Israel’s Radical Right Religious Nationalists Where should we as Yeshua’s Disciples stand? The First Century Zealot Movement, Parallel to Today

In the first century, there was a Messianic movement that believed that the way to see Israel’s redemption was to rise up against Rome in revolt and to cast them out of the Land of Israel.  They were the Zealots.  The Sadducees opposed the Zealots.  They controlled the priesthood and the Temple and were the party most in collaboration with Rome.  The Pharisees also mostly opposed the Zealots.  Many of these two parties believed that the Zealots would bring destruction upon Israel.  Indeed, this fear is manifest in the plan of Caiaphas to arrest Yeshua since the idea of proclaiming someone the Messiah could bring the wrath of the Romans, and the level of autonomy and rule that Romans allowed would be lost.  “You do not realize that it is better for you that one man dies for the people than that the whole nation perish.” (John 11:50)”  

Many think that Yeshua chose two disciples from the Zealots, Judas Iscariot, and Simon the Zealot. Of course, He chose them for a different path, but some think Judas never really left his Zealot leanings.  This may have been a factor in his frustration and betrayal.  Yeshua’s predictions about the destruction of Jerusalem were based on the failure of Israel under its leaders to realize their time of visitation in Him, and hence destruction would come. However, in addition, He no doubt anticipated that with His rejection, false Messiahs would lead Israel to destruction.  (False Messiahs did not enter by the legitimate door but were as thieves and robbers. (John 10:1 ff.)  At the time of His arrest, He warned that those who take up the sword would perish by the sword (Matthew 26:52.)  This could also be an anticipation of the terrible destruction that would happen due to the Zealot revolt.  They rejected Him and thus the Zealot revolt came. 

We can look back now and see the sad history.  After Rome offended the nation with an idolatrous standard set up in Jerusalem, the Zealots finally led a revolt and gained control of the nation.  The fight was valiant and the people resisted the Romans for four years, but then, alas, all was lost. 


Today’s Zealots in the Land of Israel 

We are today seeing the same spirit in the radical nationalist Orthodox Jews who believe that the way for Israel’s messianic redemption is to take all the land and remove the Palestinian Arabs.  As the late Rabbi Meir Kahani, who led the Koch Party, said, “They must go.”  “Take the whole Land by force,” is a good description of their program.  To achieve this, their young adults set up illegal outposts in Samaria and Judea (the West Bank) with the hope that they will become towns.  The State of Israel sometimes dismantles them and sometimes legalizes them under the pressure of their one major coalition partner, Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Strength), under Itamar Ben Gvir.  Some of these Zealots in West Bank towns/settlements abuse Palestinian Arab farmers, uproot trees, and do violence to them.  This is not to overlook the terrible violence against Jewish residents in these territories by Arab terrorists.  The zealots of today believe that the way forward is to act in faith and take the whole Land that is promised.  It is this faith action that is understood by them as the kind of faithfulness that will bring redemption.  Amazingly some Evangelical Zionists support this orientation.   I one time asked a zealot what should be done with the Arabs, and he said, “Kill them.”  This certainly is not the spirit of Yeshua and does not show the humility that should be our orientation on the basis of the teaching of the Bible.   Here are some biblical considerations. 


Attaining the Full Borders of the Land is a Conditional Promise

Deuteronomy 19:8, 9 clarifies that the full attainment of the borders of Israel was conditional upon obedience to the Covenant of Moses and obedience to His Torah/Law. “Carefully obey all these laws I’m giving you today.  Love the Lord your God, and always do what he wants you to do.  Then the LORD your God will enlarge your land as he promised your ancestors, giving you the whole Land he promised them.”  

For us as Messianic Jews, we add the important fact that our people have not yet repented and recognized Yeshua.   However, an Orthodox Jew should look at the Torah and say, do we measure up sufficiently to believe we can at this time attain the full promise of the Land?   Only about 1/5 of the Jewish population of the Land seriously seeks to obey the Torah.  One would expect therefore that we would have difficulty in attaining the full Land promise and that the struggles we are having fit the condition of the Jewish people of this Land today.  How is it that today’s Orthodox zealots do not see this?  Their actions may bring disaster, not redemption.  We add the rampant sin in this nation, the abortions, the support for homosexual sexual relations, the support for radical LGBTQ agendas, and more. 

This zealot orientation is noted by democratic nations.  I totally disagree with President Biden and his administration interfering with Israel’s elected government.  Senator Schumer calls for a change of government in Israel.  The Biden Administration points out their difficulty with Israel’s radical right-wing government leader partners and the zealot behavior in the West Bank and with the treatment of Palestinians by the Army.  They even want to sanction an ultra-Orthodox army division today over mishandling a situation two years ago under the previous government.  This is a terrible policy in the midst of this hard war we are now fighting.  This Orthodox army division is not made up of only the radical nationalists but includes the ultra-Orthodox.  They have a range from being against the existence of the State of Israel (Satmor) to being pro-Israel but not willing to serve in the army and finally those who will accommodate army service. For the anti-state Orthodox, the state delays the coming of the Messiah who alone can set up the legitimate state.   However, this essay is about the ultra-nationalist Orthodox.  These Orthodox need to read their Torah and realize that their program is foolish. 

