What I am about to share with you is my own personal view. It is a truly sincere attempt on my part to convey a clear message, hopefully once and for all, to all those who relentlessly try to convince me that their belief and their messiah is the only truth, that they are wasting their time on me. It is also aimed at helping our fellow Jews reinstate their pride in who we are and how far we have come in the timeline of our Development as a Religion, a Culture and a Nation.
In an effort to tackle the above dilemma, I have written several articles addressing the threat posed to us, Jews and Am Yisrael, from Christian missionaries. I have called them the Eleventh Plague; I have accused them of spreading a virus called Jewish Spiritual Mutilation (JSM); I have compared them to Amalek who was targeting the weak among us and I have made every effort to expose their antics and devious ways aimed at stealing Jewish souls.
Their persistence annoys many. So I have decided to use a new approach to try and address my issues and grievance with them.
As a teacher, I would like to elucidate my view on the above issue from a psychological perspective, more precisely, a cognitive developmental angle. For that, I turn to one of the best researchers in that field; one I admire greatly, Jean Piaget.
Piaget was an influential experimenter and a leader in research in the field of developmental psychology and human intelligence. Through his work and after observing many children, Piaget concluded that the thinking process among children is considerably different than that of adults. That did not necessarily mean that children’s thought process is less intelligent than that of adults. It only meant that it was different. According to him, all children are born with a hereditarily determined mental structure which evolves as they grow older. He believed that all children undergo four stages of Cognitive Development. I will not burden the reader with all four stages, and will focus on only the two that are relevant to supporting my titular statement as to why I could never be a Christian.
The first one is Piaget’s third stage, the Concrete Operational stage. It spans the ages of seven to twelve. During this stage, children have the ability to develop a logical thought about an object only if they are able to manipulate it. They are unable yet to grasp its abstract aspect.
The Formal Operative stage is the fourth and last stage of Cognitive Development. It occurs from the age of twelve and above. Unlike in the Concrete Operational stage, the adolescent’s thoughts are able to be manipulated and there is no need for the concrete object to spin their process.
This is wherein rests, in my view, one of the most fundamental differences between Christianity and Judaism, one that separates them immensely. The concept of a god taking on a human form, attributes and physical manifestation is an example of what Piaget’s third stage of object manipulation refers to. It is one of the ways in which Christianity can come to grips with the concept of an abstract god, the G-d they borrowed from Judaism. Christianity, I believe, is at what Piaget would consider the Formal Operative stage whereas Judaism is already at the fourth and last stage of Cognitive Development.
Judaism, on the other hand, has never attempted to describe G-d in human terms. No one ever gave birth to Him. No one has ever seen Him. He never begot children, and He shares no human shape or features. He cannot be killed and hence need not be resurrected. Even when the Torah tells us that G-d created Man in His own image, it is clear to all that it refers to the spiritual facet and to our Moral compass. From a very early age, and the very first stage of our Cognitive Development both as individuals and as a nation, we, Abraham, his children, Moses, Am Yisrael and Jews, were and are expected to think in abstract terms when we try to understand the concept of our Jewish G-d. We listen to Him and His directives. We accept His Torah unconditionally. We rebel against Him yet praise Him and thank Him at every single occasion. We have done all of this strictly because we were, are and forever will be at a higher cognitive level than other nations and religious groups. And it has not been easy at times.
Now, before anyone jumps down my throat, let me add this. It does not mean that Judaism is better than any other religion on this earth; it only means that we arrived at a more advanced stage in our Cognitive Evolvement earlier and have remained there. Others also have the capability of reaching it and may choose to aspire towards it while some may yet elect to remain where they are. I, as a Jew, am comfortable and content where our Jewish tradition, religion and our people are.
Why then would I, or we, Jews, want to change it by reverting to a previous stage?