12 February 2009

The Larry King question (NEXT! #3)

by Dan Phillips

Challenge: So you think that all Jews who don't believe in Jesus are going to Hell?

Response: Well, that's what the Torah says. Jesus believed the Torah. I believe Jesus. So...you do the math.

Dan Phillips's signature


jeff said...

These posts are very short but sweet. I like your answer to Larrys' question. Did he really ask that question of John Mcarthur?
It must seem to Larry that anyone who would answer yes to the question is incredibly exclusive, narrow minded and bigoted. That's how id would've felt prior to experiencing Gods' saving Grace in my own life.
God bless.

Johnny Dialectic said...

All ANYBODY, Larry.

DJP said...

(Before responding to previous comments....)

I wish I'd said this at the beginning of the meta of the first NEXT! I'll try to remember to do it each time.

In addition to any other comments you have, I invite readers to unpack the thinking behind this brief response, the rationale, why I might think it's a game-stopper-and-changer. You may agree or disagree, but what's the rationale of the response?

Because these terse responses will only be useful if we've "got the goods" to follow up on them.

SK said...

King: "Are Jews going to Hell?"

Reply: "Only if they are as bad as I am."

DJP said...

Jeff, Larry asks it of virtually every professedly Christian guest he has, no matter what the topic is.

It has exposed some frauds.

Like Joel Osteen.

Stefan said...

There is so much to unpack here, because if the questioner asks what you mean by that ("Where does it say that in the Torah?"), the whole Old Testament—beginning with that promise in Deuteronomy 18—opens up as a source text for witnessing on Christ (Luke 24:25-27, 44-47).

donsands said...

Deuteronomy 18:19?

Could you explain that verse, how it says jews will go to hell if they don't believe in Jesus?

I think your answer to King was a good start, but not a show stopper.

I remember when my Isralie friend and brother in Christ were witnessing to a Jewish lady here in Baltimore, and He said he believed in Jesus Christ, and that you must be born again to enter into God's kingdom.
She said, "How can I be born again, can I come from my mother's womb twice."
I'll never forget that. Amazing I thought.

Sir Brass said...

In the words of Staples,

"That was easy."

Good short, sweet, succinct answer, Dan :).

~Mark said...

This response helps show that Jesus wasn't "out there on His own" in regards to what He was teaching. That He submitted to the revelation God the Father had provided and it revealed mroe than many people want to admit.

Johnny Dialectic said...

Peter explained how Deut. 18:19 applies, in Acts 3:

19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, 20 and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. 21 He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. 22 For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. 23 Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from among his people.’

The Seeking Disciple said...

Larry: Are the Jews going to heaven?

Answer: Yes if they are pefect in word, thought, and deed then by all means!

Solameanie said...

Larry King is Jewish, so he has a vested interest in the answer.

Benjamin Nitu said...

Wow; really impressive on how you can say so much with so little.
I'll try to dissect your argument (do the math):

A) Is this a valid argument?

1. Hypothetical syllogism #1:
P1:I believe Jesus,
P2:Jesus believed the Torah, Conclusion: Since I believe Jesus, I believe the Torah.

2. Hypothetical syllogism #2:
P1.I believe the Torah.
P2.Torah states that whoever will not listen to God's words spoken through His Prophet will be accountable to God.
Conclusion: I believe that whoever will not listen to God's words spoken through His Prophet will be accountable to God.

So, the answer is YES; this is a valid argument.

B) Is this a sound argument?
1.Jesus definetly believed the Torah;
2.Torah definetly states that whoever will not listen to God's words spoken through His Prophet will be accountable to God.
3.Now, we can spend a lot of time on "I believe Jesus", but if we're talking about the same Jesus and we actually believe Him completely, then this premise is acceptable.

So, the answer is again YES .

Now, I'll leave it here. But someone should try to take the difficult task to link my "intermediate" conclusion with the final conclusion: "all Jews who don't believe in Jesus are going to Hell"

Rick Frueh said...

"Because these terse responses will only be useful if we've "got the goods" to follow up on them."

The "goods" will never be the goods to the unregenerate. Even apologetics are not useful unless the Spirit gives illumination.

