An enlightening and entertaining dialogue with Jewish talk host Dennis Prager and Christian pastor/commentator Robert Jeffress. Judaism is the oldest living religion, and the foundation for many Christian beliefs and practices.
– What is the difference between the Jewish and Christian view of life after death? – What can Jews learn from Christians? – Why have Jews been the target of persecution throughout history? – Why is Christianity now being opposed?
Join Dennis Prager and Dr. Robert Jeffress along with moderator Dudley Rutherford as they discuss the similarities and differences of these two great world religions.
Dennis Prager has a new book out, “The Rational Bible,” this first edition of five “Exodus.”
Dennis Prager and the wisdom and challenges of The Rational Bible
Now he’s taking on the Bible. Okay, “taking on” might be the wrong way to put it, but Prager’s new book, “The Rational Bible: Exodus,” is a chance for both fans and opponents to understand how the Scriptures underlie his sense of morality.
“[My job] make the Bible known to as many people around the world as possible, so that they have access to the finest guide to life ever written.”
Coming from Prager, the book is likely to challenge much of modern ethics, but that would be okay with him—he wants people to take another look at the Bible, to change how they perceive it.
His main mission is to let the world know the Bible is as relevant as ever. As he explained in an interview with Fox News, he feels his job is to “make the Bible known to as many people around the world as possible, so that they have access to the finest guide to life ever written.”
The roots of his book go far back. He was teaching the Torah (the first five books of the Bible) about 25 years ago at a Jewish university and noticed half his students were non-Jews. He realized “either the Torah has something to say to everyone or it has nothing to say to Jews.”
So, essentially, there’s a quarter-century’s experience (at least) behind this book. For the last three years, Prager notes, it’s all he’s been writing.
He started with Exodus, and not the first book of the Bible, Genesis, “primarily because it contains the Ten Commandments, the moral centerpiece of the Bible.”
A good portion of his book—17,000 words, by Prager’s count—in fact deals with the Ten Commandments. Next year he hopes to have a book out on Genesis, and, ultimately, to complete five volumes on the Bible.
Prager is concerned that many dismiss the Bible as not being applicable to today’s world, some even calling it morally harmful. His book, he hopes, can set people straight. He’s not appealing to faith, he says, but to reason.
One problem is that many of the rules listed in Exodus seem dated. But, as Prager notes, almost any legal code becomes dated in its specifics. “The issue is what values and teaching we can derive from these laws.
Few people today own oxen, but the law that an ox that kills a human being must be put to death reflects a fundamental biblical value—the preciousness of human life, and the price a killer, even an animal-killer, must pay for taking it.”
Indeed, the Covenant Code–rules for living found in chapters 20 through 23 of Exodus–plays a significant role in The Rational Bible. Modern critics have questioned the value of these rules, where women seem to be property, and slavery is taken for granted.
“Things that at first appear irrelevant, primitive, or even immoral turn out to be important and often great moral leaps forward.”
Prager hopes people will get a chance to examine his take. One of the central lessons of his book is “Things that at first appear irrelevant, primitive, or even immoral turn out to be important and often great moral leaps forward.”
He believes his book shows how “new and different the Bible was from anything that preceded it.” It brought the world a new kind of morality, and way of life, and he hopes to help people understand the “sublime moral values” it champions.
In fact, that is part of the evidence as to why God is the ultimate author of the Torah (even if there were human intermediaries)—because it was “utterly different and morally superior to everything else ever believed.”
And such wisdom, if properly comprehended, still applies today. For instance, Prager hopes to explain important distinctions found in the Bible—“human-animal; human-God; man-woman; good-evil; holy-profane; and God-nature.” Understanding these distinctions “would help explain to anyone how to best order the world.”
He believes readers can discover in his book not just a better understanding of the Bible, but a better way to live. Thus the book is his attempt to “explain the life-enhancing insights, teaching, and morality” contained in the Torah.
While he hopes he can convince some people to be believers, that is not his primary purpose–he notes the Bible’s wisdom would be helpful to both believers and non-believers alike.
“How we act is far more important than how we think or feel.”
For instance, Prager argues it’s important to understand that “how we act is far more important than how we think or feel.” While that insight may come from his reading of the Bible, it’s a precept that anyone can follow.
