East Vs West

Discussion in 'Christian Fellowship' started by Sharpened, Nov 7, 2018.

  1. Sharpened

    Sharpened A fleck on His Sword

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    This article has flaws, but it is a good introduction explaining why the Western mindset distorts how the Bible should be viewed. FYI: the whole continent of Africa is considered Eastern.


    The Hebrew Mind
    vs
    The Western Mind

    "Hebraism and Hellenism – between these two points of influence
    moves our world."

    William Barrett, Irrational Man

    The Bible, in its original languages, is, humanly speaking, a product of the Hebrew mind. The first and original manifestation of what we now call "The Church" was also an expression of the Hebrew mind. At some point in ecclesiastical history, someone snatched away the inceptive Hebraic blueprint by which Jesus’ movement was being constructed and replaced it with a non-Hebraic one. As a result, what has been built since is at best a caricature of what was intended. In many respects, it is downright contrary and antagonistic to the spirit of the original believing community.
    The Head of the Church, Jesus Christ, appears, in our time, to be returning his people to the original blueprint. The Hebrew Roots movement, led I believe by the Holy Spirit, is doing much to restore to the Body a sense of its first foundations.

    In this research paper, we will analyze some of the fundamental differences in the mindset of the Hebrews of Biblical times, and the Western, Hellenistic way of thinking, out of which has emerged the bulk of Christian theology.


    Doing vs. Knowing

    William Barrett, quoted above, explains that one of the most fundamental differences between the Western, Hellenistic mind and the Hebrew mind is found in the area of knowing vs. doing. Says Barrett, "The distinction…arises from the difference between doing and knowing. The Hebrew is concerned with practice, the Greek with knowledge. Right conduct is the ultimate concern of the Hebrew, right thinking that of the Greek. Duty and strictness of conscience are the paramount things in life for the Hebrew; for the Greek, the spontaneous and luminous play of the intelligence. The Hebrew thus extols the moral virtues as the substance and meaning of life; the Greek subordinates them to the intellectual virtues…the contrast is between practice and theory, between the moral man and the theoretical or intellectual man."


    This helps explain why so many Christian churches are focused on the issues of doctrinal orthodoxy (however they may define it) -- often at the expense of godly living. In many Christian circles, what one believes or espouses is treated as more important than how one lives – i.e. how one treats his or her neighbor.

    In Biblical Judaism, it is precisely the opposite. Christians are inclined to subject each other to litmus tests of orthodoxy, while Jews are concerned mainly with behavior. As Dennis Prager writes, "…belief in God and acting ethically must be inextricably linked…God demands right behavior more than anything else, including right ritual and right belief."


    It was gentile Christians, influenced by Greek philosophy, who both intellectualized and systematized Christian doctrine. Worse, they radically changed much of it. The Biblical Hebrews, and the Apostolic Era of the Church, had no formal theology as such. Nothing was systematized. The believing community had no entrenched hierarchy or magisterium through which all doctrine had to be filtered and approved. As with the unbelieving Jews, opinions varied from sage to sage.

    What the apostles taught about any given subject was either learned directly from Jesus, then passed on, or determined situationally – on an "as you go" basis. They determined Halakha for believers in much the same way the sages of Israel did – as circumstances changed they rendered decisions about the application of Torah (cf. Matthew 18:18). Acts 15 provides an account of how at least one teaching concerning requirements for gentile believers was formed around 50 AD. Note the participatory nature of the discussion. The whole of the Church (Acts 15:4,12,22), not just an elite hierarchy, was involved.

    In fundamentalist Christian circles, it is often more important to believe and espouse "the right thing," than to live the right way. This is why we are so obsessed with creeds, doctrinal statements, Systematic Theologies, orthodoxy vs. heresy, and creating "Evangelical" or "Sabbatarian" or "Trinitarian" theologies. This mode of thinking is thoroughly Western, utterly Greek.

    For many of us Westerners, the Hebrew mindset is so strange, so alien, so impossible to fathom, that we quickly snap back into the comfort zone of the Hellenistic mold when studying the Hebrew Scriptures. We then impose this distorting grid over the Hebrew text – or for that matter, over the Greek text of the New Testament.

    We think, for example, in terms of "prophetic timetables." Here again is the Western concept of time – points on a line. The Hebrew minds thinks of "the day of the Lord" – that is, the day or time when the Lord acts. The sequential order in which God will do things is of no concern to the Hebrew – only that he will act. The Western mind wants to have the "prophetic timetable" neatly arranged in time and space. We want to "tick off" events as they occur according to the pre-ordained schedule. This mentality is foreign to the Hebrew mind.

    In Western theology, we have sometimes abandoned the literal interpretation of Scripture in favor of allegorical interpretations. This too is very Greek. It opens the door to a myriad of "creative" expositions that leave the student of Scripture confused and disoriented.

    In the table that follows, we compare the Hebraic mode of thinking with the Western, Hellenistic mode in a variety of categories.

    Hebraic vs Western Thinking
    – A Comparison

    Western Approach

    Hebraic Approach
    Life analyzed in precise categories.

