Babylon Bee chief outed as Jewish, anti-Semites angry as usual

Babylon Bee CEO Seth Dillon was "outed" as Jewish this week.

I say outed loosely: Dillon is the one who publicly made it known he has Jewish heritage; it's not some secret that the anti-Semites uncovered through careful investigation.

Dillon replied,

I liked Dillon's response about not ceasing to be Jewish when following Jesus the Jew. I chimed in,

That triggered Christian anti-Semites to start chiming in with thoughtful replies like:

  • "There are Jewish Torah scrolls decorated with Satanic symbols!"
  • "Secular Jews are preaching the art of Satanism"
  • "Pretty sure Jesus called you lot the synagogue of Satan a few times tho right?"
  • "There is zero connection between Woody Allen and the ancient people of Judea that practiced the religion of the Second Temple."
  • "The satanic symbols on a jewish torah is used by the church of Satan today, which was founded by a jew. Connect the dots!"
  • "You're a zio-shill"
  • "the apostles didn't have a talmud"
  • "You're stupid and that's not my problem"
I didn't spend much time with those folks. People so caught up in wild conspiracies are rarely worth engaging. They live in a dark, make-believe world of their own imagining. They probably need supernatural deliverance, not unlike the kind you see in the Exorcist movie. 

But many other slightly-more-reasonable Christians chimed in to tell me God doesn't care about Jewish identity any more now that Jesus arrived. A few choice examples:

Among several others.

These folks aren't necessarily anti-Semites; they don't hate Jews. But they do think that the New Testament makes Jewishness irrelevant. There is no more chosen people. What's our answer?


It's reasonable to ask whether Jewish identity matters at all in the new era instituted by Messiah's arrival. In the New Testament, Paul does say there is "neither Jew nor Greek for you are all one in Christ."

My best answer to this uses simple logic.

In the same breath, Paul also says there is neither male or female in Christ. If Paul meant Jews and Gentiles literally don't matter anymore, he must also be saying that male and female don't matter anymore.

(And the only people saying such things are those poor souls infected by the woke mind virus.)

Since men and women exist, and since there are God-ordained distinctions between them, Paul cannot be saying male and female categories no longer exist, or that their distinctions aren't important.

I propose Paul is saying "no Jew nor Gentile, no male nor female" with regards to salvation: If you're a follower of Messiah, it doesn't matter what your class, race, gender is. (Sorry wokesters!) We're all his children and deeply loved by him, no matter one's background.

This doesn't mean, however, that all previous distinctions and categories magically disappear. God has a special calling for women often distinct from men. And God has a special plan of revival and restoration and calling for the Jewish people.

I went back and forth with one poster about this, and we finally reached some common ground of agreement. 

A final bit of evidence I use for my case is Paul's own words.

If Paul is saying Jewish identity is irrelevant, why does Paul speak about the importance and relevance of Jewish identity multiple times in the New Testament? Some off the top of my head:

  • He says there is "much advantage to being a Jew, and much value in circumcision", arguing God has chosen Jewish people to be entrusted with the Scripture itself. (Rom 3)
  • He calls himself a Jew in Romans 9-11
  • He calls himself a Pharisee in Acts 23
  • He takes a collection for the Jewish poor in Jerusalem among the Gentile congregations (1 Cor 16). 
  • He argues that Gentiles should share physical resources and money with Jewish believers, since Jews shared in spiritual inheritance with Gentiles.
  • He celebrates Jewish feasts and encourages others to do so (1 Cor 5)
  • He takes a Torah-prescribed vow in the Temple and pays for others to do the same "so that all will know there is no truth to these reports that you teach contrary to the Torah, but you yourself are living in obedience to it." (Acts 21). 
  • He says that while some Jews who reject Messiah act like enemies to Christians, "they are still loved by God for the sake of the patriarchs" and that God's calling on Jews is irrevocable. (Romans 11)
  • He says Jewish people specifically will receive mercy from God in the end (Romans 11)
  • He submits to Jewish religious discipline in Acts.
  • He says God has not rejected his own people, the Jewish people (Rom 11). 
Among others. 

If Paul is arguing Jewish identity doesn't matter, as these Christians claim, why does Paul appeal to Jewish identity so much? 

My answer is that Paul is arguing race/class/gender/etc don't matter to God with regards to salvation. He's picked people from every nation, class, gender, background to follow him and be called his children. 

He's not saying Jewish identity has become irrelevant.

This interpretation seems to better align with the logic of Paul's statements regarding male/female and Jew/Gentile. And it jives better with the whole context of Paul's writings. I'd argue it is in better harmony with the whole counsel of Scripture.

Counted all [Jewishness] as loss

Another reasonable objection I encountered was that Paul says he counted his past experience in Judaism as loss:

He's quoting Paul from Philippians 3 here:

If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.  
-Paul, Philippians 3

The interpretation here is that Paul is saying Jewish identity and Jewish religious credentials don't matter. 

I do not think Paul is saying that, and for many of the reasons cited above. Rather, Paul is saying they don't gain you eternal life with God.

The context of this passage is important. Paul is addressing the Christian Judaizers who said you must be circumcised (convert to Judaism) to be saved and have eternal life with God. The opening verses of this chapter includes Paul's warning, "Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh. For it is we who are the circumcision..." -- this is speaking about those Christians who were saying Gentiles must be circumcised and convert to Judaism before they could be considered Christians.

We're confident this was a major question in the early Church, attested to in Acts 15 and several other places in the New Testament: do non-Jews who follow the Jewish Messiah need to convert to Judaism (i.e. undergo circumcision) to be part of God's family? (And by extension, if a Gentile doesn't get circumcised, is he saved? Will he have eternal life with God?) That's the important context of this passage.

Paul's answer is a vehement no. New Gentile Christians do not need to convert to Judaism and undergo circumcision to be part of God's family.

It is in this context Paul says all his Jewish credentials -- his training in the synagogue as a Pharisee zealous for the law -- were worthless. He thought he was living righteously, but he was without Messiah. Paul is arguing outward religious acts and religious identity can't save that person from the wrath of God for our sins. Rather, those who believe and are indwelt by the Spirit of God -- it's those people who are saved. Everything else is counted as loss.

