with a physical world (e.g. be His presence be in a Temple). Not being a physical being, G-d's presence is not limited to where it appears, even at the same time. You can experience G-d talking to you on one side of the earth, and G-d can appear to me at the same exact time on the opposite side of the world. Obviously with a limited physical person, again a la Jesus or any other demigod invented by man, such a thing wouldn't be possible.

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    5. I don't have time for these discussions right now, hopefully in the future... I want to point out that Paul records in 1 Cor 15:6 "After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep;"

      Obviously with a limited physical person, again a la Jesus or any other demigod invented by man, such a thing wouldn't be possible.

      Which as you said, only something God could do... I know you don't believe that account to be true, it is none the less like you said.

      Gene, I hope to see you accepting Yeshua as the Messiah again soon! :D

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    6. Mr. Zion, If jesus claimed to be divine, then I would reject him as a prophet of G-d. Why? Because the Torah tells me to!

      Deuteronomy 13:2. If there will arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of a dream, and he gives you a sign or a wonder,

      In the case of Jesus, he claimed that the sign or a wonder was that he would be killed and then resurrect himself three days later.

      Deuteronomy 13:3. and the sign or the wonder of which he spoke to you happens, [and he] says, "Let us go after other gods which you have not known, and let us worship them,"

      In the case of jesus, lets say that this sign or a wonder that Jesus prophesied about, hypothetically came true, and jesus actually did rise from the dead on the third day after he was killed on the cross. Let's also hypothetically assume that jesus claimed to be "fully divine." If jesus truly made such a claim, then he is telling the Israelites to "go after another god which you have not known, and to worship him."

      Deuteronomy 13:4. you shall not heed the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of a dream; for the Lord, your God, is testing you, to know whether you really love the Lord, your God, with all your heart and with all your soul.

      Now Zion, obviously I do not believe that the resurrection of Jesus actually happened for obvious reasons...But even if it hypothetically did occur, I would still reject jesus as being a true prophet, especially if he instructed us to acknowledge him as divine. Did Abraham pray to jesus? Did Moses pray to jesus? How about King David? Once again, the burden of proof is on you to demonstrate that G-d instructed us to acknowledge jesus as divine in the Tanach. As we both know, G-d never instructed us to do this. Thus, if jesus indeed saw himself as divine, then he is simply "another god which we have not known." Deuteronomy 13:2-4 makes it abundantly clear that even if the resurrection happened, jesus cannot be divine...

      But since the NT is riddled with contextual errors and extremely weak arguments for jesus's supposed "messiahship," I wouldn't put too much faith in it...

      Shalom

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    7. "He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time...." ...Which as you said, only something God could do."

      Zion, I am really trying to understand but still not sure how what you cited show that Jesus was somehow like G-d. How did Jesus appear to them? In his supposedly "resurrected body"? If so, what's so special about one man appearing to 500 other people in one place? If you mean that it's Jesus' ghost and not his body that appeared to them, did he appear to the group of 500 at the same time? What's so G-d-like about that? Or, was it in a vision, like Paul's? Did Jesus appear in a vision to 500 one a time and did they all see his apparitions (like the Catholic Mary-devotees)? Did Jesus' ghost conference them in while they were in different locations? (where is that in a text).

      "Gene, I hope to see you accepting Yeshua as the Messiah again soon! :D"

      May the real G-d of Israel forbid that. However, I do take some comfort that the author of Hebrews said that my return to Christian idolatry won't be possible, since I would be crucifying Jesus all over again:)

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    8. Gene,

      RE: "That's because you are making G-d into a limited physical being bound by physical laws, e.g. Jesus"

      Bound by physical laws like when He walked on water? Or when He walked through walls? Or when He commanded the winds and seas and they obeyed Him? Or when He ascended into heaven?

      : )


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    9. Unknown,

      Deuteronomy 13 says that if a "prophet" comes to you and says to follow idols and reject Torah then such a prophet should be put to death. Notice the dichotomy there: idolatry vs. Torah.

      Yet Yeshua taught His followers to keep the Torah:

      “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven," Matthew 5:17-19

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    10. Peter,

      Did Abraham pray to jesus? Did Moses pray to jesus? How about King David? Once again, the burden of proof is on you to demonstrate that G-d instructed us to acknowledge jesus as divine in the Tanach. As we both know, G-d never instructed us to do this. Thus, if jesus indeed saw himself as divine, then he is simply "another god which we have not known."

      This is contrary to Torah, Peter.

      Now, please proceed with the obligatory wild goose chase of you dubbing every anonymous angel in the Tanach as a "pre incarnate jesus angel," despite the fact that the Tanach never identifies these angels as jesus...

      And jesus never claimed to be these angels either...

      But since I've debate christians like you more than enough times to know this is going to be your desperation move, I've spared you the hassle...

      The burden of proof is on you to demonstrate that Hashem instructed us to worship jesus. Since this is not in the Tanach, we can affirm with 100% confidence that to worship jesus is to worship "another god." This is idolatry. The worship of jesus is idolatry. There is no way around this.