    Everything blurs into everything else.
    A split between natural & supernatural

    Supernatural affects everything.
    Linear logic

    Contextual or "block" logic
    "Rugged Individualism"

    Importance of being part of group
    Equality of persons

    Value comes from place in hierarchies
    Freedom orientation

    Security orientation
    Competition is good

    Competition is evil (cooperation better)
    Man-centered universe

    God/tribe/family-centered universe
    Worth of person based on money/material possessions/power

    Worth derived from family relationships
    Biological life sacred

    Social life supremely important
    Chance + cause & effect limit what can happen

    God causes everything in his universe
    Man rules nature through understanding and applying laws of science

    God rules everything, so relationship with God determines how things turn out.
    Power over others achieved through business, politics and human organizations.

    Power over others is structured by social patterns ordained by God.
    All that exists is the material

    The universe is filled with powerful spirit beings
    Linear time divided into neat segments. Each event is new.

    Cyclical or spiraling time. Similar events constantly reoccur.
    History is recording facts objectively and chronologically.

    History is an attempt to preserve significant truths in meaningful or memorable ways whether or not details are objective facts.
    Oriented to the near future

    Oriented to lessons of history
    Change is good = progress

    Change is bad = destruction of traditions
    Universe evolved by chance

    Universe created by God
    Universe dominated and controlled by science and technology

    God gave man stewardship over his earthly creation. Accountability to God.
    Material goods = measure of personal achievement

    Material goods = measure of God’s blessing
    Blind faith

    Knowledge-based faith
    Time as points on straight line ("at this point in time…"

    Time determined by content ("In the day that the Lord did…")


    Sources:
    Irrational Man, by William Barrett; Christianity With Power by Charles Kraft; Hebrew Thought Compared With Greek by Thorleif Boman; Judaism and Christianity – The Differences by Trude Weiss-Rosmarin, Our Father Abraham, by Marvin Wilson, God in Search of Man by Abraham Heschel.

    When we bring our Western "scientific" approach to the study of Scripture, without due consideration for the mentality behind it, we may find ourselves producing exegetical distortions. To understand the Hebrew cultures of Biblical times, as did those who lived through those times, is to experience culture shock. Their worldview was very different than ours. Their patterns of thought were often quite distinct from our own. Their values and perceptions were also radically unlike ours. The whole Bible was written in a pre-Scientific age. The Hebrew language itself is quite unlike our own in many respects. Much has been lost in translation.

    When we study Scripture, or when we consider the nature of the early New Testament Messianic community, we must take into account the myriad differences between Hebrew and Greek thought. Intellectually, we are Greeks, not Hebrews. We apply Aristotelian and Socratic thought patterns to practically everything. It is surprisingly difficult to escape these patterns and enter into the Hebraic mindset. We insist on rendering everything into logically consistent patterns, on systematizing it, on organizing it into tight, carefully reasoned theologies. We cannot live with inconsistency or contradiction. We feel compelled to think antithetically. The Godhead must be tightly defined and structured. We cannot live with the Hebraic idea that God is simply ineffable, and that God’s Book doesn’t lend itself to systematization. As Abraham Heschel wrote, "To try to distill the Bible, which is bursting with life, drama, and tension, to a series of principles would be like trying to reduce a living person to a diagram"God in Search of Man by Abraham Heschel, p. 20.

    The Western mind, when seeking to understand Scripture or what it means to be a "Christian," creates its own exegetical and theological dilemmas. ("If God is all-powerful, could he build a rock too heavy for himself to lift?" or "If God is love then why does he allow…?") We relentlessly attempt to organize everything into manageable intellectual blocks and structures. We want all questions answered, all problems solved, and all contradictions resolved.

    In our relentless quest to turn Scripture into a systematized textbook of theological answers about God, we have ended up distorting its meaning time after time. We have turned it into something that it is not.

    We have sought to understand the incomprehensible God in concrete, yet abstract, terms. But, "To the Jewish mind, the understanding of God is not achieved by referring to a Greek way to timeless qualities of Supreme Being, to ideas of goodness and perfection, but rather by sensing the living acts of His concern, to His dynamic attentiveness to man. We speak not of His goodness in general but of His compassion for the individual man in a particular situation" (Heschel, p. 21). In other words, God is not "known" in the abstract, but in the specific situations into which He has asserted Himself. God is what He has revealed Himself to be, not what we have theorized Him to be.

    Heschel points to the reason for Western confusion about God, "The categories within which philosophical reflection about religion has been operating are derived from Athens rather than from Jerusalem" (ibid. p. 25).

    If we are to understand the Bible, and what it means to be a follower of Yeshua ha Mashiach (Jesus the Messiah), then we will have to understand it Hebraically, not Hellenistically. This will require a philosophical and intellectual paradigm shift on our part. It will mean coming at Scripture from an entirely different angle. It will mean learning to think like the Hebrew who thought more like God.

    Heschel also writes, "The Greeks learned in order to comprehend. The Hebrews learned in order to revere. The modern man learns in order to use" (ibid. p. 34). We want a religion of utility. We want techniques we can apply situationally to get into, or out of, some situation. We see much "technique-oriented" Christianity these days. We want techniques for understanding, systematizing and structuring the "prophetic timetable" so that we can know "what’s going to happen next" or so that we can know when to stock food and flee into the mountains to await the Lord’s return. Some people want to know so they can have something to market to other Christians who want to know. These are they who seek to gain from "godliness" or religion (cf. I Timothy 6:5).