It's Paul's version of, "What good is it for a man to gain the world and lose your soul?" Paul "gained the world", Jewishly speaking, but had lost his soul in persecuting the followers of the real Jewish Messiah.


There are a lot of Christian anti-Semites on the web. I can confidently label them anti-Semites: they are part of "groyper" groups: white nationalists, far-right racists. Their profile pictures feature stereotypical Jews with long noses, but in lizard skin. (A combo of conspiracy theories!) Their tweets feature sympathy for Adolf Hitler, claims the Holocaust was fabricated, anti-Zionist propaganda, etc. From their responses, they don't have deep Biblical literacy. They mostly appeal to special interpretations of a handful of verses (synagogue of Satan, certain rebukes of Pharisees, etc.). Dig a little, and you'll find their well is empty.

Many Christians feel the New Testament does away with Jews, Jewish identity, Torah, the Old Testament, and Judaism itself. This is replacement theology, also called supercessionism. 

These folks are not necessarily anti-Semites, but have a certain view of Scripture that replaces Jews and Judaism with the Church and Christianity. These people are probably worth engaging in gentle discussion. Some of those I engaged proved fruitful discussions, finding some common ground even if we disagreed on details.

If there's something we can pray, it's that God gives all of us wisdom and discernment in this age of wild foolishness and rampant deception.

1860: A Momentous Year in Human, Jewish, and Prophetic History

Dear Kineti readers,

Below you'll find a fascinating guest post by Aaron Hecht, writing about God's work in recent history: from the humble beginnings of Jewish settlers outside Jerusalem in 1860 to the nations as bit players on the world stage during the early 20th century, all leading up to the reestablishment of the state of Israel. I found this post to be riveting -- much of the history presented here was new to me! -- I hope it gives you all a richer understanding of God's work in our modern times and his faithfulness to bring his promises to fruition.

1948 colorized photo of Mishkenot Sha'ananim משכנות שאננים, the first Jewish neighborhood built outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem in 1860.

My academic studies were in History, Political Science, Geostrategic Affairs, and the Bible. The confluence of all that became apparent to me as I began my professional career working as a journalist in Jerusalem and every year it becomes more and more apparent. There are many things that happen in the life of a follower of Christ which don’t seem very significant at the time, but in retrospect, it is easy to understand that God was moving in the life of that individual.

The same is true of a nation, especially Israel.

The history of this country is full of small events that radically altered the trajectory of the whole world but that only a small handful of people saw or heard about at the time. In this blog, I want to tell you about one of those tiny events, and a few other rather big ones, all of which happened at almost the same time late in the year 1859 and into the year 1860.

Most of the time, when the trajectory of human history changes, it happens because something changes somewhere, and then a few years or even decades later, something else changes somewhere else, and the two changes begin to intersect over many years and that leads to other changes and those changes begin to intersect and affect other things which cause greater and greater ripples in society, culture, economics, politics, etc. and so over the course of MANY years, the trajectory of history bends and eventually a new equilibrium is reached and things continue on that same trajectory for a long time until this process is repeated.

However, in the year 1860, many changes happened all at once in several different places all over the world and began to intersect and affect each other very quickly. Thus, in 1860 the trajectory of human history started perceptibly bending almost immediately and it only took a few more years for the trajectory of human history to change radically. Things never really got back into a predictable equilibrium and up to this very day, the pace of change in many areas of life has continued to accelerate to the point where it’s almost too much for anyone to even try and keep up with.

For this reason (and I know this is going to be a VERY controversial point for many people, but I ask you to hear me out) I believe that we can say the “Last Days” prophesied about in the Book of Revelation actually began in the year 1860.

Here’s why I think so.

As I sit here in Jerusalem writing this blog, Israelis are preparing to observe a peculiar tradition, marking Remembrance Day for Israelis killed during wars and terrorist attacks on the day before we celebrate Independence Day. Almost everyone knows that the modern State of Israel was founded on May 14th, 1948, when David Ben-Gurion read out the Declaration of Independence at a hall in Tel Aviv just a few minutes after the end of the British Mandate for Palestine. (The building has been preserved and is now a museum and you should visit it the next time you’re in Israel.) A few minutes later, the US ambassador to the UN announced that his government recognized the new State of Israel, then a few minutes later the Soviet ambassador did the same, followed by the ambassadors of all the other major world powers.

Israel commemorates historical events according to a lunar calendar, not the Gregorian calendar, and that’s why Biblical festivals including Passover and Sukkot, but also secular holidays like Independence Day, take place on different dates according to the Gregorian calendar every year.

All of this is probably familiar material to readers of this blog.

But there’s a detail about Memorial Day for the fallen of Israel that occurs the day before Independence Day that even many Israelis are unaware of.

On Memorial Day, Israelis honor the memories of fallen soldiers who were killed in wars (including those who might have died decades later of wounds they suffered in combat), victims of terrorism, and the first casualties commemorated fell all the way back in 1860, 88 years before the founding of the State and even 37 years before the First Zionist Congress took place in Switzerland.

Who were these first casualties of what would become known to historians as “the Arab-Israeli conflict” who were killed way back in 1860? What was going on back then in Jerusalem which resulted in the violence that they were victims of?

To answer the first question, the first Jewish people commemorated on Memorial Day in Israel were workers on their way to help build Mishkenot Sha'ananim, the first Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem outside the walls of the Old City. This work crew was attacked by a group of armed Arab men shortly after exiting the Old City through the Jaffa Gate and at least one of the Jewish workers was killed. Many of the details of this street fight are a bit hazy, and there are different sources that say not one but two Jewish men were killed. There’s also a story that one of the Arab attackers later died of an injury he sustained in the melee.

But in any case, that was the first recorded round in what would later become known as the “Arab-Israeli conflict” and countless more rounds would follow, up to this very day.

There were many other events that occurred in the year 1860 which would, in a relatively short period of time, radically change the lives of every single human being living on this planet. A large book could easily be written on this subject, and maybe someday I will write such a book.
But for now, I’ll just mention two of these momentous events, both of which occurred in the United States.

