Showing posts with label Ephesians. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ephesians. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Giver of the Torah (Part 3)

“Blessed are You, Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, who has chosen us from all peoples and given us Your Torah. Blessed are You, Giver of the Torah.” 
(blessing recited before studying/reading Torah, from the liturgy)

Do Christians and Muslims believe that God gave the Torah to the Jewish people? If so, do Muslims include this appellation among the 99 names of God? [follow links to read Tziporah's original post & Yasmina's response]

Tziporah, I love  your struggle with sacred text, and appreciate your sensitivity both to what could be an alienating and boundary-drawing text and also to what is so clearly for you a cherished and essential part of your theology and  liturgical practice as a Jew.  These simultaneously “comforting and uncomfortable” texts, as we have seen, appear in all our faith traditions.  The mischievous part of me wants to respond to the question of whether I believe the Jewish people are God’s chosen “from all peoples” to receive Torah/God’s Truth with “Oh, my goodness, no! We Christians are!”

In serious response, however, I do think devout adherents to each of our faiths inevitably have to wrestle with the question of “Can I be thoroughly, purely Jewish/Christian/Muslim and still recognize and affirm the legitimacy of the other?” When this text is understood in the light of God’s goodness, grace and generosity, without the overlay of an assumption that God is partial to a select cultural or religious group, I can affirm the “yes” to your question, Tziporah, and also affirm, without uneasiness, your recitation of this blessing in your liturgy. At the same time, I am grateful that you can do so without extrapolating from this text that I, as a Christian or Yasmina, a Muslim, must somehow then reside outside of and apart from God’s “chosen.”  Indeed, I believe that I am chosen—and that, in fact, God chooses each and all of us to know “how wide and long and high and deep…is the [knowledge-transcending] love of God.” (Ephesians 3:18-19) It delights me that we can each view our “specialness” in the wide embrace of a God who sees all of us as beloved children to whom God seeks to impart every good gift.

Grace's response marks our final "new post" before summer hiatus. We will re-post some of our earlier conversations throughout the summer, and we hope that you will share your thoughts and comments. If you have a reflection on a sacred text that you would like to submit, send it in the body of your email to

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Mercy (continued)

Dear Readers,
Please add your comments to Grace’s response below. We hope this new format of posting
each writer’s response separately will enable you to join our conversation more easily. My response will appear next Wednesday. Until then, we look forward to hearing from you, Tziporah

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” (The Gospel of Matthew 5:7)

I am grateful, Yasmina, for your words about the Prophet Mohammed, for I agree that misconceptions about him, his teachings, and his followers can only lead to fears and misgivings that create barriers where bridges are needed. Mohammed’s teachings about women will surely surprise many Christians, including some who fail to see that even the Apostle Paul (who is commonly viewed as misogynistic) admonished husbands to “love your wives as Christ loved the Church and gave himself for her.” (Ephesians 5:25) The concept of mercy lies, too, at the very heart of Christian teaching. For example, in the beloved Parable of the Good Samaritan, one’s neighbor is defined as “the one who showed mercy.” (The Gospel of Luke 10:37) Similarly, this biblical verse virtually mirrors the Hadith you cite: “There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others.” (James 2:13a) Our three religious traditions are different from one another in particularity. Yet, whether it is through Moses, Jesus, or Mohammed that our gaze is directed to God, we come to discover a universal truth that love of God and the manifestation of God’s love for us is not complete until we can express that love for one another, for all people everywhere, and, as Mohammed emphasized, for all of God’s creation.