KING: So do you believe all Jerws who do not believe in Jesus are going to hell?

CHRISTIAN: What I believe is irrelevant, the question you ask can never be answered unless we first investigate as to who Jesus was and what He said. Every theological question is answered in the Person of Christ.

DJP said...

Glad you're enjoying these. Well, except for Rick, of course. I have about six more all-done, that I plan to sprinkle about.

Frank Turk said...

I would love the opportunity to be on Larry King and on Bill Maher.

There: I said it, and I'm done.

DJP said...

I would pay good money to see you on national TV with either.

Kevin Rhyne said...

Ditto with DJP on Frank doing national TV. It would be funny to see Maher develop a tick...

DJP said...

A tick?

I'm thinking of that scene from Scanners!

(I have the link to the animated gif, but... er, you know, homeschooling moms....)

Johnny Dialectic said...

Those venues aren't the best for thinkers. You don't have time to develop an argument before you get interrupted or they go to commercial. Dr. Mac doesn't get that chance, either. It's always easier for a "God just wants your best" sound bite situation.

DJP said...

Frank would know that, and Frank would make it happen. It can be done.

Maher would receive such a clang that his great-great grandson's ears would ring.

donsands said...

"Peter explained how Deut. 18:19 applies, in Acts 3"

I should have backed up a verse to 18:18. Thanks Johnny D.

DJP said...

Fair enough; I've edited the link to take in the section.

donsands said...

"I would love the opportunity to be on Larry King and on Bill Maher"

I also would love to see that.

How about The Daily Show & Jon Stewart as well?

Anonymous said...

Dan, Have you ever considered debating Dawkins or Hitchens?

DJP said...


I'm sure the responses I would have five minutes after the end of the debate would be devastating.

Mesa Mike said...

"Yes, Larry. And I also think all Jews who are child molesters belong in jail."

I fail to see the relevance of Jewishness.

DJP said...

< puts on Socratic toga >

I think that all of the responses — the ones that engage the question — range from good to excellent.

Here's my question: how does the post's question "change the game" in ways those responses generally don't?

Mesa Mike said...

It issues a counter-challenge, rather than merely making a defense in response to a stupid accusation.


Devin said...

Mesa Mike -

Channeling the spirit of 'Larry King Live' for a moment...

"But don't those same Scriptures say that the Jews are the chosen people of God? Would He send His chosen people to Hell?"

Michelle said...

Totally irrelevant, but Bill Maher is Larry King's guest tonight.

Benjamin Nitu said...

Appealing to the authority of Torah is intriguing.
Larry questions the exclusivity of Christianity.
And the genius of the answer is that it shows that Judaism is as exclusive as Christianity.

Devin said...

I agree with you, Michelle - Bill Maher strikes me as totally irrelevant, too.


Rick Frueh said...

"I'm sure the responses I would have five minutes after the end of the debate would be devastating."

Just great - LOL. Sometimes error is a better debater. Hitchens is a brilliant fool who is adept at organizing the inconsistencies of the "church" as well as amplifying the evils in the world and presenting them as "proof" of his contentions.

Sometimes sounding intellectual carries much weight, and a British accent also projects an academic ambiance. Perhaps you could speak in a Winston Churchill accent for effect!

DJP said...

Ohh, Rick — if only I could!

Or Scottish! I'd give a lot to have an authentic Scottish accent. Coolest accent in the world.

Jugulum said...

"Here's my question: how does the post's question "change the game" in ways those responses generally don't?"

What Mesa Mike said. But I would add: You're forcing them to deal with Jesus.

DJP said...


Mesa Mike said...

That's the common tactic in all these Next! posts.

This little grasshopper is enlightened.

Frank Turk said...

I just wanted to say that the confidence all of you have in me is overwhelming, and BibleBurgh never called me.


It hurts, DJP. It hurts.

DJP said...


Deb_B said...

"I would pay good money to see you on national TV with either."

What Dan said ... in triplicate.

Dan with a Scottish brogue? Hmmm...

Stefan said...

