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Switch to Forum Live View A friendly question from a Christian.
9 years ago  ::  Nov 17, 2008 - 3:46AM #11
NahumS
Posts: 1,868
[QUOTE=mathaytace;892482]Christianity agrees. Christians who actually read the scriptures, and don't insert their antisemitic crap into it, see it affirmed in both the Tanakh and the New Testament, that the Jews are not only blessed by God, but a blessing to the world. Before the Advent of Christ, many Gentiles who otherwise would not know God learned ethical precepts and morality from the Jewish people.[/QUOTE]

I would go one step further.
While we appreciate that Christianity has spread G-d's word in the world through the dissemination of the Hebrew Scriptures, I would suggest that our job is not yet finished.
There are spiritual messages in the Hebrew Bible and our rabbinic tradition that have yet to become part of the spiritual heritage of the gentile world.
Just a few: the actions of the individual, whether good or bad, have a tremendous impact on the entire world, materially, spiritually and ethically.
Actions count even more than faith.
The material well-being of our fellow man is no less important than his spiritual wellbeing - and much easier for us to ensure.
It's up to us, with the help of G-d, to make the world a better place.
The material world can be made holy by channeling our physical drives towards serving G-d. It is possible to enjoy all of G-d's blessings and live a holy life. Thiis is the challenge that G-d has given us.
The family is the basic building block of society and there is no more important task than raising children to contribute to society.
Studying G-d's Word and His world bring us closer to our Creator.

The unique spiritual genius of the Jewish nation does not end with the Bible - we went on to hear and transmit G-d's voice through the Mishna, Midrash and Talmud, through the worls of Maimonides and Rabbi Yehudah HaLevi, through the Hasidic movement and the Kabbalah. The Holy Spirit continues to inspire and speak through us.
Our job in history is also not finished - the return of the Jewish nation to the Land of Israel and the founding of the Jewish State is the first stage of Redemption - that of the Jewish people and of the entire world. We hope and pray that the State of Israel will fulfill its divine potential - to be a light unto the nations where social justice and an ideal Jewish society prevail, and can serve as an example for the whole world and bring blessing to the surrounding nations.
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9 years ago  ::  Nov 21, 2008 - 3:13AM #12
Shlomo613
Posts: 131
[QUOTE=NahumS;892151]...I understand your objection to turning "Noahidism" into an alternative religion for gentiles. But encouraging "ethical monotheism" (that used to be a by-word in the Reform movement once upon a time) - isn't that an important part of our mission in the world?[/QUOTE]

I think this topic is a bit misunderstood by most people. No, I don't claim to know all, but I do think that I have an opinion worthy of sharing.

Noachidism is not a religion. This sounds corny I know, but rather than a religion I prefer to call it a preligion. ;)

Think of it as a minimum specification for a righteous human. It's a bedrock to build a just religion upon.

Particularly for the three peoples descended from Abraham and their three faiths of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (in order of appearance) this is a common ground that IMHO we can all find agreement on and build bridges upon. Now, it seems to me, that this would be best accomplished by members in each faith community who champion the Noachide laws in that community first, and then when internal dialog reaches a point where the 7 laws are praised and valued then it will be possible to reach outside to the other faiths to like-minded people. I see the 7 laws as a badly needed first-aid to heal the rifts between these 3 religions. Remember I have lived in all 3 communities, and know first hand and in a very personal way the evil that discord between the 3 have caused in the world. Is this not worth the effort? Surely nothing evil can come from promoting such basic laws of righteousness?

As to the Jewish role in this, yes I do think we have the responsibility to at least spread the 7 laws. In fact, I think it's only fair. We do not own the 7 laws they are the rightful property of all Humanity, we are merely the caretakers. Of course I think we should champion this topic in our own communities. If we, who've had these so long, don't show we value them how can we expect others to?

I think this is a good topic for the Welcome forum. Gentiles who come here and look to see how Judaism sees them, expects from them, need to know this. No, Judaism does not demand you convert to be one of us. All it asks is that you honor G-d and lead a righteous life. The 7 Noachide laws provide practical instruction on how that is defined.

I'll get off my soapbox  now, but as you can see this does mean a lot to me.
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9 years ago  ::  Nov 21, 2008 - 9:34AM #13
nieciedo
Posts: 5,617
[QUOTE=Shlomo613;911004]
As to the Jewish role in this, yes I do think we have the responsibility to at least spread the 7 laws. In fact, I think it's only fair. We do not own the 7 laws they are the rightful property of all Humanity, we are merely the caretakers. Of course I think we should champion this topic in our own communities. If we, who've had these so long, don't show we value them how can we expect others to?