The Biblical Picture of Today’s Return to the Land

In addition, the most important text on Israel’s return to the Land in this period is Ezekiel 36:24 ff which states that Israel will return to the Land before she is given a new spirit and the Holy Spirit within that will move them to be an obedient people.  Texts about Israel in the Age to Come describe the full borders of an obedient Israel at that time under the rule of the Messiah.  The borders are more extensive than from the Jorden to the Mediterranean!  But that is after this age.  In Zechariah 12 and 14, we read about war and the probability that we have not attained the full promise until the Messiah comes in Zech. 14 and until we look upon him whom we have pierced and mourn for Him (Zech. 12:10)


Supporting Israel to Act Pragmatically

What shall our council then be?  It is that Israel has to act pragmatically.  We on the one hand recognize God’s hand in regathering and hope in Amos 9 that we will never again be uprooted.  However, the government needs to make the best decision based on what is most likely to bring security to the people.  Arabs west of the West Bank are citizens of Israel and it would be well for Israel to be more just in the distribution of services, roads, infrastructure, building permits, and police protection.  What to do with the West Bank?  There is nothing in the Bible that says everyone has to be a full citizen of a state as developed in the 19th century.  Robust autonomy for Arab areas, no military arms, and passports for a type of residency could be linked to Israel or Jordan.  Or after a generation of education in peace, there could be a state, but this seems unlikely.  As for Gaza, it can be freed again as it was in September 2005, but only after a generation of education for peace with the Jewish state.  Until then the freedom can only be partial. 

These are difficult issues.  Though we can imagine solutions, there may not be one that can be implemented before the Messiah returns.  But we should resist the idea that we can take the whole land and expel the West Bank Arab Muslims.  “They must go,” is probably not going to happen!  This would bring the wrath of the world against Israel.  

For us, let us pray and believe for revival in the Land that will reach even to Gaza and the West Bank so that many Jews and Arabs will come to faith in Yeshua. 

What We Believe in the Heart

For many Western analysts, the problems of the world are rooted in the material conditions of the people. Then, some problems are rooted in a sense of the lack of dignity and self-determination. Applying this to the Israel-Arab-Palestinian situation, some look to solve the problem by creating good material prosperity and by giving the Arabs of Judea and Samaria their own state.  While I would not decry the significance of material provision and dignity (see my book Social Justice), this analysis leaves out the most important factor.  It is that war and peace are often determined by what people believe in their hearts.  As the famed psychologist-biologist Bruce Lipton argued, you always act on the basis of what you truly believe in the heart.  What you believe in the heart is often not what you profess with your mouth.   That profession is often just repeating what is socially expected. 


The factor of what is believed in the heart is really what is at the root of so much terrible destruction and pain.  It is also the root of great progress and redemption.  Let’s take a few examples.


What the colonial powers believed about the native American populations, that they were inferior, that they could be enslaved, and that they could be treated as inferiors at every level was behind 350 years of atrocities.  Even the idea of those who were professing Christians, first Spanish Catholics, and then Puritans, the fact the natives were pagan was a reason to mistreat them rather than to show love and care to win them.  The contrast with David Brainard, Jonathan Edward’s son-in-law in the 18th century, who gave his life for them, is great. However, this was due to what he believed in his heart both about the Native Americans and about the Gospel.  How few professing Christians really believed what the Bible taught about all humans being in the image of God!  This implies treating people with love, as ends and not means, as the great philosopher Immanuel Kant taught. 


Antisemitism is a great case in point. It is based on terribly bad beliefs/convictions, that the Jews are evil and worthy of persecution and death, either because of their racial inferiority or because of their religious perversity by which they deserve persecution. All sorts of conspiracy theories are rooted in the belief that Jews are evil.  The horrors that resulted from these beliefs are beyond calculation. 


Then let’s look at the issue of the African slave trade and slavery in America.  Those involved in this terrible practice and system convinced themselves that African peoples were not fully human and were therefore rightly subjected as slaves to white people.  When one reads the writings of southern slave owners and the slave traders, it is clear that there was no heart conviction of the wrong of their practices.  Some did not have real conviction of the inferiority of blacks.   Jefferson knew that his statement that “All men are created equal,” and endowed with inalienable rights by their creator conflicted with his owning slaves.  He submitted to the system despite his misgivings.  Washington also knew it was wrong and compromised like Jefferson.  He freed his slaves at his death.  They needed the slaves for their farms!  We see here that people can be conflicted and act contrary to what they know. This is what the Bible calls a divided heart.  The challenge is to see people have deep enough belief or conviction that is good that they live by what they believe.  However, it is possible to live without deep belief or conviction.  We call this being shallow.  The convictions of the Evangelical Abolitionists were so strong that they organized and sacrificed to eliminate slavery, first in the United Kingdom in the amazing movement of William Wilberforce and then in the United States.  We think of Charles Finney and Harriet Beecher Stowe, her famous clergy relatives and so many more.  Without the Evangelical Abolitionists, it is questionable whether slavery would have ended.  Lincoln told Stowe that her writings caused the Civil War.  Yet within two decades both North and South reneged on the 14th Amendment and allowed the most terrible discrimination and the elimination of equal rights until the Civil Rights Act of the 1960s. 


When we analyze the Israeli-Arab conflict in the Land we see how belief plays out. Most Israelis believe in their hearts that it is necessary to have a Jewish state, a place for self-determination, in the light of the history of antisemitism.   Right-wing religious nationalists believe that only the Jewish people should have a state in their ancient Land that stretches from Hermon to the Red Sea and from the Jordan to the Mediterranean.  They have such heart conviction that they will establish settlements in the areas of Judea and Samaria (West Bank) though they are not legal by Israeli law.  The mandate to settle the whole Land, for them, requires them to ignore human law.


The largest source of conflict in this Land is not that Israel is a colonial imposition on the indigenous population.  First of all, Israel came into existence against colonial opposition. Its first settlements were not under the colonial power of the United Kingdom, but Turkey and Britain only supported the Jewish settling in the Land for a few years after World War I when Turkey lost control of the Land.  Many Arab inhabitants of the Land today are descendants not of indigenous people, but immigrants.  Many have seen over many years that the Israeli-Arab conflict is at root not about material prosperity or dignity but is a matter of heart convictions, and deep religious beliefs.  The idea of Dar Al Islam is that the Land once controlled by Muslims is Islamic land and must never again be ruled by infidels.  This deep religious commitment means that the state of Israel must be forever resisted until it is destroyed.  While poverty might open some up to radical preachers, many of the radicals were quite wealthy.  Witness Ben Laden and the attack on America in 9/2001! 