There are too many people today who reject the claims of Christ, on the basis of the completely fallacious idea that Christianity is a Gentile religion that is antithetical to Judaism. This includes not just some of my Jewish cousins, but many "enlightened" Gentiles as well. I was such a person who laboured under such a delusion. (Of course, centuries upon centuries of persecution of Jews by people who've hidden behind the cover of the label "Christian" haven't helped. Even our friend Martin Luther leaves a mixed legacy in this regard.)

Framing the response in this way hints at the continuity between God's promises under the Old Covenant, and Christ's fulfilment of those promises in the New Covenant. It's a reminder that Christianity is a fulfilment of Judaism, and grew organically out of Judaism, uniting Jews and Gentiles through the atoning blood of the Lamb who was slain—it's not a new Gentile religion that somehow misapplies Hebrew Scripture.

And again, in the right situation, it could lead to a witnessing opportunity.

Tax Collector said...

I would tell Larry that anyone and everyone who dies without the righteousness God requires to be in His presence goes to Hell, be it Jew or Gentile.

Stefan said...


It's exactly what we all deserve, unless repent for our sins and place our trust in Jesus Christ.

Jugulum said...


w00t! Do I get a cookie?

Strong Tower said...

Frank as an avatar, cute.

Frank in make-up, with a clown mask in hand.


One Salient Oversight said...

So if Jews who don't believe in Christ go to hell, then:


Thanks for affirming covenant theology Dan.

Chris said...

In the (Scottish) words of Alistair Begg:

"The plain things [in scripture] are the main things, and the main things are the plain things"

If I were asked the question, I'd follow a very direct YES with the truism above (:

Although, after all the times He's heard the gospel from John MacArthur, I'm convinced that ol' Larry is never gonna understand, let alone accept, the truth of God.

Frank Turk said...


I have heard it said that Larry King finds Dr. MacArthur to be the most compelling advocate for the Christian faith he has had on the show, and that the only thing stopping larry from faith in Christ is (now get this) the virgin birth.

Think about that -- not Penal Substitution, not the inerrancy of Scripture, not the Resurrection: the virgin birth.

Larry King: if you're reading this, know for certain that Jesus is both Lord and Christ -- even from in the womb. The God who made heaven and earth can make his Son be born from a virgin womb.

Drew said...

I would think that bad interpretation of scripture, such as the one you offer in this post, would also be a problem for Mr. King. I mean, he's not the king of the follow up question, but here's a couple:

I asked about hell--why did you answer with a scripture that makes no mention of hell?

On what to you base your assumption that Moses is talking about Jesus?

Why would Moses warn his people to listen to a person they would never hear?

If this prophet that Moses was speaking of is in fact, Jesus, does that mean that the other so called prophets since Moses were not?

Usually, your logic is much tighter than it is in this post. Instead, you through out logic and sound interpretation in order to seem clever.

Chris said...


Hmmm...an interesting obstacle to belief for him; I agree that it seems like there are other, more significant/complex matters of doctrine to wrestle with than this one. Well, regardless of his specific reason for unbelief, what I've always appreciated about Larry is his willingness to engage in discussion with Dr. MacArthur, fully knowing he will indeed hear uncompromised Gospel Truth every time he has him on his show--of which he genuinely seems to appreciate.

Frank Turk said...

He would have actually "threw out" logic, Drew.

To you questions, the answer lies in a resurrected Christ. Look at the Bible as literature for a moment. If the Bible is a set of books written about the same subject -- even if you only consider it religious fiction as a starter-- the place a resurrected Christ has in that -story- is as the fulfillment of the law and the prophets.

But eventually you have to deal with the historical fact that Moses was a real person, Israel is a real nation and race, and Jesus really did say and do these things - like come out of the grave.

you do.

DJP said...

Are you new to Scriptures, Drew? I'm losing track of which Drew is which.

One of Christ's students would find those questions rich (and simple) opportunities, Drew. Moses speaks of Christ, the Prophet par excellence who was like him. Other prophets were of another order. We may not have found all the edges to this, but God Himself marks Moses off from other prophets (Numbers 12:6-8), and the Scripture says none had arisen like him (Deuteronomy 34:10-12). No prophet fully fills those sandals, until Jesus. Jews correctly saw that Prophet as an eschatological individual (cf. John 1:21; 6:14; 7:40).

