xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#'UA-81427306-1 Wisdom and Folly: People and Their Beliefs

Thursday, April 21, 2016

People and Their Beliefs

The other day I was accused of interpreting the Bible according to my own beliefs.  Had they not been serious, it might have been laughable.  The subject was tithing, but it could have easily been any other Biblical topic.  I explained to this person what the Bible says about tithing and also what it does not say.  Now I didn't use scripture references and quote exactly word for word.  I have at least a basic understanding of the subject and feel comfortable discussing it freely.  I explained to this person that the tithing, as outlined in the Bible, has nothing to do with giving money. The tithe went to the Levites who also gave a portion of what they received to the priests.  None of this went to the Temple.  Money for the Temple was collected annually as the "half-shekel" offering. This was not a tithe.  One of the good things about this method is that it removes partiality.  A rich man could not give more, nor could a poor man refrain from giving or offer less.  

The exact opposite is true in the church.  Wealthy members curry favor and position by giving more. Poor members are riddled with guilt because they cannot give as much.  Wealthy members are placed in positions of esteem.  Poor members are looked down upon for their inability to give.  I've heard ministers tell poor people to give up various aspects of their lives in order to give more to the church. I've also heard them praise the "big tithers".  This is scandalous and has nothing to do with tithing as outlined in the Bible. Please look this up for yourselves.  I will give scripture references below. Personally, I equate the church's position on tithing to that of the used car salesman.  The salesman tells you whatever he has to in order to get the most money from you.  He doesn't care if it is a hardship for you.  Some used car dealers are notorious for ripping people off.  My advice to the person in my conversation was this, don't base your beliefs on what someone is teaching you when they stand to make money from that belief.  You wouldn't trust the car dealer who tells you that some beat-up piece of junk has nothing wrong with it.  Don't trust the church telling you to give more, when they are the ones getting the money.  This is one big conflict of interest.  

As I said before, this could have been a discussion on any subject.  This time, it happened to be tithing.  I am always amazed at how few Christians actually read their bibles.  These same people somehow seem to get into conversations with me and begin to say things that can't be found in the Bible at all.  For example, another person entered the conversation above and actually said, "It is not "His way" or the Highway. God is all about freedom. Trusting Him, to me, is all about believing that His grace is sufficient..."  Are you kidding me?  Where in the Bible does it say that things don't have to be His way?  That is exactly what it says.  But I was the one "arrogantly" giving my own interpretation to the scriptures.  Another person said that Genesis 28:21 talked about tithing.  It does not.  Who is teaching these people?  These are good Christian people and they know nothing.

Conversations like this go on every day and Christians seem to line up to believe such drivel.  The question I have is why do they believe it?  The answer is simple.  They believe what they are told to believe without question.  Many of you know that I was once a Christian.  I'm not proud of that fact, but it is true.  But when I was, I actually read the bible.  I wanted to know what it said, not only for myself but so that I could teach others.  It's no wonder that reading the bible is what made me leave that life behind.  The funny thing is, I was reading the Christian bible.  Imagine my surprise when I started reading the Tanakh.  Those of us who have left the church run into problems like this all the time.  Personally, I don't claim to have any more than a basic understanding of the Torah.  I understand that there are more advanced concepts which I have yet to uncover.  But I don't stop learning.  I don't take anyone's word for what it says either.  I look it up.  I learn from those who are far more learned that I am, but I still look it up.  A good Torah teacher expects this.  It simply amazes me when some Christian tries to tell me what the bible says when they have barely read it.  Even church leaders, the ones who are supposed to know, have only a cursory knowledge of the bible. They simply say what they are supposed to say, whether it makes sense or not.  "Bring the tithes into the storehouse."  I can't count how many time I heard that one.  It's from the Book of Malachi, chapter 3.
This chapter is dealing with the two houses of Israel coming together in the future.  Yes, it does speak about tithing, but it does not give the regulations pertaining to tithing.  This is why the church uses it instead of Leviticus when teaching about tithing.  Most Christians are surprised to learn that there is more than one kind of tithe.

