Arguing With a Fencepost

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Do we have to always make our point?  Must we always fight to the end?  When can we call it quits and gracefully bow out of an argument?

I have struggled with these questions most of my life.  My mom often told me, “You would argue with a fencepost.”  For the longest, I had no idea what she meant until my imagination played out the scene and I “saw” the ridiculous situation.  She was right.  I argue with anyone who will let me. I even argue with myself.  I hear debate in my head constantly.  Those of you who have experienced interaction with me have learned I, oftentimes, don’t know when to quit.  I pray I am becoming more gracious…but truly, this has been a 45 year struggle!

So when my husband brought home some new bathroom reading, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff …and it’s all small stuff  by Richard Carlson, at first I wondered if it was aimed at me.  Then after reading a couple of short chapters, I decided I didn’t care.  Carlson does appear to be a Zen Buddhist, but who’s to say they don’t have some good things to contemplate?  Personally, I’ve found quite a bit worth thinking over.  This excerpt is from his most recent nugget of truth I have discovered:

…you are given many opportunities to choose between being kind and being right.  You have chances to point out to someone their mistakes, things they could or should have done differently, ways they can improve.  You have chances to “correct” people, privately as well as in front of others.  What all these opportunities amount to are chances to make someone else feel bad, and yourself feel bad in the process.

Without getting too psychoanalytical about it, the reason we are tempted to put others down, correct them, or show them how we’re right and they’re wrong is that our ego mistakenly believes that if we point out how someone else is wrong, we must be right, and therefore we will feel better.

In actuality, however, if you pay atttention to the way you feel after you put someone down, you’ll notice that you feel worse than before the put-down.  Your heart, the compassionate part of you, knows that it’s impossible to feel better at the expense of someone else.

Luckily, the opposite is true–when your goal is to build people up, to make  them feel better, to share in their joy, you too reap the rewards of their positive feelings.  The next time you have the chance to correct someone, even if their facts are a little off, resist the temptation.  Instead, ask yourself, “What do I really want out of this interaction?”  Chances are , what you want is a peaceful interaction where all parties leave feeling good.  Each time you resist “being right,” and instead choose kindness, you’ll notice a peaceful feeling within….

Don’t confuse this strategy with being a wimp, or not standing up for what you believe in.  I’m not suggesting that it’s not okay for you to be right–only that if you insist on being right, there is often a price to pay–your inner peace.  In order to be a person filled with equanimity, you must choose kindness over being right, most of the time.  The best place to start is with the next person you speak to.

Now I will resist the temptation to correct a couple of things, but I do want to add — kindness is one of the characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Many of the characteristics seem to speak of being “nice.”

Whatever happened to just being nice?      For fun

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68 responses »

  1. Michelle:

    “Nice” got lost when we traded courtesy for materialism. Ironically, materialism can only be successful when it breeds a sense of scarcity–we always want more because we always think we have less than what we actually do have. And that sense of scarcity breeds isolation. And one way we isolate ourselves from others is by not being nice to them.

    Of course, that was the first thought that came to mind when I finished reading your post. I don’t quite know that it is true for everyone–or even me.

    I don’t mind hanging around with someone who would “argue with a fencepost.” As long as you don’t TREAT me like a fencepost, it’s all good! Ah ha ha ha!!!

    Hope you’re feeling better!

  2. Its funny you bring this up – I have been involved in a “not so nice” situation today. I am trying to mediate between the parties – all it would take is niceness on one side and all would be well.

    My prayer: “Jesus, please help me always to get out of the way and let your love show through me!, Amen”

  3. NorEaster: I hope I have never treated anyone like a fencepost – do you mean what I think you mean?

    I’m not as deep as you, I just have to chalk it up to the general sin problem. I see it more like James stated, “What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source you pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel…” Hey! I think that’s what you said?! 😉

    Somewhat better, still lots of pain, I appreciate your prayers and your humor!!
    Thanks for asking.

  4. Indian, or is it Papa? How fun to have a new friend with such similar background!

    Those situations are so hard – when you are the objective party and can easily see where one is being ugly. Of course, I’ve learned to speak up if abuse is ever the case. Many times words hurt worse than fists.

    I’m praying for your situation this minute.

  5. I like Carlsons’ stuff. There’s a lot of good advice in it and it’s easy to grasp.

    I am always amazed and dismayed at how so many people using the internet forums resort to ad hominem attacks when arguing with people. Not only is impolite but the very nature of it injures their credibility.

    Carlson doesn’t say anything that James hasn’t already said. Very good advice in that book.

  6. Michelle:

    You’ve NEVER treated me like a fencepost! That was my futile attempt at humor, which you should be getting used to with all those bad jokes I’ve been sending you! Heh.

    I’m glad to hear that you’re at least doing “somewhat better,” but I’m really sorry about all that pain. Please know that I am praying for you. And thanks again for another great post.

    Take care.

  7. I find it interesting that when a Christiian merely presents the gospel as the Apostle Paul taught it, he/she is often said to be agruing, being intolerant, trying to ‘impose’ one particular religion over another. However, we are comissioned to tell the story (speak the truth in love), whether or not we are perceived as not being ‘nice’. One of the reasons I tend to present scripture that addresses the matter, any matter, is that it is God speaking through His inspired word, and not me, even though I tend to agree with it. The ‘accuser’ would have me try and prove ‘my’ point, but is is far wiser to present God’s point.

    Just a few thoughts from an old soldier.

  8. thanks for the reminder of the important difference between “being kind and being right”. i need to aim for more kindness and less rightness.

  9. B4:

    It is definitely paramount to teach the Good News, but I have certainly seem times when Christians fall prey to their own arrogance in doing so (myself especially). I think that many of us need to remember that we ourselves were once enemies of God–which should be a humbling realization, not an arrogant one–and that is only through the God’s grace that we have…Well, everything. But that grace still does not belong to us, even though it something we need to share with others. When our own arrogance gets in the way, it poisons the message tremendously. ( I know this because I have, at times, been so guilty of it.)

  10. NorEaster,

    Absitively and posolutely!