As an observer of Israel and the Middle East for many years, and more intensively since I became a leader in the Messianic Jewish world (June, 1972) I am convinced that the deep convictions or beliefs held by the Arabs in this land are the primary barrier to peace.  When Mahmoud Abbas walked away from the peace offers in 2007 and 2008, he sealed the fate of the Arabs to not have another state, at least for the foreseeable future.  Why?  Did Abbas share the religious convictions about Dar Al Islam?  It is hard to know.  However, he could rightly fear for his life if he accepted a peace plan that embraced the acceptance of the Jewish state of Israel.  Since then, with Hamas in power in Gaza and a great influence in Judea and Samaria in the Arab villages, it is hard to see a peace plan that could be accepted. A massive change in education and then a change of heart conviction will be needed.  A recent article in the Jerusalem Post from Friday, March 16th, noted the great problem is the deep belief in Islamic Fascism and the commitment to martyrdom in the quest to eliminate Israel.  See the book Islamic Fascism by Hamed. That is what the mini-holocaust of Oct. 7, 2023, was about.  All atrocities are acceptable as methods to destroy Israel.  Until the West sees that the big problem is the belief system and the depth of conviction/belief that motivates Arab Muslims to lay down their lives and commit any atrocities for it, the West and the rest of the world will not grasp the true situation.  In addition, the antisemitic beliefs mean that Jews do not have to be treated as sacred beings in the image of God.  This belief in the Image of God is the greatest foundation of humane behavior. 


What is Civilization?

This is just a little piece of reflection on what is civilization. For some civilization refers
to societies with civilized behavior. This would be connected to the word civil and hence
treating people in civil or respectful ways. However, many writers treat the meaning of
civilizations as societies that are well organized, powerful, or produce sophisticated art,
or sophisticated technology. Civilizations are extensive in territory, like Rome,
European civilization, or Chinese civilization in its classic period with its amazing art
forms and incredible bureaucracy with civil service exams and stratified class
distinctions. Some point to inventions and advances.

The Bible does not divide people based on the idea of whether or not they are civilized
in the above terms. Rather, the center of Biblical evaluation is whether a society is just
and good. The Greeks gave us the idea of the transcendentals, truth, beauty, and
goodness. The Bible indeed reflects these transcendentals and gives them definitions.
Let’s drop the term civilization and replace it with what is a good society. A great and
good society attains a high level whereby its people pursue truth, goodness, and beauty
as defined by Scripture and its collimation in the life and teaching of Yeshua.

Such a society first of all promotes the treating of all people with love, dignity, and
justice based on the idea that they are all equally created in the image of God. This
means that love and kindness are established values. Justice is pursued as an order of
righteousness where every person can attain his or her God-intended destiny. This
destiny begins with loving and knowing God. Every person has a God-intended good
destiny to exercise gifts and talents as God distributes and to exercise such gifts for the
benefit of all. Love is the passionate identification with others that seeks their good
guided by God’s Law. Good is defined by the destiny fulfillment of each individual. It is
not equality of wealth but sufficient wealth to fulfill one’s destiny. Of course, it includes
food, shelter, education, and provision for families and communities.

Various cultures, even outside of Biblical influence, can be evaluated by how much they
attain to these norms. Romans 1 and 2 teach that people have something of the law of
God in them and are better or worse to the extent that they live out the law that is more
or less perceived intuitively or by experience. H. Richard Niebuhr in his Christ and
Culture makes Christ the measure for evaluating what is good in various cultures and
what is bad and to be discarded and what can be transformed through Christ.

In the light of Biblical norms for evaluating cultures, we realize that even the history of
the “Christian West” shows an incredible failure to live out biblical norms but that
selfishness, rationalizations for power, and greed, too often were dominant. Such evil
has been defended in the name of Christianity. Dr. Peter Hocken rightly uses the idea
of “The Glory and the Shame” as the title of his book showing the great things and the
shameful things in Church history. Human beings terribly mess it up in their sin. We see
this in the history of the United States with wonderful ideals in the Declaration and the
Constitution but a terrible history in dealing with native Americans, black slavery, and
then the abandonment of the equality ideals that were to be enforced after the Civil War.

Germany considered herself the height of civilization in her philosophy, music, art, and
scientific progress. They then gave rise to Nazism and the Holocaust. So much for

When we read the Torah, then the Gospels and Epistles we see an orientation toward
life, the treatment of people, and love that the world and even the Church in history was
challenged to really understand and live out. This is the center of righteousness and
real civilization. It is not whether urban or rural or highly educated or simple. It is rather
that the center is how biblical norms are perceived and lived out.

Reverence for Law

A coherent and safe society requires just laws and reverence for law.  Nowhere in world history does reverence for law attain the height of the revelation of the Law from God at Mt. Sinai.  We see that reverence in the movie The Ten Commandments.  That movie actually reflected the reverence for law that was so well established in the United States at that time.  However, we do note the unjust laws that deserved protest, the Jim Crow discrimination laws, and discrimination policies that targeted Jews and African Americans in many parts of the United States.

The great philosopher at the end of the 18th century, Immanuel Kant, argued that society would fall apart if there was not a general reverence for law.  He also argued that belief in God and rewards and punishments after death were necessary to sustain an adequate reverence or fear so that society would be law-abiding.

All societies, however, that attained greatness, whether ancient China, India, Babylon, or Egypt maintained a reverence for law.  The problem in many societies was that the ruler was above the law and in some cases was considered divine with the authority to make law.  This was not the case in Biblical Law.  Indeed, Biblical Law requires the King to submit to the Law and precludes him from making laws contrary to God’s stated Law.

