Again, “We adore God Who is love, who in Jesus Christ gave Himself for us, Who offered Himself on the Cross to expiate our sins, and through the power of this love, rose from the dead and lives in His Church. We have no God other than Him” (Pope Francis, 6/21/14).
If the choice of both violence and nonviolence are faith stances—and they are—with neither position being able to be reasonably proved as the truth to the exclusion of the other, then the question arises to whom or in what does a person put his or her faith to validate their faith choice.
In his seminal work on the importance Jesus being a Jew and not a Greek or Roman, Jesus of Nazareth (1912), the Biblical scholar, Joseph Klausner, writes:
“There was yet another element in Jesus’ idea of God, which Judaism could not accept. Jesus tells his disciples to love their enemies as well as their friends, since their Father in heaven makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good and send his rain upon the righteous and the ungodly. With this Jesus introduces something new into the idea of God. How could Judaism accede to such an ethical ideal?”
There is only one way that Judaism could accede to such a radically new ethic, to such a new understanding of right and wrong, and that is if it were in fact the truth of the God in whom they had place their faith over the prior two thousand years, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, etc. But, this God had never told them to “Love your enemies,” through those in whom the Jewish people had placed their faith as authentic communicators of the word and will of God. In the faith of these same Jewish people could there ever possibly be a more authoritative spokespersons, for communicating to them the truth about God and his will, than Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses?
Yes! The Messiah! Their faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses includes in it the belief that when God sends the Messiah to them he is to be trusted (emunah) with the same level of trust that is given to God alone. He is to be accorded absolute trust, because he is the specially anointed one from God who knows, as no human being could know before Him or after Him God, God’s will and God’s way. He speaks the definitive truthful word about God and about God’s will and God’s way. No authority in heaven or on earth can override or contradict what the Messiah communicates to Israel and through Israel to humanity about God, God’s will and God’s way.
If a Jewish person in the context of his or her faith does not accept in faith that Athronges or Jesus or Simon bar Kochba or Sabbatai Zevi or Menachem Schneerson or Judas of Galilee is the Messiah promised by God to Israel, then he or she is not called upon, indeed must not, put unconditional trust that what he is saying is God’s word, will and way. The communication from a faux Messiah about God and His words, will and way are to be evaluated and trusted as one would evaluate for truth and trust content the words and deeds of any human being. If a person, however, had faith in any of the above men as the promised Messiah then what the Messiah said about God, His will and His way would be absolutely morally binding, not because the Messiah’s teaching appears reasonable to the person’s mind—a mind of very limited perspective—but because of faith in the Divine authority that the Messiah possesses by the decision of the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses.
That the Holy One, Blessed be He, could choose Himself to be the promised Messiah by way of becoming a human being is an option that cannot be exclude from among God’s possible options, since nothing is impossible for God, and because “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Is 55:9). But from the human side this would be validated for the person by faith alone, not by an exercise of logic and reason. But once it is said in faith, “You are the Messiah, the Christ,” the Messiah’s communications about God, God’s will and God’s way must be unreservedly accepted and obey in absolute trust in the God of their faith who sent him or her the Messiah—whether the Messiah be the incarnation of God or not.
If the Messiah in whom a person places his or her faith, regardless of who the Messiah is, teaches that God’s will for Israel and through Israel for humanity is the way of nonviolent love of friends and enemies, then every reasonable objection to that way—and there are millions—is irrelevant, invalid, and rendered nugatory by the authority with which the Messiah is endowed by God. However, faith in this person as Messiah must precede faith in his teaching as true and as the will of God. But, to profess faith in this person as Messiah, while simultaneously denying, altering or refusing to follow the Messianic Way he proclaims to Israel and through Israel to the world, and/or replacing his Messianic Way with something more reasonable, and perhaps even contradictory, is nothing more than attempting to kosher infidelity to God.
-Emmanuel Charles McCarthy (To be continued)