Rabbi David Goldberg and a Question of God

By Simon Rocker
November 5, 2008

In a typically provocative piece, the emeritus rabbi of the Liberal Jewish Synagogue, St John's Wood, Rabbi David Goldberg, has argued that the traditional concept of God is dead for "non-fundamentalist" Jews.

Writing in the new edition of the Progressive quarterly Manna, he says that the evocation of God in prayers can only be symbolic - a "catch-all label that we use at all the public rituals and holy days when we affirm our common adherence to ideals of goodness, hope and klal Yisrael [jewish peoplehood], much as pastors invoke God before an American football game."

He concludes; "Where does this leave Progressive Judaism? In 30 years' time, will we still gather at religious services to proclaim our belief in the great, mighty and awesome God filtered through the vitiated formulations of Forms of Prayer and Siddur Lev Chadash [the Reform and Liberal siddurim]?

"I doubt it. By then will Science have disposed once and for all of the supernatural, interventionist God of the Bible?"

But hold on. In an abridged, adapted version for the Guardian's new online "belief" section, doubt has turned to certainty and the final question mark has gone. That piece ends: "If churches and synagogues are still functioning in 30 years' time, it won't be the theology on offer that draws in worshippers. By then, science will have disposed once and for all of the transcendent, interventionist God of the Bible."





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