A Version of this Essay Was First Published in Natural
Israel Only Salvationism is a False Gospel, A Private Facebook Group
by Mark Mountjoy
Not since the heydays of the Sadducees (135 B.C.—A.D. 66) has there been such a curious phenomenon attachiing itself to the interests and business of God's people as the ascendance of Israel Only savants. These, like the Sadducees, pride themselves in knowing better than to believe the fantastic and the extraordinary, the bizarre, the supernatural and the unexplainable. For the Sadducees there was no afterlife, no angels, no spirits, no heaven and no hell—yet they took central positions in the hub of the Jewish world—serving in the Second Temple and administrating its ministries and services, on all accounts, going through the motions. These Sadducees were situated in the upper echelons of Jewish society where they enjoyed positions of authority, pride of place and access to riches—all the while not believing in the vast and boundless God of the possible and the doer of what would seemingly be impossible.
Now, let's consider the pedagogic role and the possible ulterior motives of Israel Only (I.O.) savants. Where do they stand on the message of the Bible, where is the authority for their role as Bible teachers and what's in it for them? To discover the attitudes we are dealing with, take note of belittling, outragious and condescending statements coming from one of their leading spokemen, one Michael Bradley:
"If you believe there was a literal first man named Adam formed from dirt and lived 950 years, who had a wife formed from one of his ribs who was deceived by a talking snake, and that over a million people departed Egypt and roamed around Egypt and Arabia for forty years without leaving a single trace, then you believe in a fairytale.
If you believe that there was a great flood and Noah saved all the animals in a ship that took a hundred years to make (in a desert), that Enoch levitated into the clouds, that a pole turned into a snake, that Joshua made the sun stop for an hour, that a single man killed an entire army with the jawbone of a donkey, that a donkey spoke then you believe in a fairytale.
If you believe that three men were consumed in a burning furnace and came out unscathed, a there was a person (Jonah) who lived in a fish for three days, that a man (Daniel) was supernaturally protected from being eaten by lions, that water was made into wine, that Jesus passed through people invisibly, that dead people were brought back to life, that five thousand people were fed from five loaves of bread, that Jesus walked in water, calmed a storm with a word, raised back to life after being dead for three days and then levitated into the clouds. . .you believe a fairytale."
These statements are simply unfortunate! And they especially ironic coming, as they do, from a person who fancies himself equal to the task of teaching the whole Christian world the "real" truth about Israel, the Good News and the goal and termination history. But, let us first ask: Who authorized them to "teach and reprove, correct and instruct" (2 Timothy 3:16)? How can they presume to lead if, as they say, the creation of Adam; the age to which he lived; the formation of Eve from his ribs; the serpent story; the Israelite exodus and forty year sojourn; the construction of the Ark and Deluge; the translation of Enoch; the staff-into-a-snake story; the story of Joshua and the two days (not one hour!) the sun stood still are real accounts of actual events?
If they cannot believe Samson killed an entire army of Philistines with the jawbone of an ass or accept that a dumb donkey rebuke Balaam—they are "in the know," but we believe in fairytales? And they laugh about the Hebrew boys in the fiery furnace and the rescue of Jonah by a large fish; and the preservation of Daniel among hungry lions as silly fables believed by gullible people. Worse still, they deny that Jesus turned water into wine or passed through people invisibly; or that dead people were by him revived to life and that five thousand people were satisfied on five loaves of bread.
They do not accept that the Lord walked on the Sea of Tiberius or ever calmed a raging storm with the command: "Peace be still!
Finally (and this tells us how degraded, dark and destitute these minds are): they repudiate that Christ arose from the dead and ascended to the clouds forty days later. For Israel Only all these accounts (in the Old and in the New Testament) are all trifling myths!
We ask, then, on what grounds do they cherry-pick and differentiate between the "fake news" of miracles, prodigies and paranormal events and the so-called "good news" of salvation for "Israel only"? Why do they believe they know that New Testament salvation "for Israel only" is any different than any other story in the Bible? Or, to put it another way, If the Bible is no better than Alice in Wonderland, what makes the story of salvation, their cause célèbre so important and how can they tell the part of the "fairytale" they are interested in is true?
From whence comes this special knowledge, this unique discernment and why on earth do they approach us and pretend to care?
Or, in other words, on what evidence, proof or authority can they deny the entirety of the Gospel is a "GOOD MYTH" and say that is was entirely good and legal tender for Israel only till A.D.70—how do they know that story itself is not a pure contrivance, a cache of silly fabrications or intriguing but consummate fables (2 Peter 1:16)? What difference does it make who ONLY is saved when, peppered through histories, chronicles and narratives are fantastic, extraordinary, myth-like claims?