The first event was the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States.
The second event actually happened in the fall of 1859, but it didn’t begin to be noticed much until the summer of 1860. I am referring to the first commercial production of petroleum oil, which began in an obscure corner of western Pennsylvania and quickly grew into a multi-million dollar industry.

(Authors note: I know what some of you are thinking. There were no automobiles in 1860, so what did anyone need petroleum oil for? The answers to that question, and many other questions you’ve probably wondered about your whole life regarding the modern world, can be found in Daniel Yergin’s book “The Prize: The Epic Quest for Money, Oil and Power” which you can and should read, along with all his other books.)

But getting back to the main topic, these two events would both have an enormous impact on the US Civil War, which was the first modern armed conflict and which greatly affected every major armed conflict that came after it and by extension many of the other events which led up to the founding of the State of Israel.

Here’s how it all happened.

Most historians agree that Abraham Lincoln’s leadership was critical to the Union’s victory in the Civil War, and it was also critical to the sequence of events (which had already begun) that led up to the Civil War happening in the first place. In a very real way, the US Civil War gave birth to the modern world, for better and for worse, and Abraham Lincoln was the midwife in that process, once again for better and for worse.

But if Lincoln was the midwife to the modern world, the oil industry is the beating heart of that world. It had just gotten started in Pennsylvania in the last few months of 1859 and quickly grew into a major source of revenue for the US government as it fought the Civil War. Needless to say, that was just the beginning of all the changes petroleum oil production would bring to the world, obviously including the Middle East which Israel is a part of.

At the same time, the cotton industry, which had been one of the most important sources of revenue for the southern states prior to the US Civil War, almost completely came to a halt during the war because of the blockade the Union Navy put on all the ports in the south. This forced the textile mills in England, which were a key part of the emerging Industrial Revolution which was bringing enormous benefits to that country, to search for another source of cotton.

There was one country in particular that was producing large quantities of cotton at that time, nearly enough to meet the needs of textile mills in England, and that was Egypt. So British corporations, businessmen, and other monied interests flocked to the country to buy up every ounce of cotton they could, at prices far above what had ever been paid for Egyptian cotton before.

What happened next was a tragic foretaste of what would happen again and again all over the world in the decades to come, as this large injection of money into a country that had been fairly poor for the previous several hundred years led to corruption, waste, exploitation and vastly increased misery for the majority of the country’s inhabitants.

The wealthy elites in that country, including the King, got a lot wealthier very quickly and the same British businessmen who came to buy their cotton also came to show them what they could use their newfound wealth to buy. This included large statues of themselves, expensive clothes and jewelry, and lots of other nonsense they had never needed before and still didn’t need. But these wealthy elites quickly acquired a taste for these expensive trappings of wealth and prestige that their British “friends” showed them, and that taste became a permanent feature of life in Egypt. Very little of the newfound wealth was invested in things like education, healthcare, or anything else that would have improved the quality of life for ordinary people in Egypt while building the foundations for a modern economy.

In 1865 the US Civil War ended, and by 1870, production and export of cotton had made a strong recovery. This led to a decrease in both the demand and the price of Egyptian cotton. However, the elites who had made so much money so fast had also spent a lot of their new money very quickly and when the income from selling cotton at inflated prices fell, they still had their expensive tastes. So like so many others, they began to buy the neat stuff they’d grown to like so much on credit. Once again, it was their “friends” in the British banking system which extended them this credit, using their lands (in the case of the King of Egypt, this basically meant the whole country) as collateral.

The bankers who so generously extended these lines of credit to their Egyptian clients were very aware of the fact that they’d never get their money back, but they didn’t mind because they knew that they’d get the collateral instead, which is what they really wanted.
The British government knew they’d have to step in to enforce the claims that these banks would have on the collateral, but that was okay because they wanted to do that anyway. The British government, especially the Royal Navy, had their eyes on a different prize, and that was the Suez Canal which the French had built connecting the Mediterranean to the Red Sea. Construction of the Canal (which would play a major role in every war Israel fought from 1948 to 1973) had begun in late 1859, around the same time petroleum oil had begun to be commercially produced in Pennsylvania.

The British government and the Royal Navy probably weren’t thinking about oil at the time, they just wanted control of the Suez Canal so they could stop paying the French for the privilege of sending ships through it on their way from England to their massive colonies in south Asia (what would someday become the independent countries of Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.)

So the pieces were all now in place, and in due course of time, the British did indeed take control of Egypt in the closing years of the 19th century.

That brings us back to that crew of Jewish workers who were attacked by a group of armed Arab men as they left the Jaffa Gate one morning in 1860 on their way to build the new neighborhood of Mishkenot Sha’ananim. I doubt very much if those Jewish guys fully realized it, but they weren’t just building houses and streets. They were taking the very first, small step in building what would become the modern State of Israel. They were building the foundations for Jewish sovereignty in this country, the restoration of which had been prophesied in the Bible thousands of years previously.

Mishkenot Sha'ananim under construction beneath Moshe Montifiore's windmill.

At the same time, the Arab guys who attacked them almost certainly didn’t realize it, but they weren’t just attacking a crew of Jewish carpenters and stone masons, they were attacking the credibility of the God of the Bible. They were attempting to stop the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy.

Had those Jewish workers been intimidated into abandoning their goal of building a new neighborhood for Jews to live in outside the Old City walls, God would have had to find some other way to move the project forward. But they weren’t intimidated. They were back at work the very next day, and despite many more attacks, the work continued and still continues to this very day.

That having been said, those Jewish workers weren’t the only ones God was using to move forward with His prophetic plans and purposes.

By the turn of the 20th century, the British generals stationed on the western bank of the Suez Canal had already started looking north and contemplating what they’d need to do to move forward and take possession of all the oil and other resources they knew would soon be up for grabs as the crumbling Ottoman Empire, which had already for many decades been known as “the sick man of Europe” finally expired.

In 1914, they got their chance.

The story of how the Ottoman Empire came to be on the side of Germany during the First World War, and the opportunity that gave the British to grab all that stuff (the French also got a few things in the process) is a story that deserves a blog of its own.

