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Religious Protest and Religious Loyalty

Avi Sagi, Nir Sagi

Abstract

In the accepted view, the basic disposition of believers is one of absolute obedience, humility, and lack of critique, doubt, or, indeed, defiance of God. Only through such a disposition do believers convey their absolute faith and establish the appropriate hierarchy between God and humans. This article challenges this view and argues that, in mainstream rabbinic tradition, the believer is not required to renounce his or her moral autonomy and certainly not his or her understanding of God and the world. Indeed, faith rests on such understanding; moreover, human autonomy is the mechanism through which humans convey God’s goodness and perfection. Their questions and criticism are part of a persistent effort to close the evident gap between their assumptions about God’s goodness and the flawed imperfect reality. The analysis focuses on rabbinic tradition but its implications go beyond it, presenting a model of a life of faith that compels subjects, as believers, to preserve their constitutive foundations as rational autonomous creatures.

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