Thursday, January 01, 2015

UMJC & Anonymous Christianity

So I'm back.

It stopped blogging in general in 2008 and then at the end of 2010 I decided to take a break (from a break?) to finish off the one thing I had left undone. A completion of a book review for Marc Shapiro's the Limits of Orthodox Theology, since it was such an important book. And now almost exactly (I mean really, really close) 4 years later something has awoken me from my exile to blogging.

RealClearReligion posted a link (above) to a pretty interesting article on the Messianic Jewish movement. It even had nice Chagall paintings with Jesus in them. But at the sidebar, which in the online version is at the end of the article, was what really caught my attention.

There was a quick interview with Dan Juster, who the UMJC would declare as one of their pioneers and who is currently the head of Tikkun Ministries. In the sidebar, Dan Juster embraces the teaching of Anonymous Christianity.

Now, this is not my first time at this rodeo. It is now over a decade since I first confronted this issue. For those who may have never encountered this or may need a refresher, Anonymous Christianity is the view that people can be saved apart from conscious belief in Jesus. They can be saved by Jesus without knowing they have faith in Jesus, although they are responsible for responding to the light they do have.

Here is the sidebar:

Are Jews who don’t come to Jesus going to Hell? Dan Juster says no, not unless specific conditions are met. “God judges us on the basis of the amount of revelation we’ve had,” he explains. “If a Jew has sought the truth but has only had a superficial exposure to Christianity, God won’t condemn them. But if they pray to God sincerely, then the Holy Spirit enters and shows them the truth, and then they turn away from it, that’s where the danger lies. I knew a businessman like this once, he said he believed, he had an inner witness, but he didn’t want to go there because he thought it would interfere with his career.”

According to Juster, here’s how you can come to know the truth about God and Jesus:

1. Openly ask God to show you the truth, and be willing to submit to His will as He shows it to you.

2. Go about your business. At some point in the future, you may hear a voice calling you, most likely when you are alone, and feel the Holy Spirit entering your body and leading you to know the truth. You may also see visions or miracles, which Juster says are often a big part of how Messianic Jews come to the Lord.

3. If the truth is revealed to you, don’t turn away from it. You’d be better off not even asking in the first place.

Now since he is quoted by this journalist and I've seen this coming from UMJC sources previously, I'm going to take this at face value. I'm more interested in responding to the position than to Dan Juster personally.

This position is not a good blueprint for evangelism. "Go about your business." That's a little different than God telling people to earnestly seek Him.

God does judge us according to the revelation we have. And that will result in condemnation, both for Jew and Gentile alike.

If you want to see this clearly laid out, please read the book of Romans. And in that book there is a passage that should be the death knell of any attempt to teach Anonymous Christianity.

9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Messiah. Romans 10:9-17

Call on the Lord and you will be saved. But you need to hear to believe and call. And you need to have a preacher. And preachers need to be sent. This chain of logic cuts off Anonymous Christianity at the knees and should be rejected by all who hold to the full council of Scripture.

If you would like to read a full-throated critique of not just Anonymous Christianity but all forms of inclusivism I recommend reading the Very Pernicioius and Detestable Doctrine of Inclusivism.

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