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March 29, 2012 1:31 pm

With God and Church on Their Side

avatar by Kevin Bermeister

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Rick Santorum. Photo: Gage Skidmore.

An interesting article appeared in last weekend’s papers which ostensibly featured GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum. What fascinated me about the piece was the fact that, in highlighting the Republican candidate, the article likewise demonstrated the growth of evangelical political power. At a campaign rally in Louisiana, Pastor Dennis Terry introduced Mr. Santorum by rallying against the enemies of freedom and decency in America. “I don’t care what the liberals say,” fired Terry, “I don’t care what the naysayers say. This nation was founded as a Christian nation. The God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob! There is only one God. There is only one God and his name is Jesus.” The audience in the room jumped to its feet in thunderous applause.

These authoritative words and the attending response struck me. The Evangelical Christians who name their God Jesus cannot profess to do so in the name of the Old Testament God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  ‘The Name’ – Y’H’V’H which is the God of the Old Testament – refers to the all-important element that binds all monotheistic principles together and is expressed through four increasingly secretive levels of learning and understanding of the Old Testament. ‘The Name’ is exclusively revealed in its ancient Hebrew language form, thus, to substitute ‘The Name’ with any other name would, by definition,instantly abolish any connection to the Old Testament.

You may ask why this is important?  Let sleeping dogs lie, but I can’t, it’s the essence of a Jew and a Christian’s divine departure and ultimately impacts the very moral decency Pastor Terry hopes to defend. Most Christians and most secular Jews fail to comprehend that ‘The Name,’ the God of the Patriarchs of Israel, cannot simply be reapplied as a catch-phrase for divinity.  In fact, this contrived contradiction should be addressed if we are to remove the distortions in society that result from people’s misunderstanding of this enduring fact.

The present states of justice, morality and decency in the United States are decaying and carry downward with them a significant economic impact.  These too are the concerns of Pastor Terry and many American’s along with him. To fix this state of decline, one has to get to the root values that should define society and serve to restore a powerful nation. Re-establishing these core principles can lead people back to the healthy, strong, family-oriented state so many people desire, but this cannot be done by misleading or lying.  This cannot be accomplished by simply substituting ‘The Name’ of God. If one wants to believe in Jesus, that’s great, but then discard the Old Testament connection. If one wants to believe in ‘The Name’ then abandon Jesus. What one can’t do is embrace and mingle both and expect large swathes of people in American communities to have a reliable religious constitution upon which they can depend and in which they can seek truthful leadership. If the Pastor’s statement was scrutinized by the standards that call for truth in advertising, it would be deemed false marketing and subject to significant fines and possible banning.

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Granted, the word ‘God’ has become a modern, ambiguous catch-all referring to any deity.  This is not exclusive to the Deity of monotheism upon which Jews, Christians and Muslims purportedly base their religious adherence.  Nevertheless, gratuitous substitutions for the Deity believed in by the Old Testament fathers do not work. Indeed, when Pastor Terry says “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is Jesus,” it’s akinto saying “the God of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Thomas Jefferson is Mohammed” – give me a break!

Isn’t it time to get literal and begin to delve seriously into the ancient controversies that are inherent in the New Testament’s departure from the Old Testament and its definitions?  Only when we sit down to examine this divergence can we hope to stop the confused state of being that currently plagues Western society. The universal nature of the Old Testament caters to the broad spectrum of people and invites deep exploration and discovery that can and has helped to establish laws for just, moral and decent societies.  In addition, it includes a basis for the spiritual elevation of the world. Perhaps Christians who want to be true to form ought seriously to re-think the statements their pastors, leaders and teachers are making and begin to face the hard decisions about the definition of the God in which they choose to believe.

With God and church on their side, political leaders will continue to milk audiences, manufacture untruths that, while inaccurate, serve as the driving force towards political victories.  What these political hopefuls and supporters fail to do when they co-opt the Divine for political purposes is fail to expound upon the unifying principals of society’s religious frameworks which should provide guidance, direction and inspiration for people to excel.

Does anyone want to resolve the problems manifest in a society that loosely substitutes “The Name” or am I just another Jew who is seemingly praying toward a cold stone wall?

