I’ve been asked a dozen or more times but today, again, I contemplated the solid nature of my ‘reason’.
In a few days I’ll be in Israel, the center of world. It’s a physical place, not some annex of spirituality or celestial kingdom. It’s a full on rock, earth and water place. It’s the ‘whole’, the ‘sum’ of a promise made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It’s not a trick of the light, a reward in heaven or karma comeback.
Christianity taught me that if I was good, i.e., believed in Jesus, I’d be rewarded. In fact that whole premise is ‘believe’ and get to Heaven or ‘don’t’ and go to Hell. I responded to this command like some dog who was tricked into thinking the ball had been thrown, when there is no ball. Things have changed now and over the last 4 years I’ve re-evaluated my position, my belief, my faith and the tool set I use when examining religion, it’s component parts and what role they play in my relationship with God.
Israel isn’t some mythical prize waiting to be won by ‘faith’. It’s certainly not my prize.. or reward.. it might be some day, but not yet.
How many years did I spend accepting a text that leaves any avid student void of solid rock. The Christians ‘New’ (the very word itself slaps the Tanakh in the face) ‘Testament’ offers no author, no starting foundation, no physical evidence and no lasting blood line or legacy. It’s a cloud, it looks like whatever the viewer wants it to look like, it can’t be harnessed, touched.. anchored.
‘Ok, so you don’t believe in the New Testament.. But what makes you think the Tanakh is true?’
Such a loaded question and one that is usually asked with the spring-loaded ‘Hah! Got you response.’
The issue with that question is that so many factors aren’t held to account. Context, interpretation, history etc are all valuable and need to be given consideration.
What makes me think the Tanakh is true.. it’s a fair question. Nothing about the Tanakh makes me think ‘it’ is true. It’s such a vast universe of information and to be utterly honest, if I approach it with naive eyes then I have to admit, it can’t be true. Why? Because we dive in the deep end. Hyper literal. The Tanakh is full of analogy, history, poetry, lyrics, lessons, warnings, metaphor.. and it can’t be read in a hyper-literal manner. If a person approached the text that way, then the Tanakh can’t make anyone think it is true. That said, it IS true. All of it.
Better I think, rather than saying ‘what makes to believe the Tanakh is true’, try, ‘what makes you trust the Tanakh is true’.
Of course, for anyone who loves the Tanakh this is a question that could call for endless answers but I’ll try to nail a short response.
How do I reply?
Thanks you for asking, I guess I’ll have to respond with this. The Tanakh doesn’t make me believe anything. The Tanakh, at it’s core, is a book and no one should accept the words on a page without testing them in the real world. Reason and argument. These are the tools that forge belief. Why do I place my faith in a book that was started some 3500+ years ago? Again, I don’t place my faith in the book. I place my faith in a divine power. A great designer. A larger construct that our perception allows. A decision like that comes through personal experience and quests, exploration and revelation. Did you know that the moon is SO perfectly sized and placed that it’s shadow exactly covers the earth.. and the earth exactly covers the moon? If the moon was any closer, the tides would flood.. any further away and we wouldn’t have tides at all, any bigger and the night would be too long.. and any smaller and it would be too short. All of these things play and played a part in the story of our life on this planet. Just one, tiny, example of why I can’t accept the ‘cosmic accident’ argument. Having decided on the ‘physical’ (in the sense of existence) of some ‘greater’ being, the identity parade of ‘who’ that might be started.
The Bible was the only book, the only container that gave me a fulfilling answer and explanation to the questions I had about life, the universe and everything. The ‘belief’ I had and what I needed was the stuffing to flesh out the story behind it. I trust the Tanakh. I don’t accept the ‘whole’ as history. I don’t accept the ‘whole’ as fact. I do accept the ‘whole’ as true, each part in its own way.
Why? Where is your proof?
In short. The Jews are my proof. The Tanakh, while giving us a template outlining how to live a good life, is the origin story of the Jewish people. I’ll often ask the asker, ‘where did the Jews comes from?’ and more often than not I’ll get one of two answers, 1) They are the descendants of Judah (close.. but no banana) 2) They are the descendants of Jacob, rescued by the God of Abraham from Egypt. There is never a third option. There is no third option.
The Jewish people are the living and breathing watermark of not only a collection of writings but also the promise of the King of the Universe given to a family that lived so many years ago it hurts my head to think about it. The Tanakh tells that story. It offers the script and the Jewish nation offer me the movie, in 4K and 3D.
Just like the land of Milk and Honey, the Jewish people are real, they are flesh and blood, tangible and here. The Tanakh is more than book, a book is just words on a series of pages, the Tanakh is a handbook of ‘answers’ to questions that we, as people, have about ‘how’ to live this life. I trust that the answers given are ‘true’ because I trust that the giver of those answers is ‘true’.
It strikes me as odd that originally I accepted the NT because I was told I needed Jesus. I was told to accept the conclusion and then I was sold the problem.
My faith now is so different.. so much more simple. I don’t have a conclusion to swallow. I have a life to live. I try to do a good job. I’m not forced to do believe. The Tanakh doesn’t tell me what to believe, it tells me what to do if I do. It’s about physical. It’s about here and now. It’s about life. ‘Real’ life.