    We seek "Christian" techniques for inner healing, outer healing, exorcism, financial prosperity, or for receiving spiritual power. This way of thinking is alien to the Hebrew mind.

    In our culture, we have commercialized everything, including Christianity. We no longer preach the Gospel, heal the sick, cast out demons and make disciples – we market tapes, booklets and trinkets. We make music, not to worship God, but to sell CDs. Evangelists are selected because they "know how to get the dollars in the door" or "attract the crowds" or "get the numbers up." Ministerial power has been commercialized and politicized as much as that of regular politicians. Christian publishing houses publish celebrity Christian books – not because they are well written, or because they say something important – but because they will sell and make money for the company.

    In the days when Jesus’ Kingdom movement was known as the "Sect of the Nazarenes" (Acts 24:5,14), being a "Christian" was about relationship with God and with fellow man (Matthew 22:36-38; John 13:34-35). In the centuries since, we have de-emphasized relationship, and at the same time have intellectualized, politicized and commercialized the "faith once for all delivered." These three deleterious influences have radically changed the nature of the Church. The spirit of anti-Judaism and later anti-Semitism has done much to destroy the original personality of the believing community. This explains why it is so difficult for many to understand either Testament.

    To truly grasp what it means to be a follower of Yeshua, one must return to the Hebrew roots of his movement, and of the documents we now refer to as "The New Testament."
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2018
  2. charmingt

    charmingt Well-Known Member

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    Wow! That's deep!
     
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  3. Laela

    Laela Regality comes naturally

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    **saving my spot **
     
  4. Sharpened

    Sharpened A fleck on His Sword

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    There is a phrase in Isaiah chapters 5 and 9 that gets repeated when he describes the coming judgment: His (Yah's) hand (arm) is outstretched still. Some believe it means God is still trying to reach the Israelites because of Psalm 136:12
    Now, Yah did do that on the behalf of the Israelites, but in Isaiah, it was going against them. What exactly does this mean?

    The Hebrew language is a dynamic one, meaning it is about what is happening rather than what something is. For example, hand is not just a hand, but what is the hand doing and why. An emotion is not what one feels, but what does one do. To love someone is to do right by someone, not what one feels towards that person. The word for anger literally means "nostrils flared."

    Remember when Yah covered Moses with His hand to protect him from being destroyed by Yah's glory (full holiness)? Exodus 33:22
    There are a bunch more, but the idea is that being in Father Yah's hand is a good thing. The opposite of this would be Yah taking His hand away - judgment (correction). Simply put, He lifts His hand (arm) away--the positive side of His authority--and lets what should have happened in the natural over many years, happen in a short amount of time. Remember, the Israelites had a marriage contract with YHWH; blessings and curses were a big part of that agreement.
     
  5. Sharpened

    Sharpened A fleck on His Sword

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    The Philosophy of the Hebrew Language
    By: Jeff A. Benner


    East and West

    [​IMG]
    Ancient philosophers, Plato (left) and Confucius (right)
    Throughout the world there are two major branches of Philosophy, Western and Eastern. Western Philosophy has its beginnings in the sixth century B.C. in Greece with such philosophers as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. Eastern Philosophy has its roots in the ancient past and was the philosophy of all ancient cultures of the Far East (including China and Japan), Middle East (Including India and Babylon) and Near East (including Egypt and Israel).

    Throughout the world, past and present, there are two major divisions of thought or philosophy; Western and Eastern. Eastern philosophy has its roots in the ancient past and was the predominant form of philosophy throughout the ancient world. The beginning of Western philosophy arose in the ancient Greek culture from such philosophers as Plato, Socrates and Aristotle. As the Greek culture spread, so did Western philosophy to the point that Western philosophy has become the predominant philosophy throughout the world.

    The Hebrews of the Bible wrote the Bible from the perspective of Eastern philosophy, but today's readers are interpreting these writings with Western philosophy, the results being misinterpretations and mistranslations of the text. For this reason, it is essential that we learn the philosophy of the Ancient Hebrews in order to better understand the text we are reading.

    The language of the Hebrews is a concrete language, meaning that it uses words that express something that can be seen, touched, smelled, tasted or heard and all five of the senses are used when speaking, hearing, writing and reading the Hebrew language. An example of this can be found in Psalms 1:3; “He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season, and whose leaf does not wither.

    In contrast to the Eastern philosophy of a concrete language, Western philosophy uses an abstract language to express itself. An abstract word is an expression that cannot be seen, touched, smelled, tasted or heard. Examples of Abstract thought can be found in Psalms 103:8; “The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. The words compassion, grace, anger and love are all abstract words, ideas that cannot be experienced by the senses. Why do we find these abstract words in a passage of concrete thinking Hebrews? Actually, these are abstract English words used to translate the original Hebrew concrete words. The translators often translate this way because the original Hebrew makes no sense when literally translated for Western thinkers.


    Concrete and Abstract Thought

    While there are many differences between the Western and Eastern schools of thought, one of the major differences is the use of abstracts and concretes.
    [​IMG]
    Concrete (left) and abstract (right) art
    Just as artwork may be created in the concrete or the abstract, words can also be created in the concrete or the abstract. A concrete word, idea or concept is something that can be perceived by the five senses. It can be seen, heard, smelled, tasted or touched. An abstract is something that cannot be perceived by the five senses.

