It’s always interesting to hear a differing point of view. What is even more fascinating than hearing those views, is hearing “why” someone believes as they do and they use documentation to support it. Sadly, we all know that some documentation such as “scripture,” can be used as support for differing view points. How does one decide which point of view to believe once presented with the facts of each if the documentation presented supports both points of view? I do not have the answer to that. However, I do realize that understanding opposing views can be beneficial in helping us to treat others the way we would wish to be treated. Changing “perspective” changes behavior and attitude.
One of the things that I have found difficult to do is to extract completely that mindset or belief system that was instilled in me after more than 18 years in an Independent Fundamental Baptist Cult. Although I have “de-progammed” myself, I have not completely “reprogrammed” myself. There are times that I find myself falling back into the same thought processes and, usually, these thought processes bring fear; ultimately, this fear causes much worry. In order to undo this pattern, it means that I have to reprogram myself by changing my thinking “on purpose”; refusing to give time and effort to the old way of thinking. Is this easy? No. Can it be done? I believe so.
Deprogramming requires replacing the “old” with the “new”. Doing away with all the rituals and habits that became routines in your life and changing them. Incorporating new knowledge, through books, magazines and seminars, can help in the deprogramming process; and of course, a good counselor makes a difference too.
All of this said, I came across a “different perspective” that I wanted to share from the book, Biblical Literacy, by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin. Although, I understand his perspective, what’s refreshing is that he also understands the “Christian” perspective. Throughout Telushkin’s books, he makes it quite clear that he has taken the time and effort to “understand” the way Christians believe. When I think about this, it makes me wonder how often I did the same with those that opposed my views. Truthfully, I didn’t. No one had ever set an example of this to me! Therefore, I never witnessed it before to learn to do it. Telushkin, through his many books, has shown me that it’s okay to learn about others and their beliefs while keeping to mine. By doing so, it affects my “perspective” which affects my “behavior” and causes me to treat others with more grace, respect and love.
Here’s the story with a different perspective from the book, Biblical Literacy:
“For fundamentalist Protestants, and for many other Christians as well (particularly in the past), what endows the Hebrew Bible with particular significance is its presumed prophecies about the coming of Jesus. For them, the Book of Isaiah is deemed particularly important, since it is credited with two of the most significant such prophecies. Christian translators have generally rendered Isaiah 7:14–a prophecy that Isaiah makes to King Ahaz (circa 785 B.C.E.)–as follows: “Therefore, the Lord Himself shall give you a sign: behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Hebrew for “God is with us”; Matthew 1:22-23 similarly translates this verse from Isaiah as “a virgin…).
For several reasons, Jews have never understood this passage as meaning what fundamentalist Christians claim it does. First, and most important, almah, which Christians have usually translated as “virgin,” actually means “young woman.” The Hebrew word for virgin is betulah. While a young woman may also be a virgin, if Isaiah intended to prophesy the miracle of a virgin giving birth, would he not, if for no other reason than to avoid ambiguity, have used the word betulah, since it has no other meaning other than virgin?
Second, the prophecy’s context makes it clear that God was sending a sign to King Ahaz, and was not speaking of a a child who would be born more than seven centuries later (would you be convinced by a prophetic sign given in 2005 C.E. that would be fulfilled in 2705?). Thus, Isaiah tells Ahaz that “the young woman,” not “a young woman,” shall conceive, thus implying that he is alluding to a young woman known to the king. Probably, Isaiah is referring to Ahaz’s young bride, the queen, and to a son who will be granted the couple as a kind of replacement for the little princes Ahaz had earlier sacrificed (II Chronicles 28:3). While one is free to question the justice of giving an infant to a man guilty of such horrific child abuse, Hezekiah, the child who shortly thereafter is born to the queen, is, unlike his father, loyal to the traditions of David.” — Biblical Literacy
When I read this different perspective, it made sense. Logically speaking, that is. All my life, I have heard people question “why” Jews cannot see the prophecy about Christ in Isaiah. Well, one reason could be because they aren’t reading English. They are reading Hebrew. Secondly, they are, by all accounts, looking logically at a prophecy given to the King that would be fulfilled at that time, not centuries later.
Perspective – It is definitely interesting to learn others’ views and perspectives. Does knowing this different perspective change mine, somewhat? Yes, absolutely! It makes me realize that I have a lot to learn and that I cannot be “dogmatic” about this issue and force “my way” on others. Does it have to change my perspective? No. I don’t have to let it; but that would be very closed minded of me. A closed mind can show others that we have arrogance and pride, not humility. Broadening our perspectives and genuinely understanding others’ points of view not only leads to treating others with more respect and grace, it leads to peace and unity. There are many people in the world that will refuse to even consider another “perspective” when it comes to “beliefs”. Mainly, this is because religious institutions all want total control over the masses with their “right way”. Those of us “indoctrinated” by these institutions into their “way” or “belief,” are usually not open to differing views. Obviously, when we look at all the thousands of religions out there, we must realize that we may not have what we think we have; or, our institution may have warped the truth just a bit to make it conform to “their way” of thinking or belief. If thousands are using the same verses to support their beliefs, how do we know which is the right one? Again, I do not know. But I will continue to expand my knowledge; which expands understanding; which brings about changes in me. God will do the rest. He can do in me, what I cannot do.
These are just my thoughts out loud to help others to sincerely consider their “perspectives”. Perspectives change as knowledge expands; doctrines and dogmas do not necessarily do that.