Paul in Romans 13 councils disciples of Yeshua to be submitted to the authorities and law of the land (so far as it does not contradict Biblical Law, as in Acts 5).  If there is a contradiction, then for conscience’s sake, we must disobey and suffer for our protest.  Paul also argues in Romans 2 that those who were not given the Law of God do rightly perceive much that is just and true though not on the level of Biblical Law.

One of the most painful aspects of our societies in the West and especially in the United States is that political leaders do not fulfill their oaths to uphold the law.  The remedy for this disobedience to the law, the double standards in enforcing the law, and even a gross intention and action to ignore and not enforce the law, is impeachment.  Officials that violate the law can be removed by legislatures.  However, in the United States today political leaders are stymied by disagreement on upholding the law and do not remove officials that violate their oaths to uphold the law.  Obedience to the law has been undercut by the claim that the law in general in the West was a manifestation of white supremacy and systemic racism.  This leads to disdain for the law.  We see the same disregard for immigration law.  If the law is not good, legislatures can change it, but it must not be ignored by the political officials who can decide without legislative authority what laws to enforce and what to ignore. Most of the law system in the West has been good and much based on a combination of Biblical law and some very wise Roman laws. British common law was also based on these sources.

However, this lack of reference for law today translates into social anarchy and puts us on a  road that is leading to dystopia.  At Christmas season many watch the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life.  One recalls the vision experience of Jimmy Stewart as the lead actor, being shown a world where he never existed.  The wicked Mr. Potter gains total control of the town and renames it Pottersville (nothing against the town of the same name on the southern end of Schroon Lake, New York).  He does not revere law and exercises despotic power.  When reverence for law is lost, those who have despotic power control the society.  People obey out of fear for their lives but not out of respect for good law.  The result is the dystopia of Pottersville, full of crime, prostitution, homelessness, poverty, grime, and despair.  What a great paradigm for what is now happening in the United States.  Our cities have become like Pottersville.

Messianic Judaism, like Reformed Christianity, is strong in upholding the Law of God, the Torah.  When you read my book Jewish Roots, I hope you enjoy the presentation of the role of the Law of God as a constitution for ancient Israel to produce a just and model society. The Law does not save us but shows the goodness of God in his intention to organize societies in a just, humane and loving way.

The Disappointing Elections in the United States on Tuesday: A Israel-American Messianic Jewish Response

Conservatives and Evangelicals hoped to see great gains on election day in the United States, but the results were painfully disappointing.  In spite of crime, inflation that has been devastating for middle-class prosperity, and the open borders issue, the Republicans did not make significant gains in the key races.  All this despite President Biden’s polling with very poor approval ratings.

The most alarming and disappointing result for me was Ohio approving an abortion change to its state constitution that makes abortion legal through all nine months of pregnancy.  National liberal groups poured money into this contest.  While national polls previously showed that most would approve of abortion restrictions and preclude it after 15 weeks (closer to the European standard) this radical change to the constitution passed.

The second most disappointing election was in Virginia.  The governor, Republican Glenn Youngkin, was elected in 2021, on a platform to support parental rights in education and to see woke and LGBTQ indoctrination removed from schools.  He gained control of the Virginia Lower House of Representatives. The hope was that he would hold the House and gain the Senate.  He supported an abortion ban after 15 weeks which had not yet passed.  He lost both the House and the Senate.  The struggles over education continue locally with some materials in children’s libraries being pornographic and the transgender issue boiling where biological boys and teens are permitted to use girl’s bathrooms and locker rooms.  Louden County Virginia has become nationally famous for the struggle.  Younkin was backing the conservative parents in this battle.  This has certainly been a setback.

Some Republicans did win governor’s races, but a red state Kentucky (Republican) re-elected their Democratic governor.

Many thought that with election of Youngkin, Virginia was an indicator that the country was changing in a positive way, but now we realize that abortion is deeply ensconced in both blue states and purple states like Virginia that can go either Republican or Democrat.

This leads to comments on the law.  Some misunderstand the view of Christians who desire a return to the law that is more in accord with the Jude0-Christian heritage of the United States.  We see in this misunderstanding the alarm of some on the left due to the very strong Evangelical faith profession of the new speaker of the House of Representatives, Mike Johnson.  They think Christians want to impose their faith/values on the nation and paint them like fundamentalist Muslims. However, most of these folks want a return to some of the values in the country that prevailed historically.  This was not a radical harsh society.

It is well to respond with some reflections.  Unless there is a dictatorship or control by an elite that represses the rest of the population (more a potential of the left today than the right), the laws of a society reflect the moral consensus.  There can be tolerance for the dissenters but when there is truly a strong democratic aspect to a society, the minority cannot impose but has to win the consensus and become the majority in the society.  For example, the consensus 60 years ago was that abortion was terribly evil and should be illegal.  That consensus was lost and now it appears that legal abortion is the consensus.  The law now reflects that consensus.

There are some important takeaways from this election.

  1. Many are only now realizing how deeply committed the majority are to abortion in many states.  It trumps other issues, even the economy, crime, education, open borders, and more.  This is the reason many lost at the polls.
  2. That the people are so choosing for abortion is bringing their states and perhaps the country into judgment.  This is not something now imposed by the courts, but something chosen in elections, in referendums on abortion.  People voted for more pro-abortion politicians.  The United States is indeed in great peril of the judgment of God. God does judge nations by his most basic law standards. Abortion is the most painful manifestation of evil in our society.

This all raises a larger question on how to see reform in the United States.  Yes, we want to see our laws more in accord with the Bible, but how much can be gained by the political processes if there is not a change in the moral consensus of society first?  Yes, we should be involved in civic life and bring better laws where we can, but changing the consensus is the more crucial matter.  For me, that means that without a mighty revival and reversal of the decline in the Evangelical Churches of America (by this I include Pentecostals and Charismatics) there is not much hope.  These elections convince me more than ever that we will not see much progress before a great national revival in the Church that will affect the consensus of the society.