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  • Beau

    Read anything by Bart Ehrman and become enlightened. The OT and the NT are linked, but very different cultures, and seen in their historical contexts, it’s clear to me: We have two divergent cultures — one that likes the story and one that likes the history. They just don’t mix well.

    • Perhaps, but you can’t substitute ‘The Name’ from the former without rendering the OT irrelevant for the benefit of the latter NT. The essential basis of the OT is interrupted by doing so. The NT was written in an ancient Greek language, which is a complete departure from the essential OT 22 letter language construct including in its mystical form, from which a substantial portion of OT learning is derived. Notwithstanding the cultures that have emerged the documents are completely incompatible!

  • HY GERSHON

    DENNIS TERRY HAS GOT IT ALL WRONG. HE SHOULD GET HIS FACTS STRAIGHT OR RESIGN HIS POSITION AS PASTOR. HIS SO-CALLED “GOD” IS COMPLETELY FALSE, WHICH MAKES HIM A SUPPORTER OF 21ST CENTURY IDOLATRY.
    WHY DOESN’T HE DO HIS HOMEWORK? HIS SO-CALLED “GOD” NEVER CLAIMED TO BE ANYTHING BUT A PREACHER OF THE TORAH GIVEN TO MOSES. HIS BEING A DEITY, OR THE “SON” OF ONE, WAS A “BUBBA MEISE” CONCOCTED BY HIS DISCIPLES AND FOLLOWERS IN ORDER TO GIVE HIS TEACHINGS CLOUT. HE WAS JUST AS HUMAN AS HIS MOTHER, WHO WAS IMPREGNATED BY HIS FATHER. WHAT A SCREWY BELIEF SYSTEM THIS TURNED OUT TO BE!

  • degel

    Who said Pastor Dennis Terry is authorized to talk on behalf of Santorum? The fact that he supports Santorum is his personal choice and doesn’t mean that he express anything from Santorum program. You, people twist topic so subtle and so canny that simple mind cannot get it: you start with news about GOP main candidate and turn a battlefield for strong America into theological discussion. Hey, chill down, we are at the edge of abyss and danger of losing freedom is as real as two times two is four and you try to involve us into old discussion that have nothing to do with main agenda of the day!

  • howard

    Strange discussion. To perpetuate the use of the term Old Testament implicitly accepts the supercession of the Christian gospels. Look folks this is all a bit crazy. None of us knows what we refer to as God really is. Those who think that lifelong study of the Talmud will unveil the truth are delusional. Too many people have died due to the insistence of individuals that only they have the truth. In fact, this thinking among the Ultra Orthodox has created an unnecessary wedge within the Jewish People. Heaven help us all!

    • salvage

      >. None of us knows what we refer to as God really is.

      Uh, no, I do and so do you. You’re referring to the Bronze Age mythological deity described in Torah based on older gods that can be traced back to the Neolithic.

      Of course the only way to maintain the faith in the supernatural in the reality of our modern world is to try and make your god this sort of nebulous New Age undefinable creature.

      But it’s not, it’s just a typical god.

    • Granted, but OT and Talmud provide a formula that has survived. Once you modify that formula by substituting ‘The Name’ you alter the essential ingredient that binds all its other ingredients. Now its all very well if you choose to do that, but to then state in the name of the originators of the OT recipe that they support the modification, is a distortion that paints the new recipe with the same distortion. No magic here, but injustices sourced in the condoned distortion by one system of belief of another caused the clash of restrictive mindsets and many deaths. Please God we will see an end to it in our lifetimes!

  • Jonathan Leibovitz

    I teach my kids that if anyone tells them he/she was sent by me that person is surely lying.
    It’s a simple protective mechanism.
    That’s exactly what God is telling us in the OT.
    The down side is I can never send anyone to pick up my kids from school if I’m unavailable.
    Do you think god was just busy the last 2000 years???

  • salvage

    Follow the shoe!

    Follow the gourd!

    It’s weird how your god is such a lousy communicator, why is that?

  • Greg

    “Perhaps Christians who want to be true to form ought to seriously re-think the statements their pastors, leaders and teachers are making and begin to face the hard decisions about the definition of the God in which they choose to believe.”

    I’m wondering, does this work both ways? Seems like you’re sitting at a poker table with what you think is a strong hand asking if the other player is willing to go ‘all in’. When you should be asking yourself the same question.