When World War I was over, it was indeed the British who took possession of the lands which would someday be known as Israel and Jordan, along with less direct control over much else in this part of the world.

It was thus Great Britain, the only major European power with a strong Protestant Christian culture, including widespread support for what would come to be known as Christian Zionism, which took possession of the Holy Land. Already back then (in 1918) there was already a sizeable and growing Jewish population in this country which included institutions that would someday evolve into a functioning government, military, educational system, and all the other elements needed for a strong modern state and economy.

The British come in for a lot of criticism by Israeli historians for not fulfilling the promise of the Balfour Declaration and for many other missteps.

But I would submit that the British Mandate for Palestine was a womb, as deeply imperfect as it might have been, which allowed the embryonic Jewish institutions in the Holy Land to grow and develop into what they would need to be in order for Israel to become an independent country in 1948. The British also built a great deal of physical infrastructure in this country in the 30 years they were here, much of which is still being used today. The IDF in particular owes a lot to the Jewish units the British formed in both World Wars. Nearly all of the great Generals who led the IDF in the first decades of the State’s existence were veterans of these units. Moshe Dayan plainly stated that he’d learned everything he knew about how to be a soldier from Orde Wingate, the British commando and Christian Zionist who formed and led the “Special Night Squads” of Jewish volunteers to battle the Arab Revolt in this country from 1936 to 1939.

As a side note, the Americans might have also been a good option to play the role Britain played, but they were too far away at the time and also preoccupied with internal issues for most of the inter-war period. Although there were plenty of influential Christian Zionists in America, they did not have the level of influence over government policy that the Christian Zionist movement in Britain did. It would not be until the decisive victory of Western weapons and tactics over Soviet weapons and tactics that Israel delivered in the 1967 Six-Day War that Washington would realize the strategic value of Israel and become the great ally of this country that it is today.

So, brothers and sisters, I hope by reading this blog has whet your appetite to know more about this amazing God we serve, who moves in history and the affairs of human beings. There are many other stories that, when read in isolation, don’t seem to mean much but when you take all of it together, it is very obvious that God had His hand in these events and moved some things, held other things back, and in general made sure everything turned out the way He wanted it to.

This is not to say that human beings caught up in these moves of God always enjoyed it.

You can read many accounts of people who lived through the American Civil War and thought that it was the beginning of the end of the world. You can read many more accounts of people who lived through the First World War, the subsequent Spanish Flu pandemic, the Great Depression, and then the Second World War who thought that things just kept getting worse and worse and that surely if Jesus didn’t come back soon there might not be much left for Him to come back to.

Maybe you look around the world today at all the crises and increasing darkness and feel the same. Maybe you’re not enjoying living through this season of history very much.

But just remember, God IS on the Throne, He IS in control, and He absolutely DOES have a plan. Sometimes, that plan is being advanced by really big things that are highly visible, like a big war. But sometimes they’re being advanced by small things that only a handful of people know about, such as a small crew of Jewish men venturing out to build a few new houses outside the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City.

In other words brothers and sisters, it’s not time to despair. It’s time to look up, keep praying, love your families, support your local congregations, and in general hold each other up, for our Redemption is drawing very close.

Mishkenot Sha'ananim today.

Responding to Eitan Bar's '10 Harmful Doctrines'

Eitan Bar is an Israeli evangelist who was recently fired from his ministry, One For Israel, for having a romantic relationship with another employee who worked under him. (Bar clarifies in a Facebook post that the relationship took place after his wife had divorced him.)

Bar has now published a new book that says Christianity has a fanatic ideology that has led to murder of a Christian woman in Israel. Specifically, the woman felt she couldn’t divorce her phsycially abusive husband since adultery hadn’t occurred. Later, the husband murdered her in a drunken rage. Bar suggests our faith community is too strict with regards to divorce, and that this woman could have been saved if she hadn’t felt pressured by Christian theology to remain with him.

In a blog post that reflects his new book’s sentiments, Bar cites 10 harmful doctrines that Christianity must outgrow:

  1. False doctrine: God hates you, He is furious with you and wants to kill you because you are finite and imperfect (aka: sinner), but hallelujah! Jesus saved you from His angry Father.
  2. False doctrine: We don’t deserve God’s love.
  3. False doctrine: You were born a sinner, therefore deserving of eternal punishment from day one, just because of who you are.
  4. False doctrine: Even if you lusted in your heart for one second, God must cast you to hell forever to satisfy His justice, and brings about His glory.
  5. False Doctrine: Salvation is free, but it comes with terms and conditions.
  6. False idea: The Word of God encourages to hit children as it will keep them from going to hell.
  7. False idea: When a Christian community-singing turns very, very, very long, it is considered a spiritual revival.
  8. False idea: You don’t need to study, learn or research the Bible and you don’t need to be helped by experts and scholars. Just pray before and read it for yourself.
  9. False idea: You have to go to church on Sunday.
  10. False idea: If you pray before you eat, God will substitute the sugars and trans fats in your McFamily Bundle meal into nutrients and vitamins.

I address each of these claims below.

Before I respond, let me preface by saying I’m not Israeli, I don’t hold a theological degree, and the Messianic Judaism of my practice likely varies a great deal from the Jewish Christian spheres Eitan works in.

Still, the issues raised by Eitan are worth thinking about and taking action on. And that’s my purpose here.

1. False doctrine: God hates you, Jesus saved you from the Father

Bar writes,

It is as if the godhead (of some preachers) extends two hands to us. The right hand represents the Father, who wants to strike us with wrath simply because we are imperfect. The left hand represents the Son; a soft, caring, gentle hand reaching out to hug us also because we are imperfect. It is the classic “good cop, bad cop” method we see in movies. But then, we are told that on the right hand’s way to strike us, the left hand interferes and gets struck by the right hand hard enough that it dies. Finally, the right hand can relax; its wrath was finally satisfied. May the left-hand rest in peace.

There’s a lot to unpack here.

Bar cites some popular reform preachers (Piper, Sproul, Driscoll, and others) who appear to say that God hates sinners. And since everyone sins, this logically means God hates everyone.