    As the Bible was written from an Eastern philosophical perspective, it is important that we recognize that we cannot interpret it through our own Western philosophy. To do so, would place a meaning and interpretation that may not be that of the original authors.

    Thorleif Boman's monumental work, Hebrew thought compared with Greek, states; "The thinking of the Old Testament is primitive and hence can be compared only with the thinking of other primitive peoples and not with thinking as advanced as Plato's or Bergson's."

    Victor H. Matthews explains how the culture of the Hebrews can be studied in his book, Manners and Customs of the Bible." One of the joys of studying the Bible is attempting to reconstruct the manners and customs of the peoples of ancient times. The gulf of thousands of years can be bridged, at least in part, by insights into their everyday life. These can be garnered through the close examination of the biblical narratives and through the use of comparative written and physical remains from other ancient civilizations."

    In his books The Hebrew Genius as Exhibited in the Old Testament, George Adam Smith said; "..the Hebrews were mainly a doing and feeling people. Thus their language has few abstract terms. Rather, "Hebrew may be called primarily a language of the senses. The words originally expressed concrete or material things and movements or actions which struck the senses or started the emotions. Only secondarily and in metaphor could they be used to denote abstract or metaphysical ideas."

    These same Concrete concepts of Eastern thought can also be found in Primitive cultures that exist today who have not been influenced by our Modern Western culture. The linguist Dan Everett, presented during his Endangered Languages and Lost Knowledge seminar, his discovery through his research that the primitive Pirahã tribe in the Amazon did not use abstract perspectives, but instead concrete ones. As an example, the Pirahã tribe call themselves the "straight heads" and outsiders are "crooked heads." Interestingly, the Ancient Hebrew language uses this same style of speech. A literal translation of Proverbs 14:2 reads, "One who makes his walk straight will revere Yahweh, but the one who makes his path crooked is worthless."

    Everett also found that they had no concept of "left" and "right" (abstract terms of direction), but instead gave direction in relation to the surrounding topography, as in "toward the river," or "toward the jungle." Again, this is strikingly similar to the Ancient Hebrews' perspectives of direction. Exodus 38:9-13 describes the direction of the court in relationship to the four sides of the Tabernacle. The Hebrew words used for these four directions are;

    • נגב (negev) – meaning "The desert region" (south)
    • צפון] (tzafon) – meaning "The unknown region" (north)
    • ים (yam) – meaning "The Mediterranean Sea" (west)
    • קדם (qedem) – meaning "the region of the rising sun" (east)


    Step Logic vs. Block Logic

    [​IMG]
    While the Modern Western person thinks and arranges events chronologically (Step Logic), the Ancient Hebrews thought and arranged events according to action and purpose (Block Logic). Let me demonstrate with the following paragraph from a western step logic perspective.

    "I got up and ate breakfast and read the newspaper. I then drove to work. While at work I read yesterday's reports. At noon I walked across the street for lunch. While there I read a magazine. Back at work I read my emails. After work I drove home and had dinner."

    Now let me rearrange this paragraph in block form, the way the Hebrews would have conveyed this same story.

    "I drove to work and walked across the street and I drove home. I ate breakfast and I ate lunch and I ate dinner. I read the newspaper and I read the reports and I read a magazine and I read my emails."

    To a person who is steeped in Western step logic, this paragraph would seem illogical as there is no way to make any chronological sense out of this narrative. However, this narrative would make much more sense to a person who is steeped in block logic as they can easily see my actions being grouped together. It is very important when reading the Bible to ignore the philosophy that has been ingrained in you and instead learn a completely new form of philosophy and logic.

    Western readers of the Bible, who are reading the Bible from a linear perspective, read the creation account in Genesis as if it was written in chronological order, but this was not how the narrative was written; the different events of the creation account are recorded in blocks of related events.

    The first three days of creation are related to separation.
    • Day 1 – Separating light from darkness
    • Day 2 – Separating the water from the sky
    • Day 3 – Separating the land from the water
    The next three days of creation are related to the filling of the creation.
    • Day 4 – Filling the light with the sun and the dark with the moon
    • Day 5 – Filling the water fish and the sky with birds
    • Day 6 – Filling the land with animals and man
    The record of events for the first six days of creation, are written in blocks of parallels, a form of Hebrew poetry, and can be written like this;
    1 – Separating light from darkness
    2 – Separating the water from the sky
    3 – Separating the land from the water​
    4 – Filling the light with the sun and the dark with the moon
    5 – Filling up the water with fish and the sky with birds
    6 – Filling up the land with animals​
    Days 1 and 4 are paralleled with each other and are recording the same event as we can see from the following verses:

    And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. (ESV, Genesis 1:4)

    And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night … and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good." (ESV, Genesis 1:14a, 18b)

    Verse 4 occurs on the first day and is describing the action of God separating light and darkness, but in verse 14, which is day four, we have God again separating light and darkness. There are only two possible explanations for this. Either the separation of light and darkness on the first day disappeared and had to be separated again on the fourth day, or the first and fourth days are recording the same event. In addition, days 2 and 5 are recording the same event, as are days 3 and 6.