So The Rational Bible–Exodus offers a challenge to all—to experts and novices, to evangelists and atheists. From a man who has been challenging people for years with his opinions, this is the ultimate challenge—it’s Prager’s passionate argument about what God expects from you, and what you can do to change your own life.
The way Christianity is portrayed in the media has changed tremendously even when paring it to media in the 70s.
On NRATV’s Hot Mic, Bill Whittle talks about Christianity and the media.
While the average Christian doesn’t mix his religion with his politics although he may be active in both, the secular Left seems to want to make religion, that is the removal of it from the marketplace, a plank in their ideology. Dennis Prager says that can be no morality without God. Others have said that without a moral and informed society democracy or our Republic will not survive.
The problem that confronts us is the lack of Judaeo-Christian values, the breakdown of the family, abortion and the rise of sexual neutering may degrade our society so badly that we are headed for Civil War.
“Without God A Limited Government Won’t Work”
Dennis Prager (Author & Radio Host) and Michael Shermer (Publisher, Skeptic Magazine) join Dave Rubin to discuss the individual vs the collective, the founding fathers and their view on religion and God, what is responsible for the crumbling of Europe and American universities, the criteria we use to decide what is right and wrong, Islamophobia and more
Dennis Prager and Michael Shermer
Dennis Prager (Author & Radio Host) and Michael Shermer (Publisher, Skeptic Magazine) join Dave Rubin to discuss why they believe or don’t believe, atheism vs agnosticism, the probability of parallel universes, and whether or not they think the other one could be right in their beliefs .
You can’t learn morality from nature
Dennis Prager (Author & Radio Host) and Michael Shermer (Publisher, Skeptic Magazine) join Dave Rubin to debate morality, God, and murder.
There is no good and evil if there is no God. There is only opinions of good and evil.
Dennis Prager and Michael Shermer
One of the points that Prager makes that you will find in the videos above is that most Believers have doubts at one time or another. But then he goes on to say Atheists have no doubts. This points out the difference between an ideological obsession and a religious truth. You can’t worship the absence of something.
If you are having doubts at this moment these two videos are well worth watching. And by the way Part 3 is yet to come and will be featured in an upcoming post.
“You gotta get down on your knees, believe, fold your hands and beg and plead, you gotta keep on praying.”
“Cause we’re still worth saving, we can’t go on like this and live like this, we can’t love like this, we gotta give this world back to God”
How I found God at Columbia
Very few people can say that they found God or religion at college or graduate school. The university, after all, is a radically secular institution that either ignores or disparages religious belief in God.
Yet, one day, when I was a graduate student in international affairs at Columbia University, I had what can honestly be called an epiphany.
I remember it very clearly. Since entering graduate school, I was preoccupied with this question: Why did so many learned and intelligent professors believe so many foolish things?
Why did so many people at my university believe nonsense such as Marxism? I was a fellow at the Russian Institute where I specialized in Soviet affairs and Marxism, and so I encountered professor after professor and student after student who truly believed in some variation on Marxism.
Why did so many professors believe and teach the even more foolish notion that men and women are basically the same? At college, it was a given that the differing conduct of boys and girls and of men and women is a result of different, i.e., sexist, upbringings. The feminist absurdity that girls do girl things because they are given dolls and tea sets, and boys do boy things because they are given trucks and toy guns, was actually believed in the mind-numbing world of academic intellectuals.
And why were so many professors morally confused? How could people so learned in contemporary history morally equate the Soviet Union and the United States, regard America as responsible for the Cold War, or regard Israel as the Middle East’s villain?
One day, I received an answer to these questions. Seemingly out of nowhere, a biblical verse — one that I had recited every day in kindergarten at the Jewish religious school I attended as a child — entered my mind. It was a verse from Psalm 111: “Wisdom begins with fear of God.”
The verse meant almost nothing to me as a child — both because I recited it in the original Hebrew, which at the time I barely understood, and because the concept was way beyond a child’s mind to comprehend. But 15 years later, a verse I had rarely thought about answered my puzzle about my university and put me on a philosophical course from which I have never wavered.
