10 Years Without Christianity – Part 1
Passover (Pesach) this year (15th Nissan 5773 or the evening of March 25th 2013) will mark 10 complete years since I have left christianity, left Jesus behind. It’s not been an easy road since then. It wasn’t easy before then. I doubt it’s going to get any easier. But I’m here now, standing on the other end of 10 years.
I have a few questions to ask myself. So I may as well interview myself and see what answers I come up with.
Interview on UK Noahide blog, presented by Hesedyahu
Hesedyahu: Hi there. So we’re here on the UK Noahide blog and we have David Dryden with us. He used to be a christian but has for 10 complete years rejected the faith of his parents and his family to embrace … what? What do you call what you’re into these days?
David: Well there’s different ways of seeing it really. If I were just blunt, I could only say I’m a gentile who has accepted the truth of Judaism and applies its laws for gentiles to my life. Others would say I’m a “noahide”. I personally don’t like that word because it is ambiguous. If you know enough about Jewish tradition, you see that a descendent of Noah is commanded by God concerning seven things. All gentiles are classed as descendents of Noah, and thus are Noahides. But there are some who like to use the word “noahide” to mean “a gentile who has accepted the truth of Judaism and applies its laws for gentiles, those seven commandments to his or her life”. So it’s ambiguous to say noahide because you could mean any gentile or a gentile with a certain worldview.
Hesedyahu: But isn’t everyone a descendant of Noah, including Israelites or Jews? Doesn’t that sound a bit strange to you?
David: No, it doesn’t sound strange once you understand what it means. In terms of commandments and covenants with God, Israel are under a different covenant or agreement with God, so they have a more extensive set of commandments to follow. This places them in a different category when it comes to divine law, so they are set apart as “the children of Israel”. Everyone else is still under the older covenant of Noah and have to follow those seven commands.
Hesedyahu: What seven commands? What are they?
David: The ordering that the Talmud gives is as follows:
1) Obligation to set up courts of justice and correct social laws.
2) Prohibition against cursing God’s name
3) Prohibition against worshipping anything other than God.
4) Prohibition against certain sexual activities
5) Prohibition against murder, the illegal taking of human life.
6) Prohibition against theft, and
7) Prohibition against eating meat taken from a living animal.
Hesedyahu: OK, I guess we can discuss that more later. But aren’t you a little far from home? I mean, to leave christianity, I believe it was a protestant form of christianity, believing that only the text of the bible is the highest authority … and now, you have totally forsaken its founder, Jesus, you’ve joined Orthodox Judaism which rejects the sola scriptura approach and says that God’s law which he gave to Moses has both textual element and another element which was passed down by word of mouth and is needed to fully explain the text, Orthodox Judaism where they say you need a rabbi’s help to properly understand the words of scripture, Orthodox Judaism that sounds more like it’s more Jews than it is for gentiles. I mean, wouldn’t it have been easier to just leave christianity and become an atheist or agnostic?
David: That’s a big question. And I don’t want to reply with an essay. Hmmm … let’s see. Ok, these days, people are used to religion and labels. They hear the word “Judaism” and think “oh, that the religion that Jews believe in.” It’s an easy thought to think. What they don’t realise is that labels can really oversimplify things and obscure the truth. The essential truth of Judaism is that God created the whole world, the whole universe, and He created humanity. So He’s the God of everything and everyone, not just some tribal god of the Jews. A king is king regardless of whether some of his subjects choose to reject his kingship. The same with God. He made everything, so he rules it regardless of whether people accept Him or not.
Since the beginning God has been giving instructions and guidance his humanity. He gave a special covenant or agreement to Noah, from whom everyone descends, and then his instructions and laws culminated in the Torah which he gave to Israel. This was not to lock teaching and instruction with the Jews as if “this is only for Jews and the rest of the world can go to hell.” But this Torah, this Instruction, contains laws to govern the Jews only and also contains laws for all of humanity. The seven commands that he gave to Noah were entrusted to Israel in that Torah and they were custodians of it from that time onwards to make sure there was always a way for the world to find out about God and his law for everyone. Of course much of the Torah governs Jewish life, but there is a significant amount that is for gentiles. So don’t get stuck on titles like “Judaism” when so much of its teachings are universal.
Would it have been easier to just leave God altogether and join the ranks of those who reject or are apathetic to any fixed creed about God? To be blunt, in a way yes. It would have been easier. But I don’t want what’s easier, I want what’s true. Leaving christianity means that I rejected the notion that Jesus was messiah, the anointed king of Israel, that the prophecies of the Jewish Bible pointed directly to him. It doesn’t! But Jesus is a secondary concept, no matter how big christians make him out to be. The first question is about the Creator of the Universe and the fundamentals of how He revealed himself to the world. That relates to the Jewish Bible which speaks of the creation of the universe and of how God first revealed Himself to man. Messiah comes later. So God was the first question.
Atheism and agnosticism … I couldn’t join that! Sorry but I couldn’t. May sound presumptuous, but it’s true. Before I even left christianity I was faced with the question of how did I even know that God existed or that He revealed Himself to humanity in any way. I had to deal with the evolution question which was pushed on my by university housemate, a dogmatic atheist. Leaving evolution aside, it’s best that I summarize for you my most current thoughts about God-rejection (which incorporates both atheism and agnosticism in its many forms) and why I couldn’t accept it then or now. On the positive side, I knew that brainless nature couldn’t create machinery and biology is almost synonymous with machinery, interconnected complexity of things that don’t naturally go together. And a “matter-energy only” universe couldn’t account for its own “laws” which are not matter or energy. On the negative side, godlessness had no strong basis for anything, not even the proof of itself. When you take God out of the equation, there is no objective basis for morality, so there is no objective sense of right and wrong, it’s all subjective on what a person decides to use. Hitler becomes no more good or evil than Ghandi or any loving charity giver because it’s all subjective to the individual. There is no “matter-energy” equation for objective morality. Matter has no morality. Energy has no morality. Logic and rationality are just products of a chemical reaction, like ocean foam, or electricity on copper. Scientists who adhere to a matter-energy only philosophy say the brain is just matter and energy shaped by unintelligent forces, stupid nature (you can’t call something with no intelligence clever), through a process that was only concerned with survival, not truth. Even if there was a truth, there is nothing at all that says the brain can capture it and use it or know it. Essentially, we can go by what is useful, but not with what is true.
Now I had to summarize that. There’s more to it. But I just find the worldview to be …. baseless, without foundation, nihilistic (meaningless), and makes everything with meaning just a subjective fantasy. This is not to say that god-rejecters are bad people. But this is just why I couldn’t stomach accepting such a worldview.
Hesedyahu: Ok, that’s enough for this first installment. We’ll continue this since you haven’t given a complete answer to that last question. You explained why you can’t accept what you call “God-rejection”, but that doesn’t really answer the question as to why still accept the God of the Jewish Bible at all. Plus it’s been 10 years, and I haven’t even asked you why you left christianity in the first place. There’s so much to ask.
So I’ll ask you more questions as Passover (Pesach) this year approaches, your landmark for ….
10 years without christianity.
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