    Hebrew Descriptions

    [​IMG]
    An oak tree and a ram
    In our minds we would never relate an oak tree to a ram or view them as the same. The reason being is that we relate to features and appearances. However, the Hebrews relate to the function and in the case of the oak and the ram, they function in the same way. An oak tree is a very hard wood and the horns and skull of a ram are equally as hard. For this reason, the Hebrew word איל (ayil) is used for a ram (see Genesis 22:13) and an oak (see Isaiah 1:29).

    This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark three hundred cubits, its breadth fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. (Genesis 6:15)

    From our Modern Western mindset, we assume that this passage is describing the "appearance" of the ark. But this is not so, the dimensions are not given to tell us what it "looked like," but instead to tell us that it is very large as it is going to hold a large number of animals.

    Another example of differing cultural perspectives is how different cultures perceive time. In our modern Western world we view the past as behind us and the future as ahead of us. In Biblical Hebrew, the word for "yesterday" (the past) is [FONT=david, arial]תמול[/FONT] (temol), which comes from the root [FONT=david, arial]מול[/FONT] (mul) meaning "in front." The Biblical Hebrew word for "tomorrow" (the future) is [FONT=david, arial]מחר[/FONT] (mahher), which comes from the root [FONT=david, arial]אחר[/FONT] (ahher) meaning "in back." Therefore, from a Biblical Hebrew perspective, the past is in front and the future is behind. We see time from the perspective of passing through it. As we have walked through the past, we see it as behind us and the future, which we have not yet walked in, is in front of us. The Hebrews saw time from the perspective of observance. The past is known and therefore can be seen (in front of the observer), but the future is not known and therefore cannot be seen (behind the observer).

    Another major difference between the modern Western view and the ancient Eastern one is how something is described. A westerner would describe a pencil in relationship to its appearance, such as long and yellow. An ancient easterner on the other hand, would describe it by its function, such as "you write with it." Notice that the western description uses adjectives, but the eastern description uses verbs. Biblical Hebrew rarely uses adjectives; instead it much more prefers to use verbs.


    Static vs. Dynamic

    In our Modern western language verbs express action (dynamic) while nouns express inanimate (static) objects. In Hebrew all things are in motion (dynamic) including verbs and nouns. In Hebrew sentences the verbs identify the action of an object while nouns identify an object of action. The verb מלך (malak) is "the reign of the king" while the noun מלך (melek) is the "the king who reigns". A mountain top is not a static object but the "head lifting up out of the hill". A good example of action in what appears to be a static passage is the command to "have no other gods before me" (Exodus 20:3). In Hebrew thought this passage is saying "not to bring another one of power in front of my face".


    Hebrew Psychology

    [​IMG]
    Different cultures view the same picture differently
    If you were to ask a Westerner, such as from the Americas or Europe, what they see in the picture above, they would probably say "a deer." However, if you were to ask an Easterner, such as from Japan or China, what they see, they will probably say "a grove." The difference is that the Western thinker focuses in on one point, while the Eastern thinker looks at the whole of the image.
    [​IMG]
    An experiment demonstrating the different between Western and Eastern thought
    In an extensive study on these different forms of philosophy, a wide range of people from America, Canada and Europe were asked if they thought the boy in the middle of the picture on the left was happy or sad, they all said "happy." They were then asked if they thought the boy in the middle of the picture on the right was happy or sad, they all said "happy." Then a wide range of people from Asia, including Japan and China, were asked the same questions. When asked if the boy on the left was happy or sad, they all said "happy." When they were asked if the boy on the right was happy or sad, they all said "sad."

    Again, Western thinkers focus on one point, the boy in the middle. Eastern thinkers on the other hand focus on the picture as a whole and because the majority of the children in the picture on the right were sad, their answer was "sad," regardless of the smile on the boy in the middle.

    The Psychology of the Ancient Hebrews is very different from our own and when we read the Bible we must learn to read it from the Hebrew's perspective rather than our own.

    When we use a word like "name," we focus in on how it is written and pronounced.

    I will tell of thy name to my brethren; in the midst of the congregation I will praise thee. (Psalm 22:23)

    What does it mean to "tell someone about another's name?" Does it mean to tell others how to write or pronounce the name? From a Western perspective yes, but from a Hebraic perspective a name is much more than its pronunciation; it is the character of the individual, his ethics, workmanship, attitude, dependability, resourcefulness, compassion, honor, etc. When the Bible teaches us to "tell others the name of Yahweh," it isn't telling us to teach others how to write or pronounce it correctly; it is telling us to teach Yahweh's character.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2018
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  6. Sharpened

    Sharpened A fleck on His Sword

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    Here is a little excerpt from a catechism I made for my children:

    Q: What is faith (belief)?
    A: Seeking God’s will and doing it; hope in His supernatural will; persistent surrender and obedience

    Q: What does “name” mean?
    A: Authority, power, cause, nature, character

    Q: What is grace?
    A: A covering to give us a chance to obey God; the period of refinement

    Q: What is mercy?
    A: Giving someone a chance to do good even though the person may not deserve it

    Q: What is repentance?
    A: To change your mind, your heart, your attitude towards God’s desire

    Q: What is forgiveness?
    A: Setting aside a wrong done against you

    Q: What is humility (meekness)?
    A: The complete absence of self in all we think, say, or do; caring about His (or another's) opinion
     
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  7. Laela

    Laela Regality comes naturally

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    This is so profound and underlies racism in its purest form, in that in Western culture whites feel that they are always in a good place, regardless of the pain/suffering of others around them (or if minorities were to be questioned, they'd see nothing wrong with the picture on the right!) It's a selfish way of looking at things....really shows how far we are removed from how God wants us to live as His creation.


