Import jQuery

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Appending "You might like" to each post.