Dan Juster

Tikkun Ministries International
"Until recently, being an Evangelical meant that one was tied to accepting all of the Bible as the Word of God and of it being fully trustworthy. The late, great dean of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Dr. Kenneth Kantzer (1917-2002), spoke of a new phenomenon that continues to this day which he dubbed liberal Evangelicals."

"The liberal Evangelical attacks against some portions of the Bible reveal much of the problem of the Church today. This perspective leads to the further deconstruction of biblical standards."

Did God Really Say?

A leading British Evangelical Theologian denies that God ever commanded Israel to wipe out the Canaanites under Joshua's leadership (Deuteronomy 7:16, 24, 20:16-19, 31:5, Joshua 6:17). He believes this was a fantasy of the Israeli tribes, projected onto God and then "written back" into the text of the Bible. He further goes on to state that we now know that genocide - eliminating a people - is a terrible sin and can never be justified. It is contrary to the teaching and spirit of Jesus.

This theologian is known to be very pro-Palestinian and sides with the Arab-Palestinian narrative on the history of Israel and the Palestinian people. One of the motives for denying the veracity of this command to Joshua is to counter any argument that Israel has a right to displace or eliminate the Palestinians today. Not that eliminating the Palestinians is desired by any sector of Israeli society: right, center or left! Even Meir Kahane, the late founder and leader of the Jewish Defense League, argued only for transferring the Arabs out of all the land west of the Jordan River, not their elimination. In his view, they should not live in Israel, rather in other Middle Eastern countries.

The Denial of Biblical Authority

The assertions of this British theologian raise two issues. The first is the issue of Biblical authority. Until recently, being an Evangelical meant that one was tied to accepting all of the Bible as the Word of God and of it being fully trustworthy. That is, all of the texts of the Bible speak the truth. This is the doctrine of 'inerrancy'. The late, great dean of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Dr. Kenneth Kantzer (1917-2002), spoke of a new phenomenon that continues to this day which he dubbed liberal Evangelicals.

Liberal Evangelicals accept the basic creeds of the Church, including the death and resurrection of Yeshua, but do not accept that the Bible is fully trustworthy. Kantzer was magnificent in arguing that such a view was dangerous and would lead to a slippery slope of denying biblical teaching that did not measure up to one's reason or emotive preferences. If one can deny the command to Joshua, why not deny that God really forbade homosexual relationships, or adultery? Why not deny that God told ancient Israel to conquer the Promised Land? Contemporary Palestinian liberation theologians do just this as part of their effort to de-legitimize the modern nation of Israel. I should note that most Messianic Jews share the high view of Scripture put forth by Kantzer.

Theological Arrogance

The arrogance inherent in this theology is quite clear. Modern theologians and their followers think that they have superior moral insight into the "primitive" peoples of the Bible and can judge passages of the Bible as deficient. Hence, the command to Joshua and Israel becomes a test case, especially since the command is repeated in several texts (as listed above). In addition, disobedience to this command is interpreted as one of the key causes of Israel's fall into idolatry in the book of Judges, the prophets and the Psalms (for example, Psalm 106:34-38). All of these writers are clear in their assertion that this was God's command.

Why Would God Command the Elimination of the Canaanites?

I wish to convey a few thoughts on this controversial command. For one thing, those who reject it do not understand the demonic realm and the possibility of a culture falling to such a level of debauchery that it loses the right to exist. Child sacrifice, occult practices, cult prostitution and more, show a stunning level of evil. A culture can plunge into such moral depravity that the most severe demonic possession is passed down generationally, along with the accompanying occult powers. In addition, the power to deliver from the demonic in the name of Yeshua through warfare prayer and deliverance had not yet been revealed. Israel could not have dwelt among such a people and have been a witness to the nations of the world. It may seem ironic, but it was God's love for the nations of the world that motivated His command to eliminate the Canaanites.

