Webster’s Dictionary defines henotheism as “devotion to a single primary god while accepting the existence or possible existence of other deities.” The term was coined 19th century German scholar Max Müller who supposedly further explained the term in this manner — “monotheism in principle and polytheism in fact.” For most evangelical Christians, the exclusivistic truth of the Messiahship of Jesus is without question; however, there do appear to be some within evangelical Christendom who appear to want to make an exception when it relates to the Jewish people. My question then is who and why?
I am not going to write about the certain Pentecostal preacher in San Antonio because I believe most of us could agree that he is a given. However, let me note a few others who would profess there is no other way to God but who want for some reason to make an exception when it pertains to God’s Chosen People.
- Jim Bakker on his comeback trail on Larry King in 2000 stated that everyone who died during the Holocaust, in his opinion, is in heaven. I wish I could agree because there are so many souls who died a horrible death in the gas chambers of Auschwitz and elsewhere that were innocent in the minds and hearts of humanity but who are not with God at this moment because they did not believe that Jesus was/is/always be the Messiah of the Jewish people and the world. Jim Bakker was wrong then and I am not really sure why he constantly has Jonathan Cahn on his TV show today. Perhaps he is a reformed henotheist?
- Joel Osteen waffles constantly on the question of whether Jewish people need Jesus or not and ultimately defaults to what could amount to his basic answer — “I leave those decisions up to God.” I suppose the phrase, “that is above my paygrade,” was already taken. I would offer the possibility that Osteen is a waffling henotheist.
- Larry Huch and his infamous denial with Paula White of Jesus’ divinity is now missing from YouTube. However, and perhaps because Huch has learned his lesson from the White debacle, a visit to the website takes Romans 11 and the idea of being grafted into Jewish salvation history in a direction that could be definitely read as unbiblical. It is phrased very carefully but based upon previous experience, one might ask if Huch is a secret henotheist?
Now for many of us, the above examples are annoying but not damaging to our wing of evangelical Christianity. And there is legitimacy to that argument; however, what does one do when one do when one goes to the endorsement page for the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (an organization that denies a Christian the opportunity to share Jesus with the Jewish people) and notes a long and rather prestigious list of Christian leaders who endorse this ministry?
I really don’t know the answer to this question. Why do so many leaders in evangelical Christianity uphold the exclusivity of Jesus for every people and group … except when it relates to the Jewish people. Is it because of the Holocaust and Christian apathy for which we must seek forgiveness? Is it because we don’t know how to answer the questions of the Jewish people who live as best as possible according to the Mosaic Law? I don’t know.
However, what I do know is Jesus’ words, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6).” I do know Peter’s words before the Sanhedrin in Acts 4:12 when he writes that there is no other name under heaven or earth whereby people can be saved. I do know Paul’s lament for his fellow Jewish brothers/sisters in that he was willing to give up his own salvation if they would only be saved (Romans 9:3).
There is no answer to the “why” question because Jesus is the only way to God and we within evangelical Christianity must stand up for this truth … regardless of the cost.