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The little work herewith presented to that portion of the public which does itself the honour of seeking to "know the living and true God, and Jesus Christ whom He has sent, has been styled by the Author Phanerosis. This is a Greek word in an English dress, and may be found in the lexicons in this form; and occurring in the phrase he phanerosis, tes aletheias, "the manifestation of the truth."
Phanerosis originated in the following circumstances. Two Jews, converted from Rabbinical Judaism to Protestant Gentilism, commenced a meeting in New York City, for the purpose of convincing their "brethren according to the flesh," that the "Jesus preached" and believed in by Protestants and Papists is the Christ promised in the prophets to their fathers. The meeting was numerously attended by Jews, among whom was a certain Portuguese Jew, Dr. de Lara. He boldly and justly disputed the claims of what he styled "orthodox Christianity" to a divine origin. His acumen and arguments were too astute for their treatment, so that they were put to shame before the Jews they sought to proselyte. In this emergency they applied to the Author for aid against their persistent and indefatigable opponent, who had attacked the weakest part of their position. The author agreed to attend their meeting, and to examine the ground occupied by de Lara. He found that the philosophical Israelite was impregnable in his position against popular Christianity. When Epstein, the Jew converted to Congregationalism, and since returned to Judaism, after making considerable capital by his hypocrisy; and his companion, Lederer, since also apostate from the principles he professed, though still a distributor of Protestant tracts among the Jews at a certain annual stipend; when these two worthies enunciated their platitudes, they were riddled by the shafts of their adversary, amid the laughter and contemptuous ejaculations of the Jews. Calm being restored, the Author was invited to speak. He told them that he did not present himself for the defence of popular Christianity, for which he had no more veneration or admiration than they. Popular Christianity, he continued, is as different from the ancient and original faith of Christ preached by Jesus and the apostles, as is modern Judaism from the institutions of the Mosaic law and the testimony of the prophets. He had not a word to say in defence of such an unscriptural system, condemned alike by the Old and New Testaments. He advocated the doctrine set forth in the "form of sound words" employed by Jesus and the apostles, and attested by the law and the prophets. The New Testament, as originally delivered, perfectly agrees in its teaching with that of the Old. These Scriptures, and not the clerical creeds and symbols of popular credulity, are the authentic and authoritative records of the faith expounded by them. Dr. de Lara was, therefore, beating the air; for while he was assailing something he styled "orthodox Christianity," he was not touching ancient New Testament Christianity at all! The Author was, consequently, under no obligation to meet Dr. de Lara's arguments against Jesus as the Christ founded upon Protestant and Catholic misconceptions of his relations to Deity, and so forth. He would, therefore, leave him in all the glory of his conflict with "orthodox Christianity," so called, and proceed to show them "a more excellent way."
Having addressed the Jews upon this for an hour or more, in showing them what Moses and the prophets teach concerning the Christ, and to what extent it was fulfilled in Jesus -- how that he was to be a sufferer, and on the third day rise from the dead, and afterwards ascend to the right hand of power, when he is to come again, and "revive his work in the midst of the years," the consummation of which will result in their acknowledgment of him as their king, and their consequent restoration to their land and national independence and glory. Having set these and
other things before as peaceable an assemblage of Jews as could be desired, he concluded, exhorting them to a candid and dispassionate study of Moses and the prophets; for that the testimony for Jesus was the spirit of prophecy, which left no doubt that he was the Prophet like unto their great law giver, whom Jehovah promised to raise up to Israel, as "His salvation to the ends of the earth."
But though the Jews, before so turbulent, heard the Author with marked and respectful attention (and one of their number declared that "if the Jews could hear him they would all become Christians"!) the manifestation of approval kindled the indignation of Messrs. Epstein and Lederer, who had invited him. They determined, therefore, to silence him, which they did effectually, by decreeing that no one should speak longer than five minutes.
The door of utterance to the Jews thus being closed in their meeting, the author invited them to hear him at another time and place. Some of them accepted the invitation, and among them, Dr. de Lara, who, as the author was about commencing his address, caused to be put into his hand the following epistle addressed to the Author:
"Dear and Honoured Sir. -- In your address last Sunday evening, you observed that the New Testament perfectly agreed, or harmonized with the Old; or you may have used an expression conveying this idea.
I can conceive the idea of a Christian by birth and education giving his assent to this proposition, and conscientiously believing the doctrines which orthodox Christianity tells us are taught in both volumes: you are, however, aware that these two points, namely, the disagreement or agreement between the exclusively Jewish, and the Christian sacred books, and the doctrines of orthodox Christianity, said by the latter to be revealed in both volumes -- that these are the very points at issue between Jews and Christians.
