Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I'll be your heretic

I attempted to reach a fellow Anglican via Facebook, and sent a message to somebody else with the same name. I received this reply:
"I am an orthodox Jew and you mixed me up with someone else. Did you know Jesus (Y' hoshua)died on passover and when he held up the third cup in the passover cedar that this cup is the cup of redemption in our cedar. Did you also know that he said that God was bigger than he and that he taught that those who hold the jewish law and teach others to hold the law will be considered the highest ones in the kingdom of God, and that those who do you not teach the law of Moses this will be the smallest ones in the kingdom. Did you also know that worshipping Jesus (Y' hoshua) violates the first 4 commandments and he does not like it when we worship him, and that he never claimed to be God."

Now, let's be clear - he is calling Christians in general and me in particular ignorant, incorrect, idolatrous and blasphemous.

I am not upset. He is honestly expressing an orthodox Jewish faith. He considers orthodox Christianity a heresy. In the same way, Christians have a view of Judaism that can only be considered condescending - the Jews remain God's people but are not complete until they respond to Christ the Messiah at his return.

It is the same with any other religion. Muslims make the claim that both Jews and Christians have corrupted the true faith, which was revealed (re-revealed?) to their Prophet several thousand years after the emergence of Judaism and a good seven centuries after Jesus' earthly ministry.

I could go on listing the sincere positions of various religions, and you would have to admit that our ultimate claims about God, in particular what we say about God's action in human history, are mutually exclusive. They can't stand together except around some very broad ideas, and even that position frequently fails to stand up to a shove from serious exploration.

What to do? Various options exist:

a) Debate and persuasion.

b) Agree to disagree and find some common standards around which to organize our necessary interactions.

c) Coerce submission.

d) Create superficial movements within our faith groups that minimize differences and assert points of agreement.

e) Ignore the whole enterprise.

Some of these can be used in combination, of course. All have their blind spots:

a can be annoying and, if not handled well, can lead to c.

b can break down when mutually exclusive standards (say, the role of women in society) come into conflict.

c is generally regarded as a bad choice, based on lessons of history and self-correction within faith groups. An honest look would admit that few, if any perfect examples of c ever existed - most "holy wars" involved need or lust for secular resources with religion as a handy recruiting and motivational tool. Yet c persists and it seems today that many who would condemn it as an approach are very, very accommodating to the demands of those who employ it.

d starts out with warm feelings of good will and degenerates into chaplaincy to causes. About all a Liberal Protestant or Reform Jew can say is, "All paths lead to God. Therefore vote Democrat."

e tends to cave when c shows up. The Iranian Revolution walked up and took over right under the noses of U.S. State Department "experts" who simply could not believe that religion should be taken seriously.

My personal preference, and what I believe to be embedded in the American experiment, is a combination of a & b. Obviously, these are under duress when c shows up. But the balance of religious integrity and freedom (a) with civic equality and protection under some ground rules (b) are what we find in the First Amendment.

So I don't need a law against that observant Jew or what he sent me on Facebook. I don't need a breathless TV or newsmag segment about "Religious Hate in Cyberspace," not for an honest and honestly expressed disagreement. I don't want my older son's college to invoke a "speech code" that would prevent the orthodox Jew's ideas from being heard or seen. One group's orthodoxy is another group's heresy. That's reality. The New Testament's advice is,

"If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all."


The Archer of the Forest said...

Well, actually, the joke is on him. Modern historians believe the ritualized Seder was not invented until after the destruction of the Temple, and invented in part with the idea of "showing Jesus didn't get it right." So, to say that Jesus didn't get the Seder right is anachronistic at best.

The Archer of the Forest said...

But, in serious answer to your question de jure, I think of the words of St. Francis. "Always preach the gospel, if necessary use words."