Just the other week I had highlighted a post by Christian apologist William Lane Craig. When asked whether Muslims worship the same God as Jews and Christians, Craig responded that a big difference between the Biblical God and the Quran's God is that in the Quran, Allah hates sinners:

And yet here Bar quotes reform preachers who claim the opposite, that God of the Bible hates sinners just like the God of the Quran. I guess we’re all Muslims after all! 😉

Eitan Bar notes that this would create a conflict between Messiah and God,

As a Jewish-Christian, I consider the idea that “Jesus saved us from God” to be wrong for several more reasons. Firstly, according to the Trinitarian doctrine, God is a triune being consisting of the Father, the Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit. Therefore, it would be irrational to say that Jesus saved us from God, since Jesus himself is God.

Bar also responds to proof texts about God hating sinners, like Psalm 5’s “You hate all evildoers”, saying that it likely refers to idolaters, not all humanity. I would not only agree with Bar here, but extend it further: the psalmist uses poetic language and license; we must not take every word hyper-literally. If this weren't true, Psalm 137 would indicate that God approves killing the infants of our enemies by smashing them on rocks.

He further notes that Biblical hate can mean covenantal rejection or avoidance. Thus when God says, “Jacob I loved but Esau I hated”, it means that God rejected Esau, not that God literally burned in hatred for him.

What’s the truth here?

I think Bar is framing it uncharitably.

God's wrath is rightly on sinful people, but it's been cancelled by God's own design. 

Look, friends, I’ve sinned so many times in my life. Lived a way that would not only displease God, but would bring shame on God’s name.

That probably describes you, too. It probably describes most of us. 

And one needs only to look at our culture to see it. School shootings, widespread sexual immorality, political corruption and bribery, censorship or imprisonment of political opponents, widely available pornography, high divorce rates, abusive marriages, abortion, sexualization of children, drug culture, mass confusion on gender, pedophiles in the church with leadership covering it up, honor killings and rapes, and more. We really do deserve God's wrath. 

(And this isn't just a religious proposition - there's a popular secular subreddit, /r/NoahGetTheBoat, that documents new instances of human depravity as tongue-in-cheek reasons why God should flood the earth again.)

God loves people and would rather not pour out his wrath (e.g. Ezekiel 18, Romans 2). God sends Messiah to reconcile sinners to Himself, and wrath is averted. This isn’t some fringe doctrine of Western Christianity. It’s a core truth of God’s work in the world. The fruit of it is billions of people have come to know and love God.

I suspect Bar still affirms this truth, but is pushing against some of the more extreme manifestations of that theology. Like Bar, I would not say that God is the angry right hand that is blocked by Messiah’s gentle left hand.

Rather, I’d frame it like this: God loves humanity so much that he doesn’t desire the death of anyone. So much that he gave his son to the world. Knowing full well what evil people would do, but transforming that evil to bring about the reconciliation of billions of people. That's the love of God. It's not wrathful Father fighting against loving Son. It's God cancelling his own wrath by his own design.

2. False doctrine: We don’t deserve God’s love

This is really an extension of the above. Bar states,

God’s love for us is not based on whether we deserve it or not. Just as parents love their children, God loves us unconditionally, regardless of our imperfections and mistakes. As it says in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” This verse highlights that even when we as sinners, God does finds us worthy of His love.

He cites Yeshua’s parable of the Prodigal Son, saying,

This parable Jesus told went against the very fundamental teaching of the Pharisees (of all kinds and eras) as it shows that God is not seeking to punish, take revenge, and outcast sinners, but to forgive, cover their shame, and assure them of their spiritual status as children of God! … Much like the Pharisees, some modern-day preachers teach that because we are not perfect (and God allegedly hates sinners), God must punish us, otherwise He can’t forgive. According to the logic of these passionate preachers, God created people who are limited and imperfect, yet it is because of their imperfections that He rejects them. “God only accepts absolute perfection" as it was put by pastor John MacArthur. What a contrast with the love of God for people that Jesus taught about!

Is Bar right, do we deserve God’s love? Are reform preachers like MacArthur wrong for saying God only accepts perfection?

Religious philosophical questions like these are complex because we could cite Scriptures for and against this view.

What I can say more concretely is, in my own life I have committed sins that would remove God’s presence from my life. If I was living in ancient Israel when the Temple was standing, I would be liable to be put to death for them.

With those sins in mind, do I deserve God’s love?

Speaking plainly, I would not expect love or even forgiveness from another human being for some of the things I’ve done.

On the other hand, I know and have experienced God’s deep love and grace.

Do I deserve God’s love? That’s for God to decide. I’m just thankful God has given and shown his love to me.

When people say we don’t deserve God’s love, I think of my own sin and know what they mean.

Bar would respond that God’s love is not dependent on our good behavior. I would agree with him. But I think it’s a moot question; God does love us, whether we deserve it or not.

3. False doctrine: You were born a sinner, therefore deserving of eternal punishment from day one, just because of who you are.

Bar writes,

I might be somewhat impatient if you nag me before my morning coffee or if I woke up sick. I am also more likely to be rude if it’s a hot and humid August day and you do not care enough to put on deodorant. However, if you came to me in the evening, smelling good and offering me a glass of delicious pinot noir and a ribeye steak, I would likely beam at you. It is not because I am evil in the mornings and righteous in the evenings. It’s because I am human. However, in the eyes of preachers such as John MacArthur, these are nothing but excuses because “God only accepts absolute perfection,” if to quote MacArthur once again (I wonder what kind of house MacArthur grew up in that led him to believe that God accepts only absolute perfection…). It’s no wonder that secular people view Christians as harsh, condescending, and legalistic. After all, what kind of father demands absolute perfection from his children or else denounces or kills them?

Bar then explains a few interpretations of the doctrine of original sin in Christian history and today.

He says that humans are finite and limited beings by design. Our shortcomings lead us to make mistakes and commit sins. But it’s our own shortcomings that cause us to be sinners. We're not sinners because we're children of sinful parents.

Again, there are Scriptures one could point to contradict this belief. David’s “Surely I was sinful at birth”, in his repentance psalm is one that comes to mind.

