Every Christian believes that God made promises to the descendants of Abraham (Genesis 12, 13, 15, etc). Every Christian also holds that believing Gentiles are descendants of Abraham (Galatians 3:29).
However, Dispensationalists insist that God still owes promises to ethnic Jews. Only the blood descendants of Abraham qualify as the true heirs to these promises, and so God must fulfill his promises to those who are blood descendants of Abraham, the ethnic Jews.
Who are these ethnic Jews? This seems like an easy question, but not so! It is complicated. There are a lot of moving parts.
Specifically, what happens in a mixed marriage between a Jew and a Gentile? Are the children Jewish? Are the children going to be part of the Israel who will inherit the promises made to Abraham?
In recent posts, I have showed the failure of defining Israel/Jew by matrilineal or patrilineal descent. See here and here.
In response, some Dispensationalists have emailed me and asserted that lineal descent is the answer. As long as one of the parents is Jewish, then the children are Jewish.
In my previous post, I began to explore the problems with using lineal descent to define Israel/Jew. Lineal descent works in a relatively closed community, but when the community is opened up or abandoned, then dilution renders lineal descent irrelevant.
Dilution of the blood pool is a real issue in defining an ethnic people. For instance, most Native American tribes have blood quantum laws requiring between one-half (1/2) and one-sixteenth (1/16) tribal blood for membership.
|In the episode “Diversity Day” on The Office, Michael Scott claims he is two-fifteenths (2/15) Native American. When told that this is impossible, Michael replies, “It’s too painful to talk about.”|
For those Dispensationalists who argue that lineal descent makes someone a Jew, is there ever a point at which the bloodline become too diluted to be of significance?
Consider the case of a Jew who marries a Gentile and then joins a Gentile community, so that all of their descendents marry Gentiles. According to lineal descent, all of their descendants would still be considered Jewish.
- The child of a full Jew (100% Jewish) and a Gentile is 1/2 Jewish (50%).
- The child of a 1/2Jew (50% Jewish) and a Gentile is 1/4 Jewish (25%).
- The child of a 1/4 Jew (25% Jewish) and a Gentile is 1/8 Jewish (12.5%).
- The child of a 1/8 Jew (12.5% Jewish) and a Gentile is 1/16 Jewish (6.25%).
- The child of a 1/16 Jew (6.25% Jewish) and a Gentile is 1/32 Jewish (3.125%).
- The child of a 1/32 Jew (3.125% Jewish) and a Gentile is 1/64 Jewish (1.5625%).
- The child of a 1/64 Jew (1.5625% Jewish) and a Gentile is 1/128 Jewish (0.78125%).
By the seventh generation of intermarriage, the children would have less than one percent Jewish blood, yet they would still be considered Jewish according to lineal descent.
In the one hundredth generation of intermarriage (3000-4000 years?), the children would have 0.000000000000000000000000000158 percent (1.58 x 10-30) Jewish blood. Yet, according to lineal descent, they would still be considered ethnic Jews who are going to inherit the promises.
Of course, this is ridiculous. No one would seriously consider such a person to be an ethnic Jew. No one … except those Dispensationalists who define Israel/Jew by lineal descent.
Because the Bible gives us no blood quantum law to govern mixed marriages, lineal descent fails as a mechanism to define Israel/Jew. Dilution of the blood pool renders lineal descent deficient in determining who is and is not a Jew.
All of this points to the fact that Israel/Jew was never defined strictly by blood. Being Jewish was never strictly a matter of ethnicity.
Dispensationalists are wrong on this foundational issue, and their whole system collapses under the weight of this miscalculation.
Galatians 3:29 is not simply a “New Covenant” truth. It was always true, even in Genesis 12.