    It’s always necessary to perform an arrogance check. One way to do that is ask myself if I am sharing from compassion or to ‘prove a point’. I have found out that I am capable of both. I have also experienced being called arrogant when sharing from compassion and telling the truth in love. Calling us arrogant is a favorite tactic of the unbelieving who are convicted of their own sin when we merely speak truth. Such will often be the case, but it should not deter us from the telling, nor should we let it intimidate us, but we can always perform an arrogance check.Good comment!

  11. Good points all – I found the piece helpful because of my desperate need to feel significant. I won’t let go of a topic, many times, until I’m sure I’ve been “understood.” We all have the need to feel significant, it’s innate, and so many times we overdo a conversation in hopes someone will “get us.” Sometimes what appears to be arrogance is a lack of self-esteem, or a lack of confidence, so we get louder and longer in an attempt to be heard. (experience speaking, unfortunately)

    But please understand me, I am not at all saying we shouldn’t share our beliefs, and I think Carlson said that too. I just need to become more aware of others’ “cues” and realize when the point has been shared and move on. I cannot remember a time Jesus shoved His Truth down anyone’s throat – the masses came to Him to hear His words of Life. He always spoke the Truth in Love – we are told to follow His example. I guess that means there is a time for righteous indignation – but remembering we are mere men, the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God (James, again?)

    That’s where I’m coming from. 😉

    Oh, and Alece, it’s good to see you here with your adorable ‘do’!! 🙂

  12. Another excellent post Michelle. Kindness goes a long way toward sharing God’s love. I think too often we use “righteous indignation” as an excuse or defense for “being right”… after all WWJD?

    I think Christian touched on this a bit in his comment “resort to ad hominem attacks…” We forget that Jesus could see into the very hearts of the people he was coming down on and WEE (pun intended) humans cannot know the hearts behind the words. Especially in the case of a few words read on a blog comment.

    And I love those cartoons you linked to… hysterical!

  13. Glad you like it, Ric. Although I do not recommend all the cartoons – some are quite offensive to me – but the one, “Duty Calls” is way too close for comfort!

  14. I just noticed the link to the cartoons. Pretty durn funny. And poignant. Michelle, would you recommend the one that drops the F-bomb? (One of my favorite words but meant to be used sparingly to make a point, like allspice.)

  15. If the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, then we can ask: How does using this word glorify God? Having been in the military for some time and having developed ‘real colorful’ speech, I know the battle.

  16. “I’m a southern belle in more ways than one. We leave all that course talk for men and Northerners!!”

    Dag burnit! She’s onto me!!

    Ah ha ha ha!!!

  17. Yes, NorEaster…yes, I am.

    Dan, I totally get your point and feel much the same. I grew up under such legalism that I can have a tendency to swing too far the other way (you know, the pendulum analogy). I was forever correcting others for their language, along with many other rules, that they never heard about the love of Jesus from me. I now know I couldn’t give what I didn’t understand. But that was my struggle. I still don’t like cursing, and will not watch some things just because there is no need for it (too much allspice, right Christian?).

    All that to say, I’m with you on this. We do need to find ways of building up one another and bringing glory to God in all things.

  18. Christian, funny you should ask…I was raised in a home where “gosh” or “golly” was not allowed, so if I ever let the F-bomb drop??? I would have been grounded ’til college!!!

    Thankfully, I have become more gracious in my later years, much to my chagrin, when I hear some of the words my children choose to express themselves. Yet, all things considered, they don’t really amount to cursing, just crude. Yeah, I’m a southern belle in more ways than one. 😉 We leave all that course talk for men and Northerners!! 🙂

  19. When we even mention God, even with love in our hearts, we can be seen as intolerant and unkind. I think that even mentioning God rubs those still lost in sin the ‘wrong way’. We don’t need to add our own ‘have to make my point’ to it. 🙂 By the way, yesterday, I heard a really good pastor/teacher express bringing glory to God by ‘telling the truth’ about him – almost your exact words.

  20. I heard a sermon yesterday in which the pastor quoted from Abraham Lincoln to summarize the gospel: “malice toward none, charity toward all.” It’s always amazing to me that those most in tune with Jesus’ concept of love are those who least interested in proving themselves righteous.

  21. Was that Abe Lincoln’s personal summary of the gospel, or is it an Abe Lincoln saying considered as a summary of the gospel? Just asking.

  22. Hello, Editor! I read your magazine and enjoyed your editorial. You’ve inspired me to write about pilgimages – hopefully I’ll be making a physical one to Israel in the next year, or so. I always thought I’d have to wait until the Millenial Kingdom (which I believe will be a literal reign).

    I like that summary…if only we could understand how to show love without letting our egos get in the way. Thanks for stopping by – come back anytime! 😉

  23. Dan, in response to your query: the pastor offered the Abe Lincoln quote… I am the one who drew the conclusion that the words summarize the gospel.

  24. Hi Michelle,

    I was hoping you had a blogger account, so I could leave my email address and then delete it…

    I will leave a message for you in the comments on today’s post 4-3-08 in my blog… the one attached to this post.

  25. Great post!

    My friends and I enjoy arguing about anything and everything…

    There are good arguments (depending on what the issue is, and who you argue with).

    But if it’s about a petty thing and it’s with someone who might take your intention negatively, then maybe it’s not worth pointing out petty mistakes. 🙂

    —Sherma
    http://www.brainteaser.wordpress.com

  26. Brainteaser: I know what you mean. My family likes to argue for the “fun of it” and I’m probably the loudest and most dogmatic. (well, not really, my brother is much louder than me!!) But, yes, when we’re just being petty it can do nothing but tear down.

    I’m coming to check out your blog now…thanks for stopping by. 😉

  27. Michelle, I fear we may have far too similar personalities in some respects! 🙂

    That does however give the chance for greater understanding ( and validation) between us.

    re: ‘the small stuff’ I like the phrase – the Devil is in the Detail – as a warning.

    God sees the BIG picture (bigger than we ever may) while Satan relies upon the smaller – ego-filled picture that we feel more ‘comfortable with and concern ourselves ( generally) with much more.

    Hope to come back and read more on this but time escapes me lately 😦

  28. hahahaha my mom used to say that too “you could argue with a fencepost”, but then she always followed it up with “talking to you is like talking to a wall”…my only answer was “huh?” I heard more than she thought! Hope you are having a good day…wanted to check on you!