     
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  8. Laela

    Laela Regality comes naturally

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    How the Church Radically Changed When It Shifted from a Hebraic to a Greco-Roman Culture

    November 28, 2016
    Joseph Mattera
    I have written numerous articles alluding to the fact that culture has changed and continues to change theology, biblical interpretation and the way we do church. I wish I could say that historically church leaders have allowed only the Bible to transform their thinking. But the truth is that we are all products of our cultures! Even when we try to be objective, our objectivity is in the context of our cultural surroundings, thoughts, vocabulary and education.

    There is perhaps no greater example of cultural influence in history than when the church began to relate the gospel through the lens of Greek culture so the kingdom would continue to expand. Thus, not all changes of this nature are bad or unnecessary; some, like the creeds and the systemization of doctrine have been very helpful.

    Most Christians know that Jesus, the original Twelve Apostles and the early church were made up of Jewish believers. But most don’t understand the radical changes that took place after AD 70 when, in the aftermath of the Roman invasion of Jerusalem, the church was scattered and shifted from being a predominately Jewish sect to a Gentile religion.

    The greatest transformation took place when the church began to relate more to the Greco-Roman culture than the Hebrew culture, which was done for the sake of mission and evangelism. This resulted in the early Christians, beginning in the 2nd century, expressing the gospel in Greek thought. But these early Christians also discovered, through Greek philosophical concepts in a deeper and more systematic way, what the gospel and the Bible actually taught. Moreover, it was Greek philosophical concepts rather than Greek religions that had the most impact because the Greek gods were looked at as immoral and the Greek world received its ethics primarily from their philosophers, not their religious priests and religions. Thus, prominent church bishops and apologists copied Greek philosophers rather than their religions in method and argument to make the gospel more appealing to the masses of Greek speaking peoples.

    As a result, concepts related to the cult of the emperor, the military, Greek mystery religions, and Platonic philosophy gradually became common in Christian worship and doctrine. Christianity went from the Hebraic mindset of being a way and a life (John 14:6; Acts 9:2) to being defined by a set of doctrines, systematic theology, and metaphysics.

    The following are some of the radical changes that took place when the church went from a Hebraic to a Greek cultural mindset:

    First, starting in the 2nd century the church became a bearer of culture, reaching the intellectual elite because of the sophistication of apologists like Clement of Alexandria, Origen and others who mimicked Greek philosophers in their presentation of the gospel, which was more than a match for any anti-Christian pagan philosophical presentation and/or concept. Furthermore, after the conversion of Emperor Constantine, only Christians began to be upwardly mobile and cultured; non-Christians were looked down upon as unenlightened and uncultured.

    Also, as the Roman Empire continued to disintegrate, more and more of its citizens looked to the Christian religion to fill in the gaps. This resulted in increased conversions with a subsequent Hellenization (influence of Greek culture) in the church.

    Second, even as Christian apologists scorned pagan religions, they looked with favor upon Greek philosophical systems and concepts. This resulted in a growing tendency to define the faith more precisely and systematize its doctrines like Greek philosophers systematized concepts (e.g. resulting in the creeds of the church).

    Thus, salvation went from the Hebraic understanding of emphasizing a historical event or narrative (e.g. the Exodus of the children of Israel; the death, burial and resurrection of Christ) to salvation through knowledge. The church went from the Hebraic emphasis on experience to the Hellenistic emphasis on enlightenment through the rational understanding of true knowledge. God’s revelation was no longer understood in the context of events, but as the communication of truth regarding the being and nature of God.

    This is best exemplified by comparing Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) with the Nicene Creed. This sermon by Jesus is all about ethics and totally devoid of metaphysical speculation; the Nicene Creed is all about doctrine and says nothing about ethics. Furthermore, later in church history Hellenistic influence resulted in more of an emphasis on truth being communicated through images (plastic arts, visual arts and paintings, and even the icons of the present Eastern Orthodox Church) rather than the Hebrew emphasis on communicating truth through the spoken word (Romans 10:17).

    In summary of this point, the Hebraic original gospel presents the reign or Kingdom of God as an event by which people should believe and repent; the Greek mindset presents the reign of God as rational truth to be believed. In the Hebraic mindset the Kingdom of God is in stark contrast to the present contradictions of the present pagan world and serves as a deposit of what is yet to come in its fullness. The Greek mindset presents the reign of God as a truth to be comprehended as something already fulfilled or complete.

    Thus, in Paul’s understanding Christ ratified rather than fulfilled the Old Testament because the end is still to come (Romans 15:8). But in the Greek mindset all is already fulfilled in the cosmic Christ. Faith in God’s promises yet to be fulfilled was replaced by the already consummated Kingdom of Christ; Christ’s resurrection was a completed event and not viewed as the first fruits of the resurrection of all believers (1 Corinthians 15:20).