The Law of the Lord is Perfect Restoring the Soul (Ps. 19:7)

Ps. 19:7 in some translations says, “the law of the Lord revives the soul”, whereas other versions say “restores the soul”. The Hebrew can be translated both ways and probably includes both. Soul can be understood as the person, but in my understanding is a reference to the person in his thinking, feeling and willing. Wholeness from a God perspective would be intended. 

This verse is a key for our modern problem of disintegration. We are living in a time in the west where the individual and the society is in disintegration. This is a manifestation of rebellion against God as described in Romans 1, where human beings claiming to be wise become fools and worship the creature rather than the creator. As such, a reprobate mind is the result.   

One great manifestation of this disintegration is in transgenderism. How is it that a biological male can now identify as a female and visa versa? How is it that we have come to give hormones to prevent normal puberty?  How is it that we cut off natural and well-functioning organs, breasts, genitals and sometimes replace them with non-functioning copies of the opposite sex genitals? How is it that men compete in women’s sports and change in women’s locker rooms? And the younger in schools?

With regard to using preferred pronouns to affirm transgender people, we even use they for those with what used to be called multiple personality disorder. Integrating different aspects of a person into one integrated person was normal in the goal of psychiatry. Now we affirm them not only in those who claim to be non-binary (sometimes more male and sometimes more female) but embrace even multiple personalities. We call these “they.” Thank God the pronoun you can be singular or plural! 

But there are other symptoms of social disintegration. The majority of students in poor communities graduate and are still illiterate. Crime is rampant but it is considered racist to stop the crime and prosecute criminals. The poor suffer the most from the crime! Then the homeless who are drug addicted take over parks and sidewalks.  Businesses and stores close. No one seems to know what to do or how to care for them. There does not seem to be enough money, and forced shelter is said to be wrong. Then marijuana is legalized, and studies say it is indicated in mental illness. 

What is the ultimate philosophy behind this? It is the idea that each person can look within and intuit their authentic meaning and define themselves. It is a radical idea of freedom first developed 65 years ago by French existentialism. It is based on nothing but a self-description from philosophers looking within. Jean Paul Sartre embraced this radical idea but said it does lead to nausea since such radical freedom leaves one ungrounded and feeling faint! His solution was to hold to one’s decision as if it were an absolute given. 

It is no surprise that this social and individual disintegration leads many to depression, drugs, and suicide. It is personal and social disintegration at a mass level which disintegration is supported by radical politicians and the culture elite in our universities.  

The biblical answer is the Gospel. The Gospel says we are created in the image of God and do not self-define. We are redeemed by Yeshua. We give up radical freedom for a freedom that lives within boundaries. There are guard rails! God creates us male and female. He creates us for monogamous marriage. He defines what is lawful and what is not. In submission to God, we submit to his Law by the power of the Spirit.  Truly the Law of the Lord or the Instruction of the Lord restores the soul. The individual and then the society becomes integrated or restored.  In that restoration is peace and prosperity. As Billy Graham said in his 90s, “I know who I am, and I know where I am going.” He gives us the grace to be male and female even if traumas and abuse turn us toward wanting to be something else, for in his power we can embrace the way He made us. May we be examples, joy filled people who attract people because we have been revived and restored. 

Do sign up for our newsletter to connect to our work in Israel: Restoration from Zion

Two World Views, The LGBTQ+ World View and the Biblical World View

Recently, Arizona Christian University took legal action when their teaching candidates were declared no longer eligible to be student teachers in the public schools.  As a result of this legal action against religious discrimination, the policy was withdrawn.  (In Canada right now there seems no recourse for Christian believers.) The education leaders who sought to remove ACU from the program claimed that the conservative Christian views were not inclusive to LGBTQ+ people, and the views of conservative Christians were hateful.  We expect more and more attacks against classical orthodox varieties of Christianity: Baptist, Pentecostal, Lutheran, Anglican, Catholic, Orthodox, Methodist, independents and more.  I think Orthodox Jews will be included as well. This will be the case even if Christians support the civil rights for LGBTQ+ people with the provision that artists are not forced to create art contrary to their conscience.  

I do think the center of the attack is likely to be against Christian colleges and other schools at all levels. The idea of live and let live is not where the LGBTQ+ community activists are going. It is not an option for them to allow theologically conservative people to freely practice their faith, education and seek to convince other people of their faith. Why?  Because the very existence of theologically conservative believers is a challenge to the foundations of the world view of the LGBTQ+ activists. It is not that the LGBTQ activists simply want to be free to practice every kind of sexual arrangement and radically support trans-sexuality as well. No, they seek to force all people to confess to their world view or be marginalized. One can be religious in a secondary sense, but the religion of the LGBTQ+ community is the LGBTQ+ religion. This religion may be gaining ground because it is supported by a new movement of trans-humanism which is supported by very rich elites that seek to overcome human nature as we have know it.  (see Jennifer Bilek research)

LGBTQ+ begins with support for the idea of “my truth.  “My truth” is not the old idea of an objective order of reality but affirms a subjectivism for self-definition and is in accord with post- modernism and its view of knowledge (epistemology). Every human being is said to have equal worth and this includes a deep level of freedom. The individual can look inside and discover their true authentic self and can create their own meaning and lifestyle directions from that authentic center. Thus, a transgender child, even at 5 years old, can define themselves as a female in a male body or visa-versa. This self-definition is one’s ultimate meaning. One could be an atheist or have some vague spirituality or religion but that is secondary.   