Israel's conquest command is different from Islam's conquest doctrine. God forbade Israel to conquer other nations if she was not attacked. They were to live at peace with the surrounding nations if at all possible. Destruction was an exceptional command for one time and one place. In my view there can be no parallel command today. Let me be very clear: God's command to Joshua was a one time exceptional command for exceptional circumstances. Genocide is always a terrible crime against humanity.

The Dangerous Weakness in the Churches Today

The liberal Evangelical attacks against some portions of the Bible reveal much of the problem of the Church today. This perspective leads to the further deconstruction of biblical standards. Today, the Emerging Church Movement asserts that homosexual relationships should be accepted if there is a commitment to monogamy. They claim to be Evangelical and post-modern (post-modern meaning that there is no absolute objective truth). One can see parallels in circles that claim to accept the Bible's authority but interpret the New Testament in ways that are inconsistent with the Hebrew Bible. One such teacher in a revival movement today asserts that the Hebrew Bible is mostly irrelevant for Christians since God had a major change of heart with the death and resurrection of Yeshua. What God desired in the Old Testament - so the claim goes - He no longer desires today. In the Old Testament, He desired that we hate our enemies (a huge and, some would say, willful misinterpretation of the Hebrew Bible), but now we are to love our enemies and there is no word of judgment for this age in the New Testament. (Are we reading the same book? Wow!)

It is true that with our ability to identify with the death and resurrection of Yeshua and the baptism of the Spirit, God now expects more of us. The Torah is elevated to new levels in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). The previous legal accommodations to human weakness, such as allowing divorce, polygamy and more, are no longer permitted under the New Covenant.

If we study the Scriptures in context it is not difficult to distinguish between eternal commands and cultural accommodations. It is never the case that the commands of Scripture are somehow abrogated by new commands, as if to suggest the character and purposes of God have changed. God never wanted us "to hate" and then introduced a new program where He now wants us "to love". Such an understanding of Scripture is absurd.

This is one of the major issues with regard to His promises to the Jewish people. Some interpret the New Testament in a way that is not at all necessary and is inconsistent with the promises of the Hebrew Bible. They claim that the New Testament supersedes the Old Testament in such a way that it can be radically re-interpreted. Romans 11 should be more than adequate in showing that such re-interpretations are simply wrong. The New Testament does not give any grounds for radically re-interpreting the Hebrew Scriptures.

We are seeing a spirit of humanism seeping into the churches, promoted by leaders who call themselves Evangelicals, and it is being combined with the old error of replacement theology. As for me and my house, we bow to the text of Scripture as our authority; we declare it to be true whether or not our reason or emotion struggles with it. I am a mere created human being and am submitted to the Word of God as the only safe ground upon which to stand.

By Daniel Juster
Dan Juster leads the overall ministry Tikkun International Donate to Tikkun International.
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07:48 02Jul12 FRank Onofrio -
I agree with you: "God's command to Joshua [to wipe out the Canaanites] was a one time exceptional command for exceptional circumstances."
I also agree that we must maintain Biblical inerrancy: the Bible itself demands it and also logic demands it, otherwise we know not which verses to pick as true or false and thus the Bible becomes meaningless.
Sadly, I once heard a retired Protestant minister tell me that we (the New Testament Church) should only read the New Testament because the Old Testament was just for ancient Israel.

10:13 02Jul12 V -
Thank you - the issue of the Israeli conquest of the Jordan under God's direct command has been a perplexing one for my friends and I have not been able to quite understand it myself - and I was beginning to read Liberal evangelicals' views on Christianity when I came across this. A hundred times, Thank you! I had not thought of the interaction of God's command with the spiritual realm in the region and its necessity.

11:04 02Jul12 Peter Hartgerink -
Excellent word. Thank you for stating matters so clearly. This Gentile believer agrees with you on all points and is grateful for your clear witness.

11:18 02Jul12 C Salaverry -
I agree - the Bible all of it is the truth, for the Lord God Almighty said if anyone changes anything in His word, even so much as a dot, it goes against our King and Saviour. Teach the whole word of God or not at all.