  29. Love and Darla – Do like minds travel down like paths?

    However we got here, I’m sure glad y’all have entered my life! Have a wonderful Friday and a blessed weekend! 😉

  30. Good post Michelle – I couldn’t agree more about it. I do a lot of discussing on blogs (debates and what not) – and it is easy to get caught up in the ‘small stuff’ (which it truly all is). I think the important stuff is ‘how we treat one another’ and not ‘what statement of faith we can claim’ – I think that’s the true focus of my life (building value into it).

  31. Nice sentiment, societyvs, how we treat each other is ‘big’ stuff. What did you mean about our statement of faith being small stuff?

  32. Hey Society, glad to see you here. I’ve enjoyed hearing your perspective at the seminarians’ blog.

    I think we need to be considerate of one another’s beliefs, and in the course of discussion clarifying those beliefs is necessary. But when we step over the line and start calling eachother names, then we’ve entered into judgment (I think). Jesus could call people “hypocrites” and “white-washed tombs” because He is God and omniscient, but when we do it we’re stepping into a position we have not been given. So yes, how we treat eachother is very “big” stuff. 😉

    I do have the same question as Dan, however. Isn’t our statement of faith pretty big stuff?

    Glad you liked the post, you’re welcome hear. 🙂

  33. I’ll take a guess here at what I think Society might mean:

    Our STATEMENT of faith is not nearly so important compared to how our ACTIONS demonstrate that faith.

    Was I right, Society…?

  34. NorEaster pretty much has said what I mean ‘Our STATEMENT of faith is not nearly so important compared to how our ACTIONS demonstrate that faith’ – that is basically my reasoning these days.

    I think we can get caught up in theology or what God is – but the fact of the matter is Jesus greatest teachings reflect almost exclusively how we relate to one another (and how this effects our relationship with God). That makes me think Jesus’ teachings are of real emphasis and not so much what Jesus is (fully God and human) or what we think God is (ie: Trinity). Those things will be revealed in good time – but what we need to reveal is what the strength of those teachings are – and I see fotgiveness, mercy, love, compassion, and justice all up there.

    I guess the reason I state such things – or why I have taken this emphasis – is because I have seen any good Christian people get into questionable behaviour for the sake of ‘being right’ or making a ‘ppint’. They actually can change their attitude to one of judgement (something you just mentioned Michelle) and to name-calling – and worse yet – condemning another for not ‘being like them’. That kind of stuff, on blogs mainly, just does not sit right with me and the only symptom to that problem is diagnosing the reason it happens – and it happens because one’s focus is mis-placed – too much emphasis on ‘being right’ and not on ‘being of value’.

  35. societyvs,

    Thanks for clearing that up. I would like to respond to a portion of your comment:

    “That makes me think Jesus’ teachings are of real emphasis and not so much what Jesus is (fully God and human) or what we think God is (ie: Trinity).”

    If it’s just about Jesus’ teachings, he is nothing more than just a teacher and moral example. The facts of the Trinity and who He is as the Son of God and having offered himself as the perfect atonement for our sin (Legal penal substitute to appease the Holy wrath of a Holy God) are clearly laid out in scripture and are of UTMOST import, the latter more than the former.

    The sin of unbelief (of who he is and what he did on our behalf) condemns those who do not believe to an eternity in the torments of Hell.

    “He that believes on him is not condemned: but he that believes not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” John 3:18

    I sincerely hope you have settled the issue in your own life!

  36. “I sincerely hope you have settled the issue in your own life!” (Dan)

    Firstly, Dan some explanation is in order so you can see through the eyes I am using here.

    “If it’s just about Jesus’ teachings, he is nothing more than just a teacher and moral example.” (Dan)

    First off, this sentence is not true. Great teacher – that he was – but of what? God’s Torah and Prophets! He’s not just teaching math or english skills here – he’s teaching us the values which God Himself gave to humanity! Also, being the Messiah (Anointed One) Jesus would also be an authority on the Torah/Prophets – so much so – God ordains him a spot of judgment (right hand)…rabbi/teacher – yes in one sense – but even greater an authority than that.

    “The facts of the Trinity and who He is as the Son of God and having offered himself as the perfect atonement for our sin (Legal penal substitute to appease the Holy wrath of a Holy God) are clearly laid out in scripture” (Dan)

    This may be true (or it may not be) – most of these ideas lableled are based on a narrow view of scriptures (namely orthodoxy) and are more founded in traditions than actual scripture (or at least some of this is very debateable).

    Trinity – not in a single book in the bible (as in the term) – Monotheism (God is One) all over the place. As for the whole atonement as Jesus paying the penalty for us – our sin – perhaps – but I am not sure you quite get the blood atonement as a sacrifice – it was limited to sins committed in ‘ignorance’ (even Hebs 9-10 confirm this). However, I see the atonement as simply making a way to God for all and that’s about it (even if past sins are cleared)…like Torah given at the mountain – Jesus also gives this same (but new) access to God. And perfection is read into the texts.

    But if we want to go deeper on this – hey – I enjoy that kind of stuff.

    .”The sin of unbelief (of who he is and what he did on our behalf) condemns those who do not believe to an eternity in the torments of Hell” (Dan)

    Seriously? You mean if I don’t believe Jesus did something on my behalf (ie: atonement/died for me) then you mean ‘he didnt do it’? I do believe I am screwed if that is the case.

    BTW, it says ‘believes in him’ not ‘believes all the right things about him’. As for the way the term belief is used there – I think I will throw this Jewish gem out there for all to consider:

    “Our faith, Judaism insists, is in part a result of our behavior. That is why, though it seems counterintuitive to many modern Jews, Jewish life suggests not that behavior should follow belief, but that belief–or perhaps faith, relationship, presence–is more likely to follow behavior” (Daniel Gordis – ‘God Was Not in the Fire’ – pg 73).

  37. Hey, Society, thanks for commenting further. I suppose this is where we differ:

    “I think we can get caught up in theology or what God is – but the fact of the matter is Jesus greatest teachings reflect almost exclusively how we relate to one another (and how this effects our relationship with God). That makes me think Jesus’ teachings are of real emphasis and not so much what Jesus is (fully God and human) or what we think God is (ie: Trinity).”