This new post-modern religion is contrary to the old atheism of scientific naturalism. Two scientific naturalists did indeed declare the tenets of this new religion to be irrational and without any foundation in reality. For the historian and futurist, Yuval Harari at Hebrew University, there is no free self that can freely chose and define their own meaning. While not pushing against transgender identities, the idea of equal worth and inner authentic freedom is a non-existent reality. It is a myth. Everyone is biologically determined. The equal worth of all is also such a myth. For the famous atheist biologist, Richard Dawkins, all is determined and that includes the fact that there are only two sexes, male and female, whose distinctions are total and biologically pervasive. A male can see to live as a female but he is still male!

The Biblical world view is contrary to the old atheistic scientific naturalism and the post-modern relativism with its idea of all being radically free to somehow intuit and then chose to live out the authentic self. First, the idea of the equal worth of human beings cannot be sustained without its biblical basis in the image of God. This is why trans-humanists despise this idea and think it keeps them from the technological re-creation of human beings. They support the LGBTQ agenda as part of breaking down traditional norms so they can create their “brave new world,’’ but they reject the equal inherent worth of every human being. The Biblical world view provides us with a given objective meaning of who we are as created in God’s image and provides us with God’s guide book for how to live. This is rejected by the LGBTQ people as terribly restrictive and hateful. For Bible believers, meaning is not self-derived but received through our relationship to our Creator. There is great room for freedom, but He defines our authentic meaning, including the norms for human sexuality, marriage and family and the basics for all the spheres of life. The biblical orientation threatens not just lifestyle choices but the deepest world view orientation of the LGBTQ+ activists. This is why they must destroy biblical faith. 

Bruce Lipton, Ph.D., Biology of Belief

I consider the Biology of Belief to be an important book. For many years, I have heard the statement from Dr. Lipton, a Ph. D. cell biologist formerly of Stanford, that a person always does what he or she believes in their heart – not what they profess.  

Over 50 years of pastoral experience has taught me how true this is!  How many times I have been disappointed by passionate professions that came to nothing!  More than 50 years ago I remember a couple who were about 30 years old.  The husband spoke to me at the end of our service and stated that his experience at our services was the best thing he had experienced in a congregation.  They said they would become part of the community.  We were a small congregation, and I was excited.  We could use an energetic, young, and enthusiastic couple who were excited about my preaching and the worship service.  That was the last time I ever saw them.  This pattern of profession without follow through was repeated countless times in my experience, for congregational commitment, marriage recommitment, financial discipline, devotional life, breaking bad habits, disciplining children, and so much more.  Time after time, people would make a profession of commitment and then?  This is a common pattern seen in some circles where there are invitations to come forward and repent of sin.  Some come forward over and over and never change.  I came to understand that a person may think they mean what they say, but it is not a heart commitment.  The goal of preaching, small group formation, and the presence of the Spirit in power is to bring profession to real belief, that is heart conviction.  When heart conviction is established, real change happens.  This has been so in our in our marriage where we have learned to live in love. 

Lipton’s book, though ending with new age spirituality and a belief in life after death, provides a philosophical/scientific case to explode the mechanistic materialistic understanding of science.  He shows that cell biology itself disproves such mechanistic views. Rather the cell itself, and its very membrane shows a level of purpose and adaptation.  I think he proves his case that we are not determined by our genes, but genes and cells respond to environments.  In the debate between genes (nature) and nurture, he comes down on the side of nurture.  He also notes that quantum physics presents us with an ultimately spiritual world and the physical is a manifestation of that reality.  While not positing the design thesis like Dr. Gerald Schroeder, The Science of God and The Hidden Face of God, Lipton’s book would give credibility to those who so argue.  We see in the book by one of America’s most famous philosophers, Thomas Nagel, Mind and Cosmos, an amazing rejection of Darwinism as usually understood.  He still seeks to remain an atheist but notes that evolution seems to be connected to something of mind that permeates the material world, maybe in a more animistic sense.  As C. S. Lewis said, “An atheist can not be too careful nowadays.”  There are dangers everywhere to challenge that atheism.  Bruce Lipton’s book is one of those challenges. 

Most of Lipton’s writings are presented to disprove the materialistic science that has dominated western culture.  He then goes on to show that our lives are determined by our beliefs, but not the superficial level of belief of the conscious mind, but the deep level of beliefs in the subconscious.  This level of belief actually changes our cells.  A joyful and successful life is all about establishing the right beliefs.  This requires reprograming our subconscious.  Lipton is not just arguing for positive thinking (Norman Vincent Peale- The Power of Positive Thinking). He states that this usually does not work.  Rather methods are presented to get to the deeper subconscious.  This almost seems like a new age parallel to Word of Faith teaching (Kenneth Hagin) were the confession of the Word goes deep into our inner man, heart or spirit, and changes our lives.  It produces deep belief/conviction.  

The book is moving in the right direction but is quite short of biblical faith.  The Bible teaches the importance of faith and it does not mean just mental ascent or even profession, but something deeper and more settled.  In the Bible, such change comes from the power of the Word that becomes grafted into our hearts.  It comes from community formation whereby the individual changes on the subconscious level.  In the Life Model Works movement, Jim Wilder and Michael Hendricks (The Other Half of Church) argue that discipleship formation produces habits and settled conviction that can only happen in the sociological context of committed community together with mature people who impart themselves.  The challenge is that we have to get our beliefs deep down inside and really agree with what the Bible says in its promises and its moral and behavioral instruction.  This is a key to seeing spiritual and physical healing in our ministry to others.  

My takeaway from Lipton’s book is to remember that for ourselves and those whom we pastor, we are seeking to see belief formation on the deeper levels of both the conscious and unconscious mind, both the left and right brains!   It is also to be confident that we live in an ultimately spiritual world. 

The Meaning of Woke and a Biblical World View

Recently a conservative who was speaking against woke-ism was asked to define it. He hemmed and hawed when trying to define it, but I did not blame him. It is complex and not easy to define. Woke-ism is a combination of beliefs, faith confessions, and a set of narratives that do not cohere or imply with each other. Yet, this set of beliefs or confessions are usually embraced by the radical woke-ism folks that are described as radical leftists. 

