Jerry wonders if he is living a life of truth and proposes to Abigail. Abigail gives a surprising but thoughtful response. Will God be present at their wedding?
God and Jerry have a deep conversation about Christianity, Jesus, Jews, and the covenant. Jerry asks God difficult questions and receives unsettling answers, and he struggles to share these answers with his Jewish wife, Abigail.
In next week's Life Wisdom Project episode, meet Dr. Jonathan Weidenbaum, Professor of Philosophy and World Religions at Berkeley College in New York, for a memorable discussion of episode three, which we revisit today- I Ask God About The Beliefs I Grew Up With.
The Life Wisdom Project explores lessons and insight from each chapter of God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher. From Jerry's conversations with God, the Life Wisdom Project will look at the takeaways from God and the book for everyday living. How can we live better, healthier, happier, and wiser lives?
The dramatic adaptation of God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher, is brought to life through Director and Host Scott Langdon's dramatic and vocal talents as Dr. Jerry L. Martin, and Dr. Martin's reenactment of the voice of God- as he heard it.
Related Episodes: [Dramatic Adaptation] 3. I Ask God About The Beliefs I Grew Up With [The Life Wisdom Project] 93. Introducing The Life Wisdom Project | 94. Tuning In To God | 99. A Lesson In Obedience
Scott Langdon [00:00:17] This is God: An Autobiography, The Podcast. A dramatic adaptation and continuing discussion of the book God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher by Jerry L. Martin. He was a lifelong agnostic, but one day he had an occasion to pray. To his vast surprise, God answered- in words. Being a philosopher, he had a lot of questions, and God had a lot to tell him. Episode 106.
Scott Langdon [00:01:10] Hello and welcome to God: An Autobiography, The Podcast. I'm Scott Langdon, and this week we bring you a special episode of the podcast as we prepare for next week's third edition in our new series, The Life Wisdom Project. In each edition of the Life Wisdom Project series, Jerry is joined by a special guest, and together, they explore what Jerry's conversations with God imply about how we can live our lives better. Next week, Jerry is joined by Jonathan Weidenbaum, professor of philosophy and world religions at Berkeley College in New York, and the two discuss episode three of our podcast- I Ask God About The Beliefs I Grew Up With. Adapted from chapters two and three of the book, episode three recounts the transition of Jerry and Abigail's relationship from dating to marriage, and how God remained an ever present partner. In episode three, as is the case for the entire audio adaptation of the book, I speak the voice of Jerry and Jerry L. Martin, who heard the voice, speaks the voice of God. Also in episode three, Abigail Rosenthal, Jerry's wife, speaks her own voice. Remember, you can hear the complete audio adaptation of the book any time by beginning with episode one of our podcast and listening through Episode 44. And now Episode three, I Ask God About The Beliefs I Grew Up With. I hope you enjoy the episode.
Jerry Martin [00:02:52] Abigail was still teaching full-time in New York, and I was working in Washington, D.C. We saw each other only on all-too-brief weekends. Come summer, we were spending more time together. She needed a car. I looked at the ads and found a nice little white used car. The guy selling it was the youth minister at his church. I started to explain I was buying it for my girlfriend, but that wasn't true. I was buying it for my future wife. "I'm buying it for my fiancé," I told the man. There had never been any doubt that I would marry Abigail. I never considered anything short of that. But, in a methodical way, I had held off for six long months. It was time to pop the question. I took her to a dark, romantic Spanish restaurant in Alexandria. I told her I loved her and wanted to "spend at least one lifetime together,” and asked if she would be my wife. I asked and waited. And waited. Then waited some more. She seemed deep in thought. “You haven't answered my question.”
Abigail Rosenthal [00:04:26] Yes.
Jerry Martin [00:04:28] Why the long pause?
Abigail Rosenthal [00:04:30] It was a serious question. I thought I should give it a serious answer. Jerry Martin [00:04:45] To us, the ceremony was not just the last step of a legal process. It was important to be married "before God." His presence was required. Everything seemed so slapdash, I actually worried God might not be present with us. “Lord, will you be with us?”
Voice of God [00:05:07] You couldn't keep me away! My presence will be fully with you. I bless this marriage. I will be present in every pore of your being.
Jerry Martin [00:05:23] It was a simple and beautiful ceremony, and we did feel blessed. But, as time went on, I found I was praying but not really listening. I was avoiding something. I had entered college a Christian and left an agnostic. I had no desire to be "washed in the blood" again. The question I had been avoiding was… Do you want me to become a Christian?
Voice of God [00:05:56] No. I don't want you to join any denomination.
Jerry Martin [00:06:00] Is it okay for me to read about Jesus?
Voice of God [00:06:04] Yes, but reading through the Old Testament first is a good approach.
Jerry Martin [00:06:09] The God of the Old Testament seems terrifying. You do not seem terrifying, Lord.
Voice of God [00:06:16] I was young then. I had not had much experience with people. I am an evolving God.