Who made IO authorities of and over this ancient tome? How are they able to say whether or not it pertains to everyone or only a specific few (when it is pointless if all of its claims are not implicitly or explicitly true)?
Was Mary really a virgin, or was she actually a "lady of the evening"?
How can we possibly know if we refuse to believe the New Testament entirely? How do they know the feeding of the 5,000 is true? Or, Jesus walking on the water? Or, opening the eyes of a man born blind? Really? How do they know anyone came on the clouds (LITERALLY or FIGURATIVELY) in ANY YEAR? If some of it could be a worthless story, then all of it could be, too!
And why do they seek to make a name for themselves for that which they despise in order to invalidate the worldview we Christians stand convinced of? Why are they doing this and what business is it of theirs to occupy and glory in this their pretentious role?
Their Pedagogic Role:
Get High in Their Ivory Tower
Interactions with Israel Onlyist has demonstrated to me that they are teaching from a posture of superiority, but not of genuine knowledge or substantive study. From all I have seen and heard it is clear that they do not have more than a very superficial grasp of the subject with which they seek to dominate and control. There is woeful little by way of anything coming close to the issues of Jewish antiquities, the state of the Jewish State, the basis of New Testament salvation over against the demands of Old Testament law; what was the sin or transgression that made any Jewish or Israelite person unacceptable in the eyes of God after the death and burial and resurrection of Christ?
The answers they give are mostly evasive and deflective. A good part of their strategy of polemic is assume, assert and deny. A way to their heart may not even be through direct confrontation or attempts at polemic engagement, but attention to heart issues, instead. The reason I say this is because you can show a man proof and he still will not believe you if he has an agenda that runs counter to truth and verity.
Try as you may, you will only succeed in wearing yourself out and, feeling hopeless, questioning your own sense of reality in the throes of despair . . .
Try to understand others before seeking to be understood.
The issues that IO people call attention to may not have anything to do with a book they claim to understand, but some deep seated need to invalidate any and everything (including their own purpose for existing).
Ask them what makes them attracted to Israel Only? Find out from them why they think it is such a superior interpretation; such an unsurpassed interpretive prodigy? Discover from them where they think they will end up at the end of the proverbial day? Like: What is the end game for them and us as non-Israelites and what is the logic of existence on earth in the here and now? Find out what makes the Israel Only Ivory Tower so much better than any other intellectual perch?
If you poke around a bit, you might be surprised what they'll say. Ask, then listen.
Engagement as a Method of Sharpening Rhetorical and Apologetic Skills With Scoffers
There is an old saying, "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth". This means when you receive a gift, don't be ungrateful. In other words, use every opportunity of engagement with scoffers as a chance to clarify your own message or its delivery and also as a means of making an apologetic defense of New Testament Christianity's claims against the onslaughts and false accusations of people in the clutches of doubt or unwarranted certainty.
To be sure, there are not that many people who are inclined to discuss religious differences at any length (besides Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons and, perhaps, Muslims) so this is a chance to prioritize and try to home in on what is essential and salvific instead of side issues that do not make a real difference at the end of the proverbial day.
As Christians, we must be direct and forthcoming; We must not be remiss to pose piercing questions to these people like, What think ye of Christ? Is he God or merely an exceptional teacher? Or, "On what grounds [in terms of the Gospel] was an ancient Israelite condemned in the eyes of God?" When you ask these questions, be sure to demand book, chapter and verse and context to substantiate anything they claim.
Find out if they believe the majority of Israel only was saved or lost based on the Apostle Paul's prophecy in Romans 9:27 (cf. Isaiah 10:22). Discover from them how what Paul and Isaiah says about the majority reckons in their ideology. Was the promise foretelling that MOST Israelites would be saved, or was it predicting that very few of them would be redeemed?
You can venture a step further and ask them how, in light of Romans 9:27 and Isaiah 10:22, the great multitude that no man could number could be Jews and Israelites when Revelation 7:4-8 accounts for all Jews and Israelites (and that number twelve thousand from each Israelite tribe is woefully unimpressive and finite)?
The text reads:-
1 And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth,
that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.
2 And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice
to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea,
3 Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.
4 And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.
A Numbered Remnant From Judah and Israel.
5Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand.
Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand.
Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand.
6 Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand.
Of the tribe of Nepthalim were sealed twelve thousand.
Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand.
7Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand.
Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand.
Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand.
8 Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand.
Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand.
Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand.
A Great Multitude That No Man Could Number
9 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds,
and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;
10 And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.
11 And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the
throne on their faces, and worshipped God,
12 Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our
God for ever and ever. Amen.
13 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came
14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation,
and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
15 Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the
throne shall dwell among them.
16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.
17 For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains
of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes."