On the other hand, the Hebrew prophets show God holding each person accountable for his own sin, not the sin of his parents. (I am thinking of Ezekiel 18.)

I feel like this is theological bikeshedding, wasting time and energy on technical issues that don’t really matter.

Do I deserve God's wrath because I was born into sin? Or because of my own sin?

Well, friends, it doesn’t matter because I do sin. And so do you. And each person on earth likely deserves some divine correction and even punishment for what they themselves have done. “God reproofs those he loves.” If this wasn’t true, Israel would have never been punished and sent into captivity.

If I had to pick a side here, I’d side with Bar and say that we are guilty because of our own sin, not those of Adam and Eve or other ancestors. But it doesn’t really matter, does it?

The thing that matters is that we do have sin in our lives. Myself, Mr. Bar, and you, dear reader.

4. False doctrine: Even if you lusted in your heart for one second, God must cast you to hell forever to satisfy His justice, and brings about His glory.

In the Sermon on the Mount, when Jesus was teaching about adultery (Matthew 5:27-30), he said that it’s better to lose one body part, like your eye, than to have your entire body end up in “Gehenna” (Matthew 5:27-29). Was Jesus truly saying that if you were sexually turned on by looking at another person and fantasizing about them, even momentarily, you’d end up in hell forever? Was Jesus teaching us to literally dismember body parts, like our eyes, to ensure our salvation? If so, we would all be blind. Besides, doesn’t Jesus know that we don’t need eyes to imagine and fantasize? Also, since it is the universal experience that sexual impulses are uncontrollable, why would God create us this way to begin with and give us impossible standards? How is that fair? Or maybe this popular interpretation is all one big misunderstanding?

I really think Bar is being uncharitable here in his interpretation of what Christians believe. He argues that first, “cast into Gehenna” was really a euphemism for the religious casting 1st century adulterers out of society:

Imagine being a Jewish person in a society that would not tolerate any form of sexual immorality and would show no grace or forgiveness for any of it. Instead, they would take everything away from you, leaving you to scavenge for leftovers in the trash thrown into the Valley of Hinnom. In that religious society, being caught in adultery meant being ostracized and literally “thrown to hell.”

He then argues, tenuously in my opinion, that Gehenna was not God’s idea but religious legalists:

It is not God who caused people to end up in the Valley of Hinnom; it was people— a religious society. God, on the other hand, desires for sinners to live with dignity, be rebuilt, and become self-sufficient. It is Satan who is the prince of shame, and shame is an emotional acid inside your heart, gradually burning your soul.

Oh boy, that one sure feels like a stretch. If I’m understanding Bar here, he’s saying, “Yes, Jesus did say that it’s better to pluck out your eye than your whole body thrown into Gehenna. But really, the more important lesson here is that God forgives and religious people invented Gehenna.”

I think that’s wildly misinterpreting Jesus’ words. Whether or not Gehenna was man’s idea – whether or not shaming adulterers and the sexually immoral is in God’s plan – the more important lesson is that God forgives them?

God forgives sinners, yes. But I think this fluffy interpretation is turning Jesus’ clear warning against sexual immorality into a something it’s not.

And that’s coming from me, a man who’s committed sexual sin. I look at Jesus’ words and I’m glad there is forgiveness of my own sins. But I don’t pretend his words are not a warning against that sin.

I can’t help but wonder if Eitan Bar’s recent divorce, and the subsequent backlash from some Christians over the divorce and his post-divorce romance, are coloring Bar’s view of the New Testament. He’s experienced some religious people telling him that his divorce was wrong, or that his subsequent romance was wrong, and now he’s lashing out against those people.

One more important point to respond to. Bar says,

Also, since it is the universal experience that sexual impulses are uncontrollable, why would God create us this way to begin with and give us impossible standards?

I think Bar is venturing into a bad outlook on life and sin here. Sexual impulses are uncontrollable? Nah, hell no. I don't believe that for one second. Strong sexual urges, yes. Uncontrollable? Never. 

That's punting and giving up. If sexual impulses are uncontrollable, it renders sexual purity commandments pointless. 

"It's OK to look at porn; sexual impulses are uncontrollable." 

"It's OK to commit adultery because sexual urges can't be controlled."

Nah, I don't believe that for one second. It's defeatist. Self-control is evidence of God's spirit within. Not some impossible feat rigidly demanded by God.

Maybe I misread Bar here, maybe he was talking rhetorical. But let's be clear: the idea that sexual impulses are uncontrollable is false and has great potential to deceive struggling people.

5. False Doctrine: Salvation is free, but it comes with terms and conditions

Bar writes,

At the end of the day, much like many traditional churches, most members of Arminianism and Calvinism teach the same thing: if you don’t prove yourself through works (for too long), God will denounce and kick you out of His house. The only difference is that Arminianism front-loads works into the finished work of Christ, while Calvinism back-loads works into the finished work of Christ. Both schools of thought allusively teach salvation mixed with works, rather than real justification by faith alone. In other words, both worldviews see a connection between what you do and your salvation. In both cases, you are not saved if you live imperfectly for too long. Therefore, salvation is not a truly free gift but essentially something you earn or maintain by your deeds. Essentially, most of Christianity involves faith with works in one way or another. (Perhaps the Catholic vs. Protestant war wasn’t needed all along.)

He gives an analogy of a human family and whether we’d like that:

Imagine two children raised in two different homes: one in the “Calvinium” family, and the other in the “Arminius” family. When the children misbehave, their parents warn them about their bad behavior. In the Calvinium family, the child is warned by his parents that if he misbehaves for too long, it will prove that he was never really their child to begin with, and as a result, he will have to leave the house. In the Arminius family, the child is warned by his parents that they will no longer want to be his parents if he misbehaves for too long, and he, too, will be kicked out of the house.

Nobody wants such parents, yet many people think that their Father in heaven is like that.

Well, hold up brother. 😊 I have 3 kids, one of whom is an adult now. If one of my kids did something terrible, say, regularly stole from me to pay for a heroin addiction, I would kick him out of my house. I would still love him. Still try to get him support. Help him overcome his addiction. But he would not be welcome in my house.

