In The News: Dennis Prager

Dennis Prager is a wise man.  I enjoy his weekly Fireside Chats.  Rarely do I miss viewing this weekly program.  His Rational Bible Commentary series on the Torah contains some good thoughts.

However, no one should be blindly followed.  All teaching should be tested by God’s word (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

Dennis Prager has raised quite a bit of controversy in recent weeks.  In a panel discussion hosted by Jordan Peterson, Prager said, “looking with lust is not a sin in Judaism.”  When asked about pornography he said, “if pornography is a substitute for one’s wife, it is awful.  If it is a substitute for adultery, it is not awful.” 

Is it true that the Tanakh (or Hebrew Bible) only addresses behavior and not thought?  It is not true.  The Ten Commandments read, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house, you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s” (Exodus 20:17).  Job said, “I have made a covenant with my eyes; why then should I look upon a young woman” (Job 31:1).  In Proverbs we are warned, “Keep your heart with all diligence for out of it springs the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23).    Jesus is more explicit.  He says, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’  But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27-28).  Again, “You had heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’  But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.” (Matthew 5:21-22 cf. 1 John 3:15).  He desires that the inside of man be clean (Matthew 23:26).  He teaches, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8).

In a PragerU video entitled Judaism v. Christianity, Dennis Prager says, “Judaism holds that God judges people by their behavior, not by their theology, their beliefs, their faith.” 

Is it true that in the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) God is unconcerned about theology, belief, or faith?  It is not true.  He cares about theology.  The Ten Commandments read, “You shall have no other gods before Me.  You shall not make for yourself a carved image…” (Exodus 20:3-4).  The Shema says, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one; You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:4).  Belief (or faith) matter.  Of Abraham, we are told, “he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15: 6).  The book of Habakkuk declares “the just shall live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:4).

The New Testament is more explicit.  Theology matters.  Paul declares, “We ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising” (Acts 17:29).  Belief matters.  Jesus said, “If you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24).  The writer of Hebrews says, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). 

There are others who go to another extreme.  They believe that God is only concerned with our faith, not with our actions.  This is also wrong.  John says, “He wo says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments is a liar and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:4 cf. 1 John 1:6).  Again, “Little children, let no one deceive you.  He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous” (1 John 3:7).

Our entire being should be dedicated to God.  “May your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23). James Burton Coffman suggests that this means intellect, spiritual nature, and physical being. Albert Barnes suggest that this means immortal spirit, affections or emotions, and material body. It could also mean inward man, life, and outward man. Leon Crouch comments, “It is sufficient here to say that the use of the three nouns, spirit, soul and body is to give more emphasis to the completeness of the sanctification for which the writer prays. The statement means something like: ‘may every part of your being be kept entirely without fault'” (Leon Crouch, Commentary on 1&2 Thessalonians, p.95). This refers to complete sanctification.

About Bryan Hodge

I am a minister and missionary to numerous countries around the world.
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