When discussing this Revelation chapter 7 pericope, discuss it in its entirety and find out from them what they think the difference is between all the house of Israel (in the first list) and why there is a limited number of only twelve thousand people per tribe in this list? Next, discover why the people from all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues is also (supposedly) "all Israel" (and why is it an unlimited number)? Third, find out how they harmonize the unlimited SAVED great multitude of Revelation 7:9 with the unlimited DAMNED multitude of Revelation 20:8?
Find out from them how could three contradictory things be true at the very same time:
(a) A limited number of ALL the tribes of the children of Israel were saved (only 144,000), but . . .
(b) An unlimited number from every nation, kindred, people and tongue was saved, but at the very same time . . .
(c) An unlimited number of people were destroyed, matching, by the way, God's own description of "Israel only" in Romans 9:27 and Hebrews 11:12.
Israel Onlyists do not make proper distinctions, nor do they seem to recognize contrasting differences in audiences and addressees in the New Testament. From their assumptions (which are glib, rationalistic, and faulty) the issues are black and white and they arrogantly believe they stand head and shoulders superior to all arguments of Christians which, for over two thousand years have believed God is not the God of the Jews only, but of all men, regardless of race or ethnicity ( see Acts 10:34-35 cf. Colossians 3:10-11). Romans 3:29 is a direct rebuke of the underlying thesis of Israel Only theology!
Ask questions and pray that the Holy Spirit will allow the seeds of the word of God to germinate in their hearts. Appeal to our kind and gracious God on their behalf that, one day, their lives may bear the true fruits of repentance and salvation in Jesus Christ our Lord. Indeed, the goal of any and all of our discussions with anyone should be always this.1
Finally, I would like to recommend all Christians obtain a copy of Crucial Conversations, Tools for Talking When the Stakes Are High, by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler. A second book I recommend for you is: Attacking Faulty Reasoning, A Practical Guide to Fallacy-Free Arguments, by T. Edward Damer. On this second recommendation, I would like to share with you a quote which, in my suspicions hits spot on to what is behind Israel Only apologetic tactics: Unbridled rationalization.
On Rationalization Damer writes:-
"Definition This fallacy consists in using plausible-sounding but usually false reasons to justify a particular position that is held on other less respectable grounds.
Rationalization can be properly described as a violation of the first criterion of a good argument because the premises are not relevant to the conclusion. The stated premises have very little relationship to the conclusion because they are not the real reasons the conclusions are drawn. Those are unstated or concealed.
This fallacy could also be described as violating the second criterion of a good argument. Since the premises are simply "made up" for the purpose of defending an action or propping up a belief arrived at on other grounds, they are not likely to be acceptable ones.
The general character of rationalization is that of defending an idea or belief rather than trying to determine whether it is true. Rationalization then is a kind of dishonest substitute for good reasoning. In good arguments, the belief or conclusion follows from the evidence. In rationalization, the "evidence" comes after the belief is already accepted. The rationalizer is simply using premises that make his or her questionable position seem more respectable.
Then why not call rationalization simply a case of dishonesty—or, at best, self-deceit? Why should it be treated as a fallacy? It should be treated as a fallacy because we cannot see into the arguer's mind and determine if there is any dishonesty there. The best we can do is to work with the argument we have before us, testing it against the criteria of a good argument."2
This book is full of great strategies for developing and recognizing sound and unsound thinking; good and bad arguments, logical and illogical conclusions. We need such exercises, not only for the ideas of others but for our own ideas, too.
Now, regarding Atavist Bible Church.org it is a public endeavor to inform and consensus build around solid research about the social world where Jesus, the Apostles, and the first Christians overcame enormous odds to gain the kingdom of God because of the grace, power and authority of God the Father. Please join our Christian Apologist Partnership, research our essay discussions and lend your thoughts on the phenomenon of a reorientation of our Christian self-understanding in light of a Christian age emerging directly out of the historic Second Jewish Commonwealth. God bless one and all and I bid you Godspeed!
1 Christians: Do not be in the least daunted by Israel Onlyists. The Word of God has all you need to defend the notion that God loves and wants to be worshiped by all mankind; not just Israel. See an example of this below:
"In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. The Assyrians will go to Egypt and the Egyptians to Assyria. The Egyptians and Assyrians will worship together. In that day, Israel will be the third, along with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing on the earth. The Lord Almighty will bless them saying, "Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance." (Isaiah 19: 23-25)
*The modern name of Syria is claimed by some scholars to have derived from Herodotus' habit of referring to the whole of Mesopotamia as 'Assyria' and, after the Assyrian Empire fell in 612 BCE, the western part continued to be called 'Assyria' until after the Seleucid Empire when it became known as 'Syria'. June 17, 2014
2 T. Edward Damer, Attacking Faulty Reasoning, (Under Fallacies That Violate the Relevance Criteria) p. 37, Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1994.
Baruch Hashem Adonai