    You seem to dismiss the branching off, continuation of the NT from the Old, but fail to bring into play the Oral Law which many Jews rely on far more heavily than the OT itself. So, you willing to push those chips into the pile?

    Or are you going to take another look at your hand?

    Are you willing to sacrifice tradition to get at the truth of God? Reason I ask is because I’ve met with Jehovah’s Witnesses who stopped meeting with me because I showed the inconsistencies of their doctrine with the OT… and I’d rather not waste your time or mine if you’re all about tradition…

    And sorry about the poker analogy, it’s the only thing that came to mind at the time.

    • Greg – The meaning and essence of “The Name” does not change in any way in the Oral Law. On the other hand the New Testament strips it of its meaning, disregarding and disrespecting the “The Name” and God of the Old Testament including its Oral Laws and traditions. I’m afraid your poker analogy just does not work.

    • Greg

      What happened to ‘only when we sit down to examine…’? Seems that I’m supposed to take you at your word that the NT does what you say it does and same with Oral Law, without the benefit of the referenced delving examination. I’m just supposed to re-think what pastors, teachers and leaders have said but blindly accept what you say? “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”

      And since you weren’t willing to ‘sit down and examine…’ instead simply telling me straight off that you’ve got the winning hand… Oral Law, good; NT, bad… it makes me think that the poker analogy is working okay, so I don’t think I’ll fold just yet…

      • You can do hold, but you can’t change the NT definition of ‘The Name’ – it can’t be Jesus and it can’t be the father, son and holy spirit if the NT also wants to connect with ‘The Name’ of its OT source. ‘The Name’ state, as it is expressly described in many OT sourced works over thousands of years can only be realized through the OT methodology. Its an exclusive paradigm. I’d love to sit down to examine, but the logic does not work.

      • Greg

        Kevin, again you’re asking me to accept your foregone conclusion without delving, examining or discussing. You ask me to ‘re-think’ without remotely being willing to do so yourself.

        I had to look up ‘delve’ just to refresh my memory… interesting definition: “to make a careful or detailed search for information.”

        But I get it… you’re just wanting Christians to look at the fallacy of the NT, as the Oral Law is beyond reproach… according, of course, again… to you. Like showing how the cards in my hand don’t make anything at all… the perfect illustration of a losing hand. While the cards in your hand, remaining face down, you go on to say why they’re superior and an ideal winning hand to have.

        • Nope this is not a challenge to a fallacy! People can believe whatever they want, but they can’t ‘pull off’ the folly that The Name of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is anything other than as defined in the Old Testament and its Oral Laws, whilst trying to build a community of truth based on values to which we all aspire.

        • Greg

          But isn’t that exactly what Jews are doing if the definition you describe as coming from the OT is itself changed/distored by the Oral Laws… which you’re apparently unwilling to examine or delve into.

          Your end goal may be commendable, but if you’re doing the same thing you’re attributing to Christians, because of an inaccurate definition made by the Oral Laws, who then needs correction?

  • maxwaldo

    Terry just doesn’t know his bible. Otherwise he wouldn’t make these kind of statements. Jesus is not the name of the hristian God. Insofar the request of the author to discard the connection to the old testament is correct. However christians believe in the trinity of father, son and holy spirit. A lot more than what Terry claims. And, having that said, this includes the old- and the new testament. Jesus as the manifestation of the son of God on earth said “…I did not come to replace the old testament rather than to complete it…”. The problem with many evangelical churches in the US is that they have degenerated to “feel good clubs”. This is where the standard WASP can simmer in his patriotic values, where the world is o.k. and ” the rest of the world is against us….” Always remember this is campaign time in US.

    • Notwithstanding your thoughts about Terry’s knowledge, anyone who believes in the father, son and holy spirit cannot do so in the name of the God of the Old Testament whose ‘Name’ is perfectly defined and does not need any man to complete it. On the other hand man strives to realize the perfection of ‘The Name’ and although some people may need other devices in their efforts to perform, by definition Jews are content with the Old Testament methodologies for effecting His perfection. Jesus did not need a New Testament device, yet in his name more people are brought closer to this realization despite the great Jewish suffering in the process.

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