Fred Coulter’s Passover (If)

Draft If

Passover BloodThis is a Critique of Fred Coulter’s The Christian Passover. And to honour Fred’s unique style of writing and analysis, I’ll title each posting as Fred Coulter’s Passover. Opinions, regardless of how strongly we feel about them, he says, doesn’t count. God’s concept may not match man’s concept. Scripture must be our standard and guide. And sometimes the Scriptures say things very different from what we think! Amen.

Chapters 10 – 11

The chapter started with the issue of whether the Passover ordinances were seven or eight days, and whether the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were originally observed as two separate and distinct feasts.

For proof of an original two separable units of Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread, Fred quoted from the Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible: “the feast contains two originally separate components.”(Vol. III, s. v. “Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread.”

Also he quoted from the Encyclopedia Judaica: “The Feast of Passover consists of two parts: The Passover ceremony and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Originally both parts existed separately, but at the beginning of the Exile [in Babylon 603-585 BC] they were combined.

And another:

In his book The Jewish Festivals—From Their Beginnings to Our Own Day, Hayyim Schauss explains the changes in the observance of the Passover that were instituted at the time of Josiah’s reform: “It was in this way that Pesach [Passover] and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were joined, and the two distinct spring festivals became one historical holiday.

No, Schauss didn’t say the amalgamation of Passover with Days of Unleavened Bread took place during Josiah’s time. It gave a wrong impression that the changes only started at Josiah’s initiative. Schauss says the reform took place after the Exodus but he issued a caveat, “We cannot be certain how long a time passed before the Jews accepted these reforms in practice and eased to offer the Pecach sacrifice in their own homes. Nor can we be certain how long it took for Pesach and the Feast of Unleavened Bread to become as one festival” (pg 44-46).

This is an obvious misrepresentation, on the edge of giving a false testimony, “Thou shalt not bear false witness” Exodus 20:6. It’s also what God hates, “a lying tongue,” and a “a false witness” (Proverbs 6:17-19). In modern terms, this is perjury.

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While reiterating the story of Israel in Chapter 11 of his book from the time of Joshua, the judges and then Samuel, King David and Solomon, and so on, Fred Coulter seems to avoid one critical sin of King Jeroboam. Jeroboam not only moved the Feast of Tabernacles to the eight month, he also set up Bethel and Dan as houses of worship.

“Then the king [Jeroboam, now king of the northern ten tribes of Israel] took counsel, and made two calves of gold and said to them, ‘It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Behold your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’ And he set the one in Bethel, and he put the other in Dan. And this thing became a sin, for the people went to worship before the one, even to Dan. And he made houses of worship on the high places [pagan temples to Baal], and made priests of the lowest of the people, who were not the sons of Levi. And Jeroboam ordered a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like the feast that is in Judah. And he offered upon the altar. So he did in Bethel [meaning “house of God”], sacrificing to the calves that he had made. And he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made.

“And he offered unto the altar which he had made in Bethel on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, in the month which he had devised out of his own heart. And he ordained a feast for the children of Israel. And he offered upon the altar and burned incense” (I Kings 12:28-33).

Image result for Passover doorpostsBut why didn’t Fred Coulter bold the emphasis of Jerusalem as God’s designated holy place to keep the Feast? Or has he deemed it wasn’t a sin? That Jeroboam’s sin were only moving the Feast from the seventh to the eight month and worshipping the two golden calves?

Notice he also didn’t bold the other cities—Bethel and Dan—neither cities authorised by God as a place of worship. This run parallel with his thought that the Israelites were wrong to keep the Passover in Jerusalem, that they should keep a “domestic” Passover—for it is too hard to keep the Feast in Jerusalem!

Later the Samaritans came along and said Mount Gerizim is the holy place to worship. But Jerusalem is a very important city to God, one close to His heart:

And many nations shall come and say, “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob. And He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths.” For the law shall go forth from Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. Micah 4:2

“Thus saith the Lord: ‘I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem; and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth, and the mountain of the Lord of hosts, the Holy Mountain.’ Zechariah 8:3

Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more; and I will write upon him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, which is New Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from My God, and I will write upon him My new name. Revelation 3:12

And I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of Heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. Revelation 21:2

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In a previous post, we went through Conservative Judaism, a spinoff of Reform Judaism. Here, we’ll dive deeper into how the Movement started.

Image result for Rabbi Abraham Geiger The origins of Reform Judaism lay in 19th-century Germany, where its early principles were formulated by Rabbi Abraham Geiger (1810-1874) and his associates (Samuel Holdheim, Israel Jacobson and Leopold Zunz). Since the 1970s, the Movement adopted a policy of inclusiveness and acceptance, inviting as many as possible to partake in its communities, rather than strict theoretical clarity.

The Movement is in “a process of constant evolution” and it “rejects any fixed, permanent set of beliefs, laws or practices.” They stated that the old mechanisms of religious interpretation were obsolete. Geiger sought a more coherent ideological framework to justify innovations in the liturgy and religious practice. While Reform Judaism initially developed as lay Jews simply lost interest in the strict observances required of Orthodoxy, with many seeking shorter services, more frequent sermons, and organ music, modeled after Protestant churches. In Germany, one characteristic of their progressive revelation was the institution of a “Second Sabbath” on Sunday, modeled on the Second Passover, as most people desecrated the day of rest. “If you cannot keep the Sabbath on its appointed time, you keep it on the next available day,” and so the Sabbath was shifted from Saturday to Sunday. “God would accept it,” they encouraged each other.