    I hear Jesus teaching love for one another and showing that love through kindness toward sinners, but His greatest teachings, I believe, were about the Kingdom of God (favorite topic) and “Who do people say that I am?” We do need to be clear about Who He is, because that is the crux of belief.

    I agree with Carlson, it is good to leave arguing over petty things, and I don’t believe Jesus told us to debate the gospel, but to preach it. And if people didn’t want to hear, then move on…I didn’t learn that approach until my thirties. Probably many people would have been more receptive had I been wise enough to realize “I” was in the way.

    Clarification of beliefs is necessary, especially in this age when so many want their “ears tickled” and do not want a pure word taught. Many have created their own version of Christianity and are presenting it as gospel. We are living in dangerous times in that regard.

    I do agree, we need to be careful how we state our case in the blogosphere. We are always to walk in the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…we must keep in step with the Spirit if we truly want to reflect the way Jesus lived.

    Thanks again, Society, for stopping by – you’re always welcome here. 😉

  38. Society,

    All I am really saying is that Jesus’ teachings are certainly important, but Jesus CAN be used just as a moral example. Jesus is more than that. He died in our place, for our sins, received our punishment.

    “Seriously? You mean if I don’t believe Jesus did something on my behalf (ie: atonement/died for me) then you mean ‘he didnt do it’? I do believe I am screwed if that is the case.”

    “He that believes on him is not condemned: but he that believes not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” John 3:18 – Jesus, not me.

    Where else would we condemned to except Hell? Jesus spoke of the place more than heaven.

    “Our faith, Judaism insists, is in part a result of our behavior. That is why, though it seems counterintuitive to many modern Jews, Jewish life suggests not that behavior should follow belief, but that belief–or perhaps faith, relationship, presence–is more likely to follow behavior”

    Christianity (Ephesians 2:8-9) teaches that we are saved BY grace THROUGH faith, and that even our faith is a gift from God.

    This is where Christianity and Judaism seem to be diametrically opposed to one another.

    For the Christian, behavior pleasing to God is born of His Spirit living inside the believer. Philippians 2:13.

    ““Our faith, Judaism insists,. . .” If this means you are Jewish I understand your comments more clearly.

    For the Christian, who Jesus is central and not small stuff. The issue Jesus had with Jewish religious leaders of his day was their not receiving him for WHO he said he was. That thread runs throughout the Gospel of John. If he is not who he said he is, the promised messiah, how can he be a great teacher, or really even just a good one?

  39. “but His greatest teachings, I believe, were about the Kingdom of God (favorite topic) and “Who do people say that I am?”” (Michelle)

    But that’s not exactly what Jesus said were the greatest teachings – he always points to the commandments from the Torah – Love God and Love neighbor. He also mentions that all of the Tanakh hangs upon the simple one liner idea of ‘treat other how you want to be treated’ (meaning it was such an essential teaching it could define all of the Torah/Prophets). These stand out as the greatest teachings he gave – even he notes that himself in the said passages.

    As for the kingdom of God – you are right – that was his topic of choice and mission (thus a lot of talk about it). As for the question Jesus asks Peter – that question is asked one time on the gospels (and it is important) – but it is not mentioned as his greatest teachings.

    “but Jesus CAN be used just as a moral example” (Born4)

    And I also pointed out that is quite impossible due to the subject matter he is breaking down and teaching ‘authoritatively’ on – and Matthew compares him directly to Moses in scope – now that’s not a so much a teacher as a strong leader. Now – where this idea of great teacher comes in makes no sense – even though Jesus does allude to being a teacher (ie: rabbi of sorts). That argument carries no water due to the depiction of Jesus in the gospels – but it’s quite another stretch to call him God also. Calling Jesus a great teacher is like calling Isaiah a good speaker.

    “Where else would we condemned to except Hell? Jesus spoke of the place more than heaven” (B4B)

    Condemned doesn’t have to mean hell there at all – and if it was supposed to – why doesn’t John just put it in there? Condemnation seems like a personal thing there related to following the path of God – thusly not believing would mean they are likely picking things that are immoral and not helpful for their lives. They are condemning themselves to less ‘living’ than they could have – but that’s their choice.

    As for speaking about hell more than heaven – that’s just not true. When one realizes that kingdom of heaven and kingdom of God are quite interchangeable as terms then we see Jesus talking about heaven quite a bit.

    “This is where Christianity and Judaism seem to be diametrically opposed to one another.” (B4B)

    Not really – the split between Judaism and Christianity starts with the Pauline texts/letters (which you did quote from – twice) which outline a Gentile form of Christianity and place no emphasis on a Jewish based one. Whereas Matthew (and most of the gospels) seem to look at it from more of a Jewish based introduction to faith – and not so much a Gentile based view.

    “If this means you are Jewish I understand your comments more clearly” (B4B)

    I am not Jewish – obviously – I follow Jesus as the Messiah (that’s quite the telling sign). However, I am looking at my faith in regards to the Judaic aspects of the faith and trying to place less emphasis on the Gentilic communiites that helped define the faith early on – basically to return to the original authors viewpoints (not sure if it can be done – but I am trying to acheive this).

    “For the Christian, who Jesus is central and not small stuff” (B4B)

    I do agree who Jesus is important – but what we follow/do is definition of what we believe – and that’s what I am pointing out. What good is knowing all this awesome stuff about Jesus if we do not follow the simplest things – the very things Jesus believed/taught? Isn’t the real essence of following Jesus (as the Messiah) – doing what he himself did?

  40. Society, I think we’re arguing semantics…didn’t he say, when asked by the lawyer, this is the greatest commandment, foremost (literally first)? And yes, everything hangs upon it, but the question we must answer, Who is God? In the same passage, Jesus continues the dialogue by asking them who they think He is – Matt. 22:34-46. The whole chapter is awesome, but that is the passage I believe shows His point – I am the God you are to love wholeheartedly, and when you do love me, you will love your neighbor as yourself.

    Skip over to Matt. 26:26-32 and see His claim of being the Covenant we are to enter through, and the Shepherd who will be struck…He is constantly telling them Who He is, and yet they don’t get it until after His resurrection.