It could not be a coincidence that the most morally confused of society’s mainstream institutions and the one possessing the least wisdom — the university — was also society’s most secular institution. The Psalmist was right — no God, no wisdom.
Most people come to believe in God through what I call the front door of faith. Something leads them to believe in God. Since that day at Columbia, however, I regularly renew my faith through the back door — I see the confusion and nihilism that godless ideas produce and my faith is restored. The consequences of secularism have been at least as powerful a force for faith in my life as religion.
If our universities produced wise men and women, curricula of moral clarity, and professors who loved liberty and truth, not to mention loved America — there is no question that my religious faith would be challenged. I would look at the temple of secularism, the university, and see so much goodness and wisdom that I would have to wonder just how important God and religion were.
But I look at the university and see truth deconstructed, beauty reviled, America loathed, good and evil inverted, elementary truths about life denied, and I realize that one very powerful argument for God is that society cannot function successfully without reference to Him.
So as much as I shudder almost every time I read of another academic taking an absurd position, I also feel my faith renewed.
Ironically, the worse the universities get, the greater their tribute to God.
Dennis Prager and Ravi Zacharias joined host Frank Sontag to discuss religion and culture.
Purchase the full video here: http://hashtagpros.com/shop/an-evenin…
We continue with the the article explanations of Dennis Prager‘s series on the Ten Commandments. The videos for each Commandment have already been posted here and to view them one needs only to scroll down the list of articles. Today’s commentary by Prager is on the 3rd Commandment.
The Ten Commandments is the most morally influential piece of legislation ever written. For a good idea of how relevant each of the Ten is, take the Third Commandment, one of the two most misunderstood commandments (the other is “Do Not Murder,” which I explained previously).
Is there such a thing as “the worst sin” — one sin that is worse than all others?
In fact, there is.
I am aware that some people differ. They maintain that we can’t declare any sin worse than any other. “To God, a sin is a sin” is how it’s often expressed. In this view, a person who steals a stapler from the office is committing as grievous a sin in God’s eyes as a murderer.
But most people intuitively, as well as Biblically, understand that some sins are clearly worse than others. We are confident that God has at least as much common sense as we do. The God of Judaism and Christianity does not equate stealing an office item with murder.
So, then, what is the worst sin?
The worst sin is committing evil in God’s name.
How do we know?
From the Third of the Ten Commandments. This is the only one of the Ten that states that God will not forgive a person who violates the commandment.
What does this Commandment say?
It is most commonly translated as, “Do not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain. For the Lord will not hold guiltless” — meaning “will not forgive” — whoever takes His name in vain.”
Because of this translation, most people understandably think that the commandment forbids saying God’s name for no good reason. So, something like, “God, did I have a rough day at work today!” violates the Third Commandment.
But that interpretation presents a real problem. It would mean that whereas God could forgive the violation of any of the other commandments — dishonoring one’s parents, stealing, adultery, or even committing murder — He would never forgive someone who said, “God, did I have a rough day at work today!”
As it happens, however, the commandment is not the problem. The problem is the translation. The Hebrew original doesn’t say “Do not take”; it says “Do not carry.” The Hebrew literally reads, “Do not carry the name of the Lord thy God in vain.”
This is reflected in one of the most widely used new translations of the Bible, the New International Version, or NIV, which uses the word “misuse” rather than the word “take:”
“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.”
This is much closer to the original’s intent.
What does it mean to “carry” or to “misuse” God’s name? It means committing evil in God’s name.
And that God will not forgive.
When an irreligious person commits evil, it doesn’t bring God and religion into disrepute. But when a religious person commits evil in God’s name he destroys the greatest hope for goodness on earth — belief in a God who demands goodness, and who morally judges people.
The Nazis and Communists were horrifically cruel mass murderers. But their evils only sullied their own names, not the name of God. But when religious people commit evil, especially in God’s name, they are not only committing evil, they are doing terrible damage to the name of God.
In our time, there are, unfortunately, many examples of this. The evils committed by Islamists who torture, bomb, cut throats, and mass murder — all in the name of their God — do terrible damage to the name of God.