11:38 02Jul12 Mike Reeves -
In my church in east London, England, we also are deeply concerned at the theology to which you refer.
We find, as we read further in that stream of thinking, that Jesus/Yeshua is apparently (among many other serious errors) no longer the one whose substitutionary death atones for our sin, is no longer truly both fully God and fully man, and no longer in any real way our saviour.
And of course, desperately sadly, "modern" revision of the text, and understanding of the text, of the scriptures, and "modern" interpretation of the text of the scriptures, will reflect into a wrong view of the place of Israel in the world today, and in the end-times.
Let's pray that this tragic movement away from the truth will be seen clearly, by as many as possible, for what it is.

11:40 02Jul12 Lucy K -
Thank you for posting this. I agree and I love your concluding sentence. "I am a mere created human being and am submitted to the Word of God as the only safe ground upon which to stand."
Scripture says that Jesus Christ was "slain from the foundations of the world." God did not change His mind. All of the feasts of the Lord, all of the temple, all of the temple sacrifices, all of it, point to the redemption we have in Jesus. Jesus was ALWAYS His plan of salvation. Jesus has fulfilled all of the sacrifices in His one sacrifice ... He has fulfilled the first 4 of the 7 appointed feasts of the Lord and He will fulfill the last 3 of these feasts when He returns at the end of the age.

11:52 02Jul12 Uta Schmidt -
I would not have suffered so much, If I had known this truth you are talking about. In a painful process The Lord in his mercy brought me back to this kind of teaching. As child I was not allowed to believe in Jesus or bible.
Thank you for this clear words below from you. I pray that those who are dead by the blind leaders can escape them and come to the truth! Yeshua set me free from the lies of humanism and theological abuse.

12:00 02Jul12 Robert Stagmer -
Good Article. God told Abraham that the promised land would not be settled by his descendents until "The iniquity of the Amorite had come to fullness."

14:05 02Jul12 Kyle Meythaler -
Great article. This is one of the biggest accusations against orthodox Christianity, from "within" the faith. Modern Christians need to, as you said, "bow to the text of Scripture as our authority." The authority of Scripture is based upon the authority of God. The most hated doctrine in Scripture, in my opinion, is that of God's absolute right to rule as the Sovereign over everything. This means that God can do whatever He wants, that He is right in whatever He does, and that no one can challenge His leadership. "But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, 'Why have you made me like this?'"(Rom. 9:20). The bottom line is that people hate God and His ways thinking they know more than Him and could do a better job at orchestrating history. I join you in bowing my knee before the matchless power and unfathomable wisdom of God and His Word.

15:45 02Jul12 Jeanne Johnson -
Avraham avinu was not allowed to enter the promised land until the fullness of sin of those living in the land came into being which was when Moshe and our tribe entered, over 430 years later. Adonai gave those living in Canaan time to repent because He is fair and just to ALL HE has created both then and now and used lower story Israel to bring His fair Judgment.

18:11 02Jul12 Diana -
Throughout Scripture there is the concept that the sin of a people group can reach such a point that it must be destroyed (take Noah's generation, for example.) But in the case of the Canaanites, God specifically said that Israel could not take over Canaan until 400 years would pass, because they were not yet wicked enough to deserve to be wiped out. Genesis 15:16 "In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure."

  -- Dr Juster replies: Yes, I agree, but the liberal evangelical scholars I am noting do not take this seriously.

