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Jerry Falwell, the Jews, and Jesus — A Two-Covenant Theology? Dr. Falwell Clarifies His Position

The Jerusalem Post reported this morning that Dr. Jerry Falwell had accepted a so-called “two covenant” or “dual covenant” theology, believing that Jews and Gentiles are covered by two different covenants, and that the Jewish people therefore do not need to come to faith in Christ. In essence, the two covenant theology was a response, largely on the part of liberal and neo-orthodox theologians such as Reinhold Niebuhr, to the crisis of the Jewish people before and after the Holocaust.

Some theologians and Christian leaders accept the idea that the Jewish people had a prior covenant with God — a covenant without Christ — that was sufficient for their salvation.

There is no place for an extended discussion of that concept here, but suffice it to say that this is a denial of the Covenant of Redemption — and an insult to the cross of Christ.

The Jerusalem Post article claimed that Jerry Falwell has accepted this theological concept at the urging of John Hagee and others:

An evangelical pastor and an Orthodox rabbi, both from Texas, have apparently persuaded leading Baptist preacher Jerry Falwell that Jews can get to heaven without being converted to Christianity.

Televangelist John Hagee and Rabbi Aryeh Scheinberg, whose Cornerstone Church and Rodfei Sholom congregations are based in San Antonio, told The Jerusalem Post that Falwell had adopted Hagee’s innovative belief in what Christians refer to as “dual covenant” theology.

This creed, which runs counter to mainstream evangelism, maintains that the Jewish people has a special relationship to God through the revelation at Sinai and therefore does not need “to go through Christ or the Cross” to get to heaven.

Scheinberg said this has been Hagee’s position for the 25 years the two have worked together on behalf of Israel and that Falwell had also come to accept it. Falwell sent a representative to the San Antonio launch of Christians United for Israel in early February, as did popular televangelist Pat Robertson.

Gladly, Dr. Falwell has issued a statement demanding that the paper correct its story and denying any form of a two covenant theology. Here is Dr. Falwell’s statement, released just minutes ago:

Earlier today, reports began circulating across the globe that I have recently stated that Jews can go to heaven without being converted to Jesus Christ. This is categorically untrue.

These false reports originated from a March 1 Jerusalem Post front page column which said: “An evangelical pastor and an Orthodox rabbi, both from Texas, have apparently persuaded leading Baptist preacher Jerry Falwell that Jews can get to heaven without being converted to Christianity. Televangelist John Hagee and Rabbi Aryeh Scheinberg, whose Cornerstone Church and Rodfei Sholom congregations are based in San Antonio, told The Jerusalem Post that Falwell had adopted Hagee’s innovative belief in what Christians refer to as ‘dual covenant’ theology. This creed, which runs counter to mainstream evangelism, maintains that the Jewish people have a special relationship to God through the revelation at Sinai and therefore do not need ‘to go through Christ or the Cross’ to get to heaven.”

While I am a strong supporter of the State of Israel and dearly love the Jewish people and believe them to be the chosen people of God, I continue to stand on the foundational biblical principle that all people — Baptists, Methodists, Pentecostals, Jews, Muslims, etc. — must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ in order to enter heaven.

Dr. Hagee called me today and said he never made these statements to the Jerusalem Post or to anyone else. He assured me that he would immediately contact the Jerusalem Post and request a correction. Before today, I had never heard of Rabbi Aryeh Scheinberg or had any communications with him. I therefore am at a total loss as to why he would make such statements about me to the Post, if in fact he did.

One Way to Heaven

In this age of political correctness and diversity, the traditional evangelical belief that salvation is available only through faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ is often portrayed as closed-minded and bigoted. But if one is to believe in Jesus Christ, he must believe in His words: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes unto the Father but by Me” (John 14:6). I simply cannot alter my belief that Jesus is The Way to heaven, as He taught.

Again, I do not follow this teaching of “dual covenant” theology and I believe it runs counter to the Gospel.

I have been on record all 54 years of my ministry as being opposed to “dual covenant” theology. In fact, Dr. John Hagee has indicated to me, as recently as today, that he likewise does not accept “dual covenant” theology.

I want to reaffirm that I am a Zionist in terms of Israel’s entitlement to its homeland. I continue to pray daily for the peace of Jerusalem, as the Bible instructs Christians to do. And I have dedicated my life and ministry to working for the peace of Israel. I dearly cherish the highly esteemed Jabotinsky Award which was given me in 1981 by Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. I have led thousands of pilgrims through the Land Of Israel during my 31 tours over 36 years. I seriously believe that few Americans have invested more time and resources in the defence of Israel in this generation.

However, I simply cannot alter my deeply-held belief in the exclusivity of salvation through the Gospel of Christ for the sake of political or theological expediency.

Like the Apostle Paul, I pray daily for the salvation of everyone, including the Jewish people.

This is a clear and categorical statement, for which I am very appreciative. I’ll be discussing this issue on today’s edition of The Albert Mohler Program.[UPDATE: audio is up now.] 

My guest for this segment was Dr. Dick Mayhue, Executive Vice President of The Master’s College and The Master’s Seminary.

This kind of journalism is beneath the dignity and reputation of a great international paper like The Jerusalem Post.  The paper should never have run a story like this without any contact with Dr. Falwell and others cited directly in the article.  There have been many questions about John Hagee’s position on this question, but I know of no reason to doubt Dr. Falwell’s consistent witness to the Gospel on the question of the Jews.

Updated 6:11pm, March 1, 2006