Frankly, a parent who didn’t discipline their child, didn’t “kick them out of the house” after repeated, extreme bad works, well, that parent would just be an enabler of the bad behavior.

Faulty analogy aside, Bar does clarify,

People’s works were (and are) essential, but they had nothing to do with their salvation.

He goes on to argue that we must experience sin to know the depths of God’s grace.

I don’t really know what to say about that. It’s true that we wouldn’t know God’s forgiveness if not for us sinning. On the other hand, it feels like a tacit way of saying sin isn’t really all that bad. I’m not sure that’s what Bar is saying – I could be misreading him there – but that’s what this section comes across as.

Is salvation free? Absolutely not. It cost Messiah his life. Is it free to us? Yes, absolutely. Are there terms and conditions?

I think about the thief on the cross. There were no terms other than faith/trusting. That was enough.

The problem I have with “no terms and conditions” is that people often use this to mean we can live however we want. “I am already going to heaven, so I can live how I want. Begone, legalistic judger!”

I don’t know that’s what Bar had in mind here. But again, it feels like he’s lashing out against people judging him for his divorce. I would never say that Bar has lost his salvation – and shame on anyone who tells Bar that over his divorce or subsequent romantic relationship. But God…wants and expects us to live holy lives with good works.

It seems to me that Christianity’s main problem is not too many legalistic judgers. It seems to me our problem is that too many Christians are living however they want, claiming Christian liberty, but living like hell and producing ineffective disciples of Yeshua.

I can speak from my own life: sin makes me an ineffective disciple of Yeshua. Suppose I sloughed off my sin: “Ah, I’m just an imperfect man. God still loves me, and I haven’t lost my salvation.” Well, friends, I would be worse off. I would continue in sin, I wouldn’t take responsibility for my sin, and I would pretend my sin wasn’t serious. It is.

Salvation is without terms and conditions, but don’t live a life of sin. If you do, you abuse God’s gift and waste his sacrifice.

6. False idea: The Word of God encourages to hit children as it will keep them from going to hell.

Bar speaks against spanking and punishment of children, saying,

The preacher Michael Pearl and his wife Debi wrote the best-selling book “To Train Up a Child,” in which they teach parents to hit their children with plastic tubes, whips, paddles, canes and belts to “break their will.” They promote abusive tactics such as withholding food, giving cold showers, or leaving kids outside to shame them for disobedience. “To Train Up a Child” has sold over one million copies and has been translated into twelve languages. That means millions of children have been affected. Oy Vey!

He claims that spanking proponents advocate torture:

They are reading (and teaching) this verse as if saying, “If you don’t torture your child, he will end up being tortured by God forever.”

This is a wildly uncharitable interpretation by Bar.

I was spanked as a kid. The way my parents did it was, if I did something wrong, I’d get a whack on the butt. Not in anger, but in correction. They’d speak to me afterwards, I’d apologize, we’d hug, and we’d move on.

It worked.

Not done out of anger, abuse, trauma or torture. (Ridiculous to even use those terms!) But out of loving correction. If done right, it works.

Bar says that the “spare the rod” verse from Proverbs speaks to the comforting “rod and staff” of Psalm 23, where God’s staff guides and comforts. He says parents should use non-physical punishment to correct children.

I’m not sure this holds up under scrutiny. I’m not a shepherd or animal expert, but I understand a shepherd’s staff was used to physically correct sheep. Not abusively, of course, but still a physical correction. And as a parent of 3 children, one of whom is now a grown, well-rounded adult, sometimes physical punishment is necessary. Not out of anger, but love.

And if physical punishment is the wrong model, why did God physically punish Israel for sinning with multiple dispersions? A major theme of many of the Hebrew prophets is, “Stop sinning! Otherwise God is going to send [physical] punishment on you!” But maybe we’re comparing apples to oranges here. I’ll leave it at this: physical punishment, when done in love and not anger, with the goal to correct and restore and not to abuse, has been useful in my own life.

7. False idea: When a Christian community-singing turns very, very, very long, it is considered a spiritual revival.

Bar takes aim at the Asbury revival, I suspect.

What constitutes true revival is a question worthy of a post of its own.

From personal experience, I can say that I know people who have come out of the Asbury revival with new zeal, new projects to amplify God’s name, new works for the Lord.

It seems to me that worship revivals like Asbury are not worthless as they do inspire Godly action.

I don’t know if Bar intends to say they are worthless, but his words imply revival isn’t real unless good works like feeding the poor are involved.

He says,

Worship of God always involved sacrificing something, which taught the people of Israel an important lesson: if you want something, be prepared to give in return. In biblical times, the terms “worship” and “prayer” had a broader meaning than they do today. Most types of prayer and worship were not solely about communicating words to God; they also involved actions. However, our modern understanding of the words “worship” and “pray” has evolved to mean “talking and singing to God.”

in modern times, we associate “revival” and “worship” with music and songs. But a “worship night” should not just be about Christians going to an amplified concert with cool spotlights, whereby the crowd joins in singing words of praise. Instead, a worship night should be an evening whereby Christians go out to the streets to feed the hungry and cover the poor with a blanket. … ,Christianity also began to adopt this comfortable idea that worship is about words and is entirely disconnected from actions.

These are good works. God wants us to do good works. Bar argues that true revivals should produce good works like feeding the poor. Going further, he says good works should be part of our lives as Christians:

An error of modern-day Christianity is to think that in Christ, believers are exempt from making sacrifices. We don’t; we just redirect the sacrifices to offer them to society’s outcasts instead. When we pray before a meal, giving thanks to God, we should also ask ourselves if there is someone, perhaps even in our own neighborhood, who could benefit from more than just our prayers. This is how we truly worship God.

Going back to Bar’s earlier point about no terms and conditions for salvation, good works like feeding the poor are things God expects from us. We don’t lose our salvation if we don’t do them, but I would argue we are wasting Messiah’s sacrifice if we live wickedly. That includes withholding our resources from the poor.

Bar is right that disciples of Yeshua need to be doing good works. We should be known for it. But too many of us are caught up thinking that sin doesn’t really matter, how we live doesn’t really matter. So we become ineffective disciples.