16:25 02Jul12 KH -
Excellent article. We need to wake up, and raise awareness: Liberal and post-modern thought is not of God, but is an alien concept to the Torah, Tanakh and Apostolic Scriptures. I have also met liberal-minded Messianic Jews who, perhaps in a misguided attempt to make common ground with mainstream Jewish-Americans (not deeply religious or observant), seem willing to make compromise. Where are the Maccabees of our time? Let's be tolerant, but not so tolerant that the brain falls out. Let's be Torah-observant, but with love and compassion. Let's lift up Yeshua and serve the triune G-d, living lives of holiness, purity and Torah, with the supernatural Spirit and Fire of Hashem in our hearts and minds, in our homes and business. Please consider to also write about liberal-minded ideas sneaking into Messianic Judaism, if you perceive this as an issue. Liberal theology is basically a godless theology, placing human thoughts and human ideas in the place of God's thoughts and ideas, insisting on keeping only those commandments which make sense to the human mind -- a view which, of course, is dangerously fragile to shifting times. In the 1940s, a modern Believer would have been a Nazi and a racist. In 2012, in favor of gay marriage and abortion. But true Believers should stay true to the eternal Word of G-d, which is not subject to change for anyone, anywhere, at any time.

  -- Dr Juster replies: I would say that the liberal drift among some Messianic Jews is parallel to that drift among evangelicals. They are passionate for Israel, but do not understand that the same interpretive framework of their more liberal leadings does not give them a base to stand regrading Israel. They point to communal norms for interpretation, but not to the objective norm of the Word of God.

20:24 02Jul12 Greg Wells' -
I agree wholeheartedly with your article, and thank you for speaking out on this subject. I would take your statement "It is never the case that the commands of Scripture are somehow abrogated by new commands, as if to suggest the character and purposes of God have changed. God never wanted us "to hate" and then introduced a new program where He now wants us "to love". Such an understanding of Scripture is absurd." one step further though. It is just as absurd to think that God has abrogated His commandments to accomodate gentile believers. One law for them all, Yeshua, the same yesterday, today, and forever!

  -- Dr Juster replies: Yes, in one sense the law is for all. However, it would violate the Law for all to keep all the same laws. Women are not circumcised (they are in some Islamic countries). Men are not unclean for so many days after child birth. Levites and Cohenim have laws that only apply to them. And I would add that in the Law of Moses, the same is true for Gentiles. Even those who embrace the laws of Israel were not circumcised and did not go into the inner court. The New Covenant continues a distinction known in the Mosaic Law and well applied by the school of Hillel within the rabbinic world.

02:17 03Jul12 James Hetrick -
It does provoke a question pondered before at some point, that is somewhat adjacent to what you covered in this article. That is: do you believe that some Messianic Jews, or even Messianic Jewish people, generally, would have a problem with so-called Gentile spiritual authority being placed over them, in Yeshua? In other words, besides any necessary tolerance that even the best of leaders have to maintain for those who would just naturally have a tendency to "chafe" under any leadership; is there any kind of a spoken or unspoken, "official" or doctrinal, sentiment among believing Jews that, to put in one way, any spiritually immature believing-Jewish person has more authority in Yeshua than even the most mature/elder believers and leaders of non-Jewish decent, because of a sort of birthright by lineage? If so, and the emphasis to my question is more on this, how would play kind of thing play out practically, in church or worship settings, or pedagogically, where any kind of teaching is concerned?

  -- Dr Juster replies: You have put your finger on a big controversy in some parts of the MJ movement. In Tikkun a Gentile can be called to lead a congregation and we have such leaders. They are in full authority in their roles. Our people do not chafe at this as it has been our orientation for so long. However, there are some in the movement that reject this, and would make the mistake to choose an immature person over against choosing a Gentile.

10:15 03Jul12 Blaine Robison -
Well done! The liberal Evangelical view apparently overlooks the fact that God destroyed the entire world and its population with a great deluge and then destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah by fire. Even in the New Testament, God exacts vengeance on the wicked, such as Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11, Herod (Acts 12:22-23), the Antichrist (2 Thess 2:8), and of course all those not in the book of life (Rev 20:15). Also ignored by these liberals is that Yeshua came to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8), not to accommodate them.

