Friday, September 30, 2005

Debate between Rabbi Shmuley and Dr. Michael Brown

After class, I rushed to go attend this debate. I wanted to have an answer to my questions about messianic prophecies... how could a Jew, who knows the Scriptures more than I do, can manage not to believe that the prophecies were accomplished in Jesus.

I did not have much of an answer to my question, even though I enjoyed the debate.

To learn more about Rabbi Shmuley Boteach.
To learn more about Dr. Michael Brown.

My opinion is that Brown won. Not because I am a Christian and that he is one too, but because I did debating and I am able to see when an argument is left standing.
Brown's approach was very sound intellectually and focused on the accomplishment of the prophecies. The basic claim is that if Jesus is not the Jew's Messiah, he's nobody's messiah. And if he's not, we can throw the Torah out of the window.
Shmuley had a far more emotive approach, straightly quoting from Brown's books, and emphasizing about antisemitism a HUGE lot. It almost drowns, in my mind, the rest of his points. His interest was clear: to bring back Jews who converted to Christ. The rest of the audience did not matter to him, or so I felt.
I was surprised by a lot of stuff, and learnt a lot too. From his perspective, that I'll assume to be mainstream judaism, the Messiah must insitute world peace. If that doesn't happen, there is no Messiah. All the rest of the prophecies revolve around that. Also, the next life doesn't matter. This life matters, and we are to serve God the best we can. Also, that Paul was not a Jew, but merely a Roman agent, that was working to destroy judaism. Jesus was an orthodox Jew that the Pharisees tried to save from Pilate, and he was fighting against that tyranny. Also, that the history of Christianity proved, especially what relates to horrible abuses committed agains Jews, that Christianity was bogus.
A lot of his arguments were not backed up with real solid claims, so I found hard to believe them. Saying that Paul coming from Benjamin is too unlikely, so it shows he's lying. Also, since he quoted the Septuagin, it showed that he did not know Hebrew.
I felt a lot of his claims were well-refuted by Brown, and that he did not really touch on the messianic prophecies brought forward by Brown.
The discussion about genealogies was interesting. It was interesting to find out that about 80% of the average Jew in the 21st century could claim Davidic ancestry, and that not all of the genealogical tables were destroyed by the Assyrians, unlike I previously thought.
There was a major futility at the end of the debate about something in the Proverbs (ch 30)
18 "There are three things that are too amazing for me,
four that I do not understand:
19 the way of an eagle in the sky,
the way of a snake on a rock,
the way of a ship on the high seas,
and the way of a man with a maiden.
20 "This is the way of an adulteress:
She eats and wipes her mouth
and says, 'I've done nothing wrong.'
Is verse 20 linked to 19? This debate was essentially trying to demonstrate that the other was not a good scholar and couldn't interpret Scripture. It broke the flow of the debate and it was at the end. I could've lived without it.
Noteworthy fact, some dude apparently blew a fuse, forcing himself to be listening, telling how much this was a mockery, and that he felt the pain of the rabbi. That's when we learnt that a lot of the Jewish community did a lot of pressure to have the event cancelled, and that many were boycotting it altogether. No wonder the room was full of christians...
I really don't understand this mindset. I just don't. No matter how much I want to intellectually recognize the cultural and social pain that Jews lived through centuries of abuses, I simply am not able to get it. I know of many Québécois who just don't want to let go of the last 2 referendums, and I don't understand them either. I haven't found a better link in my society to help me understand (even though I wish I did).
My consuming questions were not addressed, and I got more now. I left the place my heart pounding strongly, under high adrenalin, knowing that I would do something like that (the debating part) one day. Still, I don't understand. I guess I'll have to just grab a rabbi some day and beg him to explain to me. Why is the Messianic evidence so hard to believe? Why the paranoia? Why do you see conversion as cultural anhilination?

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