Posts tagged ‘Maimonides’

December 18, 2011

Shema and Trinity, part 3

Here’s a final post—at least for now—on the question, “How can we say that God is one, as in the Shema, and believe in a Messiah who is God with us, or Immanuel?” Or to put it more abstractly, how can we affirm both the Shema and the doctrine of the Trinity? This question came to me indirectly from a 14-year-old Jewish girl who was interested in Yeshua as Messiah, but not sure that was OK.

The idea that the Christians worship three gods—which the Trinity definitely does not teach—does seem to be a big impediment for Jewish people who might otherwise be interested in Yeshua, especially when they realize they can believe in him and still be Jewish. But does believing him mean believing that he’s God? That’s a big problem.

Before we go any further, I should note that the New Testament doesn’t actually say in so many words “Jesus is God.” There are a couple of passages that almost say that, depending on the translation, but much more often what happens is that attributes that belong only to God are ascribed to Yeshua the Messiah. Indeed, in Revelation, the final book of the New Testament, the multitude of the redeemed “from all tribes and peoples and languages” worship God and the Lamb, or Messiah, “who is at the center of the throne” (Rev. 7:9–17). I could give lots more examples, but the point is not that a man became God, but that God become a man in order to be the Lamb of redemption, whose sacrifice redeems human beings for God and cleanses them from sin.

I won’t try to explain how this can be; the doctrine of the Trinity seeks to do that (and the interpretation of the Shema in Maimonides’ second affirmation of Jewish faith seeks to prove that it’s impossible). But Revelation is still talking about the one and only God of Israel, and we see something similar in the Torah itself.

September 19, 2011

Non-theoretical truth

We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves [and] admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

From the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous


When truth encounters the data of our lives, it gives rise to confession.

Truth itself can be pretty abstract, an ideal that dwells apart from our daily lives. But when we let the truth we find in Scripture shine on the details of our thoughts and behaviors, and speak the truth about what we see, truth is anything but abstract. It becomes something solid that works real changes into our lives. Speaking the truth about what we see is called confession, which isn’t a real popular term nowadays, but is one of the main practices of the Days of Awe (the High Holy Days, Sept. 28–Oct. 8 this year) and an essential part of the preparation for Yom Kippur. And confession of sin is a keynote of all the services of Yom Kippur itself.