12:15 03Jul12 Marilyn Krivanek -
I totally agree with you. God told King Saul the same thing about the Amalekites, He said to kill every living thing, but Saul took it upon himself to do a change order and it cost him his kingdom, his life and the lives of his children. God has a reason for everything He does. "A little leaven leavens the whole lump" Gal 5:9 and 1 Cor 5:9 "do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough?" A perfect example of where the Church in the US has failed, when one woman got prayer taken out of our public schools, the Church didn't rise up and stop it. Oh but apostate preachers wolves in sheeps clothing were telling their congregations "God dosen't want you to be involved in the political arena." I wasn't a Christian at that time but my Bible tells me that "when the rightous are in authority the people rejoice but when the wicked are in authority the people groan." Prov 29:2 This nation is groaning today because we have compromised God's Word. Look where we have come to. Ungodly orginizations wanting to take every mention of God out of society, all kinds of immoralities blatently displayed everywhere, murdering of innocent babies. If America's cup of sin is not running over I don't know what you call it, and an ungodly administration in the White House, and the Body of Christ is responsible for it coming to this. There is no hope for for this nation without an awakening to God. 2 Chronicles 7:14 "If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin and heal their land."

  -- Dr Juster replies: I would say that everything follows from the denial of the Word of God. It is a tragic situation.

02:08 04Jul12 FR -
Here is something which causes many to stumble and question God about. But the spirit of our age is wanting us to accept evil and even calls it good - so that we don't do the radical thing (or let the cross do its radical work) with the evil in us which is much more insidious than are the obvious evils of past (or present) generations or peoples. This call of Joshua has to be linked with the scripture that says the land itself spat the Canaanites out of it for the defilement they were causing - nature itself vomited, or was trying to vomit this abnormal destructive force out, in an attempt to cleanse itself. In this context G-d called Joshua to do the job, to help the creation, His creation, cleanse itself. We, when we live in this world try to avoid divesting ourselves of what is defiling, and do not (if we follow our basic inclination) allow the cross to put that to death which ultimately causes eternal death.

  -- Dr Juster replies: I agree!

02:54 05Jul12 Kaytee -
It makes me sad the fruits of rebellion can not gather the kingdom so good. I am still their sister in Messiah though, even if they are carnal believers. Real mother response to Solomon, "DONT DIVIDE THE BABY!" Love the body of Messiah like a newborn.'

04:11 05Jul12 Eberhard Fuchs -
Thanks for putting things right and clearly telling the truth. To love God and my neighbour isn't possible without loving the truth. This includes God's opinion, purpose, warnings and judgement throughout history as reported in the Bible. How deeply must a people have been fallen morally, how polluted must a land - God's land - be, that He had to throw the inhabitants out or even to destroy them. Though waiting for centuries He couldn't spare his own people Israel in the past. Actually the annihilation of Canaanite peoples in history should be a serious warning to western societies and churches as well as individuals.

08:59 05Jul12 Maureen Long -
As a growing Christian I am delighted to read such articles as this which bring clarity to some of today's "modern" interpretations of Holy Scripture. I was astonished recently to learn that replacement theology still exists. Blessings to Dan Juster and all of Tikkun for bringing forth truth in an age of confusion.

11:13 08Jul12 Hank -
I find myself in agreement that The Almighty has in past times condoned, commanded, and orchestrated what we would call genocide. The mercy of God is great, but judgement belongs to Him also. What happens to a church, a city, a nation, or the world when mercy is not enough? When even the mercy of the cross is rejected? I fear the foolishness of man's doctrines.

17:32 08Jul12 Marie Rubino -
Thank you for the good explanation.

17:44 08Jul12 Glenn Thomas J -
As Michael Horton points out - God never commanded Genocide as Genocide is based and rooted in ethnicity. God based his command on ethical violations rooted first and foremost in idolatry and never on ethnicity. The Kingdom was revealed as Israel was commanded to possess the land which represents divine judgment. Meredith Kline developed Intrusion ethics from this notion. This foretells the future divine judgement which will take place on Christ's return when the Kingdom comes in it's full reality over the entire Earth. Again - this is rooted in ethics and not ethnicity. Now is the time to procalim the forgiveness of sins as we live between the two ends of Joshua's conquest and Christ's return.