It is not coincidental that what is called the New Atheism — the immense eruption of atheist activism — followed the 9/11 attack on America by Islamist terrorists. In fact, the most frequent argument against God and religion concerns evil committed in God’s name, whether it is done in the name of Allah today or was done in the past in the name of Christ.
People who murder in the name of God not only kill their victims, they kill God, too.
That’s why the greatest sin is religious evil.
That’s what the Third Commandment is there to teach: Don’t carry God’s name in vain. If you do, God won’t forgive you.
You can see this commentary, animated with text and graphics, at www.prageruniversity.com. It was released, along with the other nine commandments, this month.
I wish my readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy Chanukah. And remember, just as evil in God’s name is atheism’s best friend, goodness in God’s name is theism’s best friend.
There Is a ‘Worst Sin’: Evil in God’s Name
Violating the Third Commandment is unforgivable.
We continue with the the article explanations of Dennis Prager‘s series on the Ten Commandments. The videos for each Commandment have already been posted here and to view them one needs only to scroll down the list of articles. Today’s commentary by Prager is on the 2nd Commandment.
“Here is the video commentary on the second commandment as enumerated in the oldest, that is, the Jewish, tradition. In Christian tradition, it is the first commandment.’ – Dennis Prager
The most common translation begins: “You shall have no other gods before me.”
The commandment then goes on to prohibit both making idols and worshiping idols.
Most people, when they think of this commandment, understandably think that it only prohibits the worship of idols and the worship of gods such as the ancient pagan gods of rain, of fertility, all the other nature gods, and chief gods such as the Roman Jupiter and the Greek Zeus.
However, there is a major problem with this understanding of the commandment. Since no one today worships these gods, let alone worships idols made of metal, wood or stone, most people think that this commandment is irrelevant to modern life.
The irony, however, is that this commandment is not only relevant to modern life, but also it is in many ways the mother of all the other commandments.
Why is it relevant today? Because today we have as many false gods as the ancients did. And why is it the mother of all the other commandments? Because if we identify false gods and avoid worshipping them, we will eliminate one of the greatest barriers to a good world.
So, let’s begin by defining a false god. The point of biblical monotheism is that there is only one god and that only this God, the Creator of the universe who demands that we keep these Ten Commandments, is to be worshiped.
Why? First, because one God means one human race. Only if we all have the same Creator, or Father, as it were, are we are all brothers and sisters. Second, having the same parent also means that no person is intrinsically more valuable than any other. And third, one God means one moral standard for all people. If God declares murder wrong, it is wrong for everyone, and you can’t go to another god for another moral standard.
When anything else is worshipped, bad things result. Not only things that can obviously lead to evil such as the worship of power, or race, or money, or flag. But also things that are almost always seen as quite beautiful — such as art, or education or even love. Yes, any of these often wonderful things, when worshipped, can lead to terrible results.
Take art. Many of the cruelest humans in history loved beautiful music and art. But, as a music lover, I learned early in life the sad fact that great music can be used to inspire people to follow evil just as much as it can be used to inspire people to do good. The great Hollywood director Stanley Kubrick vividly made this point in his classic 1971 film, “A Clockwork Orange,” based on the Stanley Burgess novel. In it, men rape and murder while classical music plays in the background.
The Nazis had prisoner orchestras play classical music while Jews were led to gas chambers.
Take education. We all recognize how important education can be — from preparing people to join the modern workforce to understanding the world. But education in and of itself, divorced from the higher ends of God and goodness, can, and often has, led to great evil. Many of the best-educated people in Germany supported Hitler and the Nazis. Professor Peter Merkl of the University of California at Santa Barbara studied 581 Nazis and found that Germans with a high school education “or even university study” were more likely to be antisemitic than those with less education (“Political Violence under the Swastika,” Princeton University Press).
And almost all of the Western world’s supporters of the genocidal regimes of Stalin in the Soviet Union and Mao in China were highly educated. Education is morally useful when it is a means to the higher ends of God and goodness.
The same holds true even of love. Love, of course, is so often beautiful. But it, too, can lead to evil. In the 20th century people who put love of country or love of ideology — of an unattainable dream for humanity — above love of God and goodness often committed terrible evil.