I didn't want this article to be about tithing, although it seems to have taken that path up until now. The things we call our beliefs must come from somewhere.  Mine come from G-d's word.  The person to whom I was speaking actually told me "as a Catholic, in no way do we depend solely on the Bible." He went on to say "You are the one hanging your hat solely on scripture, and then determining that you have the authority to get it exactly right. The arrogance of that view is breathtaking."  Now, I never said I had the authority to get it exactly right.  I just tell people what the Bible says. In my own defense, I do know how to read.  I understand what the words mean. Deuteronomy 8:3 teaches us that "whatever comes forth from the mouth of the Lord does man live." While I am far from perfect, I do my best to do just that.  This is also found in the Christian books of Matthew and Luke. Wherefore do they not depend solely on the Bible?  This is a contradiction of their own book.  Now that is arrogant. Christians believe this stuff. They would rather believe something like this because they are told to do so rather than simply read. Their own scriptures say otherwise yet they don't believe it when someone like me tells them.  The complacency of the rank and file of the church will ultimately be their demise.

For many Christians, it is all about what makes them feel good.  Of such is the person who said "God is all about freedom. Trusting Him, to me, is all about believing that His grace is sufficient..."  From which version of the bible is this person reading?  Obviously, they are not reading it.  This is the type of person who sits in the church on Sunday morning just waiting for that aha moment.  This is "feel good" theology at its best.  There is another group of Christians who live at the opposite end of the spectrum, the guilt lovers.  They like to call it long-suffering.  What it is is self-deprecating. The long-sufferers feel like they deserve to suffer for something they have done.  Many of them suffer from depression because of it.  These people are also not following their book.  If their idol really did die for their forgiveness, from whence does the guilt come?

For those few who do read their book, they don't have it any better.  With all of the inconsistencies in the new testament, they can't seem to make any sense of it.  It's no wonder so few read their bibles. It's confusing for them.  This could be why my friend thinks I'm so arrogant.  If they would look through the Christian bible they would find their rendition of the Hebrew Scriptures.  They might find things like "no one may die for the sins of another," or "Have no other gods before me."  They don't know what to do with that.  The new testament says otherwise.  How can that be?  They can't explain it so they stop reading altogether.  If they do ask about it, they are given some canned answer from someone they don't dare question.  The vast majority in the church are in this group. They want to be a good Christian but they can't figure it out.  So they go to church and listen to the sermon, sing the songs, turn in their "tithes" and socialize.  It becomes no better than a social club.

But what if there is more than that?  What if there is a way to actually attach to the Creator, blessed be His name.  The church never mentions this because they have the wrong concept of the Creator.  I like to look at it this way.  The Christian says G-d is everywhere.  The Jew says everywhere is G-d. You see, when you say G-d is everywhere, what you are saying is that everywhere is a place and He is there.  If you go some place you will find Him there.  When you say everywhere is G-d, you are saying He actually is the place.  The entire universe is only a small part of Him.  When you understand the difference between these two concepts, you can then begin to understand G-d, in as much as is humanly possible.  When Moses wanted to know G-d he said, "And now, if I have indeed found favor in Your eyes, pray let me know Your ways, so that I may know You," Exodus 33:13.  Here we learn how we can get to know G-d, by learning His ways.  Does this sound like we can do it our way?  Of course not.  When we learn His ways and keep His commandments, we (our souls) actually attach to Him.  This is one of the most amazing concepts in Judaism.  This idea has to be foreign to Christians because they have been taught not to keep His commandments.  They are taught that the commandments were nailed to the cross and are no longer in place.  All of the feel good sermons in the world can not replace actual attachment to G-d.  

If you are a Christian and you have made it this far, you must have many questions.  There are answers.  I will put some links to some very helpful sites.  Don't worry, not one of them will ask you for a dime.  You see it is actually forbidden to charge to teach Torah.

Links
http://tenaktalk.com/
http://www.netiv.net/
http://www.chabad.org/


Scriptures
Deuteronomy 14:22-29 
Deuteronomy 26:1-19
Leviticus 22
Deuteronomy 12
                                   

Copyright 2016 by:
William Bouker