  -- Dr Juster replies: An excellent comment!

22:14 09Jul12 Carolie -
I totally agree with your conclusions, Brother Dan. I came to the Lord in the 70s when much emphasis was put on experience. As I've matured (an ongoing process) I've come to trust more in the fundamental Biblical truths which is to me a more stable place to be, especially as the darkness grows. I love the Truth which, I believe, can only be found in Jesus Christ and the Word of God.

05:32 21Jul12 Pastor Philipneri C. Iberi -
Anyone who says God did not command the Israelites to eliminate the Cannanites does not know the scriptures.

16:10 21Jul12 Karen Greene -
I don't believe for one minute that God EVER commanded Israel to commit genocide. Not even one exception! These were warrior cultures and to them any God worth it's salt would aid them in defeating their enemies. Having been delivered from their enemies by God in Egypt, you would have thought they would have had compassion for others, not hatred.
I can't understand why or how you could ever think God was behind this and that to question this is somehow some awful way of thinking. Why is there not more room for others who love God as you do to think and question without being dismissed as liberal, misguided, deceived...?
I think we need to learn from their mistake in this, not believe it was God sanctioned! You know in your heart of hearts that today it would be absolutely wrong to commit such an atrocity in the name of God so why would it had been any different with Israel?

  -- Dr Juster replies: The whole issue comes down to the Word of God, or is the Bible really the trustworthy word of God. Let's look at the issues.
First, not just one text, but several texts say that "God said" or commanded Israel to totally wipe out men, women and children. He tells this to Abraham re: the fact that the iniquity is not yet full and that will be 400 years in the future. It is commanded by Moses as a command from God, repeated by Joshua as from God, repeated in Judges and used as a reason for why, in Israel's disobedience, they stumbled. It is repeated in the Psalms and prophets in the same way.
In addition, if this command is not from God, then the text is wrong and in error; the Bible is then in error. In addition, the whole question of the exodus is up for grabs since Israel was to leave Egypt and to possess the Land. Was this command from God? How were they to possess the Land? What was the means in that time? No war? Just perhaps have all become Jews by handing out tracts and preaching a Gospel but in pre Yeshua form? How were they to eliminate the demonic control of the people there. They could not command the evil spirits to go in the name of Yeshua. I think questioning these texts brings into question the whole Exodus narrative and the conquering of the Land narrative.
God gave these commands in that time for his purpose and will never again give such a command. Today his command is to make disciples of all nations.

16:46 22Jul12 Carolyn Parr -
Excellent - thank you for reiterating the truth of the Bible being one book, not two!

05:27 04Aug12 Brian and Anne -
This is 100% accurate and we need to return to BIBLICAL TRUTH AND BIBLICAL ABSOLUTES!! We (local congregants) do not seem to desire these any longer and it is therefore, small wonder that our local Christian fellowships are without POWER AND AUTHORITY today!!

18:11 31Aug12 Alex -
In Leviticus 18:22, homosexuality was forbidden. In the same chapter (v19), it was also forbidden to have sexual intercourse with a woman (even one's own wife) in her monthly period. Do we have to observe this command this day?
Consuming blood was also forbidden in Torah, and it was one of four things gentiles should abstain (Acts 15) by decree of the Jerusalem Council. Do we have to abstain from drinking and/or eating blood these days? Some Christians would say that we are free to eat or drink blood of any kind of animals.

  -- Dr Juster replies: I put respect for the holiness of blood on the universal moral side of the Torah commands. In this regard, drinking blood is forbidden to all humanity from Noah. So much for blood sausage! I think the same applies to sexual intercourse during a woman's period.

Also in this issue of the newsletter:
Marty Shoub: I Have Installed My King
David: The Olive Tree Ranch
Mati Shoshani: Human Trafficking in Israel