    Matthew sums up Jesus’ teaching on earth, “From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand…Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people.” Matt. 4:17 & 23.

    I totally believe we are to observe all that Jesus commanded us, and yet it is not possible without His Spirit indwelling us. “Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and pharisees…” How is that even possible? It doesn’t go along with, “My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” The scribes and pharisees kept every jot an tittle and then even the extras that were not written in the Torah! Only through His righteousness becoming our righteousness is this even possible.

    The veil was rent in two from top to bottom (Matt.27:51) and we are to walk through His flesh (Heb. 10:15-22) entering the New Covenant inaugurated by His blood. We are in Covenant through the final sacrifice, once for all, of the Son of God, and now have His Spirit who enables us to keep His commandment. He fulfilled the whole of the Law and the Prophets and we have His righteousness imputed to us. That doesn’t mean I have no more work to do, but I do the work He has given me through His Spirit indwelling me.

    At least, that’s the way I understand it…

  41. “Society, I think we’re arguing semantics” (Michelle)

    While this may be true – it is still essential to ‘flesh’ out the meaning of the teachings and what that will mean in our fiocus.

    “foremost (literally first)?” (Michelle)

    I would agree – if Deut 6:4 is the first commandment – which is where that teaching finds it’s origins. Not in Exodus 20 as might be presumed. So if we can agree Deut 6:4 is the 1st commandment – then yes he does mean first in that sense. If not, then can first/foremost mean in terms of ‘importance’? The 2nd commandment apparently comes from Lev 19:18…not Exodus either.

    As for the Davidic passage connotating Jesus as God – this is not true – but connotates Messiah if anything (and God and messiah are not synonamous according to all of Jewish literature – then and now). Even in this passage We see the Messiah sitting at the ‘right hand’ of God – but not being God or else wouldn’t he be sitting on the actual Throne (not to the side)?

    “I am the God you are to love wholeheartedly” (Michelle)

    Funny you should say this in a chapter about defining commandments (Matt 22) – cause it the very first commandment: “You shall have no other gods before/besides Me” (Exodus 20:3). In this passage you call Jesus God. Now if he isn’t God – but appointed by God as messiah – then that is a breaking of the 1st of the 10 commandments (commandment called 10 only by Christians and not by the Jewish faithful).

    ““Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and pharisees…” How is that even possible?” (Michelle)

    That’s the thing isn’t it – and yet Jesus persists to teach about ‘following’ his ideals – so obviously Jesus isn’t stating the impossible here. The key is the term ‘surpasses’. Keeping the law is good (but not because of rote routine) – keeping the intents/spirit of the law is the point. Which, oddly enough, we find Jesus breaking down in Matt 5:21-48. In all that, he does not cross out the law (which he promised he would not to do earlier in the same chapter) – but elaborates on it’s meaning. I think Jesus is basically talking about not doing mere ritual to God for ritual’s sake – but because this is what you desire.

    “Only through His righteousness becoming our righteousness is this even possible” (Michelle)

    If this is true – then you are not righteous at all and cannot be. Only via vicarious rightneousness of another (ie: Jesus) can you even be considered righteous. That also means – what do we have to do to be just in God’s sight? Nothing. That, in and of itself, flies in the face of Jesus teachings throughout the gospels – namely those at the tail end of Matt 7 (parables of trees and sand and rock).

    Now righteous means ‘just’ in God’s sight – and I think Jesus is our mediator in heaven (right hand of God – basically has His ear) – so we have that help for us – which I am grateful for (we do make mistakes). But I also think Jesus is basically asking us in his teachings to ‘follow them’ – to be godly in the sense of adopting the values of God (or kingdom of God). Will this make us righteous/just…even Paul is quick to admit we will be judged according to our ‘deeds/actions’.

    “He fulfilled the whole of the Law and the Prophets and we have His righteousness imputed to us” (Michelle)

    This is not true…I am not sure but I am pretty sure ‘people are not beating their swords into pruning hooks’ (ie: world of non-violence)…nor has the messianic age fully come. That was from Isaiah (a prophet).

    The big question is what ‘fulfilled’ means – and how it used in Matthew 5 it can have many meanings…more complete, messianic implications, or even walked in those ways.

    “That doesn’t mean I have no more work to do” (Michelle)

    But doesn’t it? You can’t quite lose your salvation after Christ has paid it all for you (and this has nothing to do with you or anything you can do). So I am not sure why Christians do quite anything since they have this righteousness imputed to them (applied to them) – they are basically totally forgiven and made whole and there is nothing you can do about it (to make it happen or reverse it).

  42. Society:

    I have a feeling we could go round and round and never come to agreement.

    You read the Tanakh and Matthew, in particular, and come to the conclusion that Jesus is messiah, but not God. I read the same scriptures and see He is the fulfillment of all that was, and is, and shall be. I can’t get through the first chapter of Matthew and not see a declaration of Jesus as God.

    He is the King come to rule on the throne of David forever – His name is Emmanuel, God with us.

    He continually teaches of the Kingdom of God (heaven) and Himself as King.

    He causes the scribes and pharisees to stumble over their interpretations because they did not see in them the truth of Him.

    Matthew was a believer in Jesus as Messiah and God, the Father’s Son, making Him one with the Father. He wrote about Jesus’ baptism and transfiguration, both times the Father declaring, “This is My beloved Son in Whom I am well-pleased.”

    When Jesus asked the disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” then Peter answered, “The Christ the Son of the Living God.”

    Go to the Passover meal and see He says, “This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.”

    These are all declarations of His divinity which is why the chief priest and other Jewish officials wanted Him killed. They believed Him to be blaspheming, because they understood His words.

    To say one believes in Jesus and follows His way, as you have stated, and yet not believe what Jesus declared about Himself is inconsistent. I only took passages from Matthew because I understand you like that Gospel best. I believe the whole of the New Testament as God’s inspired word, and cannot find the teaching of Jesus being only man anywhere.

    One of the earliest creeds we have of the church is found in Philippians, this was a spoken creed said when 1st century Christians came together to worship:

    Have this attitude in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed upon Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

    Another early church creed is found in Colossians:

    He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on the earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of the cross; through Him, whether things on earth and things in heaven.

