“Changed Lives” – A Letter from Jim

Dear …

I understand that your life may have changed in remarkable ways since you came to believe in Jesus. But I am not sure why you think this amounts to proof of anything. Many people put their faith in untrue systems and have big changes in their life. Many Mormons, for example, find that their lives are much improved by their newfound religious faith. Also, like Christians, they believe that a personal experience has verified for them the verity of their faith—they appeal to burning in the bosom.

And of course this is not limited to Mormons. Muslims have big life changes. So do Hindus and Buddhists. Even New Agers can have significant life improvements through their faith in the power of crystals, body energies, and other forces of the imagination.

I hardly think you hold them all to be true, because of the improvements in their lives.

So how does this happen? How do all of these people change their lives through the power of belief? I argue that what happens is a placebo effect, which is one reason the same faith will “work” for one and not for another. It is not that they are equally credible; they cannot all be true with their conflicting claims. Rather, like a sugar pill which alleviates pain because of a person’s certitude that he is taking a pain reliever, one, who previously felt himself helpless before his appetites, when he believes he has found spiritual help, is often able to overcome his appetites and change his life for the better.

An interesting documentary, called Kumare’, illustrates this point. The filmmaker wanted to show that religion is a sham, and that people are able to improve their own lives. He posed as a guru, growing his hair and beard, adopting an accent, and teaching yoga. People believed that he was a “holy man” and began to come to him for spiritual enlightenment. They hoped he could help them improve their lives. He taught them a meditation techniques where they passed a blue energy from one to the other, an object of the imagination that he invented. And, they believed that they actually were passing along this blue energy. And he told them they had the power to change.

As time went on, he got a core following. They really believed in him. They believed his spiritual teachings brought them enlightenment and changed their lives. But it was all made up. The point was that they had the power to change themselves the entire time. When he finally revealed the truth to them, a few were angry and left. Most were fascinated. But the point is, he invented a “spirituality” that seemed to improve one’s life. However, it was not true. The blue light was a fiction. They only imagined this spiritual energy.

But it appeared to be real to them. They were searching for something and they found it. Unfortunately, they were not searching for truth; so they did not find that. And the enlightenment they found turned out to be a product of their fruitful imaginations. They had attached themselves to fantasy.

Torah does not bring one to fantasy. It empowers the person through expectation, not through imagination. HaShem tells Cain that he can overcome sin. He does not need special intervention to live a good life. The Torah also commands the Jewish people to circumcise their hearts. I believe this means that one should bring his desires in line with the correct path. He should not fantasize about things that are inappropriate and degrading to the human being. He should not wish that he could violate the Torah. He must constantly bring his desires in line with the Torah, with the teachings of His Creator and Master.

Unfortunately, people sometimes feel powerless before their own desires. They desire a shortcut to happiness and personal improvement. They desire to be rescued from themselves. And when this happens, they are more easily influenced to embrace false religions. And, when they feel that the religion has given them the easy answer they desire, they become convinced of its verity. However, they are mistaken. They have not submitted themselves to Truth.

Christianity, in its many guises, has relieved man of personal responsibility. It has denied the value of man, that he can choose the good and refuse the evil. Torah tells us that the Law is not too hard to keep. And if we falter, it beckons us to return to God and His Torah.

Christianity offers an excuse to the sinner. It lies to him, convincing him that he could never have kept the Torah. It enforces his feeling of powerlessness, and tells him that it is all right. Someone has taken care of things for him. To this individual, he feels indebted and devotes himself to him. But this error is tremendous. The Torah was never beyond his reach, and the excuse offered to him by the followers of Jesus only convinces him of the futility of following God.

It is no proof of religious truth that it has changed your life. Many lives have been changed by religions you hold to be false. You do not hold them all equally true. The Truth will not be found by abandoning oneself to a sense of hopelessness or the search for easy answers. The Truth requires investigation and thought. Your life may very well be better, and I am glad for you that it is. But that does not make Christianity true, any more than Mormonism is true.

Jim

Source: https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2015/03/19/changed-lives-a-letter-from-jim/

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“It is no proof of religious truth that it has changed your life. “

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