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Ask a Jew: Are Jews saved because they are God’s chosen people?


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By Neal Schindler

Are Jews saved because they are God’s chosen people? Will Jews go to heaven even if they do not trust in Jesus?

Your use of the word “saved” and invocation of Jesus leads me to believe you’re approaching this subject from an evangelical Christian standpoint. (Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong!) Based on probably thousands of blog posts by pastors, and plenty of talk-show segments on evangelical media outlets like Moody Radio and the American Christian Network, I think we can safely say that from a conservative evangelical worldview, Jews who do not “trust in” Jesus (i.e., accept him as their personal savior and believe in him as the son of God) will not make it to heaven. However, most such accounts also suggest that we Jews will get a big, obvious chance to change teams (convert to Christianity) following the rapture and before our date with eternal conscious torment in the fiery pits of hell.

Pastor John Piper, who blogs at DesiringGod.org, is probably as good an example as any of the aforementioned attitude. In a post titled “Will Every Jew Be Saved?” Piper’s short answer is: nope! Progressive Jewish writer Jay Michaelson, in an article for the Forward titled “Mike Pence’s Love of Israel is Dangerous for Jews,” explains things similarly, albeit from a Jewish point of view and extending the matter beyond just evangelicalism:

Christians United For Israel is now dominated not by Jerry Falwell- and John Hagee-style evangelicals but by charismatics, Pentecostals and members of the New Apostolic Reformation. Most of these sects believe that the “spiritual restoration” — that is, conversion — of the Jews is required for the end times events to begin.

John 14:6 often comes into play when the question of Jews’ fate arises in conservative Christian circles. In that verse, Jesus says: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (NIV).

A particularly outspoken proponent of this kind of thinking is Michele Bachmann. Back in 2015, New York magazine noted her strong desire to “save” Jews, including the inhabitants of Israel. To be fair, though, some Christian Zionists claim they don’t think Jews are necessarily hellbound if they don’t accept Jesus. Also in 2015, the Dayton Jewish Observer covered a pro-Israel event in the Ohio city that was sponsored by CUFI. The pastor who made the event happen, Gary Trenum, is quoted as saying:

God doesn’t tell us everything about the future. When it comes to Israel, He has a plan for Israel. And therefore I don’t need to convert Jews. Convert to what? They’re following God. I realize there are secular and agnostic, I understand that. But if we’re talking about the theology of Judaism, which is the basis of who and where we are (as Christians), then those pastors do great damage. I believe that God’s covenant with Israel is still in force. Forever.

From Trenum’s point of view, I’m certainly screwed, since I’m “secular and agnostic,” but Jews who follow “the theology of Judaism” will end up at the pearly gates. Then again, since I don’t believe in hell, it’s all a game of theological chicken: Either Trenum is right, and I have hellfire to look forward to, or I’m right, and death will bring a lack of consciousness but nothing even approaching torment. If I could write a FāVS column from the afterlife, you know I would, but whatever happens to me postmortem, I have a feeling journalism won’t be my top priority.

Neal Schindler

About Neal Schindler

A native of Detroit, Neal Schindler has lived in the Pacific Northwest since 2002. He has held staff positions at Seattle Weekly and The Seattle Times and was a freelance writer for Jew-ish.com from 2007 to 2011. Schindler was raised in a Reconstructionist Jewish congregation and is now a member of Spokane's Reform congregation, Emanu-El. He is the director of Spokane Area Jewish Family Services. His interests include movies, Scrabble, and indie rock. He lives with his wife, son, and two cats in West Central Spokane.

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