Discrimination against Jews in Germany were rampant for the next hundred years. Work were hard to come by and such new interpretation made sense in a community struggling to survive. America was opening up to immigrants and in a new America, the five-day workweek soon made the Sunday Sabbath redundant. But nevertheless, the Movement had already has its momentum and today the Reform Movement’s largest center is in North America.

Reform Judaism encourage adherents to seek their own means (not the Torah) of engaging Judaism, enhancing “individualism.” Tolerance for LGBT and ordination of LGBT rabbis were also pioneered by the Movement. Intercourse between consenting adults was declared as legitimate by the Central Conference of American Rabbis in 1977, and openly gay clergy were admitted by the end of the 1980s. Same-sex marriage were sanctioned by the end of the following decade. In 2015 the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) adopted a Resolution on the Rights of Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming People, urging clergy and synagogue attendants to actively promote tolerance and inclusion of such individuals.

From a Reform Judaism website, it says:

(1) Reform Jews are committed to the absolute equality of women in all areas of Jewish life. We were the first movement to ordain women rabbis, invest women cantors, and elect women presidents of our synagogues.

(2) Reform Jews are also committed to the full participation of gays and lesbians in synagogue life as well as society at large.

As of 2013, the Pew Research Center survey calculated Reform Judaism represented about 35% of all 5.3 million Jews in the US, making it the single most numerous Jewish religious group in the country. Based on these, the URJ claims to represent 2.2 million people. It has 846 congregations in the US and 27 in Canada, the vast majority of the 1,170 affiliated with the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) that are not Reconstructionist. Its rabbinical arm is the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), with some 2,300 rabbis as members, mainly trained in Hebrew Union College. As of 2015, the URJ was led by President Rabbi Richard Jacobs, and the CCAR headed by Rabbi Denise Eger.

The Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), founded in 1889 by Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise, is the principal organization of Reform rabbis in the United States and Canada. Today, the CCAR is the largest and oldest rabbinical organization in the world. Its current president, and its first openly gay president, is Rabbi Denise Eger.

Image result for Denise Eger In 2015, Denise Eger became the first openly gay president of the CCAR. The Reform Movement acknowledged that Jews and their rabbis “have long been part of the struggle for gay rights, and that includes advocacy for marriage equality.”

Rabbi Denise Eger was also the founding President of the Lesbian, Gay, & Bisexual Interfaith Clergy Association. In the summer of 2010 she was named one of the fifty most influential women rabbis.

Other Reform rabbis have other objectives in the new Land of the Free. In 1888, the Jewish Publication Society (JPS), originally known as the Jewish Publication Society of America (JPSA), was founded by reform Rabbi Joseph Krauskopf among others in Philadelphia. It claimed to be the oldest nonprofit, nondenominational publisher of Jewish works in English. As the years rolled on, JPS became the well known for its English translation of the Hebrew Bible, the JPS Tanakh. As JPS moved into the 20th (and 21st century), its popularity grew rapidly. After years of meetings, deliberations and revisions, the entire translation of the Bible was finally completed in 1917.

In 1985, the newly translated three parts of the Bible (the Torah, Prophets, and Writings) were compiled into what is now known as the JPS Tanakh (or NJPS, New JPS translation, to distinguish it from the OJPS, or Old JPS translation of 1917). Hence the Jewish Publication Society (JPS) is credited as both Publisher of the TANAKH 1917 and 1985 editions.

The JPS followed a central tenet, to adopt “a policy of inclusiveness and acceptance, inviting as many as possible to partake in its communities, rather than strict theoretical clarity.” It is strongly identified with progressive political and social agendas, mainly under the traditional Jewish rubric Tikkun Olam, or “Repairing of the World”. In their endeavour to avoid the “bondage of Judaism,” a new policy of inclusiveness and acceptance was established. And a new Tikkun Olam became a central motto of Reform Judaism—to “express wholeheartedly the idea of universal equality, freedom, and peace for all,” and to “forge a common bond in true harmony to banish all hatred and bigotry.”

Exodus 12:6 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year; ye shall take it from the sheep, or from the goats; 6 and ye shall keep it unto the fourteenth day of the same month; and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at dusk.

The 1988 edition (hard copy) says “at twilight,” published by the New JPS Translation. And as a result it has overwhelming influence in every major English translation:
NKJV: Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight. The NAS, NIV, NKJV and NRSV all render this as “twilight”. “The Message Bible”, produced by Eugene Peterson in 2002, translates this as “dusk” like the JPS.

After discussing the meaning of Exodus 12:6, Frank Nelte concluded: “The JPS translation of “between the two evenings” is AN ACKNOWLEDGMENT that dusk is bounded by “the two evenings,” wrote Frank W. Nelte of South Africa, an ex-WCG minister. “Now “dusk” is NEVER before sunset. Dusk is ALWAYS AFTER SUNSET!”

And John W. Ritenbaugh wrote: “Ba erev means sunset. It is very specific. It includes no time before sunset. It is a period that begins whenever the edge of the sun hits the edge of the horizon. If you stood and watched how long ba erev takes, it takes about three to five minutes of time. It is very specific” (Passover, Part 3).

As of this writing, a new “gender-sensitive version of the Jewish Publication Society (JPS) translation” is on promotion in their endeavour to adapt to the needs of the day to survive. It’s a “largely gender-neutral God language” and a completely fresh translation of the Torah. This text will prove exceedingly useful not only for clergy and synagogue professionals, but also for anyone interested in Jewish learning, so they claimed.

The next challenge for Fred R. Coulter, Frank W. Nelte and John W. Ritenbaugh is to continue cutting off from the “bondage of Judaism” to attain their next level of spirituality.

~ by Joel Huan on July 12, 2019.

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