What makes us the "caretakers" of these laws, and how can we prove to others that these laws both exist and are binding on them?

I think this is a good topic for the Welcome forum. Gentiles who come here and look to see how Judaism sees them, expects from them, need to know this. No, Judaism does not demand you convert to be one of us. All it asks is that you honor G-d and lead a righteous life. The 7 Noachide laws provide practical instruction on how that is defined.[/QUOTE]

Everyone can agree, I think, that murder, stealing, and cruelty to animals are bad things and that a strong and just judicial system is a good thing.

But:

What about "adultery," or more broadly, "sexual misconduct?"

What is "adultery?" Just as marriage is a social construct that varies by time and place so too is adultery. Most people, I think, do not need convincing that incest and bestiality are -- if not "wrong" then at least distasteful. Yet some formulations of the Noachide laws prohibit homosexuality as well. By what right and upon what proof can one articulate a supposedly divinely-ordained sexual ethic for others?

And then, of course, there's "idolatry" and "blasphemy." Just what the heck to these mean and how can we rightly instruct other people how to obey them? Are Buddhists idolaters? How about Hindus? How about Christians?

And then there's "blasphemy," which seems to have no real specific definition. Claiming that God impregnated a woman and fathered a son might be considered blasphemy. Claiming that no kind of personal god exists might be blasphemy. Claiming that God exists in millions of manifestations and incarnations might be blasphemy.

The problem with the Noachide laws is that is presumes Jews somehow have a special connection to God, a special body of knowledge unavailable (or unclear) to other people and that Jews have a kind of responsibility to spread this message.

Yet, we can't prove that God even exists much less that He has imparted these supposed Noachide laws, so why on earth should anyone believe us?

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9 years ago  ::  Nov 23, 2008 - 3:52AM #14
Shlomo613
Posts: 131
[QUOTE=nieciedo;911222]...The problem with the Noachide laws is that is presumes Jews somehow have a special connection to God, a special body of knowledge unavailable (or unclear) to other people and that Jews have a kind of responsibility to spread this message.

Yet, we can't prove that God even exists much less that He has imparted these supposed Noachide laws, so why on earth should anyone believe us?[/QUOTE]

You are setting up straw man arguments on most of these topics, for example in Judaism, Blasphemy has a very specific meaning of a particular action.

Please remember that I refer to the three Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam as primary participants. Don't need to prove G-d exists with this audience. It is true that most of the Noachide laws are not directly commanded by G-d, but the reasons each of them were compiled in  this list by the Sages is easy to see; such as Cain committing murder. All three faiths have versions of the Bible that say more or less the same thing and the reasoning for the 7 should be possible to show in each faith. Dialog could reach consensus in these matters, I'm sure.

Jews do have a responsibility in spreading these universal laws, but so does Christianity and Islam, eh?
G-d establishes a Covenant with mankind with Noah, and it's still in force, as G-d doesn't revoke or annul Covenants, therefore it's important to all Abrahamic faiths to understand what this particular Covenant means.

Most importantly it would be a subject that all 3 faiths have a chance to have a good dialog about and come to agreement on, and if you look at the animosity and strife between the 3 here on Bnet can there be any doubt that would be a welcome change? If the 3 faiths can't find common ground on something so fundamental, what chance for any agreement or peace?
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9 years ago  ::  Dec 03, 2008 - 5:29PM #15
mathaytace
Posts: 125
Well, i can answer for One Christian.

   1. Prohibition of Idolatry: You shall not have any idols before God.
   2. Prohibition of Murder: You shall not murder. (Genesis 9:6)
   3. Prohibition of Theft: You shall not steal.
   4. Prohibition of Sexual Promiscuity: You shall not commit adultery.
   5. Prohibition of Blasphemy: You shall not blaspheme God's name.
   6. Dietary Law: Do not eat flesh taken from an animal while it is still alive. (Genesis 9:4)
   7. Requirement to have just Laws: You shall set up an effective judiciary to enforce the preceding six laws fairly.


With a Christian definition of Idolatry (Allowing Worship of the Incarnation of God, and the Use of Images as reflections of faith rather than objects of worship), i could easily assent to, and champion these laws.

But as stated above, the definitions are what cause confusion and disagreement.
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9 years ago  ::  Dec 11, 2008 - 3:39AM #16
Shlomo613
Posts: 131
[QUOTE=mathaytace;933888]...
With a Christian definition of Idolatry (Allowing Worship of the Incarnation of God, and the Use of Images as reflections of faith rather than objects of worship), i could easily assent to, and champion these laws.