You did read the verses linked, all of them? Then you read Yahweh's word that "whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him." If you begin studying Scripture, you'll find it often the case that what is hinted or pointed at in the OT is often filled in and made more specific in the NT. Peter does both in Acts 3:22-23, identifying Jesus with this Prophet, and affirming destruction to anyone who doesn't hear and heed Him. Jesus Himself also makes it explicit in the words I linked; just click on the link, and you'll be able to read it and understand, if you're willing.

Johnny Dialectic said...

The ability to do two- and three-step reasoning from the OT to the NT is not only "tight", but essential for understanding the fullness of revelation. Larry King is famous for one- and sometimes no-step reasoning. Let's not settle for that.

Jeff said...

A little help here. I am under the impression that salvation even in the OT is by faith. Unknown and unseen, but the faithful knew that God would provide. God's chosen people... that salvation would come through Israel even though there are some in Israel who are lost.

The NT is God's plan for salvation revealed in Christ.

Is it possible that God's covenant with Israel remains and He will work his final work on Earth through a restored people?

Just asking.

Jeff B

DJP said...

Jeff, I'm not sure I understand your question. If you're asking whether there is a future for ethnic Israel, my answer is "Of course." As long as Jeremiah 31:35-37 is in the Bible, and perspicuity a necessary exegetical guideline, I'll be unable to think otherwise.

Is that what you were asking?

Jeff said...

Dan, That's pretty much the question. But sometimes I get the impression that folks believe that all, as in every individual, in Israel will be saved because of God's covenants. I thought that God's covenant was with the Nation, ethnic people, if you will, but not with individuals within that unit. God's covenant for salvation with individuals is and always has been by Grace, through faith.

This is why I prefer toe to toe conversations. I think a whole lot faster than I type.

DJP said...

Hm; I don't know any Christian theological school of thought that thinks that. All (to my knowledge) confirm Paul's note of the OT doctrine of the "remnant."

The difference is in whether one thinks that ethnic Israel has been cast off for its sins, as Jeremiah frontally says it won't be.

Jeff said...

I reckon that makes me covenantal. Thanks for your help.

Gary Benfold said...
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Gary Benfold said...
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Stefan said...

I'm inclined more to think that the fulfilment of God's not forsaking my Jewish cousins—and of what Paul hints at in Romans 11 (especially verse 15)—will be a major revival among them, in a movement to Christ, at some point in the future—granted that this is based to some degree on my own posttribulationst presuppositions. Spurgeon's thinking was that it would be at the time of the Millennium, with the caveat that that was just one man's conjecture based upon his reading of Scripture.

Already in Israel today, however, there is apparently something of a genuine Christian revival afoot....

DJP said...

To my mind, both Paul and John in the Revelation join with OT prophecy from Moses on, in leaving no doubt of a spiritual future for Israel. But Jeremiah explicitly removes doubt as to whether there will also be a national future. It's difficult to envision wording more specific and emphatic than "from being a nation before me."

Stefan said...

Because accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour means accepting that He is the Messiah promised to our ancestors, and not just to our ancestors, but to all the nations.

Because the first-century Jews who became Christ's apostles, disciples, and evangelists, and the first believers, recognized Him as the fulfilment of God's promises in the Hebrew Scriptures, in accordance with which He died for our sins, was buried, and raised on the third day.

Because He is King of kings and Lord of lords, and the sole means of reconciling sinful man to God through His suffering, death, and resurrection.

Stefan said...

Dan: Point taken.

And my last comment was a follow-on to my previous comment.

Stefan said...

Another bit of Scripture that I will grudgingly admit favours a Dispensational reading: the redivision of the land in Ezekiel 47. It's pretty hard to spiritualize that one.

DJP said...

Yes sir, it's one of many. I know for a fact that anything can be spiritualized, though.

I pretty much gave that up on 2/11/1973, however.

Sam said...

It's a hard question not only for Larry King and the Jews but for everyone else. I've posted a general view on this subject lately.

Anonymous said...

I am certainly no quick witted come back king, but I think my first response would be to say,

"I don't understand Larry are you suggesting that the Jews already have the righteous perfection such as the rest of the world lacks, or do they have someone besides Jesus who paid the price for their sins"?