    I don’t see how those creeds can be interpretted in any other way than He is God the Son before whom we are to bow down and worship. This is the point of the New Testament writings, to help us understand. The best book to read to bridge the Tanakh and the New Testament (New Cov’t) would be Hebrews. It is written for Jewish Christians who were considering going back to the Law instead of pressing forward through the New Covenant in Jesus.

    If this is not at all your belief then I don’t know what else to say…

  43. It’s all fairly questionable Michelle – in my opinion – because I can go to each letter/gospel and in and of themselves they cannot be totally inconsistent (can they?). That being said, I could to each of those letters and gospels and point out exact passages where Jesus’ divinity is deeply in question…but if someone cannot believe this can be – they will have to deny it (since it is not orthodox at all and not a part of denominational statements).

    I would say even some of the passages you quote could have a variety of meanings in and of themselves – and not just one straight-forward idea.

    First question I would ask is quite simple – would Jewish people have seen the Messiah figure as God? Now it is true the messiah/saviour in the Tanakh in each situation is God – with the help of various men (very common theme in the Tanakh). But there is absolutely no proof at all Jewish people saw the Messiah as part of God (except in a more figurative way and not as part of the actual and literal One). I can’t quite kind find that proof anywhere accept in the claims of Christianity.

    “These are all declarations of His divinity” (Michelle)

    Again, I think if one wants to see that as part of the rhetoric – then it appears there. I take a look at all those passages (or paraphrases) and see a variety of meaning within them – and not all of them point to divinity.

    “To say one believes in Jesus and follows His way, as you have stated, and yet not believe what Jesus declared about Himself is inconsistent” (Michelle)

    What does Jesus actually declare about himself – this the real great study?

    “God highly exalted Him”

    Don’t you find that passage interesting? God had to exalt Jesus for Jesus to attain his status. Then ‘bestowed upon him the name’ – as if like knighting? God does not need to do this to Himself – He is alreasy in the premier place.

    “For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him”

    This is also intriguing – is God making another God? Or that Jesus would be filled with the Spirit of God?

    I will say one thing – Colossians as a letter seems to point the closest to Jesus being God – even then I am not sure I would go that far – but the letter is putting them extremely close.

    “Now to our God and Father be the glory forever and ever” (Phil 4:12)

    Paul writes the whole letter of Philippians and then writes this one line on it’s own – and he does seperate Jesus and God the Father at the beginning of the letter “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil 1:2). The word and is the greek ‘kai’ – a seperator between the two mentioned (ie: they were seperate). Now they may very well be one in unison about mission – no probs there – but in material make-up/divinity?

    It seems to me in both letters – to some degree – God the Father is to be thanked for the Christ. Now Jesus is given a very special place – ‘right hand of God’ – but that’s not the same as God (however – it does show the proximity of what God bestowed on him and importance). Jesus could still be the ‘Anointed One’ and not be God the Father – but be close to Him as a ‘son’ (which does not mean a literal birth son).

    I would say this is something I believe – Jesus is the messiah appointed a very special place with God – but is not God. However, these 2 writings got me thinking – and I need to look into this a little more (since Paul is saying something very intricate about Jesus’ relations to God).

  44. I will answer more in detail tomorrow, but in case you’re a late night owl, please consider this as well, for the first 100 years of the early church the majority of believers were Jewish. All the disciples, the 3000 at Pentecost, and God added to their number daily…Paul’s mission to the Gentiles didn’t happen for the first few years, and even then he went to the Jews first and preached in synagogues. It wasn’t until after John passed away in the 90’s, and then Polycarp sometime in the mid-100’s, he was John’s disciple, that the church began to take on a more antisemitic tone, due to the persecution they were both experiencing from the Romans.

    I only recently found this information through a search concerning when we changed from Passover to Easter…quite interesting article on Wiki. I’m not a night owl, so good night.

  45. Society,

    You are hard to follow. I thought you mught be Jewish from your phrase “our faith (Judaism)” in a previous post. I am not going to argue with you, but only comment on this:

    “I do agree who Jesus is important – but what we follow/do is definition of what we believe – and that’s what I am pointing out. What good is knowing all this awesome stuff about Jesus if we do not follow the simplest things – the very things Jesus believed/taught? Isn’t the real essence of following Jesus (as the Messiah) – doing what he himself did?”

    that sort of brings us back to the beginning ofthie not short discourse. I NEVER said works are not part of our faith, only that WHO Jesus is preeminent to this discussion. Just in reading the gospel of John we find that the biggest issue Jesus had with the Jewish religious leaders who never believed in Him centered around his identity. He even told them that if they really believed in God the Father they could not help but receive him as the prophesied Messiah. He even told them that their father was the devil because they did not believe in him as who he said he was.

    I am not going to get into the works/grace issue again except to say that salvation is all of grace (Eph 2:8-9, for starters). If we needed to work to keep it, and in the end the final judgement is based on ‘works’ BEFORE or AFTER salvation, how can it be grace? If any work of ‘man’ is involved in the process it is no longer grace.

    Michelle has done a pretty good job of presenting Jesus as God incarnate, as well as the concept of the Trinity.

    That’s it from me for now. 🙂

  46. This is B4B.

    I hope that last comment wasn’t confusing. It was about 0430 in the AM and I was also thinking of another blog post that specifically talked about the works/grace issue. It is hinted at here. The issue of who Jesus is, is still of primary importance. It’s only after believing in him for exactly who he is and what he has done for us (died for our sins – 1 Cor 15) that our works can be other than ‘filthy rags’.

  47. Michelle, I’ve been doing some similar reading lately. There is some pretty interesting information available concerning the tension that existed in the early church, between the orthodox Jews, traditional Jewish ‘Christians”, and those that felt that Gentile converts need not follow the established tradition of Judaism. When Claudius kicked all these ‘squabbling’ Jews out of Rome for six years this left just the Gentile church in place. When the Jews came back they found that the traditional aspects of the new church had now been compromised and they were in the minority. Paul addresses this conflict in his letter to the Romans. This was the beginning of the end for a Jewish Christianity and by the time Constantine co-opted the church for the empire it was already a fait accompli.