But as stated above, the definitions are what cause confusion and disagreement.[/QUOTE]

What do you mean by images? If you mean the 2-dimensional Icons such as used for centuries by the Eastern Orthodox church, I'm pretty sure most people would not define that as an idol, IMHO. If you mean a 3-dimensional stone statue,  (a graven image in the simplest meaning of the term) that is forbidden to all, Jew or Gentile, used as 'reflections' or any purpose other than decoration. It is an idol and forbidden. (there is some thought that a statue outside where birds do what they do on it can't be considered an idol as an idol would not be allowed to be dirtied in such a way)

Don't know if I posted this here or elsewhere, but only Jews are specifically commanded to not worship any other gods other than HaShem. Non-Jews have less stringent requirement and are allowed to have intermediaries and personal gods just as long as HaShem is considered above and unchallenged by these intermediaries. Therefore, there is nothing wrong with Christianity as a trinity with an intermediary for gentiles.
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9 years ago  ::  Dec 11, 2008 - 10:04AM #17
nieciedo
Posts: 5,617
[QUOTE=Shlomo613;949064]What do you mean by images? If you mean the 2-dimensional Icons such as used for centuries by the Eastern Orthodox church, I'm pretty sure most people would not define that as an idol, IMHO. If you mean a 3-dimensional stone statue,  (a graven image in the simplest meaning of the term) that is forbidden to all, Jew or Gentile, used as 'reflections' or any purpose other than decoration. It is an idol and forbidden. (there is some thought that a statue outside where birds do what they do on it can't be considered an idol as an idol would not be allowed to be dirtied in such a way)[/QUOTE]

Catholics (and Hindus and Buddhists, too) do not worship the statues. They are not under any illusion that the material object in front of them is actually the being to whom they are praying. Therefore, they are not idols and not forbidden to Gentiles.
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9 years ago  ::  Dec 12, 2008 - 4:33AM #18
Shlomo613
Posts: 131
You have not heard of the often reported Hindu idols 'drinking' milk? That happens over and over again in the news. Just google it. I went to a Catholic wedding once, I saw the couple offer flowers and light candles and kneel and pray before a statue of Mary.

All these constitute idolatry, according to my Sephardic Rebbi. Offerings made to the idol make it so, sorry. Maybe they are not judged the same in other branches, but this is what Sephardic Orthodox Jews think.
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9 years ago  ::  Dec 12, 2008 - 2:13PM #19
nieciedo
Posts: 5,617
[QUOTE=Shlomo613;951560]You have not heard of the often reported Hindu idols 'drinking' milk? That happens over and over again in the news. Just google it. I went to a Catholic wedding once, I saw the couple offer flowers and light candles and kneel and pray before a statue of Mary.

All these constitute idolatry, according to my Sephardic Rebbi. Offerings made to the idol make it so, sorry. Maybe they are not judged the same in other branches, but this is what Sephardic Orthodox Jews think.[/QUOTE]

It's idolatry for Jews, but I can't see how it's idolatry for Gentiles.

Do you think you're superior to idolatrous gentiles?

When one can't even prove the existence of one's own God, it's rather arrogant to pass judgment on the beliefs of others.
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9 years ago  ::  Dec 14, 2008 - 4:28AM #20
Shlomo613
Posts: 131
[QUOTE=nieciedo;952385]It's idolatry for Jews, but I can't see how it's idolatry for Gentiles.

Do you think you're superior to idolatrous gentiles?

When one can't even prove the existence of one's own God, it's rather arrogant to pass judgment on the beliefs of others.[/QUOTE]

There is such a thing as idolatry for gentiles, if there isn't then why is it part of the Nochaide law? Some things are allowed for genties that Jews would not  be allowed, but it's not carte blanc.

It's impossible to prove existance of any G-d, what does that have to do with anything?

We Jews have a standard of what idolatry is, and if some practice qualifies as idolatry, it's not arrogant to state the fact, no more than it would be arrogant to call shoplifting theft. I really don't care if the shoplifter thinks it's not theft because it's justified because of some social inequality. It's theft and I will declare it such.

I do not fault all Hindus or all Catholics as idolaters, but there are some practices in those faiths which some follow which are.

If I see someone offer a spoon of milk to an idol, I will say that's idolatry (what other possible reason could it be?), and I don't care really what religion that person claims to follow.
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