Jerry Martin [00:06:26] God was young, then? He is evolving? The God who spoke to me was very much a personal God. It was surprising but not out of character if, like other persons, He changes over time. Later I would learn this is why God wanted to talk to me. I was relieved I did not have to become a Christian, but I still wondered whether Christian beliefs about Jesus were true. “Lord, is Jesus your son?”
Voice of God [00:07:07] Yes.
Jerry Martin [00:07:09] I had trouble tracking these answers. “But you told me I should not become a Christian.”
Voice of God [00:07:16] Yes, you should not.
Jerry Martin [00:07:18] But you just said…
Voice of God [00:07:20] To believe that Jesus is my son is not the same as being a Christian. Christianity is a sect, with some truths but many limitations. Study Jesus, learn from him but do not become a Christian.
Jerry Martin [00:07:40] Lord, does Jesus have a unique role, or is he one of the many manifestations of God?
Voice of God Unique.
Jerry Martin Is he the key to saving or healing the world?
Voice of God [00:07:52] Yes, he is an important part of it.
Jerry Martin [00:07:55] Is the language of "believing in him" apt?
Voice of God [00:07:59] Yes.
Jerry Martin [00:08:00] Should I pray to Jesus or God?
Voice of God [00:08:03] It is the same.
Jerry Martin [00:08:05] What about Mary?
Voice of God [00:08:07] The feminine side of God--the healing side--is important in healing the world. Mary is a good embodiment, representation, reflection of that side of God.
Jerry Martin [00:08:40] My wife is Jewish, and I was afraid all this talk about Jesus would upset her. But, like someone who talks too much about the very thing he wants to avoid, I asked… “Lord, did the Jews make a mistake in not being open to the new covenant announced by Jesus?”
Voice of God [00:09:00] Yes.
Jerry Martin [00:09:02] Oh, no. Here goes.
Voice of God [00:09:05] They became wedded to the covenant, the covenant with the people of Israel in their Messianic destiny. That was, and remains, a valid covenant. But it is not the only covenant. I make many covenants with human beings. They are all valid and have their own destiny, and work together toward a common destiny for mankind. The new covenant of Jesus is not as incompatible with the covenant with Israel as Jews tend to suppose. It is compatible, but does not supersede, does not erase or nullify, the old covenant.
Jerry Martin [00:09:52] Does Jesus replace the covenant?
Voice of God [00:09:55] No, he fulfills it.
Jerry Martin [00:09:57] I see. But does Jesus fulfill the covenant in a way that replaces it?
Voice of God [00:10:03] No, it remains fully valid.
Jerry Martin [00:10:06] Should Jews, in Jesus' day have accepted him as Messiah?
Voice of God [00:10:10] Yes.
Jerry Martin [00:10:11] Why didn't they accept Jesus?
Voice of God [00:10:14] Many different reasons. He was too radical, flouted their traditions, spoke a language they found uncomfortable, alien. It's not easy to believe. It is easier to pray for a distant Messiah than to accept a present one.
Jerry Martin [00:10:32] Lord, was it a sin for the Jews to reject Jesus?
Voice of God [00:10:36] No. No more or less than all those years you did not believe. It is a sin in a sense, but it is also much of the human condition not to believe. People are skeptical for good reasons, having to do with their intelligence, as well as bad.
Jerry Martin [00:10:55] Did the Jews kill Christ?
Voice of God [00:10:58] That's a silly question. Did Americans--or Southerners--kill Lincoln? Some Jews, some Gentiles were equally implicated. That is a nonissue.
Jerry Martin [00:11:16] I would often tell Abigail what I had been told, and usually she reserved comment. But, when she heard that Jews should have accepted Jesus, she burst into tears.
Abigail Rosenthal [00:11:30] Two thousand years of pogroms and persecution, ghettos and exile--all for a mistake?
Jerry Martin [00:11:39] I don't know if that is really an implication of what I had been told, but it was certainly a natural reaction.
Abigail Rosenthal [00:11:46] Mistake or not, the people of the covenant, as the "suffering servant" identified by Isaiah, will always be vulnerable to persecution.
Jerry Martin [00:12:00] After that, I wondered whether I should share everything with Abigail. “What should I do about Abigail, Lord? She is a sensitive person--feelings shoot right through her body. Should I keep it to myself?”
Voice of God [00:12:24] Use discretion. Do not break the vessel.
Scott Langdon [00:12:44] Thank you for listening. To God: An Autobiography, The Podcast. Subscribe for free today wherever you listen to your podcasts and hear a new episode every week. You can hear the complete dramatic adaptation of God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher by Jerry L. Martin, by beginning with episode one of our podcast and listening through its conclusion with Episode 44. You can read the original true story in the book from which this podcast is adapted. God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher, available now at Amazon.com, and always at godanautobiography.com. Pick up your own copy today. If you have any questions about this or any other episode, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and experience the world from God's perspective as it was told to a philosopher. This is Scott Langdon. I'll see you next time.