A devout Jew may perhaps be brought to the belief that the personage stated by Christians to be the Messiah, had already appeared: and that Jesus of' Nazareth was he; that his history was recorded in the books of the New Testament; and he may give his assent to the purely historical parts of these books. Believing in the divine power of performing miracle, since he finds a display of that power in the Old Testament, he may even believe in that other part of the New Testament in which history and miracle are blended together as they are in the books of the Old Testament. The same God who enabled and permitted Moses and Elias to perform miracle, may have bestowed the same power upon another mortal; and that mortal may have been Jesus of Nazareth as well as any other man. I say, that a devout Jew may, perhaps, be brought to believe all this by inquiries satisfactory to his own; and by his own reasonings founded upon such inquiries; but I have very strong doubts of such a view of the case ever becoming universal, or even general among the Jews; or that they will extend beyond a few, very few, and isolated instances, and amongst Rabbinical Jews exclusively.
The modern, or self-styled enlightened Jew (whether he is justly entitled to this denomination, or not, is not now the question), may regard Jesus of Nazareth as a philosopher, a moralist, the Socrates of his age and country -- as a man, who, discarding all the laws that govern man's conduct in his relation to God, yet conforming to them in compliance with custom, just as the wise Socrates in his last moments ordered a cock to be sacrificed to Aesculapius -- disbelieving himself in divine revelation, and regarding with contempt the sacrifices, observances, and ceremonies, taught the doctrine of a certain prophet, that true religion consisted in the practice of virtue, mercy, justice, and humanity: that the Creator and Father of all mankind had not, and could not have selected one very small and almost insignificant fragment of the human family to make it his chosen and favourite people, to the exclusion of all the rest.
I say, a philosophical Jew may entertain this conviction, rejecting the doctrine of a Messiah, whether temporal or spiritual, altogether; and, if I am not much mistaken, such are the views entertained by modern Jews, though not by modern Judaism (for the difference is marked), and are gaining ground rapidly.
And this, I say, may be possible, and partly is true: the moment, however, a Jew is told that God has a son, and that there are three persons, three essences, three somethings or anythings in the Godhead; and that these three distinct units or Unities constitute only one unit or One Unity -- that that Tri-Unity is the God of Israel, the Jehovah of the Old Testament: -- the moment, I say, a Jew is told of this, he shrinks back, and stands sternly aloof. The devout Jew points to the declaration on Horeb, "I am the Lord thy God. Thou shalt have no other gods before me." And again, "Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is one." The philosophical Jew regarding God as an incorporated, invisible, incomprehensible Being, rejects with scorn and ridicule the idea of such a Being having a son; of coming "down" (as it is called) from heaven, and enacting with the Virgin Mary the scene related by Luke. He smiles contemptuously at the idea of three being one, and one being three; and maintains that a book which teaches such an absurd doctrine, and contains such disgraceful tales, is utterly contemptible; and that the writer who could propagate a falsehood so glaring, a story so evidently fabulous, and blasphemous to boot, cannot be otherwise than a liar and impostor, or a man who wrote, or was only fit to write for the nursery; and that any writer that could declare that there are three persons, or three anythings, in one Godhead, if he himself honestly believed such an absurdity, ought to be set down as demented, and only entitled to pity, and to a cell in an asylum.
Both sections of the Jewish world on being told that the writers of the New Testament were all Jews (and admitting for the sake of argument that they were so), deny that, provided they were in the full possession of their mental faculties, the possibility of their honest belief in the history of the Anunciation, the Miraculous Conception, and the Incarnation, though the Pharisaical and Rabbinical Jews might, perhaps, admit the possibility of the story of the Resurrection and Ascension. They deny that any Jewish writer could have believed in the doctrine of the Trinity (I use this term conventionally, and as a laconism): that therefore as Jews they never could have written this; and if this doctrine be found in the New Testament, it has either been foisted in there, or the writers were not Jews.
Now they open the New Testament, and there they find it distinctly recorded, that the Virgin conceived of the Holy Ghost -- a spirit, an incorporeal existence (which is itself a contradiction in terms) -- a carnal intercourse between a spirit and a woman: a mortal, mere flesh and blood! They find there, further, the following expressions amongst others used by Jesus of Nazareth, "I and my Father are one"; "Before Abraham was I am"; which is bad grammar at all events. "Of these things knoweth no man, no not even the Son, but the Father who is in heaven." They find John telling them that "In The beginning was the word, and the word was God, and the word was made flesh, and dwelt among us"; which, though they laugh at such language as that of an idiot, they find it written there, "The only begotten Son of the Father." They are told that Thomas addressed Jesus as "My Lord and my God." John tells them distinctly, that "There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Son, and the Spirit"; and that "these three are one." Prima facie, therefore, they find the doctrine of the two natures inferentially, and that of the Trinity plainly taught in these books, taking them as they are.