And here’s a test for you: Imagine that the pet you love and a stranger — a person you don’t know and therefore could not possibly love — are drowning. Do you first try to save your pet or the stranger? Well, if love is an end in itself, you save your pet. But if you hold human life as a higher value than love, you won’t follow love.
This commandment made the ethical revolution of the Bible and of the Ten Commandments — what is known as ethical monotheism — possible. Worship the God of the Ten Commandments and you will make a good world. Worship a false god — no matter how noble sounding — and you will end up with evil.
Last week PragerUniversity.com released 11 five-minute video courses: each of the Ten Commandments and an introduction. We received over one million views this first week.
The reason we made these videos is that we believe that everything needed to make a good world is contained in the Ten Commandments.
This month, my columns consist of transcripts of some the courses, each of which I present.
Whatever your faith, or if you have no faith, I invite you to watch the videos at http://www.prageru.com. They are cleverly animated with text and graphics.
Here is the text of commandment five. It explains why honoring fathers and mothers is one of the ten most important things humans need to do.
The fifth of the Ten Commandments reads: “Honor your father and your mother.”
This commandment is so important that it is one of the only commandments in the entire Bible that gives a reason for observing it:
“That your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.”
Many people read that part of the fifth commandment as a reward. But while it may be regarded as a reward, the fact remains that it is a reason: If you build a society in which children honor their parents, your society will long survive.
And the corollary is: A society in which children do not honor their parents is doomed to self-destruction.
In our time, this connection between honoring parents and maintaining civilization is not widely recognized. On the contrary, many of the best-educated parents do not believe that their children need to show them honor, since “honoring” implies an authority figure, and that is a status many modern parents reject.
In addition, many parents seek to be loved, not honored, by their children. Yet, neither the Ten Commandments nor the Bible elsewhere commands us to love our parents. This is particularly striking given that the Bible commands us to love our neighbor, to love God and to love the stranger.
The Bible understands that there will always be individuals who, for whatever reason, do not love a parent. Therefore, it does not demand what may be psychologically or emotionally impossible. But it does demand that we show honor to our parents. And it makes this demand only with regard to parents. There is no one else whom the Bible commands us to honor.
Without a father and mother to honor, children lose out on having one of the most important things they can have — mothers and fathers exercising parental authority.
So, then, why is honoring parents so important? Why does the Ten Commandments believe that society could not survive if this commandment were widely violated?
One reason is that we, as children, need it. Parents may want to be honored — and they should want to be — but children need to honor parents. A father and a mother who are not honored are essentially adult peers of their children. They are not parents.
No generation knows better than ours the terrible consequences of growing up without a father. Fatherless boys are far more likely to grow up and commit violent crime, mistreat women and act out against society in every other way. Girls who do not have a father to honor — and, hopefully, to love as well — are more likely to seek the wrong men and to be promiscuous at an early age.
Second, honoring parents is how nearly all of us come to recognize that there is a moral authority above us to whom we are morally accountable. And without this, we cannot create or maintain a moral society.
Of course, for the Ten Commandments, the ultimate moral authority is God, who is therefore higher than even our parents. But it is very difficult to come to honor God without having had a parent, especially a father, to honor. Sigmund Freud, the father of psychiatry and an atheist, theorized that one’s attitude toward one’s father largely shaped one’s attitude toward God.
There is one more reason why honoring parents is fundamental to a good society. Honoring parents is the best antidote to totalitarianism. One of the first things totalitarian movements seek to do is to break the child-parent bond. The child’s allegiance is shifted from parents to the state. Even in democratic societies, the larger the state becomes, the more it usurps the parental role.
Finally, there are many ways to honor parents. The general rule is this: They get special treatment. Parents are unique; so they must be treated in a unique way. You don’t talk to them in quite the same way you do anyone else. For example, you might use expletives when speaking to a friend, but you don’t with a parent. You don’t call them by their first name. And when you leave their home and make your own, you maintain contact with them. Having no contact with parents is the opposite of honoring them.
And, yes, we all recognize that some parents have behaved so cruelly — and I mean cruelly, not annoyingly — that one finds it morally impossible to honor to them. There are such cases. But they are rare.
And remember this, if your children see you honor your parents, no matter how difficult it may sometimes be, the chances are far greater that they will honor you.