Religion, Theology and Self-Improvement Sundays: What Is Prophecy Part VI
Last time we quoted from Max I. Dimont and ended with his question " Did this really happen?" in reference to the prediction or promise that Jehovah is written to have given to Abram or Abraham. Again, it is important to remember that we are mostly concerned with the details of the description and the evidence for its actual fulfillment either in scripture or in recorded history up to the present day. Connected to our interest is the identity or the source of what Abraham received. But rather than simply accepting that Jehovah is the source of Abraham's prediction, we are also interested in whether the prediction has come true. Once we determine if the prediction has come true then we will seek to attain the identity of the source of that prediction. Remember we are also aiming to show the validity of prophecy to those who do not even believe in the existence of Jehovah or God or Allah or a Supreme Being. Belief in a Supreme Being is not necessary to prove the fulfillment of the details of a prophecy in the sense that a prophecy is largely a prediction of future events. However, proving that prophetic predictions have come true can generate belief in a Supreme Being.
In that spirit we resume our quoting from Dimont. He is a skeptic in the belief that Jehovah is the source of the information that Abraham received and we think it is important to include his view in our analysis of this subject. Though a skeptic, he returns to the central question of "Did this really happen?" He writes:
Did this really happen? Views vary all the way from the fundamentalist position of a literal acceptance of every word to the rejection of every word by the skeptics. We say it could have happened, but in a slightly different way. If we view this encounter through the lens of a modern psycho-analysis, it might become understandable in modern terms.
Psychiatrists are familiar with a psychological phenomenon known as "projection". Let us say that an individual is obsessed by a thought, which, because it is painful or forbidden, he does not want to acknowledge as his own. On the other hand, he can't give it up. He wants the thought, but doesn't want to be its owner. He longs for it unconsciously, but wants to reject it on a conscious level. his mind therefore resorts to an unconscious " trick." He "projects" the thought onto someone else, and then convinces himself that it is the other person who suggested the thought to him or accused him of it. These methods of hearing or perceiving such projected messages are known as auditory or visual hallucinations -- that is, hearing voices, or seeing things, that are not there.
People who have such hallucinations are not necessarily neurotic or psychotic. They can be very intense or inspired people. From a psychoanalytic viewpoint, therefore, it could be that Abraham himself conceived the idea of a covenant with an Almighty Father figure, represented as Jehovah, and projected onto his father figure his own wish to safe-guard his children and his children's children for future generations.
From a historical viewpoint, it makes no difference whether it was Abraham who projected this experience onto an imaginary Jehovah or a real Jehovah who proposed it to Abraham. The fact remains that after four thousand years the idea of a covenant between the Jews and Jehovah is still alive and mentioned daily in prayers in synagogues throughout the world. Though many aspects of Jews and Judaism have been changed or modified during their subsequent four-thousand-year history, this idea of a covenant with God has remained constant, This in turn gave rise to a will to survive as Jews, which has been the driving force in Judaism. Without it there can be no Judaism and no Jews. When this concept disappears, when the Jew, through a lack of this inner compulsion, no longer wishes to retain his identity as a Jew, then nothing will stand between him and assimilation, between him and his final disappearance. The methods whereby this wish has been perpetuated have been changed through the ages; but the aim has not. Jewish history is a succession of ideas designed to perpetuate this aim.
Dimont's points are very interesting. Next we will begin to look at whether scripture proves or disproves the actual fulfillment of the prediction that Abraham received...
Sunday, July 2, 2000