Comparing these declarations of the New Testament with the stern commandments of God on Sinai, and the declaration of the unity of God
in Deuteronomy; upon your declaration, therefore, and with the New Testament before them, they ask: "How can you reconcile these, to them, so evidently clashing declarations? How will you be able to show that the New Testament agrees and harmonizes with the Old?"
As your views differ very materially -- or at least appear to do so to me -- from those of the generality of Christians, I should be glad to hear your expositions of the doctrines with that of the absolute unity of God, as revealed in the Old Testament.
I am, with the highest regard, dear and honoured Sir,
Yours very truly,
D.E. DE LARA."
New York, May 9th, 1857.
Dr. de Lara's letter seems to have been originated in a spirit of astonishment, incredulity, and candour; of astonishment at our statement concerning the entire and absolute harmony of the teaching of the two Testaments, in the face of the dogmas of' "Orthodox Christianity" referred to; of incredulity, because of the unphilosophical and irrational character of the facts testified in the New Testament; and of candour in seeming, though by education hostile to the Nazarene, to desire a fair examination into "the stone of stumbling" presented to the Jewish mind in "the things concerning His name."
We can easily appreciate the astonishment under which he seems to labour. Our declaration, which we here admit, of the entire and absolute harmony of the teaching of Moses and Jesus, is calculated to excite astonishment, confounding astonishment, in the mind that has no other idea of the teaching of Jesus and the apostles than the parody thereof exhibited in the old wives' fables of what Dr. de Lara styles "orthodox Christianity." But, we do not affirm the harmony of "orthodox Christianity" interpretations, or rather "imaginations, high things, and thoughts" (2 Cor. 10:5), with the teaching of God, in Moses and the prophets: we are, therefore, under no obligation to attempt the impossible task of reconciliation. We do not believe in the self-styled "orthodox Christianity" of the world. It is not the Bible teaching of the Spirit of the Christ which was in Moses and the prophets, Jesus, and the apostles. Admit what Nehemiah and Peter testify, that one and the same spirit was in them all, and that that Spirit was God's, "in whom is no darkness at all"; and it follows, of necessity, as we have affirmed, that the doctrine of the Old and New Scriptures is entirely and absolutely harmonious and uncontradictory (1 Pet. 1 :11; 2 Pet. 1:21; Neh. 9:20,30). We believe in the doctrine of God, in the deep things of God, revealed by His spirit (1 Cor. 2:6-16), not through disobedient fanatics, or a clergy, Jewish or Gentile, infidel thereof: but revealed by His spirit in the Spirit's own words, through the holy and faithful heroes of the faith, to whom, under God, we are indebted for the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. This is the Christianity of our faith which we are prepared to state, illustrate, and prove, in opposition to modern Judaism, Jewish rationalism, and Gentile perversions of the truth.
Dr. de Lara appears incredulous. He is reported to have said, in one of his speeches at Centre Street, he cared nothing for Moses and the prophets. He may, perhaps, care more than the report of his words gives him credit for. We rather think that he meant he did not care for their testimony as proof of the Messiah having appeared; for we find him saying, in a certain periodical, "he did not care if fifty prophets had prophesied the coming of Messiah, unless the facts can be adduced to prove that the Messiah had come." From the letter before us, it is difficult to determine with certainty whether he is "a devout Jew," "an enlightened Jew," "a Rabbinical Jew," or "a philosophical Jew." We suspect he is in feeling a Jew, archaeologically devout, unfettered by Rabbinism, and giving credence only to what "the thinking of the flesh,"
untutored by revelation, approve. From these elements seems to be generated the spirit of the letter before us. A Jew incredulous of those oracles committed to his nation's care, is a hard and slippery case to deal with. We feel no interest in arguing with such a Jew; for he has lost his Jewishness, and disappeared in the bottomless pit of nations -- the undistinguished multitudes of earth. In the midst of uncertainty, then, we have preferred to view Dr. de Lara as a professed believer in Moses and the prophets, too enlightened therein to be hoodwinked by Rabbinism, but not sufficiently so to see into their attestation of the righteousness of God in Jesus as the Christ -- the Yahweh-tzidkainu. We will not think of him as a rationalistic or philosophical Jew. Rationalism and "philosophy" in religion may do for Gentiles, but are highly unbecoming in a Jew. A Jew ought to be a man of faith, and not a mere rationalist or fleshly pietist; but, unhappily, and generally speaking, they are true to the character given to them by Moses, in whom they glory, who says: "They are a very froward generation, children in whom there is no faith" (Deut. 32:20), really as faithless of Moses as of Jesus, if faith is to be measured by conforming to the obedience it demands. A Jew faithless of the Mosaic teaching must necessarily be a rejector of Jesus of Nazareth, apostolically displayed. Moses spoke of Christ; and, therefore, Jesus inquired: "If you believe not Moses how can ye believe me; for he wrote of me." This is the secret of Jewish incredulity; not that the testimony for Jesus is insufficient for faith; but because of their extreme frowardness in making void the word of God by Moses and the prophets, through the corrupting influence of their traditions.
