Thursday, January 5, 2017

Religious Relativism

Rabbi Dr. Jonathan Sacks is one of the most popular figures in the Modern Orthodox world. He is much sought out for his lectures, articles and books - and rightfully so. He is engaging, funny, insighful, charismatic, passionate, nice looking and well dressed, highly articulate, very knowledgable etc. etc.

This covers up some very serious problems with his "radical" [as he calls it] theology. We have been discussing recently how critical it is to have the correct beliefs and how dangerous other beliefs are and since he is so influential I wanted to examine a few of his statements.    

Rabbi Sacks' book, The Dignity of Difference, states that "God has spoken to mankind in many languages: through Judaism to Jews, Christianity to Christians, Islam to Muslims."

My question is - Where does it say this ANYWHERE in Jewish literature?? Where do we find that Christianity and Islam have validity and that G-d speaks through them? Christianity is idolatry [at least for Jews and likely for Christians as well] and filled with evil. 

Islam? - Anyone can go on youtube [for shmiras einayim purposes - better not to] and see what their Sheikhs are saying. I don't know anything about Islam but I will take them at their word when they say that Allah [not to be confused with "Ally"] commands them to kill all of the infidels [i.e. every non-muslim]. 

G-d is speaking through them? And through polytheistic religions?? Please. 

"In heaven there is truth; on earth there are truths," Rabbi Sacks writes. "God is greater than religion; He is only partially comprehended by any faith."

In my Pirkei Avos it says "הפוך בה והפוך בה דכולה בה" - All spiritual truth is in the Torah. Does R' Sacks believe that in yeshivos other religions should be studied in order to fully grasp the word of G-d??

The book also posits that "no one creed has a monopoly on spiritual truth; no one civilization encompasses all the spiritual, ethical and artistic expressions of mankind."

Rav Kook writes that in every faith there is a SEED of truth. That means that it is mostly false and misguided at best, evil and insidous at worst, and our job is to try to extract the spark of light from within all of the evil. This would seem to be referring to the deep Kabbalstic idea of בירורים. 

"יודעת היא כי בכל יש ניצוץ אור, הניצוץ האלוהי הפנימי זורח בכל אחת מהאמונות השונות... לכן תחת לדחות את כל תוכן הארג המחשבי, שהניצוצות הקטנים של הטוב מתחילים להתנוצץ ממנו, ושהם בעצמם מצודדים נפשות ללכת אל עמקי התהום... עלינו להרבות את האור המקורי... לבאר איך כל ניצוץ טוב המתגלה בעולם אחר הרי הוא נובע ממקורו ומתחבר אליו בחיבור טבעי... ולא ילכו לרעות בשדה אחר גם את אותו המרעה אשר החלו לחשוב שאך שם הוא מקומו."

[אורות עמ' קל"א]

That is very different from the religious relativism of R' Sacks - "Hey, you're ok and we're ok. Let's get along."

Chas vi-shalom. The Torah is very clear about the importance of not fudging the barriers between truth and falsehood, evil and good [eg. - ראה נתתי לפניך החיים והטוב המוות והרע ובחרת בחיים].

Some of R' Sacks' statements are very misleading and thus dangerous giving the theological minefield he traverses.