      Shalom

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    11. "Bound by physical laws like when He walked on water? Or when He walked through walls? Or when He commanded the winds and seas and they obeyed Him? Or when He ascended into heaven? "

      You mean Peter wasn't bound by physical laws when HE walked on water too, according to your scriptures? Or when Philip was appearing and disappearing from one place to the next? Were they gods like Jesus? Or may be Joseph Smith was god by raising people from the dead? Did Muhammad ascend to heaven? The fairy tales of false religions can make whatever claims they wish.

      Jesus was certainly bound by physical laws. After all, he was executed and died and has been dead for two thousand years. G-d cannot die. Jesus is dead like Muhammad, he's dead like Joseph Smith and he's dead like all men who are bound by natural laws. Because he was killed proves that he was a mere man. We have example of this in the Bible with the king of Tyre also claimed to be god:

      "“Son of man, say to the prince of Tyre, Thus says the L-rd G-d: “Because your heart is proud, and you have said, ‘I am a god, I sit in the seat of the gods, in the heart of the seas,’ yet you are but a man, and no god, though you make your heart like the heart of a god—you are indeed wiser than Daniel; no secret is hidden from you;…. therefore thus says the L-rd G-d: Because you make your heart like the heart of a god, therefore, behold, I will bring foreigners upon you, the most ruthless of the nations; and they shall draw their swords against the beauty of your wisdom and defile your splendor. They shall thrust you down into the pit, and you shall die the death of the slain in the heart of the seas. Will you still say, ‘I am a god,’ in the presence of those who kill you, though you are but a man, and no god, in the hands of those who slay you? You shall die the death of the uncircumcised by the hand of foreigners; for I have spoken, declares the L-rd G-d.” (Ezekiel 28)"

      So, I will ask your Jesus, your false god, the same question G-d posed to another demigod: "Will you still say, ‘I am a god,’ in the presence of those who kill you, though you are but a man, and no god, in the hands of those who slay you?"

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    12. Gene,

      My pointing out that Yeshua was not bound by the laws of physics was in response to your statement, "That's because you are making G-d into a limited physical being bound by physical laws, e.g. Jesus". I was simply pointing out that your statement was correct. Yeshua, like many other beings and even mortals at certain points in history, was not bound by the laws of physics.

      Ability to violate the laws of physics does not make one G-d.

      But you raise a great point when you say:

      "So, I will ask your Jesus, your false god, the same question G-d posed to another demigod: "Will you still say, ‘I am a god,’ in the presence of those who kill you, though you are but a man, and no god, in the hands of those who slay you?""

      Ah, that's the question: is He merely a man and therefore "no god'?

      This question is connected to another question: does Yeshua ask His followers to worship Him as a man? Is that how His Apostles understood Believers are supposed to worship Yeshua?

      This is a good question to explore in a new post. My understanding, which I'll elaborate in the next post, is that we don't worship Yeshua as G-d (per se) but rather we worship G-d (the Father) that has come to dwell in the person of Yeshua. He is the perceivable glory of G-d in human form yet we know there is more to G-d than what is perceivable. When I worship G-d, I'm worshipping the G-d of Israel, not necessarily the manifestations of His glory (e.g. a fire). Perhaps there's another bit of common ground in there...

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    13. Gene,

      Meant to say, "Your statement was INcorrect".

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    14. "we don't worship Yeshua as G-d (per se)"

      The idolaters didn't "worship" idols either by bowing before them and praying to them - they worshiped the gods represented by the idols, gods who lived elsewhere and merely embodied the idols. In fact, this is what Hindus claims when they defend themselves against charges of idolatry! The difference between them and what Christians are doing with Jesus is semantics - they giving worship to a creature, no matter what excuses they make!

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    15. "does Yeshua ask His followers to worship Him as a man?"

      Wrong question, Peter. If you get this question wrong, there's no point in another post exploring it. Jesus asked to be worshiped as god and not as man, obviously (if he ever asked at all even according to the NT). Demigods (deified emperors, etc) didn't ask their worshipers to worship them as mere men, but as gods. And that's idolatry.

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    16. " we don't worship Yeshua as G-d (per se) but rather we worship G-d (the Father) that has come to dwell in the person of Yeshua. "

      Hold on a second, Peter - don't you believe that there's a "Second Person of the Trinity" who is equal to G-d the Father? If you do then you definitely believe that the Second Person other than the Father deserves equal adoration and worship as the Father, not just the Father who "has come to dwell in the person of Yeshua", which is not traditional Christian (or "messianic") doctrine at all, but sounds more like Oneness Pentecostal where G-d the Father appears in different modes!

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  7. @Peter... from your post: "The reality is that there are no other gods and so when man "makes" an idol he is fantasizing both the god and the worship of the god simultaneously--i.e. in the process of imagining a god receiving worship, man fantasizes about what it's like to receive worship."

    I just wanted to say that that's an EXCELLENT description of what is going on with idolatry. You are not far from the Kingdom of G-d, my friend, to quote one late Jewish man I know:)

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  8. "Yet Yeshua taught His followers to keep the Torah"

    The Torah says that even if the prophet does great signs and miracles, if he leads people after other gods, he is a false prophet. Since Jesus lead (or at least this is what the NT claims he did) people into worship of him as god, he's clearly a false prophet. If I obey Torah and tell everyone to obey Torah but then I also tell people that I am god and to worship me, I would be a false prophet.

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