  48. “Do we have to always make our point? Must we always fight to the end? When can we call it quits and gracefully bow out of an argument?”

    This whole thread is kinda ironic, don’t you think?

    “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” – Paul

  49. Which is interesting because the Jews had a long history of retaining their culture and heritage even when conquered. Would Roman Empire have found it to so easy to assimilate the Church to their ‘worldly’ ways (the Babylon that John of Patmos warned about) if it had remained Jewish?

  50. dan/b4b –

    “Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.”

    This is a puzzle – you say that it is of primary importance that we understand exactly who is Jesus; the argument is going back and forth; and Paul says this is an elementary teaching (e.g. baby food or milk).

    Weird.

  51. Badguy & Dan (or b4dguy and b4b ah.. guy) & others interested…

    Here are some of my thoughts on your points here.

    I think elementary teaching (e.g. milk) is also foundational in Paul’s mind. I read 1 Cor 13 to say if I have not Love, I am a clanging cymbal. And, of course, he also told us what/who love is … that Christ died while we were still sinners.

    If indeed the group reading Paul’s letters is “the church” then, by definition they have this elementary / foundational teaching. (Since church in Paul’s writings refers to the body of Christ, the body of believers –i.e., those who know who Jesus is.)

    Now if this church gathers together to review who Jesus is (what Love is, etc) and nothing more, Paul has a problem with that. I think Paul is saying “a church” should move on to the meat of living out the 3 commandments Jesus lifts up: Love God, neighbor, each other.

    However, that kind of life is dangerous… (Paul often wrote letters from a jail cell)

  52. “This whole thread is kinda ironic, don’t you think?” (B4d)

    You know I was thinking that as I wrote my last comment – I was like – am I being a fencepost now/ Ot am I furthering the theological conversation – which is a tough line to draw out? At times I am the fencepost and at times I am adding to the convo. Irony – you got that right!

  53. Society,

    There are a couple of rabbit trails in here, no? I had to go back a bit to clearly define what we were rambling about:

    “I think the important stuff is ‘how we treat one another’ and not ‘what statement of faith we can claim’”

    I equate ‘statement of faith’ with ‘what we believe’ and therefore consider behavior ‘big’ but what we believe ‘as big’, if not bigger – in the context of eternity. How we treat one another does have a grater impact for maintaining peaceful relations with one another on the temporal plane.

  54. “but what we believe ‘as big’, if not bigger – in the context of eternity” (Dan)

    For me it is a tough one because I no longer accept Jesus as God – but as someone so close to God (Anointed One) that he literally has his ‘ear’ on any and everything (in God’s court). And that’s a belief that does nothing with regards to how I live my life per se (that either is or isn’t the way it is up in heaven).

    What does effect my reality is the way ‘I act’. Now I have to think God is going to judge us according to our actions and the way we treat people around us. I think that is very fair – that we be judged by our own actions (thus holding us accountable).

    To me, someone’s actions are their beliefs and not the other way around. I am contending that if we hold articles of faith beliefs higher than moral ones then are we following Jesus (his example)?

    If God is a Trinity or Jesus atoned for all of humanity – what can believing those do for your marriage or any relationship? Those are theological beliefs (even philosophical debates) that do not produce values in the hearer or the speaker – they are either true or not true and do not ask a single thing from you.

    However, if adultery is a sin – then a lot of discussion on values and morals comes into play and how this looks and plays out in our realities. This does effect our behaviour and our relationships (namely with the spouse)…but in general society also. That in something we are involved in and is vastly more important than philosophical debates about God’s identity or the scope of the atonement. Cause irregardless of those debates – we all still have to deal with issues of morality and relationship…which I see Christ trying to teach us – and they are kingdom values enacted in our lives – in our present time.

  55. Society,

    I am not engaging in philosophical debate (at least I hope not) but sharing what scripture has revealed about Christ and who he is and how important it is. We can either figure out who the best moral teacher is and follow that person in out own strength, or we can receive Jesus for exactly who he said he is, and not only ‘follow’ the greatest moral teacher ever, but love our lives IN Him, united with him by the presence, power and strength of the Holy Spirit, not to mentin the eternal destiny thing.

    Sounds like you have had some hard knocks or something that caused you to NO LONGER accept Jesus as God. Can I pray with you, and if so, how?

  56. “and not only ‘follow’ the greatest moral teacher ever” (Dan)

    But is this enough? I would ask isnt this what Jesus is outlined asking in Matthew ‘follow me’ (both to this disciples and then to whomever)…now follow is an action – being a verb. Jesus does not say ‘let’s banter about the nature of God so we can achieve right standing/ideas’…never happens. For some odd reason he thinks we would all believe God is the Father (One) as the default position.

    “Sounds like you have had some hard knocks or something that caused you to NO LONGER accept Jesus as God” (Dan)

    I no longer accept Jesus as God because he isn’t…that has nothing to do with feelings or emotion – but with scriptural integrity (in which I include the 39 books of the Tanakh). In those 39 books – which the gospels are based on for sure – Jesus is not acclaimed to Gpd status (even son of God is not God status – noting ‘son of..’ connotates a difference).

    As for prayer, you can if you want…I am not requesting it.

  57. Wow!! You go away for half a day and your blog is taken over by a bunch of men with fenceposts in their eyes!! Just kidding…as I see so clearly around this post jutting from mine! 😆

    I wish I hadn’t missed out. 😦

    I only saw one comment directed to me, from Christian concerning the early church. I get your point but just want to state that this happened in Rome, not throughout the Roman empire. Romans was written around 56 AD, and Hebrews around 70 and John’s books were written around 85-95 AD. I bring that up to show the books that were written to Jewish Christians were dated later – obviously still a strong Jewish presence within the church. John being exiled to Patmos during Diocletian’s reign, it is from here he wrote Revelation. Historians believe he was the last disciple to die sometime in the late 90’s. In my search about Easter I found that it was sometime after his death and Polycarp’s (both men having held strongly to the Jewish celebration of Passover) that the church felt more free, across the empire, to change its tradition and became more antisemitic in tone.