I only disagree with Bar here that worship revivals like Asbury aren’t revivals.

But I suspect we agree on some important common ground: if worship revivals produce good fruit – feeding the poor, caring for the sick, people turning to God, new projects to amplify God’s name – that is indeed a revival. It’s the fruit, the tangible outcomes, that determines whether it’s a revival.

8. You don’t need to study, learn or research the Bible and you don’t need to be helped by experts and scholars. Just pray before and read it for yourself.

Hoo boy, he’s hitting on an important one here.

In our faith, so many people discard and disparage Bible scholarship. We downplay and even joke about experts who have devoted their life to study and understanding of the Bible. Instead, in our Protestant environment, everyone’s an expert. Profession Wright who's studied Biblical texts for 30 years is no more wise than Clem Gomer who just discovered that the Bible wasn't originally written in King James English.

 Bar writes,

If experts handle ancient texts with care, how much more should Christians be careful with the book of books, the Bible? Yet nowadays, Christians are often quick to preach and speak in God’s name about anything that comes to their mind. This results in an abundance of nonsensical ideas being widely spread. Of course, I am generalizing (and I am sure I have also contributed my fair share of foolishness to the pile).

Bar gives examples of language idioms, textual genres, cultural context that all impact one’s understanding. He concludes,

In summary, while personal prayer and individual Bible reading are crucial for spiritual growth, it is also essential to recognize the value of studying, learning, and researching the Bible and engaging with the insights of experts and scholars. This balanced approach can lead to a deeper understanding of the scriptures and foster spiritual growth and development.

100% agree. I have argued this exact thing from my decade as a laypreacher and worship leader at my local congregation: we are too quick to discard Bible scholarship and expert testimony. When everyone’s an expert, no one is, and chaos ensues.

9. False idea: You have to go to church on Sunday.

Bar argues we have lost the communal aspect of faith:

In most modern church meetings, believers have mostly no interaction with their fellow believers, which goes against the essence of community. The dynamic is usually unidirectional, with the message/worship coming solely from the pulpit. We sit quietly, passively, like spectators at a lecture or concert. But community involves living life cooperatively, not just sitting in the same room for an hour. This has been a trend of the last century. In the past, the weekly meetings were only the cherry on top of the cake, a supplement to the cake that was the communal aspect of living together. Today, we have held onto the cherry of weekly meetings but lost the cake of community living.

His arguments here may be more developed in the book, which I haven’t yet read. But his arguments here are meandering. He says we’ve become too individualistic. He says our Western Christian idea of community is not what the original believers understood it to be.

Yes, those things may well be true.

What does it have to do about going to church? It seems to me that not going to church would make one’s faith even more individualistic.

He’s right that we lack community in many of our modern congregations.

One thing that helped build community in my Messianic congregation was regular outings together outside of the congregation. Volunteer shifts at Feed My Starving Children. Going out to eat together. Coming over to each other’s homes for fun and games. Volunteering at Loaves & Fishes together. We built friendships and community that way. Some of the friendships we made persist even now, years later, despite the thousands of miles separating us.

But I still don’t understand Bar’s point here. Church, even in its current form, is better than no church. That the Western Church lacks something communally is not an argument for avoiding church.

10. False idea: If you pray before you eat, God will substitute the sugars and trans fats in your McFamily Bundle meal into nutrients and vitamins

Well, this one feels a little silly compared to his other points.

But Bar’s right that so many in our faith are confused about this. He says,

Evangelicals like to pray before each meal: “Lord, bless this food to our bodies!” This prayer never made sense to me, and it wasn’t just because the Torah only commanded the Israelites to pray after the meal. It was for another reason. I didn’t understand the blessing. “Bless this food to our bodies”? Is God about to supernaturally turn our junk food into nutritious food full of vitamins and minerals just because we prayed? This is great news! Now I can eat as many Big Macs and doughnuts as I want, and God will bless them into my body!

He ties this to the false claim that we Christians have “no traditions” and are pure Scripture-based:

As a Jew, I knew little about Christian denominations when I first came to know Christ as my Lord and Savior. I remember trying to figure out why so many in my faith community dislike traditional churches so much, and once I asked what the differences were between the traditional churches and us. I was told that, in contrast with them, we hold to “Sola Scriptura.” Scriptures alone! No traditions! As time passed, I realized every denomination has its fair share of traditions.

He goes on to show numerous traditions in our faith by people who claim to be Scripture-only. He notes traditions aren’t necessarily bad, but they can negatively affect our understanding of the Bible.

Look. In my house, we always thank and bless God for food. I’ve likewise never understood asking God to bless the food or make it good for us. It’s not a big deal, but yeah, we should get that sorted out.


Bar is likely going through a very difficult time. His wife asked for a divorce. He lost his job at One for Israel over a post-divorce romance. As a notable figure in the Israeli Christian community, he’s likely a target for many critics (his “legalists”) for his divorce, or for his subsequent romantic relationship.

His new book and critiques are likely to stir up more dispute.

Reading his posts, I found myself thinking, “He’s probably saying this as a response to his critics.” I suspect many of the points in his post and book are heavily colored by his recent experience. IMO, writing out of a place of a fresh wound sometimes produces sharper-than-needed criticism. I suspect Bar’s views will mature and gain some rounded edges in time.

I hope Bar can get through his difficult time and live his life as a pleasing sacrifice to God. I hope he can find meaningful community with Yeshua’s disciples despite our problems. I hope he sees Yeshua even though his Christian critics sometimes misrepresent him. But I also hope he’s humble enough to listen to counsel and accept gentle correction from trustworthy people of God.

One concerning theme I detect in his posts is a softness on sexual immorality. ("Sexual urges are uncontrollable", "We're imperfect and God created us this way", "Christian theology on divorce is too strict", "If you lusted in your heart, you're not liable for God's wrath", etc.) This may also be a response to his life situation and his religious critics. I hope he doesn't continue down that chaos-leading path.

My response here isn’t intended as a critique. He raises some important questions that our Messianic community would do well to wrestle with.