    Third, as a result of the first two points, the historical continuity and hermeneutic between the Old and New Testaments was ignored. With the Greek mindset, the historical element of the Old gave way to an allegorical (spiritual, subjective or mystical) interpretation of the Old Testament as a prelude to the New Testament event of Christ.

    Fourth, historical thinking gave way to metaphysical categories. Believers began to espouse a vertical relationship between time and eternity resulting in focusing more on heaven rather than on this age and God’s involvement in history—looking towards eternity more than on a future restored earth.

    Christologically, this resulted in an emphasis on the pre-existent Jesus as the Logos (John 1:1) which spiritualized the Christ event, rather than emphasizing the historical Jesus; the emphasis became Jesus’ origin and identity rather than why He came. Speculation on the nature of the incarnation of Jesus shifted from Him identifying with the plight of humanity to metaphysical discussions on the incarnation regarding whether He had one or two natures.

    Fifth, the Hellenistic (Greek) approach resulted in shifting the gospel’s impact. Instead of eventually transforming the earth realm into a future “new heaven and new earth” (Revelation 21), the Greek approach emphasized the relationship of the individual soul to God in a spiritual context. Thus, the Hebrew concept of salvation (yasha) for this world shifted to the Greek concept of being rescued from material burdens and one’s bodily existence, or salvation from this world. Thus, in the Greek mindset the Christian religion saves people from this earth instead of transforming the earth!

    Hence, involvement in this world increasingly took upon itself the form of charity. Even Holy Communion was looked upon as medicine for immortality in the midst of a corrupt world. Communion became the primary way of connecting believers historically to the event of Christ.

    The emphasis went from God’s involvement in history through the church to merely using earth as a place for individuals to secure rewards for the next life in heaven. The more good deeds an individual performed, the more prayers prayed, the more the individual soul would move towards spiritual perfection and be secured a place in heaven. Many believers even suffered martyrdom so they could escape hell and be rewarded with heaven!

    Sixth, Gnosticism (a Greek philosophical understanding of salvation from the material world through knowledge) made inroads into the church even though, by-and-large, the church withstood the heretical elements of Gnosticism (e.g. the heretical beliefs that Jesus never had a physical body, or that the Old Testament god is an evil materialistic god and the New Testament god is a god of love and spirit). Gnosticism’s over-emphasis on ontological dualism is still alive in the church today: the difference between the temporal and the eternal, the physical and the spiritual, the earthly and the heavenly, the flesh and the spirit, etc.

    Seventh, the church went from a missions movement empowered by the Holy Spirit and led by apostles, prophets and evangelists in the first century to a church in which the Holy Spirit was merely the Spirit of truth, of light, love and life meant to build up and sanctify the church so that ecclesiology (doctrine of the church) became its sole purpose rather than expanding the kingdom and transforming the world. The church became the mystical universal body of Christ that already actualized the kingdom as the spiritual elite of the universe.

    The church became an institution for salvation and Greco-Roman culture. Even when it expanded it did so through church propaganda. For example, those outside the church were uncivilized pagans; evangelization became associated with the spread of civilization and culture. The monks, who practiced ascetic separation from the world, succeeded the martyrs as the heroes of the faith, and were the ones most instrumental in civilizing the barbarians who took over the Roman Empire.

    Eighth, after the Edict of Milan (AD 313) granted religious equality to Christianity, the church’s focus on the heavenly Jerusalem made it possible for the Roman Emperor to have free reign when it came to temporal things. By the time the First Council of Nicaea took place in AD 325 Christ was viewed as a majestic king who granted an audience with His subjects during the liturgy of the church service, done increasingly in majestic cathedrals with Roman architectural designs. This resulted in a compromise of the church in which Christ was to rule in eternity and the emperor was to rule in time.

    Whereas Jewish monotheism (belief in one God) conquered pagan polytheism (belief in a multiplicity of gods), the Roman monarchy (one king to rule the empire) conquered polyarchy (numerous leaders ruling diverse territories). The unity of the faith would depend upon the unity of the Roman Empire. Thus the objectives of the church became the objectives of the empire and vice versa.

    In summary, the church had to go from a Hebraic to a Greco-Roman cultural approach so that it could evangelize the known world and not remain limited within the narrow confines of Jewishness. The Hellenistic approach was especially helpful in allowing the church to reach cultural elites and intellects. This approach also led to utilizing art to preach instead of only the spoken word, and to the ordering of biblical beliefs into systematic theology: doctrines and creeds to protect from heresy without and to bring clarity within.

    As already stated, this also resulted in a Gnostic view of dualism in which spiritual and physical things were separated. Faith became focused more on metaphysical understanding of truth rather than on the historical actions of God, which resulted in abandoning the preaching and hope of an eschatological renewal of this world (Revelation 21:1) for an emphasis on the individual soul escaping the earth and going to heaven, as well as allowing earthly rulers to reign in time while Christ reigned in eternity, causing the church to be passive in regards to reforming culture, challenging political rulers and settling merely for performing acts of charity as its primary act of participation in this world
     
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  9. Sharpened

    Sharpened A fleck on His Sword

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    Jesus said, "Go preach the good message," not "Force your culture upon others." This attitude is plain in the article you posted:

    His idea about the original Israelite mindset being limiting is laughable in the face of systems, institutions, and doctrines (the word is instruction in the Hebrew and Greek, which allows for flexibility or overcoming an sin according to SPIRITUAL growth). Now, a friend of mine would agree with the article, saying God allowed for it to pull white folks into Christendom. Well, if that's true, then the Hebrew one should have been used on the rest of the world.

