Better than the book – the worship of man
So one encounter that comes to mind is where a Jew who claimed to follow Torah, in effect, raised his faith in the legal paperwork of the country he lived in above the laws that God enjoined upon Gentiles. Despite being shown how, in substance, the glorified written legal text of his country contradicted the Seven Commandments, he defended the idolized paper and compared the Seven Laws to the Sharia law of the Muslims, of Islam. By his comparison, he had meant to show that God’s law for Gentiles were brutal amongst other things. For now, he saw the best law for people to uphold was the law of his land, supporting the government of his land. Although some may say that his being a Jew makes his land Israel, his defences and language showed that his land was more the Gentile land he was living in. Yes, assimilation is more than inter-marriage for Jews.
At another time, I saw a Facebook post by an anarchist called Larken Rose. Now I like a lot of this guy’s point of view and efforts. He makes obvious the hidden idolatry in the reverence many have towards politicians and government. But in his post, he quoted Deuteronomy 13 and claimed it was written by Muslims but before and after the quote he stated overtly that this was a test. What he had meant to reveal was that the extremism shown in recent tragedies was inherent in the Jewish Bible as well as in the Quran and other “religious books.” For him, many times the adherents of religions had a “better” morality than the book they profess to follow. Drawing upon his history as a Christian, he saw that Christians ignored or didn’t act on the parts of the Bible he deemed immoral, contrary to his adherence to the principle that preached against any initiation of violence and the rejection of all authority (“anarchy” properly means “without rulers or authorities” rather than chaos, something people conclude is a necessary consequence of having no rulers). In essence, his morality, his conclusions were of a higher standard than that of the Jewish Bible, or his post-Christian interpretation of it bereft of the understanding, tradition and context of the original holders of the Torah, the Jews.
It seems the mentality is everywhere, both inside and outside of the group of people that embrace Torah and the God of it, the mentality that says “this thing that man built, that I affiliate with, is better than what God has given!” And seeing it prevalent in the world reinforces an important lesson for me. The lesson is that although physical, “halachic” idolatry may not be as widespread as it was, philosophical idolatry runs free and almost uninhibited. It is no longer a statue or tree or star or constellation or the spirit they are imagined to represent that inspire the mind of man to elevate the creation above divine truths. It is no longer the physical works of the hands of man that causes him to bow and give subservience. It’s now the man-made philosophies and moralities that are elevated whilst the Torah truths are set aside or put down. But, as usual, these lame (as in crippled or defective in some way) ideas, these philosophical idols, end up breaking and impaling the hand of the person it was meant to support.
The national law codes or constitutions that are said to restrain government and provide freedoms for the people are shown over and over to be ineffectual scribbles when government, the principle of legitimised coercion and force, spits on such restraints and uses its thugs to limit your freedoms, or it uses its law-makers and judges to reinterpret the old scribbles for its usual agenda: to keep its power, to make sure its force and coercion remains legitimised.
Democracy is praised for giving people a voice, it beckons the unaware and hopeful to “partake” in government and to give the feeling of pride in doing something meant to make a positive difference for one’s country and community. Yet all too often, the choices given to the masses have been manufactured by the powers that be. And democracy, at its heart, means simply that one individual wants his choice to rule his neighbour. And it will always be about the minority being in the power of the majority, who in turn enslave themselves and their neighbours to the rulers. And when the majority and its slave-master wishes to act to oppose the Seven Commandments, all are swept away by the consequences. By so many it was known to be a failure yet it is lauded today.
It’s OK. I’m not a fan of socialism, communism or fascism either. I’m not a follower of these or other brands of statism. Statism, the mental dependence on the State or the faith in its dictates, is just the name of the whole beast/idol of which democracy and these other political doctrines are just a subset.
And then there’s humanism, where someone touts his own chosen morality over anything else including God’s Torah truth, when he takes a human-sourced doctrine and tries to use it to condemn what God has said and done in the Jewish Bible. It takes a special kind of deluded arrogance to do this, especially when the person adopting this position rejects God. Why? This man-made philosophy, where did it come from? Where else except a person or a group of them? But again, what is the nature of this source, this human, especially if one concludes that all humans are the product of mindless, naturalistic, biological development? Although I could use lengthy descriptions to paint a verbal picture, let me make it short: A self-contained vat of chemical fizz! That’s all! And what is so moral and righteous about this chemical mixture or its products? Absolutely nothing! What objective and Truthful (yes, I meant the capital “t” to be there) value does this unintelligently mixed vat of chemicals and its product have? Absolutely none! That is the worth of that man-made morality. Is it then surprising when the chemical mix wants to assume or presume that God-given traditions are similarly just the products of some other chemical mix? Is it a shock when some human says that all “religious traditions” (amongst which they include Torah) are simply the products of some other humans? Not at all.
The human-centred philosophy which gives its followers or adherents the feeling of justification to condemn to Torah for not meeting their standard is hopelessly self-defeating.
Yet these are some of the philosophies lauded and applauded and defended by so many. These are the things people pledge their souls to. It’s not like they make an explicit declaration saying “I bind my heart and allegiance to x” (although the pledges people make to their “country” falls awfully close). But look at how a person acts, how they defend certain concepts and it becomes apparent what their philosophical idol is.
The Torah stands as a worldview in and of itself resting on the foundation of a source that can account for objective truth and morality, something beyond the vain attempts at domination, control and self-pride, a source that isn’t simply trying to guess and figure out how to make it all work but rather that already knows to the deepest extent. It is the source of righteousness for Jew and Gentile, and that standard is absolute. When a Gentile or Jew sees the commandments of God and then says, “no, I prefer the other law codes, constitutions, political systems, moralities and governments,” especially when these systems contradict God’s law, then the evidence speaks for itself. I would tell that person to enjoy their walking stick while it lasts before it inevitably breaks … just make sure bandages are always close by, because they’ll either hurt themselves, or be ready to impale others, especially those who actually choose faithfulness to God’s commandments rather than the comforts of supporting systems that contradict Torah.