“Remember that you are secure in Christ. Turn away from your sin. Not because it is required for your salvation—for nobody but Christ can merit heaven based on his own works—but rather, out of gratitude for the gift of salvation that your God has given you. Always remember that it is God who is keeping you alive and in faith. All sin stems from the arrogant belief that one does not need God. . . Christ alone is the only source of life. Know that you are saved in Christ, and nothing—not death, nor torture, nor sin—can steal your soul away from God.”

These are the words of a person who has a clear understanding of God’s way of salvation and shows evidence that he has personally experienced it.

These are the words of the young man who entered a Poway synagogue on Saturday and opened fire on people worshiping on the last day of Passover. Yes, this is part of the Manifesto written and posted on-line by the killer, John T. Earnest, before he drove to that synagogue to carry out his mission.

John grew up in a Bible-believing church, where his father is the Chairman of the Board of Elders. This past Sunday, the church’s pastor, Rev. Zachary Keele, included the following in his morning prayers:

“We pray, Lord, for those who are hurting, and we pray for the victims of that synagogue. We deeply mourn that this evil came out from us. We do not understand it, oh Lord, and we pray that you would forgive us for any such shortcoming, for any good deeds we left undone.”

In his Manifesto, in addition to spewing many of the hate lines familiar in white supremacist rants, John also quoted these New Testament passages (all in the old King James Version) to justify his killing of Jews:

“’When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children”'(Matthew 27:24-25).

‘I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you. I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father. They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham […] Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not’ (John 8:37-45).

‘For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews; who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost’ (1 Thessalonians 2:14-16).

‘I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan”'(Revelation 2:9).

‘Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee”'(Revelation 3:9).

To quote from Rev. Keele’s prayer, We deeply mourn that this evil came out from us. These same Bible passages, lifted out of the context of their time and place, were used by Christians in the Middle Ages to justify their anti-Semitism, which led to murder of Jews, as well as arson and expulsion from property they legally possessed. Clearly, modern Christian teachers and preachers have failed to warn their people about these errors and to enlighten them about the critical role the Jews have played in salvation history. So, young John Earnest, trained to respect the Bible, has disrespected it in the worst possible way by using its words as an excuse to hate he people God has chosen and loved, to take the lives of the people Jesus gave his life to save.

John concludes: “My God understands why I did what I did.”

I’m afraid so, John.

— Pastor George Van Alstine