Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A weighty issue

I've been reading a book called "Why the Jews Rejected Jesus." Not exactly the stuff that beach books are made of, but it certainly has been an interesting read. And to be fair, when I'm finished, I plan on reading "Case for Christ"...you know, get some nice, well-rounded viewpoints. Plus, I enjoy light reading. (ha!)

I have a lot of Christian friends. Which has never, ever been an issue for me. It just doesn't seem to matter, and if it ever comes up, the discussion has always been enlightening, engaging, intellectual. Only a handful of times can I remember that there was some awkwardness, but nothing that couldn't be easily smoothed over. Being a convert, most of my Jewish friends are fairly new friends so I don't have the comfort level with them that I have with many of my other friends and the only time that this poses a problem for me is during the Jewish holidays. Adam and I either spend them with our non-Jewish friends (which is great fun for all of us - I think my friends enjoy experiencing something new and we like sharing our traditions) or we hope to get an invitation from some of our Jewish friends (but that comfort-level thing...we can't just invite ourselves over, even though we really want to!) or we round up the inlaws and try to get together if we aren't scattered all over the country. But mostly we spend them alone. But that is another post for another day...

I have recently begun to regularly read Audrey's mom's blog, Stellan's mom's blog and Noah's mom's blog, and it has opened my eyes up to a different perspective that I never ever considered. These blogs are all written by women who have a beautiful relationship with Jesus, who speak about him with amazing passion and have given theirselves to him out of deep love and reverance. As I've said before in my blog, I am inspired by their faith, by their deep love for it and even their strong convictions. Anyhow, the perspective that has been introduced to me is that my non-Jesus believer status is considered "wrong" to some people. (Duh...I don't know why that didn't dawn on me before!) But, understandably, this is a wee bit hard for me to swallow. Not because I'm worried that someone thinks I'm wrong, but...well, faith, in my opinion, isn't something that can be wrong or right. I think there is a very thin line that separates disagreeing with someone and flat out thinking they are wrong.

(Please note: I do not personally know any of the women whose blogs I mentioned. I have only exchanged a few emails with Stellan's mom and it wasn't a "deep" discussion. When I say "me", and "I" in respect to their blogs, I mean a non-Christian. I am, perhaps wrongly, using their views as a general interpretation of how other Christians feel about non-Christians, but I am grateful that they shared their views because it opened up a whole new perspective for me, one that I had never, ever considered. So I'm not generalizing in a bad way...just more in a "Wow, didn't know that's how some people see some people who don't believe that Jesus is their savior" way. I am not offended by what they have shared, and I am hoping not to offend anyone with what I am sharing).

Of coure, I understand that you sign up for your faith with the understanding that it is what you believe to be true. But I don't think that means that everyone else who doesn't share your same faith is wrong. And I think there's a big difference between believing in your own religion and believing that everyone else who has a different viewpoint is wrong. Afterall, how can any of us be so sure? I can't difinitively say that I am 100% sure, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that my Jewish faith is the universe's truth. How can I be? There is not one single person on this earth who can prove to me that what I believe is true or isn't true. There is also not one single person on this earth who can prove to Christians that what they believe is true or isn't true. Please note: for the purposes of this post, I'm just comparing Jews and Christians, not for any other reason other than having been raised Catholic and choosing later to become Jewish, that Christianity and Judaism are the only faiths that I feel I can speak with some authority about. And I use the term "authority" VERY loosely.

As far as being able to prove right or wrong, true or false...I guess I'm thinking in terms of Jesus, and specifically whether or not he was the son of G-d, was/is the Messiah and is the key to salvation. Sure, there are "proof texts" in the Bible that Christians say prove he was the Messiah. But, Jews use the very same Bible to prove that he wasn't the Messiah. There's just too much that's up for debate...there are too many gray areas for me to be comfortable telling someone "I am most definitely right and you are most definitely wrong and that means I am living a good life and you are living a sad life and there is nothing up for discussion". I simply can't do that. I can't close my mind off that way, even if it means admitting the imperfections of my own faith.

One of the things that I adore about Judaism is that it is okay to question your faith, and not only is this questioning accepted, but expected. In fact, the term Israel means G-d wrestler. I love that!

I guess this sort of (sort of not?) leads into answering the question "Where did the Bible come from?". Do I believe that G-d gave Moses the entire Torah (first five books of the Bible), that the Bible is comprised of G-d's EXACT words? Not really. Do I believe that the Bible was divinely inspired? Absolutely. Do I believe the Moses had a huge hand in it? Definitely. I think that there were only a handful of people who could read and write running around the foothills of Mt. Sinai but that they had this beautiful inspiration from Moses, who was divinely inspired by G-d, to write all of these wonderful and amazing things down. And that they helped write them down. And then argued with each other about what they wrote. I (in my humble opinion) think this is why there are two stories of creation in Genesis. I am reading a fantastic book called "Don't Know Much About the Bible" that has a chapter that talks about the Bible's "authors". It is a great read and I highly recommend it.

I love to share my views on my faith and I love to learn about other faiths, religions and traditions. I do not share my views in order to make anyone agree with me, to question their own faith, feel the need to pray for me, or otherwise. This is simply something I'm passionate about it and I share everything else here, so why not this?

1 comment:

James said...

It's great that you understand your faith so well. So many go through life following the faith that their parents told them to without ever really taking a moment to officially choose their faith and re-validating that selection from time to time.

Sometimes people do interpret their faith as fact which does allow them to make the designation of right and wrong. I agree that it's naive to do so since faith is about believing, not about knowing.

I look forward to some lighter topics, my friend!

-James