Sometimes when a person awakens to what they think is truth, there is a sense almost of revelation, such as when the hero in the movie Matrix takes a little pill and comes to see he lived in an illusion. The person who thinks he discovered radical freedom so he or she can be whatever they choose (as in the view of philosopher Jean Paul Sartre) can experience a sense of exhilaration and release. The former believer may come to unbelief as a sad conclusion which may cause despair, but it might also be experienced as exhilarating and a release. One can then define one’s own life and values without any reference to an intrusive god. A radical behaviorist who thinks there is no free will experiences exhilaration in not having the weight of free choice. Yet when a person comes to God and is born again, it is also something that can be received with exhilaration and release. It is interesting that the Biblical text says, “Wake up you sleepers.” So, the truly woke biblically are those who are converted by the Gospel. The beliefs that many in the left are supposedly woke are often incoherent and the opposite of a biblical world view. Let’s list out some of these beliefs and the contrast. 

  1. The first is the belief that there is no objective truth. Truth is relative, so people can speak of “my truth.” The phrase “my truth” is a redefinition of the word truth itself. Truth historically referred to views, assertions or propositions that conformed to the way things really were. “My truth’’ means the way one is committed to live their life and see things. There is no objective evidence of whether such a way is true or not. While it seems that at least science is still accepted as bringing objective truth, even science has been affected. Yet the person who is in the “my truth” orientation will hold to commitments, narratives, and views with dogmatic tenacity, giving no quarter to other viewpoints. The dogmatism is amazing. You would think relativism would produce tepid commitments but the narratives of the so-called work somehow produce fervor. I attribute this to the fact that many people need a religious level of fervor to feel that life is worth living. A biblical world view states that God created an objective world. We can discover how it works. Also, there is biblical revelation that defines who we are and how to live, an objective basis. This is sometimes confirmed by natural wisdom, but often natural wisdom is too weak to stand against the onslaught of relativistic assertions in social issues. 
  2. A second big assertion of the so-called woke is that human sexual roles are social constructs. Therefore, biological sex does not define gender. This is a huge tenet of the LGBTQ movement. However, LGBT really defines only five genders. One can be classically male or female (cis-gender) or lesbian, gay, bisexual or transexual. How do we come to transexual? It is not that a biological male or female is attracted to the same sex. That would be lesbian or gay. However, one can see an easy flip where if one who is a biological female is not attracted to a male but a female than she could declare that she is really a male in female bodies since she is so attracted. The same could be said for biological males. One homosexual stated that transsexuality is homophobic because the person in rejecting same sex attraction identifies as the opposite sex.  The fact that we also list bisexuality, attraction to both sexes, shows that things can get dicey. At one count there were over 50 genders that could be chosen for self-definition. Some claim alters (multiple personalities) of all different kinds. Of course, there is the fact that transexuals identify with the stereotypes of the opposite sex. Rather than being a sensitive, artistic, and non-athletic oriented male, they must be a female. Then the opposite is also so. The confusion is amazing. With the fifty genders we come to a reduction to absurdity (reductio ad absurdum). Believing that sex is only a construct, and that we can self-define as any of many genders can seem liberating and exhilarating, as if being woke. These nostrums lead to pornography in school libraries, drag queen shows for children, and more so that the society proves that it is inclusive. Children are sexualized as part of gender liberation. It also leads to hormone therapy and surgery even for minors. This produces an orientation whereby the schools seek to hide their teaching from parents so they might further the woke agenda. Even doctors have bought into the new genderism despite the great reservations of doctors in Finland and Sweden.  The Biblical world view tells us that there are two sexes. Yes, there are social constructs that influence how sexual roles are lived out, but the basic framework is that God created us male and female, and that sexual intimacy is to be limited to a heterosexual lasting marriage. Supernatural healing can resolve gender dysphoria or homosexuality. See the amazing writings of Leanne Payne on this! When one is delivered from the complex maze of today’s gender ideology, repents of sin, and embraces the biblical framework, it can also be liberating and can free us from forever having doubt. We know who we are as male and female in His image. We also discover that almost all world cultures seek to foster the distinction of male and female, but we can also understand flexibility in the way this is lived out. The Gospel calls us to repent and really be changed by the power of the Spirit. 
  3. A third big assertion comes from critical race theory. In general CRT asserts that the white race is especially sinful. This is a world-wide evaluation of whites. This sin of white privilege and domination is pervasive in the culture and produces systemic discrimination that is not always overt. It is why there are disparities in wealth and position in society. The world is made up of oppressors and victims. This bipolarity is neo-Marxism. The wealthy class and the workers, the whites and the blacks, the Jews in Israel and the Palestinians, and so on and so forth. The history of the United States is thereby redefined as an evil oppressive society. Slavery was not just one dark blot on U. S. history but is the defining meaning of the country and the founders were not good in any sense. The way through is an everlasting groveling by whites (even white children in schools) and quotas and set asides so that equality is achieved. It leads to absurdities in claiming that achievement is racist and even math is racist. It redefines racism (they view that white races and ethnic groups are inferior) so that the oppressed can never be racist no matter what their prejudice against the defined oppressing group. It vilifies the founding fathers of the United States as evil and nothing they did was good since the country accepted racism when it was formed. This is a very skewed reading of history. Once again, this is contrary to a biblical world view. All act sinfully. We do not act with justice and fairness but favor our own kind. When we come to Yeshua, we repent and embrace people of all races and colors. Genuine reconciliation then can pervade a culture and produce a just meritocracy. It can also seek to redress real systemic poverty and see all people lifted. Of course, Chinese and other immigrants from India show how much this theory is wrong since in the United States anyone can excel and they do. They are not white! Reconciliation through Yeshua is the key, and all must repent of sin, selfishness, hatred and prejudice. We also assert that a stable family is the key to liberation and overcoming. This view is hated by the CRT folks. Just a little note on education. The leftist woke want to control education and marginalize parents who stand in the way of conveying the woke ideas and narratives. This is why you see such battles in schools today. 
  4. Woke economic theory tends to a Marxist redistribution since attaining wealth is not fair in their view. Yet the incoherence here is amazing since the wealthy corporate leaders who back the woke really are not wanting to give up their wealth. So, there are re-distribution schemes that look socialist but keep an elite in power that is more like fascism. Economic justice is defined by equality in wealth. In a biblical world view an economic system should provide the greatest opportunity for the most. Equal opportunity is not a biblical norm since all have various advantages and disadvantages due to family wealth, gifts, talents and more. So equal opportunity is a myth. However a just system is one where there is real and good opportunity for the greatest number. Justice in the Bible is not leveling equality. Such a just system provides the greatest potential to lift the greatest number of people. This is best done in a true free enterprise system with fair rules and a rejection of crony capitalism where the government and the wealthy corporate leaders control all for their mutual benefit.
  5. Those who support abortion rights may be part of the woke. It is easy to see this as embraced by the woke. The child in the womb is dismissed as having no value and abortion is defined as health care for the woman. What a strange re-definition of health care. It is certainly not health care for the baby, and abortion does not add health to the woman.  In the Bible the baby in the womb is a creation of God, in his image to be valued and protected. 

