Friday, August 07, 2009

Dual Covenant Theology

  • Reference: Jonathan Bernis. The Dangers of Dual Covenant Theology. Friday, 07 August 2009 10:31 AM EDT; downoaded 4:12 PM PDT.
Israel has no better friend than the evangelical Christian. The USA's loyalty to Israel stems not only from memory of the Holocaust, but also from the influence of the evangelical Christian. Roman Catholics have historically viewed Jews as the crucifiers of the Christ. Many mainline Protestants believe the Christian church has completely supplanted Israel, whose remaining values are as an object lesson and as a tourist destination. It is evangelical Christians who love the family through which came the prophets and the Savior; and it is evangelicals who treasure the prophesy that God will grant Israel repentance en masse, turning them again to their God's redemption through His incarnation and substitutionary sacrifice as the Son. As the generation that remembers the Holocaust dies off, it will be the evangelical Christian who keeps alive America's friendship.

"Dual covenant theology" promotes the idea that the Abrahamic or Mosaic covenants created a path to heaven for Jewish people. Jews, it says, have salvation, without needing faith in their Messiah.

This theology teaches a compromise between the exclusive claim of Christ, that "no man comes unto the Father but by me," and universalism, the idea that God accepts all sincere practitioners of conscience, regardless of whether they accept God. Dual covenanters believe Judaism holds validity equal to that of Christianity. Christians, therefore, need not explain to Jews the fulfillment of their faith, but rather should hold full communion with practicing Jews as though Judaism just formed another Christian denomination.

This split position results from the pressures of secularism, universalism, and guilt.

Secularism rejects all religions in favor of naturalism, but grants religions validity to the degree that they bind and lubricate societies. With all religions having equal validity, it becomes unethical, "wrong," to make followers of any of those religions feel rejected by criticizing their beliefs. Christians feel the pressure to accept this secular dogma at every turn of public life, from the televised sitcom to the public school to the workplace. Those with weak or immature, undefined faith are susceptable to such influences.

Universalism stems from the secularism that dominates among mainline theologians. The academic class looks down from its lofty intellectual clouds and sets the weak and artificial faith of the theologian as the standard. Again, anemic faith in one's own religion leads to accepting the tenates of secularism and tolerance of beliefs such as pantheism that diametrically oppose Biblical teachings. Believing themselves to have transcended the plain teachings of the Bible and accepting universal salvation, many theologians and their followers feel enlightened and respected. Hearing the praise of secular academics, they pat themselves on the back for having "reached out" through compromising their beliefs.

While Judaism pointed forward to the coming Messiah, it was a correct faith. Those Jews who failed to recognize the fulfillment (not all did) became an obsolete cult as history left them behind. As the Catholic hierarchy blended with Rome's secular hierarchy, sects considered unorthodox, including Judaism, met the power of empirial force. Thus, Roman Catholic oppression formed a continuum that ended with the "Christian" (which was actually occultic), German, National Socialist regime conducting the Holocaust. (Admittedly, not all clergy cooperated with the NAZIs; an isolated few did harbor Jews and other "undesirables.") After the liberation of Hitler's death camps, "Holocaust guilt" drove the sentiments of many marginal Christians. The Jews, their leaders reasoned, had suffered enough and should not be further "persecuted" by those who would try to convince them to submit to their Messiah. Finding a reason such as dual covenant theology thus excused weak-faithed leaders from the responsibility to preach the gospel to every creature.

(From here on, I quote extensively from Bernis.)
But the Bible declares that the gospel is for the Jew 'first' (Rom. 1:16, NKJV). There is only one plan of salvation for all people.
To the Jews first came the covenants. To the Jews first came the prophets. To the Jews first came the Law. To the Jews first came the Savior. To the Jews first came the gospel and the blessings of the Holy Spirit. And now, you want to excuse them from responding?
Jesus Himself said in John 14:6: "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
The apostle Peter, a Jew, conveyed this to the Jerusalem Sanhedrin (the Jewish ruling body), saying, "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, wherey we must be saved." (Acts 4:12) God may grant intervention that leads to repentance for the descendants of Abraham, but their salvation still follows the same conditions that apply to everybody else. Heaven does not grant anyone a free pass like some racist, social justice, affirmative action program.

Bernis says,
I recently heard one prominent leader (who I otherwise greatly respect) say, "Jews do not come to Christ through proclamation, but through revelation."
Bernis tries to explain that "this leader feels it is God's job to reveal Himself to Jewish people despite Christ's command" that all men, starting with the Jews, should be made disciples of Christ through the proclamation of the gospel. (Matthew 28:19, Luke 24:47)
Although his point of view is not exactly dual covenant theology, the result is the same-there is no need to share our faith with Jewish people.
But the Bible tells us that proclamation of the gospel is a prerequisite to faith:

"How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? ... So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Rom. 10:14-17).

These verses are talking about the restoration of the Jewish people.

During our years of outreach to the former Soviet Union, I have seen thousands of Jewish people pray to receive Yeshua as their Messiah. It has been in response to the proclamation of the gospel, just as Paul said.

All would be better served -- not to mention more faithful to the Great Commission -- if Christian Zionist leaders would simply be honest in their relationships with Jewish leaders. Instead of saying they are against evangelizing Jewish people, they should say: "I'm an evangelical Christian, compelled to share the gospel with all people. That means I can't exclude you. I will share my faith openly, because that is what God calls me to do. But also know that my love for you and support of Israel is unconditional."

I assure you, Jewish leaders would respect and accept this position, and we all would be the better for it.

I pray that Christian Zionism will continue to flourish. Israel needs our support now more than ever. Anti-Semitism is on the rise worldwide, and Hezbollah, Iran and Syria are not going away. They hate Israel and want to see the tiny nation pushed into the sea.
The rise to power of fatherless American presidents with no memory of the Holocaust and raised in an age of secular humanism-dominated schools dramatically threatens our friendship with Israel.
We need friends, but not at the expense of withholding the gospel from our people. After all, there is no greater blessing you can give a Jewish person than eternal life through a relationship with their Messiah. His name is Yeshua.
Jonathan Bernis, a Jewish believer in Yeshua (Jesus), is founder of Hear O Israel Ministries, an organization doing extensive outreach and humanitarian aid around the world. He is also executive director of Phoenix-based Jewish Voice Ministries International. He founded two Messianic congregations and served them as a senior Messianic rabbi for 11 years.

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