    I believe blacks were brought into the west to check that Western mindset. According to Arthur Burk, we have an innate understanding of the Holy Spirit. Whites are all about head knowledge and its superiority over everything else.
     
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  10. Laela

    Laela Regality comes naturally

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    ^^^ I'm not surprised you picked up on the summary.. It's typical for a white theologian to white-wash the hostile takeover of the Romans (whites), even while doing so in effort to separate themselves from Roman Catholicism. I, do however, agree with him on this:

     
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  11. Sharpened

    Sharpened A fleck on His Sword

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    I'm starting to think things will come full circle. We will once again experience Father Yah, but on a more personal level and join with others who have had the same. The problem with the current knowledge system is the focus on the abstract without defining what something is through His direct influence, instead of someone else's interpretation. For example, people assume they get the baptism of the Holy Spirit and/or of Fire when they are baptized in water. Scripture indicates you can get it before, during, and long afterwards. A pastor told me the before and afterward ones were "special circumstances." This totally ignores the multifaceted wisdom of God (Ephesians 3:10, Psalm 104:24, Psalm 40:5) in how He operates. I got both the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the one of His Fire on two separate occasions a dozen years apart. I didn't even know what they were when they had happened. Neither happened during water immersion, so no man can boast.

    Look at the focus on the supernatural today. No matter how much logic, reason, and doctrine you throw at it, the concept never goes away. We still need to show Him naturally and supernaturally.

    As I have said before and I will say again: does anyone actually care about what God thinks or feels? Did anyone ask Him?
     
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  12. Laela

    Laela Regality comes naturally

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    I agree about things coming full circle... only God will make that happen .. Psalms 14:7
     
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  13. Sharpened

    Sharpened A fleck on His Sword

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    Mr. Mattera's blog post is excellent, a little pretentious, but also very damming. He tries to narrow the Eastern viewpoint to his interpretation of the Jewish mindset while extolling the virtues of the Hellenistic one, very clever. The problem is that to take Scripture literally means to see it from an Eastern standpoint. He admits Greco-Roman philosophy is a departure from what the Bible actually states and calls it a filter for Scriptural analysis. That's a load of donkey dung.

    Now the question is why did Father Yah allow it? He states that the Way had to be wrest from the limitations of Judaism (which is false because the followers of the Way were renegades empowered by the Holy Spirit) to make it more appealing to the intellectuals and wealthy elites, who helped spread it around the world. I believe it was to convince white Europeans to adopt Christianity in order to protect and spread the Bible itself to all of humanity. That job is completed for the most part.

    The next step is already happening. Along with the Bible mission I had mentioned, we also have the ancient texts, while not perfect, allow for anyone with the means and the desire for raw, unfiltered truth to receive it. Mr. Mattera wrote the post in response to the flurry of blog posts during 2014-2015 questioning the Western mindset. Yes, Yah did lead him to post the rebuttal, but not for the reason he thinks. He actually gave some clarity as to why a follower of Yah outside of the church system is frustrated by the system itself.
     
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  14. Laela

    Laela Regality comes naturally

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    ITA...the Gentiles.. It seems the truth these days is so rare, it would seem so strange to hear. .. This is the kind of thought that ruffles the feathers of "old-time" religious black Christian folk.

    [​IMG]

     
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  15. Sharpened

    Sharpened A fleck on His Sword

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    @Laela that picture, LOL! Who else but the daredevils of the human race to spread the Bible? Maybe one day, I'll do a post about the redemptive gifts of race and ethnic groups. Arthur Burk has already covered that topic.

    Now, I do agree with being able to discuss things as apposed to simply following a rabbi's teaching. The only metaphysical idea I agree with is everything coming from Yah; therefore, everything is connected to Him. On the supernatural tip, we are to have our own experiential history (testimonies or glory stories) with Him and ask Him for His opinion on stuff. My #1 prayer is "Lord, guide my steps." Also, the treatment of women has vastly improved. People don't realize Jewish women did have some power, more than the regular goyim did.

    Now, If things come full circle, what will it look like? I doubt it would be purely Eastern, maybe a mixture of the two. The Father could spin us into another direction altogether.
     
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  16. Sharpened

    Sharpened A fleck on His Sword

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  17. Sarabellam

    Sarabellam Well-Known Member

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    I agree with the summary of the author’s point however I believe that his arguments conflates the popular modern take of the “point of religion” vs the foundations of our religion which were co-signed by Jesus with this East vs West topic.

    I bring up this point because the Jewish people, culture , and religion are still alive today and they face their own version of the problems stated in this blog post as well.

    We could argue that the West brought about these changes first but that takes the focus away from the “what” and places it on the “who”. If you want to actually fix the problem you need to address the “what”, which is using religion primarily as a means of obtaining secular benefits. It doesn’t matter it the West did it first because the devil will try to use everyone he can to lead astray the followers of Christ.
     

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