So how do we define “woke-ism?” Woke-ism is a set of beliefs and narratives that are not necessarily connected that are destructive to society. They have been embraced by the promotion of ideas that have impacted the emotions and minds of people but are not based on solid evidence or epistemology (how knowledge is obtained). Woke-ism includes the ideas of gender ideology and fluidity, critical race theory promotion, a binary analysis of groups as oppressors and the oppressed, radical abortion rights, and semi-Marxist economic redistribution commitments.  

The Clash of Worldviews

Recently there were two media reports that show world view implications.  In the first report a Catholic school in Canada suspended a student who said that the Bible teaches that there are two sexes and there are not other genders biblically.  Some were also complaining about open bathroom and locker room policies for transgenders.  I suppose this school  was catholic in name only.

A second media source interviewed Jordan Peterson, the brilliant psychologist and cultural philosopher explaining the radical environmental movement in worldview terms.  Yes, he agreed, we should care about the environment.  However, the radical environmental movement has defined the earth (gaia-the earth goddess) as being raped and wounded by the cancer of the planet, human beings who consume too much, pollute too much and destroy too much.  It is a very dark picture.  He noted that nuclear power, which could solve energy problems, is rejected.  This is not a rational view but a type of irrational religion. Biblical faith is a rational religion.

It is not only these two issues, human sexuality and the environment, but several radical so called “woke views” that have now been joined together to produce an anti-biblical world view and could well lead to more persecution for those who are Bible believers.  The biblical world view provides us with a set of beliefs and norms arising therefrom.  It teaches that God created the world and human beings in His image.  And indeed, Thomas Jefferson was right that it teaches that all human beings are created equal. Therefore, we must find our self- definitions in Him and His Word, and cannot define ourselves.  In this it provides the norms and guard rails for human fulfillment.  It teaches us that human being were made as male and female and for lasting monogamous marriage.  Some few are called to celibacy.  It teaches the centrality of the family.  It also teaches that the earth is not goddess but was created for human beings who were given dominion but are to be wise stewards.  If we make the earth our deity we will destroy the earth since we will lose wisdom (Romans 1-“Claiming to be wise they became fools.”)  We are called to make a decision to conform ourselves to God’s Word.

The biblical worldview teaches that all have sinned and need the atonement and forgiveness that is found only found in Yeshua.  It also teaches that through Yeshua and His Spirit, reconciliation, practicing love, and sacrificing for others enables all races and ethnicities to join together communities where deep fellowship is possible.

The worldview that is now followed by the radical left so called “woke” roots itself in an idea of human authenticity that is the direct opposite of the biblical worldview.  It promotes the idea of the autonomous free human individual who looks deep into his or her own consciousness and discovers in experience their “authentic self.”  They define themselves.  As such they can define themselves as male or female or several other genders: transgender, fluid gender, non-binary gender, homosexual, heterosexual and more.  The society and all its members are called to support self-definition.  This includes medical treatments to change genders, hormone suppressants, taking hormones and surgery (even for minors).  Those who do not agree are labeled phoebes and are to be canceled and driven out of society.  They are disfellowshipped.  This is an enforcing of an orthodoxy.  The state and business corporations are the instruments of forcing compliance just as the inquisition was in Catholic Spain in the 15th century.  For America,  it is probably unconstitutional religious discrimination.

The radical environmentalists then enforce policies that will lead to increased poverty all over the world because their radical non-solutions value the earth above human beings.  They cannot produce solutions.  Solutions must be based on lifting human beings as the first priority of environmentalism.

Those who embrace “critical race theory” have defined the white races as bad and this includes all Europeans, eastern and western, including Russians, Poles and all others.  All other tribes and peoples no matter how depraved in are given a pass.  Whites are the oppressors.  When there is analysis of why there are disparities in opportunity, having rebelled against biblical teaching, they reject the importance of the factor of stable families.  The family is sometimes despised, and it is thought children must be raised by the state as in Marxism to overcome the resistance to progress.   Reconciliation, forgiveness, mutual service and love are replaced by hate and grievance forever.  Guilt and innocence is defined by skin color.  But in the Bible, all have sinned, and no one is given a pass.  Blaming others forever is contrary biblical norms.   

We are living in the most profound clash of worldviews.  Those who hold to the biblical worldview are called to act in love and compassion for the repentance and salvation those who are lost.  And we do see those who embrace these false views as very lost.  But God has given us the message of reconciliation, and we proclaim be reconciled to God.