There is a candour about Dr. de Lara's letter that is quite attractive. Its points are distinctly stated, and the views of its writer boldly averred. This is according to our taste. We like a man to stand out in his true character, and not to appear one thing and be another. Moral honesty and moral courage are virtues which few possess in this age of sham. Neither Jews nor Gentiles are pre-eminent in these respects. The former fear one another, and have not lost their terror of the Gentiles. Many, as of old, do not confess Jesus for fear of losing caste, of being cast out of the synagogues, or denied sepulchre among Judah's dead; while Gentiles confess a Jesus, but know not the true doctrine, or fear to bear the cross, lest the clergy should blow upon them. Between the two there is nothing to rejoice in. The world is wilderness, and its oases desert. Bold and sterling honesty of purpose and principle is the desideratum of the times. Sham and swindle everywhere abound, and few remain to do battle for the truth at all hazards against the world. Candour and courage are exceedingly scarce.
On the evening upon which Dr. de Lara's letter was handed in, we had perused it, marking its points with pencil as we proceeded and then answered them in general terms before the audience. After we had finished, Dr. de Lara rose and apologised for having afforded us no time for examination, and hoped that we would believe that he did not design to extort an advantage by taking us at unawares. We graciously accepted the apology, being satisfied that such was not his policy; but that he really desired the information indicated in the concluding paragraph of his epistle. This being the author's conviction, and recognizing the importance, the primary importance, of the subject, on the great question at issue between the disciples of modern Judaism and the writers of the New Testament, he announced, that on the following Sunday evening he would lay before the audience the Mosaic and Nazarene teaching concerning Deity. In accordance with this announcement, the author duly submitted the testimonies and arguments which are now reproduced in pamphlet form, somewhat enlarged. He has named it Phanerosis, because it expounds the most important and wonderful manifestation, formerly and hereafter to be exhibited to the world -- namely, the manifestation
of the Deity in flesh, and styled "the Lord Jesus Christ"; and the future manifestation of the same "Invisible Deity" in the "many sons" whom he, as their Elder Brother and Captain of Salvation, leads to glory.
Dr. de Lara, like his countrymen of old, is ready to stone Jesus, because he says that the Deity is his own Father, thereby making himself equal with God, which he thought it not robbery to do so (John 5:18; 10:33; Phil. 2:6). He errs in his quotation of the disputed passage of 1 John 5:7. It does not read there "the Father, the Son, and the Spirit," but "the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit," which, whether the passage be genuine or spurious, "are one."* They are one, for John says: "In the beginning the 'Word' was the Deity, by whom all things were made"; and, in another place, he says "the Deity is Spirit." Nevertheless, though one, they are not three distinct and independent entities or persons. The distinction of person did not obtain until the relation of Father and Son was developed in the creation and birth of "a body," as the medium of "Divine Manifestation." The Deity thus manifested is styled "The Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour," "who is over all God, blessed for the Aions" (Phil. 3:20; Rom. 9:5).
The Author is enabled to present the thinking and truth-seeking portion of the public with this exegesis of the "great mystery," revealed through the Son, and preached by the apostles, but afterwards so grossly perverted by the traditions of the Trinitarians, Arians, and Unitarians, through the liberality of one, who having found "the truth as it is in Jesus," has not only laid fast hold of it, but seeks to introduce it to the notice of others. That his labour, in this instance, may not be in vain, is the sincere desire of
Birmingham, October 15th, 1869.
* Most authorities acknowledge that 1 John 5:7 is spurious. The Diaglott includes the following note from the Improved Version: "This text concerning the heavenly witness is not contained in any Greek manuscript which was written earlier than the fifth century. It is not cited by any of the Greek ecclesiastical writers; nor by any of the early Latin fathers, even when the subjects upon which they treated would naturally have led them to appeal to its authority. It is therefore evidently spurious: and was first cited (though not as it now reads) by Virgilitus Tapsensis, a Latin writer of no credit, in the latter end of the fifth century: but by whom forged is of no great moment, as its design must be obvious to all." The Verse is omitted in the Revised Version. The Twentieth Century Version, Moffatt's New Translation. etc. (Publishers).
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