Today 20th of April 2009 the president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, gave a speech in the United Nations Durban Review conference in Geneva 20-24.4. 2009. This international meeting is an evaluation of progress made after the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in Durban, South Africa, in 2001.
Tomorrow 21th of April Israel mourns the six million during the annual Holocaust Memorial Day. The six million that President Ahmadinejad thinks is a myth created for political purposes by the Zionist enemy of the human race.
Today is therefore a good day to remember the extremely powerful words of the Man of Galilee to a woman from Samaria:
Salvation is of the Jews
John 4:22 KJVA
Words that are often forgotten by Christians and Muslims alike with such tragic consequences.
What on earth do Jews have to do with the faith in God the Creator?
It is surprising how many intelligent people discuss God and creation of the universe without mentioning the Jewish people even once. As if this was a philosophical and theoretical issue to be solved by rational thinking concerning the probabilities. This mistake of leaving the Jews out of the picture is often repeated both by those who believe in God and by those who do not.
For He is God of Israel and not just some anonymous Superior Being somewhere up there.
And He is King of the Jews, the Messiah, not just some abstract religious character
“Can you give me one single irrefutable proof of God?” “Yes, your Majesty, the Jews.”Marquis d'Argens to Frederick the Great, 1779.
This mighty quote by Philip N. Moore really makes one think the relationship between faith in God and the Jewish people. The question and answer are also mentioned in The Bible exposition commentary by Warren W. Wiersbe.
But did such a discussion ever happen?
For one, the date 1779 is eight years after the death of de Boyer which is suspicious.
Jean-Baptiste de Boyer, Marquis d'Argens, (1704-1771) served for many years the king of Prussia, Frederick the Great (1712-1782). Such a discussion is not at all impossible since king Frederick had Jean-Baptiste often to dine with him and they seem to have been dear friends. Prince Frederick was himself an atheist strongly influenced by Voltaire. Jean-Baptiste was also a philosopher of the Enlightenment and very interested in history and religion. Of particular interest in this context are his Lettres juives (The Hague, 6 vols, 1738-1742). He was a friend of the famous Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786) and apparently knew Judaism quite well. (Jews have a nice saying about Mendelssohn "there is no greater between Moses and Moses than Moses".)
The reference might be to the book: Zabuesnig, Johann Christoph: Johann Baptist von Boyer, Marquis von Argens, in: Historische und kritische Nachrichten von dem Leben und den Schriften des Herrn von Voltaire und anderer Neuphilosophen unserer Zeiten. Zweyte, vermehrte und verbesserte Ausgabe. Zweyter Band. Augsburg: Gebrüder Veith, 1779.
but I have not been able to locate it there.
Frederick had invited Jean-Baptiste de Boyer to Potsdam. "He was appointed to "Kammerherr" and Director of the Academy. However, Frederick was bitterly offended by his marrying a Berlin actress, Mlle Cochois. Argens returned to France in 1769, and died near Toulon on the 11th of January 1771." (quote)
Disinherited by his father and thrown out from court by Frederick the Great. Something was clearly wrong in the choices d'Argens made during his life.
A prolific writer who nevertheless is not in the league of the great philosophers of his time Jean-Baptiste de Boyer is mainly remembered from the one word answer he gave to the question made by Frederick the Great.
Karl Barth (1886-1968) is one of the greatest giants of 20th century Theology and his thinking is very influential in modern Christianity. A theologian of the Word of God he is well known for his massive commentary on the Epistle to Romans - Der Römerbrief - in the form of its second edition 1922.
In total clash with Friedrich Schleiermacher's (1768-1834) horizontal view of human religiosity into which Christianity is intimately tied Karl Barth proclaimed with dialectical force that God is revealed on the cross of Jesus senkrecht von oben - vertically from up. The revelation is paradoxical and originates from a reality completely out of this world. God cannot be allied with human cultures, histories and civilizations as Schleiermacher had done in his important treatise Über die Religion: Reden an die Gebildeten unter ihren Verächtern (1799).
In other texts in this blog I have emphasized that resurrection of Christ is a unique point where science reaches its limits as it does at the moment of death - the Biblical message is that in Easter morning Christ rose from the death as the firstborn of the world that is coming, the world that waits us after death, after the apocalyptic death of earth and beyond the reach of natural sciences.
In my opinion Karl Barth is right and wrong in his point. The cross of Jesus in Golgotha is something totally unique and very different from what the Jewish people expected from their King. They rejected Him and still wait for someone else to come as promised through the prophets of Israel.
But the cross it is not only God's revelation senkrecht von oben. It is also waagrecht von hinten. Biblical revelation comes to us from back, from the dawn of history, through a very long history of the children of Abraham living in the ancient Near East. It is the story of Jewish people from the times of Abram to the Roman period. Both the Old Testament and New Testament are written by the Jews. Jesus and his apostles including Paul, were all Jewish.
Well - if we draw a straight vertical line and cross it with a straight horizontal line that is what we get - a cross.
Looking at earth from space
Let us look at our planet from Voyager II near Saturn. How did God the Creator of all this make himself manifest to the inhabitants of that tiny third rock from the Sun in the photo?
The answer is surprising.
He began to talk with a single human being in the city of Ur of the Chaldeans. One evening he took him out and they gazed the stars together.
After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. And Abram said, Lord GOD, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir.
And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.
Genesis 15:1-6 KJVA
Who was speaking with Abram?
The Word of God.
And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying
Salvation is of the Jews.