    I recognize the irony, just a small picket fencepost there! 😉

  58. I agree, Michelle, (except I don’t think that John of Patmos is John the Evangelist, which would muddy the Polycarp connection) but the dissension among the Jews concerning Gentile inclusion into the new faith was being evident early on, as we are told in the book of Acts. The situation in Rome, although far from conclusive, set the stage for the devolving of Jewish Christian.

    As they felt more ‘free’ to change the church’s traditions wouldn’t they at the same time limit the ‘freedom’ of the Jewish traditionalists? An unfortunate by-product being the obscuring of much of the Gospel’s context.

  59. C – I’m not following that last paragraph, could you restate it? Oh, and why don’t you acccept John of Patmos as John the Apostle?

  60. Just that the freedom of some come at the expense of another’s freedom. In this case the Gentile Christians over that of the Jewish Christians. And that when we became an exclusively (nearly) Gentile church that we have tended to misinterpret some of the Gospel, which was framed within the context of a Jewish messiah in first century Israel.

  61. Without getting into specifics I’m not sure how we’ve misinterpretted. I think many things can be understood through indepth, inductive study which can’t be done over a blog. The very nature of blogging is to tell the world what you’re thinking. But to inductively study is to let the word (the Word) tell you through the power of the Holy Spirit what is Truth. He does not contradict Himself and the whole plan is better understood in the seeker.

    In the early church there was a push to make the Gentiles into Jews first and then accept them as one body. Paul argues vehemently against this legalism in the book of Galatians. And, whomever wrote Hebrews, explains much the same…

  62. I no longer accept Jesus as God because he isn’t…”

    I gotta go withe Gospel of John on that one. . .here’s a tidbit from another post here on Michelle’s blog.

    Jesus. a mere man, claimed to be God; so said the religious leaders called him a blasphemer. Jesus told them on numerous occassions that to love the Father is to love the Son and to NOT love the Son for who he said he was (the promised Messiah) was tantamount to NOT really loving the Father and that if one claimed to love the Father and not the Son was to have the devil as one’s spiritual father, and not God.

    Pretty harsh, huh? I believe all of the above is recorded in the Gospel of John, in which Jesus dealt extensib\vely with the religious leaders’ unbelief. The main point of John’s gospel was the divinity of Christ, beginning in the very first chapter:

    1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. . . .

    14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

    The scripture speaks for itself rather clearly and I am going to leave it at that. . . .

  63. “The scripture speaks for itself rather clearly” (B4B)

    Then that is where it shall stand. You believe Jesus is God – I believe Jesus is not God. On the ‘last day’ God can prove me wrong or prove you wrong – it’s really not a big issue.

    As for ‘scripture’ speaking on this point – well out of 66 books in the bible – about 3 to 5 actually point to Jesus being God (and I am being gracious by saying 3 to 5 – it might be less). I can say more than 1/2 the bible easily never uses the term trinity in it’s explanation of God (the 39 books of the Tanakh – 60% of the bible) – God is always ‘One’ in those scriptures. I would also contend John does not think Jesus is God (yet this is what we think is there so we believe it) and for sure the 3 other gospels make no claim of this. Trinity as a belief is just lacking and is usually piece-mealed together as a belief.

    As for the ‘word’ ideas from John 1 – well they are supposed to be in direct correlation with Genesis 1 – Judaism has never seen a Truine God in Genesis 1…and actually…neither do many Christian scholars. So either John is wrong in his interpretation of the ‘word’ or this is not what he is saying – that Jesus is God. There is no way to reconcile the fact John is making a claim Jesus is God – because we have to go back to Genesis 1 to find the proof and it is not there (some Christians get inventive about the Hebrew used there – but it’s not there). And I don’t think John is lying so…

  64. Society,

    We will stand where we will stand. I would be incredibly stupid to argue with such astounding unbelief. Jesus didn’t argue much either, but I will rfrain from the harsh words he used while discussing the matter with Jewish Religious leaders.

    By the way, since part of the Bible points to Jesus being God and the rest doesn’t say anywhere he’s NOT, both logic and wisdom might indicate opting for the former, no mattter what scholars of any stripe think.

    One last offering:

    “And God said, let us make man in our image, after our
    likeness. . .Gen 1:26

    These words are directed not to the earth, out of which man was made, as consulting with it, and to be assisting in the formation of man, as Moses Gerundensis, and other Jewish writers F6, which is wretchedly stupid; nor to the angels, as the Targum of Jonathan, Jarchi, and others, who are not of God’s privy council, nor were concerned in any part of the creation, and much less in the more noble part of it: nor are the words spoken after the manner of kings, as Saadiah, using the plural number as expressive of honour and majesty; since such a way of speaking did not obtain very early, not even till the close of the Old Testament: but they are spoken by God the Father to the Son and Holy Ghost, who were each of them concerned in the creation of all things, and particularly of man: hence we read of divine Creators and Makers in the plural number, ( Job 35:10 ) ( Psalms 149:2 ) ( Ecclesiastes 12:1 ) and Philo the Jew acknowledges that these words declare a plurality, and are expressive of others, being co-workers with God in creation F7: and man being the principal part of the creation, and for the sake of whom the world, and all things in it were made, and which being finished, he is introduced into it as into an house ready prepared and furnished for him; a consultation is held among the divine Persons about the formation of him; not because of any difficulty attending it, but as expressive of his honour and dignity; it being proposed he should be made not in the likeness of any of the creatures already made, but as near as could be in the likeness and image of God. The Jews sometimes say, that Adam and Eve were created in the likeness of the holy blessed God, and his Shechinah F8; and they also speak F9 of Adam Kadmon the ancient Adam, as the cause of causes, of whom it is said, “I was as one brought up with him (or an artificer with him), ( Proverbs 8:30 ) and to this ancient Adam he said, “let us make man in our image, after our likeness”: and again, “let us make man”; to whom did he say this? the cause of causes said to “`jod’, he, `vau’, he”; that is, to Jehovah, which is in the midst of the ten numerations. What are the ten numerations? “`aleph’, he, `jod’, he”, that is, (hyha) , “I am that I am, ( Exodus 3:14 ) and he that says let us make, is Jehovah; I am the first, and I am the last, and beside me there is no God

    I shall henceforth keep silent on the matter.

    It has been nice chatting. . .

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